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Virtual Penalty Shootout celebrated its first anniversary. Officially, the game was released on September 30, 2020 and instantly caught the attention of operators and gamers.

The community of experts also recognized the uniqueness and beauty of the game by shortlisting it for the 2021 Global Gaming Award in the Product Launch of the Year category. Recently, NSoft received seven nominations for the SBC Awards Latinoamerica 2021. Among others, we are shortlisted in the Virtual Sports Supplier category. The app for this award relied heavily on the Virtual Penalty Shootout game.

To celebrate all of these milestones, we’ve decided to tell a different story on Virtual Penalty Shootout. We won’t be talking about the RNG, the betting markets, the way to play, but let the people who created the game say a word or two about the passion, excitement and dedication.

By Amela Dedić and Biljana Haljevac, Senior 3D Artists / Animators

The team

Great teams and great ideas are all about the people and the work atmosphere. We from the former NSoft 3D Games team, now the 3D Creative Team, were fortunate enough to found them and we just can’t start this story without thanking the former and current members of the team: Jasmin Ličina – Senior 3D Artist / Team Leader, Dragan Grbavac – Senior 3D Artist, Dejan Boras – Senior Unity Developer, Zlatko Vukšić – Senior Unit Developer, Adnan Mujkić – Unity Dev, Dragan Rezo – Senior 3D Artist, Stojan Cvitković – Senior 3D Artist, Toni Matej Radoš – Senior 3D Artist. In this story, “we” are Biljana Haljevac – Senior 3D Animator and Amela Dedić – Senior 3D Animator. We are the one who will take you behind the scenes of Virtual Penalty Shootout.

Our team’s job is to develop virtual betting games such as virtual greyhound and horse racing, Motorcycle Speedway, etc.

New project – Virtual penalties

The virtual penalty shootout was the most difficult project we have worked on. It allowed us to learn and try new things like motion capture. Our first job was to find the best way for our small team to create such a big virtual game. The biggest challenge was the animation process. We needed a lot of very realistic animations, and the best solution to this problem was a motion capture system. Our choice fell on a Swedish company named Rokoko and their WiFi motion capture suit – The Smartsuit Pro.

After we placed our order for the costume, the wait time was used up to go back to school and research the creation of other elements of the game such as character and location design and creation, l ‘recording and cleaning of MoCap animations, new software and a game. rules. Our best friends were Pluralsight and LinkedIn Learning.

Arrival – Smartsuit Pro is in town

The arrival of the Smartsuit Pro was the happiest occasion. Also, the day our colleague Toni officially became the resident talent of the MoCap test.

Since our open office was not suitable for a proper MoCap test, our first choice was the local park. Awesome place, great weather, but just one problem: electricity was really hard to find. A more suitable location has been found for the appropriate tests and future motion capture sessions. The local futsal pitch had everything we needed.

MoCap Time!

After the first tests, we felt confident enough to start official motion capture sessions. The first step was to plan and create MoCap sheets for each motion capture session.

Our motion capture team was small but efficient: Toni Matej Radoš – Test talent & Talent Manager, Biljana Haljevac – Reference Cameras and Amela Dedić – Rokoko Studio, MoCap Sheet. And our Talents, real footballers, who would not otherwise be possible: Fedja Kulenić (goalkeeper) and Ivan Arapović (player).

Since we only have one combination, the keeper and player animations were saved separately. For this reason, we had to be very careful during the planning process so that the respective animations could match. We were a little worried about the goalie recording sessions, given the nature of the football goalkeepers’ movements. To make everything easier, we transferred the MoCap sessions from the goalkeeper to the local judo club with a soft tatami mat surface. We had 3 recording sessions and each was 3 hours long. This gave us 137 raw animations. We knew that not all MoCap takes will be successful or 100% accurate, we made sure every take was also recorded with our reference cameras.

Cleaning of animations

The whole cleaning process was done in Maya and Motionbuilder using the HumanIK system. Most of the work consisted of root movement corrections, foot slips, and arm corrections. The final part of the cleanup was to merge the player and goalie animations into one take and make sure the timing matched each take perfectly.

The movement of the ball was a mixture of keyframe animation and Unity physics.

Visuals and final rendering

Cleaning done. Next: get dressed. During the entire animation cleanup, our player and goalie gear were only dressed in their birthday costumes. It elicited a lot of funny looks from our other colleagues. But fear not! Our 3D artist Dragan Rezo was in charge of dressing them for their final rendering.

Visuals and final rendering

Cleaning done. Next: get dressed. During the entire animation cleanup, our player and goalie gear were only dressed in their birthday costumes. It elicited a lot of funny looks from our other colleagues. But fear not! Our 3D artist Dragan Rezo was in charge of dressing them for their final rendering.

Every visual element of the game can be easily changed. Appearance of characters, shirts, crowd, banners. All of this can be changed according to customer requirements. We had a test client request just to see how much time would be needed for all the changes and rendering.

  • Lions on the background video banners
  • Goalkeeper jersey with leopard print and panther head as logo on the front
  • Penalty shooter with a red jersey and a white sun on a blue background (Taiwanese flag) as the front logo. Number 88 on the back and name “Tigers” above
  • Additional but not requested, all resolution screens are translated into Mandarin

Final words

Almost no one was injured during the making of the match. Our goalie had a few bruises from the suit sensors, and we almost had a heart attack when our suit had a minor malfunction.

All kidding aside, our little team takes great pride in having successfully completed a project of this magnitude, learning a bunch of new things in the process, and using motion capture technology. It was a great experience from start to finish.

Finally, we would like you to take a look at our short video showing the motion capture animation process.

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