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Ex-WipEout dev casts doubt over future instalments, discusses new project

Monday, 7th January 2013 09:16 GMT By Dave Cook

WipEout may not make a comeback following Sony Studio Liverpool’s unexpected closure last year. That’s the prediction of ex-WipEout developer Nick Burcombe, whose new studio Playrise releases it’s first game on iOS Table Top Racing later this month. The developer has given VG247 insight into his time with the WipEout franchise and his new game in a new interview.

As part of our interview – which you can read in full later this week – I asked Burcombe for some insight into Sony Studio Liverpool’s closure. Although he was made redundant in a wave of 2010 staff cuts, rather than the 2012 closure – you can check out my studio obituary here – he shed some light on how he felt at the time.

“I was one of the many casualties of the 2010 Studio Liverpool cull,” Burcombe recalled, “which was indeed a blow for all of us involved as I’m sure many people who work in our industry can relate to these days. This was actually the first time I’d been made redundant so it was a new experience for me. In many ways though, I was glad that the studio had survived and that the Wipeout franchise would carry on after its incredible 18 years.”

Reacting to the closure of the studio, Burcombe stated, “For many years I’ve been used to working in large teams of 20-50 people – I think Formula 1 Championship Edition was the largest team I’d ever worked on – and although large teams can bring their own difficulties, the people at Liverpool Studio were absolutely fantastic at what they do and I think after looking back on F1, which was there at launch of PS3, and then seeing what they have achieved with Wipeout 2048 is testament to their dedication.

“The loss of that studio is a huge blow for the development community”, he added, “but hopefully they can all go on to produce the games they love with the same eye on detail and craftsmanship they always did.”

Burcombe’s new studio is gearing up to launch Table Top Racing on iOS later this month, and it’s a 60FPS combat racer with weapons, showing that some of the WipEout magic has lived on through Playrise. I ask Burcombe if his decision to debut Playrise with a racing title runs in the blood, given his long career involved with the genre.

“I’m a huge fan of combat racers. Always have been – probably right back to the 1983 classic arcade game Spy Hunter. It’s cars and guns – what more do you want? Seriously though, when we built WipEout, I wasn’t really happy with many of the design decisions nor with some of the implementation – the brutal collisions, the over-narrowing of track sections etc, but of course at the second bite of the cherry – Wipeout 2097 and XL – we fixed a lot of things, learnt from our mistakes and it was just amazing to work on and to see the reaction after launch.

“The speed and excitement that runs through that franchise”, he recalled, “right up to 2048, means it has never lost its focus and has always been improved.”

I then asked Burcombe for his thoughts on whether or not we’d see WipEout return following Studio Liverpool’s closure – they were rumoured to be making a PS4 WipEout title at the time of closure – to which he replied, “Who knows? Sony keep things pretty tight regarding plans, but my honest answer is probably not, even though I’d hope so. I’d love to see Sony experiment with some of its IP across other platforms – maybe that’s the ‘Psygnosis’ in me. If I had the chance – I’d love to bring something like Wipeout to iOS.

“I’d want to go freemium to reach as wide an audience as possible, and then hit them with something utterly spectacular,” he mused. “There’s so many ways to monetise a game like Wipeout I think it could be a great success – the trick is to keep the costs under control if you know you’re going to have more of a hardcore following. I think the fans of the franchise deserve another chance to put themselves into that Zen-like state and be at one with it.”

Stay tuned for our full interview with Burcombe later this week.

Would you like to see WipEout return? What form would it take? Would the iOS Freemium model suit the franchise? Let us know below.

