Deconstructing Golden Tee Live


Golden Tee LIVE isn’t your average coin-op video game. Its golf courses span the world and are open for live competition 24/7. Ever-new courses feature seasonal shifts and weather variations to keep the game fresh every time you play it.The game even offers interactive video commentary and in-game help from the pros!

Deconstructing Golden Tee LIVE takes you into the trenches with the Golden Tee LIVE developers. It’s part behind-the-scenes tour and part developer’s-eye-view of ...

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Golden Tee LIVE isn’t your average coin-op video game. Its golf courses span the world and are open for live competition 24/7. Ever-new courses feature seasonal shifts and weather variations to keep the game fresh every time you play it.The game even offers interactive video commentary and in-game help from the pros!

Deconstructing Golden Tee LIVE takes you into the trenches with the Golden Tee LIVE developers. It’s part behind-the-scenes tour and part developer’s-eye-view of the game’s creation. Starting from its genesis on a single sheet of paper, watch LIVE come to life, including:

  • Sculpting virtual golf courses more challenging than the real thing
  • Landscaping courses with incredible 3D objects without overtaxing the hardware
  • Making a virtual golfer swing like a pro using motion capture technology
  • Empowering players to personalize their golfers with special attire
  • Building a global, wireless, always-on and secure tournament system
  • Implementing a savvy business model to maximize revenue
  • Learning from the pros–tips, tricks, and techniques from the game design masters

Whether you’re a fan of the game, a game developer, or a curious entrepreneur who’s looking for an intriguing success story, you’ll find the inside information and insights you’re looking for in Deconstructing Golden Tee LIVE.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789733535
  • Publisher: Que
  • Publication date: 10/13/2005
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 7.02 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Incredible Technologies®, Inc. is celebrating 20 years as a successful video game company with more than 115 creative employees dedicated to crafting innovative, affordable, high earning products for the on-premise entertainment industry.

Joe Kraynak is a professional writer who has authored and co-authored more than 50 books, including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Computer Basics, Master VISUALLY Optimizing PC Performance, and Bipolar Disorder For Dummies.

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Read an Excerpt


It's a coin-op video game, a sporting event, and a pop culture icon all rolled into one. It hosts live tournaments in which players from around the world can compete against one another 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for fun or cash prizes. It drives its own mini-economy, generating revenue for its creators, operators, location owners, and players. It communicates over a secure wireless communications network, processes credit and debit card transactions, and automates accounting for its operators. It stores each player's statistics and makes them accessible via the Web. It even enables operators to adjust and troubleshoot the game and see how much money it's earning from a remote location. It is, by far, the most capable and successful coin-op video game ever made—Golden Tee LIVE!

They created the best video game on the planet and made sure everybody knew it.

Golden Tee's astounding success is no accident. Its first release was only a modest hit, but the game's creators believed in it and recognized that it had an untested, untapped potential. With each new version, they improved the graphics, crafted new courses, made the physics of the game feel more natural, and added features to appeal to both new players and the game's existing player base. They implemented a tournament system and added interactive video of celebrity announcers including Peter Jacobsen and Jim Nantz. They connected personally with their players and transformed competitions into media events. And they addressed the needs and concerns of their operators—the people who ultimately buy, deliver, and service the games. They created what they believe is the best video game on the planet and made sure that everybody knew it. Golden Tee, its players, and its operators took it from there.

Golden Tee is now the top grossing coin-op video game in the world and is played in more than 10 countries. The game itself has achieved celebrity status, appearing on MTV True Life, Saturday Night Live, CBS Sunday Morning, an entertaining commercial for FootJoy, and a host of golf shows and news broadcasts. It's the favorite game of several celebrities including MTV's Carson Daly, all-pro middle linebacker Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears, rapper Uncle Kracker, and America's Top 40 host Rick Dees.

So, what's the secret? How did a mom-and-pop operation like Incredible Technologies develop what would become the most successful coin-op video game in history? And how do its designers and developers go about creating each new version and implementing its innovative new features? Deconstructing Golden Tee LIVE answers those questions by taking you behind the scenes with the development team that designed and built the latest version of the game—Golden Tee LIVE.

