Interviews// Evolution Studios, Martin Kenwright

We've got some great physicists here...

Posted 15 Dec 2006 11:30 by
As CEO and founder of Evolution Studios, Martin Kenwright is the big cheese. But he eschews the concomitant airs and graces: a floppy-haired, thoroughly amiable Scouser approaching his fortieth birthday, he clearly remains one of the lads among his staff. An industry veteran, he emerged as a programmer in the late 1980s for developer DiD (Amiga veterans will remember, F-29 Retaliator,Robocop 3), and probably won't remember Epic renowned for its market-leading flight sims and, latterly, the appallingly named but ground-breaking Wargasm. Along with industry legend Ian Hetherington, he founded Evolution Studios in 1999, concentrating from then until now on creating Sony's officially licensed World Rally Championship game.

SPOnG: How would you sum up MotorStorm?

MK: I'd describe MotorStorm as the first of its kind. We set out to create one of the most memorable, talked-about PS3 titles - I think the only time to launch a new killer IP is at the start of the life-cycle. The idea was to create the most action-packed, seat-of-the-pants, moment-to-moment, full-on brutal race game there is.

SPOnG: What are the highest-tech aspects of MotorStorm?

MK: Because we're very technology-driven at Evolution, we have some brilliant tech guys. At the end of the day, I think the ideas were cheap, but making them happen was really the remarkable thing. When we set about making the game, we wanted to think big from the onset. We defined our benchmark and worked backwards from what we wanted to figure what we would need.

We knew we'd have to create physics that were off the scale relative to the physics in other games beforehand. We had to create some of the strongest lighting, some of the best car damage and deformation technology.

For the whole thing, we thought big - everything from the best, high-definition 1080p film of Monument Valley, which we gathered by flying around in helicopters, and terrain data. For the physics, we worked closely with Havok - we've got some great physicists here, but to ensure launch, we needed an army to help us. I think the biggest things we created were some brilliant rendering and lighting technology. I think the game really comes alive - it feels so vivid.

SPOnG: Can you talk us through the mud-modelling?

MK: Well, real men love mud. The mud was an example of some of the graphical and rendering technology, and the deformation effect. It was really clever bits of animation, physics and art combined. I think we under-exploit the mud - maybe we'll have to have mud-wrestling in some future downloadable content. We don't oversell the attributes of the mud, but it's just one of these ingredients that makes the game seem so plausible and real, when you see glistening, deforming mud, in which you can leave all your indentations.

SPOnG: What are your plans for the online side of the game?

MK: We have big plans for online. Obviously, I think the boxed product of MotorStorm is the curtain-raiser for launch, and we want to do the same for online as we did for the boxed version - we want to create a first memorable impression. We want to do some really cool, compelling content, but we don't want to do more of the same, just creating more cars and so on.

SPOnG: Can you be more specific?

MK: I?m not sure what we can or can?t say, because half of the publishers don?t know either. We are very much moving into multiplayer. There will be some really brilliant downloadable content, giving really great value to the brand.
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