Another Top Spin 3 issue 2K Czech had to address was the complete lack of visual feedback on the amount of power you were putting on a shot. While it was possible to adapt to the way the game wanted you to play by reading the visual cues from the player's animation (and the length of your button presses), it relied on the player's instincts too much for some tastes.
Now, if you charge up your shot, a small circular power reticule appears above your character. It fills up depending on when you commenced the shot and how long you held the button down. Prepare for your return early and you might have time to belt the ball back with venom right into the corner. Dally too long, though, and it won't have quite the same impact, nor present the opponent with a troubling angle.
But as well as these useful timing and power indicators, Dupas and co. recognised that the controls themselves were also to blame for confusing players. The core controls were fine, with the usual slice, flat, top spin, and lob shots assigned to the face buttons, but PAM got players in a knot by introducing 'Risk Shot' combos via the shoulder buttons.
In theory, they added power or accuracy if you could pull them off with expert timing, but usually they merely resulted in a lost point. "It was a nice idea, but it was a bit too difficult," Dupas concedes. So out they went.
"We came from another angle on this, saying how can we use button presses and yet have a wider variety of shots," he explains. The emphasis now, it seems, is on timing the power of your shot to vary accuracy.
"You can charge your shot for power but less control and less angle, but this time you can also quick tap to have a controlled shot. It's not so fast, but it allows you [more time] to move the opponent left and right."
Putting the theory into practice later at the event, it feels much more in line with how you expect a tennis game to feel - which is to say that, yes, it has that Virtua Tennis level of fluidity. Even after just a few matches you'll instantly feel like the ball is going where you want it to - and without the need to sweat through endless tutorials to get there.
That's not to say that the Top Spin Academy has been made redundant, and Top Spin 4 goes to considerable effort to try and actually coach people in how to play the game, and how to think like a tennis pro. "You know, some [players] have no idea how to play tennis... Most people lose because they stand in the middle waiting for the ball to come back to them!"
With that in mind, the academy starts right from the basics of movement and timing, before schooling players in things like player attributes, and how to make the most of their playing style and strengths - and how to avoid opponents exposing your weaknesses.
One such lesson focuses on the defensive game, and how to drain your opponent's energy: "You make the opponent run, you empty his bar, game after game. Once he is really tired, he loses power, he loses control, he cannot run anymore. So you can take advantage," Dupas says.
"We are trying to incentivise people to get curious about the fatigue, because it could be a way to win the game."