Hustle Kings… The King Of Pool Games

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Hi, I’m Mark Williams, Technology Director at VooFoo Studios, developers of the soon to be released Hustle Kings. We really wanted to make sure Hustle Kings was something special right from the start, and the response from the unveiling at E3 has exceeded all of our initial expectations.

Hustle Kings, 2

Everyone who has seen and played Hustle Kings so far has been incredibly impressed, and one of the things that many people have commented on is how brilliantly the AI plays. We have such a comprehensive selection of online and multiplayer game modes in Hustle Kings, I was keen to ensure that our single player career campaign was just as challenging and enjoyable. I initially sat down and played a lot of other pool and snooker games, and it really struck me as to how tiresome and predictable the AI generally was. I found myself wanting to skip past the shots played by my computer controlled opponent as they just weren’t fun to watch. Hustle Kings needed something different, I thought, we needed to make our AI both challenging and entertaining.

Hustle Kings, 1

Pool, and snooker probably even more so, are not games simply about potting balls. When lining up to pot a ball, you ideally want to leave the cue ball in a position that makes your next shot easier. Conversely, if you’re not able to pot a ball, you want to make the next shot difficult for your opponent, and in games such as Killer, this is even more important because the next shot will always be taken by your opponent. When a computer controlled opponent is lining up its shot in Hustle Kings, it can read where all the possible pots are within an instant, but instead of always opting for the easiest and most obvious shot, it will consider the alternatives, and how different shots will affect the table.

In Hustle Kings, bonus credits are also awarded for skilful shots that involve swerves or jumps, and pots that include plants or banks, so the AI is always trying to look for the best shot possible, to leave the cue ball in the best possible position, and earn as many bonus credits as possible along the way. But this is only the beginning. At the top end of our difficulty scale we are able to entice it to go much further, to attempt crazy and seemingly impossible shots. Try leaving the insane-level AI tight up against a cushion, awkwardly snookered on its only remaining ball, with no possible path of escape. Somehow, more often than not, it will manage an escape. It’s quite a sight to see the AI smash the cue-ball into the jaw of a pocket so hard that it bounces up along the rail, rolls past the obstructing balls, spins back down onto the table, pots the remaining ball and leaves itself perfectly positioned on the black – and you know that it was all planned. Some AI opponents will even show off and purposely leave themselves in these tricky situations, only to make the next shot appear just as trivial as the one before it.
There’s no cheating here – the AI is in no way defying the laws of physics and every single shot the AI pulls off is one that any human player could also pull off. When watching the AI play Hustle Kings, you get to see how much spin and power is being applied – trying the same shot yourself will yield exactly the same result.
There is one problem with this AI though: as it stands, it’s pretty unbeatable. It might be entertaining to watch, but if you can’t beat it, then where’s the fun in that? Thankfully we have a variety of AI characters in Hustle Kings, at various skill levels, all set to play in different ways. Some make occasional mistakes, others are fiendishly difficult, but whether you’re a beginner or an expert pool player, you’ll find a suitable opponent for an enjoyable game. Once you’ve conquered the easy, difficult and expert level career modes, you get to play against the incredibly challenging insane-level AI. Even the most hardcore pool players will have a tough time completing the insane career mode!
Keep your eyes peeled for more Hustle Kings news coming your way soon.

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  • Can’t wait for this, waste money on that nonsense inferno pool.
    This looks so slick.
    Please ingame music straight from the XMB, not some ingame menu system please.
    I hit the PS buton XMB pops up, select my song.
    Trick shot competitions or exhibition with Youtube upload would be a killer.
    Will there be Snooker? I guess you should know what I mean. Or is it billiard
    Because it wasn’t shown in the E3 trailer
    Thank you goodnite, good luck to your team

    • Hi blaccat, good to hear your comments! Yes we will be supporting background music via the XMB. A variety of trick-shots will be available and it will be possible to upload replays of any match or shot (not just trickshots) to YouTube. We will also be providing Snooker as additional downloadable content.

    • Glad you like it.
      Snooker will be made available as downloadable content and yes I don’t see why we can’t have in game music straight from the xmb.

  • I can’t wait for this, not had a decent digital pool game since Virtual Pool 2 on the PC!

