[Edit] Since publishing this interview Road Redemption has achieved its funding goal of $160,000 USD. Congratulations to the DarkSeas Games team.
Road Redemption is DarkSeas Games’ effort to bring back a bigger, badder, road-rashier version of Road Rash. That, of course, means Kickstarter, and a goal of $160,000 USD that’s running a few thousand short at present.
Remember the good ol’ days of Road Rash on your Mega Drive? Obtaining that superbike; pointing out of a nearby window to distract your friend as you kick him into an on-coming truck or cow; attempting the largest Superman-style leap with the 8/16-bit ragdoll physics on trial runs; getting busted by the police when that lamp post/cactus comes out of nowhere (seriously who the hell put that ****ing post there?)
It’ll be a bit like that. But only if it gets funded.
Eager to know more about the enhanced combat, multiplayer and all that jazz, IncGamers caught up with DarkSeas Games to tell all.
IncGamers: Thank you for taking time to answer some questions today. I guess the first question is for new fans; what inspired you to create Road Redemption, how did it all start?
DarkSeas Games: While the Road Rash series is our main inspiration for Road Redemption, we feel like this type of game doesn’t currently exist. Road Redemption is a game that we’ve wanted to play for years now and we’ve been thrilled to see the support on Kickstarter thus far. Other games that have influenced us are the Burnout series, Rocket Jockey (bet you don’t remember that one), and obviously, the movie Terminator 2.
IG: You’re right there, I don’t remember Rocket Jockey. Coming back to the present, why Kickstarter and why bring back the Road Rash series now?
DSG: Because there is no racing game like Road Rash. A lot of people would put Road Rash in the racing genre because the goal is to be the first to cross the finish line. But Road Rash is actually more of an action game that it is a racing game.
The majority of the challenge in other racing games, even those with combat elements such as Burnout and Grand Theft Auto, is traversing the track at maximum speed without crashing into the walls. The competing drivers are an ancillary threat. But in Road Rash the combat with the other drivers is the focus. The tracks barely curve at all. This differentiates it from every racing game on the market. The game is about hand-to-hand combat. The speed of the race and the occasional object in the road are there to make the combat more interesting.
Technology has improved massively since the last Road Rash game was created. Only now can we have a Road Rash style game with modern physics, realistic graphics, and multiplayer.
IG: I think solid classic games should make a comeback in some form or another, what did you learn from previous series to make Road Redemption even better?
DSG: One of our employees actually wrote this Gamasutra article back in 2009 explaining why the Road Rash series is so great.
One of the best things from the franchise that I enjoy is being able to use the environment to your advantage. Even if you have a weaker weapon, and less health than your opponent, if you can get him to crash into a telephone poll or oncoming vehicle, you can win the skirmish.
We think that the series could most be improved simply by incorporating all of the technological advances of the last decade. Some games, like Sonic the Hedgehog, Worms, and Lemmings, may not benefit by attempts to bring them up to date. Racing games are not like this. Modern technology allows us to make bigger tracks, more realistic physics, more riders and objects on screen at the same time, and far better AI.
IG: Yeah, good times. What’s your favourite part about the Road Redemption and/or the previous series so far?
DSG: Capturing the excitement of exchanging blows while racing against opponents, especially when playing multiplayer with a group of friends is something that we all remember very vividly and want to keep as awesome as possible in Road Redemption. Also, speeding through traffic and jamming a tire iron into the spokes of an enemy combatant is something we are looking forward to.
IG: With a large collective experience in your team ranging from God of War to Star Wars: The Old Republic, can tell us more about your team, how you came together etc?
DSG: We’ve all known each other for awhile through various co-worker relationships. Ian and Juan met working at Pyro Studios in Spain (they made the Commandos series, and Planet 51). Adam, who worked on God of War 3 and Sorcery, has been friends with Evan and Jason for years.
Basically what brought us together was our mutual love for the idea and our desire to escape from the publisher-system. It’s a really great thing to not have to cater to the whims of focus groups, or upper management who you never actually get to meet.
A lot of times at a big studio, a designer or coder is working from instructions from a high level manager, who steps into the studio once a month, after the instruction’s been filtered through a lower-level manager. In the end, you’re often changing a feature without ever knowing the justification for the change.
We much prefer our current system, where we make changes to Road Redemption if we think the change will make the game more fun, not because it will appeal to a demographic or look good in a trailer.
IG: Let’s start our beauties up with the story, has this changed with Road Redemption?
DSG: The story is a little more in depth than previous games from the 90’s era where you basically are in illegal street races. In Road Redemption, you are a recently paroled felon who is re-joining the motorcycle club you were a member of before getting busted. You are helping out the club and working your way up the ranks by taking part in a number of different missions or tasks. However, while working with the club again, there are some people you suspect might be responsible for your original incarceration.
IG: You’ve mentioned Windows, Linux, Mac and Wii U being current ports, will you be able to port to upcoming X720/PS4 as a stretch goal?
DSG: We would like to be able to give as many gamers the ability to the play the game with the best possible specs. That being said, we are in talks about rolling out a X720/PS4 stretch goal, but there are still a lot of question marks about those systems right now. However we recently rolled out an Xbox 360 stretch goal.
IG: I’ve been known to stroke the odd katana; can you tell us how you’re going to balance guns vs melee?
DSG: Guns will have a limited role in the game and it will be very risky to use them. There won’t be an auto-aim which will greatly increase the likelihood of missing your opponents and wasting your limited ammo supply. Rest assured, you will most likely be better off riding up next to an opponent and wailing on them with a chain.
IG: Sounds cool, was that dismemberment I saw at the end of the video?
DSG: Yes! The katana was something that we wanted to make sure to show off in the trailer because of how awesome it is, plus it shows gamers what happens to enemy riders who steal from you when you catch up to them.
