Quantum Redshift Q&A
We talk to Curly Monsters, developers of the upcoming Xbox's futuristic racer.
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One of the most eye-catching racers in development for the Xbox is the upcomingQuantum Redshift. A futuristic racer in the vein of Wipeout, the game is set in a variety of environments strewn across different planets. Featuring impressive graphics and an excellent sense of speed, the game looks extremely promising. We caught up with Andy Satterthwaite, production director at Curly Monsters--the UK-based developer working on Quantum Redshift--and grilled him about the upcoming game.
GameSpot: How long has the game been in development?
Andy Satterthwaite: It will be just under two years from start to release.
GS: How large is the team?
AS: There are nine people (four artists, three programmers, one designer, and myself).
GS: And what have they worked on before?
AS: Before Curly Monsters, people have worked on Wipeout, Wipeout XL, Colony Wars, Colony Wars 2, and Wipeout Fusion. As Curly Monsters, six of us also developed N-Gen Racing for the PlayStation.
GS: What games did the team look to for inspiration?
AS: With our history of developing futuristic racers, we knew the best way for us to make our mark on the new console market was to set out to do what we do well--really well. We set out to be the Xbox "Wipeout beater." We are different, and (we think) we are better, but that was the intention we started with.
Of course, we looked at more-recent futuristic racing games (Extreme-G 3, Wipeout Fusion, and so on), but mostly to see how not to do things. We knew what we wanted to do at the start and we headed there. We didn't just want to copy Wipeout--we wanted to take the futuristic racing genre to the places we thought it ought to have gone. We wanted to take the whole futuristic racer thing to a new level.
The main difference between Quantum Redshift and other futuristic racers is the feel. We aren't limited to smooth tracks, and we have full multiterrain levels including underwater sections and loops. When you jump in Quantum Redshift, you have realistic control in the air. Your craft reacts to every bump and jump in the terrain and...well, you just have to play it.
We have a completely unique weapon system, completely unique ships, and a completely unique game structure. We have also taken the character thing to a completely different level--each has a background story and rivalries with the other characters and each is represented by a high-polygon, fully motion-captured, talking model (rather than the static head some other games have resorted to). The only real similarities with comparable games are that it's a futuristic racer with hovering ships and weapons and it's fast. But ours is so much faster!
GS: Will online play be included? If not, then why?
AS: Sorry, no. But playing split-screen (up to four players) is great fun.
GS: What do you feel are the key elements a racing game should have in order to be good?
AS: It's got to be fun. It's got to require skill and reward you when you get better. It needs to look great (as all games should). In addition, a good future racer has to be fast, have great weapons, and feel like an arcade game with depth. With Quantum Redshift, we think we've got the best futuristic racer yet.
GS: And what do you feel Quantum Redshift adds to the racing genre?
AS: Speed. Nukes. Cute girls. More speed. Feel. Real physics. Original soundtrack composed exclusively for Quantum Redshift by Junkie XL. Did I mention speed?
Did We Mention Speed?
GS: How do you feel about the game's reception at E3?
AS: Well, it all seemed really positive. The game has come a long way since then, so everyone who was impressed then should be more so now, and anyone who wasn't convinced (if there was anyone) should give us a second look.
GS: Was there anything you wish you could have included in the demo but didn't have time to?
AS: Just more polish. There's always a dilemma with demos--do you show lots of the game or just bits and hint at the rest? I think we game up with a good compromise between those.
GS: Do you feel you're utilizing the Xbox's hardware capabilities to the max?
AS: Well, we are throwing a hell of a lot of polygons around in Quantum Redshift--this game couldn't be done on any other console. We're bump-mapping and reflection-mapping most of the surfaces, the weapons use loads of cool transparency effects, and the character models we draw in the real-time cutscenes use all sorts of clever vertex shaders.
GS: How are you approaching the AI? Is it going to be like what we've seen in other racing games?
AS: The circuits in Quantum Redshift are a lot more varied in terms of size and terrain than in most racing games. We also have weapons that can force vehicles way off the racing line. The AI has to be able to cope with the scope of the tracks at the speeds we get up to and be able to find their way even if they get pushed way off course. The AI also behaves in packs--more so than in Wipeout, for example--and it gets tougher the higher the speed. I suppose the AI is more like Gran Turismo's than, say, the AI in games like Wipeout or Ridge Racer--though it's still very arcadey.
GS: What stage of development are you currently in?
AS: We're in the final stages now, so it's all a question of fixing bugs, polishing sequences, and tweaking gameplay.
GS: Could you elaborate on the game's nemesis mode and how it will work?
AS: We've structured Quantum Redshift around a fighting-game model rather than a racing-game model. Quantum Redshift is very character-based in that you don't select a craft, you select a character. All the characters have their own stories and their own rivalries against the other pilots. There's also a particular character who has a grudge against you, the player. This is reflected in the story sequences and in the game in a few ways. The player's nemesis is out to win, but preferably by destroying the player in the process. Consequently, the nemesis will fire more weapons at the player than others characters will. Also, during a tournament, the player's nemesis will challenge him or her to a "nemesis challenge." This is a two-ship head-to-head race around the nemesis' home circuit. The player must beat the nemesis to win the tournament. You get double points for damage or kills against your nemesis character, so all those revenge attacks are really worth it. And finally, like in a fighting game, the reward for winning with a character is unlocking his or her nemesis. Each character has a different craft, and the craft have different handling and weapons.
GS: Sounds great. Thanks for your time, Andy.