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Bumblebeast & Big Scale Racing
Please introduce yourselves to our readers and tell us a little bit more about Bumblebeast.
BumbleBeast is a development team of eight people, working under responsibility of Vesc (www.vesc.nl), and started creating PC CDROM games on April 1st, 2001. Long before that, the same team did a business-to-business project at the request of the Department of Waterways and public Works; the strategic simulation game "RWS Control", with a complete 3D interface, running in software mode.

Since 1996, Vesc developers are working on the 3D visualisation/simulation kernel "4Space" and now it is used for CDROM game titles. BumbleBeast is a development team of 8 people (7 men, 1 woman):
  • Mattijs van Delden: lead programmer
  • Marcel Wierda: CEO, game design
  • Rik Teerling: graphics, 3D modeller
  • Esger Abbink: assistant programmer, Internet/servers/LAN
  • Arthur Perton: assistant programmer, Artificial Intelligence
  • Richard Nijland: assistant programmer, Game console porting (Nintento Gamecube at the moment)
  • Patrick Schoenmaker: (concept) artist
  • Ina Berg: member of the board of directors
  • Is this your first game in the racing genre?
    Yes. Some of us have been working on driving simulators for over a decade, but this was the first time that it was allowed to be pure fun.
    Is RC racing a hobby of yours?
    Yes it is, or was, because we have been so busy creating BSR. We have quite a collection of RC cars, from dirt buggies, to 2WD en 4WD on road cars. And even a couple of RC planes. But they are a bit broken at the moment.
    How much research was done into RC racing before coding began?
    We have been racing RC cars for a few years. However, we have been creating our engine 4Space for 5 years now. So coding actually began well before BSR was born as an idea. Actual BSR research was short, since we already had quite a bit of experience with RC cars. By the way, one of the reasons to do BSR, was the fact that we had the experience.
    When considering which platforms to release Big Scale Racing on, what made you choose PC?
    The most important reasons are history and accessibility. Our visualisations and driving simulators are all PC-based, and we have a lot of experience with the hardware and software. 4Space runs on the PC using OpenGL or Direct3D.

    PC development is so easy to start with. You buy a machine, a compiler, modelling program, and additional tools, and you can create whatever you want. No expensive dev-kits, restrictive NDAs, or console manufacturers that have to agree with every gameplay element. It's difficult for a small startup company to get into console development. And believe me, we have tried!
    How important was the "pick up and play" factor in Big Scale Racing?
    Very important. We dislike having to wade though endless amounts of menus, or leaving the race and going back to the setup menu just to change a control assignment. Or the modern loading bar, that slowly creeps from the left side of the screen to the right side leaving you enough time to place bets on whether it will arrive there before dark or after.

    We want you to sit behind your monitor and think:'I want to play something', and being up to your armpits in quickrace opponents only moments later. There must be as little obstacles as possible on the road from thought to throttle. Sorry for that.
    Initially what was the goal you were trying to achieve when you started Big Scale Racing?
    You mentioned the "pick up and play" factor before. This was an important goal. The other goal was to make a fun yet demanding racing game that runs well on average spec machines. Big Scale Racing was also a good testcase for us, in terms of technical feasibility. Small cars of 10 kg. with high dynamic frequencies is a worst case scenario for any dynamic simulation system.
    A large database of characters you can play against is supplied, why did you feel that supplying such a big list is needed?
    All Artificial Intelligent players (AI-players) have their own driving style and lap times to go with it. Players that don't have much experience with race-games can drive against slower opponents than die-hard race fanatics. Big Scale Racing looks at your lap times and let you race against opponents that are always competitive.
    How hard is it to balance realism against gameplay?
    There is already a lot of gameplay in real life RC-Racing. Balancing it in a game is tough, but not impossible. In fact, we have found that realism can create gameplay. Especially in an RC racing title. But the people that play Big Scale Racing will be the judge of how well we did this.
    What steps were taken to enable die hard RC racing fans to play this game and not think important features are missing?
    Die hard RC racing fans will probably miss tweaking and repairing their car and replacing parts. It is our promise to include it in future titles. Big Scale Racing isn't easy. Especially the more advanced cars need concentration and determination if you want to win races.

    We hope that the die hards will find the challenge they desire. Other than that, we think everybody can have a lot of fun playing Big Scale Racing. But of course it's never "the real thing". Then again, it does not cost you a couple of hundred bucks every time you end up in a big crash, as it would in real life.
    Which have you gone for, gameplay or realism?
    Gameplay. Period. We started with Big Scale Racing being very realistic, and tweaked it to an addictive experience with a lot of gameplay while still being as "realistic" as desirable. With the 10 "classes" of cars we feel we have a broad range of cars from slow and easy ("Junior Standard") to realistic and difficult ("Prof Hop")
    What sort of age group of players are you aiming Big Scale Racing at?
    Betatesters were in the age group of 10 to 40 years old, but we are aiming at everyone who likes racing on a PC or in real life.
    Many of the latest games on the market require very high performance computers to run well, what sort of computer can we expect to run Big Scale Racing on?
    We know! We have to keep upgrading our machines in the office to be able to have a decent LAN party with the latest games. And don't get me started on GTA3... BSR does not require a monster PC. While we have run BSR on a Pentium 200 machine with a Voodoo 1 card (ah, those days), it's not much fun. And not very playable either. BSR is very playable on a P2 300 MHz machine with a Geforce 256. You can enable all detail, and still run at 20 frames per second.

    We wanted that people with PCs that are one or two years old can play our game without having that 'my PC is not good enough' feeling you get after installing the latest and greatest. However, if you have the hardware, the game really shines on a modern machine. It then runs on the monitor refresh rate for that super smooth console feeling. Run it on a Geforce 3 card at maximum resolution, and the driving experience becomes so smooth... Brings a tear to the eye, really.
    Can we expect a sequel or more racing games from Bumblebeast?
    We definitely want to make more racing games. Although there are already lots of games, some racing genres are still without a game that does it justice. We are currently planning a karting game. Everybody knows karting, but where is the game that gives you that speed sensation and close racing on your monitor? Regarding a sequel: if the public likes BSR, we definitely want to do a sequel.

    There is so much more fun stuff that can be included in an RC racing game: tuning, damage, pit stops, and lots more. But we are only going to do it, if BSR proves to be a success. We cannot build games only for the fun of it, we have to make a living too.
    We would like to thank the team at Bumblebeast for taking time out to answer our questions. More information about Big Scale Racing can be found here.
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