Wednesday April 26, 2017

Former Burnout Developers Announce "Crash Mode" Successor Danger Zone

When former Criterion Software founders Fiona Sperry and Alex Ward left EA to start their own studio, Three Fields Entertainment, they concentrated on smaller projects such as a golf game and a Playstation VR title. Now they are returning to their race car roots with Danger Zone. Danger Zone isn't a racing game though; it is the spiritual successor to Burnout's crash mode! In this game each level is effectively a destruction puzzle where you drive your car at breakneck speeds into various vehicles that explode in a spectacular chain reaction of sparks, fuel and body panels. Falling off the track disqualifies you, but the more vehicles that you can incinerate stacks your multiplier until your vehicle becomes a remote detonated bomb.

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Seems like a really cool concept and estimated to be around $10 or so at launch for the PC and PS4 only! Right now the studio is small as it only has six employees; thus limiting their porting capabilities to only two platforms at a time. The game uses Unreal Engine 4, so it should be a visual treat for the eyes and also maintain a good frame rate. Of particular interest to me was the effect that Unreal Engine 4 was having on the development time cycle of titles coming from the small fledgling studio. The ease of use and power baked into Unreal Engine 4 is allowing the studio to create titles in a four month window. This is crucial to the survival of the company as they have no publishing deal or financial backing from investors. Sales of one title feeds the development of a future title. If this title is a success, I hope that they can get the funding to create a full destruction racer with the depth of Burnout!

"Unreal is incredibly powerful," Ward said. "Tuning the game right now, I can play a game and in the middle of the crash I can stop and move the pickups around, or change what traffic vehicle I want to appear in front of me, press play and do it again. "Back in the day, that would have taken 18 minutes. To move something half an inch and then look at it again on-screen, at least between 18 and 26 minutes. And back then we were one of the fastest teams in the world. Our pipeline was incredibly fast! Other teams would be 24 hours before you could do that."