A few days ago, we reported that racing legend Jeremy McGrath would be donating his share of the profits from Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad towards a bone marrow registry program. Very inspirational news, but is there anything to report about the game itself? As it turns out, yes.
New addition to the XBLA Fans team, Paul Acevedo (@segacon), recently interviewed Robb Rinard, Creative Director at 2XL Games, and learned all kinds of interesting things about 2XL’s racing games, including Offroad. In fact, Robb even teases the game’s first DLC pack. Read on to learn what’s in store for Jeremy McGrath’s latest racer.
How did 2XL Games come to be founded?
2XL Games was formed by Rick Baltman and me back in 2005. Rick and I worked closely together for years at Rainbow Studios here in Phoenix. After THQ purchased Rainbow in 2002, we stayed and built the MX Unleashed franchise before deciding it was time to step out on our own.
Each of your titles has been a racing game. What attracts you guys to the genre?
Living in Arizona, we’re in the heart of the offroad community. From Motocross and ATVs to desert racing in Trophy Trucks, Arizona and California are the places to be if you’re looking for wide open spaces to enjoy the great outdoors. Our top track designer, Stephane Roncada is a former Supercross World Champion.
Before we talk about your racing titles, what are some of your genre favorites?
My personal favorite racing game of all time is Viper Racing on the PC. We had a machine setup with a steering wheel and Viper running on it for nearly ten years after the release of the game. There was one track in particular that we ran ghost laps on for years. Before Viper I was always a big fan of all the work David Kaemmer did at Papyrus. Indycar II was a classic back in the day.
Your last mobile game 2XL Supercross was released back in 2011. As the smartphone gaming market continues to grow, will you still be making phone games?
Our XL Engine, which is the back bone of our tech, allows us to easily produce titles on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PC, iOS and Android. We can build and play test everything on PC, and then quickly rebuild the game assets to be deployed on the target platform. Then I do all the physics and game tuning [with the game] running on the target device to ensure the feel is just right. We anticipate having our library running on Windows 8 Mobile this fall. The mobile market has been really successful for us and we plan to continue making titles on a wide range of platforms.
Have you already started making Android games then?
We are actively porting our iOS titles to the Android marketplace. We already have our MX Offroad and Ricky Carmichael titles in the Google Play and Amazon stores. Folks should also check out our XLR8 product. It makes your car sound like a race car as you drive. Connect your mobile device to your car stereo and you are off and running. It sounds amazing!
How involved was American Motocross/Supercross racer Jeremy McGrath in Offroad’s development? Did he have any specific input about what the game should be like?
We’ve been working with Jeremy off and on since he was the King of Supercross. I first met him when working on Microsoft’s Motocross Madness. His contributions to the game have been ongoing. Jeremy does a lot of performance testing on his truck here in Arizona, so we get together as often as we can to turn some laps and tune the driving model.
The difficulty settings in Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad are surprisingly fair for a genre that sometimes seems focused more on challenging gamers than making sure they’re having fun. Was making the game playable by all skill levels a priority for 2XL?
After shipping our previous console title, Baja: Edge of Control, we felt that the game was a bit to simulation-oriented to hit the mass market. The hardcore offroad guys over at race-dezert.com loved the game and all the depth it had to offer. But for most folks it was a very challenging driving experience. We purposely tuned Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad to be a more approachable driving model. It’s also the first powersliding offroad game I’ve designed. You can really hang the back end out and slide through the turns in Jeremy’s game. Tons of fun!
The clutch boost is a bit of a mystery to many. Can you explain how it works and when to use it?
Sure thing, the clutch boost works more effectively the slower you are going when you hit it. So… each time you slide into a turn, when you hit the apex of the turn and are ready to power your way out of the turn, tap the clutch boost button, and you will get a boost of power from the engine that will maximize your acceleration coming out of the turn. It’s really effective on hairpin turns where you lose a bunch of speed coming into the turn.
The game has a fairly robust experience system that rewards performing certain actions during races. However, some acts like knocking over fences and signs don’t consistently award XP. Is there a trick to those bonuses?
We had fun with the [bonus] system. One thing playtesting showed us was that folks just starting out can make the best use of some quick upgrades, so we actually designed an ‘under-achievement system.’ What I mean by that is: there are a bunch of [bonuses] to be earned by doing things like taking out a row signs in one corner, or smashing into a tree.
The game’s website mentions a seventh track called Chino Valley, AZ. Is that track actually in the game, and if so, how do we access it?
Chino is part of a DLC pack which will go online soon!
The Achievements in Jeremy Mcgrath’s Offroad are fun and easy to accomplish. But the ‘Drive 1000 Miles’ Achievement requires a minimum of eight hours of grinding after completing the game – it’s enough to make some players tape down the accelerate button and let the game play itself. Was that sizable time investment intentional?
We figured that between finishing the career in around five hours, players would enjoy a few hours of online play as well. The online mode in JMO is super fun! It has some of the best vehicle interaction during the race you’re gonna find in any racing title. Most online games feel like bricks when the vehicles collide. In JMO you can really feel the suspension giving way when you collide; it has a great soft feel.
Along the same lines, we’ve heard that online multiplayer races do not contribute to miles driven and thus, the Achievement. Can you verify whether this is true?
Oh wow, if that’s the case it’s likely a bug worth looking into!
Offroad’s tracks have checkpoints scattered along them, just like many racing games. But surprisingly there is no race type in which players must reach checkpoints within a time limit and/or before other racers. Could we see race types like this in future DLC?
That’s a great idea that I’ll pass along to the team!
In closing, many would say that splashing through puddles is one of the most enjoyable driving pleasures. Have you considered letting people splash around in one of your racers?
Actually I’d like to go one step further and make a new Jet Ski game and get back in the water.
Thanks to Robb for taking the time to talk to us, you can keep up to date with the latest Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad news here.