D2C Games Interview: SPOGS Racing
Posted by Darren Calvert
Since the very first screenshot in Nintendo Power many of our readers have been itching to find out more about SPOGS Racing.
This looks set to be a fun arcade racing game, where you can smash into your opponents and steal their parts. Rather than playing as a whole car, you just play as a wheel – you can tell this game doesn’t take itself too seriously.
To give you the inside scoop on this upcoming game we caught up with Scott Orr, the CEO of D2C Games to find out more. Find out what he had to tell WiiWare World in this exclusive interview:
WiiWare World: As developers what attracted you to WiiWare as opposed to more established services such as XBLA or the PlayStation Network?
Scott Orr: We’re developing and executing on our plan to support multiple console online services. We focused on WiiWare first because the Wii platform and gamer is ideal for the kind of products we’re developing and Nintendo is very supportive of developers/publishers creating innovative new products for the platform.
WW: We understand that SPOGS stands for ‘Sports Player Object Gyros’. Where did this idea originate from?
SO: The look of the SPOGS comes from our lead 3D artist David Renneker ("The Spogfather") and the name from our lead designer/creative director Keith Orr. What’s unique about the SPOGS racers aside from the ability to customize and literally "put your face in the race", is that the vehicles are modeled on 4-wheel vehicles and behave accordingly. It gives our game a unique, personalized look with play mechanics and “car feel” that gamers are used to and will immediately grasp.
WW: What current games would you compare SPOGS to? What were your inspirations?
SO: SPOGS Racing was inspired by racing games like Andretti Racing (which I designed and produced for EA in the early 90s), Hard Drivin’ and cartoon racers like Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing. The idea of using SPOGS evolved from development of our Chalkboard Sports game series (to be released later this year) and a desire to create a unique vehicle that could be personalized and customized like never before.
WW: The idea of crashing into other players sounds like fun. Other than inflicting damage what else can you do?
SO: Crash ‘n Grab mode is not only a lot of fun but it’s a real innovation in racing games. The core idea is that for the first time in an arcade racing game, drivers can literally upgrade their cars (SPOGS) on the fly during a race. It adds a whole new dimension to the game since you can both take better parts from and/or lose parts to human or AI competitors. This feature is also used to upgrade SPOGS racers to use in Season mode rather than the traditional garage or parts store where you “buy” upgrade parts between races. It turned out even better than we envisioned and we hope racing gamers of all skill levels will enjoy this new racing game experience.
WW: Are the tracks traditional racing circuits or more geared up for doing crazy stunts?
SO: We offer a little of everything in the 12 tracks featured in the game: simple oval tracks to get a feel for the game and the SPOGS racers; challenging road courses that keep racers on edge and are specially designed for 2-player head-to-head action; and, insane stunt tracks that literally turn you upside down or make you fly over deep canyons as you rack up achievement bonus points.
WW: Will SPOGS support any online features?
SO: We are not supporting any online features in this first version of the game but we do plan to have them in future games.
WW: We heard a rumour that SPOGS will have downloadable episodic content. Can you tell us more about this?
SO: One of the advantages of digital download distribution is the ability to provide our customers with new features and game content on an ongoing basis. We're considering putting out RacerPacks in the future with new tracks, new SPOGS racers and other content that expands the game experience. Stay tuned.
WW: You have an impressive track record in video game development. A staggering amount of these are sports games such as Madden. Is this a taste of things to come with D2C Games?
SO: Yes, we are focused on creating and publishing casual sports games that are easy to pick up and play, emphasize fun over complexity and bring family and friends together to socialize and share content they've personalized and customized. We also have a few arcade action games on the drawing boards including a “battle” action franchise that was a big hit in the 90s.
WW: Can you tell us more about any other WiiWare games you have in development?
SO: We're working on the first of our Chalkboard Sports series games for a fall '08 release - look for an official announcement later this summer - and several more WiiWare games are in pre-production.
We're also finishing up a retail Wii game that will be published by Crave Entertainment this fall based on professional bull riders. It offers all the action and excitement of the PBR, including licensed riders and bulls, solo and head-to-head play (one gamer as the rider, the other as the bull) and a rich feature set. It's a classic sports, mano-a-mano battle that really takes advantage of the Wii controllers and brings a whole new sports game experience to Wii gamers.
WW: A number of our readers are becoming increasingly concerned with the limitations of the Wii’s internal memory capacity. As a WiiWare developer does concern you?
SO: Yes, we had to deal with the memory limitations on SPOGS Racing but our developer Pronto Games is very experienced dealing with limited memory game platforms and on the design and production side we have been creating sports games since the days of the Super NES and Sega Genesis that technically pale in comparison to the Wii. That experience gives us a real advantage in developing WiiWare games that really take advantage of the Wii's capabilities. As mentioned earlier, we're also looking at offering episodic download content that lets gamers expand and enhance our games which helps offset the fact that WiiWare game downloads are limited to 40 Megs.
WW: When will SPOGS be released in North America and Europe?
SO: We're targeting a June release in North America and a July release in Europe.