An impressive transformation raises the question: do games need post-production phases?
If Blur had been released before Christmas last year – as was initially planned – developers Bizarre would not have the pride in its product that it has today.
The game’s lead designer Jed Talbot believes that Activision’s foresight in allowing the Blur delay means that the game can be part of the studio’s great legacy of high-quality racing titles.
“Overall, the experience of releasing Blur is going to be much more positive than it would have been,” he tells Develop.
“For us, [delaying the game] was a great move from Activision and the perfect move for the game. We’re thankful that Activision had the foresight to see the game’s potential. It could have gone another way for us, really.”
Blur, a battle-focused racing title of similar concept to MarioKart, had in the past left many unconvinced. At one stage, the title was subjected to ugly ridicule from a pugnacious EA exec.
Today, Blur is gaining a positive reputation as not only a robust, social and exciting game, but also as a racing title that has somehow managed to find new land in the fully-explored racing genre.
“We as a company are feeling much more proud of the product,” said Talbot, “and we’re feeling much more proud of ourselves.”
Activision is feeling the same way. While the likes of Morhaime and Kotick barely gave the game a mention last year, a recent press event in Liverpool went some way in showing that the publisher is ready to back Blur big. A weighty publicity campaign lies ahead, and a public beta for the racer in ready to go live shortly.
In the full interview with Develop, Talbot went through a number of tweaks and additions made to Blur in the past eight months.
“We’ve taken a long hard look at the graphical side of the game, as well as the environments. There’s a lot about the environments that we wanted to tweak here and there. We wanted to make the game look nicer, look brighter, look more fun to be in,” he said.
“We’ve also tightened up the physics, and the car handling. We’ve also looked at the road layouts. There were a lot of areas where we’ve had tight sections of road, which when we looked back at them thought: ‘hang on, this is a twenty-car race. This is a battling game. Do we really need that bollard in the middle of the road? Do we really want players to spend this much time crashing rather than racing?’
“So it allowed us to streamline the courses, make them look more beautiful, give the races more guidelines; essentially things that we just didn’t have the time to finish up.”
Talbot agrees that the additional months and weeks spent on the game resembles the post-production phase that films enjoy but games are rarely given the time for.
“[Post Production] feels like what Blur’s had. We basically put the game on the editing floor, and some bits have changed.”
He adds: “Blur is definitely more fun now than it was six months ago. It had a very good visual identity, and we’ve essentially been honing it. The game will do much better now than it would have done before.”