Where Is The Diabolical Golf Sim Of My Dreams

The SimCity series is best remembered for its city management, but developers Maxis deserved just as much praise for turning their simulator skills towards the world of golf. And that was a wonderful time: it allowed a younger me to dream.

A dream of building the most hellish, dickish golf course imaginable.

Resort Boss: Golf, which pleasantly popped up towards the end of last year, initially seemed like it might meet this promise. On the surface, it's a sim about managing a golf resort.

The Resort Boss title isn't for show. The early access of the game, which launched this week, includes hiring and firing privileges for landscapers and builders. The volley of mayors, actors, journalists and other "famous" people will result in a metric shit ton of emails to scroll through, which you can't sort or file away in any organised manner.

True to life, dealing with emails is never fun.

You're supposed to build paths for your members to get from place to place, a clubhouse for them to stay at, and later a hotel, restaurant, and expanded golf facilities. The game will let you build three holes from the beginning until you become more established, which really just translates to building a hole competently enough that the golf internet doesn't hate you for existing.

And despite my best efforts, that didn't seem to matter.

Once you've made a clubhouse, Resort Boss: Golf takes you through the basics of creating a hole. Decide what you want the plot - the playing field, basically - of the hole to be. Work out where the tee and hole will be, add fairways, rough, greens, bunkers as necessary, adjust the formation of the land (read: make vortexes of death that the golfer AI is too dumb to escape from), and once you're done, your landscapers will start laying the necessary work to bring your hole into being.

There's a bit of shock with the holes, in that you spend the whole process building exactly what it'll look like - and then you have to wait for it to be built. Which could take a while early on, since you only start with two landscapers and they're probably busy fixing up a bunker you asked them to work on somewhere else. There's a fast-forward button, although it never seems to move quite as fast as I'd like.

The hole building process - in principle and practice - is the best part of this game. There's some bizarre quirks, like when the game suddenly decides to remove half of the green from the allotted playfield simply after moving the hole.

The biggest kicker at the moment is that the golfing AI is too simplistic to work its way around a course. Working with the smallest possible sandbox to start with, I designed a second hole as a dogleg - one with a fairway that curves around a corner before going over a small lagoon onto a raised green.

I'd mucked with the placement of trees and the fairway, but Resort Boss tends to calculate the path to the hole as directly as possible. You can't, for instance, put a couple of trees on the fairway. Or really account for slices and hook shots - punters will aim straight as the hole as much as possible, never taking the safe route or an extra shot to make par.

You also can't set what the par for a hole should be - that's automatically determined by the length of the hole, irrespective of how hellish a designer you want to be.

Playing a hole, at this stage, is pretty simplistic. There's no neat SimGolf style mechanics, or even traditional video game golfing skills required. Once you pick a hole you want to play, you wait for someone to approach the tee, select a club, pick a point on the course, and your peep will hit a perfect shot. They trot up to the ball, and you repeat until either you finish the hole or get bored and opt to retire.

There were plenty of bugs with my playthrough though: menus would overlay each other, the main menu bar occasionally disappeared forcing me to restart the game, or punters would get stuck meaning I couldn't play my own hole. It's improved over the last fortnight, particularly when it comes to construction staff getting lost in their own project or behind a wall somewhere, but it's still very early in development.

Resort Boss: Golf launches in early access Friday morning local time, so there's a ton of development down the road that's still required. Key features on the roadmap include custom player/managers that appear on the course, Steam workshop support for Rollercoaster Tycoon-style scenarios for players to work through, cloud saves, different algorithms for map generation to avoid always starting on completely flat sandboxes (think more mountainous courses), more advanced management settings for each hole, an entire round of golf, budgetary restrictions, staff ranks and more advanced contract negotiations.

The building aspect is pretty rudimentary for now.

But what's available from this week is pretty simple. It's not SimGolf and nothing close to what a spiritual successor would be. Instead, it's just a light set of tools for building a set of golf holes with some management sim trappings on the outside. The management elements aren't the meat and potatoes of this game, but the amount of money I accrued by erecting a hotel as soon as possible meant that I could effectively ignore that aspect entirely.

Resort Boss: Golf could be more interesting if there was a more advanced golfing model - what's the fun of building your own golf course if it's not fun to play? - or more refined building controls. As it stands, neither of those things are quite there.

Sadly, my dream of getting lost in a diabolical hellscape of a golf simulator, remains just a dream.


Comments

    I've be been waiting for Sim Golf to reappear for so long. I cant even remember where I played it. Amiga 500? Maybe PC. It was so good and I hate real life golf. This game grabbed me by the pictures but it's not Sim Golf.

      I still have it installed on PC. Game is still hella fun, it hasn't (really) aged at all. Its one of a handful of ye olde games that are perma installed, along with Transport Tycoon Deluxe, and RollerCoaster Tycoon.

      SimGolf would be perfect on something like the Switch.

    @alexwalker I'm about to get a redundancy at work. Not a bad thing, I could stay if I really wanted, but its just too good an opportunity to pass up for a bunch of reasons. In short, it lets me retire early. Early enough I'll need something to pass the time.

    I'm thinking of making games to do that and at the core of my Grand Plan is a SimGolf homage. Its the sort of thing I can take time to do, so if I get something out the door in a year, 2 years, or even 5 it doesn't really matter. The journey will be the reward.

    But the stuff you list in the article is all good to see.

    Resort Boss: Golf could be more interesting if there was a more advanced golfing model - what's the fun of building your own golf course if it's not fun to play?
    Like this. I agree 100% - if you're going to build a golf game, you need to be able to play the damn courses! Bigger picture is about what else you might do with em, but that's down the line.

    I was hoping this would be that successor as well, its such a gem of a game that this generation needs to experience it as well. Theme Hospital got its successor, SimGolf needs one as well.

      Best of luck in your new journey!

        Thanks! Its a massive change, but I think I need to do it. There are scary parts, like how I've never really needed to apply for a job (seriously), and other things I cant be sure of until its too late, but the offer is just too good.

        Making a game is really just an excuse to keep busy to be honest. I want to try, and if my idea works it could lead somewhere. If it doesn't, I will have learned something, which is never a negative.

        I'm good with data and spreadsheets anyway and theres always work in those areas.

    We just need a Simgolf Port for Android, get onto your contacts in the gaming industry and get it made Alex!

      Given that EA didn't even want to keep the PGA license for golf games, I can't imagine this is something they're super keen on bringing back (as they wholly own Maxis)

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