Still Hoping for a “Quidditch World Cup II” Video Game
The Quidditch World Cup game was an incredible experience for many fans. It was a new way to explore the Potterverse; it had a unique graphic design that set it apart from the films or the other Harry Potter video games, and it moved beyond the books with new characters. Sadly, playing this game today amounts to retro-gaming: It didn’t age well. Many weaknesses of the time now appear as flaws. Meanwhile, a similar game produced today could offer so many options one wonders why it has not been done yet. My goal here is to explore some of those that would improve on the original Quidditch World Cup.
For those who were not lucky enough to play Quidditch World Cup, the idea was fairly simple: The player would take control of an entire Quidditch team, starting with a House team at Hogwarts. After winning a series of games and exercises, the player would graduate to the international level where they could play nine different national teams. When some dream of a Harry Potter MMORPG, the potential of this spin-off is incredible, and its feasibility has been proven; it constitutes a far safer bet if someone wanted to invest in a new video game.
While the Harry Potter games based on the books and later, the films offered the possibility to be a Seeker, it was merely a matter of following the Snitch on a golden track that acted like a rail. This game shifted the focus onto Chasers, and the main goal was to score; with a series of combos of passes, shots, acrobatic steals, and special movements, the player would unlock new options, such as Bludger attacks, and trigger the arrival of the Snitch. The latter part would unfold in a way similar to the other games, except that Seekers would benefit from a different acceleration depending on the combos executed by the their team throughout the match. With every national team benefitting from its own identity and team movement, the variety was great for the time.
One tiny detail before I delve into the improvements that could be made: I used to play the game for PC, but I believe it would attain greater potential on a more modern console, and the following suggestions are made with an Xbox 360 or similar control pad in mind.
When the game came out, it was possible to control the Chasers on a horizontal level (forward, backward, right, left), but you could not dive or go up. There was no way to execute a Wronski Feint or Porskoff Ploy. But double-joysticks were not much in use; today, these would incredibly increase the liberty of movement.
There are two options for this:
- Using the left joystick to move back, forth, and sideways, while the right joystick controls the gaze, as in many current first-person shooter games.
- Using the lateral trigger/bumper for forward and backward movements, with the left joystick controlling orientation, as in most driving video games. This removes the possibility for the player to move up-down or sideways while keeping its orientation but allows for speed control.
Switch Positions During a Single Game
Being able to play as a Chaser was a first step; it is now time to be a Beater or a Seeker for the entire game if one wishes to. Or only the Chasers without having to care about the Snitch at all. Well, this would require some adaptations, so here they are:
– Playing Chasers only: The AI would take control of the Beaters and the Seeker. With a combination of buttons, the player could alert their teammates when a Bludger is about to intervene or advise them not to catch the Snitch (until the same combination is produced again). The rest of the game would not be much different than any other team sport video game: pass, shoot, tackle, change player, etc.
– Playing Beaters only: This would require the Bludgers to have a special AI of their own that attracts them toward the Quaffle or defensive Beaters. This way, a defensive Beater will often have the occasion to protect their hoops, while an attacking Beater will have to remain close to their Chaser to protect them. The strategy that would evolve from this could be very interesting. Since the Beater can only hit Bludgers, the action buttons and the d-pad would suffice to offer all the following options: X = aim at the Chaser with the Quaffle; Y and d-pad = aim at Chaser/Keeper without the Quaffle; A and d-pad = aim at Beater; B = pass the Bludger to your partner Beater.
– Playing Seeker only: The hardest part of the Seeker’s job is to find the Snitch. To emulate this, I would suggest the Snitch regularly emit a flash so that the player would know they are going in the right direction. Once the Seeker is a few meters away from the Snitch, the usual golden track would appear except it should be possible to move out of it and lose sight of the Snitch, depending on the difficulty level. For those afraid of a game taking too long, the opposite Seeker could automatically end the game after a predetermined amount of time… or the game could end without the Snitch being caught.
It is likely that most players would chose to play with the Chasers and would be happy with a system identical to the original Quidditch World Cup one, afraid of getting bored if they were to play Seeker only. However, the possibility of controlling the other positions throughout an entire fixture would generate an experience closer to real Quidditch and would allow very interesting multi-player games.
If switching positions during a game is possible, then maybe some players would be less afraid of trying a bit of beating now and then. The basic idea is that we do not have to be limited to one single role in a team: Seeking and beating would offer a very new experience, maybe far more tactical than what we are used to from traditional sport video games.
Improved Graphic Design
Quidditch World Cup looked cartoonish, well away from the realistic approach that transpires in current film-based video games. Its source material was the Harry Potter books, mostly, notably because some of the Quidditch players mentioned, such as Cho Chang, Viktor Krum, and Cedric Diggory, had never appeared on screen.
It seems rather obvious that a game released nowadays should have better graphic design than one released in 2003. However, this second edition should keep a similar style while updating it slightly. This would allow for secondary characters like Ludo Bagman to remain involved but also to camouflage the brutal, probably gory, side of a realistic Quidditch game.
Team and Player Management
The first game had players who were never mentioned in the books or films; it’s clear why this was the case before, but maybe Quidditch players should have different stats, so one would need substitutes to adapt to a new strategy. Then injuries could come into play. This would make the game more akin to a new standard team sport video game while increasing tactical possibilities, game possibilities, and the emotional link between a player and their team.
Improved Special Moves
The special moves were what created the best impression of what Quidditch could be like. They were spectacular, but badly balanced: one team would score three goals with their team move, while the other would only score once. The choice between teams was therefore obvious; when you can chose between scoring three hoops by pushing a single button or a single goal, only the fool would go for the latter.
They gave a unique characteristic to most of the teams (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZrVCa6aczA&feature=youtu.be), and it would be sad to lose them, but giving three of them to each team, scoring one, two, or three goals would easily solve the issue and improve the variety of the game.
That kind of summarizes it. Three special moves per team, substitute players, tradelists, etc. But that should not be it. Including more national teams, maybe the British and Irish league, would create a middle ground between Hogwarts and the world cup; more national teams with their specific pitch, simple moves such as dropping the Quaffle to a partner below, etc. Today’s technology would allow for this game to be far more detailed than it used to be.
Though this may sound like a very long way to say, “I want more,” like a five-year-old, it should have reminded everyone that we had a great game that could be even better if released again today. The widespread use of double-joysticks in many first-person shooter games or trick moves in standard sports video games have paved the ways for a new, improved Quidditch opus. Furthermore, the magical nature of the sport would provide opportunities to push the experience even beyond what we can imagine in the real world. Its unique gameplay would also require as much strategy as button-pushing. The full potential of Quidditch as a video game has not been explored yet.
I believe I am not the only one hoping for a Quidditch World Cup: Vol. 2. What would you be hoping to get from an updated release? What would you change? What would you keep?
First published in French on gazette-du-sorcier.com (http://www.gazette-du-sorcier.com/A-quand-le-nouveau-jeu-Coupe-du,1762)