View Full Version : burnout 5 preview.

self biased
18-09-2006, 02:54:08
link to article scans (http://www.forums.e-mpire.com/showthread.php?t=61832)

Some pics in that thread, including work in progress shots and overall map of Paradise City!
http://xs.to/xs.php?h=xs206&d=06374&f=scan0005.jpg for the map

The rest:

Looks like maybe the airport section of Burnout 2 will be back. Downtown area looks like New York and they mention the mountains are from Montana. Lots of tasty hints about what to look forward to.

Full text of the feature:

Take Me Down in Paradise City
Dana Jongewaard

Burnout 5 crashes into the next generation

Criterion Games is aiming for the world with Burnout 5, starting with your PlayStation 3. The company is taking its love of speed, explosions, and fire to the next generation in order to create some of the craziest and most beautiful crashes in gaming. After all, as one of the team members put it: "A f***ed-up car is a beautiful thing."

Future Perfect

"If you couldn't make a great game on the PlayStation 2, you can't make a good game on the PlayStation 3," says Alex Ward, the director of game design for Burnout 5.

We're sitting in a conference room at Criterion's offices in Guildford, England, a suburb southwest of London. Criterion, which spun off from a research group at the European division of Canon (the Japanese electronics giant known mostly for its cameras) back in 1993, put out its first game back in 1996. It wasn't until 2001 that the company released a game on Sony hardware (the PS2 hoverboard title Airblade). And it wasn't until 2004 and the release of Burnout 3 (which earned OPM's Game of the Year title) that people really sat up and took notice.

While the previous Burnouts have all built on the technology of their predecessors, Burnout 5 is going back to page one. "For us, this is a total reset from one generation to the other," says Ward. "One of our goals is to be truly 'next generation,' and that means starting from the ground up."

One reason for that mind-set: This is Criterion's first time around with the new system, and the team doesn't want to make incorrect assumptions about its capabilities. Alex Fry, the game's technical director, explains: "The first thing you have to do when you get new hardware is learn it. Beating it into submission doesn't make sense; you have to work with it." By the team's estimate, just one of the machine's seven synergistic processing elements (SPEs) has more power in it than the entire emotion engine of the PS2.

But learning the technology is only part of the reason. "We know the audience is expecting a leap, and we don't want to disappoint our audience," Ward says. "If, the first time you see the cars wreck [in Burnout 5], you don't think, 'That's why I bought the PlayStation 3; the next gen is here,'--if you think, 'Eh, it's a little better,' or 'It did that last time,'--then we haven't gotten there. So that's why the first thing we have to nail is the crashing."

self biased
18-09-2006, 02:54:57
Crash Into Me

Everyone marveled at the amazing results that Criterion's software got from the PS2, but it took some tough decisions to get there. If the team wanted to spend more of the computing power on graphics, they'd have to pull back in another area, such as audio. If they wanted to keep that sense of speed, the number of objects running physics might need to be dialed down. But not anymore. Thanks to the Cell processor, they're now able to truly get graphics, physics, and audio to work together as a team to create some of the most mind-blowing videogame effects ever seen. Executive producer Matt Webster explains: "Cell has lifted limitations, and those are the two areas that win--audio and physics. And, in particular, our own brand of how we use those."

Having physics in a game means that objects respond to contact with the environment as they would in the real world; doing that takes a lot of computing power. On the PS2, the car being driven might have been operating according to the laws of physics, but the other cars flying off to the side were simply running scripted responses, which meant that they were all behaving the same way. With the PS3, that's finally changed. "Now we don't ever have to walk the line on what's running physics and what's not," says producer Hamish Young. "It all is."

The physics will have a lot more parts to work with as well. Whereas cars in Burnout Revenge were composed of 12 different parts, cars in Burnout 5 will now have 80 different pieces that can get blown off in a collision.

But merely copying reality isn't what Criterion wants to do. "We see a lot of teams trying for 'real physics'--which we translate into 'boring physics,'" Young continues. "But where we differ from them is that they try [to] get it accurate, whereas we're not trying to get it accurate--we're trying to get it believable and spectacular."

