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Motorstorm Apocalypse: 'This could be the pinnacle of off-road racing'

Assistant game director talks pushing the PS3 to its limit...

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The PS3 from day one if you look at our performance metrics, we run an overlay when we're debugging a game and optimising it, and it gives us a load of bars that tell you what the GPU's doing, what the CPU's doing, what the memory utilisation is and a bunch of other stuff and everything's red-lining.

So you just say, "Okay, what's the best candidate for optimisation? Can we improve the fill rate? Can we just draw more? Okay well how are we going to do that? We need to be clever about our occlusion, we need to be clever about culling stuff in the distance." And so you work on that and suddenly that bar's no longer red-lining so you think, "Hey we can have more content." And all the artists get really excited and all the coders go, "Oh no!"

It's this constant battle really, but you always find a way. At some point you have to call time on it, usually when the producer goes, "Guys, we've got to ship." But you're always, always improving it.

Zoom

We've always been pushing the hardware, internally at Sony and I think externally now, Evolution Studios has been known as a company that really sells the hardware, we really push it to its limit because from our days as DID - we were a flight sim company - we were all about technology, we were all about creating cool bits of software to run on awesome pieces of software. So we've always been pushing the limits and we just keep finding more and more cleverer ways of doing it.

Are you guys itching for a new console at the moment if you're hitting those red-lines?

I don't think the coders are. For me it's always about software. You can have the most powerful hardware in the world; it means nothing if it's not got good games. That's speaking as a developer and as a gamer - it's got to be about the software.

Regardless of what Sony offer us, the NGP's just been announced, that's an exciting piece of kit. If they want to do an NGP game, we'll do an NGP game but it doesn't matter what platform it's on, all we want to do is just make the best damn games we can and we're going to keep making those games as best we can.

You must have a long-term plan for Motorstorm still... how are you going to top this? How do you get more extreme than riding down sky-scrapers that are already falling to the ground?

Smash some planets together - I don't know! [laughs] No, I totally get that. When I was talking about constantly improving the tech behind it, we're always refining design as well and the overall experience and as much as you want to optimise for performance what you're also doing is optimising to add more cool shit into the game, to add more content.

There was a screenshot before of a big plane coming sideways through, you know, if you want that experience, if one of the guys, one of the designers says, "I need to see a plane crash and it has to happen like this." That's where you start optimising, the technology is kind of created and enhanced and optimised to provide those core experiences, everything's driven by that overall aesthetic.

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What the player experiences is key, if the player's not having fun don't do it and you've got to be fairly brutal about that. Even if something's gone quite far into production, if it's just not right, if you don't think, "This is awesome" just bin it. And you've got to be brutal about that. Make everything awesome if you can and that's what we've tried to do, we've tried to constantly keep pushing all the way through.

I don't know. How do you top it? I don't have that answer, but then when we made Pacific Rift we were like, "How do you top that?" I didn't have the answer at the time but the answer came about. Who knows what we'll do next whether it's Motorstorm or something else? We will improve on this at some point. Maybe we'll need to switch genres to improve on it, maybe this is the pinnacle of off-road racing, I don't know, it remains to see what the players think of it.

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