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International Test Cricket

 

This article is basically my summary of cricket games in general.  In building this site I have obviously played a lot of cricket games and have developed some strong opinions about what features should be included in a cricket game.

Most cricket games tend to fall in to one of 2 camps

bulletCricket Simulations e.g. International Cricket Captain and International Test Cricket
bulletCricket Arcade Games e.g. EA Cricket 96/97 and Brian Lara Cricket

Cricket Simulations tend to use real life ratings to generate results.  There may be some user input on the tactics front normally selecting batting and bowling aggression levels.  The overall aim is normally to produce a result that looks realistic and over several matches players and teams perform as well as their real life counterparts.

Cricket Games still normally use ratings but are more arcade based.  You normally are in charge of every single delivery and based on how well you control the joystick has a factor of the outcome of the delivery.  Typically results are rarely realistic.  You start off not very well so end up getting bowled out for low scores and getting smacked all around the park when bowling.  As you become more familiar with the game you work out tactics and can end up scoring massive totals and dismissing the opposition for nominal scores.

Whilst the presentation and style of game can vary massively there are some elements I feel should be in every cricket game. 

Note these are general elements and do not cover things like graphics or sound.  I do not consider these as important as gameplay and it is all based upon the development team.  You would hope an EA Cricket game would have professional graphics but a shareware cricket simulation often does not have the facilities to create graphics and so concentrates on other areas.

bulletAverages - Cricket is a statisticians dream and a computer game should be an ideal vehicle to store all the virtual stats produced whilst playing a game.   It is therefore amazing how few games offer the ability to display player averages and save them from session to session.  A lot of games claim to be statistical simulations of cricket but if you can not play lots of matches and see how the averages work out over time it is very hard to see how accurate a simulation the game is.  At a minimum then a game should calculate and store player averages.
bulletRecords - Whilst averages are a minimum it would be much better if records like highest innings score, best bowling in an innings, etc were also saved.   These could then easily be compared to real life performances and the general accuracy of the game could again be evaluated.
bulletNames - A cricket program should always use real life names.  It is very hard to get motivated for an Ashes clash if the names of the players are fictitious.
bulletRatings - Players should be rated according to their real life averages.  These ratings should be visible in some way so you can judge who are good and bad players.  Ideally you should be able to adjust ratings and add/delete players.  This is more important for the simulation games so you can prolong the life of the game and also set up what if scenarios.  Could the Aussies of the 1930s beat the West Indies of the 1980s.

The above elements apply equally to simulations and arcade games.  The elements listed below are more specific to the one genre.

Simulation Games

bulletTactics - Ideally there should be some way of selecting tactics for the match.  These should be general ones like selecting batting aggression, bowling aggression, next batsman, next bowler, when to declare, etc.
bulletPlaying - Ideally there should be an intelligent computer so you don't have to play both sides.  This also stops potential natural bias for one side effecting the accuracy.
bulletInstant Results - To accurately test a simulation you need to play a lot of results so it would be nice if you could generate a quick result and build up the averages and records.

Arcade Games

bulletBatting - There ideally should be more than one control system.   Some games use a mouse control but most use a variant of showing where the ball will pitch and allow you to move the batsman and pressing a button plays a specific shot.   The mouse ones can take time to master but are more realistic and allow more variation as to the result.
bulletBowling A.I. - Often it becomes a matter of practice at repeating a few shots and running up a huge score.  Computer bowling A.I. needs to be improved to stop this by varying the bowling a bit more and moving fielders to stop the common scoring shots.  Also player ratings need to be used more.  Often it is as easy to score a century with a No. 10 as with the openers.
bulletBowling - Control methods where the amount of swing/pace/spin is dependent on the speed you waggle your joystick are not that effective and not realistic.   A control system needs to allow variety of delivery without having to break your joystick/keyboard.
bulletBatting A.I. - In nearly all cases of arcade games once you have worked out a formula to dismiss a batsman it can be repeated all the time.  Computer batsman should adjust to this.  If you are always pitching it in the same place it should start to expect it and counter it.  This would force you when bowling to vary your attack a bit more.

These are just my ideas, if you have your own opinions or feel I have missed some elements out please send feedback.

Revised: Saturday, 16 March 2013.
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