That's why now you'll see much more spectacular crashes. Roofs can be shorn off, and you'll be able to see cars get torn completely in half. Young beams, "A takedown's going to be so much more rewarding--if you take a guy down and he hits a cross-traffic truck and blows into pieces, it's such a bigger moment than when it hits a car and bounces off."

Ward adds: "Real physics don't make for great gameplay all the time. If we want to blow the car up, we'll blow the car up. Like when they blew up the Death Star--there's no fire in space."

Adding to the experience will be audio, which is taking a huge leap on the new hardware. Webster explains, "Audio was shortchanged on the last generation, but the PS3 has lifted the restrictions. They had 32 voices on the PS2; on the PS3, they're getting 1,000. On the PS2, they had a couple of megabytes of RAM; now, they're getting 10 times that much."

Nick Laviers, the game's audio director, explains the goal of his team. "When you make sound for a film, you're always looking for that special sound that describes that moment," he says. "It's not just going to tell you that a car smashed into a wall; it's also going to tell you, 'Bloody hell--no one could possibly ever have survived that!' You don't see human beings in Burnout--it's all about cars--so we're going to use the audio to give a human aspect to it."

They experimented with adding nontraditional sounds--such as a panther's scream--to crashes in Burnout Revenge; this time, all the crash audio is out of the ordinary. They play a sound sample of a collision--complete with spine-tingling shrieking and jaw-tightening crunches--and then tell us that no metal was used to create it. "Going back to the idea that absolutely real is a bit boring, there's a lot of audio in there that isn't traditional," Laviers says. Instead, the audio clip includes samples from trees, electricity, and apes in pain.

What's also amazing about next-gen sound is that, instead of being canned, it'll be customized for each collision. "For the first time ever, we'll really be able to tailor the audio," Laviers tells us. "What we're able to do is basically have crash AI, which will analyze what's happening and will decide which particular sounds to use for that moment." That means that the sounds you hear for every single crash will be different from the last.

He concludes, "We want to put the player into the crash--not just watching it vicariously, not just feel like you're watching it on TV--and actually [make the player] feel really involved."

self biased
18-09-2006, 02:56:01
Wide Open Spaces

It's not just physics and audio that are getting more room to stretch out. In fact, the tracks are getting so much space that they're not "tracks" anymore--they're an entire seamless world. "We could have done the world four years ago," Ward says, "but we didn't, because we would've had to compromise on other things like the speed."

Right now, the world is still in the process of being constructed, and the team is currently working on the layout; once they've finalized where everything is going to go and included all the layers and shortcuts, they'll start adding the stuff that makes the Burnout games all look so amazing. Right now, none of that's there. But there's a car and a world, so the team hands us the controller and sets us loose to explore.

Richard Franke, the world designer, explains how they've gotten to this point: "We analyzed the layouts of some big American cities and cross-referenced those against the best tracks from previous Burnouts. We can't go actual size--we've had to be a little constrained--but we're definitely bigger than any other open world in any other racing game."

They estimate that it will take about five or six minutes driving uninterrupted at top speed to get from one side to the other. We're up in the mountains to the west of the city at present, but, looking down, we can see the smokestacks and skyscrapers in the distance. Adding iconic landmarks is extremely important to the team, as they want you to be able to navigate by looking around rather than by having to continuously examine the map. "That's something we hate from some of the other open-world games--it kind of looks generic; there's repetition of areas, and that's why you're always having to look to see where you are," says Ward. "It's 'How good of a cab driver are you?' It takes away the focus from the main experience."

As in prior Burnouts, the city itself is made-up, but all of the sections are based on real-life places--for example, the mountains have been lifted straight out of Montana, the downtown area is based on New York City, the docks are from Shanghai, and that dam you get to zip across is modeled after the Hoover Dam. The team will be visiting all of these locations in person to capture video footage so they can replicate the flavor of each area as closely as possible.

