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Feature: Postmortem - Black Rock Studios' MotoGP'07

In this exclusive postmortem, David Jefferies of UK-based Black Rock Studios (formerly known as Climax Racing) follows up last year's postmortem of MotoGP'06 with an h
In the latest Gamasutra-exclusive postmortem, David Jefferies follows up on last year's postmortem of MotoGP '06 with an honest look at this year's THQ-published Xbox 360/PS3-led iteration, covering optimization, frontend, crowd systems and more. Looking at what went right, Jefferies explained why it was important to the team to raise the bar on the crowd system for this year's MotoGP: "The crowd system in MotoGP'06 was a mixture of a few dozen animated instances and tens of thousands of static billboard characters rendered using the same technology as our volumetric grass. This time we wanted to have tens of thousands of animated crowd members decked out in the colors of their favorite rider, and when you got close to them they needed to turn into 3D models. Crowd systems can be controversial on development teams because they require a large investment yet don't provide any gameplay advantage. You also can't see them when you're powering along at 200mph. All that is true, but we believe that, especially for sports titles like ours, they provide an essential level of immersion that just isn't there with a load of static billboards. " Talking about the frontend, Jefferies points out that all frontends are like a "banana skin upon which even the best-run development teams can slip." Although the original MotoGP, which had won an award for its implementation, was ported across pretty much verbatim for the MotoGP'06, things had changed a great deal in the intervening 6 years. Jeffries describes the decisions made as a result: "...We decided not to change the functionality of the frontend. We liked the way it worked, just not the way it looked. In those situations it's tempting to start implementing from scratch, but instead we opted for a re-skin. Every screen was completely redesigned from a visual point of view, but still maintained the same functionality. In this way we were able to break one of our golden rules and staff the frontend code team with a single graduate. A very good graduate, for sure, but still a grad. Code and art made a great team and even colleagues with years of experience playing MotoGP were fooled into thinking we had created an entirely new frontend." You can now read the complete feature, which features more from BlackRock Studios' experiences implementing the lessons of last year for a new MotoGP game (no reg. required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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