Where should Rocket League head next?

In this whistlestop tour of the history of Rocket League, Speedy looks back at the emergence of the game before turning his attention to the future of the game we all love. 

In the beginning

Rocket League had a rough start in life.

Developed by Psyonix, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket Powered Battle-Cars (SARP/SARPBC, for short) was a car soccer game, or “soccar” as they preferred to call it. In its initial phase, the game failed.

However, the development team, consisting of 15 people, went on to do something nearly as crazy as the title of that predecessor to Rocket League. After nearly bankrupting themselves through failure, most companies would have turned to new ideas. But Psyonix wanted to make Rocket League work.

Without funding, Psyonix had no choice but to aid in the making of other games, such as Mass Effect 3, to keep the company afloat. The development team even considered an open-world sequel to SARP where players would have to drive around and go into stadiums to compete in online matches.

After the disappointment of SARP, nobody wanted to help the studio, thinking that a sequel was bound to fail.

An early screen grab from Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars

Psyonix were on their own once again but this ended up being the gamble that put the studio on the line. In 2015, they released Rocket League. The rest, as they say, is history.

The differences between the two games were minimal, but there was one way in which Rocket League went beyond its immediate predecessor: it became an online phenomenon.

Rocket League Documentary by NoClip with a full history about SARP

In SARP, most of the player base didn’t play online which didn’t give them the satisfaction that they needed to keep playing. When Rocket League overtook its older brother as a legitimate online game, the impact on the game was immediate: playing against other humans online rather than bots, the skill curve for Rocket League players increased dramatically.

With the need to improve quickly, players began to spend hours in free play. Before long, two training options were added along with a third option a year or so later which allowed people to custom create training packs. In return, these training sessions allowed players to discover new mechanics as well as refine the old mechanics, popular in SARP, such as dribbling and aerials.

As the online community grew, then, so did the popularity of the game. By the time 2018 swung around, there were over 40 million Rocket League players around the world.

Going professional

It wasn’t long before Rocket League would go professional, with players taking one another on in a growing number of tournaments. 

In March 2016, Psyonix announced the first Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS). The finals took place later that year with players competing for a $75,000 prize pot.

iBUYPOWER Cosmic win the first Rocket League Championship Series

At that early stage, most of the pro players were not that good by today’s standards. In fact, in Season One, “platinum” was the most coveted rank and was reserved for top 100 players only. 

The first series was filled with unforgettable moments, such as 0verzer0’s air dribble play in overtime to get a spot for iBUYPOWER Cosmic in the finals. iBUYPOWER Cosmic would go on to win the first ever Rocket League Series.

The present

Since the early days, we have seen a number of improvements in in-games mechanics. Now it is not unusal to see ceiling shots, flip resets, stalls, half flipping, pinches, wave-dashing in mid to high level game play. One only has to think back to  Squishy Muffinz performing the first ever ceiling shot at an RLCS event in Series 4. 

With every season passing, the players get better and the prize pool grows .The announced prize pool for Season 8 was one million dollars.

YouTubers like Jon Sandman now provide regular content for large numbers of subscribers

Online, the community has grown to such an extent that the biggest Rocket League YouTuber, Jon Sandman, is closing in on 1 million subscribers. Other YouTubers, such as FLuuMP, Kevpert and SunlessKhan, have also gained large following as a result of their knowledge of the game and their willingness to contribute to an ever-growing Rocket League community with tips, tricks and other helpful pieces of advice for fellow players. 

In more recent times, the sports media has expanded to provide more coverage of esports. Elsewhere, coaching platforms have sprung up such as GamersRdy, which allow players the possibility to link up with Rocket League coaches and improve their gameplay. 

The Future

This history of Rocket League may have been short so far but it is certainly not over. As we head into Season10 of Rocket League, there are many things players and orgs are demanding within the game.

Cosmetics:

Rocket League has its die hards and its casuals. It also has its car freaks: those people who spend more time designing their cars are always looking for new ways to make their car look better than the next guy’s. 

In recent months, this thirst has been quenched. Here are some things to look forward to:

  1. Under glow 
    Recently, there has been a lot of excitement about car under glow. It’s hard to know whether or not this will catch on.

    Designers will need to adjust the lighting so it’s not to bright. Nobody wants the whole blinding flame thrower issue again. Make it too dim, though, and it might just not be visible and a waste of effort.

  2. Org items
    Rocket League have announced org items in the past. But we now know they are definitely coming. The only problem is that we have no idea if they are going to be good when they do arrive.

    We have seen these sorts of moves causing controversy before: big orgs have announced themed items before but there have been suggestions that players were bullied into it and player bases didn’t actually want them.

Game mods:

Another area we could see development is in the area of game modifications. There are a multitude of game mods available, from snow day to hoops, and each has their die hard fans. But, as always, people are looking for more.

  1. 5v5 Mode 
    This could be too chaotic but, given the current limit of 4v4 mode, it only seems natural.

    In all likelihood, a 5v5 mode would give Psyonix an excuse to develop bigger and more extensive maps. There is no reason why it wouldn’t work.

  2. Custom Server System
    You could introduce a custome server system to Rocket League like they do in CS:GO, Overwatch or TF2. İf Psyonix could make it easier for people to play with custom maps, this would be a good development.

    Up to this point, the only way to do this was to use Evolve. Unfortunately, though, it has recently closed which leaves us with Hamachi. There are guides on how to use Hamachi but it is a hassle since all players need to have it downloaded and set up.

    This is a shame, since there are a lot of great moded maps such as the hide and seek map by gidek and the Yoshi circuit map by RL Modding | Thanrek.

There are plenty of ideas that both Psyonix and the community are excited for, but what we know for sure is that Rocket League is still at the start of an exciting journey that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

RLCS Season 7 will take another step in the right direction with the newly added region: South America to be joining the ranks. The best teams in the world will once again, take each other on to win their slice of the $1,000,000+ million prize pool.


Thanks to coach Moose as well for helping create this article.

Speedy

Speedy

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