The PlayStation Vita has been doing the rounds in the last month or two and at one of the PlayStation Rooms events we sat down with Evolution Studios' David Bramhall, producer on MotorStorm RC, and asked him a couple of questions about the upcoming arcade racer.
Matt Gardner: So how the idea for this particular sequel come about?
David Bramhall: Well a bunch of us were sitting around throwing some ideas about after we wrapped on MotorStorm Apocalypse - what we'd like to do next, what we could feasibly do next, that sort of thing - and this was an idea we kept coming back too, and indeed had hinted at in previous games. In Apocalypse, for example, in the cutscenes there's several mentions of racers who spend their downtime mucking around with RC cars.
We got onto a bit of a nostalgia trip about the 'good old days', and Micro Machines came up an awful lot: games that provided instant, pick-up-and-play arcade fun, wbut with a hardcore element that you could push as far as you wanted. We wanted to bring old school gaming to a new school audience, complete with all of the new stuff we can do these days with the social side of things - comparing times, issuing challenges, all integrated cross-platform thanks to Vita and PS3.
Really that's the whole reason we wanted to offer it for both consoles, so that no matter where you are you can play against your friends and compete.
Matt Gardner: We're seeing larger and more ambitious titles with increased content in the digital marketplaces. Although the first PSN MS title, how loaded will the package be, considering its 'dual-citizenship' on PS3 and Vita?
David Bramhall: Well there are four different game modes: Race sees you competing against the AI; Hot Lap is your basic time trial mode, and there are a number of ties set up to try and beat; Pursuit basically sees you racing against the clock to overtake as many AI vehicles as you possibly can; and then there's Drift, which is very similar to similarly named modes in other series like Need For Speed, and you just have to keep the drift going for as long as possible, racking up a certain amount of points in the shortest possible time.
The four zones from each of our previous titles in the series are represented here. So we've got tracks from Monument Valley, Hawaii, Alaska and The City, and they have specific tracks and challenges and themed areas associated with them. It's almost like an arcade, RC guide through MotorStorm's history at times.
Matt Gardner: Playing the game, I noticed that there's an in-game reward system, with the game dishing out medals for certain activities and timed achievements. Is this just to incentivise singeplayer progression or are there practical applications too, such as unlockables?
David Bramhall: Well yeah, as you progress through the game you earn medals, and yes those are our singleplayer incentives before you start competing with other people. You'll unlock new vehicle classes as you go through, too. So you start off with the slower ones, like the Big Rig, the Monster Trucks and Racing Trucks - we've laid it out so the classes correspond in a way to the old-school 50cc, 100cc, 150cc type of tiered system you'd find in Mario Kart. As the game goes on, you'll have to learn to use the brake a bit better, track position will become important and you'll work your way up to the Supercar class which is very hardcore, but also lots of fun.
Matt Gardner: Will we be seeing Muscle Cars in the game?
David Bramhall: You will indeed! It's a completely separate car class, really, more of a standalone in this one, but it was hugely popular in Apocalypse so we wanted to bring it back. Everyone likes getting behind he wheel of the Muscle Car, getting the back end out and sliding it round corners, and it's perfectly suited to Drift, the two go hand in hand.
Matt Gardner: The MotorStorm series has always had elements of destruction derbies in there, with weapons and both vehicular and environment destruction providing this sort of anarchic element to the games. Is that continued in RC at all?
David Bramhall: I think you get shades of that when playing against the AI, but it's not really what we were going for with this one. The concept behind this game, the idea that it's something the MotorStorm racers engage in when they're not racing, it didn't really feel right to fully emulate that craziness again but in small form. We wanted to really come away from that anarchy and create something nostalgic, something like the top-down racers we used to play when we were growing up, but with a few modern trappings.
Matt Gardner: ModNation is another arcade-style racer that will line up beside your game for the Vita's launch, although obviously has a much greater focus on customisation. How much will player be able to tailor their experiences of MotorStorm RC and how much customisation, previously a big part of the series, feature in this game?
David Bramhall: There's some customisation to an extent. Each vehicle class, for example, has a series of different body shells waiting to be unlocked, there are various liveries and colours, but we also wanted to put in some more fun stuff as well, taking into advantage the fact that this is an RC game. We've got a whole 'Playground' section as well so rather than just racing, you can jump up and go and play football on a little football pitch or do some big jumps, get some halfpipes in there and have a bit of a laugh.
Matt Gardner: We've talked a bit about singleplayer, what multiplayer features can we expect from MotorStorm RC and how does the Pitwall come into play?
David Bramhall: There'll be local multiplayer when you play on PS3, but not on Vita. The game is basically interchangeable, though, so if you buy it for one platform, you'll be able to download it for the other and you can use the Vita as a remote. On the go, the game uses the Vita's NEAR function to wirelessly grab your friends' latest times, update your races and leaderboards with your friends' ghosts and offer up regular challenges to keep you engaged.
Matt Gardner: Can we expect cross-platform play akin to WipEout 2048's?
David Bramhall: There's no cross-platform play as such, no, but the Pitwall is shared across both versions. We wanted to deliver asynchronous play simply because sometimes when you're on the go there's no time to set up session play or that sort of thing. Thanks to the NEAR function, though, if there's another RC player in the vicinity you're constantly thrown new challenges, always being updated with new times to beat, new scores to set. We thought that would be the best way to go.
Matt Gardner: What were the challenges thrown up by developing in this cross-play style and how do you think it's benefited the game overall?
David Bramhall: Well the support we had for Sony...we couldn't have asked for better really. It hasn't been a huge challenge to get them running side by side, both consoles are very powerful, very nice pieces of kit, and that's why we wanted to push forward on both platforms. We were quite surprised at just how quickly we were able to get up and running on the Vita considering that we've only really developed for PS3, but as I say, Sony were fantastic. The two versions are virtually identical, although on the PS3 you'll have split-screen and 3D of course.
Matt Gardner: And finally, has there been any news on a price point? We've heard a fair bit about the opportunity for flexible pricing on the Vita...will we be seeing that sort of thing here?
David Bramhall: Well I can't talk about that just yet, but it won't exactly be full price, can't say more than that though.
Huge thanks to Dave for chatting to us, MotorStorm RC will be available at launch when the Vita finally drops over here on February 22nd.