Axis Football 2016 Interview with Danny Jugan

For the uninitiated, who are you and what is Axis Football 2016?

Axis Football is an American football simulation game for PC and mobile (consoles next year!).  It features a unique aimed passing system and loads of customization. The 2016 version is our second iteration of the game, and we have made huge strides in bringing football options to the community.

Axis Football is made by Axis Games, a tiny development company based out of Charlotte North Carolina. We have a very small budget which allows for one full-time developer and a handful of part-time help. We are extremely dedicated to what we do, and we hope that shows in our product and the progress that we've made.

What changes have been added/implemented in Axis Football 2016?

There was certainly no shortage of places to improve from the 2015 version. We combed through all of the posts, emails, and discussions about what the game needed, and implemented changes directly based off of user feedback. We know that building a successful football simulation franchise will take time, and features that didn't make the list for the 2016 version are prioritized for the 2017 version.

Here's a quick run down of the new features in Axis Football 2016:

On the field, what separates Axis Football 2016 from other sports gaming efforts?

Our two crowning features are our high level of customization and our aimed passing system. You can mod nearly every aspect of the game, and we have already seen users come up with some really cool stuff! The aimed passing feature adds depth and control to the passing game that other titles can't match. If you haven't seen gameplay, it works like this: when you drop back to pass, there is a white circle on the field that you aim with your mouse or controller. The circle will change size based off of the QB's rating and the difficulty of the throw (QB is running, under pressure, throwing across his body, etc.). When the ball is thrown, it will land in a random spot inside of the circle, so naturally, the larger the circle, the less accurate your passes will be. This encourages proper QB mechanics while giving the player the ability to throw receivers open and throw routes that require the ball to be placed in specific locations in relation to the receiver.

Feedback for the aimed passing system has been unanimously positive. Player's say that it is incredibly rewarding when completing passes and less frustrating when throwing interceptions, since they are almost entirely responsible for where the ball is thrown.

What modes can players participate in within Axis Football 2016?

We have a few different game modes to support a variety of interests.

Player vs AI
Coach Mode (call the plays and watch the action)
AI vs AI (watched a simulated game, coming soon)
Local Player vs Player (two controllers)
Franchise Mode

Admittedly, franchise mode isn't as fully fleshed out as we would like. It works great, and it is a lot of fun, but it doesn't have all of the features that we initially intended on adding (failed KickStarter). Right now, you can play unlimited seasons, track season and franchise stats, and view schedules. You can even simulate games that you don't want to play. We have plans to add a draft, trades, and player progression soon.

When it comes to players, how are they rated and how do those ratings impact the game?

Players are rated on a scale out of 100. Each of the 32 teams has a full 53 man roster, and we track over 20 attributes for each player in the game. These attributes include things like speed, tackle breaking, blocking, tackling, coverage, endurance, agility, and so on. Each of these attributes has a direct impact on a player's ability to execute on-field actions.

There appears to be new modding features in Axis Football 2016, what is possible with these features?

I think the modding features are probably what many players are most excited about. We added the ability to mod all of the graphical assets and names for all of the teams in the game. This allows players to replace all of the default teams with all of the NFL teams very easily. In fact, complete NFL and NCAA mods have already been created and are available for players to download.

We have also added unlimited uniform support, which allows users to create and select from any number of uniforms. With the growing popularity of throwback, alternate, and color rush uniforms, this gives additional customization to players.

Another popular feature we added was the ability to support unlimited teams. This currently only works in single match games (franchise mode support coming soon), but it opens up a realm of possibility that was previously unavailable. Several people have already created a bunch of throwback teams from the past decades. Imagine playing the '85 Bears against the '00 Ravens or the Steel Curtain of the 70s against the 49ers in their prime. You could even have matchup of college vs pro teams. There are a ton of possibilities, and we are only getting started!

What are some of the biggest difficulties in developing a game like Axis Football 2016?

Without a doubt, the biggest difficulty is managing user expectations. When someone plays a football title, they typically expect Madden-quality graphics and features because that's all that has been available for the past several years. Madden puts out a great product, and it's hard to complete with their massive teams, huge budgets, and the 25+ years they've had to improve and refine their game.

Axis Football 2016 was made on a $7,000 budget with basically one developer in just two years. I don't say that as an excuse for why our product isn't better, but more as an indication of how dedicated we are and to hopefully mitigate expectations a bit with a transparency in terms of what we're working with.

With that said, we are aware that, at the end of the day, people want a good football game. They don't care about how much money it costs to make or the size of the team that made it. We don't intend on using our indie status as an excuse for mediocrity. We hope players see the improvement from 2015 to 2016 and look forward to what we produce next year!

What is the one thing you’d like readers to take away from this interview about Axis Football 2016?

I hope that readers understand that we are here to stay. We plan on producing titles each year, and we plan on massive improvements each time we do. I hope that readers buy the game and take part in helping to fund more football options even if it's not at the level they'd like it to be. We have been open about our practice to reinvest revenue back into the game, and I think the progress from last year is evidence that we actually do! If anyone has questions or would like to reach out to me directly, feel free to do so on Twitter @AxisFootball or through email at [email protected]

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