Lightning Fish founder and CEO Simon Prytherch answers questions on his studio's development of THQ/Adidas fitness game miCoach

E3 Interview: Lightning Fish and miCoach

THQ and Adidas have today announced a motion control fitness title for release in early 2012. The game, miCoach, is based on an existing Adidas IP, but is being developed by UK studio Lightning Fish. Develop caught up with studio CEO Simon Prytherch to find out how things were going so far.

What exactly is the new Lightning Fish title that has just been announced?

It is called miCoach (pronounced "my coach"). miCoach is a new fitness title being developed by Lightning Fish for Adidas and THQ on Microsoft Kinect and PlayStation Move. This is not really fitness it is training. It trains you to be faster, stronger and better for your sport. For instance be quicker to the ball in football or jump higher in basketball. miCoach also uses sport to make working out fun.

miCoach will allow the player to train alongside their sporting hero. It features six main categories – Football, Tennis, Running, Basketball, American Football and Training. Training is what other fitness titles tried to cover in the past.

miCoach is a complete training system which has elements that are in the living room with your console but also has stuff to do away from your console outside. It is part of a bigger miCoach world with a web site, Adidas hardware and mobile apps. See for more info.

This is the first fitness title which has significant appeal to a male audience. miCoach will feature a number of well known sports stars including Kaka (Brazilian and Real Madrid footballer), Jessica Ennis (gold medal heptathlete) and Dwight Howard (top US basketball star).

What made Lightning Fish the ideal studio for this project?

Lightning Fish has specialised in developing camera-based motion tracking games since we formed the company in 2008. We have also a lot of experience of including real actors using chromakey film techniques in our games.

The original concept for the title was developed by us and then we approached Adidas. It was great timing, as Adidas were developing their miCoach brand and hardware at the time. The miCoach console title will be become the hub allowing users to connect to the web, mobile and the console experience all in one place.

What were the challenges of working with such a high profile brand?

Adidas have been a great partner. They have been open and supportive from the beginning. It has opened so many doors. The access to all of their sponsored athletes has been amazing. It takes two very long days per athlete to shoot all the footage and record all the audio for inclusion in the game.

What about the game do you think will make it a success?

Three things –

1. The real athletes. They are not avatars and you can really relate to your sporting hero.
2. The game puts the player alongside the athlete. Each star is your coach and your training buddy.
3. When you do well. You get rewarded with masterclasses from the stars. Top tips on their sport.

What opportunities did the project afford you to push your technological abilities/showcase cutting edge techniques?

It has allowed us to take our motion tracking technology to the next level. We have also developed new rendering tech for the player. Finally we have also developed some first person 3D tech which we cannot talk about now, but we will reveal this later in the year.

Was there anything else you wanted to say about the project or Lightning Fish?

It has been an amazing experience making this game. No avatars or 3D characters are used, so we work with the real athletes and put the player alongside them. This makes for a much more personal and approachable feel.

I cannot talk about all the stars that are in the game because today we have only revealed a few of them. Suffice to say, all the athletes are at the top of their sport. You can imagine, it has been a lot of hard work but also a real pleasure making this game.

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