Back in 1997 Stainless Games released Carmageddon, a vehicular combat game inspired by the 1975 cult classic movie Death Race 2000. The game garnered praise among gamers but also attracted a lot of controversy facing bans in countries like Germany and United Kingdom. But that did not stopped Stainless Games from developing a sequel, titled Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now which saw even more controversy.
Fifteen years later Stainless Games are back with the latest incarnation in the series, Carmageddon Reincarnation. We caught up with Jason Garber, Publishing Director of Stainless Games to know more about the awesomeness that they plan to bring with Reincarnation.
Pramath Parijat: So this is Stainless Game’s third Carmageddon game- you return to the series after having taken a break from the third installment. How does it feel to be working on the franchise again?
Jason Garber: Actually, we see this as a new beginning. We loved the work and result of the first two games, but this one is a New Dawn for the Brand. As a matter of fact, I had gone into a semi-retirement in darkest Cornwall where I spent my days shooting cans and drinking moonshine, but when I got the chance to yet again be involved with my darling Carmageddon, I packed up my guns and demi-johns and drove full-tilt back to the Island and the Stainless Studio. And so to answer your question, I am both elated and ecstatic.
Pramath Parijat: It’s been more than a decade since the series’ last release, and even longer since you guys worked on it. How did that huge amount of intervening time factor into the game’s development?
Jason Garber: We had to watch and wait from the sideline for all these years, while various attempts were made to reboot the Brand by its previous owners, and they all foundered before release (not counting the awful TDR2K – of which we do not speak). It made us think, ponder and scheme; what we could do if we could get our hands on it again. And the best part of extended time spent away from a loved one is that once you are reunited there’s a hell of a lot of fun to be had.
Pramath Parijat: What prompted the move to buy back the rights to the series, and then crowd fund a reboot? Do you feel Carmageddon is still relevant in today’s gaming market?
Jason Garber: We always felt that Carmageddon was “our” Brand, and no-one else could do it the way we could. When things panned out so that Square Enix eventually found itself in possession of the Brand, it seemed to us the time to start negotiations, as it didn’t seem like it would be a Brand that they’d want to develop as a publisher. We have an excellent relationship with Square, and so we thought we would give it a try. We think the brand was as valid today as it was back then.
The community never wavered away from it and the game and gameplay itself was still rock solid 15 years later. Of course we discussed if the brand was valid and came to this conclusion internally, but then the successful crowdfunding for the new game, and subsequent release and success of the APP for iOS/Android ports of the original game, proved that the brand was still relevant. Our downloading success is pure proof of that and I think that the amount of interest we have had over the past months confirms that too.
Pramath Parijat: I grew up with Carmageddon. Carmageddon II, in particular, was a game I used to play a lot, and my parents were pretty unhappy about that! Considering how much more mainstream penetration games have today, aren’t you expecting some sort of major controversy? Especially in this post GTA world…
Jason Garber: We know that at the time of the game’s original release, it was the poster-child of gaming controversy. But I think that the controversy is now left mostly to far more violent and extreme games than Carmageddon – and really to whip up the controversy by being ultra-extreme isn’t where we want to be. We never did – for us it was all about the laughs.
We always used humour as our major tool for tempering the ultra-violence and everything we’re doing now as we develop the new game continues this philosophy. We will be as violent and humorous as ever and leave it up to the tabloid newspapers to judge if we are controversial, because I doubt that gamers or the industry as a whole would see the game as such.
Pramath Parijat: So walk us through: what’s new in this game? Your Kickstarter page talks about online multiplayer, and it talks about Action Replay, but with support for Youtube and other social media. Are there any more features in the game that you haven’t revealed yet?
Jason Garber: The game is the reimaginingof the game that we developed in 1997. It features much of thegreat, bloody stuff we had back then, combined with lots of stuff we wanted to do back then but were blocked from doing by technical limitations.And as well as this, it features new stuff that we’ve dreamt up since then. And we’ve had a long time to dream! But really, we aren’t going to reveal everything before we launch the game in Q1 2014, as we want to keep some surprises for the players.
Pramath Parijat: Carmageddon Reincarnation is also coming to consoles- now we’re aware that on PC platforms, it will be a purely digital release. Are you guys looking at a retail release for the game on the consoles?
