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The Playstation 4 hasn't had a single good new Arcade Racer in 5 years - why? **Criterion founder Alex Ward responds on page 2!**


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@mushashi Thanks for the kinds words. I think anyone who on the B2 team would appreciate reading them -thanks!

 

To try and answer your question, whilst it would be fabulous and convenient to say 'yes, EA made me do it' - which was an old meme for us on the old Crash TV podcast - in reality, there can never , and would never be some 'mysterious dark forces' in the background telling us what to do. Fiona Sperry ran the company. I was the Creative Director and worked with a talented team (and a really core 'braintrust' type of group consisting of Fiona, Me, Hamish, Mike, Alex, Richard, Olly, Chris, Omar, Paul, James and many others I could list here) so if anything you could say the buck stopped with me. But if you want to blame someone, then it was all of them, obviously :-)

 

"Point of Impact" was a very pure racer in the style of the old AM2 games. After that title, we found a new publisher in Electronic Arts. We learned a lot from EA. At that time, I'd argue that they were the best game makers on the planet. And ran a seriously impressive operation. (ever seen EA Canada's setup? it's fabulous) Each game had to evolve and we could not just keep making the same game over and over. "Takedowns" came from really focusing in on what was the best move you could do in the first two games - which we termed 'knockouts.' We were also really influenced by EA Sports at the time and how slick - and how massively successful - those PS2 titles were. EA guided teams to create killer features each year so we made 'aggressive racing' the whole focus of the game and that made doing everything else easier. Design the front-end? Easy. How should it sound? Ah yes. Easier than staring at a blank sheet of paper. People across the Pond, in the market that was TEN TIMES the size of ours, suddenly began to notice the game.

 

"Paradise" was open world because that's what I was interested in having a go at back then. A different experience where exploring and collecting and hanging out with your Friends was the core. Or 'not playing the game is the game' is how I spectacularly failed at communicating it to people. I was massively influenced by the very wonderful first "Mercenaries" game on Xbox and later on - the best game ever to come out of Scotland - which was "Crackdown" (if I ever win the lottery I will pay someone from that team to show me where the missing Orbs are. I swear!)

 

I hope that answers your question.

 

If you are hankering for something like B2 to make a return, then take a look at our next game "Dangerous Driving."

 

However, if you think something like B3 should make a return, then take a look at our next game "Dangerous Driving."

 

We're not EA though, or Criterion, or anyone else. We're a tiny team of seven self funding and self publishing our games so we make smaller games on way way more smaller budgets than most. 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Dudley said:

tumblr_nm60n4PIqB1qb5gkjo1_400.gif

I was fortunate enough to see Lennart perform this in a room with only a handful of other people. Unfortunately I never got to see Ricky Jay. His books on theory are terrific though.

 

Great to see Alex on here. All people with passion and dreams, making them reality.

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It really feels like we took a lot for granted during the PS2/PS3 era. We had not only arcade racers, but even regular futuristic arcade racers in their own genre. Imagine that. And then there were titles like SSX Tricky which I'd put up there with arcade racers, kinda. Burnout seemed like a series that would be around forever and just keep getting better (I preferred the regular tracks vs Paradises' open world by far fwiw) and presumed a proper next-gen version would be out on PS4, or the continuation of the glorious Hot Pursuit. But nothing has come out since that scratched that itch and this gen has been mostly disappointing for racers. A real shame that this genre has stalled (ho ho) and gone from a major pull to something of a niche - hard to believe, actually.

 

The Mad Max game should've been a racer rather than a generic map-mopper. Massive waste of a license.

 

 

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1 hour ago, CrashedAlex said:

Here are some pics from the inaugural meeting of the 'Dangerous Driving Club' at TFE18 held earlier today in that mecca of gaming, Petersfield, Hampshire (home of the best arcades in the world)

 

http://www.threefieldsentertainment.com/today-we-opened-our-doors-to-the-players/

 

Beautiful intelligent, racing game veteran players of all ages and from all parts of the country came together in one very cramped office!

 

If you're interested in visiting our Studio, playing our games in development, giving us feedback, and arguing with us as to which version of "Burnout/Ridge Racer/ Gran Turismo' was best then have a click on www.threefieldsentertainment.com/dangerousdrivingclub

Looks a great day! I couldn't make it sadly. Game is looking so so good. 

