Racing games on XBLA are constantly struggling for uniqueness. These racers, many of which are top-down, have to find a way to stand out and really pull ahead of the pack. Some games go with zany weaponry, some go with a fun and light nature, and some are very competitive. Bang Bang Racing, the upcoming product of a collaboration between well-known XBLA developer and publisher Digital Reality and Playbox, is out to make a name for itself and we just have to find out how they plan to do it! Hit the jump for a Q & A with Bang Bang Racing's Digital Reality-side Lead Designer, András “Amper” Timár-Geng.
XBLA Fans: Why did the team chose the top-down racing genre for this lap around the XBLA circuit?
András “Amper” Timár-Geng: This game is a family-friendly game and the top-down view fits perfectly to the friendly cars and environment, and at the same time this view distances Bang Bang Racing from heavy car racing games.
XF: Did the team ever explore the idea of the more kart-styled power up system rather than the more core-racing approach?
Amper: The primary goal was to create easy controls while keeping the real life physics. Although this positioned the game towards the arcade style, we also decided at the very beginning not to follow the power-up style. We aimed to provide the simplest gameplay possible in in order to honor the great old top-down racers.
XF: What are players of Bang Bang Racing driving away with? Competition, the challenge of racing, or just fun in nifty cars with awesome paintjobs?
Amper: Bang Bang Racing players will have a blast on several scopes of the game. The friendly-style cars provide gripping perspective and the controlling is a key element. Although controlling is easy, so that beginners can get the hang of it pretty fast, pros can enjoy precision and depth too. With experience and practicing, lap time will improve leading to rivalry on the leaderboards.
XF: The single player component of a racing game is a tough apex to hit. How does Bang Bang Racing approach single player content?
Amper: Track layouts are varied – there are winding tracks and tracks with long straight sections. We looked at fun corner combinations, where finding the ideal racing line makes the race exciting. Also the presence of the AI spices up the race. It runs its own race, knows the possible lines and the speed required, but it is not perfect. If the player gets ahead, it will try harder to close the difference. On Hard Difficulty level AI will make the sweat pour from even the most experienced drivers.
XF: Is the multiplayer only local?
Amper: Yes, it is.
XF: What connections exist between single player and multiplayer persistent unlocks? That is, if players want super awesome cars and skins for multiplayer, do they need to dominate single player?
Amper: Yes, players have to unlock cars and skins in single player career mode first. It never gets boring thanks to the variety of tracks and modes and is a very useful experience when competing against friends.
XF: The nine released tracks for Bang Bang Racing seem like more than just one track, complete with multiple routes. Are these all shortcuts, or will maps change?
Amper: The tracks are reversible and each track has shortcuts that players can take to save time, but they are harder to navigate and require a skilled driver. There are effectively nine tracks, but altogether with the variations players will have 54 different routes to race on.
XF: In multiplayer, what options do players have control over regarding map options, shortcuts, obstacles, and car classes?
Amper: In multiplayer, players have the same options as in single player mode. They can choose the track, the direction of the track, long or short version and with or without shortcut, car classes, cars and skins. They also can choose the game mode-in Time Trial mode tracks are „clear”, there aren’t any cones or barrels. In Standard and Elimination modes players can choose the difficulty of the AI.
XF: Presentation is important, and all the different cars in each class look pretty darn cool, but do they also have different stats?
Amper: Each class contain 5 different cars – they are more or less equal in terms of performance, but differ in their characteristics. Some cars are able to handle collisions easier, some steer better, others accelerate better, and yet others have a better nitro system or a higher top speed. Players can start each class by getting to know a type of car; the best choice depends on the track and the abilities and driving style of the driver.
XF: This game’s design and map layout screams “cornering is everything”, but what else beyond amazing handling can players take advantage of to get into pole position?
Amper: Players can go full throttle, the cars can take any collision, and they can even win this way against a weaker AI. However, if they want to achieve better times, race against better AIs or even other players, they need to work on their technique. Choosing the right turning curves and speeds, being smart with nitro, avoiding oil and water spills and pushing others at the right moment are all important tactical aspects of the game.
XF: Power, speed, cornering, and… awesome tuner design? What are the key differences between each vehicle class, and how far removed from each other are they?
Amper: The classes are based on real life categories (Muscle cars, Tuning cars, Le Mans, Formula 1), and this determines the cars' look and the driving properties.
The N-Dura class is slower, but easy to drive, stable, it carries a lot and the nitro is strong.
The Evo GT class lines up race cars with high acceleration, but these cars can slip easily; you need to be really skilled to drive these. This makes them perfect for drifting, and an ideal candidate for spectacular races.
The Protech class has stable cars designed for speed. These cars are fast and stable, but they take some skill to drive and you can drift a bit with these as well.
The Apex class is the fastest, has the best acceleration, and the highest grip. It's impossible to drift with these cars, but there is also no need to, as they are capable of real narrow turns. The individual car designs are based on real brands, but have been adapted to the BBR graphic style in a playful way.