[App Fridays] An engaging 3D table tennis experience to smash, spin and swing your way with AppGuruz

By Harshith Mallya|24th Oct 2014
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We all love playing some form of sport, be it football, cricket, tennis, squash and the myriad others that help us get our adrenaline pumping, make us pound our fists in anticipation and keep us fit. For some of us engaging in sports in the physical world is just not enough, we want to indulge and enjoy the experience on every platform possible and hence the success of console, PC and mobile games like the FIFA, NBA and various cricket series like Don Bradman Cricket, Brian Lara cricket etc.

Table Tennis is a popular sport all over the world because of the breath-taking pace at which it is played and the delicate skill needed to master it. The game has so far lacked an engaging online presence on the app stores. AppGuruz aims to change that.

What is it about?

‘Table Tennis 3D’ by App Guruz as the name suggests is a 3D table tennis game that runs on the Unity 3D engine and includes detailed graphics, effects and accurate in game-physics. Users can play against a friend or the computer (AI) and smash, swing or spin the ball like they would in an actual game of table tennis in the real world.

The team behind it

After completing his masters from Nirma University in 2009, Tejas Jasani founded ‘The App Guruz’ in August 2011. The company was started with two developers and right now the team has scaled up to 55 employees, including a team of 30 dedicated to mobile gaming.

AppGuruz
L to R – Balram, Ravi, Maulik, Khuman, Kedar, Tejas, Dhaval, Sohil, Manish, Dipak, Bharat

 

The Design team included Khumansinh the Game design head, Balram the Environment artist, Sohil the Environment & props artist and Manish the UI designer. Kedar was in charge of Music, Sound FX, Game Logo and the Game Teaser Video. The Development included Maulik who was the lead programmer, Dahaval handling gameplay and physics and Dipak the Additional programmer.Bharat and Ravi handled Marketing and operations respectively. Tejas said:

We started as a services company so we worked on a lot of gaming projects for clients. Our team has a lot of experience in this field after completing about 100 games for the likes of Microsoft, USA and lot of 2D & 3D games for other clients across the globe. We wanted to get into our own production and the game of table tennis presented us that opportunity, so we grabbed it.

The team is extremely enthusiastic about table tennis and have had a ping pong table in their office since day zero. They play the game a lot on a regular basis and this passion led them to develop the game, as they found no suitable game in the market that matched their needs and requirements. So when they started developing the game, their first priority was to create gameplay mechanics that comes naturally to a player.

“Being an in-house project, we didn’t have to worry much about the time frame as it was just a side project at that time. We were busy doing clients’ projects and worked on this game only when we were free. The team wasn’t even decided and nothing was scheduled either,” says Tejas.

But after a few weeks of development, the team decided to take the development full scale as they felt that given proper amount of time and energy, this game had the potential to do well. The game was developed in around five months.

Features

The USPs of table tennis 3D are:

- Three Game Play Modes

  • Quick Matches (3 Levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Expert)
  • Career Mode (5 Levels: Local, State, Country, Continent, International)
  • Head To Head (Play against your friends)
AppGuruz

- Smart AI competitor programmed based on human behaviour (reaction time, strength, skill, speed etc.) with three modes

- Physics engine gives realistic effects to the ball and bat.

- Play sidespin, corkspin, smash, lob, flick, loop shot etc. similar to real table tennis modes.

- Configure Power, Spin and Control of the racquet.

The game is free to download and play, but users can also make in-app purchases to unlock racquets and power upgrades faster instead of collecting golden balls completing in-game challenges to unlock the same.

I spent a few days trying out the different game modes, different racquets, arenas and other features. Here are my first impressions.

Pros and Cons

The overall gameplay is very engaging with accurate graphics, in-game physics and sound effects. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the different difficulty levels is also spot on as well. Another aspect which adds to the realism is the Sound FX, with the signature ‘ping-pong’ sound of the ball bouncing off the table sounding quite realistic.

I played the game at all the difficulty levels with all the three different racquets to get a feel of how the game experience varies. As expected the newer racquets provided better spin, power and control, but the ‘Terminator’ racquet maxed out in all the three aspects of power. Spin and control, I found the ‘Expert’ difficulty level too hot to handle. Try as much as I could, I could not beat the AI.

The attention to detail in all aspects is also very apparent with different environments, balls, and racquets which add to the novelty of the game. The offensive gameplay with the ball flowing back and forth quickly and the ability to direct the ball, spin it or smash it back is good.

Drawbacks  

Though very engaging at first, after a few hours of gaming, it feels one dimensional as the game focusses on only offence. A much needed add on could be to add a new twist to the service, as the game includes just one standard service as of now. Also if chops, blocks could be somehow included which would make the ball skid and drop short on the table it would improve the overall experience a great deal and bring it much closer to a real life game of table tennis.

The multiplayer mode is also fun as well, but as the two players have to manage on smaller windows, on the same phone it becomes a little difficult. If multiple players could play over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi it would add to the appeal of the game even further.

YS verdict

If you are an ardent table tennis fan then this is a must try game which will keep you engrossed for hours. Even if you are not a fan of the game, do give it a try and you may suddenly find the passion for the game, which was the case when I introduced the game to a few friends. Despite some of the minor issues I came across, this is still one of the better designed and executed table tennis games one can play on a smartphone.

You can download the game here for Android. The iOS version will be launched in a few days.