Q&A: Bizarre Creations' Gareth Wilson

Bizarre Creations, responsible for the Xbox 360 racer Project Gotham Racing 3, talks to GameSpot about the pressures of developing a console launch title.

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As one of the Xbox 360's anticipated launch titles, Project Gotham Racing 3 had a lot riding on its performance. Considered by many to be one of the best-looking games for the next-generation platform, Bizarre Creations' PGR3 still remains one of the highest-rated Xbox 360 games.

There are many challenges when creating a launch title. Final system specifications are constantly changing throughout development, the pressure of a deadline is magnified for a console's first crop of games, and expectations of new technology are incredibly high.

Bringing a new edition of a storied Xbox franchise to an untested platform brings even more obstacles. The game's online components are a main attraction and had to be revving right out of the gate. Plus, the new idea of microtransactions and increased focus on downloadable content was heaped specifically on PGR3 by Microsoft. And, once the game finally makes it out to stores, there is still the added task of keeping the game fresh.

GameSpot UK recently caught up with Gareth Wilson, project manager at Bizarre Creations in Liverpool, to find out what went into the development of Project Gotham Racing 3 and what's in store for the future of the game and Bizarre Creations.

GameSpot UK: Looking back, how would you evaluate the development period of PGR3? Are there things you would have done differently?

Gareth Wilson: I think things went as well as could be expected. It's always tricky building a game for a console in development, so we all expected some overtime. If there's one thing we would have done differently it would have been to lock down the design of the game a little earlier, but overall we got the game out on time to a good quality level--we achieved our goals for PGR3.

GSUK: What was preparing an Xbox 360 launch title like?

GW: Hard but exciting work!!! It's really the ultimate dream of any developer to be working on a launch title for a new console, where we get our hands on the new technology before anyone else. New possibilities open up to you that weren't possible before, which is very exciting. Then the flip side is the hard work of developing the systems to run on the new hardware.

GSUK: How much involvement/support did Microsoft give you throughout?

GW: Our relationship with Microsoft was key to getting PGR3 out on time to the level of detail we wanted. As new information emerged about the 360, they were great at explaining what that meant to us as developers. Also, the support for any technical questions we had was excellent.

GSUK: At least one high-profile game didn't make the console's launch and slipped behind. Were you ever in danger of that?

GW: I'd be lying if I said things didn't look hairy at certain points. But we always believed we had the staff and the plan to launch on day one--and we achieved that without sacrificing quality. When things looked like they might be late, we were fortunate to be able to add extra resources where needed.

GSUK: What are your thoughts on how PGR3 has performed on Xbox Live?

GW: We are very pleased--it's good to see the game is still very popular on Live nearly 10 months since launch. We were particularly pleased with the popularity of the tournaments. The first one had tens of thousands of contestants! We've also added a load of new game modes through [downloadable content packs] to keep people interested.

GSUK: You've continued to support PGR3 with additional downloads; what else will you do in this area?

GW: We've already released three download packs for PGR3, which had a lot of new, free functionality--tournaments, free cars, new game modes. We may be doing some other small stuff: Watch this space.

GSUK: If you had an ultimate wish list of things you could do with PGR3, what would be the top three?

GW: (3) Unlimited players on track!, (2) A GothamTV show that we can put on terrestrial, cable, and satellite TV, (1) Race an Enzo against a Halo Warthog!

GSUK: The online racing model works well, although it's difficult to stop cheaters from barging people in corners. Is there anything anybody can do about that?

GW: It's a tricky one, as we see some collision as part of the Gotham experience; we would never be a 'serious' racer that would penalise or disqualify a player for hitting another. In fact, we did do some tweaking to the online racing in one of the download packs--we reduced the effect of collisions slightly in competitive games, to make it harder to spin players out.

GSUK: The visuals in PGR3 seem to have become the accepted standard for next-gen games now. How does it feel to be the benchmark?

GW: It's great! I think we were very fortunate to have a team of engine coders who really knew where the next-generation bar was. Working so closely with Microsoft meant we really got to know the console and the guys that made the hardware, so we got most things right first time round.

GSUK: Do you have any plans to develop for the PlayStation 3 or Wii?

GW: Bizarre is an independent developer, so we'll always produce games for all sorts of hardware. We're currently working on a game called The Club for Sega that will be a multiformat release.

GSUK: What's the next title in the pipeline--give us some juicy, exclusive details...

GW: Besides The Club, we are working on a couple of exciting next-gen projects I'd love to talk about, but you'll have to wait for our official announcements!

Discussion

17 comments
terrabreak13
terrabreak13

I think just as in art they made a lucky stroke with PGR2. It's not easy to recreate that. PGR3 does a great job though for a launch title. The graphics is great and the gameplay is solid. They stripped alot of things that were in PGR2 but the next time they won't be under the pressure of a console launch. PGR4 just might be the best racing game of all time.

Link
Link

As good as PGR3 was, PGR 2 was better. More cities, more cars and almost the same gameplay make PGR 2 a better value and a better game. Now let's get PGR 2 on 360. I need my 4X anti-aliasing.

wenbin09
wenbin09

i just hope they release more great games as they normally do...

new_orion
new_orion

Same as Shtinky.... So it would be nice to play PGR 4 on PS3. I bought the original xbox just for PGR2 (and ninja gaiden). It would make easier the next gen console choise, since I still don't have a 360.

mike_mgoblue
mike_mgoblue

Project Gotham Racing 3 is probably my all time favorite racing game. When you see this game on a high-definition TV, it is absolutely AMAZING!!! Especially on an HDTV that upconverts the 720p resolution to 1080p!!!

samekila
samekila

PGR3 was really good and Geometry Wars was great I cant wait to see what they have in the works.

caesarbites
caesarbites

Bizzare may have done an excellent job on PGR3. I don't dispute that since it IS one of my favorite 360 games so far. But I don't see how they could ever top the pure adrenaline rush that is Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. That game is simply one of the best games EVER CREATED! They are amazing at making games. NEVER STOP!

SUPRAMAN84
SUPRAMAN84

I love PGR3, I still play it all the time. And Geometry Wars, so addicting. PGR4 and Geometry Wars would be like launch day all over again, I hope they arrive in 2007.

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

(drools over driving warthog in pgr3)

GangsterPanda
GangsterPanda

Haha, Enzo vs a Warthog would be awesome. Bizarre really deserve kudos for their improvement of the game after it went retail - new online modes, new cars and importing screenshots from the game are all features that have given me all the more reason to keep playing. The best launch-day game in my opinion, I don't wanna know how much time I've spent with this one.

Jypson44
Jypson44

PGR3 was pretty much what I was inspecting, not much more. I can only hope PGR4 will be more impressive.

revelations
revelations

Geometry Wars 2 with co-op? Fantastic idea. maybe some new board designs to. PGR3 is awsome BTW.

ArchieGates
ArchieGates

Geometry Wars 2 with co-op would be nice.

AlbertWesker316
AlbertWesker316

PGR3 was sweet,i cant even imagine how a PGR4 would look like!Heres hoping there working on a forth one!!!!!

Benny_is_here
Benny_is_here

Bizarre rules! I'm surprised the new Photomode contest wasn't mentioned. I thought GS was monitoring Major Nelson's blog?