As Ward watches us buzz around the world, he says, "That's another barrier to break in next generation--where not playing the game is the game. To me, two games really turned me onto how powerful the whole open world could be for Burnout--one was Need for Speed Most Wanted, and the other was Mercenaries. What we're also aware of this time is that if not playing the game is as fun as the game, then we're in."

World in Motion

"How do we make this arcade experience more realistic?" asks lead game designer Paul Glancy. "Obviously, the open world is part of it--instead of bouncing around the world and going in and out of menus, now you're all in one big world."

In Criterion's offices, there's a board with fake driver's licenses for every team member, and the concept of a license is the mechanic that's going to drive Burnout 5. "Our progression is based on real-world driving offenses, and it's sort of real--but with a Burnout twist," explains Glancy. "An obvious one would be speeding, but in Burnout, you're speeding all the time, so that wouldn't be very difficult. So now it's about how long can you speed, how much over the speed limit you can go."

Ward pulls out a sheet from the Missouri Driver's License Bureau listing various offenses; the team looked to this sheet for inspiration when coming up with offenses. And then there are the violations that receive their own unique Burnout twists. For example, players will again be able to chain boost like back in Burnout 2, except now it's called "driving under the influence of boost." Oh, and although there are now traffic violations, there won't be cop cars running around enforcing the laws, a la Need for Speed Most Wanted.

One concern was that players not be forced into the situation of having to "find the fun"--in other words, having to drive around until they stumble upon an event. To that end, each car will have 10 different driving violations attached to it; one might be that you need to take a vehicle at top speed through opposing traffic for 20 miles. While this gives players goals that can be achieved anywhere, it also encourages them to make full use of every car that's available instead of sticking with one vehicle for most of the game. There'll also be location-specific events, too--in all, approximately 200 offenses will be attached to different locations throughout the world.

In addition to the violations, you'll also be competing against 34 different rivals--and having a persistent world means that your rivals are a constant presence, rather than starting fresh at the beginning of each race. "We're trying to make the online and offline components as close as we can to one another," says Glancy.

To help with that, the rivals' AI will allow them to remember all of your interactions, and their behavior will follow accordingly. A few nasty encounters and they'll get more aggressive and start seeking you out. Beat them down a few more times, and they'll start to get scared of you. Eventually, when you've fully asserted your dominance, they'll start to flee when they see you. When they hit this point, you can chase them and catch them; this is how you add new cars to your stable.

The team wanted to do away with menus, so while the world itself will offer objectives--and there will definitely be events--you won't be selecting them from a list. One mode that's getting a huge overhaul is Crash mode, which has been blown wide open. You can now initiate a crash at any point and from any angle--with just the press of a button, the experience begins. Instead of a time limit, now the crash event will continue as long as traffic is piling up. Crash modifiers--such as the x2 and Heartbreaker from Burnout 3--are also being brought back into the mode. This time, instead of just sitting loose on the road, they'll be attached to certain vehicles, which will bear some sort of signifier indicating what they could do for your total. And while you can trigger a crash at any point--even in the middle of an event--there also are 50 different crash black spots that you'll need to find, which can all be played and replayed like the traditional crash junctions of prior Burnouts.

The specifics of how all the other events will trigger is still being worked out, but you'll have control over what you're playing. "If all you dig is road rage, you can drive around starting that up," Ward promises. "We're not going to say, 'Now you must do a traffic attack, then you must do a single race, then you must do this.' We want to say: 'Here are all the things you can do; how you get there is up to you.'"

Oh, and one other thing: Every area of the world will be accessible from the beginning. Accumulating violations will unlock more opportunities within the game, but no part of the city will ever be off-limits. "We always think it's funny in some of the other open-world games where the world is locked off," says Ward. "Our world is open from the start. The number of rivals and events available will be gradually unlocked, but the whole bloody world is open."

self biased
18-09-2006, 02:57:10
Community Service

The team is making some big changes for Burnout 5, but one of the areas they feel most compelled to reinvent is online play. "We think it's our duty to expand online gaming beyond this PC paradigm of frags, deathmatches, and who's No. 1 in the world." Ward says. "We've played Burnout Revenge on Xbox Live, and we suck--I'm like 6,000th in the world. We get hosed at our own game."

