2XL Games Interview: Going around the bend with Jeremy McGrath's Offroad
We gave 2XL Games’ latest racing effort Jeremy McGrath Offroad a fairly good review when it released late last month for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, even with the overcrowded market of downloadable racers for each service. It’s a fun little arcade affair, packed with plenty of options, both through single player and online, and very good controls.
Recently, the game’s project director, Travis Riffle, took the time to talk to us about what went into making Jeremy McGrath Offroad, including working with the man himself and what to expect next from the team.
First off, with so many arcade racing games on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, what did 2XL Games want to do with Jeremy McGrath Offroad to set it apart?
While there are a decent amount of racing titles in the digital console market, we felt that offroad was sorely lacking in a quality racing title. We had made Baja: Edge of Control back in 2008, but felt we had made it a bit too simulation oriented. It was great for the more hardcore offroad racing fans, but the more casual audience found it a bit daunting at times. So having spent the last three years making mobile titles for a very casual audience, we developed a new hybrid physics model that made things like power sliding thru long turns very approachable. The end result is a blast to drive!
How many tracks can players race through in the game? And did you intentionally pack them with a lot of air-creating dips?
What’s off-road is we can get some big air along the way! Jumping the vehicle is a key component to any quality off-road title! Be sure to use that clutch boost when coming out of the turns too! Really helps launch the track down the straight.
How happy was McGrath with contributing to the game? Did he have any say in the track design or merely provide the commentary?
Most folks don’t know that Jeremy comes to Phoenix quite often for testing and tuning his real truck. He gets down to the studio as often as he can to turn laps with us in the game. He’s a fierce competitor on and off the track…always looking to push the envelope. It’s great to have him on the team!
Tell us about the online racing. How tough was it to get it up and running and still maintain a solid frame rate?
Online is definitely one of the hardest parts of game design – especially in racing. Everything is about timing, and even the greatest connections experience delay. With that in mind, the net code has to be approached in a way that is intuitive to player choice, taking educated guesses to the player’s actions to always be ahead and compensate for the delay.
JMO is one of the only online game experiences where the opponent doesn’t feel like a brick. When hit someone you can see your vehicle compress their suspension and push them around in a very natural feeling way.
Did you guys actually race around in vehicles to get the "feel" of the game just right?
Going back to our work on Baja: Edge of Control from 2005-2008, we spent years going on trips with some of the top trophy truck guys in the world. We didn’t just go to races, got to spend time both as passengers and behind the wheel of these great machines. That was a fantastic experience I’ll never forget, and definitely had a strong influence on the development of JMO.
Did you run into any snags with game development?
We already had our engine up and running on both Xbox 360 and PS3 at the start of the project, so it was a breeze to develop the title. Don’t get me wrong, making quality is really hard work filled with lots of long days and weeks, but our team knows this space really well and it was a pleasure working with them creating the game. Having Jeremy around the office is always a treat so I can’t really say we had any issues come up that were out of the ordinary. Sometimes, you just have to be thankful things when things work well.
Finally, what other racing projects could you see the team working on? Maybe some Offroad DLC?
We have one new DLC track coming out soon!
Check out Jeremy McGrath Offroad now for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network!