Jason Garber: Yes, it is coming to next-gen console. What console(s), when and through what medium is still all under wraps…
Our primary platform of development has been, and continues to be, PC. The design document and philosophy that we’re working to hasn’t changed in the slightest. It was always our intention to make any compromises that might be required to console builds only after the primary PC version was complete, rather than tune all the releases of the game to the lowest common denominator in platform terms. The PC version would never be “nobbled” to bring it technically into line with a less capable console version.
Pramath Parijat: Why doesn’t Carmageddon Reincarnation have a PlayStation Vita or Wii U version? I understand there might be an issue with demographics or install base, but did you ever consider those platforms?
Jason Garber: As they couldn’t be considered as “Next-Gen” platforms, it wouldn’t be something that we could consider due to the technical demands of our game engine tech.
Pramath Parijat: From a development perspective, the PS4 has 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. Now we have many developers in the past praising Sony’s move toinclude such a high speed memory in consoles. But GDDR suffers from latency. How do you guys plan to over come that so you can make use of that higher bandwidth memory in Carmageddon Reincarnation?
Jason Garber: When the talk gets technical, I just reach for one of my guns. There’s plenty of ways to “persuade” the coders to deal with this sort of thing. I’m sure.
Pramath Parijat: Furthermore, what kind of differences can players expect between the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game?
Jason Garber: We haven’t yet confirmed which console(s) we will be releasing the game on, and so we can’t say anything about differences between versions either.
Rashid Sayed: Since the series started out on the PC, do you have something special planned for the PC version?
Jason Garber: CarMODgeddon is one of the features we’re really looking forward to releasing. We plan to make the game as accessible to modders as possible. The original games needed “dedication” to get involved with modding (although plenty of fans found ways to – and still are – modding Carma 1 and 2). So making the game even more accessible to the community to add their own content and mess around with the data that we release too, is something that’s going to be great and we can’t wait to see what comes out of it.
Rashid Sayed: Can you please talk about the damage model in the game and furthermore, how big the world is this time around?
Jason Garber: Masses of the game content can be damaged. As well as the cars and pedestrians which are the obvious stand-out assets that can be crushed, crumpled, ripped and split into component parts and twisted wrecks, there’s also the environmental accessories that can also be damaged and destroyed. It’s what’s central to the enjoyment of the game, so it’s the area getting most attention lavished on it.
The game isn’t a completely open world exploration-fest, as we’ve learned from some of our earlier levels that too large a scale of level can lead to a certain lack of focus to the core gameplay – wrecking your opponents or mowing down the population. So, we have a number of “levels”, which are pretty comparable in size to the levels in the original game. They allow for exploration and a good, long game if you decide to complete it by killing every single ped in the level. At the same time, you won’t get frustrated trying to find opponents.
Rashid Sayed: A lot of games, especially those that are independently published are making a move towards Linux, including Carmageddon: Reincarnation. Furthermore,Valve recently announced SteamOS and Steam Machines that are based on Linux. Do you think this will cause a major shift in the industry and will we see more and more games developed for SteamOS/Linux, especially after the Windows 8 fiasco?
Jason Garber: Personally I think that the SteamOS thing is interesting. Steam arguably ‘saved’ PC gaming and I think that was an excellent thing. We always planned to develop the Linux Carmageddon: Reincarnation version, so the SteamOS announcement is a welcome thing for us. It means that we will be able to provide people this experience from the get go.
Pramath Parijat: Lets talk about the gore. How are you planning to make it different from the classic games? Or is it still simply the case of running over the people? Will people respond in anyway and have advanced AI?
Jason Garber: We never used Gore without Humour. This will be the case now as well. We always felt that Carmageddon was a game full of humour, gore and gameplay. We want to give the player this feeling again. High velocity impacts with a good laugh thrown in. We are in the business of Killing Time, and we want you to have fun while we steal your time. Yes, you will run over people or cows. Yes, you will get hit by other cars and be smashed into small gory pieces. But we will make sure that happens with a smile.
Sound effects are tremendously important to this – we are working on getting a set of the squelchiest, grossest squishes, and meaty thuds that have ever been heard which will make the experience more hilariously over the top than ever.
There will be an excellent AI that will facilitate this feeling. What else would you expect from us?
Pramath Parijat: What is next for you, after Carmageddon Reincarnation?
Jason Garber: Frankly, I just want more Carmageddon. Now that we have the brand back, we are at the dawn of a new beginning. We see many, many more possibilities to expand the universe of Carmageddon stretching out towards us, an endless vista of crushed metal and giblets glistening in the early dawn light. But first, we focus on the one that’s right here and soon to be the one we’re all playing; Carmageddon: Reincarnation!