NFS The Run: Black Box Interview at Gamerzines Friday, 23.09.2011
The RunGameszines did an interesting interview with Steve Anthony and Jason DeLong, both producers of Need for Speed: The Run. They talk about the Out-Of-Car sequences, Quick-Time-Events (QTE) and also go into detail regarding the history of EA Black Box, their passion and the decision to use the Frostbite 2 engine.

GZ: Black Box’s last Need For Speed game, NFS: Undercover, didn’t perform well with critics. What have you done since to ensure this year’s game doesn’t suffer the same fate?

SA: No one’s proud of Undercover, it was not a good game. It sold well, so at the same time I’ll say you don’t sell 13m units for nothing. But you know, this year the team is driven to quality. I think our challenge is an internal challenge. We’ve got Undercover obviously which we want to say isn’t the type of game we make, and we have a talented team. They don’t ship games less than 90; we’re shooting for a 90-plus game. We don’t really care whether or not the critics give it to us because of the baggage at Black Box. If we think we’ve delivered a 90 that’s all that matters. Consumers will tell us one way or the other. We want to win racing game of the show, that’s what we’re out for. We want to win game of the show. I mean whether that will happen I don’t know, but that’s what we’re going to push for. Since we started working on the concept for E3 in January that’s been our drive. That software is going to blow you away and I know the team can deliver the rest of the game at that quality bar too.

JD: You can’t question the passion that the team has to make a great game. When a game comes out and it’s poorly rated it kills everybody. The company had been put into a situation where we needed to put a Need For Speed game out every year, and when you look at the resources which the company had to do that Black Box was the studio which was put towards it. I think that the biggest thing we’ve learned as a company really is to allow time for quality. It’s one of the things that John Riccitiello said when he came on board, that we need to worry about quality. EA had so many titles, our SKU was over 70 in any given year, so our average Metacritic was probably okay, but we had some titles that didn’t do very well. So it was important to him that we do fewer titles and each one of those titles has to be super high quality. The way that our structure had been set up wasn’t conducive to that. By splitting off development and saying the next one is on Criterion’s shoulders, we had the time to invest in the technology and concept. I mean quality comes from iteration, being able to try something, throw it out and try something better. Having had the time to do that was a luxury for this team; we haven’t had that in the past. Now we’ve had two and a half years to focus on making this the biggest and best quality experience it can be. We’re not going to be happy if this comes out and is anything less than a 90.


GZ: How scalable has Frostbite 2 been on console?

JD: Frostbite 2 is scalable for consoles, no question. The decision that we made to go there was a business decision. The more that we streamline the technology that we use as a company the more we can help each other out. We don’t need to rewrite code year after year because we’re using a different engine, or (re-use assets), so the fact that we can streamline production allows us to iterate more quickly. And if we have a problem with something there’s a knowledge base within the company to help us solve our problems. We did a full investigation, we knew we had the luxury of time and we knew we were going to be able to reinvest in our technology however we wanted to do it. We looked at external and internal, what we’d done in the past, do we take a traditional Need For Speed engine, do we take Criterion’s engine, do we take Frostbite? And there was a huge audit of that done. But in the end, Frostbite provided us with a lot of the tools that we needed and wanted to tell the type of story and type of game that we wanted to do, from the destruction and the audio. The ability to iterate so much more quickly to provide an experience that is epic in scale, you know, we can’t do a story about a cross-country race and then have five tracks; it has to be huge. That tool allows us to do that.

Read for yourself:

» NFS The Run: Black Box Interview @ Gamerzines
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