Speed is an essential quality in driving games. Without it, you might as well be taking a Sunday drive in the family Yugo. However, with the Burnout series, developer Criterion Games has added another ingredient that has become just as important as eye-bleeding speed: crashes. The Burnout series has set new standards for snarling, metal-bending, explosive crashes over the years, and the upcoming Burnout Paradise is no exception to that rule. In fact, apart from its open-world nature and seamless online experience, Paradise will be aiming to bring crashes to the next level thanks to the new crash-anywhere, -anytime "showtime" mode. For more details on this fun new way of experiencing Burnout, we contacted Nick Channon, producer for the game.
GameSpot: Let's start off with crashes in general. Cars wrecks are spectacular in Paradise, thanks to what looks to be some incredible deformation physics and some excellent camera angles. What did you want to accomplish with wrecks in the game, and how did you go about making it happen?
Nick Channon: Obviously crashes have always played a major part in the Burnout games. As we moved the franchise to these next-gen consoles, we had to make them look amazing. The added power of the consoles allowed us to do way more than we could in the past, and the initial goal was to deform the cars as much as possible. When the cars hit a wall or barrier, we really wanted to show the energy of the crash being pushed through the car. We spent a lot of time previsualising how this would look, and when we were happy with it, we moved what we had learned into the game engine. Obviously deformation is only part of it; with the addition of particle effects, smashing glass, debris, and some incredibly impactful sound effects, the results are pretty amazing and something we're incredibly proud of.
GS: Tell us about the creation of showtime mode. How did the decision to make this an "anyplace, anytime" mode come about, and what were the technical obstacles to get this mode to work anywhere in Paradise City?
NC: The goal for Burnout Paradise was to create a completely seamless experience. So we had to carry this over across all aspects of the game, including what we've previously known as "crash" mode. We could have created crash junctions as we have in the past, but this would have broken the dynamic of the whole game. Showtime was created to allow the user to crash anytime, anywhere. This feels truly next-gen to us, as it doesn't give the user any restrictions, and they are able to do what they want when they want. Also, creating a specific number of junctions means that once you have completed them all, that's it. With showtime, every time you play it's different. You determine the route you take and what you try to hit, and you can continue to get better and better.
GS: You can enter showtime mode at any point in the game, even when taking part in a challenge such as road rage or a stunt event. The question is: Why would you want to? Are there any challenge events where doing so would help you complete your goals?
NC: The answer is simple: Why not? Most games prescribe what you do next, and in what order. Burnout Paradise is about complete and utter freedom. You might be in sixth place towards the end of a race, see a bunch of traffic and think, "I haven't beaten the showtime road rule [challenge] in this area, so why don't I do that now?" The choice is yours. Again, in road rage you might be about to get totaled, ending the event, so why not go into showtime? We really believe we shouldn't stop you from being in control of your experience; hence you can go into showtime anytime you like.
GS: How does the game's online options extend to showtime mode?
NC: Showtime online is awesome, it allows up to eight players to compete in the same gameworld at the same time, so you are all competing to create as much damage as you can.
GS: How about a tip on maximizing our showtime score? Beyond keeping the boost meter filled, what other tips can you give us to make the most of showtime mode?
NC: There are a couple of things that will really help you maximize your scores. First, before you go into showtime look for areas of traffic, and start showtime when there's plenty around you. This will get you off to a good start. Second, watch out for the static buses that have been placed around the world when you are in showtime mode. Buses give you multipliers, and we have placed parked ones at the sides of the roads, so if you learn where they are and change your route to find them, you will really rack up the points.
GS: Sounds fun. Thanks for your time, Nick.