Interviews// John Doyle: Need For Speed ProStreet

Posted 2 Aug 2007 16:15 by
ProStreet is the latest instalment to EA’s popular Need For Speed series, and SPOnG was given the chance to talk to producer John Doyle about the new features in the game, what drives him (creatively, that is) and just where the police are in this serenade to professional street racing championships.

SPOnG: Thank you for joining me, first of all could you just introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about how you got into the games industry? What was it about games that made you want to develop for them?

John Doyle: I’m a producer at EA Blackbox, and I’ve been at EA for about two years. Before that I was at Microsoft for a couple of years doing the XSN Sports line, and before that I did Magic Online for Wizards of the Coast. I got into games because I’ve always liked them; I played my first computer when I was about 10. I’ve always been kind of the ‘games hacker’ trying to get further into the games and to cheat, and so I got into games that way. It’s one of those things where I just got lucky – I was working at Wizards of the Coast, had an opportunity to take over [/i]Magic Online[/i] and I did.

SPOnG: It looks like you’re taking Need For Speed down a much more gritty and professional route. What forced the decision to go in that direction?

John Doyle: I think the biggest thing is we looked at where the car culture was going as a whole. What we saw was this Fast and Furious world of super looking, but not actually performing, cars (they kind of sit on trailers and look good at car shows) dying. The culture is moving much more towards performance.

So, we wanted to reflect that in the game and bring that out to the game consumer, and this year we wanted to focus on the things that really make you feel you have a high performance car. So, the idea is to make the cars look great and the environments they’re racing in to look great. We also want the cars to perform well, which is why we wrote the physics engine; and we wanted the smoke and the damage to play up on the power of the car and the consequence of making mistakes.

SPOnG: You must have done a lot of research like going out to different ProStreet events. How exciting and how much of a learning experience was it for you and what was the best thing you learned from that research?

John Doyle: We went to a number of race events – we also have a number of people on the team who are quite experienced. We have a couple of pro’ racers who helped us tune all the cars. We all spend a lot of time playing around in cars. and we have producers on the team with cars that end up on car magazines.

For ProStreet we ended up doing a lot of going out to various street races such as drag racing. We also went to some Formula D events and experienced some high-speed drifting. We got some of the producers and physics engineers and rendering engineers into cars sliding sideways at 100mph so they could get a feel for what it looks like – they can see the smoke, the damage of that these cars take.

The biggest thing that we got out of it was that we needed it to be much more believable and we needed to really transmit how violent and powerful these cars are which is what we’re trying to do this year.
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