The Riptide GP franchise took the mobile gaming world by storm, turbo charged by NVIDIA Tegra technology. The water-based game showcased amazing waves and visual effects. Developer Vector Unit has continued to focus on racing games across water and land with its Beach Buggy franchise. Beach Buggy Racing adds multiplayer kart-style racing to the mix. Matt Small, creative director at Vector Unit, explains how the newest racing title delivers an experience closer to the company’s console roots in this exclusive interview.
What were your goals heading into this game?
Beach Buggy Blitz was a big hit for us (it's been played by over 30 million people), so we knew when we made the sequel we wanted to do something special and different with the game, instead of just add new areas to explore. Beach Buggy Blitz was a single player, endless runner type game, and one of the biggest requests we got was to add races. Beach Buggy has always been about playful destruction as well as driving, so it seemed natural to add weapons like fireworks and oil slicks to the game, and turn it into a full-on kart racer with power-ups. So that was our goal setting out for Beach Buggy Racing, to create a mobile kart-racing version of Beach Buggy Blitz.
What’s the storyline in this mobile game world?
The story line is basically a band of misfits racing around tropical off-road environments around the world. We've added more backstory to the characters in this version. Rez, the main character, is a rebel-without-a-cause type; Roxie is a roller derby bruiser; Benny, the cigar-chomping guy in a bunny suit, is an out-of-work party performer. We've put a lot more focus on the characters with more animations and boss characters.
Can you talk about the gaming experience and how it utilizes tablet and smartphone functionality?
Like all of our games, we'll support tilt and touchscreen control configurations as well as Bluetooth gamepad controls. We're also always looking to push the latest graphics capabilities, and in this game we'll have full support for OpenGL ES 3.0, with real time shadows and lighting, and other screen effects. And of course we'll still scale the capabilities so that gamers on older phones can enjoy it as well.
What does your game brings new to the genre?
Most kart racing games have 6 to 10 power-ups that you can use when you're racing like missiles and traps. Our game has almost 30, and we're going to be adding more. As you progress through the game, you can unlock crazier and crazier power-ups like a multi-headed Hydra missile, a spring that throws people into the air and an exploding chicken crate.
What excites you about what you can accomplish in mobile gaming today?
As more and more people play games on mobile, they're increasingly demanding deeper and richer game experiences. It's really exciting now to make a deep, satisfying game with lots of content and options, and know that people will appreciate it and play it through. And the technology is just skyrocketing every year. It really feels pretty limitless, what we can do with the visuals in the game.
How do you feel you're pushing things forward with this game?
In addition to the gameplay and graphics, we are really striving to create an experience that people can enjoy everywhere. You can play Beach Buggy Racing on your phone when you're on the bus, and then switch (with cloud-syncing) over to your tablet when you're at the cafe, and then when you get home you can turn on Android TV, or plug in your phone to an HDMI cable, pull out your gamepad, and keep playing on your HDTV. It's a really seamless experience, and it means you can play anywhere you want, at any time.
How have you worked with NVIDIA on your game?
NVIDIA's engineering team has always been really helpful to us both in providing feedback and performance analysis, and in pointing out potential graphics features we may not have thought of utilizing before. They also help keep us in the loop knowing what new hardware is coming down the pipe, so we can anticipate where the latest in mobile technology is headed and try to take advantage of it.
How does your game make use of the latest Tegra K1 technology?
The latest Tegra K1 chips can take full advantage of OpenGL ES 3.0, which we're using for lighting and particle enhancements. Also, of course, all of the Tegra-based devices will get superlative frame rates and high resolutions.
How does this impact the gameplay experience across the platforms you’re targeting?
We actually take pains to have the technology specific features in our games not affect gameplay itself. We want everyone, from people playing on the latest and greatest handsets to those playing on two-year-old hardware, to enjoy the same great game and be able to compete with each other fairly on the leaderboards. However, if you have a bleeding-fast phone or tablet, you'll get high frame rates at full resolution, and that can definitely help improve your game.
What are your thoughts on NVIDIA Shield?
We're fans of the Shield. If you're a mobile gamer and you enjoy hardcore games like racers and first-person shooters, it's a really great solution. Also, being able to mirror your game to the TV, or play games from your PC on your Shield is really cool.
What does SHIELD open up for your game?
We come from a console game development background originally, so we like playing games with gamepads and joysticks. Of course with Beach Buggy Racing you can chose how you want to play, and you can switch fluidly between touch, tilt and gamepad. But with the Shield the gamepad is just there and it works out of the box. It's like a little game console in your hands.