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9 Comments

  1. stevenhiggster

    I love WipEout so I’d obviously love to see another one. But not from a new developer, and absolutely not some freemium iOS bollocks.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. nburcombe

    Well I’ll justify that a little….I think Wipeout is quite alien on the eye to some people, so from things like box shots on retail packaging, people could easily think “dunno what I’m looking at – not for me”, however if its free you can get so many more people try it. I think if people played it for free first, they might well get hooked and become part of a more sustainable audience. Problem wipeout always seemed to have was that it never really seemed to grow a bigger and bigger audience despite the quality and scope going up and up on every edition. It may be that future racers simply don’t sell any more – we’ll have to keep a close eye on Distance, Formula Force et al. As I said, I think with some tweaks and bringing it to mobile for free, we might well find that a wider audience can get into it and enjoy it. Its never been the easiest game to approach, but that can be addressed.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. JABBERJAW

    I’d like to see a new wipeout ( by other name if necessary) only done by Nick Burcombe. The physics were never the same after wipeout 3, pitch control needs to return, and side shifting has to go. Nick, while XL is my favorite, WO1 was perfect for the speed of the game. The thin tunnels, hard wall collision went well with what it was. One bad thing about the originals was that people don’t realize that the NTSC versions were just alot better, smoother and a better physics model.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. JABBERJAW

    I disagree about the quality going up though. It got dumbed down big time after wipeout 3. While it still was fun and polished, the newer games do not stand up vs the first few.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. fuchikoma

    I loved Wipeout from the start, but I don’t honestly know if I’d have stuck with it. WOXL was incredible all the way through, and I actually finished it after about 5 years of playing it like crazy. WO3 was horrible. It was impossible to win a race without burning your shields up so that taking a slight tap would kill you. The PS2 game was just plain bad – I don’t know anyone who liked it at all. Pure was anything but – it was glitchy, crashy, had tiny speed pads like F-Zero and was just crap to play. Pulse actually seemed to be getting back to the XL formula, but upgraded. It seemed Wipeout was finally back. I got Wipeout HD and frankly, it’s beyond impossible even as an 18-year veteran of the series. Zone mode only compounds the feeling of futility. Still, I got 2048 and it’s a lot of fun, like the others, up to a point where you crash into the ceiling of what’s possible and stick at that point for years to come.

    So while the image bolsters its reputation as an awesome series, it was maybe one or two awesome games in a long line of change for change’s sake screwing it up. Regardless, losing Studio Liverpool is a brutal loss for the industry as Psygnosis was responsible for so much essential gaming over the years.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. nburcombe

    Hi Guys, I just want to clarify here – I’m absolutely no authority on what Sony’s plans are. This was a bit of speculation on my part. I’ve not been at the studio since 2010 as it says in the whole interview you’ll see on VG247 – hopefully tomorrow. I’m surprised it turned into a stand alone story at all to be honest. This question was the final question of a much wider interview. The fact is I dont know what Sony’s plan are and I thought that was clear in the interview. I hope there is of course, but don’t take my speculation as fact guys. The person whose job it is to rely the facts is none other than Ami Nakajima. She’s the community manager and if there’s any news or developments – she’s the one to ask. The Wipeout 2048 facebook page is your first port of call. :) Go there, like the page and show that there is demand for the game – that would be my recommended course of action.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Dave Cook

    @6 Thanks for your input Nick, I was careful to keep the quotes as they were and I think the story doesn’t suggest anything as solid information, as I never said that this was an iron-clad denial or confirmation of anything specific.

    I think it’s a case of people reading too much into the piece/not reading it at properly.

    At any rate, we appreciate your input mate, and the full piece is being worked on now. I think these quotes will read the same whether in the context of the full piece, or on their own. The sentiment is the same in both cases and we appreciate the insight.

    Dave

    (and yes, everyone take Nick’s advice and rally for Wipeout on the Facebook page!)

    #7 2 years ago
  8. nburcombe

    Not a problem – there’s another website running it as fact. I think its good to be clear on these thing – yours at least has quotes from the interview. Thanks Dave.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Dave Cook

    @8 Yeah mate I’m not a fan of that, or spinning quotes. I’ve been careful to keep them as full quotes and to not paraphrase as many sites are wont to do these days. This was one of the factors that helped me leave my old job. Was asked to spin regularly.

    #9 2 years ago

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