To set the stage for the book, we begin with a brief history of Incredible Technologies and its franchise product and explore some of the factors that have contributed to conjuring up the Golden Tee mystique. Game designers Larry Hodgson and Jim Zielinski proceed to introduce you to their grand vision for Golden Tee LIVE, and several of Incredible Technologies' advisors present the business model that generates the revenue for so many people involved with the game. From there, we deconstruct Golden Tee LIVE, examining every aspect of the game—from its cabinet and hardware architecture to its beautifully crafted courses, from its real-time tournament system to its Web component—to illustrate how the game was built.

As you explore the many elements that compose Golden Tee LIVE, you begin to see how each element contributes to the game and how those elements combine to deliver a total, and most incredible gaming experience. Along the way, you get a glimpse of the philosophy that drives the design of the game, and you witness the skills and techniques of world-class game developers in action. Our tour covers every aspect of the game, including the overall design, hardware platform and operating system, player controls and interface, connectivity and security, course design, 3D modeling and animation, audio and video enhancements, web feature integration, and the real-time tournament system. The tour spans the entire development cycle, from concept and asset acquisition, through development and testing, right up to the time when the completed game units begin rolling off the assembly line and shipping to their ultimate destinations.

Because every development cycle is a learning experience, we wrap up with a collection of lessons learned during the development process, along with tips from various members of the development team and advice on how to successfully manage and execute complex projects such as the development of Golden Tee LIVE.

In each and every chapter, our goal is to engage, entertain, and inform. You'll encounter insights and anecdotes throughout the book from the very people who designed, built, and marketed the game. You'll begin to appreciate the vision, talent, and effort that went into creating Golden Tee LIVE and promoting it to brand-name status. Whether you're a fan of the game, a game developer, or a curious entrepreneur who's looking for an intriguing success story, you'll find just the inside information and insights you're looking for in Deconstructing Golden Tee LIVE.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents



