SPOnG: Do you still think there?s innovation left in the driving genre? The last few Driver games have had mixed reactions, and you?re going up against other racers like Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit that have brought in innovations in other areas. Can Driver perform well on its name and shift alone, do you reckon?
Yeah. I really think that first, just the fun in the driving, the tuning of the cars, the handling is really amazing. That?s a differentiator. The other differentiator is shift, and I really think people will love playing online and enjoy using this new way to play driving games.
SPOnG: There?s always a bit of 70s cop show influence in Driver games, and in San Francisco I?m definitely getting a Life on Mars vibe. What things did you take inspiration from here?
The story is born after the mechanic. So we had shift and we had to find a way to make the mechanic match the story. So Life on Mars
is a good comparison but it was not directly an example we had in mind when creating it. In fact, we were thinking more along the lines of Inception
- that was a good reference for us because we were working in the same sort of area.
Things that are happening in the real world will have an impact on what happens in other layers of the coma or dream - that sort of thing.
Right. And in terms of movies for car chases and action, Martin and I are crazy about the movies. He doesn?t like the CG, so we always have big discussion about that because I cannot like what filmmakers do now in the big blockbusters. But we do agree on the way the Jason Bourne movies were handled, for example. Some of the stunts in those films are really nice.
SPOnG: Where do you see the Driver series going in the future? Do you see yourselves using the shift feature in future games? What about the proprietary engine you guys designed for this?
I think we?d like to explore shift a little bit more but as Jean said the brand is all about the driving so future games in the series aren?t always going to have shift necessarily. There might be a branch-off of the series where we could do that, but that?s complete speculation at this point.
As a designer, we have plenty in our bags, for doing a lot of stuff using shift.
SPOnG: Do you think shift could influence other driving games in the future?
We will see (laughs).
Yes, maybe, but I haven?t seen yet another driving game work like Driver
has. The last game I saw do what we?re doing is the original Driver
. So they can copy shift, but I haven?t seen anyone parallel what the handling is, and that?s really the centre of Driver
Shift is an interesting device to just focus on the driving. So I think it could be the start of something else.
It?s a way of giving a player full freedom without having to get out of the car and slow down the action. Along the way it?s given us a really new cool gameplay mechanic.
SPOnG: What have been the most challenging and rewarding things about working on Driver: San Francisco?
Well, the biggest challenge for me as a producer was the fact that I don?t feel like we took any shortcuts. It doesn?t seem like we said ?no? to the designers about anything. Just being able to drive everywhere, go anywhere in San Francisco, experience a story of three different levels and keeping a frame rate of 60fps? that?s definitely been the most challenging. But because the team has been so strong and been able to deliver, that?s also extremely rewarding.
Working in Newcastle on a car game with Martin is obviously a very rewarding experience as well. Newcastle is a car town - just look at the parking lot at the studio and you can see that cars are very important to people there. It?s a really great environment to learn about other people?s passion - the programmers who work on car handling actually build cars in their spare time. They?re in the parking lot doing it!
SPOnG: Bet Martin?s always talking about cars to you guys as well.
Yeah! He?s like a little fanboy when a new car comes out.
I would say the most challenging thing for me was creating missions with driving and shifting. To find the right balance. To not get to a place where the player could cheat and break the missions. So it actually took a long time to find the right balance for that, and I?m really happy with what we?ve got now. And as a creative, Martin is very fun to work with - he?s very open-minded? he knows that the games are constantly evolving and he listens. He listens and is ready to co-operate and that?s really important. Although sometimes he will say ?no, this has to be like that? and? he?s right (laughs).
SPOnG: Thank you both for your time.
Thank you very much!
Driver: San Francisco will be landing on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC platforms on 2nd September 2011.