Blur Q&A With Gareth Wilson and Ged Talbot

We drop the clutch, swap some paint, and chat about all things racing with Bizarre Creations lead designers Gareth Wilson and Ged Talbot about Blur.

Car games tend to fall into one of two major subsets: arcade racing and simulation driving. The former usually relies on drifting, loose steering, and fictional vehicles, while the latter boasts real-world production cars and punishment for braking and turning at the same time. Blur is a melding of the two with real-world vehicles, crazy over-the-top stunts, and Mario Kart-style power-ups to blast your trackmates. We recently caught up with two of the game’s lead designers, Gareth Wilson and Ged Talbot, to chat about social networking, why storyline doesn’t matter to racing, and the return of split-screen.

GameSpot AU: You said last year that one of Blur’s biggest strengths was adding a storyline to the racing. Why was story so important?

Gareth Wilson: There’s no storyline in Blur. This was one of the features we thought wasn’t working great last year, so we replaced the storyline with social features where you and your friends progress the story.

GS AU: Race performance and actions will unlock additional content as you play. Explain how that works.

Ged Talbot: As you do cool things on-track: shoot power-ups, overtake drivers, do stunts, you earn fans. Earn enough fans and you’ll rank up, unlocking cool new cars, game modes, mods, and vehicle upgrades.

GS AU: How many vehicles does the game feature and which manufacturers are on board?

GT: Fifty-plus cars including BMW, Lotus, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Koenigsegg, Shelby, Audi, and Dodge.

Seriously dude, I told you nine subwoofers were too many!

GS AU: Blur appears to be more of a street arcade racer than a closed-track sim. Why then have you opted to go with licensed vehicles?

GW: Because real cars are cooler to drive than fake cars! Seriously, though, having licensed cars in a game gives it a feeling of quality. And we wanted gamers to know this is a triple A racing game.

While we are 100 percent an action game, the underlying physics and handling are still very much based in the real world. This sort of handling and gameplay suits the real world visuals much better than it would if we had tried to put a realistic handling model on obviously fake car models.

GS AU: Hoarding and then carefully deploying power-ups looks to be essential. How many items can you carry simultaneously? Will you be able to string a series of different items together to create combos?

GW: You can carry three power-ups at once, so keeping a selection to use is important. A good method is a nitro to get close to other racers, an offensive power-up like barge or bolt to take them out once close, and then a defensive power-up like shield once you’re ahead.

One of the most important skills you can have in Blur is knowing which power-ups are going to be most useful to you at any particular time. There are several factors you need to take into account during the race before deciding which power-up to select, including: Where am I in the field of racers? Are you at the front of the pack or bringing up the rear? And how close are my nearest opponents and are they in front of me or do you need to defend from an attacker coming up from behind?

Race alone, trade scores with rivals online, or battle it out on the same couch with split-screen.

GS AU: Tell us about how shunting placement on competitors will determine the effect you have on them.

GT: Shunt flings cars into the air, so using it when near a cliff or under a bridge can be devastating! Also, using it on corners or in hairpins will throw your opponents off the racing line, potentially with terrible consequences.

GS AU: How will the social media aspects in Blur help players find races both in the single-player and online modes?

GW: Blur has social network integration. This means you can update your progress via Twitter to your friends when they’re not at their consoles and let them know when you’re around to play.

Also, after completing a single-player race, you can send a Friends Challenge to any of your Xbox Live friends. This message appears in the Xbox dashboard and challenges your friends to do better than you in the event you just played. If your friend beats your challenge, he can send it back to you with new data. This is available for Xbox Live silver accounts and allows people to compete who are not usually online together.

GS AU: Split-screen racing has dropped off the map a bit of late. Why do you think this is and why are you working so hard to bring it back when you’re also including online play?

GT: Blur is about playing with friends, and one of the best ways to play with friends is getting your buddies around and playing on the same console! As games become more complicated, splitting the screen into four viewports becomes tougher to do, but we believe this is a super-important feature for a racing game.

With the rise of the Internet and online gaming, people seem to have forgotten how much fun it can be to actually sit next to someone while playing together. If you were to ask someone whether it’s better to go to the cinema or to a restaurant on your own or with a friend, the answer would be a no-brainer, right? Experiences are always better when you share them with friends. The same is true with gaming and it’s true whether you’re playing a multiplayer game together or you’re passing the pad between yourselves in a single-player game.