Getting Into the Game

Discovering Golden Tee LIVE

Dipping Into Golden Tee's History

Witnessing the Birth of Incredible Technologies

Golden Tee Golf Tees Off

Hitting the Hard Times: The Trilogy of Death

Returning to the Street Market

Heating Up the Competition

Overcoming the Resistance to Change

Taking a Leap of Faith

Meeting the People Behind Golden Tee's Success

The Visionaries

Development's Cast and Crew

The Celebrities and Other Outside Talent

The Players

The Distributors, Operators, and Location Owners

The Marketers and the Media

All-Important Customer Support

Getting Down to Business with Golden Tee Golf

The Game's the Thing


Taking Turns

Getting Into the Swing of Golden Tee

Adding a New Spin to the Game

Manipulating Camera Angles and Fly-Bys

Getting Immersed in the Game

Keeping the Game Simple, Yet Challenging

The Visual Draw

The Audio Attraction

The Tactile Feel

Stroking Players: The Reward System

Crowning Players with Fame and Glory

Paying Out Cash and Prizes

Delivering Subtle Strokes Inside the Game

Reaping Rewards Outside the Game

Cultivating a Player Community

Making It Look Easy


Designing for the Needs of the Coin-Op Market

Going Online All the Time in Real Time

Restructuring the Tournament System

Introducing Player Customizations and Other Options

Offering a Helping Hand

Animating the Golfer with Motion Capture Technology

Making the Game a Little More Interesting with Hole-N-Win

Selling the Idea Back Home


Following the Cash Flow

Keeping Players Keyed in to Golden Tee

Teaming Up with the Operators

Taking Care of the Guy on the Street

Educating the Guy on the Street

Catering to the Location Owners

Collecting the Cash and Other Forms of Payment

Paying with Plastic

Managing Player Accounts

Delivering the Biggest Bang for the Buck

Cutting Costs with Standard PC Components

Optimizing Human Resources

Reining in Development

Increasing the Life of LIVE

Dealing with the Competition


Redesigning the Cabinet

Getting the Hardware Platform Up and Running

Implementing the Linux Operating System

Assessing Connectivity and Security Options

Retooling the Graphics Engine

Casting Shadows

Reflecting Images Off the Water

Filtering Light Through the Trees

Generating Particle Systems

Retooling the Sound Engine

Porting Over the Previous Code

Making the Tools That Make the Game

Gathering Media and Other Assets

Piquing Interest in the Game

Staying Focused


Dreaming Sleek and Chic

Giving the Traditional Cabinet a More Chiseled Look

Designing for Player Safety and Comfort

Designing for Operator Convenience and Mobility

Adding Curb Appeal with Dual Monitors

Building a Robust Cabinet for the Street Market

Revamping the Control Panel

Retooling the Trackball

Adding a Couple Helpful Buttons

Redesigning and Redesigning the Overlay

Putting It All Together


Touring the Hardware That Powers Golden Tee LIVE

Going Modular with Standard PC Components

Adding Muscle and Longevity with a PCI Express Video Card

Selecting and Programming the Hard Drive

Cranking Up the Volume

Keeping Cool When the Game Heats Up

Interfacing with the Player Through the I/O Board

Staying Connected with a Wireless Modem

Upgrading the Card Reader

Giving the Cabinet a Unique ID

Going the Linux Route


The Philosophy That Drives the Course Design

Focusing on the Approach Shot

Making the Second Shot as Interesting as the First

Forcing Players to Make Tough Decisions

Keeping Courses Fresh

Appealing to New Players

Feeding the Idea Mill

Scripting an 18-Hole Drama

Sketching a Preliminary Design by Hand

Top-Down Hole Design in Photoshop

Meshing the Hole in 3ds Max

Molding Hills, Valleys, and Other Terrain

Adding Tees and Pins

Getting the Hole in the Game

Handing Off the Hole to the Artists

Unveiling Kangaroo Trail, Hole 5


Crafting the Scenery for the Courses

Building a Reference Library

Modeling Objects for the Game

Applying Texture Maps

Applying Material to Objects to Control Their Behavior

Maintaining the Delicate Balance Between Appearance and Performance

Packing Several Textures on a Single Map

Conserving Polygon Counts with Bump Maps

Controlling the Lighting with Normal Maps

Tracking the Polygon Counts

Tackling the Tree Problem

Adding Rain, Fog, and Other Special Effects

Building the JumboTrons

Getting Graphics into the Game


Designing and Building Customizable Golfers

Modeling a Male and Female Golfer

Giving the Model Some Skin

Designing the Golfer's Wardrobe

Modeling Golf Clubs and Other Equipment

Getting into the Swing: Animating the Golfer

Scripting the Golf Swings

Filming the Golf Swings

Building the Skeletons

Cleaning Up the Motion Capture

Rigging a Wireframe Model to the Skeleton

Creating Other Life Forms


Enhancing the Game with Musical Accompaniment

Adding to the Realism with Sound Effects

Recording and Enhancing the Crowd Sounds

Sounding Out on the Golf Course

Getting the Sounds into the Game

Adding Color Commentary...and a Dash of Corny Humor

Pooling the Talent

Composing the Announcer Scripts

Taping the Celebrity Announcers

Stripping Out the Green Screen

Building the Set


Envisioning the Interface Design and Color Scheme

Building Better Player Selection Screens

Sketching Conceptual Designs

Creating the Screens in Photoshop and 3ds Max

Adding More Options Without Overwhelming Players

Designing Additional Objects for the User Interface

Fine-Tuning the Designs

Designing Accessible Operator Selection Screens

Targeting the Needs of the Operator

Listing and Arranging Available Options

Building the Selection Screens

Adding Functionality to the Selection Screens



Revisiting the Original Tournament System

Leveling the Playing Field

Understanding How the ITS Tournament System Works

Building ITNet's Massively Parallel Infrastructure

Exchanging Data Between the Game and the Server

Making an Unreliable System Reliable

Implementing a Database in Golden Tee LIVE

Streamlining the Database

Securing the Connection and Data Transfers

Managing the Costs of Broadband

Pulling It All Together


What's Code and What's Not?

Preparing Game Code

Automating the Flow of Content into the Game

Creating a Build


Finding Game Testers with the Right Stuff

Preparing the Pre-Flight Checklist: The Posterity List

Differentiating Between Bugs and RFEs

Logging Bugs and RFEs

Performing Whitebox Testing

Remaining Sensitive to the Unexpected

Testing Golden Tee LIVE on Location

Learning the Tough Lessons and Making Adjustments

Broadening the Field Test

Testing the Game in the Long Term


Creating Synergies with the Web Component

Empowering Players at

Equipping Operators with Powerful Tools

Bringing Marketing and Customer Service Online

Assisting International Partners

Reaching Beyond Simple Web Page Creation

Improving Efficiency with Generic Code


Building the Game

Moving Forward with Gold Master Production

Briefing Customer Service

Ship It!

Continuing Development

19. THE 19TH HOLE.

Get Your Head in the Game


Get Organized

Learn to Play as a Team

Remain Open to the Simple Solutions

Don't Resist Necessary Changes



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