Summary: Following up on our hands-on preview from earlier this month, here's an interview with Supersonic Software, creators of Wrecked: Revenge Revisited. The game's coming out on XBLA and PSN in a matter of weeks, but for now, Luke chats with the developer about its predecessors Mashed and Micro Machines, how difficult it can be to get an indie game published, the closure of Codemasters' Guildford branch, and more!
Home game consoles brought about an era where friends would run over to each other’s houses, pick up a controller, and indulge in a night-time marathon of aggressive competitiveness, endless shouting, and riotous celebration. Unfortunately, it’s an era that feels as if it’s dying. Supersonic Software, the indie studio responsible for the 2004 niche hit Mashed, are seeking to galvanize the local multiplayer market as well as lure a few online gamers away from the big releases this winter with Wrecked: Revenge Revisited. I caught up with the developers in their UK-based studio and, after playing a couple of rounds of their new title, got to chatting.
Part 1 - Beginnings, release date, new weapons
FS: So what can you tell us about the changes we’ll see in this compared to Mashed?
SS: We’ve got the introduction of new air strikes, weapons, tracks, car customization, online modes, and controls. For instance, you can now aggressively swing your car at an opponent as well as manually activate boosts and charge brakes.
FS: How do the new weapons differ from the old?
SS: The ball and chain is quite a unique weapon, which dangles from the back of your car. If anyone strikes it, they’re likely to take on some serious damage, so the idea is to get ahead of the pack and swerve your rear at them. We’ve got a few others such as the rail-gun and the drone. Then with the air strikes, there’s a great selection on offer, such as the sky beam which fires down on the track and causes a ripple effect.
FS: You mentioned the online modes; how will this new feature work?
SS: It will be a simple game lobby that will allow gaming to be done between you and three unknowns or, alternatively, all your friends. You can also team up with one of your friends and go online for some 2v2 team play.
FS: As we’ve talked about, there is still a huge following of Mashed fanatics out there. How did the idea for the initial concept come about, and what made you decide to revisit it with Wrecked?
SS: Well in the past, we worked a lot on the Micro Machines series [with Codemasters], which was aimed more towards the younger market. So really we wanted to make a more adult Micro Machines, and that’s why Mashed came to the foreground. To us, the industry seemed to go through a phase where it moved away from instant action-style arcade games, but with the introduction of the Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, as well as Android and the like, people seem to be coming back to it.
FS: It does sound like these services are perfect for distributing and marketing your kind of games.
SS: Exactly, but nowadays, selling the ideas to publishers is far harder. We’ve had people come in and enjoy the game so much yet still seem reluctant to grab at the opportunity. It’s a common theme nowadays to expect millions of options and to assume anything that doesn’t offer that to lack depth. I completely disagree with this, as the game play has so many facets to it; it’s a shame that sometimes is not appreciated.
FS: Well, as far as customizing your game goes, there’s certainly a lot of tweaks that can be made, such as taking a simple race and editing it into an all-out war zone. This naturally will modify the degree of difficulty quite a bit; is that something you’ve worked on?
SS: Older games were always, in our opinion, a lot more challenging and I think that largely stems from originating from coin-op arcade machines where they always were an uphill battle. With Wrecked, we wanted to give the people options to create the type of race they wanted, which can drastically change the strategies of a match, as well as allow less-experienced players an opportunity to ease themselves into the game.
FS: From playing it just now, Wrecked seems to have kept the same frantic game play that made Mashed so popular with fans. How did you approach imitating that?
SS: We actually found trying to replicate that level of unpredictability incredibly hard. Mashed was famous for its endless outcomes and scenarios people managed to save themselves from, so it was a tough task. With Mashed, we had so many problems with the physics that we totted up hundreds of hours during and after work just playing it, even forgetting that we were here to tweak it. From that we managed to get a good balance, and we think we achieved the same thing with Wrecked. We mean our wives are always phoning us when it gets to be 8 PM and we still aren’t home due to the frenzied testing.
FS: In between Mashed and Wrecked, you released a sequel to the retro classic series of Micro Machines games. In the same way as trying to bring back what made Mashed so special, how did you approach bringing back Micro Machines?
SS: With [Micro Machines] V4, I think we just assumed things would work out. For instance, we just talked about how we would lose so many hours a day play-testing Mashed, and we didn’t really do that with V4 because we believed it was already at a certain level. It’s a shame, because I always felt we were only a tiny bit away from making V4 into a classic.
FS: A few weeks ago, your long-time partners Codemasters announced that they would be shutting their Guildford branch, which specialized in first-person shooters. I was wondering about your reaction to that and how you think this came about?
SS: It’s interesting, ‘cause we used to think if we sold a couple of hundred thousand units we were a success, but nowadays if you don’t sell a million you’re as good as finished. The thing with Codemasters Guildford is that they were journeying into a very saturated market, and obviously if you’ve got 100-man teams working on a project that ultimately doesn’t get the sales, there’s going to be trouble. The industry is very polarized now with either a sink-or-swim result; here, we’re quite lucky, as with a team that large I would imagine it would feel quite regimented, while here with our small team, we get the freedom to constantly feel hands-on with the game.
FS: With all this in mind, what direction do you see Supersonic Software heading in the future?
SS: Static consoles obviously get a lot of gamers, but the market for the likes of iOS and Android is becoming pretty hardcore. It would be good to work on that kind of platform in the future.
FS: Returning to Wrecked briefly, how much do you expect it to cost?
SS: Well it’s down to the publishers, but I would imagine it would range from 1000-1200 Microsoft points [or about $12-15].
FS: And do you have any DLC planned?
SS: Yep, we’re planning on releasing a DLC in the future with some new tracks and weapons.
FS: Thanks for your time!
For more on Wrecked: Revenge Revisited, including Luke’s hands-on impressions, be sure to check out our preview!
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