Interview: Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor
After our review of PDC World Championship Darts 2008 last November, it seems Oxygen Interactive began a rehabilitation process with their beloved sports series. Wanting to find out how they are getting on, I took to the task of quizzing their top informer this year. Sitting down to answer our questions after his latest Premier League fixture in Coventry is none other than 14 time World Darts Champion and all-round nice-guy Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor. Talking fistfights with competitors and losing to a 10 year old, he spills the beans on the new title in the series.
First of all, we’d like to congratulate you on your 14th world title victory, how does it feel to be a darts legend?
Thanks for that. It’s a title that means a lot to me after what happened at the start of last year. I was having a bad run and people said I was finished, but I turned things around last year and the World Championship was the culmination of a lot of hard work, so it was very special.
So, after your latest success, you’ve turned your attention to the upcoming PDC 2009 game, what input are you having this time round?
Basically the last darts videogame on Wii, although it played okay, got some negative press about the throwing method and that it wasn’t realistic enough or felt like you were throwing a real dart. Unfortunately because of the timings of the last game and my busy schedule I didn’t get a chance to give much input into it. This time round I’ve had some time between the World Championships and the Premier League so I thought since my mug was on the front of the box, I’d make sure I got my input in!
I’ve been telling the guys at the studio what felt right and wrong about the old game and they’ve been making sure that they make the game from a professional’s perspective, getting the small details right (such as the darts flights physics so you can stack darts etc.) – those details make a big difference in the end.
Are you enjoying your interaction with the development team?
I am actually… the guys at Rebellion are great to work with and are really passionate about darts. These guys didn’t work on the last game so they don’t get offended when I say, “this part needs to be different from the last one” etc. They take it in their stride and do their best to take suggestions on board. At the end of the day, we’re all trying to make sure the game is as realistic as possible for darts fans.
How will the new game improve on the previous effort?
Well, although I can see the graphics are much better and there’s a couple of new guys in there like James Wade, and the lads tell me that it’s built on a new engine (though I’m not 100% sure what that means!). The biggest improvement I’ve noticed, obviously because I’ve been working on it, is the throwing method. I’d be really surprised if anyone had anything negative to say about it this time around. In fact, it feels really smooth and addictive to the point where it’s just like throwing a real dart. The best part is, after I throw my three, I don’t have to walk up to the board to take them out!
How does it feel to see yourself on screen? Are you happy with the result?
It’s always weird seeing yourself on TV and a videogame is even odder because you can control yourself! My competitive side means I’m always rooting for myself in the game and get quite disappointed when I miss an easy finish. Best of all though, the lads have done a great job in making me look about 10 years younger!
What’s your favourite part about working on a videogame?
Well, I guess in a way it would have to be realising how far darts has come as a sport that there are videogames on it and hundreds of thousands of people playing them. The sport’s come so far and the PDC has made it into a huge international event with glitz, glamour and huge prize money. The best part of working on a videogame is knowing that your sport has come a long way!
Have you played the game yet, and if so, are you any good at it?
I’ve played it a little obviously so I can give feedback but as I said, I get as worked up and passionate about it as I do in real life, so that can be a good and bad thing! The worst moment was when one of the guys in the studio had brought his son to work and I was playing against this 10-year-old lad who was averaging about 120 and I couldn’t keep up with him for the life of me!
Do you play videogames often, at home or on the road?
I’m of course on the road a lot going from one tournament to another so I do play video games now and then on my PSP. Funnily though, recently I’ve been playing a lot of darts! I guess you can never have too much darts!
Any particular favourites?
Well, as I said, darts, but I also like all other sports games that keep my competitive side ticking over!
Who would win a fight between yourself and Raymond van Barneveld?
Haha, I think in a fistfight it would be tough for both of us but if it was a fight with darts then hopefully me!
One of our writers claims he bought a darts board endorsed by you, and still he hasn’t got any better! Could you give him tips to improve his throwing technique?
Practice, practice, practice. You can have the best dartboard and the best darts in the world but you could still have trouble hitting a barn door if you don’t practice. Everyone has their own technique but as a general guide… you have to get right smack-bang centre on the oche and line everything on your body up to the target, you keep you arms still, your shoulders still and you throw from the elbow. If I told you any more…I’d have to kill you!
Finally, the same lunatic also wanted your opinion on two probing matters: Was GTA IV too dull and realistic, and is Fallout 3 too linear?
I think if that lunatic finds GTA IV too dull and realistic he must lead a very exciting life (which is odd considering he’s got time to post questions to you on a forum!) and I’m yet to play Fallout 3 but I’ll keep you up to date once I do!
Many thanks to Phil Taylor for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions, and to Suddy at Oxygen, whose hard work made the interview happen. PDC World Championship Darts 2009 will be hitting shelves before the second half of this year on the Wii and DS, so come back soon for our review.