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Fatal Inertia Interview

With E3 just days away (OH YES!!!) IGN has an interview with Fatal Inertia producer Takazumi Tomoike and Lead Designer Michael Bond. Here are some of the more interesting comments:
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IGN: Traditionally, KOEI has been known for its historical simulations and hack ‘n slash action games. When did the decision to create a racer come about and can you tell us how you came up with the concept?

Bond: I decided to propose a game concept to the company in the early spring of 2005 because I was eager for KOEI Canada to work on a game that appealed primarily to the North American market. I’ve always been a big fan of racing/combat games (Super Mario Kart for the SNES is still my all-time favorite game) and so I wanted a shot at making one.

At the same time, I felt that what most games on the market were missing was more physical interaction between elements in the game world. I believe that this greatly enhances the “feel” of a game and, consequently, the fun as well. Fatal Inertia was conceived to be an arcade-style racing/combat game with the realistic “feel” of a racing simulation.

Hmm so Super Mario Kart is the inspiration for Fatal Inertia….

IGN: How long has Fatal Inertia been in development and when did you get PS3 beta kits? Was this ever intended for different systems or was it always conceived as a PS3 project?

Tomoike: We started our project sometime in the spring of 2005. Because KOEI has a good relationship with SCE, so we got some PS3 dev kits in the early stages of development. And yes, Fatal Inertia was always intended to be a PS3 launch title.

IGN: Were there any major creative influences that played a role in Fatal Inertia’s development?

Bond: This may sound surprising but Katamari Damacy was one of the major original influences behind Fatal Inertia. I really liked the idea of piling more and more stuff onto a player’s character, changing the gameplay at the same time. For FI, we are aiming to extend this idea to the game’s weapons. The player can attach various magnetic items to other player’s vehicles, changing the way they drive.

… turns out Katamari Damacy is the real inspiration for FI.

IGN: Let’s talk about that then. What makes Fatal Inertia a true next-generation title? Beyond its visuals, how does it take gaming to the next level?

Bond: Physics, baby! I’m really excited about the amount of physical interaction in Fatal Inertia during a race. I think this level of interaction makes the gameplay much more varied and fun than was possible with the previous generation of consoles.

IGN: Speaking of the last generation of consoles, there have been several “racing action” games of this type in the past. WipEout and Slipstream 5000 specifically come to mind and are generally considered benchmarks for the genre. What will Fatal Inertia offer the genre that those games and others like it didn’t?

Bond: FI will offer significantly more interesting and interactive tracks and weapons than other combat/racing games on the market. Previous games tended to have courses that were very restrictive and linear with few obstacles or interactive features. Our aim is that Fatal Inertia will have orders of magnitude, more obstacles, and interactive elements than ever seen before in a racing game.

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Wipeout on PSone played a huge part in turning the PlayStation mainstream back in the day but the other games in the series failed to build on it’s early success. Maybe Fatal Inertia will succeed where WipEout failed….

IGN: And how about the story? How far into the future is this? Is it on an alien planet? Is it on Earth? Regardless, will the story play a role in what happens or is this more of a pure racing title with a plotline that just serves as a backdrop?

Bond: Fatal Inertia is set on Earth, roughly a hundred years from now in the early 22nd century. Extreme sports have become the primary entertainment for the world’s population and FI is one of the most popular. Competitions take place far from cities due to the high level of danger.

We had considered adding a more involved storyline to the game at one point but decided that we wanted to focus our time on gameplay with such a short development cycle. I think very few people play this type of game for the story. The most important thing is how much fun it is to play against your buddies.

Less story more action then! Can racing blast em ups have a story or is that just pointless side salad distracting you from your 12oz sirloin steak?

IGN: How about the tracks and vehicles? How many of each can we expect to see?

Bond: We are aiming for seven complete maps with many, many tracks defined in each. There will be four basic vehicle types with almost limitless customizable part combinations.

Hmm four basic vehicle types. That doesn’t sound like a lot to me. How different will these “almost limitless customizable part combinations” be & will they be superficial or will they actually have an affect on the gameplay? Seven maps with “many, many tracks”, how many is er…many exactly?

IGN: How important a role will Sony’s newly announced online network have in Fatal Inertia? Is multiplayer a big focus?

Bond: Yes, multiplayer is definitely a big focus for FI. We strongly feel that playing the game against other people greatly increases the fun.

IGN: Downloadable content?

Bond: We haven’t prepared this yet, but we are considering it.

Looks like we will be hearing a lot about Sony’s online network. I just hope they still devote enough time to making the offline gaming experience worthwile.

IGN: Originally the PlayStation 3 was scheduled for a spring 2006 launch and Fatal Inertia was always intended to come out along with it. With the extra time that the move to November has given the team, have you taken advantage of it and included or modified anything new that might not have made it otherwise?

Bond: We are using the extra time to flesh out and polish the existing game. We’re very focused on quality and Sony’s postponement of the PS3 has allowed us to make the game that much better.

IGN: Is Fatal Inertia planned as a launch title in every territory?

Tomoike: FI will be launched simultaneously in Japan, North America and Europe!

There you have it. FI a launch game in all territories at roughly the same time.

And finally the important part….

IGN: Will the game be playable at E3 and if so, which stage or area can we expect to see?

Tomoike: Yes, We will have an early demo that is playable at the show.

Bond: The demo will include several maps that range from wind-swept canyons to giant swamps and arctic tundra.

😀 I’m looking forward to seeing this in action.

IGN – Fatal Inertia Interview

IGN – Images of Fatal Inertia

IGN – TGS Trailer for Fatal Inertia