Like many other games of its kind, Sidebar Games’ recently released Sports Story has launched with hidden secrets – namely, a hidden developer room only accessible by slipping past the game’s bounds and heading into the darkness of the outer world. While most games include fun and colourful easter eggs for wily explorers, the secret of Sports Story is anything but wholesome – its developer room is a desolate place that hints at real-life creation woes, and behind-the-scenes conflict.
As shared by YouTube creator tendog, the room can be accessed by playing around with boxes in the Lens Store of the PureStrike Mall. While the trick to getting out of bounds appears complex, many players have been able to succeed by pushing these boxes to the edge of their room’s ‘bounds’ and slipping past to enter the walls and beyond.
If successful in exploiting the glitch, players will find themselves in a dark, featureless void. Walking to the left, players will soon spot some leftover items – a tennis net, an office chair, a sign, an entire court – and walk past these to find a fully-textured room filled with non-player characters.
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In this room, players are greeted by the head of game development at a studio known as ‘Cold Cartridge’. Developers in this room are seemingly working on a sequel to their hit game, GALF – a clear reference to Sidebar Games’ previous title, Golf Story.
‘We’re currently on an enforced break,’ the lead developer says. ‘Our new game is going to be coming out any day now.’
‘You said that a year ago!’ a disgruntled worker shouts in protest.
‘You might say we’re experiencing a troubled development,’ the lead developer replies.
‘You might also say somebody kept requesting new features and my original vision no longer exists,’ comes another reply.
‘One might even venture to say we should have made the game work instead of adding new features,’ says a third developer.
Speaking to individual workers in the secret room will yield similar responses – complaints about unaddressed bugs, broken menu features, unwanted catchphrases in dialogue, some workers being paid double the salaries of others, endless rewrites, and workers being treated like ‘whipping boys’.
‘I’ve become despondent,’ one developer says when prompted. ‘I’ve been broken down into my individual parts. I’ve been to the depths to accomplish impossible programming tasks. And we probably have to cut the boss fights now.’
The dialogue spotlighted in this development room may well be poking fun at game development as a whole, and the challenges with creating an ambitious, highly-anticipated new game – but the parallels between the fictional GALF team and the ongoing issues of Sports Story are fairly damning.
On launch, several players noted bugs and performance issues held the game back. Some players reported not being able to advance certain questlines, being stuck in walls, issues talking to characters, typos, and glitches in screen transitions.
Should the newly-found developer room be any indication, this could be a result of a rocky development cycle that saw the game’s vision become blurred as ambition rose, and developers began to split focus on multiple new features, and an unrealistic scope for the game’s planned launch.
Sidebar Games is currently working on patches to address ongoing bug reports, although the game remains in a rocky state. As of writing, the studio has yet to respond to queries about its hidden room, and the allegations contained within.