Following yesterday's reports that the Bitmap Brothers were working on a new project called Speedball Arena, the game's lead designer Ed Bartlett sent us a short letter with the first official information on the game, telling us that "we are indeed working on a next gen follow up to the Speedball series, although we were kind of hoping to keep it secret for a little while longer!"
The company has apparently had a skeleton team working on the game for some time, and the project is now building up steam with a release tentatively pencilled in for Christmas 2002. Ed wouldn't comment on rumours posted by FGN that the game would be running on the Unreal engine, and also didn't say which platform(s) the game would be released on, telling us that "the leak will not affect our official launch strategy or announcements, so expect much more regarding confimation of technology, publishers, platforms and strategic partners in the near future, as well as more facts and teasers and a proper website". He did reveal a little more information about the scope of the game though.
"The aim of Speedball Arena is to create a fully-fledged online sport, with a simple to pick up and hard to master game dynamic that, along with our innovative training and player class system, will give players an almost infinite learning curve", he explained. "As with any 'sport' there will be leagues and tournaments, ranking systems, spectating and even a transfer market. Imagine downloading a 'highlights' program every evening to catch up on what you have missed or swapping highlights and replays with clan members."
There is also talk of in-game advertising, a range of sponsored team skins to pick from, and the ability to check on league standings and the transfer market from your mobile phone. And according to Ed, "what we have announced so far merely scratches the surface of what the final product will deliver, both in terms of features and also visual quality"...