Water Polo Video Game?!
There are exciting developments happening in the water polo world. For decades a water polo video game has been a dream for the water polo community.
Now... finally, one man in Brazil, Eric Flório has started development on the most ambitious water polo video game ever made, Water Polo Revolution.
We caught up with Eric to learn more about this game, his vision and most importantly what we as the water polo community can do to help bring this to life.
Thanks for chatting with us Eric, could you please introduce a bit about yourself?
I’m a 31 years old Brazilian guy who plays water polo for fun and creates video games for a living.
As a kid, I used to love sports and games in general (including video games, of course). Football (soccer) and swimming were my absolute favourites. At the age of 21, when I lost the interest for swimming and was not able to play football due to a knee injury I was in need of a team sport with no impact on the joints, and water polo looked like the perfect candidate.
Since then, I’ve been completely in love with water polo. It became part of who I am. Now I live constantly waiting for the next training session, or, even better, for the next competition. And I know a lot of you feel the same way, since this is such a passionate community.
Can you explain what Water Polo Revolution is, how you started it and the progress of it today?
This project started as a way to combine my love for making video games with my love for playing water polo. And I feel really lucky for being able to do that. But, at the same time, I feel I have the responsibility to do it. How many other water polo players in the world are also game developers, and are also in a stage of their lives where they can commit to a project like that? Probably not many. So I thought I should do it.
My first attempt of making a water polo video game was really unpretentious. At that point, I had never seriously thought about creating a full water polo game, it seemed impossible. In about 3 days, I created a simple 2D game where you could move the players, pass the ball, and shoot.
Although its simplicity, people had fun playing it. When you just start playing, the game looks too hard, but once you learn some tricks, it’s really easy to score every time, and you end up losing interest. So, I concluded the game needed more depth, and I should add more features. I had no time for that, though, and the project was left aside. I wanted to invest a little more on the project, but I was always working on something else.
Finally, after about 2 or 3 years, I saw the opportunity to fully focus on the project. The simple 2D look of my first prototype was not good enough anymore, and I decided to try something big. I refused other job opportunities, grabbed some savings, and took the risk to work full time on this game.
At the moment, the game already has some of the foundational mechanics, like movement, passing, shooting, switching between players, basic animations, decent visuals… I think I reached a point where I’m able to assess the viability of the project and to show it to the community. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. For this first stage of the development, it was ok for me to do it all by myself. But, for my next steps, I’m looking for a programmer to work with me, speeding up the development process and allowing for a broader scope. So, at the moment, I’m focusing on the business side of the project, trying to grow my social media, making contact with people, trying to find investors/sponsors to allow me to hire a programmer…
For me, this is a crucial moment of the project: the moment when it switches from just a bet, to become a reality.
What has inspired your technical development of the game?
Since the beginning, I’ve been using these 3 pillar to guide me through the development:
The true feeling of playing water polo: the game should be a realistic simulation of our sport, providing mechanics that emulate the feeling of playing water polo in real life. To do this, I’m developing from the ground up how the mechanics work, in order to represent the unique characteristics of water polo. In other words, it won’t be just football in the water.
Fun way to learn: water polo has a lot of (complicated) rules, making it hard for beginners to understand it completely. In addition, beginners may also have difficulty with tactical concepts. Being a realistic simulation of the real game, Water Polo Revolution will be able to work as an educational tool as well.
More fans: I'm developing this game mainly for people who are already water polo fans, people who would feel represented by the game, who would be excited about the idea, and who already feel the need for a water polo video game. However, this also seems to be a great opportunity to reach people who don't know the sport yet, through a medium that is growing everyday (video games). I hope this game can bring more fans to the sport, contributing (even if a tiny bit) to make it more widespread.
How important do you think it is for water polo to engage with new audiences by having a video game?
The video game industry is now a huge market. It makes more money than the film industry, for example, which has been here for a much longer time. Digital games are becoming a part of the day-by-day of an increasingly higher number of people, not restricted to a small number of hardcore gamers anymore.
