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Robb Rinard of 2XL Games on Jeremy McGrath's Offroad

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Posted by: Ben PerLee

2XL Games was happy to talk about the details of their latest racing game: Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad. As a team that previously worked on Baja: Edge of Control, they know how to make offroad games, but now they have a big name to attach to the project. We chatted with Robb Rinard, the creative director at 2XL, and he shared some insight into the development of this upcoming digital download racing game.

GameZone: Hi Robb. Can you introduce yourself?

Rob Rinard: I am the creative director of 2XL, a little software company that was started here in Phoenix in 2005.

GZ: So let’s talk about Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad, which was just announced last week.

RR: We are coming out with a new game. It’s our first digital download title for PSN and XBLA. It’s called Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad. I don’t know if you’ve ever played our Baja: Edge of Control game that came out in September of 2008. We are basing Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad on that style of gameplay.

GZ: What’s it like transitioning from full-retail title to a digital download game?

RR: It was a very freeing experience for us creatively. It put us in the position where we can financially bankroll our own titles. Now that we don’t have to go to publishers to get funding to make the game, we have the freedom to express our creativity and ideas on how we perceive the opportunities in the market. Then we not only have the responsibilities of doing the software development, but we have to pick up all of the publishing roles in terms of support and getting distribution achieved and getting all of the technical support done. However, that opens up a cool opportunity for us to directly communicate with our customers, which is something we always enjoy.

GZ: Can you describe the game for us? I know that you’re going to show off more in the coming weeks and at E3, but what can gamers expect when they turn the game on?

RR: Well, if you played our Baja game, it was more about giant worlds and freedom to roam. With this game, we’ve redesigned a bunch of stuff a little parallel to Codemasters Dirt games of design, where it is very focused levels and you don’t have quite the freedom to explore the world, but we don’t pay the graphical penalties that Baja suffered. When you make a 25 square mile world, the quality of the graphics tend to go down a little bit. With more focused worlds, we can make really nice lush worlds that are highly detailed.

We also put a goal on this game to make it run at 60 Hz. A lot of our older games ran at 30 FPS, but on the PS3 the game runs at 60 Hz in 1080p. You can go to the maximum resolution at the highest possible framerate. My partner Rick Baltman and I have a phrase we like to call “liquid motion.” A game has an excellent sense of fluidity and it doesn’t really feel like static frames, it just feels like liquid matter on the screen.

Keeping it at 60 Hz, the team has worked really hard to make this goal, to reach a really high graphics bar while maintaining [that quality]. To maintain 60 Hz, your game has to run at 16.6 milliseconds so that’s quite a challenge. We’re getting a handle on the PS3, and we’re keeping it running on a nice frame rate.

GZ: You’ve got Jeremy McGrath, a well-known athlete and racer. What’s his involvement with the game? RR: We’ve known Jeremy for a long time. I originally met him back in 1998 when we were doing a project with Microsoft back when we were at Rainbow Studios. He’s always had contractual obligations over the years. There was a Jeremy McGrath game with Acclaim a long time ago. We’ve been buddies, and he always hangs out behind the scenes and plays our games and gives us input. He plays our games and we’re really big fans of his great athleticism. Jeremy is just a great guy. It’s just taken a long time for the intersection of what we are working on and his availability to come together. About a year and a half ago, we realized he was in a spot where he’s transitioning from supercross racing into racing trucks. We thought it would be a great opportunity to partner with him. We had this image of his transition from him being king of supercross into racing trucks.

We got together and he spent a lot of time with us, just playing the game. He’s really interested in the game, having more accessibility than more technical prowess. He appreciates that if you could ride like Jeremy McGrath, you’d go do it. So the goal is to create that fantasy where you can ride like Jeremy does. We’ve put a lot of effort into this title to make it really approachable yet still have him sign off on feeling authentic and realistic. It’s a tough balance to make that authentic feel and approachable model.

GZ: For these sort of games, authenticity is pretty important, and part of that comes with the usage of branding and real world brands. Are there going to be any real-world vehicles and clothing here?

[At this point, the PR representative jumps in and mentions that specifics about the game will be announced at a racing event later this month in San Bernardino, California, and that they are aiming for a summer 2011 release date]

GZ: Is there anything else you’d like to say about Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad?

RR: Another cool thing about the game is we’ve put a whole bunch of effort into the sound design. It was really important to Jeremy that we capture the feel and surge of power that you get in the game. With 5.1 surround sound, it’s amazing. The better your stereo, the harder you can push it. If you can play in a good room with a high quality sound, you’ll get a richer experience that can be gotten from a kick-ass sound, and you can uniquely hear the different types of engines and vehicles. That’s one area we are looking forward to sharing.

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