Independent studio Steel City Interactive dropped its gameplay walkthrough for eSports Boxing Club on July 29th, 2021. I’d like to revisit the footage as the developer commentary video has so much to unpack. Specifically, let’s talk locomotion, lighting, and how the two go hand-in-hand in my first eSports Boxing Club breakdown.
eSports Boxing Club Movement and Lighting Rewind
First, the boxer movement looks buttery smooth. Fighters constantly bounce on the balls of their feet. The constant motion brings the fighters to life and suggests a degree of responsiveness when moving in and out of various animations. According to Steel City Interactive Art Director, Andy Turner, the footwork system is based on 100 percent motion capture data.
The alpha also demonstrates fighter momentum. I’d like to see how this plays out and differentiates amongst the incredible roster of fighters in ESBC. Each fighter’s weight is considered in the speed at which they can pivot and shift their weight from the footage. ESBC also appears to include momentum and weight in the dodge and weave mechanics. This contrasts with the first gameplay video, where weight did not seem to slow the heavyweight fighter’s momentum. We won’t know for sure until a playable demo drops.
eSports Boxing Club Camera Logic
The camera logic is equally as impressive. The alpha footage showcases a camera that dynamically cuts in during intense exchanges, and pans out when the fighters get wide. Furthermore, the zoom-lock on the fighters creates a cinematic bokeh effect, blurring the crowd out of focus with a shallow depth of field. The bokeh, cinematic feel peaks at the height of the in-ring action with intense zoom and camera panning. The timing is exceptional.
Continuing, the camera logic also captures just the right amount of motion blur, further adding a sense of speed and realism to the boxer movements. I’m curious to learn which development kit ESBC is built on. Is this Unreal, Unity, or is it built from the ground up as the website suggests? The YouTube video’s max video settings indicate the game is running at 60-frames per second.
“I can confidently say ESBC captures the mirrorless camera film aesthetic.”
The camera engine in the alpha footage simulates Sony’s top-rated mirrorless Alpha, “A” series cameras, and the visuals are striking. The Sony Alpha line exploded in the sports videography scene when they first debuted in a Fox NFL Broadcast back in December of 2020. As a Sony Alpha enthusiast, I can confidently say ESBC captures the mirrorless camera’s film aesthetic. From afar, ESBC looks and consequently feels like a Christopher Nolan production.
As fighters bob and weave with the weave modifier, the lighting, reflections, and shadows appear to dynamically adapt. Light reflects off body areas where sweat is most prominent and is absorbed by other textures, such as the ring canvas. It looks polished for an alpha demo.
The color profile settings on the camera for this particular arena shown in the alpha footage help the artificial light to pop off the screen. The red and white artificial lighting in the stadium contrasts beautifully with the more dimly lit areas of the arena. The white light even washes out the crowd at certain camera angles. The contrast ratios are on point, giving us a wide range of colors between lights and shadows, and the color palette looks and feels balanced.
It would be a disservice to fight fans if I did not compare the big hit camera rattle, flash, and pop to EA’s Fight Night series. ESBC is adopting a proven formula and building on it. It is smart, dare I say humble, and simultaneously honors the brilliance of the Fight Night series.
“the visuals come to life when the game is in motion.”
In all, the visuals come to life when the game is in motion. eSports Boxing Club demonstrates it will be worth the price of admission based solely on its artistic value. I cannot wait to see what Steel City Interactive drops next.
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Go for it Steve!