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Well I didn’t realise you were just the other side of Alton. I’m near Basingstoke myself. If you’re having a general pleb welcome launch party next year I’ll deffo be up for getting a day pass from my wife and getting soundly beaten by everyone I play against. 

 

My ntsc copy of burnout 2 is here now. Good job on the prog scan option. It looks lush on a wii. 

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@CrashedAlex just wanted to echo a lot of the comments in here and say thanks for the great games and the memories I have of them.

 

Burnout 2, 3 and Paradise are amongst my favourite games ever, and NFS: HP got my now-wife into gaming! So cheers for that!

 

EDIT: My wife loved the Benny Benassi song from NFS so much she had it played at our wedding reception!

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I loved the Burnout series. Got the first one on GameCube launch day and absolutely rinsed it. Somehow missed out on buying the second but my brother’s mate had a copy so did play it a little.

 

I can see why people think Point of Impact is better than Takedown, but the way I see it Takedown is pretty much a completely different game that just has the name Burnout in it; i.e. there is room to love both for what each brings to the table.

 

2004 was a great year for me. Got an Xbox for my 16th and spent study leave and the following summer rinsing the best the system had for it, including Halo, PGR2 (probably my all time favourite racing game - sorry!) and Burnout 3.

 

I remember Outrun 2 came out around the same time and I was torn as to which to buy. Although I would eventually buy Outrun 2 (and the even better Coast2Coast), I maintain I made the right decision in buying Burnout 3 first. Yeah it was a bit ‘EA’ and I wanted to strangle that DJ Stryker more than anything in the world, but it was just such a supreme road combat game. Funny you should say EA made the best games at that time, I wouldn’t have said it back then but on reflection maybe their output in this period was better than many give it credit for...

 

As for the state of racing games today: I took a few years out and started playing again last year. One of the first racing games I bought was Forza 7. Great game, decent championship mode which wasn’t the usual grind I remember previous iterations being. Howver when I completed most of the championships, I thought I’d take a break and start time trialing round the Nurburgring with some of my favourite cars, like I used to back in the day with PGR2....only to find there isn’t a time trial mode!?! Eh? What fucking racing game doesn’t have a time trial mode! If I ever meet the person at Turn 10 who decided a fucking circuit racing game didn’t need a time trial mode, I will cordially invite them outside to receive a brutal kicking.

 

So if your upcoming game can manage such heinous luxuries like a time trial mode, count me in.

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Not sure I’ve ever loved a racing game as much as I did Burnout 2 on the GameCube.

 

A friend and I would play 2 player Big Surf Shores over and over, getting so good we could almost boost chain the entire race. 

 

A shame that Dangerous Driving isn’t coming to Switch. 

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I have to say I love reading these stories.

 

@donkeyk it’s called Rivals Mode in Forza 7 choose your class and pick your track...

 

@ilpostino “Cinema?” yes - we had a French irritant who would play that song every morning 

 

Absolutely wiped after so much intense work the last three weeks so it’s offline for me!

 

@Ninja Doctor that was because the brilliant Joe Bonar bought a prog scan telly with him when he joined us for that game. No one had one back then really.

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I really miss arcade racers without gimmicks, stuff like Top Gear Rally on the N64, Screamer and Screamer Rally on PC, Daytona USA, and even Ridge Racer. I like the feeling of travelling across the globe through wildy different tracks. I even prefer fake cars these days, because it seems like every car game features licensed cars now, so it's a nice change when you've got made up vehicles.

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Been smiling like a madman all weekend for the fact that @CrashedAlex entered our forums, this thread and all that has ensued :D Excellent stories being posted, both revelations confirming industry 'secrets' and lots of love for the best genre in video game history. TA all :hat:

 

My 2 cents: obviously grew up on a mixture of real life and virtual petrol, fondly remember playing Burnout 1 as a GameCube launch title, skipped 2 for no reason and returned to praise Burnout 3: Takedown as the pinnacle of arcade action racing. (Until Hot Pursuit 2010 AND Blur came along...)

Spent many, many days constantly re-watching Burnout Legends gameplay footage (can to this dayy remember the US Circuit Racer road raging to Pennywise's 'Rise Up') and loved it on PSP - also had a lot of fun with Revenge and the horribly underrated Dominator. (Best played to Hot Hot Heat's 'Give Up?')

