Mad Riders Developer Interview with Level Designer Marek Sobol
Ubisoft International Product Manager Assistant Arnaud Marchand has shared a Mad Riders developer interview today with Lead Level Designer Marek Sobol below.
To quote: What is Mad Riders?
It's a super-fast, super fun arcade racer with beautiful environments, incredible stunts and unrivalled speed. Mad Riders is full of content: 45 tracks, customizable vehicles and drivers, various single-player and multiplayer modes.
The challenge was to do something different than the traditional package for a racing game and we think we have a game that offers great value for money!
Can you describe the idea behind the development of Mad Riders in one word?
Most definitely 'fun'! Mad Riders was never meant to be a simulator, it's an arcade game that had to be easy to pick up and enjoyable for anyone.
We needed to get into this crazy mind-set of creating an arcade game in the best sense of the word, old school fun for everyone but infused with the spirit of competition, and this "No way! Did you see THAT?!" feeling you get when playing with friends.
So you're getting hours of fun for the price of a large pizza, now is this stuff extreme or what?!
How does that translate in terms of gameplay?
We wanted to make a game about experiencing something cool and exciting. It had to be accessible and fun to play. We kept asking ourselves "what would be the coolest thing to do here?"
We identified all the necessary ingredients: blistering speed, exotic locations, powerful vehicles and breathtaking stunts. Of course turning it into a complete game is the real challenge.
Imagine this: You're racing on a powerful ATV through a narrow road along a cliff, palm trees flashing by. The race is fast, but not nearly fast enough. That's why you're on the hunt for tokens to recharge your boost. There are none in sight but there's another way! As all the racers launch into the air in a gravity-defying jump, you pull off a Whip, which is a cool and challenging stunt in itself but at the last moment you add a backflip, desperately landing at the last possible moment.
It worked! You ignite the boost and the world blurs with even more speed but one opponent is right on your tail. Hitting the switch, you open up a shortcut ahead and with a hairpin turn, you dash down a new path to save a few seconds and become the new race leader!
What can you tell us about the tracks?
Mad Riders comes with 45 playable tracks. That's a LOT! We knew we wanted to offer variety to players, and chose various environments in beautiful, exotic settings. A
s far as level design is concerned, the team focused on bringing a lot of vertical gameplay, long jumps, changes in elevation and a variety of sights and challenges. Alternate paths and boost recharges also add an element of tactics, with split-second decisions to make and tough competition.
How did you manage to make each track unique?
Each map has one level designer responsible for keeping its vision and making sure that it offers all the things we want players to feel in the game, but everyone on the team can and often does contribute.
Creative work is never easy to lock into a specific process; it's just like writing or drawing: some maps just come together on the first run; others make you throw everything away and start over and over again.
Putting a good track together is like building from bricks. First we included the mandatory elements: straight and downhill sections to pick up some real speed, jumps to set the stage for insane aerial stunts, curves to make sure there's always room to use skill to your advantage. Then we add all the bells and whistles, things which take the ride from 'good' to 'adrenaline-pumping rollercoaster'.
Good level designers are able to 'play' a map in their heads, seeing how it should unfold. Still, nothing will replace extensive play testing. It often means completing the same race hundreds of times to balance and polish everything.
What's your favorite mode in Mad Riders?
I think the Arena races are great. Playing them with the whole team, with live commentary and friendly taunts, was really awesome.
Everything is more fun with friends so keep an eye out for the prompt to join a multiplayer session. It's the easiest way to quickly connect and share the excitement with other players.
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