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wipEout HD

Platform(s): PlayStation 3
Genre: Racing
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCEE Studio Liverpool
Release Date: Sept. 25, 2008

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'wipEout HD' (PS3) Developer Interview

by Adam Pavlacka on Sept. 14, 2008 @ 3:00 a.m. PDT

Featuring a selection of the best tracks taken from previous versions of the wipEout franchise, wipEout HD offers meticulously crafted and fully reworked tracks that showcase the processing power of PS3. And for the first time, players will have the option to navigate their ships utilizing the SixAxis wireless controller's motion sensing technology.

Get ready to race at blazing speeds and experience adrenaline-filled, anti-gravity racing action in full-1080p High Definition (HD) running at a breathtaking 60-frames-per-second on PS3. Coming to the PlayStation Store soon, wipEout HD is set to redefine anti-gravity combat racing.

WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!

I'm Daimion Pinnock from Santa Monica, and I'm the wipEout HD producer.

WP: wipEout HD seems to pull from the two PSP releases, wipEout Pure and wipEout Pulse. Why not dig back into the classic tracks from wipEout or the ever-popular wipEout XL 2097 and bring any of those into high-def?

DP: Very good question! Basically, the prime reason for that is the team felt that these were the ones that will best represent wipEout HD running in 1080p. Also, it's just a selection of their favorite tracks. It's gone down really well internally, we find it's gone down well externally, and having the tracks that we've got in there has allowed us represent wipEout HD in the fullest, best way.

WP: The game in wipEout HD seems to be a very equal mix of racing, time trials and speed laps. Why the shift from the more traditional race, race, race and oh, you can do some time trials on the side? Combat racing was always the primary focus of earlier games in the series.

DP: The combat racing is certainly still in there. What we've managed to do, though, is add variety to it. I think sometimes, people in the past may have found it a bit monotonous doing it the exact same way, and certainly, by having online, if you want to do just battling and shoot, shoot, shoot, destroying ships, it's still there. But by having the campaign mode, it's allowing us to have a lot more variety in there. We can have the elimination mode that we can certainly have there, where you're doing time trials and everything, and by doing that, it basically gives people a lot of variety, and it allows us to represent wipEout in the best possible way.

WP: In bringing wipEout into high definition, especially having worked on such a low-definition screen with the PSP before, what kind of challenges were there? Did you have to completely redo all the art? When you first got it up and running, what were the little "gotchas" that hit you?

DP: (laughing) Everything, actually! 'Cause obviously when you've got something on such a smaller scale, everything more or less just has to be redone. I think people don't realize just how hard it is and how much work goes into creating these tracks. It does take several months to do one track. It's not a quick, "Oh, we'll just blow everything up and make it bigger and we'll put it in the PS3." To get it running in HD and in 1080p is a fantastic achievement, and just by seeing it today and everyone's reactions, it's obviously fantastic and everybody loves the way it looks, feels and plays.

WP: Let's talk about the motion controls. wipEout, from its very earliest inception, has always supported analog control, but wipEout HD is the first in the series to actually support motion controls with the SixAxis. How hard was that to get it right?

DP: Well, it was a challenge. It certainly was a challenge to get it in there. The main thing when you're going to have the SixAxis controller in there — I mean obviously, you can go in and put it in there — but we spent time tweaking it, making sure it felt right. We got a lot of internal feedback from QA, from everyone that put their hands on wipEout. We actually listened to them, got their feedback in there, and we really wanted to make sure that the public didn't feel that we put it in there just for the sake of having SixAxis motion control in there, but that it felt like something that you could actually use and something that was beneficial to the actual gameplay itself.

WP: Now, obviously wipEout HD is looking a whole better than the last big-screen wipEout, wipEout Fusion. Why do you think it took so long for wipEout to return to the "big screen," so to speak, instead of just sitting on the PlayStation Portable?

DP: I think the main reason, really, is that you just want to make sure that the technology is there. Also, it takes time, a little bit of time to get your head around the technology and to make sure that when we actually did bring the next iteration of wipEout, it was something that was going to make everyone who looked at it, stand back and look at it and go, "Wow." I'm really glad that people have been looking at it tonight and saying, "Wow, this is so amazing." It is on the PSN, it looks absolutely fantastic, and it's one of the best-looking titles, if not the best-looking title, out there for downloadable content.

WP: That's another question. With such a premier brand, why release it on PSN? Why not ship it as a full-fledged disc release?

DP: The PlayStation Network allowed us to do everything that we needed to do by having it there, by having it as a downloadable. It helps to keep the cost down as well, which is always good for the consumer. When you end up getting a disc title, it does obviously increase the cost of production, but having it as a PlayStation downloadable title has allowed us to do everything that we need to do, and still have an absolutely full-fledged title that's available for download.

WP: In total, with the online play, how many players can you support?

DP: It'll support up to eight players simultaneously online.

WP: Local network as well as Internet?

DP: No, Internet-only, not local, but what we've managed to do is have global online play, so you can have players that are able to talk smack from England versus America. It's a lot of fun, so we should put that in there and have a good wipEout session. (laughs)

WP: What about the Photo mode? The Photo mode was obviously really popular in the Gran Turismo series. What inspired bringing it to the wipEout series?

DP: Actually, we listened to the fans. People in the forums, they want to take pictures, they want to do stuff with their mobile phones. We found that people really wanted to have a Photo mode in there. "We want to have a Photo mode," "We want to take pictures," people want to have them as their desktops. What's surprising is that even before we had Photo mode, people would show you pictures that they took with their cameras and you'd see them on their desktops. There really are some loyal fans out there that really like the way wipEout looks visually, and this is before what we've done now with HD, so I think it's a perfect opportunity right now to have something in HD, and it'll look absolutely fantastic wherever you want to put it.

WP: Along the same lines, was there any reason that the Replay mode was left out?

DP: Well, there are technical limitations to it, but you get a race replay at the end of the race, so it was the technical limitations and time. Who knows? Maybe we'll do something about that in the future.

WP: Just wrapping up, from the initial game, wipEout has always had a heavy influence from The Designer's Republic thanks to their working on the inception. Has there been any talk about completely revamping the series and giving it a new look?

DP: We obviously always want to push the franchise and push the hardware that we're releasing it on. I would certainly challenge anyone to find a better-looking downloadable title than wipEout HD. Obviously I'm slightly biased, but it really does look fantastic. Compared to anything else on PSN right now, it really is a fully fledged, great-looking title. We're always looking for ways to improve the title, ways to make sure that when someone gets a wipEout experience, that they are actually experiencing something that does look like it's pushing the hardware. We always want to do that for the title basically.

WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?

DP: Yes, get wipEout! It's absolutely fantastic, we've got split-screen mode in there. Also wanted to mention something that a lot of people have been asking about: It does support trophies. It has got trophy support in there, it's fully in there, people have been asking in forums, "Does it have it?" It does have trophy support. You will have it in the release title. Just go out there and play it, and hopefully enjoy it, and I look forward to seeing people online.

WP: Personal question for you: What was the most challenging trophy to get?

DP: (laughs) That would be telling! Let me think … the platinum trophy to do everything. That's a nightmare that I never want to do again.


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