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?
I’m Alberto Belli, Head of PR in Black Bean Games. I take care of all the activities related to communication on behalf of the European publisher and plan communication strategies worldwide, evaluating new products, too. Being a passionate gamer, I usually attend all the meetings in regards of new projects/IP in development under BB label and take care of acquisitions of new products to be published, studying game concepts/demos. I started in the industry in 2001 as journalist in Play Press Publishing, which publishes a bunch of games magazines here in Italy. I’ve been Editor in Chief of Xbox Magazine and Official Playstation Magazine before joining Leader Group in 2006 as PR Manager. I’ve been CEO of Pulsar Communication, the agency in charge for any PR activities for all the companies of the group, including Black Bean. After 1 year as international account for it, I joined the publisher full time starting from Jul
What separates SBK 08 from the other motorcycle racing games on the market? What's new for this year?
SBK08 is really the return of Milestone to the series that made the studio great 1999. SBK has always been the benchmark for any motorcycle game developed, and SBK08 is a new beginning on next-gen platforms. This is the title that every passionate player was waiting for since 2001 and it’s pretty different to any other racing game made until now. SBK is about the real sensations you can feel as a fan of bikes – the races, the speed and the glamour. Black Bean is building up the best racing franchise ever made under this point of view, with a genuine gameplay and passion above all
Can you talk about your design approach for the game and what the most important aspect of racing that you tried to capture in the game?
SBK is designed for everyone to enjoy. The ability to customize everything let us say that it is maybe the most versatile racing game of the last several years. If you’re not confident with bikes and tracks, you can quickly change game parameters to make it easier and more accessible. But if you’re looking for the hardest simulation available, you just have to set full sim parameters and it’s done. Everyone can find their own way to play SBK. Let me add that the game has been developed to offer both the best simulation and arcade-styled racing to gamers. The idea is to let the player practice and slowly deactivate the various "assists" until you're riding like a "real biker."
The same goes for the AI. Riding with bots is always great and for the most authentic sim gameplay, you can set them to "real", which will have them fighting for points and using same strategies that the real counterparts use
Other than the control scheme, are there any differences between the PC and console versions of the game? What kind of changes did you have to make for the PSP version of the game?
PC and next-gen versions are pretty similar but we did make some special changes for the PS2 and PSP version. We did a great job last year and fixed some problems we had with SBK07, following user feedback. SBK08 runs smoothly on PS2 and PSP versions and it’s graphically strong, with a solid framerate and a good engine running. And framerate is a core requirement in a racing game like this
What was your philosophy when it came to picking which tracks to include and were there any that you tried to get but weren't able to get licensed for the game? Do you have a favorite track or segment of a track?
My favorite track is actually Doha, maybe because while developing the game, we had long sessions of practice here and I finally found a secret formula to get the best setting here. I’m nearly invincible on this track, but is just because I’m playing on it since the early stage of the development. The difficulty working on a fully licensed game is that you always have to wait for approvals and you always have to double check your work with someone else. Liveries change lot of time when the championship is blocked, tracks too (for example FG Sport announced Portimao this year that didn’t exist when we started work on the game). With some luck, we could handle this situation using online downloads and patches in the future, adding wild cards time to time, new liveries and stuff
Did you have to make any changes to the real work tracks so they would work better in the game or does good track design transcend into the video game world? How do you get the track layout into the game and how accurate do you try to get them?
All the tracks included have been made using original CAD files and visiting all the original circuits to save data and study how they really are. We tried to reproduce all the tracks with full details, including atmosphere.
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