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

Monday, 7 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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