Pure Interview with Jason Avent, Game Director from Black Rock Studio

So maybe you can tell us little about yourself before we begin and how you became involved in this product?
[Javent] I did a degree in Civil Engineering and worked as an engineering consultant for a couple of years before breaking into the games industry through a friend about 12 years ago. I’ve worked at Microprose, ATD, Electronic Arts for four years and now this studio, Black Rock for about five years. I absolutely love games and I’ll play anything as long as it’s good. I’m not a massive fan of sports games like Fifa or Madden but otherwise I can get into pretty much anything. I’m playing PURE online still at the moment but most recently finished MGS 4. I’ve got Mercenaries 2 and Soul Calibre 4 on the go at the moment.

Pure is coming to the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, but what is it all about?
[Javent] PURE is an offroad trick-racing game where you go so fast it scares you, jump so high you get vertigo and then style it out by pulling loads of mad tricks on the way down. We chose quad bikes as the vehicle in PURE because they have familiar car-like handling but they’re also light enough to be able to jump high into the air and the riders can pull tricks. The main feature of the game is that the jumps are absolutely massive so it’s a real thrill ride. You can see 20km into the distance and you’re often 10,000 feet up in the mountains so when you jump off cliffs and across chasms, you feel like you’re on the edge of the world. The inspiration was from mountain biking and snowboarding. I wanted to recreate the feeling you get when you’re high up and your bravery outstrips your ability – that fear that’s made all the more epic by the beauty and scale of the environment around you.

Why is it called Pure, what is pure about it exactly?
[Javent] Well it’s a short, snappy name and we wanted something different from all the other ATV and offroad games out there. It comes from PURE adrenaline, PURE vertigo, PURE exhilaration – a bit pretentious maybe but it’s kind of what the game is about at it’s core.

What tricks can you perform?
[Javent] There are over 70 tricks in the game ranging from the tame to the insane. Many are possible in real life but the special tricks you build up to are just mental and not real at all. They’re there to make people smile and are the pay-off for saving up your boost juice.

How will the vehicles differ from one another?
[Javent] Well you can build from scratch, somewhere between sixty and seventy thousand different quad bikes in the game from real-world, licensed parts. Many of the parts add to your bike’s performance and change handling, trick speed, acceleration, top speed and boost abilities.

What locations are included and do they have short cuts?
[Javent] There are 12 sprint tracks, 12 race tracks and those race tracks are modified for the freestyle event type with bigger ramps and different features. All the big tracks are multi-routed and there is a reason for using each of the routes. For example longer routes might have more jumps in them so you can use them to trick off of to build up your boost and repertoire of tricks. Shorter routes will have fewer jumps but get you there quicker. The 24 (or really 36) tracks are spread across Italy, Thailand, New Zealand, New Mexico, Wyoming, Ocotillo Wells and Glamis Dunes.

What online support is included in the game?
[Javent] Everything that’s available in single player is also available online. You can play with 15 other people online so most events have 16 players in them. It’s pretty hectic and really good fun. There is a game mode that’s exclusive to online called Freeride. In that, you can drive where you like and the game will record the best lap time for the session, the highest jump, the biggest single combo and the highest total score of the session. This means you can compete for lots of things at the same time online and you’re free to challenge your mates to session a small area of the track or take on the whole lap together forwards or backwards.

Are there any differences between the platforms that have affected the game in any way?
[Javent] Not really no. Except that we support sixaxis on PS3 and custom sound tracks on Xbox 360.

Are trophies supported for the PS3 version?
[Javent] No. I’m afraid that Sony weren’t ready to support this feature when we were developing the game. It’s something we’re considering in a future patch at the moment because they’re pretty cool and offer a different way to play the game.

Will there be any downloadable content in the future?
[Javent] It’s something we’re considering.

What are the main challenges in developing for multiple platforms?
[Javent] You need more people to develop for multiple platforms. More people means more problems! However it’s really not that hard if you’ve got the experience and the right guys. We’ve also been building technology as a studio for nine years and we got a bit of a head start on PS3 because we were working with Sony at the time on ATV Fury 4. This is actually our third xbox 360 game after MotoGP 06 and 07.

What platforms at home do you own?
[Javent] I’m a big kid really. I’ve just converted the loft in my house into a dedicated games room. I’ve had a 360 and a Playstation 2 for years. I’ve got a Wii but I don’t use it much. It’s down in the lounge for when people come around to play Wii Sports basically. I’ve got the Wii fit balance board and have used it once or twice. Running is better for you and actually more fun. I’ve got a Nintendo DS. I just bought a PS3 this week for the Little Big Planet beta and Wipeout HD. I’ve used my work PS3 test station before now but you can’t play online with it or use the PSN store. I’ve got a 42″ plasma, a decent surround sound system and a gaming PC set up in one of the bedrooms. It’s all going up in the loft in a couple of weeks.

Thanks for your time Jason…

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