EuroRally Champion Q&A
Interview By: Atomic Planet | Posted: 27/08/2004
Atomic Planet Entertainment sent us this Developer interview with Kevin Hassall, Executive Producer of EuroRally Champion.
What is EuroRally Champion? Could you explain a little about the game?
EuroRally Champion is available on PlayStation 2 and PC. The game offers videogame-loving petrolheads a hardcore mixture of the purest, most authentic rally vehicle physics, with intensely demanding driving across challenging terrains, fused with the highest quality adrenaline-pumping arcade-style action. And all this for less than 20 UK Pounds.
Can you tell us a little about your goals while working on this project?
We wanted to create a lightning-fast rally game that is easy to pick up and play but also one that offers an ultra-realistic physics simulation with the maximum depth possible. One of the key goals we’ve delivered on is to offer all of the adrenaline and emotion of an arcade racer with the realism of a true sim.
How in-depth is the simulation side of the game?
The physics and mechanics models that underpin EuroRally Champion are extremely detailed. The physics engine alone was five years in the making and we believe the car set-up is the most detailed ever seen on a console. At the same time we wanted tuning the vehicles to be accessible to all. There are six basic cars to choose from and it’s up to the player to simply pick a car and burn away from the grid, or to modify that vehicle in any way they please. Everything from gears, toe-in, camber, differential, brakes and dampers can be customised. In fact, any tweaking we could carry out during the development of EuroRally Champion is opened up to the player, giving them the maximum possible control over their car and the way they choose to race.
What steps have you taken to ensure that the game offers this arcade-style adrenaline rush you mention?
In EuroRally Champion, we believe we have created a true “arcade-feel sim”. Strangely enough, we started off working on getting the driving physics absolutely spot-on, and then deliberately broke them. A 100 per cent authentic rally simulation simply isn’t that much fun for most players. So having got everything working “correctly” – mathematically speaking – we then played around with it and injected some pure fun to deliver a real rush when playing.
You mentioned that there are six cars. Can you provide us with more facts, like the number and types of stages available?
There are six standard cars plus one fun unlockable vehicle. There are 13 rally stages in total. These are spread across scorched deserts, frozen and treacherous arctic tundra, and densely forested and dangerously muddy woodland areas. There is also a special Stunt Arena where players can forget about beating the clock in the rally stages and simply play around with gravity-defying trials and insane jumps.
What sorts of challenges are there in the Stunt Arena?
The Stunt Arena offers many different driving challenges and forces players to approach the driving trials in a very different way from the rally stages. For instance there’s an outer speedway loop that features a near-vertical portion of track, while inside the arena itself there are ramps to launch yourself from, and wide expanses of tarmac and gravel just begging to be donutted upon.
How is the way you approach making a budget title different from creating a full-price game?
First of all let’s be clear here. EuroRally Champion is coming out at a so-called budget price but our game is in a different league altogether. There are other low-price racing titles out there, some even from ourselves, and I’m not knocking them, but they are generally much more simplified titles, with dumbed-down physics models and perhaps rather more shallow gameplay. EuroRally Champion is different. There’s an incredibly mature racing engine used as the basis for the game for a start. Codemasters used an earlier version of it for the first Indy Car Series game which was very well received by critics. There’s loads of depth to the rallying gameplay too. Everything you’d expect to see in a full-price title, and more besides, is in EuroRally Champion. The intricacies of tuning your vehicle for instance, or the sheer number of stages, or the Stunt Arena. The only things missing are the licensed tracks that play while you’re racing and cinematic FMVs and these are clearly non-essential to a great driving experience. The result is something that’s every bit as playable as a full-price title but without all the extra fancy bits.
How do you feel EuroRally Champion will be received compared to the established leaders in the genre like Colin McRae and Rallisport Challenge?
We actually don’t see ourselves as being in competition with Colin, WRC, Richard Burns etc. These big budget titles are packed with licenses, from cars to music to branded jumpsuits and clothing. We’re not about any of that. It isn’t really a question of which game is better, it’s more a question of how much money you want to spend. We know that players are unlikely to say “Hey, this EuroRally Champion is the flashiest rally game around” but what we’re confident they WILL say is that they’ve enjoyed EuroRally Champion easily as much as its nearest “rival” and it cost them half the price. That’s what we’re about.