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Bizarre Creations: Blur

Lead designer on leaving PGR behind

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But as time went on those big chunks of features were getting harder to come by and we needed to keep reinvigorating the title. Any more just would've been pushing it I think. For us it was a breath of fresh air to do something different.

So with Blur you've got a new slant, less on technical racing, more on accessibility and obviously online features. Are you worried that fans of PGR might feel alienated by the weapons and power-ups?

Talbot: Yes and no. I think when you talk about power-ups and stuff you're always going to get a certain group who think it's maybe for the kids.

But we've got a lot of fans who came with us on the PGR train and I hope they enjoyed the experience that we gave them. They're going to get a chance to try demos and try out the game before they purchase it. For those fans who want the kind of racing that they got in PGR all I can say to them is that it's there.

Zoom

What we've removed is maybe some of the frustrating elements of the technical racing. That's not to say that we don't have tight corners anymore or you don't need to break - all of those things are still in the game, we just focus on them less.

We still have cool drifting and a cool handling model, but what we've introduced now is a cool damage system, interactivity with the environment.

We're seeing lots of Mario Kart and Wipeout influences...

Talbot: Mario Kart, while it wasn't a direct influence on the game, has always been something that we've talked about in terms of making a game that has very different goals from a normal racing game.

Not just coming first but taking out the other guy, interacting with the world. So yes, in a sense Mario Kart was part of our thinking, though I don't actually think we wanted to create Mario Kart.

Equally, in terms of gameplay Need for Speed was part of our thinking. These are hugely fantastic games, huge-selling games. So making sure that the game stayed in an area of reality was something that was important, because we'd seen from the Need for Speed games that that's what people like. They like the real world.

It's fair to say there were quite a few influences on us. We were trying to move away from the technical, sim type racers. We were trying to put some distance between us and the Forzas and Gran Turismos.

I wouldn't really like to say at this point, 'this is the game we were trying to emulate', but I think there were certain things about Mario Kart that we knew worked straight out of the bag.

That certainly affected the decision to make power-ups in the first place. It was about saying 'look, there's a big group of players out there who don't want to play the next simulator' but still really want a good racing game to play with their friends. We're going for those people.

Zoom

The "simulator" racers you mentioned there like Race Driver GRiD didn't sell nearly as well as expected last year. Did that boost your decision to move away from the straight-laced approach?

Talbot: I said in an interview a few months ago that I felt that racing games were getting dryer and dryer.

It was harder to find where the casual player was going to get their fun out of it. Most racing games were really orientated by the player trying to get a smooth line around a corner.

It was really about personal achievement and we wanted something a lot more open. Not so much about personal achievement, more about obtainable goals. And not just cornering; cool things like taking other people out.

We were thinking that about the time that GRiD came out. So when we saw that type of game wasn't doing so well it kind of made us realise that we were making the right decision, that we shouldn't just try to make another simulator and go after the same market as those guys. There are plenty of those games on the table and even the best aren't setting the world alight right now.

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