Hugecalf Studios x Unity | Case study
Starting in 2016 as two brothers and a friend experimenting in Unity after finishing their studies, Hugecalf found they enjoyed building physics-based games. Having signed with Curve Digital, they were looking to build a more ambitious title which could easily be described in one sentence, to ensure their game could be understood and picked up easily by the audience their new publisher would be seeking. Finding inspiration to build a racing game that incorporated golf mechanics, their studio has grown to a distributed team of twelve full-time members.
Create and measure a multiplayer title without in-house experience of multiplayer development
Windows, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S
Hole in one needed
To make Turbo Golf Racing’s multiplayer ambitions a reality, Hugecalf needed to find a way to accelerate their timeline and deliver a performant experience without eating into the team’s time. They were also looking for a way to analyze their games performance to enable strong long-term content support for their community.
- Two years saved not building their own backend
- Smooth launch due to scalable multiplayer with expert support
- Strong content delivery and user retention updates resulting from actionable analytics advice
Teeing off right
The team knew they needed a dedicated game server (DGS) solution to handle the bulky physics simulations needs of their game.
They had started paying a cloud provider to host their game, but saw that the development costs alone were running into the thousands – a spend they couldn’t maintain.
When they decided to give Game Server Hosting (Multiplay) a swing, they were up and running in one day.
The hybrid-cloud system meant they could work without worrying about spend, knowing they had enough bare metal coverage to keep their costs low, while having the option to scale up into the cloud as their game launched and grew.
The physics engine led to a challenge calculating the number of servers that could fit on a machine, but the Game Server Hosting (Multiplay) team were on hand to help crunch the numbers and make sure Hugecalf had their calculations correct, enabling them to get everything teed up for launch.
Ensuring a good round
With Hugecalf being a small team, they knew right from the start that during their beta, they would need to identify the most important data points to improve Turbo Golf Racing’s gameplay and user experience.
With direct support from the Unity team and access to Unity Analytics , they were able to identify key player funnels. Level completion was the starting point, but as more players joined, their focus shifted to funnels like “10 online games completed” and “30 games completed”.
Adjusting level difficulty was the next task. The team made sure to adjust the tutorial based on data collected from difficulty players having completed certain levels, providing thoughtful ways to help new players from the get-go.
Tracking in-game cosmetics was the next job the team wanted to get right. Since Turbo Golf Racing uses in-game currency obtained after every game, rewards and cosmetic items were key in making sure the most important KPI was performing well: Player retention.
With their premiere on Game Pass for Xbox, having the game be free to play came with the worry that players wouldn’t develop a lasting connection. Implementing a rewarding and fulfilling cosmetic system helped achieve high player retention. Due to Turbo Golf Racing being a live service game, the need to continuously add cosmetic packs became essential for the team as well.
Part of the club
Hugecalf quickly realized that they got more than access to great tech while working with UGS – and that support was a big factor in their success with Turbo Golf Racing.
“We can raise someone in five minutes, you write a message, do the SOS emoji, and you get very good support. We have bi-weekly meetings, we’ve got good contact.” said Andy Metcalfe, technical lead at Hugecalf.
Being a small team with little experience in data science, the team were able to define their KPIs and make effective in-game changes alongside the Unity Analytics team to ensure they had the data they needed to improve their user retention and ensure the maximum number of people were enjoying their game.
“Using a service got us to 80% of the way immediately, so we could focus on making the game. My sole job for the last two years would have been making a server platform instead of making the game. It would have pushed the timeline out massively, building it ourselves, no doubt. That’s not what we’re trying to do, we’re building games, not backend systems.”
“Unity has always been a big part of what we do, it’s the engine we’ve always used, we’ve never really looked elsewhere because it’s done everything we’ve needed to do.”
“The client side implementation of Unity Analytics is very simple, we’ve never struggled with that, it’s all been very straightforward setting everything up.”