Eurogamer: Power-ups - you say they have less race-deciding impact than in a game like WipEout or Mario Kart?
Gareth Wilson: Well, WipEout's an interesting one. I think in power and influence we're much closer to WipEout than we are to Mario Kart. In Mario Kart you have the big blue shell and at any point while you're in first place, you could be battered by the blue shell. But in WipEout, they all really just slow you down. If you look at WipEout, all the weapons just slow you down for a little bit, it's much more like WipEout. Even if you get completely whacked by a power-up, hand of God will kick in. You probably lose maybe four seconds.
They certainly influence the race, and when you play harder difficulties you can't win those races without using power-ups, but they're not as random or as final as some of the Mario Kart power ups are.
Eurogamer: The custom groups thing is really interesting...
Gareth Wilson: That was something that came up quite early at the start of the project, actually. Yeah, we're really excited about it. We're hoping that it - obviously we want this to be a regular franchise, so we hope that moving forwards it's going to become a massively community-driven racing property; the final thing could be that it becomes the place where people come to effectively build their racing game.
Obviously because we're making a brand new IP, there's stuff we've not done in this iteration, but moving forwards we want to expand it even further. So right now we've got game modes and stuff like that, but moving forward there'll be all sorts of stuff, so you can have a massive car community that creates its own experience. So yeah, it could be really good, but the technical challenges are going to be a nightmare.
We have to have a server where you can pull down all the information about the groups and then distribute those groups between potentially 500, 600, 700,000 people simultaneously matchmaking. Xbox Live and PSN don't do this stuff right out of the box, so we're creating our own server which will basically handle distributing groups, allow people to swap liveries and pictures, all that community stuff. But it needs to be instantly accessible and work with hundreds of thousands of people using it.
Eurogamer: Is this community focus a replacement for what Bizarre's traditionally done - be a very leaderboard-driven company?
Gareth Wilson: I think the whole leaderboard thing is a bit of a red herring. I don't think the majority of people really care that much about being number one in the world. Don't get me wrong, we're still going to have leaderboards of who's the best on certain tracks... But PGR3 was a good example of this, you could download the world's best ghost, and you could race against it and at the first corner, it's gone. Mere mortals such as me couldn't keep up with that sort of thing.
What's going to be much more interesting is in time attack, if you're in my friends list and you do a best lap, the social network will inform me that you've just done a fastest lap on this particular track. You can send that ghost to me and go, beat that bitch, and then I'll race it, and then I'm actually playing against someone, probably of comparable difficulty who I'll actually care about beating. You can start trading lap times, and you can have a great big leaderboard of all your friends, all with ghosts that you can play against. You can actually go and select all the people that you want to race against even though they're not online. That's so much more inclusive than just downloading the world's best ghost.
Eurogamer: It reminds me of the great friends-list integration in Geometry Wars 2...
Gareth Wilson: Yeah, well that's where we've learned a lot of stuff. Geometry Wars 2, all the friends stuff there was great. It's really just doing more of that stuff for racing games.