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Riptide GP's Vector Unit On Going From XBLA To Android

Vector Unit talks to Gamasutra about following up its XBLA hit Hydro Thunder Hurricane with Riptide GP, transforming from a mobile to co
Developer Vector went through a crash course in mobile development this year, immediately going from XBLA title Hydro Thunder Hurricane to shipping Android racer Riptide GP after just five months. In today's Gamasutra feature, developer Matt Small tells us what went right and wrong during the development of the game, which was partially commissioned by NVIDIA to show off its new Tegra 2 processor. In this extract, Small discusses scaling the game's design back to cater to mobile players: Riptide GP was our first experience designing and building a mobile game, after years working on console titles. We didn't want the game to be casual per se, but we felt that the game should be more accommodating to casual play styles, both in terms of difficulty and control mechanics. Racing games on console -- even arcade racers like Hydro Thunder Hurricane -- tend to be very technically challenging. Much of the fun and reward comes from mastering the vehicle controls and physics, carefully managing speed, and picking out the perfect racing line through a variety of corner angles and track widths. The conventions of mobile racing games, on the other hand, with accelerometer steering and pedal-to-the-metal auto-acceleration, don't exactly lend themselves to nitpicky perfection. Rather than struggle against this, we decided to embrace it. Our vehicle specs and track layouts were all designed to be driven at full speed, with braking only really necessary when the player takes a corner wrong. We wanted the game to feel fast and flowing, and we looked to the Wipeout series for inspiration on track layout. There are very few irregular or hard corners where players can catch edges or get stuck -- when you hit a wall you slow down, but you keep moving forward. As a result, Riptide GP is incredibly easy to pick up and play. On most tracks, you can almost let the game play itself -- you'll finish in last place, but you'll finish. Depth and challenge come from learning how to keep your speed up in the corners, interacting with the waves and other riders' wakes, and knowing when it's safe to pull off a stunt for that precious extra bit of boost. This and much more is available in the full Gamasutra feature.

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