GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

Project Gotham Designer Diary

The crew at Bizarre Creations tells us about the process of creating a polished racing game.


Week-ending 7th September 2001

Hello, and welcome to the first installment of the Project Gotham designer diary.

Yeah, I know we've left it a bit late in the project to start, but at least you get to join in on all the thrills and spills that lead up to finally mastering the project--and eventually getting some sleep. Because there's a lot to catch up on, this update's a bit longer than the others will eventually be.

So this week, we'll do an introduction to the team and start off our "Day in the Life of" with the long-suffering producer on Gotham. We'll also give you our very first progress report, along with the more interesting happenings of the week. If you're lucky, you might even see some photos and screenshots to illustrate things, too!

Who's on the team?

The team currently has four producers--a senior producer, a producer, an associate producer, and a producer borrowed from another project to help at this crucial stage. They look after the team, the progress, the milestones, putting builds together, collating data, and so on. They have three production support people who work with them at the moment, and they're doing the circuit layouts, checking gameplay issues, and so on. Like many developers, we don't have a test team here at Bizarre. The publisher (in this case, Microsoft) looks after that side of things for us.

We now have a whopping 15 artists on the project. This is broken down roughly into city modelers and texturers, car modelers, 2D artists, and a user-interface artist. They also do some of the presentation stuff that's needed for the game, such as renders, magazine covers, and so on.

The programmers now total seven. They do the 3D engine, special effects, gameplay code, user interface programming, sound and music code, and peripheral support on the game. They are currently locked away in their own little corners of the office, as they need all the quiet they can get!

And then there's one music man. He gets all the car samples and sounds for the game, and he works closely with Microsoft to coordinate all the music, CD, and radio parts to the game, too. And along with the support from the rest of the Bizarre crew, that's the team!

Lurking in the office, we also have our program manager, Garrett, and a tester, Jay, from Microsoft. They feel like part of the team now--they get as much grief from the programmers as the rest of us. Garrett spends most of his time on the phone to Microsoft in the US on conference calls, or at least that's what they think. The photo shows otherwise!

Just a day in the life...
Just a day in the life...

Progress report

Programming: Ahh, right. Well, it's all a bit stressed in the programming camp today. We're working toward a milestone to get the game code all together, working and bug-free, in order for the next phase (polishing and tuning) of development to get underway. Microsoft has a different word for it than most, but we've usually called it beta. After this point, no new code can be added--it's just tuning and fixing what's there.

This is a scary point in the game, as the Microsoft testers in Redmond keep finding bugs! As we're eight hours ahead, we go home at night, only to find that they've added another 100 onto our bug count by the morning. The programmers are currently thinking up ways to try and stop this by distracting the testers somehow.

The idea is to hit this milestone by tonight...ahem...

Art: The artists are doing fairly well toward the milestone for now. Even the best efforts of the MS testers in sneaking in loads of bugs over the weekends haven't deterred them! They're nearly finished with both the car and city modeling, and they're getting to look at all the light levels and texture finalizations on each of the areas.

The biggest problem they're having at the moment is Central Park--trees, trees, everywhere. The problem is that Gotham trees are a lot more detailed than trees we've done in the past. Put in hundreds of them, and you've got to do some clever coding to make sure they fit in memory and don't slow down the game below 60fps. So there's some juggling going on between the programmers and artists to make this work nicely!

The art team is hard at work...
The art team is hard at work...

Sound: This is pretty much sorted now, with all the samples in the game, all the real radio stations and DJ's recorded, and all the licensed music in place. So these guys are just tweaking and tuning the samples, checking out the Dolby 5.1 and making sure the ripped music feature works OK.

Office Happenings

This week was the week of the overflowing toilet--gross! The Gotham team insists it wasn't them, as it was over toward the Space Munky side of the office. However, we think that maybe the previous occupants (Sony QA) may have done some ritual sacrifices of crappy games that never made it out and flushed them into the sewer, where they lurk to this day...

Also this week was Scooter Week. Yes, a whole year after the rest of the world, Bizarre Creations gets scooters. OK, they were 15 pounds from the "book man" who comes to the office, but we're not proud! The sight of a whole load of mad developers wheeling their way round the office in two-wheeled races is not for the fainthearted.

The last event this week was the start of the Bizarre cricket season, keeping up the jolly good British tradition. OK, it's the end of the real cricket season, but it's an excuse to burn off some of the pizza by whacking the felt off the outside of some innocent tennis balls!

Day in the Life of a Producer on Project Gotham

Allan Speed, Producer

Allan's been stolen temporarily from the Smokescreen team for the time being in order to help get Gotham finished.

8:00am: Wake up, after a strange dream about racing flashy sports cars round cities.

8:30am: Breakfast. Contrary to popular belief, it's not a pie! Toast and coffee, usually...

8:50am: Leave for work. Try not to clock up kudos on the drive in.

9:20am: Arrive at the office.

9:21am: Check RAID, Microsoft's in-house bug database. Cry.

9:30am: Read new bugs and start assigning them to people for fixing.

10:00am: Print off all the bugs and hand them out. Watch the team cry.

10:30am: Check that everyone's made it in OK, and chase anyone who's overslept!

11:00am: Production meeting. Discuss bugs and new ingenious ways that we can stop the Microsoft testers from finding any more. Go through production issues for the day.

11:30am: Chase everyone on team (using new scooter if necessary) to try and get his or her issues dealt with.

1:00pm: Lunch. Still not a pie! Watch other producers eat pies and drool.

2:00pm - 5:00pm: Check fixed bugs and close them off on the database. Hassle people for more bug fixes. Give Garrett some grief--he's our Microsoft producer, who's in the office at the moment.

5:00pm: Microsoft's US office awakens! The new bugs start rolling in. Cry.

6:30pm - 7:00pm: Try and damage cars, property, plants, and people whilst playing in the Gotham team cricket game outside the office. Play brilliantly, of course! Bowl out Pete and injure Jonathan.

7:00pm: Throw things at Garrett whilst he's on one of his many long phone calls to the US.

Dreaming of sportscars.
Dreaming of sportscars.

8:00pm: Time to get food for the team. Usually Chinese or pizza. No pies!

9:00pm: Start putting the new build of the game together for testing.

10:30pm: Check the build and zip it up, ready to send.

11:30pm: Head off home, after checking that everyone's OK.

Midnight: Go to bed, to dream strange dreams about racing flashy sports cars around cities...

Well, that's about it for the update this week, folks! Check in next week to see how the stress levels have gone!

--The Project Gotham Racing Team

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are no comments about this story