Legacy Interview

Saturday, October 26, 2002.
Midtown Madness 3 Box artMidtown Madness 3

From the creators of Rallisport Challenge comes Midtown Madness 3! We speak with Andreas Axelsson of Digital Illusions on this highly anticipated title.

Q: First off we'd like to thank you for taking the time out to talk to us, congratulate the team on your success with Rallisport Challenge and (most importantly) thank you for taking one of the Madness titles past number two. Can you tell our readers who you are what exactly it is that you do?

A: My Name is Andreas Axelsson. I'm 29 years old and I am the producer for Midtown 3 at Digital Illusions. I steer the ship so to speak, and work with Microsoft, our design, art, sound and code leads to set up our goals and follow up the work from start to finish. I have a background as programmer so I tend to do some programming whenever I can too.

Q: First question would have to be are you guys nervous/excited/scared about picking up a title after another developer?

A: It's very exciting to be part of such a successful franchise as Midtown Madness and I would like to think that we focus more on pleasing the faithful followers of the series than proving ourselves over the previous developers. With the Xbox that's easy enough. 8=)

Q: Will MM3 be similar in style to the past two titles as far as game play goes to keep fans of this series happy? Or will things be changed a bit to entice gamers who wouldn't normally pick up a title like this?

A: The core game play is still there. You race around in the cities in a number of different game modes and you can crash into things just like before. What we've done is we've looked at the feedback on the various Midtown communities in order to tune existing game modes and we've also added some new ones. What we felt was lacking from the previous games was some kind of red line that kept the single player game interesting beyond just running one race after another. You got some of that in the taxi and stuntman modes of Midtown Madness 2, but we've expanded on it significantly to include a much larger and more involved story mode for each city. Plus, remember that in this version, we have two new cities, Paris and Washington D.C.

Q: How many cars are planned to be included in MM3 and will they be licensed?

A: There will be more than 30 vehicles in the game, with a combination of licensed and unlicensed vehicles. While I can't reveal to you the entire vehicle list just yet, rest assured that you will see some pretty fun, even wild types of vehicles that will stay true to the meaning of Midtown Madness. Let's just say that cars like the Cadillac Escalade, the Ford Mustang Fastback (we pay homage to the heritage of Midtown Madness), and the Dodge Viper are a tiny taste of the kinds of vehicles that you'll find.

Q: Will each have their own distinct engine sounds?

A: Every car in Midtown Madness 3 will have a unique sound. The cars consists of up to 20 samples each to give a rich and believable sound. Expect noisy airpressurebrakes on the buses, a real power engine on the Dodge Viper, a fat vintage sound on the Mustang Fastback and a smooth but powerful sound from the Cadillac Escalade. We have recorded the original cars to make sure that it will sound as real as possible.

Q: Midtown1 & 2 prided themselves on damn near complete recreations of the locales offered in those titles. How much research has gone into the development of the cities we'll be racing in so far? Do you plan to make them exact replicas (or at least as close as possible) as their counterparts?

A: We've spent a lot of time trying to recreate the feeling of the cities rather than the exact street layout. The majority of the larger streets are intact, and you'll find the monuments in their relative locations, but we've tried to compress the cities so that you'll get more of the fun in one place instead of keeping the transport distances. The cities are large, I can tell you that!

Q: Creating a living and breathing city in a video game requires "believe-ability". What sorts of ambient sounds will we hear when racing by at break-neck speeds that will make us feel like we're really there?

A: You will hear everything you can expect to hear in a large city, static noise, other cars, pedestrians shouting and talking to each other. Even restaurants and shops will have ambient sounds to enhance the feeling. We will also trigger ambient sounds all around you to get a feeling that things are happening all around you, even if you can't see it. The fact that the game will support Dolby 5.1 will deliver an even richer audio experience for gamers.

Q: Will the streets be flooded with pedestrians that dive out of the way just in the nick of time?

A: Of course! And they will look great too! We wanted the pedestrians to do more things as well as reflect the flavor and feel of both Paris and Washington. As such, they'll have a huge number of animations and they can change clothes according to weather. They will also drop items that they carry when they run away from you.

Q: Are there plans to have a free-roam mode for gamers to check out the vast cities?

A: The Cruise Mode is still intact, and it will be available in multiplayer too for people who want to "make up" their own game modes.

