Hopefully you have read our overly ecstatic review of Nitronic Rush that we published last week. Before the release of Nitronic Rush, we submitted a few questions to the development team to gain an insight into the creation of this gem of a racer. Fresh from the huge launch the game has garnered, Jordan Hemenway and Kyle Holdwick from Digipen’s Team Nitronic are here to provide the answers;
Jordan Hemenway (Audio director, lead composer, PR)
Kyle Holdwick (Producer, programmer)
TGH: What was the inspiration behind creating a game like this, how did the idea of a survival/racer game come into the minds of the development team??
Jordan Hemenway: Originally the team thought of ideas that revolved around driving a car, but nothing as specific as the survival driving that’s currently in the game. After seeing what each member of the team was passionate about, inspirations from Rush 2049, Hydro Thunder, and Trackmania were on everyone’s minds. Since the game was built from the ground up, the technical development really drove most of the design direction. Implementing new ideas and playtesting each week led the team to establish mechanics that made the game enjoyable. We let that drive us towards new tracks and game modes that showcased these new ideas, and the design grew naturally. After many months of development we knew that we had something that we enjoyed playing, and the final design came from implementing what felt fun to us.
TGH: How long did it take Nitronic Rush to go from a concept to a finished product?
JH: The project has lasted for 17 months, originally starting in May 2010 and shipping in November 2011. While development has slowed a bit since release, we definitely still plan on providing updates down the road.
TGH: Were you working with a specific deadline/launch date in place all along?
JH: DigiPen has always had a history of its games placing into competitions (Independent Games Festival, Indie Game Challenge, etc.), getting in ourselves became driving force for the team. The original members of Team Nitronic decided early on that they would aim to complete the game by the IGF submission deadline (October 30th, 2011), but outside of that the game was to be nothing more then a normal Junior year game project. About halfway through the project, we realized that having a proper professional launch for Nitronic Rush would make sense for how much time and effort was being put into the game. We simply tied the launch of the game to competition submission time and the schedules lined up great for us to get the game to the press.
TGH: Why did you opt for a more continuous corner turning style as opposed to a break/drift mechanic seen in most driving games?
Kyle Holdwick: We wanted the game to feel more unique and also have a nice flow when driving through all the tracks. We also decided to add side jets to the car to allow for a more fun-filled driving experience while doing tricks. We wanted our players to feel that they had full control over the car when going over jumps and avoiding obstacles within the levels as well.
TGH: If you had the time, which areas of Nitronic Rush would you revisit to tweak/improve further?
KH: Honestly, I feel that we could revisit and improve almost every area of Nitronic Rush if we had the time. We would definitely make sure to revisit and improve the trick system within the game. We would tweak what is already there as well as add more stunts and levels. We would also greatly improve upon the online support by adding multiplayer for both competitive and cooperative play within the game.
TGH: You have a set of tracks in-game that are labeled as rejects. Can you elaborate on why these maps were shelved as story/challenge/hardcore tracks and why you decided to include them in the final release of the game?
JH: Old levels are really there so that future DigiPen students and people interested in the development of the game could see how we changed and adapted the levels to their final story mode versions. They aren’t really polished or finalized, but playtesters enjoyed playing them so we decided to make a special category for them.
TGH: Was there ever any disagreement between the team in terms of the development route?
KH: Surprisingly we never had any major disagreements in terms of the development route for the game. We did, however, question the flying feature midway through the development. One of our instructors even told us that we should take it out since he felt that it broke the game. In the end, we decided to keep it in after tweaking the controls a bunch and making it raise your heat.
TGH: As a whole, which team (sound, visual etc.) found their role the most challenging. Could you elaborate as to why?
KH: Since we built the game from the ground up, I would say that all of the team members found their roles challenging. The visuals were challenging since we programmed the graphics completely from scratch using only DirectX 9.0. We were also going for a style that required a lot of difficult elements such as the Tron-esque glow and the high dynamic range lighting effects. The soundscape was challenging since we really wanted it to feel rich and unique. Since there are always so many sound effects happening at once like the car, the obstacles, and the announcer, it was difficult to balance them all. To give the game more of a musical presence, we also implemented a system for bringing in different layers of music during boosting, jumping, flying, and to warn the player about overheating. Overall, I would say that the physics may have been the most challenging aspect though. This was difficult because we were building a fast paced car game and we didn’t use any third party engines such as Havok or Bullet.
TGH: Are there currently any plans to release Nitronic Rush on other platforms?
JH: We currently don’t have any plans for release on other platforms besides Windows PC, but it’s definitely possible down the road. If anything is announced we will post it on our website, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as on our mailing list (sign up on the front page of the website).
TGH: Are there plans to release any additional content (tracks, cars etc.) or available mod tools in the future??
JH: Depending on time we’d love to release as much of the game as possible to the modding community. We’re also hoping to post updates with new content such as new levels and possibly new vehicles. Tutorials for modding will be posted on our forum within the next few weeks, so subscribe there to stay up to date.
TGH: Do you (the developers) have any plans to work on another title in the future? If so, which genre would the group be most interested in developing for next??
JH: Some of the artists and musicians on the team are currently working on new game projects at DigiPen already, and there is a good possibility for a few of the developers to be working on new projects down the road. As for a genre to work on next, I wouldn’t say anything is off the table. If nothing else, we all have a passion for striking visuals that tie strongly to audio so expect games that run in that same vein.
That about wraps the interview up, it seems we can look forward to more games from these enthusiastic students along with mod support for Nitronic Rush in the very near future. For those who haven’t already, Nitronic Rush can be downloaded for free on all Windows PCs here. We recommend using a gamepad!