Interview with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Sumo Digital Executive Producer Joe Neat
During E3 2012 I met Joe Neat, an Executive Producer for Sumo Digital who is working on the new Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed title . I managed to get an interview with Joe and learnt a lot of new interesting things about Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed. Check out the video above for the interview. For those who wish to read the interview as well, a text version of the interview is also included.
Dan: This is Daniel from Push-Start and I am with
Joe: Joe Neat, Executive Producer at Sumo Digital.
Dan: It’s nice to meet you, of course this is the second title in the sonic racing series on the modern day consoles. What’s changed from the first one? What are the main changes?
Joe: Well, they key thing is the word ‘transformation’. In the last one it was just driving, and when we sat down and threw around ideas as to what we wanted to do for a sequel what we didn’t want to do is basically take the same engine and add new tracks; churn it out in like a year and a half, because we wanted to take it up to the next level, and make something that would really blow people away, and would obviously help us when we’re competing with other similar games like Little Big Planet Karting now and Mario Kart, you know, everybody knows about that so we put in driving, boating, flying, and the vehicles transforming between each other. Apart from that we also have a level of transformation in the tracks themselves, so when you’re racing a bridge might collapse and you’ll then drop into the water and you’ll race because it’s been a real challenge for us to get three surfaces into one track because they play so differently, so you have to have big open spaces for flying, and curvy ones for the roads and the water is a bit flatter but you have big waves and you need sides to the track and its been a real challenge, but having the transformation so we can break stuff or things could collapse to open up new routes has really helped solved that problem, and it’s a cool feature.
Dan: What knew characters have been announced for the game?
Joe: Well today we’ve got a few new ones. Obviously Danica Patrick is a new one, the female Nascar driver , we’ve also today got Joe Musashi, the ninja from Shinobi, so we’ve got him, Shadow is back in the game, and AiAi so those are the new ones today, but obviously some fan favourites with Vyse is in the game, Gilius from Golden Axe is in the game. So it’s pretty cool, it’s amazing.
Dan: It’s one of my favourite Sega games.
Joe: Exactly, we’ve got the Golden Axe track in and stuff so, and there’s going to be lots more of that stuff announced, at like ComicCon we’ll be showing more stuff.
Dan: What has been one of the difficulties designing the sequel, compared to the original?
Joe: It is about the three surfaces, basically a lot of the designs, discussions, if you do something on land, it will probably work on a modified version when you’re boating. When it comes to flying, it’s a fully freedom environment it’s just really bloody hard, excuse my language, [laughs]. But it’s always been about flying and that’s the question that’s been asked hundreds and hundreds of times.
Dan: Tails’ vehicle is a plane in the first game.
Joe: Yes, so balancing that kind of stuff out and just dealing with those design difficulties has been the most challenging thing I think for us.
Dan: What levels will be appearing in the game, anything from the first title?
Joe: We’ve got sixteen new tracks of which we’ve shown three, and they’re all different IP’s. Whereas in the last game you had three versions of Seaside Hill and three Monkey Balls or whatever, and we wanted to go with a lot more variety, a lot more depth. So we’ve got sixteen new tracks, and four classics returning from the last game that people loved. So the Samba track with the massive heads that’s coming back, because it’s awesome. So we’ve got twenty tracks in total.
Dan: Is there any online modes?
Joe: It’s full online, pretty much every feature you can think of in that.
Dan: What about the weapons and stuff in the game? Any returning stuff?
Joe: We’ve got some new weapons actually and the thing with the weapons is we’ve tried to give them a bit of charm and they should make you chuckle when you use them. We’ve got like a puffer fish which you drop behind you on the track which swims or flaps towards them in the air and takes them out, so it behaves a bit like a mine but it acts on its own. We’ve got the RC vehicle, we’ve got a little version of Sonics car or Amys car, taken the driver out and stuck a stick or dynamite in it so it’s remote controlled so when you fire that it travels round the track chasing people and trying to blow them up, so you end up looking over your shoulder being chased by this little car. And you know who’s shooting at you because it’s a little Sonic car, or little Eggman. One of the other weapons is a baseball glove, which kind of behaves a bit like a shield, but it doesn’t just block weapons coming at you, it actually catches them like a glove, so you can be being chased by a little RC car, and activate the glove and it [RC Car] gets swiped up and you can fire Amy’s little car back at her, so it changes the dynamics of the game instantly because when you’re just driving normally you’re avoiding other people because you don’t want to be hit by them, so you don’t drive behind them, but as soon as you pick that up, you start tailing people and hoping that they shoot you because then you can just take them out with their own weapon. So they’re all new weapons basically based on recognisable everyday things. Like we’ve got a swarm of bees that travels down the track that lands on the track in front of you and you’ll be able to look at it and instantly say “oh that’s the baseball glove” or “that’s the bees” or “it’s a snowman” but then actually learning what they do, it takes a bit of time.
Dan: Will there be any extra game modes other than..?
Joe: Yes, there won’t just be racing, there will be a lot of different game modes because we’ve got the opportunity to have so much variety, because we’ve got flying, because we’ve got boating. There’s a multiplayer dogfighting thing where you’re all just fighting each other and shit like that, so we have the opportunity to have so much more variety, rather than just the standard grand prix mode.
Dan: One last question, what was one of the hardest characters to be put into the game after changing the design and the effect of the universe of the racing title, are there going to be any issues with that? Was it hard for you to choose what characters to put in?
Joe: [to latter question] Oh absolutely, honestly we go backwards and forwards with Sega so much, it must have taken over six to nine months to come up with a defined list of characters that we all agreed on, so choosing the characters is the most challenging part I think, it’s easier to make them than it is to choose them. So yes.
Dan: will many fans of Sega be surprised at what characters to expect in the game?
Joe: pleasantly, so yeah, obviously we’ve got some fan favourites, Vyse has gone down really well with people because his vehicle’s amazing and hopefully the Shinobi character will go down really well and there’s going to be even more stuff that’s coming out in the near future with some more real fan boy favourites that weren’t in the last game as well, so some cool stuff to look forward to.
Dan: when is the title expected to be released?
Joe: Holiday season over here, whenever that is, thanksgiving, that kind of time. There hasn’t been a specific date announced.
Dan: will it be coming to the PSVita or 3DS?
Joe: The platforms is PS3, 360, 3DS, Vita and the WiiU, so we’ve got the whole shebang.
Dan: Thank you very much.