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Bugbear continues the carnage as TVG teams up with the Finnish developer to take a close look at the development of FlatOut 2...
Empire Interactive and Bugbear Entertainment return later this year with a sequel to the popular racing/crash-em-up, FlatOut. Promising an enhanced physics engine, more content and a greater sense of variety, TVG has teamed up with both parties to bring you a three-part series chronicling the development of the game.
Bugbear's Business Development Director, Jussi Laakkonen, takes a look at the original in the first part, discussing the areas to improve and an overview of what fans can expect from the sequel.
Building Upon A Hit
FlatOut was a surprise hit with over 850 000 units sold worldwide. How did we get there?
When we started developing the concept and technology for FlatOut in the year 2002, we wanted to bring something fresh to the racing genre. Bugbear Entertainment has always focused on making great driving games and some say this is because we come from Finland, a country obsessed by motorsports and home to several Rally and Formula 1 world champions. Finland is also home to various, more or less, serious racing leagues. There's one league which anybody can join, and all that is required is a banged up Volkswagen Beetle or a Ford Escort. This is the "Joe Average's" league: eight cars battling side by side on a makeshift track in the middle of nowhere. That inspiration is very much seen throughout FlatOut and it was great to find out that the raw appeal of motorsports is universal, that is, it's not just a Finnish thing to drive fast and recklessly!
With the core game concept in our minds we set out to build the technology and start working on the console versions of the game. Our background was in PC games development, so it was a challenge to master PlayStation 2 and Xbox architecture, but thanks to the technical genius of the programming team, not only did we master them but we also delivered in FlatOut the most cutting edge environmental physics system in any racing game.
Physics? E=MC2. Boring? Not at all! Physics make it possible to have thousands and thousands of objects on the race track for you to smash through, break and tear apart! Couple that with outstanding vehicle damage modelling and aggressive AI drivers and you get the pure adrenaline rush that FlatOut is.
FlatOut has enjoyed tremendous support from the game's fans and many of them spoke out on all the cool enhancements and improvements they'd like to see in the sequel. We spent a lot of time going through the fan sites, forums and press previews to get to a 'Top 20' most wanted list for FlatOut 2, which has since been one of the most important sources for the game design for FlatOut 2.
To scratch the surface of the improvements here's a Top 10 list: - varied environments including urban locales - varied vehicles including four wheel, rear wheel and front wheel drive and real performance differences - in-depth career mode with three branching leagues and finals - lots more of the ragdoll stunts plus in-depth game mechanics for each stunt - lots more destruction derby events and special tracks - full online support on all platforms including races, derbies and ragdoll events - many small things to make races faster and less frustrating including rolling start resets - improved response in the way the vehicles handle as well as the ability to control the car much better in powerslides - truly cutting-edge visuals - 66% performance increase in our industry-leading physics engine (over 5000 destructible objects per track for unparalleled mayhem) - And lots, lots MORE! =)
Our ambition with FlatOut 2 is really to make a Top 3 action racing game for PS2, Xbox and PC. To get to the top in the hugely competitive racing genre you need great technology, superb game design, a fresh game concept and outstanding execution. We believe that FlatOut 2 has got all of those ingredients; its technology is among the very best, it has an addictive game design to it, the innovative use of physics makes the game really new and fresh and it looks and plays extremely well.
Big words... At the end of the day we hope that you'll have at least as much fun playing the game as we did making it!
TVG would like to thank Jussi Laakkonen for providing this insight and kicking off TVG's FlatOut 2 Developer Diaries; look out for more from the team next month when we'll be taking a look at the technology that drives the game and the all-important physics engine...