Young chimes in. "We've seen a lot of online games based on who's the best in the world, and that's incredibly niche because you can only have, by definition, a few people who can be the best in the world. We want to appeal to the mass consumer, in that most people are more interested in playing their friends and people at their level and beating up people online. If you have a focus on who's the best in the world, it's not very personal. So the real focus for us has been on getting away from who's No. 1."

Kiana Mohseni, Burnout 5's online producer, explains the underlying concept for the team's online plan. "Revenge 360 was the test bed for us; it was about tracking 1-on-1 relationships," she says. "And so our whole vision for Burnout 5 online is based on tracking personal relationships."

With Burnout Revenge on the 360, the team started exploring some ways to make this happen. For example, they took information that the game naturally tracks and used it to make introductions between people. Revenge on Xbox Live also remembers whom gamers have played, reminds them of how many times they've already competed, and keeps track of the overall score between players. And the team's going to take this basic idea much further with Burnout 5.

"One feature we're building is called 'Marked Man,'" Mohseni says. "When you play online, you often hear people telling you, 'Oh, I'm going to come and get you this time.' So basically, we built that into the game, and people can 'mark' you." If you succeed, you get a snapshot of your opponent mid-takedown, which gets added to your trophy gallery.

However, the team wants everyone to have a fighting chance. As Ward says, "If you turn up and get your ass handed to you, you don't want to go back--it isn't fun. If there's somewhere you can go where you have a chance, then it's more interesting to me."

And that's why you'll have the opportunity to retaliate if you're marked, too. "That's what we call 'Dirty Tricks,'" Mohseni explains. "A Dirty Trick is where I can mess with your steering wheel or your brakes or lock your boost permanently on. And it's basically a weapon that will help level the playing field for people of different skill levels."

When asked about downloadable content, the team confirms that, yes, it will be available, but Ward would only hint at what it might be: "All I can say is that what we've seen so far [of downloadable content] tends to be fluffy, and we believe modes are where it's at."

There's a lot more in store, but we're not going to find out about it just yet. "We could tell you about five things that we're doing right now, but we can't tell you, because we might throw it away," Ward explains. "The greatest thing we've learned is that just because we've written it doesn't mean we can't delete it." We appreciate that kind of perfectionism--as long as it doesn't delay our chance to get our hands on the finished game.

Inspiration Information

One of the places the audio team is looking for inspiration is C'etait un rendez-vous, a 1976 short film by French director Claude Lelouch. The eight-minute movie is a single cut of a person driving through the streets of Paris at speeds of up to 125 mph (according to Lelouch), running red lights and swerving around other traffic. While the car used to make the film was a 6.9L Mercedes-Benz, the audio is actually from a Ferrari 275GTB; the sound from an engine capable of higher revving actually increases the overall sense of speed in the film. Check it out for yourself at .

Crash Team

Several members of the development team, clad in their freshly delivered Burnout 5 shirts. From left, Steve Uphill, art director; Paul Glancy, lead game designer; Nick Laviers, audio director; Alex Ward, director of game design; Yuta Nakamura, senior car modeler; Kiana Mohseni, online producer; Matt Webster, executive producer; Lewis James, sound designer; Hamish Young, producer; Gavin Rouse, programmer; John Twigg, lead audio engineer; and Emily Newton-Dunn, producer.

Get the Keys and Go

The car selection in Burnout 5 is getting away from the racer-heavy roster of Burnout Revenge and is adding some of the fun vehicles from Burnout 3. "It's a cross section of everything we've loved in all our games," says Ward. "In some cases, we couldn't work out why they should be in the new game, but we also couldn't work out why they shouldn't be in the new game."

Ridin' in My Car

While not having licensed cars is great for the Burnout team in some ways--for example, the way that lets you blow them up--it does present its own unique challenge. "If you show a fake car, it can be the most beautifully modeled thing in the world, but it's still a fake car," Ward explains. "We haven't been as smart as we could have been in how we present them."

