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Interviews

Need for Speed: Interview with Andy Tudor

GAME fires your Twitter questions directly at Mister Need For Speed himself...


Hi Andy, can you tell us who you are and who you work for?
My name's Andy Tudor, I'm from Slightly Mad Studios who are developing Need For Speed SHIFT. I'm the lead designer, and we're working in collaboration with the Black Box team who were responsible for the previous NFS titles.

What have you guys previously made?
Slightly Mad Studios used to be Blimey Games, and Blimey Games were responsible for GTR, GTR2 and GT Legends. Traditionally we're seen as more authentic racing specialists, and that's what we're bringing to Need For Speed: SHIFT.

Our first Twitter question is from iKiddo, who asks hat makes it different to the past... Terrible versions?
Haha, pulling no punches!

The first thing to bear in mind regarding quality is that Need For Speed reinvents itself every year, and you can't please everyone every single year!

In terms of quality, those guys do a tremendous job, I think, of getting a high-quality Need For Speed release out every twelve months; it's killer on them trying to work out what to do, get it done, then hopefully come up with a finished product that's absolutely awesome.

We've had a bit more time than that, and it's helped that the franchise has been split three ways now into SHIFT, Nitro and World Online.

With more time we've been able to go back to basics on what makes it fun to drive; what is that eed for speed what new can we bring to the table; how can we play online better. Hopefully iKiddo will see that SHIFT is a complete reboot of the franchise it's an all-new Need For Speed.

So out of the three-way split the series has taken, SHIFT is the more simulation focused?
Yeah, we've also got Nitro which a more action experience for the Wii, and World Online which is a free-roaming arcade experience for PC.

I guess that half answers our next Twitter question from SuicidalSteve let's hope he isn't suicidal! who asks hat's the reason for choosing the name SHIFT?
The name SHIFT covers a few areas. There's been a shift in developers from Black Box over to Slightly Mad. It's a shift in the franchise, splitting into three different titles. And the word shift makes you think of a stick-shift gear system, which is the epitome of where we're taking you with this game into the cockpit, making you feel every single bump and the clunk of the gearshift.

And that goes into my next question, which is one I had about the underpinning ethos of the game, and how it compares to other racers out there?
There's no more Project Gotham this year, and Forza and Gran Turismo are both fantastic in the areas they excel in; high-end technology, and being an encylcopedia of race gaming lots of tracks; lots of cars; slick presentation; but ultimately very exclusive.

The ethos of Need For Speed was to capture that excitement for cars, but make it inclusive as opposed to exclusive to let your 14 year-old nephew play the game, and let a pro tournament sim driver play the game; so, capture the imagination and excitement of racing by making it really fun, but also keep the authenticity and realism there as well.

It's interesting you say that about PGR have you seen anything of Blur?
I have, but I don't think I'm allowed to talk about it! I don't think it's anything like our game.

So what's the first thing players will see when they load up Need For Speed: SHIFT?
Traditionally Need For Speed games have thrown you into the mix straight away, which is really good because those games come out at Christmas you've just unwrapped it, so you want to put the disc in the drive, with your family and friends round, and just be blown away straight away.

For SHIFT, because it's such a diversion from the existing Need For Speed games, we need to just make sure people are happy with the product. So one of the first things you'll do is be tested and evaluated on the experience and abilities you've got. You'll do that with a Test Lap, which will say how many times you went off; whther you're following the racing line; did you get a good lap time; did you crashbasically gauging your ability. After you've done that, it'll recommend settings for you, so regardless of what kind of player you are you're guaranteed a fun, challenging experience.

And then you go into a full race, start earning cash, and play your career from there.

How is the career structured?
It's classic zero to hero, but instead of putting you in duff cars we're putting you in the race-spec versions of decent cars, and through career we're taking you all the way through to the hyper cars like the Veyrons and the Aston Martin DBR9s. The career mode is divided into tiers, and each tier unlocks brand new gameplay so whether it's Time Attack, Drift or Endurance races, Eliminators or Hot Lapswhatever it is, you're always getting something new in NFS SHIFT on a regular basis.

You've got stars to earn while you drive is that designed to be a bit like Kudos points in PGR ?
Stars are just one part of it.

The big thing is your Driver Profile, which analyses everything you do on the track. Obviously you're trying to get into first place, but you're also trying to put on a performance. SHIFT analyses whether you're a precise or aggressive driver. PGR's Kudos did something similar, but that was more about style; sliding round corners and getting Kudos Points for it; doing more arcadey things as opposed to the real-life things real drivers do.

With SHIFT you're talking things like drafting, being on the racing line, overtaking at the right time. Did you overtake cleanly? Did you knock the guy out of the race? SHIFT analyses all of that and opens up new opportunities and rewards you for all of it.

The stars you earn are for completing side objectives as you're racing, like beat a lap time; knock ten guys out of the race; that kinda thing. The more stars you have, the more events unlock, and that's how you progress through the career.

Obviously you're doing that across a variety of race types
There is a LOT of variety. We've got over 15 tracks in Need For Speed: SHIFT. A number of game modes too; the traditional Race, Time Attack and Drift, we then do variations on those like Hot Laps and Eliminators

We're also doing Car Battles, which are classic showdowns between two rival manufacturers like Subaru and Mitsubishi, or Bucatti and Koenigsegg. You've got manufacturewr battles where everyone's in the same car. Everyone's in the same machine, so it's all about driver skill at that point.

And then we've got different tracks that give you different experiences; so a big crazy crossover figure of 8, or a NASCAR-style ovalthere's a bunch of different gameplay types in SHIFT.

And car customisation is still a big feature?
There's been customisation both performance and aesthetic-wise in every previous Need For Speed, and because we are taking a more realistic approach we decided to go with this idea of race-converting your car; taking it from a showroom model, stripping out the interior, putting a real-world body kit on it, upgrade the engine, add race conversion partsthe final goal being to works-convert your car, which basically gives you the ultimate edition of that car.

You've also got some cool online integration in there can you tell us a bit about it?
Absolutely! As well as standard modes like Drift, Race, Time Attack and Endurance, we've a new online mode called Driver Duel Championship. It's a classic arcade-style winner-stays-on experience. You hit the Driver Duel Championship button, get seeded against other guys, and take them on on-on-one. If you win you progress to the next stage. There are seven stages, and if you get to the top of the ladder, it's King of the Hill, with other guys taking you on, and you trying to get as many crowns as possible and boasting to your mates about it.

When you're playing normal career as well, those events can be wned' by you or your friends. If they're owned by your friends then the career events themselves will have your friends' names above them, and you're just gonna want to take those guys out and put your name on their screens. It's a cool little piece of friendly rivalry which race gamers love.

Another Twitter question now, this one from Tillerjnr, who asks hether a demo will be released on PSN and XBL
Yes, there will. The demo will be released either on launch soon after, on PSN, Xbox and PC.

And GazahSCD wants to know if the series will be returning to Underground at any point?
[looks nervous] Errrmmaaayybe?

Hahaha, you look like you don't quite know how to answer that properly!
I think it's been made aware that Criterion are making a Need For Speed title, and with their previous pedigree of the Burnout games, I'll leave it to your imagination what that kind of game may be!

Interesting! And finally, Wicket2005 asks can he have a copy?
Hah. He can indeed if he buys the game on 18th September!

Lol! Thanks Andy.

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