A Bizarre chat • Page 3

Gareth Wilson on making PGR4. And, yes, motorbikes.

Eurogamer: It's all gone a bit Web 2.0.

Gareth Wilson: Yep, it's all good. It's really enjoyable working on that stuff. Don't know what else to say really! [Laughs]

Eurogamer: Obviously you've got PGR On Demand instead of Gotham TV. What did you learn from Gotham TV? I spoke to some Burnout guys at E3 and they were saying that they were focusing more on Friends stuff now.

Gareth Wilson: That's a real key thing that we've learned from PGR3 in general. The Gotham TV stuff was popular but in spikes, and it was popular when it was something that meant something to people. When we had the Lamborghini tournament, we had - how many people online at once? It was a Lamborghini tournament to win a trip to Lamborghini. Literally thousands and thousands of people watched that tournament, but when there wasn't anything they knew about the intake was much lower, so when we did PGR On Demand we made it very Friends-focused. You can find out races your friends have done, you can see all their photos, and it's very easy to do that - you just go Friends, Photos and get a list. When you go into your garages, you can put your friends' pictures in your garage.

Time Attack as well - if I've done a cool lap, that I'm pleased with, I can upload it and send a message to my mate and he can download it. All of the Time Attack is Friends-based. Every leaderboard shows your Friends leaderboard first, and if you want to see the top people or your position, then you can totally do that, but we focus on the Friends stuff. Because it's not particularly compelling to be 120,000th in the world, so when we display that number, we do show it, but we also show it as a percentage of the leaderboard - it would say "you're in the top 10 percent" or the top 20 percent, or the top 30 percent, because that has more meaning to someone. But yeah, the Friends stuff was really an eye-opener for us, so I can see what the Burnout chaps are on about.

Eurogamer: It's been a while since Test Drive Unlimited, but it's still the only game to take that approach of a pure racing game in an open world on that scale. Why didn't you take that approach?

Gareth Wilson: I'll tell you why - it's because we looked at free-roam stuff, and free-roam makes a great driving game but it doesn't make a good racing game. Test Drive's dynamics wasn't that bad, but because it's a free-roam racing area, you can't put the love and care into the circuits that you can when it's a pure circuit-based racing game. We have teams of designers working, honing every single corner, putting the barriers up, putting the turn-markers up - that stuff's essential to making a circuit-based racing game.

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Eurogamer: Is that why you haven't got the Route Creator in this time?

Gareth Wilson: Yes, because the Route Creator ultimately didn't produce very good routes, because we'd already picked the best routes and put them in the game. So that was one of the reasons - the other was that it just wasn't very popular, people just didn't use it.

But you know, we have the tech - we could have basically just built New York, and that would have made a great driving game. Test Drive Unlimited is a great driving game - when you drive up to a junction you almost feel like stopping and just letting the cars go past and then driving along - but not as a racing game. If you miss the checkpoints you go flying off and before you know it you're 200 metres the wrong way and all those sort of things mean it's just not a very nice experience when it comes to actually racing.

I never found myself in Test Drive repeatedly playing the same challenge to shade a second off my lap-time, whereas in Gotham certainly that's the key in the Arcade mode. It's that replayability and learning the course. And that's why as a company it's very unlikely that we'd do a free-roam racing game. We might do a free-roam driving game - for a Driver or GTA, free-roam is king, but they're not racing games, so I think that's why Test Drive came a bit unstuck.

Also I think it was too early as an online racing game. I think if it had been released now it would be much more popular. Ahead of its time.

Eurogamer: Another Live-y sort of question - you did quite a lot of downloadable content for PGR2 and 3, and I assume you're going to do more of that -

Gareth Wilson: Yes, absolutely we are -

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Eurogamer: But when are you going to start doing that and what sort of things do you have in mind?

Gareth Wilson: We're working on it right now, I don't mind telling you. We'll do DLC - I'm working on it right now. I can't tell you any more [laughs]. It'll be cars and bikes probably.

DLC's got two really interesting things to it. We do make a certain amount of money from it, but that's not really why we do it. We do it to keep the longevity of the game up. If you look at the sales for PGR3, it's been a really, really slow-burner. It's just gone on selling and selling, and it's still selling now. And I think some of that is down to the DLC, because people comment, and they enjoy the DLC that comes up, and they keep hold of the game a bit longer, and we get articles on your site saying that new DLC's out. Particularly stuff like the free stuff we did - the marketing we did with that just kept it going. We get stats for Live usage, and every time there was a DLC pack it went up.

Eurogamer: Finally, do you expect to make a PGR5?

Gareth Wilson: Christ! I've not even finished PGR4 yet, Tom! Come oooon. I can't tell you that!

Eurogamer: I left it there so openly! "Do you expect"!

Gareth Wilson: [Puts on silly voice] Of course we will be working on another racing title [laughs].

Project Gotham Racing 4 is due out exclusively on Xbox 360 on 12th October.

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About the author

Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

Contributor  |  tombramwell

Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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