Sadly never really 'got' Paradise, despite several tries (including the recent HD re-release on PS4) - Burnout gameplay simply doesn't work for me in a same-ish looking open world environment with just a finish marker and flashing street signs - though the checkpoint races on Big Surf Island did provide some consolidation as there were finally constant points of reference of where to go instead of having to co-drive myself.

 

Hot Pursuit 2010 then. Arcade racing in its most pure form, if only for the never ever rivaled way it captured the art of virtual drifting. BY FAR the game that needs current-gen compatibility, if only to revive the old forum heydey with the likes of @Karzee, @U-1 and many others. Also: PHOTO MODE!

 

Many years on, having dipped my toes in real-life racing and rallying means I've edged closer to 'serious' and semi-simulation racing games but I'm still very passionate about anything that involves quick speed thrills. Best moment of last week was in fact some seriously close dual drifting battling versus @KriessG in a Sega Rally Champions 2 four-seater arcade setup in Amsterdam.

 

So yes, we need more arcade racing games in our lives. Lots of 'm.

 

On 07/12/2018 at 13:28, CrashedAlex said:

TL;DR - I'm now making "Dangerous Driving" for PS4, Xbox One and PC. It's coming on Feb 22 2019. We are a small team of seven people and we started last August. Yesterday IGN First featured a brief glimpse of some footage of all the game modes from footage we captured last week. They didn't show everything we sent them, and the questions I answered were also edited. We'll be showing more of the game over the next two months. It isn't even at Alpha stage yet.

The game features all of the great game modes that featured in all of the "Burnout" games - from "Survival" from B1, to the style of "boost chain" racing and "Pursuit Mode" from Burnout 2, to "Takedown Races" and "Road Rage" from B3 and Revenge.

[...]

Tomorrow we have an open day at our office in Petersfield from 10am. If you want to come and play the game you are more than welcome. Just say the secret codeword 'Magical Sound Shower' at the door. We're five minutes from the train station and just behind the Premier Inn. If not, you can get regular updates by signing up to our newsletter at www.threefieldsentertainment.com/dangerousdrivingclub

 

Sadly couldn't attend this as Petersfield is a quite bit of a drive the centre of the Netherlands. But being involved in games media coverage, I would be glad to see whether I can your game featured in various (Dutch) media outlets. Please do PM me for any preview/review opportunities :)

 

Also, my job means I've had a number of great chats with Craig Sullivan (both messing about on a Porsche test track), Matt Webster (including a very drunk and nearly irate discussion about the purpose of cockpit views) and notably Marcus Nilsson about Need for Speed, EA and more over the years.

Sadly never got to exchange thoughts with you, Alex - here's hoping we can change that some day!

 

On 07/12/2018 at 21:43, CrashedAlex said:

@NEG Thing is it’s development Staff that make games. I used to know a couple of the Ridge team. Don’t think any of them are there anymore. People get older, get families and sometimes making games can be a real pain. Namco could ring me up anytime for a new “Ridge Racer” but I bet no one there have ever played any of my games.

 

That said, Suda-51 told me a load of JPN devs used Paradise as a chat room most nights...

 

Surely then you know Suda-san regards Paradise as his favourite game of all time and would kill off all his cultgame darlings to get a shot at making a new Burnout. (I literally proposed the usage of my forum nickname for the subtitle of this hypothetical game once here.)

Sadly EA and him couldn't make it work considering the development hell that was Shadows of the Damned...

 

On 07/12/2018 at 14:08, CrashedAlex said:

As for MR2 - Hamish Young drove one. but not the original design. It was the base car in the first game for a long time until we were warned 'it was a trademarked shape' - I still have shots of it running in the game.

 

I KNEW IT! My dad was actually in the process of buying an MR2 (which ended up being my first car) when I played this and noticed that exact same similarities :)

 

On 07/12/2018 at 17:22, CrashedAlex said:

Whatever happened the the 'story mode' in Blur? Remember that in EDGE?

 

On 08/12/2018 at 07:49, skondo said:

Anybody here have any love for Blur? I adored that game. Haven’t played it for ages though.

 

On 08/12/2018 at 08:47, CrashedAlex said:

@skondo Yes. As a staunch Bizarre Creations fan (and lucky enough to visit them a lot on "Fur Fighters' for DC) I was gutted when I heard they weren't going to be around anymore. I heard the founders made something like $40m selling the company, They must have really had a belly full of the industry to simply stop making stuff and put everyone on the street. I loved the Bond game too.

