While Project Gotham 4 is hitting streets this week the folks at Bizarre aren’t resting on their laurels. Instead they are fast at work on their next title, The Club. We were able to score an interview with Bizarre to learn more about their upcoming game.
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?
I’m Matt Cavanagh, lead designer on The Club. I’ve been in the gaming industry for 15+ years and started out working for Psygnosis. I’ve been fascinated by games from an early age and to this day involve myself with games of all kinds, not just computer or console games.
I know you get this question a lot but how does a developer that is indelibly tied to racing games come up with a third person action shooter? What was the impetuous for doing so different from everything else you've done and how did you come up with the concept for the game? How long have you been knocking around the concept for the game?
We’ve made 3rd person shooters before (Fur Fighters) and there’s a lot of passionate shooter players here. We wanted to branch out and make something aside from racing games. The Club was developed with a ‘gameplay first’ approach and while we prototyped our ideas, we used graphics which intentionally would not be used in the final game. This approach let us develop gameplay ideas without being tied down to a particular IP, character or subject matter.
What experiences from your previous games did you utilize for The Club?
With the exception of some prototypes which didn’t make it to become ‘full games’, The Club is quite different to anything I have worked on before. Our inspiration has been taken from genres which I don’t think you’d expect – skate boarding games, old school shooters and beat-‘em-up games and our own beloved PGR series have all inspired The Club.
Is this a brand new engine or are you re-using bits and pieces from other games you've worked on?
It’s all new tech. However, the technology is shared between The Club and PGR 4.
Any chance we'll see any cross platform game play (i.e. PC gamers taking on 360 and PS3 gamers) or are people going to be limited to just fighting people on their own platform? Will there be any major differences between the different versions of the game?
Nope, there will not be cross platform play. All versions of the game will be pretty much identical.
You've got a pretty good arsenal of weapons in the game, how many can you carry at one time and how do you acquire new weapons during the game? Are there any melee weapons in the game or are you preventing people from bringing a knife to a gunfight? Do the weapons impact how fast you move?
You can carry as many weapons as you can get your grubby hands on! We did initially experiment with a limited inventory, but that lead to players having to swap out weapons for ones they found. And because of the fast paced nature of the game, it’s something which we found didn’t work as well as the ‘magic pockets’ inventory which we have now. There are no specific ‘melee’ weapons in The Club, as such…although you can pistol whip and smash enemies with the butt of your weapon. Some weapons do affect the speed which your character can move, for example when using rocket launchers or the mini gun you can’t sprint.
How big are the levels in the game and how long will it take to play through the average level? Are the levels completely linear or do you have some options?
Our levels are short and focused – a few minutes each but action packed adrenaline fueled firefights. Some levels are linear, some are not; it depends on the game mode.
Can you talk about the point scoring system a bit? Is it strictly kill based or are their points for pulling off moves? What's the highest scoring kill you can pull off? Are there environment kills (i.e. blowing up conveniently placed barrels) or not?
There are points for pulling off moves. However, they are all kill-centric; e.g. ‘death roll’ is granted for performing a roll then killing an enemy, ‘snap shot’ is granted for using the fast turn and then killing, etc. You can get the ‘multi kill explosion’ award for killing 2 or more enemies by shooting an exploding barrel, but if it’s a single enemy you’ll score more for simply shooting him, which means you’ll have to think fast to use the right method for the situation if you want to score high.
What kind of bad guys will players be taking out? Is there a certain population of bad guys per level?
Enemies you’ll face range from pistol toting street-punks to chain-gun toting tough guys. The placement of enemies changes from level to level and between different difficulties. However, if you play the same level with the same difficulty, the placement will be the same; this is intentional because a big part of the fun in The Club is learning the level and exploiting the placement to score higher in the same way that you learn the corners in a racing game and exploit the way you take them to win.
Any thoughts about downloadable content for the game after it ships? Any chance we could see new weapons, levels, and bad guys after the game ships or not?
Currently we’re concentrating on getting the game finished; The Club supports downloadable content but at the moment we’re unable to comment as to if we are or are not going to do it.
It looks like you've got a lot of multiplayer modes. What were the core concepts behind the multiplayer modes? Any chance you could give us some hints about what the Hunter Hunted mode or Team Siege modes are?
Some of the game modes are interpretations of the single player game modes, others are modes which fit into The Club’s setting, and some are just plain fun! Hunter Hunted is all about becoming the hunted and staying alive as long as possible. It’s kind of like the playground game ‘tick’ in that if you kill the hunted, you become the hunted. When you’re hunted you can’t stand still – the hunters have a radar which show them where you are all the time – the hunted player does not get a radar so you can’t just camp out. Team siege is another time based mode where players find themselves either in attack or defense. Defenders get one life and attackers continually re-spawn. To win teams must survive for longer as defenders than the other team. The game mode is so fast paced and frantic that all of those micro decisions players make become more important. Teamwork is essential to keep the attackers at bay and out-survive the other team.
Is there anything else about the game that we didn't cover that people should know about?
There’s a lot more to the scoring than we’ve covered earlier. Even when you are playing single player, you are competing against scores from players around the world. All scores are uploaded to on-line tables and players can use these tables for challenges beyond the target scores of the game levels. Additionally, we have several ways of playing our levels – tournament has you playing a series of levels and competing within a leader board with scores set by the other player characters. ‘Single event’ lets you choose unlocked levels and play them in isolation (the place to go to beat those on-line high scores) and ‘gun play’ is a party mode, where gamers can build their own play-lists of levels and challenge their friends in a ‘pass-the-pad’ style of gaming.
We'd like to thanks Matt for taking the time to answer our questions and to Scott for helping to coordinate the interview.