Split/Second, an explosion-heavy, rubber-burning racer, hit the App Store a couple of weeks ago, and we loved the concept, but thought the game had some room for improvement. We recently chatted with Matt Beecher, the vice president of worldwide product development for Disney Interactive Studios, the company that developed the game.
What was the development cycle like on Split/Second for the iPhone? How did it compare to the development cycle of the console version?
Typically in the industry, console titles are developed over the course of a few years while iPhone titles are developed on the order of months. Split/Second was comparable to these industry timelines– our Black Rock Studio spent over two years developing the console versions while our iPhone title was less than a year.
What was the biggest challenge the team faced in porting a console game to the iPhone?
The console game is pushing many boundaries with epic action sequences and explosions at a level of production that rivals Hollywood movies. To bring a game like this to a small screen device that lacks the processing power of next-generation consoles is a challenge. We pushed the limits of the device in order to mirror what is seen on the console game, however many things obviously needed to be scaled down.
Now that Split/Second has been out for a little while, are you happy with the reception it’s received from users and critics?
One of the great aspects of mobile games is the ‘two-way’ communication between players and developers. Split/Second has received a lot of feedback that spans good and bad in a short period. We know the game is resonating with fans and our goal is to bring the best possible experience to players and, as with all of our titles, we factor feedback into development. In the coming weeks, you’ll see several updates to Split/Second, including gameplay tweaks and enhancements in addition to planned new features.
We particularly enjoyed the speed of this game. The first cars you have access to are as fast as the last cars you unlock in some other racing games. Was that something you wanted to include from the beginning? How did that factor into the level designs?
Speed and Power Plays [causing explosions in the environment] are everything in this game. After all, how can you have a game with slow moving cars to represent a title like Split/Second? A good portion of our Split/Second development time was spent constantly tweaking the placement of turns and power plays to fit how fast the vehicles move.
We noticed the number 0.9.4 in the lower-left corner of the menu screen, where the version number of a game is often put. Is the version of Split/Second that was released a less-than-final version? If so, is a 1.0 update in the works?
Split/Second was not “less-than-final” when released. It was a simple versioning mistake that caused 0.9.4 to be identified as the launch product, and it took us a short period to update the labeling. This game competes with the best on the market and we have much more to come.
What are you going to focus on in the updates?
Our update strategy is something that any gamer would love as we are adding new environments with multiple tracks, new vehicles and a new game mode. The new environments include Sedona (desert-themed with airplane graveyards and power plant areas) and Entertainment (boardwalk-themed with fairgrounds and wharf areas). We will also be adding a new game mode called Nemesis, which will be a new event that players will need to survive within the episodes, such as maneuvering around a big rig that drops explosives from its trailer.