Full Auto: An Interview with Pseudo Interactive Producer Cord Smith

Matt Litten: Full Auto has been commonly dubbed “Burnout with guns” around the industry since it was first unveiled. Do you feel that is a valid comparison? How would you briefly describe Full Auto to someone who hasn’t been following the game up to this point?

Cord Smith: Full Auto is about racing fast and blowing stuff up; cars, buildings, water towers, whatever your heart desires. The environment can be interacted with in so many ways that comparing it to a regular racing game isn’t fair. It is easy to describe it as cars with guns, but Full Auto is more about destruction than shooting. It’s the most destructive racing game ever.

ML: The game’s “Unwreck” mechanic springs to mind rewind features from games like Prince of Persia. Was any inspiration drawn from the PoP series (or any other game) in this area? Please detail how the idea came about and discuss how the feature is used in the game.

CS: Unwreck comes from a number of inspirations but mostly from a desire to make racing more accessible. Intense races come from tough competition and Unwreck allows for fair and tough competition with a little room for minor errors. Although it exists in other genres, it fits racing like a glove.

ML: One thing Full Auto still retains from current generation racers is closed off tracks. Did the team ever consider more open environments (such as those found in the Smuggler’s Run or Vigilante 8 games) or are the closed off courses in the game to maximize the damage players can cause?

CS: We set out to maximize destruction, which meant the placement of lots of objects, buildings, cross-traffic, storage yards, gas stations etc. That said, we also built our tracks as racing splines so we always work hard to preserve the tight twisting paths we concepted early on. In our opinion, the result isn’t nearly as constrained as PGR’s invisible tunnels and it’s much faster and more frenetic than any open environment seen in a “checkpoint” racer.

ML: How many cars and courses are available to players when they start up a new game and what sort of surprises are in store for those who make their way through the game a few times?

CS: Full Auto starts a player with only two cars, but unlocking can happen almost immediately through career mode. We didn’t want to withhold the core content, as we believe in the adage “get what you pay for.” With that in mind, it’s no surprise that only 30% of the way through Career Mode, most gamers will have unlocked a majority of the cars. Long-term challenges come in the way of the Arcade mode Leaderboard, online matches, and creating action moments you simply haven’t seen.

ML: What type of gameplay modes can we expect to see in the final version and what online and offline multiplayer features will be available?

CS: As you progress through Career Mode, you will find the other types of gameplay that can exist in the Full Auto universe. Our basic modes are point-to-point, down-and-back, circuit, and lap knockout races. You will also find modes like team-based opposing starts which add a slightly different challenge. By the ‘Impossibles’ career event, you will be pushing yourself in ways you never knew a Full Auto driver could be pushed.

ML: Content wise, is there anything you had to cut from the final version, and will we see future content downloads for new courses, cars and such through Xbox Live?

CS: I can definitely say that many surprises await in the Full Auto universe, how they will be revealed is another story. Unfortunately, I have no specifics right now.

ML: There has been a lot of talk on both sides of the fence about whether the Xbox 360 hardware is truly the next-gen leap forward for the industry from a technological standpoint. After developing Full Auto on this new platform, what can you tell me about the power of the console and your experiences with it?

CS: There is no doubt that Xbox 360 is a next-gen platform. The power being harnessed is greater than anything out there right now. I think the physics simulation in Full Auto could be considered for car safety tests. We were able to erase so many previous technological constraints that we can definitively say next-gen is here.

ML: To follow up on that point, what effects have you been able to pull off in Full Auto specifically that were previously unthinkable on the various current-gen hardware platforms?

CS: It’s all based on physics. The game industry is extremely adept at hiding real physics but now we don’t. No smoke, no mirrors. We are able to procedurally affect the world. This means eliminating simple, repeated visual patterns, bringing us a generation closer to a real-world simulation.

ML: Is Pseudo committed to the 360 as its sole platform or can you talk about any upcoming console (or handheld) projects? Additionally, will Full Auto be showing up on any other platforms, the PS3 perhaps?

CS: Unfortunately, this is another topic that I can’t say too much about at the moment. I can say that this is the beginning of a true next-gen franchise.

ML: Finally, what goals did the team set out with in developing Full Auto, and now that the game is nearing the finish line of its development how well were those goals achieved in your mind? What have you enjoyed most during the game’s development and what do you hope gamers take away from the completed Full Auto experience?

CS: Wow, a lot of questions there. We had the goal of creating the most destructive racing game ever and we got there, with MANY lessons along the way. The core gameplay mechanic is incredibly replayable, and much more complex than we could have imagined. We promote fun over everything else in our games, and we hope gamers have an absolute blast with Full Auto. The game’s easy to pick up but tough to master, and we’re anxious to see just how much competition evolves within the Xbox Live community.

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