Interview Guillaume Dubail

Développement de Driver 3 GBA

Interview

Puissance-Nintendo: Can you please tell us a few words about yourself and your colleague Fernando Velez?

Guillaume Dubail: We are both developers from Dijon (France), 33 and 34 years old. We are both working in the videogame industry since the early 1990s and Driver3 is our 13th game, the 4th on GBA.

PN: How did you start working together? On which game?

GD: We both loved computing in the 1980s (C64, Amiga). We made demos and creating games came naturally. We first tried to make a vertical shoot'm up, then we made "Jim Power", an action-platformer. It was a very technical game with huge sprites and a 3-plans scrolling, a game like we used to make them on AMiga in 1992

PN: Why did you decide to make your games together?

GD: As a matter of fact, we didn't really decide this. It just happened. We found out it was working well together and we thought it was good to keep it that way as long as it was possible. But as time flies, systems changed a lot and someday, we'll have to evolve.

PN: Why did you choose Driver 3 as a new project? How did this happen?

GD: Last year at E3, Atari asked us. We found it was an exciting challenge. You can't refuse a project like this one. The development was very difficult because everything was new, some elements like traffic, collisions or display were very complex to put in place. We had to try many different things to make sure it was working fine at the end.

PN: How long did it take for making Driver 3?

GD: Development lasted 14 months.

PN: Did Atari leave you alone in developing the game, or brought some specific constraints to deal with?

GD: Atari didn't require anything specific, expect the size of the cartridge (64Mb). That's really small for this type of game. We had to look at optimizing a lot in order to make sure we could put everything we wanted to see in there.

PN: What makes Driver 3 GBA different from other versions?

GD: In fact, that's not really the same thing. In the home version, there are three very distinct modes. For instance, the main mode is a serie of missions and you don't circulate freely in the cities. On GBA, the player starts in the town and can do whatever he likes: walk around, play mini-games, missions, look for secrets. It gives much more freedom, and is also slightly less violent, because we can't kill pedestrians and vehicles with weapons. Moreover, most of the missions were updated, some even didn't exist on PS2/XBox.

PN: What are the main characteristics of Driver 3?

GD: The main features are :
- 25 vehicles (car, motocyle, boat)
- 7 weapons
- 25 main missions
- 32 mini-games
- secrets
- 2 towns (75% of the Xbox version)
- Walking and driving stages
- a nice scenario (34 sequences of pictures)

PN: Technically, how is it possible to virtualize two cities of 16km2? What challenges or constraints does it mean?

GD: Modeling isn't that hard, it's just time-consuming (10 weeks per town). We started with the ground (road, tracks, green areas, ocean...) then we added the volumes (building, mountains, forests...). We then finish with collisions (14.000 per town).

From a programing perspective, the town is located on the GBA but is streamed in real-time to the GBA's RAM. Our main problem was the size of the city (1.3Mb). We had to make a format really optimized to stock polygons and allow the data transfer between the cartridge and the RAM.

PN: Do you think you've reached the GBA limits?

GD: There are probably many domains we could improve, especially with a bigger cartridge.

PN: Why didn't you implement a multiplayers mode?

GD: There are two reasons, the first being the lack of time and the second is the interest for this mode, since you would require one cartridge per player and we thought a multiplayer mode without a "one cartridge mode" wasn't making sense.

PN: Critics were nice with V-Rally and Stuntman while Asterix and Obelix disappointed. You're coming back with a rather good license...

GD: We're doing our best for that and hope the game will please most players. But Asterix sold more in Europe than V-Rally...

PN: What are your plans for the future? Another GBA game or will you move onto DS or PSP? A V-Rally 4 on DS?

GD: We want to work on the DS, but we don't know what for yet. It is very likely to be a racing game.

PN: Do you have some ideas to use the Nintendo DS capabilities (stylus, double-screen, online)?

GD: To tell you the truth, we didn't really think about it, but in our mind it is obvious we'll have to use all those tools very much !

PN: Do you still have time to play? What are your favorite games on systems?

GD: Recently, we really liked a lot Resident Evil 4, Paper Mario and Ratchet and Clank 3. Desperately, because we don't have much time, we play very little.

PN: And your last word?

GD: With this game, this is the GBA Adventure which is over for us, and a new is starting with the DS. We always tried to make games that most players will like, and hope that you'll also be pleased with this one.

Merci à Guillaume Dubail.

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