Interview: Axis Football 2024 Is A Payoff Of Years Of Dedication
For the past decade, Danny Jugan and his small team have been working on bringing football fans a video game they can be proud of. With no official licenses as a “selling point”, Axis Football has been a franchise built and sold on deep game modes and easy-to-pickup gameplay. And after years and years of improvements and updates both on and off the field, Axis Football 2024 is aiming to be a payoff title for a team dedicated to making a football game fans can appreciate.
“We’re not a big team,” Jugan says. “It’s something where we just continue to plug at it, making small, consistent improvements over a long period of time. Similar to investing.
“You make small contributions over a long period of time and you end up after 10 years like holy cow, we built this thing. But we couldn’t have done that without the support of the community who kind of saw the vision before we were there.”
Over the last handful of years, Jugan has been working to build Axis Football’s gameplay from what often felt stiff and jerky feel to one that feels as natural as possible — within the scope of what the team has to work with. That has led to a complete overhaul in how players run on the field, how quarterbacks throw the ball, how receivers and defensive backs attack and catch the ball, and now, with this year’s release, how blocking and player-to-player interactions work.
With blocking, Jugan says it was part of a long-term plan from years ago about the development of the gameplay. The reason it was later in the updates is because of cost and time.
Animations, he says, are expensive, and with blocking it’s two people at all times to get them captured properly.
“You need two suits and everything’s got to be great and they’re expensive,” he said. “And so we had to kind of push blocking off not only that, but the logic and the AI behind it.”
Jugan added, while pointing to charts off-screen, that programming blocking into the game has been “incredibly complex”. Each chart showed him various blocking combinations from the number of players against each other to how they’d move against various sets and so forth.
As far as how Jugan has decided what to work on each year or how much to invest in it, he says it comes straight from the community. The feedback throughout the lifecycle of the games has, for lack of a better term, molded the direction of development in a lot of ways.
“We have always believed that if we simply make the game that the community wants, they’re going to support it,” he said. “We have a Discord channel where we every day are interacting with the people that play the game, talking to them, saying, what is it that you like about the game? What’s good? What’s missing? What needs to be better?
“So we take that and we’ve had these conversations ongoing for years now.”
Outside of gameplay, Axis Football is a series that has dedicated itself to making sure its franchise mode is as deep as can be. From contract and roster management to even league relegation, the mode seemingly has something for everyone. With a small game in a vast gaming space, Jugan knew that a deep mode like franchise was what was needed to stand out and be unique.
“We knew if we were going to make it, we had to do something different,” Jugan said. “[F]or us, that was starting out in franchise mode. So that’s where we really tried to lift our game up in that area.
“There was obviously a huge void in the market in that area, and that also happened to coincide with the fact that franchise required the fewest resources to do well. There were no animations or artwork or that sort of stuff that required more on the coding side.”
With franchise mode firmly in place and gameplay at a point where Jugan feels it’s building up as opposed to rebuilding, Axis Football is a franchise that seems prime to take that next step.
Axis Football 2024 is scheduled to come out this fall, first on PC via Steam then console at a later date.