The problem is, the big companies of the sector don’t like to take risks. They prefer not to innovate too much on the games, choosing options that have already been proven profitable, while also targeting the largest audience possible. As you can imagine, a water polo video game does not match any of those criteria. It’s a video game practically no one ever tried to make before, as the target audience is much smaller than football’s, basketball’s, baseball’s…
Those big companies have literally hundreds of people working on a single game, so they expect to sell A LOT of copies to recover their investments. And that’s why no one ever made a water polo game equivalent to a FIFA or PES (Pro Evolution Soccer).
Don’t worry though, I have good news for you. Indie game developers (like me) generally have a different approach. They are the ones responsible for pushing the boundaries of the industry, investing in innovative ideas that are too risky for the big companies. They also look for niche segments where they don’t have to compete with the big companies. So, Water Polo Revolution is my attempt to fill this gap.
That said, I see basically four ways a video game could be useful to help water polo to better communicate with new audiences:
By making more people hear about our sport: I don’t know how it is in other countries, but here in Brazil a really small percentage of the population knows water polo. So, this could be a way to reach people who don’t usually attend places where water polo is a subject (like a club, for example).
By providing a safer environment: I’m not saying water polo is dangerous, but it can be daunting depending on the situation. Many people are not very familiar with swimming, or even with practicing any sports at all, so playing water polo for the first time could trigger some anxiety. A video game would provide an opportunity to have contact with the sport without the fear of drowning or being judged by others.
By teaching the theory: playing a video game could allow someone who have never played water polo in real life to become really proficient at the rules and the tactics of the sport.
By making people fall in love with our sport: as I mentioned before, video games have a huge potential for engagement. A water polo game that is able to immerse the player, could make them a real fan of the sport. I always remember how much more involved with football I was when I used to play FIFA. I knew all the teams of all the most important leagues, as well as the most promising or recognized football players of that time. As a result, I ended up consuming much more information about football in other kinds of media (like watching games on TV).
What are some of the most exciting aspects of the game that you have developed?
The thing that gets me the most excited is seeing something that has never been done before coming to life. It’s seeing our sport being represented in a way that has never been seen. So, I end up getting excited about every little feature I add to the game that makes me closer to finish it, like a new functionality, a new animation, or even a bug fix.
And I think other people feel the same way, judging by the responses I get on social media.
By the way, the other thing that recently got me very excited was the community responses to the trailer I released. The game is far from finished, but people are already super enthusiastic and involved on it. A lot of people are showing support, sending me messages, sharing the post, trying to help anyway they can… And that really boosts my motivation.
You’ve already got quite a strong social media following for this game, how have you found the response from the global water polo community so far?
I was quite surprised, actually. I knew a lot of people would love to play a water polo video game, but I didn’t know the extent of it. After releasing the first trailer of the game on Instagram, I was barely able to keep up with the amount of direct messages and comments in the post (I tried to answer everyone). I got more than 200 comments on this single post, which seems a lot to me, even compared to the biggest water polo pages on Instagram, which usually don’t get more than 15 comments per post. And that made me realize how much people are engaged with the project. Also, a lot of people sharing the post and sincerely offering help, showing that they believe on the importance of this game to our sport.
I have to admit, at the beginning I didn’t know for sure if the project had potential, but now, after this great community response, I have no doubt about that.
How can the water polo community support the development of Water Polo Revolution and also stay up to date with the latest developments?
The easiest way to contribute while also staying up to date is by following my Instagram page: @wp_revolution
Instagram has been a great way for me to expand my audience, to talk to people, and to get a feeling about the acceptance of the game by the water polo community.
If you believe in the project, you can also share it with your water polo friends via social media (Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp groups...).
However, if you want to go a step further, you can also become a Patreon supporter. Since I’m relying only on my savings for now (I’m not making any money with the game yet), the donations made via Patreon really help me to pay the bills.
I also use Patreon to post more in-depth content, talking about my progress, about what I’m planning to do next, or explaining some specific mechanic. You can learn more about that and the rewards granted to my Patreon supporters at patreon.com/waterpolorevolution