GS AU: Gareth and Ged, thanks for your time.

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Discussion

25 comments
jedediahpelland
jedediahpelland

Played the demo, awesome!!!! Like Mario Kart on steriods.

sopny
sopny

Looks Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MexStraxg3r
MexStraxg3r

all i want is the game to be out cant wait.

lobotomies4free
lobotomies4free

love that split screen is coming back. wish couch gaming made a return in more genres

Pupyfrog
Pupyfrog

It's awsome to hear that someone is puting split screen back into a game. Online multiplayer is great, but there getting beaten by the person sitting next to you is totally different. It makes the victories and losses so much sweeter when you can actually see the person next to you and not just hear the random obsenities of people on live

fisgiger
fisgiger

how could you not ask about dlc????

itchyflop
itchyflop

nice one cheers SadPSPAddict its always better with a pal online!!! Looks very close to an old moterhead on the ps1, i hope it tells the tale it promotes looks very origional!!!

galerian86
galerian86

4 players split-screen? Are they stuck in the past or something? Seriously though, I'm glad that they had split-screen, let alone a 4 players one. Learn this trick for your next Burnout, Criterion!

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Still loving the sound of this game - keeps getting better and better! @itchyflop - no but think I heard somewhere that 2 player split can go on-line

itchyflop
itchyflop

i like the look of this a sort of motorhead (ps1) style racer with loads of fun thrown in and split 4 player?? hmmm finally a developer with sense, can you take all four people on line??

garyspar
garyspar

@Riprock, I agree. 4 players per tv/console would make it one of the top games of this console generation, imo. Looking at the splitscreen photo in the article, it gives the impression that it might support it (notice that the positions of the 4 screens are 5th through 8th out of 8 racers). Let's keep our fingers crossed that it gets into the finished game.

georgeww
georgeww

hal-a-loya thank god they final relies that on a console a racing game has to be split screen at least..... that is like the best thing about consoles... split screen dominance over friends.....

Brak_N_Zorak
Brak_N_Zorak

i play the beta everyday. i'm looking forward to the real thing just so i can get past level 10 and unlock the corvette. :D

Pete5506
Pete5506

I have been playing the beta a bit, and I am having a pretty good time with it

Riprock
Riprock

@garyspar I agree. My buddies and I still play a lot of System Link and the games that support it are limited, which is disappointing (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Xbox_360_System_Link_games). But www.xbox.com lists that Blur will support up to 20 players on System Link - hopefully that's 4 players per console. And if so that would be absolutely AWESOME!!!

garyspar
garyspar

The only thing better than 4-player split screen is having 4-player split screen with system link, so 8 people can play togeteher in the same room using only 2 consoles/TVs. Halo 3 does this, why can't more games? Loving the Blur Beta! This should be a day 1 purchase for me.

MERGATROYDER
MERGATROYDER

I have 2 Beta sign up codes to give away. Just send me a message detailing what game character you would be an why.

chevydriver1123
chevydriver1123

I've played the beta and its alot of fun. One question I have is how do they maintain balance between people that play casually and people that play the game constantly.

Riprock
Riprock

Excellent and thanks Bizarre Creations for incoporating 4-player split-screen. This is the first retail racer to do so (except perhaps Sonic & Sega Kart Racing, just a short while ago). I've been waiting a long time, beause it IS better to play together. In the same room you can share chips, drinks, hi-fives, punches in the arm and a lot of other things you can't online. And it's so much better to "see" everyone's reactions. The Beta looks good. Can't wait to see the other modes, etc. in the release. Nicely done.

mitsmirage
mitsmirage

Xbox 360 Multiplayer Beta is great, can't want for the full game later this year.

pudgexd
pudgexd

hope a demo is coming out soon :D

jasopan
jasopan

OMG SPLITSCREEN! Definitely looking forward to this!

slowmanrunning
slowmanrunning

so far the online beta has been great, with a class making system, and ranks. As well as a nice combination of arcade and hardcore racing. The power ups work well in the game, but I can't even voice in words how annoying it is to be hit by a chain of power ups dropping you 6 places back in the race. Not really a thing that needs fixing though, just a part of the game.