Need for Speed: Most Wanted interview: Firemonkeys associate producer, Michael de Graaf

PC World talks to Firemonkeys associate producer, Michael de Graaf, about the new Need for Speed game for mobile devices

Firemonkeys associate producer, Michael de Graaf

Firemonkeys associate producer, Michael de Graaf

In addition to going hands-on with the console and PlayStation Vita version of the upcoming reboot of Need for Speed: Most Wanted, PC World also had a chance to try out the smartphone edition of the game running on the new iPad. The game takes the same approach as the studio’s earlier effort, 2010’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, in which the open world navigation is replaced with a map where individual races can be selected. Gameplay wise, Most Wanted will feel familiar to those who played the earlier instalment, or any major racing game on iPhone for that matter, with tilt controls used to control the car. The introduction of new hardware such as the new iPad and iPhone 5 has meant that the graphics have received a significant boost, bringing them to near console levels.

After trying out Need for Speed: Most Wanted, PC World sat down with to Firemonkeys associate producer, Michael de Graaf, to discuss the development of the game.

What lessons from Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit are you applying to Need for Speed: Most Wanted?

Firemonkeys associate producer, Michael de Graaf (MDG): We had a great reception to Hot Pursuit, particularly to the look of the game and the takedowns. We wanted to make sure that we continued to deliver a fast-paced, action-packed racing experience that anyone can pick up, play and have an awesome time in under five minutes. So that factored into our early vision for the product.

What else did you find gamers were asking for?

MDG: We also saw a lot of interest in the community for a touch steering input to complement our tilt steering input. We took that on board and have implemented what we believe is as responsive and fun as our tilt controls.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted on PlayStation Vita retains the open world gameplay of the console version, but the mobile version of the game has linear racing. Why not make the switch to open world gameplay with the mobile version?

MDG: We always aim to deliver an experience that is tailored to fit the mobile platform. We know that when people are playing on mobile, they want to be able to jump in, have fun and make meaningful progress in the couple of minutes that they have spare.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted looks particularly impressive on the new iPad. What aspect of the device has enabled the development team to make it look so nice?

MDG: Mobile devices are getting more and more powerful, and the new iPad is no exception. It has a beautiful, high resolution screen and hardware that allows us to take advantage of it. Taking away the need to worry about performance always allows us to achieve the best results, as we don’t need to curb our ambitions and opens up new possibilities for techniques.

The recently released iPhone 5 packs more processing power and a wider screen. How different will this version be to the iPhone 4/4S versions?

MDG: The iPhone 5 is an incredible device. The wide screen very much enhances the racing experience and sense of speed, and the chip in what is a tiny device takes the power we have available to another level. The phone itself is so lightweight you barely notice it in your hands. The most exciting feature for us that this has allowed us to do is a radial motion blur effect dependent on the speed of the car, which looks fantastic.

Apart from the graphics, what do you feel are the other big differentiators of Need for Speed: Most Wanted compared to your earlier release, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit?

MDG: With Most Wanted, we took the opportunity to revisit our driving model from the ground up. We have such an enormous range of cars in Most Wanted, and we wanted the ability for the player to really feel the difference between driving each of them. For example, the contrast between driving a Hummer A1 Alpha versus a Dodge Challenger SRT8 382 versus a Porsche 911 Carrera S. We also took a different approach to drifting than our previous games, so we could make it easy to jump into, feel fantastic and fast, but also have depth to master.

Vehicle damage was absent in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Is that something you will be including with Need for Speed: Most Wanted?

MDG: Definitely. We’re excited to bring a full set of damage to the cars, and not just to the player’s car. The opponents and cops also get the treatment. There’s nothing more satisfying than shunting a cop into a roadblock and watching their bumpers fly off as they tumble through the air.

A growing number of mobile games these days have large file sizes that continue to increase. When making a game such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted, does the app size, and how long it may take to download from an app store, factor in at all?

MDG: It’s something we do consider, as we’re aware that not everyone has the connection or space to cope with large apps. It is challenging to keep the app size down when we want to provide a large selection of the best-looking cars and tracks that we can, so we make sure we aren’t wasteful while still not compromising on the breadth and quality of content.

How will the vehicle list in the mobile version of Need for Speed: Most Wanted be similar or differ from the console version?

MDG: There’s a huge amount of crossover between the console and mobile games, but each version has a few exclusive cars to set them apart.

Which is your favourite Need For Speed game in the entire franchise?

MDG: This might seem cheesy, but honestly after having played a significant amount of Need for Speed: Most Wanted throughout the course of development, I think the game, on both mobile and console, is the best one yet.

What is about Need for Speed: Most Wanted that you like the most?

MDG: Leaving aside mobile, as we’ve created each version here and we believe we’ve improved with each new version, on console I just love the feel of the driving, the pace of the races, the design of the world and how connected the game is. There’s nothing that’s better than jumping into a game and smashing a friend’s time, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for competition in Most Wanted.

Want to read other video game interviews with key figures from Sony, Microsoft and more? Then check out PC World's complete interview archive.

Tags electronic artsiPhoneNeed for Speed: Hot PursuitiPad

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World

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