If you had told me a year ago that people would be excited about a game being published by Disney we would have called you crazy. Yet here we are anxiously awaiting the release of their off road racing game Pure. Chuck already posted some hands on impressions
on the game but here is more information straight from Black Rock Lead Environment Designer, Ian Hudson.
Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the project? How long have you been in the gaming industry and what drew you to your current position?
My name is Ian Hudson and I was the Lead Environment Designer on PURE. I’ve been in the games industry for about 12 years now and have spent this time either designing or building game environments. I've been a huge off-road sports fan for years now, so having the chance to take a lead roll on a game like PURE was a great opportunity for me.
What was the pitch for Pure? There are plenty of off-road racing games in the market (MotorStorm, MX vs. ATV Unleashed), how is Pure different from the other games on the market?
The initial concept for PURE was to “Break out of the stadium and take on the wilderness.” We wanted to make a really accessible 16 player arcade racing game using ATV’s, but on a scale that no other off-road game had achieved before. We knew the game would be about getting massive air and pulling huge tricks which lead us to what we now call Trick Racing. To go along side this we wanted to take ATV customization to the next level. The pitch for PURE also included a feature called ‘Build Your Ride’. This was to be more than customization; it would be total vehicle creation.
One of the first things you notice about Pure is the stunning graphics, was that a focus going into the game? How has the genre evolved over the years?
Heightfield technology has been used for over 10 years now in various off-road games and was starting to look dated, especially now on the next-gen consoles. However, creating tracks with hightfield would give the designers incredible control over their track designs and allow them to constantly tweak the tracks until the team was completely happy. With this in mind, heightfield was something that we really wanted to stick with on PURE. Although the tech would give us far more flexibility than a typical polygon built track, this generally comes at the cost of the visuals as you may have seen in the past. The art and code team spent many months of R&D time looking at new ways to make heightfield worlds look as good as, or even better than polygon built tracks. Personally I think they surpassed anything we thought was possible at the time.
The game features a deep ATV customization engine, can you talk about all the different things you'll be able to play with in the game? Will players have to tweak their rides to finish the game or will the game handle some of that for them?
The Build Your Ride feature is as deep or as simplistic as you want it to be. This was one of the design briefs we had for it from the very start. It had to be deep enough to let the player build their ATV from the frame upwards, but at the same time it had to stay accessible to fit in with the arcade nature of the game. You can use the real world parts that get unlocked throughout the game to improve your ATV’s handling, speed, acceleration etc. Or you can hold down a single button and it will build an ATV for you using your parts. It just depends how dirty you want to get your hands really. Of course, the more time you spend tweaking your ride the better it will be.
Sixty thousand components and liveries goes a long way towards personalizing your quad bike. But what are some of the things you had to draw the line on?
There are a lot of parts you can change on your ATV but we drew the line when it came to fitting the smallest of engine parts really. You can swap out your engine for a higher engine class or change it from being a 2-stroke to a 4-stoke but we decided not to let you go in and start changing the value settings! We really wanted things that people would notice online. We didn’t see the point of claiming you could make over 60,000 combinations of ATV’s if people couldn’t see the different kinds of bikes people were making.
Will the game have a career mode in the game? Will this be similar to what we've seen from other games (working your way to the top through a string of races) or are you adding some new flavor to the mix?
PURE's main game mode is called The World Tour. This consists of 10 individual local tours that are set across the globe. Each tour is made up of a series of three kinds of events - Race, Sprint and Freestyle. The player can choose which events they enter as they try and gain enough points to move on to the next tour. This means they can play to their strengths. If they prefer trick racing they can enter all of the Races for example and skip out some of the Freestyle events. There is also a world rankings system with the overall goal to become ranked #1 in the world tour.
How did you come up with the trick system in the game? What's the percentage of tricks you could pull off in real life to tricks that only exist in the game?
After working on the ATV Fury franchise we really wanted to add more depth to our trick system. We felt that the trick system that we had inherited with Fury didn't challenge the player enough or reward them for learning all the tricks on offer. We wanted a system that was very simple to use (as tricks are integral to the game) but would offer immediate reward to more skilled players. What we come up with was a multi-tiered system where all players can easily perform the basic tricks that the characters can do. As they build up their "thrill bar" they can start pulling bigger tricks until they can start pulling the top level tricks. When the player fills their thrill bar they get to see their characters special tricks. It’s these special tricks that are unique to PURE. The other 80% of the tricks in the game are all current tricks that are being done on ATV's and MX bikes.
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