Post Script

Lead de­signer


Karri Kivilu­oma joined Ubisoft in 2012 as a game and level de­signer on Rab­bids Big Bang. He grad­u­ated to lead de­signer on Tri­als Fu­sion, and also helped shape Tri­als Fron­tier. Prior to RedL­ynx, Kivilu­oma headed up the de­sign of Bug­bear’s Ridge Racer Un­bounded. We talk to him about the pres­sures of build­ing on pre­vi­ous suc­cesses and the tech­ni­cal chal­lenge of giv­ing play­ers in­stant restarts. Many Tri­als fans would be more than happy with a se­lec­tion of new tracks and Skill Games, but do you still feel pres­sure to add new el­e­ments to each ver­sion of the game? Def­i­nitely. We’ve never felt that any of the pre­vi­ous games pre­sented the ‘com­plete’ Tri­als ex­pe­ri­ence; there’s al­ways some­thing that can be added to and im­proved. That is part of the rea­son we now see Tri­als Fu­sion as more a gam­ing chan­nel than just a game re­lease. We will be con­tin­u­ing to up­date it and ex­pand it, not just with six DLC packs in the first year, but also with free fea­ture up­dates that ex­pand the com­pet­i­tive, com­mu­nity and mul­ti­player as­pects of the game. Why did you de­cide to blend the Skill Games and ca­reer this time, rather than keep them sep­a­rate? Be­cause of the power of the edi­tor, there is very lit­tle that can’t be done in terms of Skill Games. So we could have gone the route of just cre­at­ing a bunch of crazy Skill Games that don’t re­ally have any­thing to do with the core Tri­als ex­pe­ri­ence. But we know that our com­mu­nity, once they get their hands on the edi­tor, will be putting to­gether such cre­ations. This time, we wanted to tie the Skill Games closer to the ca­reer ex­pe­ri­ence, so that they’re teach­ing you, re­in­forc­ing good driv­ing habits and de­vel­op­ing your skills. The Skill Games are per­fect for lo­cal mul­ti­player. Are we ever likely to see this in­tro­duced? Yes, it’s def­i­nitely some­thing we’ve thought about. And there’s noth­ing pre­vent­ing play­ers from cre­at­ing their own lo­cal mul­ti­player Skill Games right from day one, us­ing the built-in track edi­tor. We’d love to see some of our users ac­tu­ally beat us in that depart­ment and cre­ate some lovely, in­tri­cate, wacky mul­ti­player games. And you can al­ways go for a high score and pass the con­troller to your friend and say, “Beat that!” While Evo­lu­tion’s lo­cal mul­ti­player felt com­pa­ra­ble to the sin­gle­player game, Fu­sion’s feels con­sid­er­ably slower on both Xbox One and PS4. Why did you make that ad­just­ment? The game runs at 60fps on all plat­forms and we’ve kept the lo­cal mul­ti­player feel very sim­i­lar to that of Tri­als

Karri Kivilu­oma, Evo­lu­tion. It runs at the same speed as in Evo­lu­tion as well, but the dif­fer­ences on the new quad or BMX might make it feel dif­fer­ent. It feels like games don’t do lo­cal mul­ti­player that much any more, but I’ve al­ways been a huge fan of just sit­ting down on a couch with your bud­dies and bat­tling it out. It seems that Kinect’s ges­ture recog­ni­tion and DualShock 4’s touch­pad and mo­tion sen­sors might be use­ful tools for the edi­tor – did you look at sup­port­ing them? The tracks we made for the game were built in our own level edi­tor, the same edi­tor that play­ers get to use with Track Cen­tral. At the same time, the lev­els we make with our level edi­tor have to run on all four plat­forms the game ap­pears on. So we didn’t want to spend time and re­sources on sup­port­ing fea­tures that ap­pear on only one plat­form in­stead of be­ing uni­ver­sal. The sole ex­cep­tion would be for the PC ver­sion, where we have in­vested the time and re­sources in pro­vid­ing a proper PC in­ter­face, in­clud­ing within the level edi­tor it­self. How much of a tech­ni­cal chal­lenge is it to hold the track in mem­ory to en­sure the quick restart op­tion is in­stant? How do you do it? Our en­gine streams data heav­ily from the hard drive. We stream tex­tures, ob­jects, ter­rain, veg­e­ta­tion and sounds. Stream­ing al­lows us to have very short level load­ing times – usu­ally less than five sec­onds – and in­stant restarts. We have spent a con­sid­er­able amount of pro­gram­ming time and ef­fort to achieve this, be­cause we feel that long load­ing times re­ally kill the flow of the game. It’s ex­tremely im­por­tant for a game like Tri­als to be able to quickly retry a sec­tion of a track, or an en­tire track if you wish. Some­times tracks can be very long and you need to be able to restart from the be­gin­ning quickly, so it’s def­i­nitely a chal­lenge, but we’re very sat­is­fied with the re­sults and it’s work­ing very well. The four-wheel drive and heav­ier weight of the quad bikes makes them a safe choice for beginners, but they pop up half­way through your first playthrough. What was the idea be­hind in­tro­duc­ing them? Tri­als has and al­ways will be about two wheels and crazy ob­sta­cles, so we wanted to make sure that since we are get­ting new plat­forms on board this time around, all the new play­ers will be able to first ex­pe­ri­ence what the core Tri­als game­play is all about. The quad is some­thing spe­cial we wanted to try to freshen up the game­play for vet­er­ans and give new play­ers va­ri­ety. It’s a great new ve­hi­cle to try later on when you un­lock it, and to be per­fectly hon­est, it’ll take un­der an hour, depend­ing on your skill level, to un­lock it any­way.

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