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Carmageddon: Reincarnation becomes a PS4 and next Xbox game as well

"The true triple-A quality of a game should come out of the gameplay, not out of how bloody shiny it is."

Remember Carmageddon: Reincarnation? It was a successfully Kickstarted, modest reboot of Carmageddon for PC, Mac and Linux. Originally it was due out, well, nowish, although development was extended at Christmas time.

Anyway, the plan was for the modest reboot to pave the way for an "all bells and whistles" Carmageddon game. But now there's no need.

Lovely Carmageddon fan art from deviantartist Igliang.

Carmageddon: Reincarnation will evolve to become more or less that game - a game for PC and "next-gen platforms". How? A privately raised $3.5 million announced this afternoon.

I phoned Stainless Games to talk about it.

Firstly, yes, "next-gen platforms" does mean PlayStation 4 and the next Xbox. "It is implied and we do not shy away from saying it to you," Stainless Games publishing director Jason Garber told me.

However, and crucially, Stainless Games does not yet have dev kits for either console. Negotiations with the platform holders are ongoing. Nevertheless, it's a pretty safe bet it'll happen. For starters, Stainless Games' name flashed up on the developer slide during the PlayStation 4 reveal conference.

How did it get there if Stainless hadn't yet signed a deal to develop for PS4? "I slept with some very powerful people," joked Neil Barnden, Stainless co-founder and Carmageddon boss. In truth, neither Garber nor Barnden really know why their company's name was there. The people who do know are on a plane to GDC. But clearly Stainless' name was there for a reason.

The other reason why it's a safe bet dev kits will be granted is that Stainless Games made Magic: The Gathering game Duels of the Planeswalkers - which is fantastic by the way - for XBLA and PS3, as well as many other console games. Therefore the studio has the relevant relationships in place to get what it needs.

The next important thing to note about Carmageddon: Reincarnation is that $3.5 million isn't a fortune. It is, as Neil Barnden put it, a "relatively modest budget" by today's console game-development standards. Do not expect Carmageddon: Reincarnation to pack the blockbuster glitz of a $30 million-plus driving game project, although that's not to say it won't compete at that level.

"Originally, obviously, we were looking at [a] downloadable [release]," said Barnden. "We don't see any reason that this game that we've currently got scoped couldn't eventually be boxed product.

"I don't see any reason with the assets we're currently producing that we shouldn't be up there with the others. But what we really focus on, in terms of the game, is the way it plays and the fun factor. As far as we're concerned, the true triple-A quality of a game should come out of the gameplay, not out of how bloody shiny it is."

"What we want to avoid is the response that happened for the Killzone [4] demonstration at the PS4 [event], where nobody actually clapped but it just looked good."

Jason Garber, Stainless Games
Not a real car from Carmageddon: Reincarnation, but a fan creation of what could be (by deviantartist Zelfit).

"What we want to avoid," added Jason Garber, "is the response that happened for the Killzone [4] demonstration at the PS4 [event], where nobody actually clapped but it just looked good.

"What we're aiming for is that all the people in the community ... they all emphasise how much fun they had, how many hours they spent on it and how much they enjoyed playing the game. The emphasis has always been, and will be, at Stainless, on this.

"So as far as how does the budget compare to other budgets where it's about another pixel extra here and there: we're primarily going to focus on gameplay," he said. "Not exclusively, of course, don't misunderstand me, but that's our perception of how we should build games. They should be fun."

Helping drive down console development costs will be the excitingly unexciting PC-like architecture of PlayStation 4.

"It looks like the whole process is going to be somewhat less complex than it has been trying to produce multi-platform games previously," said Barnden. And he has developed multi-platform games previously, so he should know.

"That's one of the things about it that makes us more confident about the limitation of the budget. Without going into too much detail, it just appears that the process is going to be a lot more developer friendly."

The Stainless duo know as much about the next Xbox as we do, but are "very confident" it will fit in with this vision as well. After all, Xbox architecture was never the problem.

Barnden also believes Stainless' dedication to entirely in-house tech gives the studio an "extra edge" because there isn't any sitting around while various engine and middleware makers get to grips with new machinery and update their tech.

What's more, the vision - the groundwork - for Reincarnation was effectively mapped out when Carmageddon first came out, which saves development time and money.

"We aren't changing the original concept for Reincarnation, which is that it reincarnates the original Carmageddon, effectively," said Barnden. "We're updating; in some cases we're changing, but largely we're updating assets and ideas that were already there in the first game. From that point of view that also gives us an accelerated path to getting the game together."

Naturally, adding PS4 and next Xbox versions of Carmageddon: Reincarnation means the whole project will take longer. Nailing down a date in advance of dev kits arriving at the studio is understandably tricky business, but Stainless hopes to have the game ready to show in the autumn of this year.

"We won't do anything until we feel confident that the first perception for the audience is the right one," said Garber. "Taking into account that we're at a certain stage with our development right now, we think that near the end - let's say somewhere up and around gamescom, a little bit later, there will be the first public possibility to view the game."

Oh, if only there were a Eurogamer Expo around that time.