 

Oh God, if there's anything I will NEVER forget in my gaming life, it's the seemingly endless spree of Summer nights playing Blur online with (again) Karzee, U-1, @Varnsen, @smithstock, @Boozy The Clown and even simracer @Meerman as well as many other forumites (we had up to 18 forum friends in an online race at one point!!!) - often starting at 8PM and finishing past 3AM...

Was SO sad to read pityful statements of Bizarre spearheads a year or so on, saying combining real branded cars with power-ups was like 'mixing cereal with bacon' or something. While this game was actually without a doubt the best thing that ever happened to arcade racing in its era. (Sorry Alex.)

 

RE: that story mode. All that remains:

 

 

On 08/12/2018 at 10:07, Mortis said:

Blur is my favourite racing/combat game ever - was always fun no matter where you sat in the pack. Was gutted to see bizarre get killed off the way they did. 

 The Burnout series are a close second in that regard although I have to admit not being as big a fan of the open world in paradise - I much preferred the tighter focused tracks of previous games.

 

This :wub:

 

On 08/12/2018 at 09:55, martingee said:

I worked at Bizarre Creations, on contract, on the Bond game. 

 

The Chudley's sold the studio to Activision but continued to work there although I didn't have any dealings with them. Activision run an independent studio system where they fund the game and seemingly let you get on with making it but the studio lives and dies on how financially successful the game(s) become. I was only there for 10 months as a lowly animator so never got to hear a fraction of what went on but my contract ended in august and the following February(?) they were closed.

 

The Bond game suffered because it had no movie tie-in, iirc there was a script writers dispute going on at the time and the Bond film was on a hiatus. I don't know if there was ever going to be a movie tie-in but with the situation the way it was it was never going to happen. Plus the story for the game had been approved and production was in full swing when I started working there.

 

Blur suffered from horrendous marketing, which was handled by Activision. The basis for the marketing campaign was to essentially slag off Mario Kart as a kids game and promote Blur as the grown up version (anyone remember Brock Lee?). I remember filing out of the weekly company meeting after the launch trailer for the campaign had been shown; people were already muttering about the direction it was going. I think the reasoning was it was hard to sell the idea of real life cars shooting balls of energy at each other but what Marketing came up with seemed to be slightly disrespectful and arrogant at best.

 

It launched a week after Split Second and just before some other racing game so was essentially sent out to die but it had the potential to be a massive and successful game that was a lot of fun to play. The dev team knew how to make a driving game, after all, they had done PGR and F1 previously.

 

+10 for contributing to 007: Blood Stone, good sir. I loved it, despite the mediocre middle 40% of the game.

 

Still, I did replay the first level about 50 times to get the best interactive Bond thrill since the DB5/tank level around Bucharest in Agent Under Fire.

 

12 hours ago, NinjaSeb said:

Sounds like you all need to play Wreckfest.

 

I know it’s not on consoles yet but it’s such a fun game.

 

Indeed, I only recently learned the PS4 release is apparently now slated for early 2019 release. Not expecting a major game-changer but at least some new fuel in the arcade racing tank.

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5 minutes ago, CrashedAlex said:

@McSpeed Going to “review” events was never an interest to me. Felt uncomfortable about that sort of stuff tbh.

 

I can imagine this given the way those events are overly-controlled by publisher PR and actually often do a poor job of giving media a proper hands-on experience.

 

However, for me they have actually provided a decent way to get slivers of insight - if only through cheeky 1-on-1 interview questions and off-the-record follow-up contact.

More importantly, it helped meeting new people and making friends to share the passion with!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just the best game. It was probably the final game that kept me booting up my PS3 regularly before I finally moved on. It crystallised my love of Bentley Continental GTs (stuff yer supercars) and when I hear some of the songs I had on my custom playlist they still send me off into a cops and robbers dreamland. Brilliant. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Two footnotes to that:

 

1. Each Race was named by looking at the current advertising slogan for each car model. For example, the first Race in that game had you driving a Porsche Boxster and was called "Roadsters Reborn." That was because if you were somehow compelled to buy said car model after playing the game and went to the US website of Porsche, it said something like "Boxster. The Roadster. Reborn."  I know that because it was me that spent time trawling through all of the manufacturer websites and figuring out the names.

