As Table Top Racing hits Vita, WipEout co-creator turns attention to PS4
"We feel like PlayStation is our spiritual home."
Table Top Racing launches on Vita today, and its developer, the co-creator of seminal PlayStation racing game WipEout, looks set to turn his attention to the PlayStation 4 next.
That developer is Nick Burcombe, who dreamed up the idea of futuristic racer WipEout with Psygnosis colleague Jim Bowers over a few drinks at the Shrewsbury Arms in Oxton, Merseyside.
Burcombe spent 10 years at Psygnosis after joining as a game tester in 1988. He was the lead designer on the first WipEout game, which launched alongside the PSone in Europe in 1995, as well as its sequel Wipeout 2097/XL, and experienced the developer's transitional period after it was bought by Sony and renamed Studio Liverpool.
In 1998 he left to co-found N-Gen Racing and Quantum Redshift developer Curly Monsters (for more on Curly Monsters check out our article on the drama surrounding Quantum Redshift).
After Curly Monsters collapsed, Burcombe spent time at EA Warrington, which failed to ship any titles, before rejoining Studio Liverpool in 2004 to work on the Formula One franchise and game prototypes. He left in 2010 following a round of layoffs.
It was after this that Burcombe founded Playrise Games, initially helping other developers as a consultant before founding a small developer called Playrise Digital to make making a new racing game for mobile platforms.
That game was Table Top Racing, which launched on iOS devices in January 2013. An Android version released a year later, in January 2014. The Vita version goes live today, drawing a line under Table Top Racing 1.
But what's next? "Playrise is now working in next generation console development via PlayStation 4," Burcombe told Eurogamer.
"We feel like PlayStation is our spiritual home and the best place for us to express our creativity and vision. We are very excited and we can't wait to share more news with your readers very soon!"
If Burcombe manages to make a PS4 game, it'll be the first time the co-creator of WipEout has worked directly on a PlayStation home console title since 2007 PlayStation 3 game Formula One Championship Edition.
Explaining the move, Burcombe pointed to the ease with which small developers are able to self-publish their games on the PS4.
"The change is absolutely a positive for us," he said. "We're excited by that. It's our spiritual home. It's where we can attract real gamers who don't mind paying for stuff."
In August 2012 Sony closed down Studio Liverpool, saying it was focusing on other studios that "are currently working on exciting new projects". Evolution, based in Runcorn, Cheshire, is set to release PS4 exclusive racer DriveClub later this year.
Burcombe, who had been made redundant as part of the 2010 layoffs that gutted half the studio's staff, said the writing had been on the wall.
"I can't imagine what the costs of running Liverpool Studio and Evo were like," he said. "The fact they took 50 per cent of the studio, everyone knew what that meant: longer term that was going to be a problem for the studio. They still had a couple of things in the pipeline. They tried to make the merger of Evolution and Liverpool work. It didn't really work in my view, although there are quite a few Liverpool staff still working at Runcorn now making DriveClub and they're doing a great job."