A few months ago we got the chance to sit down and talk with Hive7 CEO Max Skibinsky about the inner workings of the company and his perspectives on the development of social massive multiplayer online games. It was during this time that we took our first look at the latest in the list of Hive7 creations: The soccer role-playing game, Kick Off. Now, the new, 1.0 version is available.
The game concept is simple enough. Players are tasked with putting together a soccer team of your Facebook buddies and attempting to be the best competitors out there. When you first begin, you walk through a simple tutorial of how to play and set up the field positions for everyone on your team (Goalie, defenders, midfield, and forwards). The game will automatically default to a suggested set up, but manual control is always available.
You see, each player has a set of stats attributed to them that focus on skills such as control, dribbling, shooting, power, foul avoidance, and so on. This means certain skills are better for certain positions. Also, skills are earned through experience, and obviously, the more you play, the greater the experience earned. However, for an individual player to gain said experience, they must be on the active roster before a match starts.
Matches are also broken up into three categories: Challenges, Tournaments, and Championship. Each mode has its own perks (though Championship never seems to want to load), with Challenges being a simple “friendly” match to earn experience from and Tournament granting rewards such as “Staff.”
This is actually one of the cooler parts of the game. In addition to items like health packs, players can also hire staff members like a doctor, a masseur, or tacticians to help boost their entire team in regards to things such as mitigating injuries, improving fitness, and increasing experience gain. Unfortunately, they require credits to buy, which, you guessed it, have to be purchased or earned through offers.
Frankly, the premise of Kick Off is solid, but there are some drawbacks. Perhaps the most obnoxious of all is leveling up players. While it may be just in a place that is overlooked (which is another equally bad issue entirely), teammates must be “contracted” in order to have stat points (awarded for leveling up) distributed. This means that you must request a contract, which is sort of like an invite to play. If they do not accept… they cannot be upgraded (and by the looks of it, they do it, not you… not the actual coach). This means that you have to have 11 people accept or you can’t use that experience earned.
This leads to annoyance #2. Each game is simulated in real-time. Sounds cool on paper, but there isn’t much to really see except some pictures moving about a soccer ball and scrolling text. And, guess what… you can’t skip it! Yes, you have to sit there for five minutes, or however long it takes, before you can see the results and move on.
In the end, Kick Off has some things to work out for the next version. But the idea and much of the game are good enough to be worth a try.