How did the Sega commission come about?
A phone call out of the blue one day: Sega were looking for developers to work on OutRun 2 and our name had been mentioned to them as a possible candidate. We already knew some people there and so we were called to London for a meeting.
What did you pitch to them?
We were given the game to play for a while (most of us were familiar with it already since there was a four-seater version in the local arcade) and asked to tell them, firstly, what we thought of it and what we could do with the title on Xbox. We looked at what we thought it would take to get the game running on a standard Xbox first of all and then what we could realistically do in addition in the time available. We didn't over-promise and we gave Sega flexibility with our ideas, not a set-in-stone design since we knew that, once we began the conversion process, we'd know more about things that would be easy to add and things that would be impractical.
How much contact have you been having with AM2? How tight was your brief?
We've been working really closely with AM2 throughout development . Spending time at their studio in Tokyo was important to ensure a smooth running dialogue in the early stages and to gain a solid understanding of the way they had approached OutRun 2. The overall brief from Sega and AM2 was really simple: "It has to look and play exactly like the arcade game - no compromises". In addition to the basic brief, we've been given a lot of freedom to create new content and add new ideas of our own while working closely with Sega and AM2 to implement new modes, additional gameplay and new content.
Why do you think Sega gave you the nod?
Everyone that works at Sumo had experience of the original OutRun and showed a real passion for the project. I think we were realistic in our proposals and flexible with our design. We also have a lot of experience with Xbox Live and we put a lot of emphasis on project management so we deliver what we promise when we promise it.
What did you offer that other developers couldn't?
Chocolate biscuits in meetings!
Which new additions are you most proud of?
The Mission mode and the incentive procedure. The wide variety of missions and additional features for the Xbox version offer a huge challenge to the player and real longevity to the product. Xbox Live is pretty cool too. We're doing stuff in OutRun 2 that boosts the content considerably. I think overall we're most proud of the fact that OutRun 2's got such a lot in it that the player will really get their money's worth.
What's been the most difficult part of the process?
Cramming everything in that we wanted to see and getting it all balanced. Fortunately, Sega and AM2 have been on hand all the way through development to offer invaluable feedback and advice. We're pretty confident that the player will reap the benefits of all the experience that's gone into OutRun 2.
The coin-op version features fairly unique handling (the incredibly lengthy powerslides for instance). Did you decide to replicate the handling of the arcade game or have you adapted it for home play?
The handling is integral to OutRun 2. It's a key factor in what makes it so great in the first place. The last thing we're going to do is change it! However, it does feel different on a controller compared to the arcade's steering wheel; it's more sensitive, with less travel, so it becomes a bit easier for the player to get full control of the cars.
Even with the additions in the Xbox version compared the coin-op, how does the game fare in terms of longevity and replay value? What will keep gamers coming back to it over a period of time?
Longevity and replay value was number one on our target list. Xbox Live offers a massive replay opportunity and the mission mode, with its unlockables and variety, offers great longevity. Add to this the numerous other race types and sub-modes and the player has great value that should keep them glued to their controllers for a long, long time. OutRun 2's the instant-hit arcade classic that the Xbox needs, no debate!
How would you compare the game to other arcade racers?
It's incomparable. It is the arcade racer. All the other great racers have OutRun 2 at heart but it's still the best because of its beautiful simplicity, something we've really tried to hammer home with all of the additional content.
What do you make of the current generation of games (Burnout, Need For Speed Underground, Project Gotham Racing) that have their roots in OutRun?
They're all great games, particularly Gotham (for us as a dev team, anyway), but they're all a plain removed from OutRun 2 because of their quest to be a bit different. Throughout the development of OutRun 2, we've not had to worry about being different - the pressure's come from the heritage and living up to expectations. Again, the beauty of the game is in its straightforward simplicity, something, in my mind at least, that competitive racers lack.
What are your memories of the original game?
Pocket money drainage... and then sleep deprivation when it came out for the home market.
What values do you think are still important in racing games that OutRun introduced?
Simplicity, speed, powerslides, beautiful environments, reward.
Have you managed to blag a go in a Ferrari yet?
Yeah, right - not even a matchbox version.
OutRun 2 will be released for Xbox on 15 October