 

2. If you watch the live E3 reveal of that game - watch for the look of terror on the presenters faces as the wireless PS3 Bluetooth controller disconnects six or seven times right before they had to play for real, live. Few people in the audience could have known what was happening. They did a great job though. I know I totally bottled out of going over to do that.

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@Dirty Harry Potter I think what you're really trying to say is "I'd like some much more powerful hardware please that would be able to do something like this...."

 

And the old caveat - 'next gen physics - but arcade style'

 

Those crashes are do-able now - it's just that it would no way run at 30fps, let alone 60fps. Nor can you have any other AI. So it won't be a Race. Oh, and scratch incredibly detailed desert rocks and amazing 'next-gen' lighting with shadows and lens flares. Also, as a Player you would not have even seen that crash as it would have happened behind you. Maybe one for that PSP 'being used as a wing mirror' then....:-)

 

Everything is/was/will always be a trade off.

 

On *every single* "Burnout"development we would burn, literally, a few months trying to do weather, or better crashes, or amazing deformation. That would all get sacked off three months later when we'd work out 'that we can either have weather.....but no cars" or "we can have amazing lighting....but no world" or "amazing crashes....but only with one car on screen in the game...ever."

 

There's a reason why very very few games run or ran at sixty fps on consoles. And it's called 'very under powered hardware' usually.

 

Our most watched clips were from either "Final Destination" or "The Island" IIRC - all of which was utterly pointless if you're developing for a PS2 or a PS3. But still, the hours we spent analysing grabs from DVD's...

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So with Sony finally putting some effort into pushing PSVR it would make sense for them to punt a few quid at Namco to knock up a RIdge Racer VR game. Even a retooled R4 would be amazing.

Having played a fair bit of Wipeout I think VR brings the wow factor back into tried and tested game formulas and the comfort window of an hour or so (for me) sits perfectly with arcade racers.

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Timothy Lottes (creator of FXAA and somebody who seems to like changing employers on a regular basis) suggested doing something like that years ago, when Orbis was still a twinkle in Sony's eye, but joe public/most gamers only understands the power of higher resolution as a marketing force, so it'll never happen.

VR is like flat TV but with even more insane resolution and performance requirements to hit its peak form so that will soak up any hardware performance improvements for decades to come.

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@CrashedAlex

 

You know when I worked with Stuart Black at codemasters he seemed to indicate he was responsible for a whole lot of Black. He was pretty bullish about how he'd guided it.

 

A very interesting chap.

 

Where is he now though?

 

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I'm sure this has been covered many times over the past few pages, but this is a great opportunity to also chuck my hat into the thankstorm to @CrashedAlex for some absolutely superb games over the years. 

 

I personally adored Burnout 4 (I was all for the purity of BO1 and 2, but four was an incredibly cohesive package and looked spectacular on the 360), and spent many many happy hours on Paradise. I think that was a fantastic observation in the original comment - the ability to just drive without failure screens and the free form approach to gaming foreshadows a lot of other IPs in entirely different genres that used this approach to build massive popularity (especially as streaming/Youtube became more popular). 

 

So thank you. From me and my kids. You've brought us all a lot of entertainment over the years.  

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4 hours ago, CrashedAlex said:

@nakamura Oh I used to work with a few folks who would have been far happier making PS2 resolution games and 'throwing the rest of the hardware' at it to do better IQ and VFX.

I also feel the Vita would have been much better with a mint 480p screen and resolution.

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On 06/12/2018 at 16:46, Mike S said:

 

Well, you're racing around in a car, it's incredibly arcadey in feel and presentation, and it's also more fun than any racing car game I've played for as long as I can remember. It's a real shame that it never really found an audience.

 

This was one of the issues with OnRush. It didn't have an audience. It was and wasn't a racing game and people who drive cars want to race. Defined start and end points.

Others won't play it because it has cars in.

 

Sitting between two stools it ended up being less than the sum of it's parts.

 

Because a game lives or dies on its real, honest backbone. Focus. A mission statement that you write on the wall and always refer back to.

 

I've no idea what the idea was behind Onrush because it really just seems a little confused. 

The name too, perhaps a reference to 'Burnout'?

Regardless even the name seems misjudged because it doesn't mean anything much.

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