Developer Interview: QubicGames Tells Us All About AiRace Speed, 3DS Development and Nintendo in Poland
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Release dates and an exclusive first-look at gameplay footage inside
AiRace Speed was announced just recently, the third in the series after two rather enjoyable DSiWare releases in that franchise. With a promising statistic of 18 tracks and a reasonable price point of $4.99 in North America and €4.99 / £4.49 in Europe, combined with its solid predecessors, we were certainly drawn in. Unfortunately the admittedly snazzy CGI trailer was really a teaser without game footage that rather left us hanging. Naturally we wanted to know more.
Thankfully Mikael Bourget of Polish developer QubicGames was eager to tell more, and has shared the good news that the air racer will arrive on 19th September in North America and Europe. He's also told us all about it and given us an exclusive first look at the new gameplay trailer, which certainly looks full of potential; while we were at it we asked for his perspective on Nintendo's lack of presence in Poland, too. If you want to know and see what AiRace Speed is all about, check out the details below.
Mikael Bourget: The gameplay of AiRace Speed on Nintendo 3DS is close to AiRace: Tunnel as you are flying solo throughout the levels.
However there are three big differences from the DSi title:
- In AiRace Speed, the pilot can use nitro and brake at any time. In AiRace: Tunnel, the speed constantly increased without the possibility of controlling it. Now the gamer has total control of the jet. This gives much more value to the scoring system, supported by ranking leaderboards. The possibilities to improve skills and scores are almost endless.
- The levels are not automatically generated in AiRace Speed. They are all designed from scratch. This gives our designers total freedom to create surprising and tricky tracks. It’s definitely one of the biggest advantages of AiRace Speed for two reasons: firstly, the levels give players a spectacular gameplay experience, and secondly, they now feature shortcuts and split ways. It is therefore crucial to know the maps in order to achieve good finish times. The only exception is on the two endless levels, which are automatically generated.
- The 3D effects and the advanced graphics deliver a complete immersion, providing a unique feeling of speed and adrenaline.
Otherwise the game counts 18 tracks, which is more than in AiRace and AiRace: Tunnel together. These tracks bring the player into two distinct worlds.
The time spent to develop AiRace Speed is much bigger than for the previous titles. AiRace Speed took around 10 months whereas AiRace and AiRace: Tunnel required in total together 8 months of development.
NL: Is it possible to play AiRace Speed with other players?
MB: There is no multiplayer mode that allows players to race together on the same track. However everybody can compete with fellow competitors around the world through online ranking leaderboards. For each level it is possible to upload your score on a table displaying all other scores and the podium of the three best ones. There is also a special functionality allowing players to compare their scores with friends they have registered on their console.
NL: How many hours of gameplay can the players expect with AiRace Speed?
It depends on the players themselves. To unlock all achievements, we believe that more than 10 hours of gameplay are required, except perhaps for ridiculously talented gamers.
To complete all the levels, it probably takes around 3-5 hours.
But thanks to the ranking leaderboards the replay value is endless. AiRace Speed always gives the possibility to break records. Performing the absolute optimal race is probably unreachable by a human being. So there will always be one person on the top of the podium that every other player will want to beat. And this will happen on 18 different levels.
NL: We don't see too many Polish studios developing for Nintendo systems. Why has QubicGames been mainly releasing games on Nintendo platforms?
MB: A few years ago, Nintendo DSiWare was a perfect platform for us to create games. We wanted to develop for handheld devices and publish our titles digitally. After getting success with our DSi titles, such as AiRace, we kept on developing for Nintendo platforms and have released games on Wii and 3DS. Nintendo wasn’t as popular in Poland as in Western Europe or the USA. That probably explains why fewer developers were interested in developing for their systems, but we personally have always enjoyed Nintendo games and consoles.
NL: There have been recent reports about the limited, almost non-existent, availability of Nintendo systems and games in Polish retailers. Obviously this doesn't affect download releases such as your titles, but what are your thoughts on Nintendo distribution in Poland, and your experiences with availability?
MB: From our personal experiences we can say that it is difficult to buy Nintendo hardware and software from big retailers. The availability is indeed very limited. However for true Nintendo fans it is perfectly possible to get the console and the games from Internet and from smaller games dedicated shops. Of course this isn't helping to bring Nintendo to people not so familiar with the brand. And this makes a vicious circle as the consequences become the cause and vice versa. The market for Nintendo was always small in Poland.
NL: What were the challenges of creating a racing game on Nintendo 3DS, compared to Nintendo DSi?
MB: Obviously the biggest challenge was to handle the stereoscopic effect, which gives the unique 3D perspective. We had to design the levels with this in mind. For example, it was necessary to properly balance the contrasts and the colors to deliver a comfortable and clear experience visually. If you wish to know more about the development of the game, we invite you to read the “Behind the Scenes” articles posted on the AiRace Speed website: http://www.airacespeed.com/category/behind-the-scenes/.
NL: Your last title 2 Fast 4 Gnomz, released on the Wii and 3DS, was fairly challenging. Do you particularly enjoy making difficult games?
MB: I think that we, as gamers, just naturally give more credit to a game when it is challenging us. When we play we like to think “I’ll show you what I got, goddamn difficult game”. The feeling of accomplishment after completing what you fought for is just awesome.
And by the way we already want to announce: QubicGames is ready to compete on the leaderboards with all the gamers. Be ready to see our player name hang around the podiums of the different levels! We’re waiting for you to try to beat us hard!
NL: Do you plan to release AiRace Speed on other platforms?
MB: We want to get games from AiRace series on other platforms and we already began the design and prototyping phase. However we can't confirm anything at the moment because we are not sure whether we’ll be satisfied with the gameplay and controls on those alternative platforms.
What we can say for sure is that we are going to release AiRace Speed for Nintendo 3DS in Japan.
NL: Do you already plan to continue the AiRace series with a new title after AiRace Speed?
MB: We are already working on continuing the AiRace Series on Nintendo platforms but we can’t tell more details about what it will be and what it will be called.
NL: Thanks for your time, do you have a final AiRace Speed pitch for the Nintendo Life readers?
MB: Sure! It’s a package of:
18 Spectacular tracks including endless ones, Scoring leaderboards, clever level design, immersive experience with good graphics and 3D effect, challenge at high-speed, achievements system. And all this at only $4,99, 4,99€ or £4,49.
Plus it’s the latest sequel of a popular and praised racing series. And last but not least the jets look awesome!
AiRace Speed arrives on the 3DS eShop in North America and Europe on 19th September. Now you can direct your eyeballs to our early-look exclusive of gameplay footage for the game — let us know what you think in the comments below.