IG: Sweet. How has Unity 4 engine helped in the developing of Road Redemption?
DSG: Unity 4 has a new animation tool called Mecanim that allows us to create robust state machines and animation blend trees that are essential to the development of animation systems and fight mechanics. Our team members have worked with other great tools in the past such as Unreal 3 and Natural Motion’s Morpheme, so it’s great to see an upgrade to the in-editor animation system in Unity 4.
Speaking of awesome tools and software, Road Redemption will include Occulus Rift support. Check out a work-in-progress trailer, below.
IG: Can you give us some details on how you’ve revamped the campaign system?
DSG: After the opening story segment and intro mission, you’re presented with the game’s world map, which features missions to play, the bike shop, and your gang’s clubhouse.
Road Redemption’s missions are all variations on the classic combat/racing formula. For instance, one mission might challenge you to be the first to reach a turned-over armored car. Another mission might ask you to lead your gang out of enemy territory while being chased by an army of rival gang members and crooked cops.
As you play through the single-player campaign, you’ll generally have two or more missions to choose from at any one time. However, at certain points in the story, all events will converge on a single mission – such as a showdown with the leader of a rival club (flanked by his loyal captains of course).
Story segments will appear at the beginning and ends of specific missions. These segments will be skippable, but you’ll get a warning before skipping one that you’re seeing for the first time.
You can replay completed missions at any time in order to improve your performance (more takedowns, better time, less damage to your bike, etc.). Currently we’re using a medal system similar to Star Fox, Burnout, Pilotwings, and many other games, but this may change.
The cash you earn from missions can be spent at the bike shop, where you’ll be able to unlock new bikes with better stats, as well as have the opportunity to customize elements of your current bike, such as its color. You’re also able to improve your own character’s stats by buying new equipment such as helmets, weapons and body armor.
IG: You’ve added a variety of mission types, can you give us some examples of what fans can expect to see?
DSG: We are currently working on several mission types. We are also looking to our fans to suggest additional mission types they would like to see in the game.
Combat Race: This is your typical mission. Compete with rival bikers for rewards, such as a broken down armored car, full of hard currency. Either get there first or be the last alive.
Police Escape: An army of police cars, bikes, and choppers are on your tail. Lead your fellow club members to safety. No reason not to cause some damage along the way. A well-timed lead pipe to the face will take a cop off his bike. Similarly, a well-placed round from a grenade launcher disables a police vehicle pretty effectively.
Assassin: You’ve managed to whittle a rival motorcycle club down to a few members. Now it’s your job to chase down their leader through a crowded city. Of course, his last remaining lieutenants are going to make that as hard as possible for you.
Convoy Assault: You got word that a convoy of 18-wheelers is passing through your territory. If you can defeat the vehicle’s heavily-armed escort, the bounty is yours. A shotgun blast to an 18 wheeler’s tire tends to slow it down.
IG: There is some Skyscraper racing?
DSG: Yes, the skyscraper race course is shaping up to be pretty awesome. Imagine the sequence in Batman where the batmobile is racing across the top of buildings in Gotham City, except with a gang of bikers fighting and kicking each other off of skyscrapers.
IG: Might be hard to explain to insurance companies…
DSG: If you’re fighting people on motorcycles going 60+ miles per hour then keeping your insurance up to date is probably not a priority.
IG: You’ve mentioned online multiplayer, can you tell us more about how these will work, the modes, creating gangs etc?
DSG: Multiplayer modes include free-for-all and team-based missions. We look forward to see Road Redemption gangs forming online, with their own unique gang insignia.
Many of the single player mission types, and virtually all of the single player maps, will be available to play online. Online features also extend to the single player campaign. You can compete with your friends, via online leaderboards, to prove that you are the most skilled combatant. There will be built in matchmaking and dedicated servers. You will also be able to form a gang with your friends which will allow you to easily find each other online and join the same servers.
IG: To expand on that, you mentioned that the campaign can also be played multiplayer, does that mean co-op is included, is co-op via a side-car or split-screen?
DSG: Currently we are implementing online co-op and split-screen co-op on the Wii U via the gamepad screen. We are also interested in side-car coop and general split-screen co-op. We will be discussing this with our fans to figure out what they want the most and what is possible.
IG: In Road Redemption, how have the bikes changed? Can you just buy them still, are you planning customisation options, paintjobs, mechanics etc?
DSG: Road Redemption offers a variety of selectable bikes. Currently the list includes sport bikes (crotch rockets), standard cruisers, and custom choppers.
As you complete missions, you’ll earn cash for the bike shop, where you’ll unlock new bikes with better stats, as well as have the opportunity to customize elements of your current bike, such as its color.
In the multiplayer game, by default, you’re able to choose your own bike. We’re going to add an option to allow admins to customize bike selection. So if he or she wants nothing but choppers in the game, it can be set up that way.
In addition to this there is an experience based skill tree for the player. This is where you are able to further customize the mechanics of controlling your bike as well as specialize your character with abilities that will improve his performance.
IG: Lastly, anything you wish to say to your gangs?
DSG: We are very excited about Road Redemption and can’t wait to get it into your hands.
Many thanks to DarkSeas Games for taking time out to talk about Road Redemption. Also note that according to the DarkSeas Games team there will be no legal issues with EA. You can find out more about that from the Jace Hall Show article.
If funded successfully, Road Redemption will be on Steam for $15, and micro-transaction free. Katanas, bikes, chains, bats, multiplayer, AI, customisation and more; it’ll all be here. You can suggest ideas and further Road Redemption’s cause over on theirbut get a move on because the deadline is 12 May.
To see some of that in motion, check out the trailer below (complete with epic katana decap at the end.)