Interviews

Motorstorm Apocalypse

Evolution on urban off-road racing

The Motorstorm series was one of the very first titles of this generation and has so far has managed to consistently impress.

But for the third outing of the series Evolution Studios was in danger of letting the extreme racer become somewhat stale.

We recently talked to assistant game director, Simon Barlow about what the dev team has done with Motorstorm Apocalypse to make sure audiences are wowed all over again.

You've kept quiet on this for a while now...

It's been a long time in development and we've almost been developing this in secret really. A small core team have been working on this for over two years - probably closer to two and a half years. Whilst Pacific Rift was in development we were working on the core ideas for this title. So to finally be able to talk about it after over two years is just incredible.

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What was the reason for the urban environment?

Well there's a couple of things. It would have been very easy for us to just go, "Look here's another environment for you it's a city off you go." But that's a little bit lazy. We decided a city was the right location but just a city on its own isn't quite right for Motorstorm.

So we thought, "What can we do? We absolutely want to set it in a city but we want to make it appropriate to the core DNA of the franchise, so what do we do with it?" I don't know who came up with the idea but somebody said, "Why don't we have an earthquake?" And it was like, "That's pretty cool. A massive technical challenge but pretty cool".

So the more we thought about this the more we got on board with it and the more we thought, "Christ this is awesome. If we can have real-time earthquakes while you race, dynamically change the environment, change the routes, all the hallmarks of the Motorstorm series but they're happening as you race and it's in a completely different environment, that'd be a real special proposition."

So we've set about trying to deliver just that and as you've seen today we are delivering on that. And I still want to point out this is still pre-alpha. There's still a long way to go for us, there's still a lot of stuff we need to do. I'm really proud of where we're at even at pre-alpha footage but you need to bear in mind it's going to get even better.

There's already a lot going on on the screen. What kind of demands is it having on the PS3? Do you think we're close to maxing out the PS3?

That's a tricky thing to answer to be honest. Everybody always says, "Oh we've maxed out the hardware, we've done everything we can with it." And then some clever programmer goes, "I can do something. I've clawed back another one percent of memory or one percent of performance from it". That's what always happens, your code team always surprises you.

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You know, even when we were independent we had a really close working relationship with Sony so we had really early access to the PlayStation hardware, we were able to get under the hood with it and we've just built on that.

I mean this is still the same core engine from Motorstorm Monument Valley. The code team just can't keep their hands off it, even if the engine was perfect they'd keep re-building it. We look at what we've got and we think how can we improve this, how can we make it more efficient.

We couldn't have delivered this five years ago because we didn't have the expertise. So it's not so much the hardware, you find new and better ways of doing things and you just constantly keep evolving and keep improving the experience. So really this game could only be made now, based on what we've experienced and what we've learnt.

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