Enter the real world: The team has been looking places such as car magazines and TV shows to see how they can help build an emotional attachment to a vehicle by means of presentation. One thing they're exploring is displaying new cars in the game like they might appear in advertisements, while another is giving each individual car its own iconic song.

Paradise City

Here you can see a work-in-progress map of the world, with many of the key landmarks visible. That's the airport on the island to the right; the mountains are at the west; you can even pick out the dam just off of the city. And yes, the name of the world is indeed Paradise City. And yes, it is indeed named after the Guns N' Roses song. Some of the team members had been using the phrase "appetite for destruction" when talking about the game, and "Paradise City" naturally followed.

self biased
18-09-2006, 02:58:41
Full Tilt

Two tidbits about the controller:

1. The Burnout team is planning to make full use of the PS3 controller's tilt functionality within the game. One place you'll see it is in Crash mode: Through controller manipulation, you'll be able to control your car's trajectory and flipping. And yes, the use of tilt will show up in other parts of the game--but for now, the team is remaining mum on specifics.

2. Because the controller shape has evolved slightly and the R2 and L2 buttons have become more triggerlike, Burnout 5's controls have changed from those of previous games. Now R2 is the accelerator, L2 is the brake, and X is boost. However, the team plans to include the ability to remap the controls if you prefer the old layout.

Office Space

The area where the Burnout 5 development team works is filled with boards covered in Post-it Notes, which, in essence, serve as the template for the game structure. "We're not like other developers in the sense that on our server there's not one single design document sitting there that's going to tell you the whole game from start to finish," Ward says. "There are a great many cool games made that way, and I almost wish we could do that. But we don't do it because it would be boring to write, we'd have a big argument about it anyway, and in the time it'd take to write, we could have built stuff." Another advantage to such a public method of plotting the game design is that when changes get made everyone who needs to know can automatically see them.

Look at Me

Another component of the new world of PlayStation online that the team is excited about is the personal aspect that the camera is going to add. "Camera is the next thing--it's the biggest thing since voice," says Ward. "We love it."
September 14, 2006

The official Criterion website is worth bookmarking too for future news. One promising thing is in the section for Burnout Revenge where they talk about the future of online game features.

How much does Live Revenge define your approach to developing the next generation of online games?

AW (Alex Ward): Online version 1.0 has been Ďhereís the game, itís the same gameplay with the same levels as offline, but there are just more players and you have to make your own game out of that.í

Weíre moving towards the second stage of online where itís up to the developers to use that technology to provide that new game experience. Live Revenge is a step towards that. Itís about scoring, game framework, options, personalising options, game rules.

Iím amazed at the lack of game rules in many games online. Itís still tied to PC games from ten years ago. In shooting games itís all Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. Now I think weíre going to have more people online, with cameras and voice. Thatís the exciting part. Burnout had Save and Share and Live Revenge. Whatís Gran Turismo going to do? Whatís Metal Gear going to be online? I want to know what my favourite games are going to do online thatís different.

If youíre just saying, ďWeíve got 100 players onlineĒÖ Well, we could make a soccer game with 50-a-side. But the game rules need to escalate. Are there four goals now? Is the pitch scaled up? Do you get to play without a referee? It shouldn ít just be the same old rules.

We were reading about 'Gun' this morning on PSP, and they have a quick-draw duel on link-up. Thatís cool. Itís what you expect given the concept of the game. Itís not just Capture The Flag.

Weíre going to get to greater numbers of people connecting than ever before, so weíve got to work harder to deliver the best new experiences we could be giving them. If itís all just Deathmatch, thatís a failure.

gratuitously stolen from operationburnout.com

Qaj the Fuzzy Love Worm
18-09-2006, 07:21:40

19-09-2006, 16:19:35
I'm a big fan of the burnout series but whether they can put enough new things in it to make me upgrade is another question.

i may not buy a ps3 at all, so if it doesn't hit xbox 360...