Interview: Urban Trial Freestyle's Wojtek Bilinski
Xbox 360 owners have RedLynx's Trials HD and Trials Evolution to test their very limits of patience while they traverse through some impossible courses. But what about Sony's platforms? PlayStation 3 and PS Vita owners are a bit out of luck when it comes to fulfilling their needs for a similar game. At least, until Tate Interactive releases its upcoming Urban Trial Freestyle game next month for both platforms.
The game definitely has a Trials-like vibe to it, but it is also set to bring some interesting new features to the picture, as well as the trial-and-error style gameplay that'll keep you coming back to get that perfect lap.
To learn more about the game, we chatted with the company's General Manager, Wojtek Bilinksi, to get some hard-hitting answers and learn more about it.
GameZone: First off, upon first glance at Urban Trial Freestyle, some folks are likely to say, "Hey, this is just Trials HD on PlayStation!" What would you tell someone who makes this assessment?
Wojtek Bilinksi: UTF is a trial sport game with realistic visuals similar to many other games on the market -- but this is also the end of resemblance. UTF's environments, motorbike physics and gameplay features differ a lot, as well as online features and game modes. Rather than focusing solely on the outdoors as the main tracks, Urban Trial Freestyle's environments focus on everything in a city -- from elevated train tracks to abandoned amusement parks -- to offer players a gritty, urban track experience. We have worked closely with Julien Dupont, the godfather of trial sport, to capture this unique urban-freestyle look and feel of the game.
GZ: There's more to this game than just racing from point A to point B. We've heard about the inclusion of stunt stages. What can you tell us about those? Do we have to be a master of flips or...?
WB: As a player advances and becomes better at handling his/her bike and performing more advanced Stunts, the better score he/she will get in Stunt Mode. We also had a particular design idea with Stunts to allow the player to easily repeat a small part of that particular gameplay until its mastered and his/her photo gets displayed on a Billboard. The fun of the game can be experienced in the full tracks and modes, or even in the attempts of mastering one stunt. We think this gives extra depth to the gameplay. When you master all the stunts on the track, you can try to ride for the track record -- replayability is really huge, the way it should be in an arcade racer.
GZ: Does the game focus more on the single-player experience, or does it include any sort of multiplayer?
WB: UTF is currently a single-player game, yet offers a rich, online experience. The best leaderboard player (or friend) profile and record are displayed on the Billboards next to each Stunt in Stunt Mode, allowing players to know who (and how) they need to beat. Players can also race against the best player’s Ghost (or friend) in Time Attack, creating a very strong sense of competition. We definitely recommend you sign in to PlayStation Network before you play.
GZ: Tell us about the leaderboard support. Will we be able to challenge players across the board on both PS3 and Vita, or are they separate?
WB: The game features more than 100 leaderboards so there is a huge space to compete. However, they are separate for PS3 and PS Vita. We have decided to design the game to each platform separately to achieve best possible experience.
GZ: We understand you have the ability to improve your stats in the game. Do they have a good overall effect on your performance? And how so?
WB: The key to get the highest score is to find the best balance between speed, acceleration and handling of your bike. You influence these parameters with three parts: engine, chassis and wheels. Each of these parts has four choices, which gives 64 combinations. If you maximize speed parameter for example, you get a bit worse handling, so you will perform better in Stunts like Highest or Longest Jump, but worse in Flip Meter.
When you want to beat a particular Stunt, the choice is pretty simple, but when you want to set record for the whole track, there are lots of combinations to try.
GZ: There are also some stages where you may have to do some vertical riding and actually shift the controller to keep in balance. How did that idea come about?
WB: This is in Challenge mode, which offers some extra exciting gameplay. Both the PS Vita and PS3’s controller has integrated gyroscope, so we’ve made use of it. It seemed the best solution for such a game to shift gravity. The player shifts gravity by shifting the controller, and thus can ride up the wall -- it’s really cool and also very challenging.
GZ: Have there been some serious challenges thrown around the development office for Freestyle? Are you taking any part in them at all?
WB: Personally I am a huge fun of extreme sports and also tried some of them, like parachuting, diving or downhill. But that’s only at amateur level. We are developers and one of the extreme things we do is to stay focused for long hours in front of PC; maybe its not that risky but its very demanding. This is where Julien Dupont comes in. He spent loads of time with the development team, playing our game and giving us a lot of interesting feedback and ideas.
GZ: The game is coming to PS3 and Vita alike, but there is no Cross-Buy option. Are the two games so different that this wasn't an option, or...?
WB: The PS3 version has more events in the background, like police chases, people on the streets, etc. We decided not to put it on PS Vita, mainly because it’s portable console and usually play conditions are harsher. Too many events (information) on such a small screen could spoil the fun coming from sharp gameplay, when player needs to focus.
GZ: Finally, if Freestyle performs well enough, will their be DLC support? Maybe a few themed packs based on holidays or events?
WB: As a developer I am definitely looking forward to it. We have tons of ideas for new features and new urban sets.
Urban Trial Freestyle will be available on PlayStation Network next month.