  • I’ve been looking forward to this since it was announced. Game looks awesome. A definite buy for me.

  • Hi Mark :)
    Me thinks will game will be a big hit, the graphics are amazing.
    When can we see a release of this? (at least give us an idea of the month?)
    Will there be XMB music, like said above i dont mean an ingame menu enabling the music i mean press the PS button go music and play what i want.
    WIll we see trick shot matches?

  • the graphics are amazing.

  • Yer as blaccat said please give us a snooker mode as well, as a brit im a bit partial to the more strategic snooker. Or another option would be for a cheap dlc soon after release with a snooker mode.

  • This game does look very good, I just hope we don’t need to get the cue ball to (appear to) defy the laws of physics in every game in order to win.
    Personally I’m not worried about the XMB music option and don’t really see what all the fuss is about. The in-game music is usually good enough seeing as it is, in most cases, specifically written for game environments and helps to produce the right atmosphere.
    Some more videos of the game would be good to see, normal gameplay videos not over-edited promo videos.
    I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this one. :)

  • I’m really looking forward to this game, day one buy for me ;-)

  • Thanks for the info, Mark. The game looks and sounds sweet.
    As a snooker fan, would it be possible to incorporate snooker too? Mark Williams is a great snooker player ;)

    • Hi Gadbury, thanks for your feedback. Yes, snooker will be available as extra downloadable content.

  • The first thing i thought of when i saw the “Motion Wand” controller from Sony at E3 – was this game! I’d love to shoot some pool with that controller and this game would be The pool game to play it with!
    I’m sure you guys over att VooFoo Studios already thought of that. I’m gonna’ go cross my fingers now and wait for the patch in 2010. Bye now!

  • I just Hit&Hope! ;D
    Guys at ‘VooFoo Studios’ play ‘Virtual Pool 64’ on the N64, it is still one of the best Pool games ever ;P
    And please have a few Control types to ;)

  • Question, will the AI players have an confidence level? In real life, if you miss a few pots your confidence will drop. And you will not go for a difficult next shot. In some current poolgames you can’t win because of the insane pots a AI player produces. Thats what make a game perfect. The human stress factor. Will that be in Hustler Kings AI ?

  • Will this have online play?

    • Yes, of course, Hustle Kings will feature a wide variety of online multiplayer game modes, plus plenty of other online features.

  • Personally, This game is not for me, I just dislike pool games. But with all due respect I can see this being a success and I hope it sells well because it looks like a bealter of a game. :)

  • Shiny! I love how you can see the reflection of the overhead fluorescent lighting tubes on each ball.

  • What about Inferno Poo? That’s been out for over a month now!

  • I love the detail in the balls but if those screenshots are anything to go by its at the detriment to the detail in the table.
    I do hope it has proper cloth covered tables as the screenshots above look silly to me.

  • haven’t played a pool game for a while, so i’m really looking forward to this game!
    keep up the good work guys!

  • Can’t wait until this is released, looks much better than Inferno Pool (wasted my money on that I’m afraid to say, probably the only PSN game I dislike) and the graphics are just so slick.
    A not so important question but I’m interested non-the-less, will there be human models playing, or will the pool cue just be floating in mid air (like all other pool games)? It would be another thing to set you out from the crowd.. if done right of course.

  • looks like a solid pool game! maybe i’ll buy this one.
    Also great to hear you put effort in in-game xmb music and youtube upload futures!

  • Looking great, day one purchase for sure.
    Nice to know it has in-game xmb music and youtube support.

  • Remote Play and Home game launching would be very popular for your game im certain. And so pleased to hear about the inclusion of XMB music – this makes it a buy for me.

  • Home Lauching?
    Unlock Home rewards ?
    Photo taker?

  • I like pool games and this one looks great, i’m looking forward to this, will there be a demo for this game?

  • Mark:
    The first line of of your post says “…of the soon to be released Hustle Kings” but can you give us a rough idea of how soon?
    I think I remember seeing an early 2010 date but after a recent search I’ve now seen a Winter 2009 time-frame.
    I’m sure you can’t give us an exact release date but any more details would be much appreciated as I’m really looking forward to this game.

  • Hi Mark Williams. Could you tell me if the Hustle Kings on-table graphic can be switched off as it may prove a little distracting for purists?

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