Destruction Derby Goes Online

Martin chats to Nick Koufou, project leader on Destruction Derby Arenas.

Martin Taylor: First of all, could you please introduce yourself for our readers, and what is your role on the game?

Nick Koufou: I'm Nick Koufou and I'm the project leader.

Martin Taylor: How much have you improved upon the original premise of Destruction Derby? What areas have been enhanced?

Nick Koufou: Destruction Derby Arenas' biggest new feature has to be the 20-player online racing. Obviously, none of the previous games enabled so many people to go head to head before. Split screen is all well and good and is included in DDA, but the thrill of 20 players online is something completely new. A close second has got to be the interactive environments, having an airplane land on the same piece of tarmac as you has got to be a racing game first.

Martin Taylor: Do you feel that DDA can restore the brand to the level of commercial popularity the Psygnosis versions attained in the mid 90s?

Nick Koufou: The original Destruction Derby was a big hit with it's gritty realism and physics, it practically invented the "smash 'em up" genre. DDArenas is a pioneer in the same way the original DD was, with a variety of new innovative features pushing the game-play boundaries even further. I believe that DDA has enough going for it to reach those levels of popularity.

Martin Taylor: What's more important? Commercial success or critical acclaim?

Nick Koufou: Both really. We all take pride in our work and would like to see DDA receive critical acclaim but at the same time selling a few copies to keep our pizza habit going is not a bad thing.

Martin Taylor: Are you happy with the damage effects you've attained in the game, compared to, say Burnout 2?

Nick Koufou: Yes, seeing the cars gradually deteriorate to flaming wrecks is very satisfying. All the expected visual goodies are there, bumps and scratches to bonnets flapping, doors swinging, wheels flying and the odd engine fire thrown in for good measure.

Martin Taylor: Are you aiming for realism, ridiculousness, or a subtle blend of the two?

Nick Koufou: Ridiculousness! There's all manner of daft stuff in it. Cruise ships ploughing in the harbour, shuttle launches, buildings collapsing... You get the picture.

Martin Taylor: We've noticed the move to include more seemingly traditional street racing elements in the game. What prompted that?

Nick Koufou: The original DD was just tarmac and barriers really, and this doesn't really offer the scope for some of the more diverse elements of scenery destruction we wanted to put in. This variety of environments introduce a lot of elements to the game that have never been seen before and helps distinguish DDA from its predecessors or any other racing game for that matter.

Martin Taylor: How do you feel that affects the basic premise of destruction derby racing portrayed in the original titles?

Nick Koufou: I think it enhances the basic premise, there are only so many times you can demonstrate smashing cars together. I think that gamers expect a bit more nowadays. These elements add a lot of replay value to DDA. You can play the game and not notice the little cool things that go on in the worlds, or the alternative ways of gaining points. Only by repeated play you can get to discover all these.

Martin Taylor: Could you describe the different modes on and offline play for us?

Nick Koufou: Offline we have the Championship where the player takes part in an extended tournament against the AI to power up their cars and unlock all the other characters and tracks. The two pick-up-and-play modes of Wrecking Racing and Destruction Bowl should be familiar to all the DD fans out there. Score spin, style and power points but always keep an eye out for those event triggers, can be worth a few points too.

Wrecking Racing and Destruction Bowl make an appearance online together with an additional 4 online specific modes. These are Last Man Standing, Speedway, Pass da Bomb and Capture the Trophy. In Last Man Standing you get no second chances, die and you're out, no health pickups, no points just pure metal bending until there is no metal left to bend. Speedway will test you driving abilities and knowledge of the tracks. First that gets to the end wins! Pass the Bomb... well this is like pass the parcel, but when the time runs out - you go BOOM! And Capture the Trophy is a challenge to get away from the unwashed masses with the precious cup, the longer you keep away the more the points. Not as easy as it sounds.

Martin Taylor: As one of the first titles to offer compatibility with the PS2's broadband adaptor, do you see the online elements as key to the success of Destruction Derby: Arenas?

Nick Koufou: Absolutely. Supporting up to 20 players online, has allowed us to get the desired effect of utter mayhem which we think suits the genre nicely. We have introduced a variety of online only modes as well, to make the overall online experience as satisfying as possible.

Martin Taylor: Is PS2 online gaming a "warm up" for PS3? Are enough users going to buy the network adaptor to make the game an online success?

Nick Koufou: Online gaming in general has been "in the making" for a long time. The realisation of broadband in the home, I hope, will see an explosion in general. The time for dipping toes in the water has gone and now for PS2 and obviously all consoles beyond this, online gaming is going to be essential and possibly where the greatest innovations will be made.

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