Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the project? How long have you been in the gaming industry and what drew you to your current position?
My name is Dave Hagewood and I am the founder and development director at Psyonix. I actually started Psyonix eight years ago with the goal of releasing our own game based on an original IP.
What’s the history behind your company? Why did you decide to make video games instead of going into the exciting world of business application development?
Funny you should ask, because we actually did start out in the world of business application development! I had a small amount of funding from a web hosting company I started with my wife and was branching it into software development. However, I quickly realized it wasn’t exciting at all and decided to go full force toward my dream of running a game studio. The crazy part was that I had no experience in the game industry at all.
I really just wanted to wake up every day and feel passionate about what I was working on. What I didn’t realize was that it would take almost four years to get anything going at all given how much we were starting from scratch. Our first big break occurred when we started making game mods as a way to pitch ideas to publishers. Epic Games became interested in a mod we created for Unreal Tournament 2003 and hired us to develop it as a gametype for Unreal Tournament 2004. That gametype was the highly successful Onslaught mode.
Since that time, we’ve been leveraging our expertise in the Unreal Engine technology as an outsourcing studio. We’ve been working on games for both Epic and their licensees while pursuing our goal of releasing our own game in-between projects.
Your first game is Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars; what’s the story with the length of name of the game? What alternative names did you have for the game?
For a while we considered calling it SocCar. We still use that name around the office sometimes but I’m not sure it would work out too well in Europe.
Part of the reason for the long name is that we wanted to let gamers know right off the bat that we are willing to take risks and break some rules. We made this game on our own time and our own dollar. We also made it exactly how we wanted to without pressure from anyone for it to fit into the standard issue box. I think the name reflects that mentality in a way.
The game is also all about unabashed fun. If we thought something would be fun, we added it. The game rules may be like soccer, but the experience is about super fast cars, rocket blasting through the air, flipping and flying and smashing into things.
What’s the gist the game and how did you come up with the concept of a rocket-powered battle-car?
I always thought there was a lack of jumping cars in games so we started with the concept of cars that can jump into the air with total air control. We quickly added the rocket booster aspect and found we had an unprecedented degree of control for a driving game. We actually prototyped three or four games based on this concept – racing, platformer, combat, etc. The soccer mode started as something we thought would just be a good mini-game. That was until we started playing it.
It quickly became an obsession around the office. We were having problems getting people to stop playing it and actually work on the game. No one wanted to do anything but make it better and better. We realized this was the game we had to focus on. Even if people thought we were crazy for making soccer with cars into a full game, we knew we had stumbled upon something great.
The object of the game is simply to knock the ball in the goal. You drive around picking up boost which you can use to accelerate to supersonic speed or even fly into the air. When you hit another car at supersonic speed they are obliterated. They respawn immediately back on their side of the field, but the game is so fast paced that losing your position for even few seconds can be a major factor.
What gets you addicted to the game is the feeling of scoring. It isn’t like you just pressed a button to take a shot. When you score you really earn it as you have to orient your vehicle perfectly to reflect the ball directly into the goal. It may sound hard but you have so many ways to get your vehicle in the right position. Not only can you jump and fly but you can dodge in all four directions.
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