I’ve always been a fan of tennis games. My very first industry job as a programmer was working on a Gameboy Tennis game for Ubisoft. A couple of months after joining Facepunch I decided to have a go at building an arcade style tennis sim. I’d been enjoying Virtua Tennis on the PS Vita and Mario Power Tennis on the Wii at the time and thought there wasn’t anything like that on Steam. Valve was talking about Steam boxes and Steam controllers and I really wanted to exploit these new technologies. Initially we built a small prototype that consisted of one player model and a very basic court. Alex joined Facepunch and we worked together for a considerable time trying to build a decent animation system. After fighting with Unity’s new mecanim system we had a functional tennis game.
Matt and Jason joined the project in August 2014 as artists and together we started working through a bunch of gameplay ideas and character designs. Initially the game used the standard tennis scoring mechanic; Love, 15, 30 etc but this was something we wanted to move away from. We replaced the usual rules with a Street Fighter style health bar scoring mechanic. As rallies progressed the amount of damage that would be inflicted on your opponent increased should you win the point. We also tried out various methods for acquiring and triggering special moves. Initially we had powerups spawn on the court surface that would randomly give you a special move, Mario Kart style, but we felt that specials should be rewarded for good play rather than the player just being in the right spot. We added special meters and tried out several different mechanics for filling these meters. Some early work on a multiplayer mode, gameplay mechanics per court and a replay system was also undertaken.
In January 2016 active development of Deuce ceased. Following a prototype week I decided to focus on a different game. Ultimately Deuce always seemed functional but never felt like you wanted “just one more go”. If you are a fan of Mario Power Tennis then you’ll probably find some enjoyment in it, but for us, other ideas seemed to have more appeal.