Q: The past two Midtowns were strictly arcade all around, from the physics engine to the game play it was all about wide open racing through the streets, taking corners at 80 mph, etc. Now that the ball is in your court and you've already proven the ability to create a much broader and totally different set of physics for a racer (Rallisport), what can we expect physics wise? Will there be bits of realism added to the driving model or will MM3 stick to the full arcade style?

A: At Digital Illusions we've always tried to get the cars to handle well, rather than to simulate real life perfectly. This is a game and you can't expect most people to cope with simulation physics in the Midtown Madness environment. So, in short, the physics feels and looks much more real than in the previous games, but it is much easier to handle than if it would have been a simulation.

Q: Will MM3 support multiplayer? Online?

A: Our intent is to support multiplayer and online. Sit tight, as we will provide more details on the specific features shortly.

Q: What are some of the modes of game play for both single player and multiplayer and can you give a description of each?

A: The cruise, blitz and checkpoint modes are still in the game, with little or no changes to the actual setup. The main change would be that we've added performance categories to the vehicles so the AI opponents will be able to match up with a relatively competitive car in checkpoint, and the blitz times are adjusted to whatever car you choose. Also, for single player, the player can go Career now. He'll be working himself through a story, complete with special characters, customized vehicles and different missions that use the core game play to work the player through the plot. Kidnappers, movie producers, lots of pizza, smashed deliveries are just a few of the things you'll encounter in Midtown Madness 3. All the while, we're making sure that it's still Midtown - madness racing at its best.

Q: How many races are planned for each city?

A: There are ten blitz and ten checkpoint races that you can access at the start. Then there are a number of hidden races, and the story mode will offer another 20-30 races for each city.

Q: What exactly is the goal of the races? To win money??

A: The goal of the ordinary races in Blitz and Checkpoint is to win the race with the best time. In the story mode you have a primary goal of getting to the last job and finishing the story. In multiplayer there are different objectives depending on the mode, like getting the most gold in cops and robbers. But there is no money management between races if that's what you're asking.

Q: Will we have the ability to upgrade our cars or paint them different colors?

A: You'll be able to choose from a number of pre-defined colors for each vehicle. There will also be some hidden goodies in this area, which I won't tell you about here. 8=)

Q: What type of obstacles will we have to overcome to reach the finish line? Barriers? Cops?

A: Objects, traffic and cops will be your biggest obstacles. You may also have to figure out a smarter route or plan that jump across the stairway to save time.

Q: Will gamers be able to view and save replays of our races?

A: Yes.

Q: Destruction played a small part in the past incarnations of Midtown Madness, from being able to smash through glass windows in store fronts to crumpling your car into junkyard scrap. Will MM3 support car damage as well as have structures to demolish?

A: All small objects from streetlights to trashcans are breakable across the city. Your car will also sustain damage.

Q: How many characters are planned? And can you introduce us to some of them?

A: As far as pedestrians go, a lot. As far as special characters go, I'd like you to meet Mrs.. VeryWealthy, who refuses to go anywhere unless it's in a limo, but after riding with you, might be prepared to re-evaluate that opinion. Also, say hello to Michael Tortellini, ruthless Italian movie producer who stops at nothing to find the perfect stunt car - which involves you driving it in a way that redefines daredevil. And also, stay on Mathilda's good side, a cheerful young girl that rules behind the wheel and that follows you wherever you go, be it as a delivery driver, chauffeur, security guard or taxi driver. And what do toe socks have to do with the head of Paris Special Agent force? You'll know this, and much much more, after you've played MM3.

Q: What graphical effects will Midtown Madness 3 incorporate to take advantage of the powerful chipset in Xbox?

A: Basically we're using the raw power of the Xbox to cram in a very high detail level on almost everything in the game. Buildings, cars, pedestrians, trees and objects are all using tons of polygons and multi-layer texturing. A complex particle system that can handle thousands of particle objects, trees that sway in the wind and cars that fall apart are just some of the cool effects you'll find in the game. Also, the cities themselves are truly large and you'll be able to drive for hours to explore em all.

Q: When is the expected release in the US?

A: We are aiming for a Holiday release in the US.

Again thanks for your time and for answering our many questions for all us addicts. We all look forward to ripping the streets up in Midtown Madness 3 in the near future.

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