Interview with Chris 'Wombat' Crowell on Rumble Racing and more.
I had a little time on my hands, so I decided to ask one of EA's Rumble Racing programmers about the PS2's up and downs, as well as other consoles, and Rumble Racing in general. Chris 'Wombat' Crowell came through with these no-holds barred answers.
Arnold: Let's start with the basics... How long has Rumble Racing been in development?
Wombat: We started the project in the beginning of 2000 and proceeded on an aggressive development cycle through the beginning of 2001. The team we put together was able to work magic in that time and we are all pretty pleased with the results.
Arnold: Is there any specific reason that the "NASCAR" license was dropped?
Wombat: The direction we took Rumble was very far from NASCAR and it wasn't necessary to have the license in the game. We decided to focus more on just making a great game that would please gamers.
Arnold: How well adjusted is the Rumble Racing team with the PS2 and its specs. Is it really as hard to develop for as some say?
Wombat: It was very challenging! There are some extremely technical methods available on the PS2 that can really pay off, but they are hard to do correctly. The art team had some aggressive ongoing technical goals that were very hard to achieve but we were able to deliver some very compelling and challenging race environments that ran at 60 fps when we were finished. We have incredibly smart people on our team and this pushed everyone to their limits.
Arnold: Online games are all the talk now days, if a sequel to Rumble Racing is developed, how interested are you in implementing an online feature?
Wombat: We have spent long hours in 2 player mode, playing against another human and laying down the smack is great. Our AI is designed to act like other players, so if you want a taste what that would be like, try No Mercy mode. They take shortcuts and bang into you just for the heck of it like a real person. They just don't do the smack talk like your buddy would.
Arnold: Do you have any intention on creating a sequel at the moment?
Wombat: Of course I can't really say anything along those lines, but I will be sure to let you know if we do.
Arnold: Are you currently developing any other projects that you wish to share with us?
Wombat: Right now I am doing production work on the next Tiger Woods golf game. If you find Tiger doing stunts, that's probably my fault. C8}> That's a joke for those of you who are recoiling in horror.
Arnold: When developing Rumble Racing for the PS2, did you face any hardware obstacles that caused a little problem?
Wombat: Hmmm...hardware problem Yes, we had a doozy. My cube is pretty dark, and people kept tripping over my controller cable. Yelling and flinging staplers seemed to have little effect on behavior modification. So I got some white electrical tape and wrapped it around the cable. Looks like something from 'Nightmare Before Christmas', but nobody is yanking it out of the PS2 TOOL anymore. We actually had a wonderful tool path that made prototyping facets of the game very easy. I have a world builder that allowed me to see changes in about 30 seconds on the PS2 Tool. We had other great things like onscreen physics editing that allowed us to tweak and tweak until it felt just right. That's why the control is so perfect in the various cars.
Arnold: I'm looking for a brutally honest opinion; what are your predictions for the 128-bit race? As most people do, I feel that the PS2 will come out on top, followed by the GameCube and then XBox. I personally see Nintendo as the bigger threat.
Wombat: I definitely think that PS2 has a bright future with games like Rumble Racing on it. We will have to wait and see what the other platforms are able to deliver. They are both solid platforms and have their strengths, it is up to the developers to exploit those and make great games for the public because content is king when it comes to the different platforms.
Arnold: And finally have you had any hands-on experience with an XBox or GameCube dev-kit? If so, can you specify a few of the advantages and disadvantages they have over the PS2.
Wombat: I personally don't have any experience with these different development kits (Xbox/GameCube) so I can not comment, although I am excited to see what they have to offer.