Ahead of the launch of AiRace Speed later this month Electronic Theatre had the opportunity to sit down with Mikaël Bourget, Public Relations Manager at QubicGames, and discuss many aspects of the developer’s position. With a number of successful Nintendo eShop releases under their belt, QubicGames are keen to assert their confidence in Nintendo and the hardware they produce.
The forthcoming AiRace Speed is the third title in the series, and QubicGames don’t appear to want to stop there. Keen to discuss the future of AiRace, the studio and the industry as a whole, Bourget offered a personal look at the videogames industry.
Electronic Theatre: So this is the third AiRace title. What makes it different to the previous two?
Mikaël Bourget [MB]: The 3D effect mostly and of course the fact that it’s on the Nintendo 3DS not DSi so the graphics are much better. Otherwise the concept is mainly taken from the title AiRace Tunnel, because you are playing alone in a tunnel and you want to make the best car. But the big difference with AiRace Tunnel is you can actually use nitro in this game, because in AiRace Tunnel the speed was just constantly increasing and you had no influence on this but in AiRace Speed you can switch to the brake and you can switch to nitro, so this gives you the ability to really develop your skills and to really make the best cars and be better than other players. And that’s why this game here is… it also has the difference of featuring leader boards and also achievements to unlock.
Electronic Theatre: Now AiRace Speed doesn’t come across some much as a racing videogame as a dexterity challenge; a test of how good you are with your hand to eye coordination, was that intentional or were you aiming for…?
MB: No, this was intentional. This is what we were aiming for with AiRace Speed and for the future we are already working on AiRace 2. AiRace 2 would be the fourth one of the series and this will be a regular racing game with competitors in the same race that you can shot at, that can be AI or your friends on an online multiplayer game.
Electronic Theatre: So obviously that would be more like WipEout whereas this is, as you say a pure dexterity challenge. Which format was AiRace 2 for?
MB: It’s going to be called AiRace 2 and this, we haven’t decided yet but probably Nintendo 3DS and WiiU.
Electronic Theatre: Obviously most of your titles have been on Nintendo platforms. Was that a goal of yours or was it because Nintendo were that supportive?
MB: We are official developers of Nintendo, as you said, but we are also official developers for PlayStation Vita and iOS. We have two games on iOS but we haven’t really done anything on PlayStation Vita, so as you said, yes, mainly we have games on Nintendo because the format of DSiWare was very interesting for us because we could sell the games only digitally. And that’s why we have made games for DSiWare because it is handheld and digital. That was for us the best format. And then when we sorted the relation with Nintendo was going very well and we are actually independent because we have our own publishers, but at the same time Nintendo is very supportive and then we decided to continue with them and made two games for Nintendo Wii.
Electronic Theatre: You say there’s potential for a Wii U version. Wii U is a significant upgrade in terms of horsepower, it would look a much better game and presumably would mean taking on more staff. Is this something that you’ve already put into action. Is it a plan you’ve already got underway?
MB: We have our own game engine, called C-Way that we are developing the tools we’re using and this is called C-Way because, the name comes from ‘Cross-Way’ because it will enable easy cross-platform development and this is for us crucial. This is why we want this game engine to be made our way: because we want it to enable easy development from one platform to another and that means that it will allow us to develop for Wii U as well as Nintendo DS.
Electronic Theatre: So you’ve clearly been thinking ahead with a long term project here. You’ve mentioned before that you are a licensed developer for PlayStation Vita and obviously AiRace Speed was developed with Nintendo 3DS in mind but everything the that the Nintendo 3DS offers aside from the stereoscopic 3D is on the PlayStation Vita: it’s touchscreen, it’s digital. Is there a chance that we could see AiRace come to PlayStation Vita?
MB: Now the priority is to make it for iOS and we have no concrete plan to make it for the PlayStation Vita but of course, we consider it but we need to see if that’s possible with Sony.
Electronic Theatre: The iOS version will presumably be based on gyroscope, it will be motion tracking. Obviously Android and Windows Phone also have that capability. Is that a possibility in the future? Could we see it coming to more mobile phones?
MB: Yeah that’s also a possibility.
Electronic Theatre: It’s not in your plan currently then?
MB: It is something we consider but again, we always have to consider it, start working on it and then see if we are satisfied or not with what we see, you know. So it means we consider it, we start looking at it but then we can say, no we drop it because we’re not satisfied with the result.
Electronic Theatre: In your back catalogue, there’s quite a variety of different gameplay titles. Has AiRace been your biggest success so far would you say? Commercially?
Electronic Theatre: And what would your favourite, as a team, what your favourite game that you’ve developed be?
MB: Well as a team we like to play Gnomz for Nintendo Wii because it’s a multiplayer battle arena game for four players and in the team we can just grab the Wii Remote and play Gnomz for ten minutes and smash each other with Gnomz. But otherwise I think that everyone has different favourite titles. I really like AiRace, but I really like 2 fast 4 Gnomz as well.
Electronic Theatre: So are we likely to see another Gnomz videogame at some point?
MB: That’s not in the plan, no. We are trying not to make anymore Gnomz games.
Electronic Theatre: Now the first person shooter that you did: Core. Obviously the Nintendo 3DS is perfect for first person shooters because of the stereoscopic 3D, but no ones really taken advantage of it. Is that something you might be interested in, in the future?
MB: You know we already have quite a few plans, as I said, going on at the same time so we need to prioritise. Firstly I wouldn’t say no for a first-person shooter on the Nintendo 3DS. But for now we need to look at priorities and focus on one project so I think that AiRace 2 would be the next thing as well as Bober the Beaver. Bober the Beaver is a platform game that we already have a PC game ready. But now we want to redo the project for iOS and Nintendo 3DS. And this is also a serious project coming up. This will be a platform game, very kid friendly. You are controlling a beaver and you go for adventures in different types of worlds and different types of enemies.
Electronic Theatre: QubicGames is a proven indie studio. There are a lot of indie studios that haven’t been quite as successful as yourselves and they’re looking to new platforms, to modern platforms to make there way through. There’s been a lot of talk lately about the next-generation. It may not be in your plans, but I wondered what you thought about Sony and Microsoft’s commitment to indie developers?
MB: Well we’ve seen… now we can talk about what they did with the Xbox 360 and with the PlayStation 3 and I think they indeed made a lot of effort with the Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Network. They’ve made really good things happen I think, for indie developers. Now it’s hard to talk about the next-generation because we’ll see what really happens; now there is a lot of talking, but we wait to see in reality what they really do. But I believe that they will make it possible and I think that, anyway, they should. Because that’s the future I think and it’s good to be ambitious. Now we can see that the indie market is really booming and we can see that at Gamescom this year there is a lot of indie developers making very interesting projects and they can’t not have them. I think that it doesn’t make sense for them to ignore this.