So we went to Eurogamer Expo ’12 yesterday and played some of those them thar video games. We also talked to people. One people I talked to was a people who worked on Carmageddon Funsize, the iOS (and later Android) adaptation of the original (and best) Carmageddon game, Carmageddon.
I asked him a lot of questions. I’ve listed them after the jump if you want to read the answers and the questions in an applicable format.
So, I spoke with a chap (the one question I didn’t ask was ‘What’s your name?’) about the iOS port of the classic drive-em-up Carmageddon, the only game that has led me to destroy a space bar. Not a pub for astronauts, but the large key on a keyboard. (This sounds great in my head, I’m narrating it like Forrest Gump). Hammering space to touch the handbrake and slide over and onto pedestrians was a fine art that I learned, and I eventually cracked the key, before splitting it in two.
I’ve talked about my love of Carmageddon before and the news of the Reincarnated version was enough to send me into a flurry of excitable roars, so the news that I can get back into the Eagle on the go. So, here are the questions and answers garners while Dr Hamhock ploughed through some old folks in a car:
Him: We are releasing on Android, but with so many variants in devices we are getting it to work on as many as possible.
Us: The first thing, at least from where I’m standing, that I notice is how unchanged it actually looks in comparison to the 1997 original.
Him: Yes! We have many members of the original Carmageddon team working at Stainless now, and one of the major considerations was how much polish to put into the game.
Us: Right. I think it’s perfect as it is, it’s instantly reminiscent and doesn’t look over polished.
Him: That’s right. We really wanted to avoid making the cars too smooth and rounded. The original game was very angular and we wanted that to be there in this version too.
Us: It’s a fine line to walk. The recently released Jet Set Radio HD came out looking like the original Dreamcast version, just slightly more polished, whereas others seem to over do it and lose that pang of nostalgia that is essential to enjoying a game on that level. I’m loving how I can look at this and be whisked back to the nineties instantly.
Him: Fear Factory.
Us: Ah yes! That’s right (At this point I just want to say I got mixed up with the Quake soundtrack that Trent Reznor worked on. I could have edited it to make it look like I didn’t slip up, but I did)
Him: Yeah it’s all there as it was originally released.
Us: Excellent. That’s the other thing that I think is high up on my personal checklist of ‘Must Haves’ in a retro re-release. The Crazy Taxi port was almost destroyed by losing the commercial branding and The Offspring’s instantly recognisable contributions, so I’m stoked that it will be back in the game.
Him: Yes, well it is all about getting the original game onto iOS as complete as is possible. We have all the cars and tracks – although many people forget the variety of tracks in the game. When we were working on it we remembered the outdoor track with the big loop clearly but obviously there’s a huge amount in there.
Us: Yeah, I loved the mining levels, just because of the tight spaces and the potential for huge destruction. So what’s the plan for releasing the game?
Him: Well the game is ready, it’s currently going through the processes to get it onto the App Store, but expect it to be released very soon, early October.
Us: Any ideas on price?
Him: We are looking to release with a special price, around £1.49/$1.99 on launch. (There is a post on their Kickstarter page that says the game will be free for the first 24 hours, but obviously I forgot to confirm that.)
Him: Not as such. We will be offering the chance to instantly unlock all the cars/tracks with an in-app purchase, but it’s all content you can unlock in the game without paying.
Us: Like how Plague Inc. does it. Nice. So, going back to the original, something I used a lot was the replay mode, is that going to be in the mobile version as well?
Him: Yes, and this time you can edit the video, save it and then upload it to YouTube to show the world your masterpiece.
Hock did just that while we were talking about it, uploading a very brief bit of vehicular mutilation from the show itself:
Us: So I’m noticing the on-screen layout of controls. Will you be having support for tilt controls at all?
Him: There are three different control options, so players can choose the one that suits them best.
Us: Will the game support Game Center on iOS?
Him: Yes there are going to be Game Center achievement and leader-board support.
Us: Awesome. Should help drive my addiction even further, especially if I can upload the video of the moment I beat a particular score or achievement. So let’s round it up. Original game, as originally released, on iOS and Android releasing very soon, with YouTube support, Game Center content and more. Take. My. Money.
Him: We’re glad you are excited, there are a lot of fans out there who have wanted this to happen.
Us: Totally. And it offers you a chance to hit a new market given that many gamers in their early twenties were barely old enough to game back in ’97. A whole new generation of Carmageddon fans, and a good way to wash away the taste of TDR2000.
Him: Well we only made the first two games, TDR was put together by a team in Australia who were put in a difficult position.
Us: So the original was released in a storm of media attention, with the game being refused a certification from the BBFC unless the blood and gore was dropped. It must be odd to release the game now in a more game-centric world that accepts gore in a video game more readily, but then I suppose it makes it easier to release it with blood and guts galore.
Him: Definitely. It’s a part of the DNA of the game.
Us. Well I’m certainly excited. I’ll have a go on it now and try not to break the ‘space bar’ as it would be a very costly repair.
Him: Well enjoy the game.
Us: Thanks for talking to me.
So. I played the game and it was Carmageddon in all it’s gory glory, and it played exactly as the original played. I am no big fan of driving games on the iPad when they force you to use on-screen button layouts, but knowing that there will be other options I won’t make too big a deal out of it. That said I was fine playing with it as it was. Carmageddon was never really about pin point accuracy, and the drifty-slidy gameplay actually translates to a looser control option very well. Within a few minutes I hit my stride and started pulling handbrake turns and barrel rolls just like I was sat at a clunky old PC in the nineties. The touch screen does a good job of replacing the keyboard by allowing the gamer to tap on the car’s damage guide to perform repairs, and on an upturned vehicle to recover it. Similarly the replay/movie mode is initiated with a swipe across the screen and is very simple and intuitive to use. While Hock may have uploaded a brief clip, there is a lot of potential for all sorts of calamitous carnage to be captured and shared.
The fact that all of this happens in-game is also a boon. It is clear to me that this game is not just a labour of love from Stainless, but also an attempt to actually make a great iOS game rather than just port a game over. When I discussed the benefits and pitfalls of the iOS marketplace I was told that the funds from the funsize game will also help fund the Reincarnated incarnation of the game, which is a great way to help drive the games further. The Carmageddon brand may have been dirtied up with shoddy ports and a lack-lustre third title, but the focus is back on what made the games great in the first place, and having the original available ahead of the reincarnated version is a great move as it will give a sense of perspective that the series needs in today’s market. I thoroughly enjoyed the game and will definitely be getting it release week – not for free though, I’d rather pay for the game even if I have to wait 24 hours.
Carmageddon Funsize should launch very soon on iOS and as soon as is possible on Android. I was told that there are hopes to get Carmageddon games out on home consoles as well, but that is in the distance at the moment. Which was good to hear. I don’t want a hastily bodged together game, I want Carmageddon to feel like AND play like the Carmageddon I grew up with. Thus far I am very confident that the series is going to thrive now its back where it belongs.