Bugbear's 3D artist on FlatOut, lari Lehtinen, talks about a crash-test dummy's worst nightmare, alcohol-inspired petrolhead mentalism and Ragdoll Olympics in the penultimate part of our exclusive developer diaries.
In this part I'll fill you in with one of the most talked about aspects of FlatOut. As you can probably guess by now, I'm talking about the poor ragdoll driver who gets flung out of the car when the player crashes badly enough. Seatbelts in FlatOut are for wussies, and following that thought, so are the helmets.
I'll start from how the idea originally formed. We had the crash system done, and began wondering if there was anything more to spice up the whole thing and take an extra step ahead the competition. All the falling and bouncing stuff was very cool and all, but we felt we should go just a bit further. So, we sat down and thought through the chains of events that go on during a car crash. Realizing the latest hype and trend with ragdoll characters, we quickly found what we were looking for. After that, it was basically just a matter of programmers creating the ragdoll physics ("Oh, give us a day or two," they said) and one artist coming up with the initial character model for testing and concept proofing. Beer might have had something to do with the flow of ideas, but this remains unconfirmed.
When we first saw our driver flying through the air and hitting the ground, continuing to tumble and flop forward by his own momentum, breaking a fence as he went, we realized we had something very special here which deserved extra attention and care. We thought, "this is a hit feature. Let's figure out what we can do with it and what's most fun". After numerous hours of thinking and testing and sessions of uncontrollable laughter, we had it nailed. Enter Ragdoll Olympics! The gloriously twisted idea behind these minigames is to use your driver as, uhm, sports equipment.
It's not your regular sports field, though. You don't find gigantic dartboards or equally oversized grinning clown faces on your local school sports field. We took the liberty of going completely overboard with the ideas we came up with, and so far the response to these game modes in addition to everything else FlatOut offers has been overwhelming. Some suspicion lingers on the discussion forums, though - not everybody believes that everything said so far is anything else than regular hype build-up. Oh, just wait...
As one journalist so eloquently put it: "I can't wait to get drunk and play this!" I believe it's only fair to mention that this journalist was a Brit. Naturally, we don't encourage people into a drinking spree because of our game...
But still, as our PR manager really did say: "It's so cool that it makes you drool, and it's so beautiful that it makes you forget to wipe it off." I second that with honest heart!
All right, it's nearly midnight and I'm still at the office typing this. I'm heading off now, so I bid you all arrivederci until next time!
FlatOut is released for PS2, Xbox and PC in November. Keep an eye out for the last development diary in the series coming soon