Trials Second Edition on the PC was one my favourite titles when it was released, and it was an idea that was immensely improved with the Xbox Live Arcade release of Trials HD.. Soon, another slice of biking action will be coming with Trials Evolution. To find out more, I hunted down RedLynx’s Jani Karttunen, Game Designer on Trials Evolution and picked his brain about the upcoming title. Find out what he has to say after the jump.
The Reticule – So Trials Evolution is the follow up to Trials HD which is in turn a follow up to the PC based Trials 2. I assume then that the previous two titles have been a success for the studio, but how well have they performed for you?
Jani - They definitely have done well for us, Trials HD in particular being one of the most successful, if not the most successful, downloadable digital console game of all time. We announced last year that Trials HD has sold over two million units, including the base game and both DLCs.
The Reticule – Evolution is taking the bike out of that warehouse which became a stand out setting in the first games. What made you decide on the new locations?
Jani - The idea is that the players will be able to learn and remember the tracks much better, as they will be able to tell stories about the tracks to their friends. With Trials HD, you’d pretty much be saying every time, “You know that track in the warehouse, with the boxes?” Now, with Trials Evolution, you can say things like, “You know that track that is like oil refinery? Or the Normandy beachhead? Have you played that track with all the platforms hanging in the air and in the end the track blows up and your rider plummets 500 meters to the ground? Yeah, that was cool.”
The Reticule – Is the warehouse still present in the game?
Jani - Yes, the warehouse is still one of the building types available in the game, and you can construct entire tracks inside a warehouse if you want to. In fact, you can downright replicate a Trials HD track, and in fact we wouldn’t be surprised if some users decided to recreate some of their favourite tracks from Trials HD and its DLCs in Trials Evolution, so they can be played multiplayer, incorporate the new scoreboards, and try them out with the new bikes and custom riders.
The Reticule – What can you tell us about the curved driving line, how does that differ from Trials HD?
Jani - The driving line in HD was always completely straight whereas in Evolution you can freely make turns and curves if you want to. Combined with the outdoor environment, this allows you to plot courses in the terrain as you wish. Having turns in the track also allows players to see upcoming track sections in the background, and even have the track cross over itself! It adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay and really opens up all kinds of possibilities with the track editor.
The Reticule – I fail a lot when I try out new tracks in Trials, but I have always loved being immediately set back to the last checkpoint, is this still happening?
Jani - Absolutely. The instant checkpoint restart is vital to the Trials gameplay experience and it will return in Evolution exactly as it was in HD. For competitive players going for the leaderboard runs, the instant track restart also works like it did in HD.
The Reticule – Will there be a hardcore mode where if you crash, you have to start the level from the beginning again?
Jani - Not in itself, but if you want to seriously rank on the leaderboard (vs. your friends or the world), that is pretty much what you will have to do, as faults play a major part in the ranking. Leaderboard ranking against your friends is a self-induced hardcore mode. You have been warned…
The Reticule – How many tracks are there in single player and what kind of game modes are we going to see?
Jani - We have over 60 tracks in the single-player Career. The core Trials racing game mode is identical to Trials HD, but this time we have structured the metagame in a new way, such that you really need to learn how to beat tracks and learn the important skills that let you beat those tracks before you advance.
What this means for the player is that tracks in the Career are split into Events that are interspersed with License Tests. Once you’ve earned a License, you need to rack up a set amount of Medals from all tracks open to you in order to unlock a new Event or License test. To earn Medals, you can pass new tracks or get better medals from ones you have already passed. If a particular track gives you trouble, you can go for a better medal in another to keep progressing.
Skill Games are also returning, but the revamped Evolution engine allows for some really wild Skill Games, so expect to see something completely different to HD.
Tournaments are also in. In Tournaments, you run a set of several tracks at once and get one medal for your combined performance.
The Reticule – The new multiplayer mode looks fantastic, how exciting is it for you to know that people will be racing head to head?
Jani - It’s really exciting. We hope players have as much fun playing it as we’ve had creating it. Even though testing is something we have to keep doing over and over, it always ends up as a close race to the finish line with screaming and cursing.
And remember, when you host a Private online match or play Local multiplayer, you can race on user-created tracks! If someone in your race doesn’t have the track, it only takes seconds to download, because the actual size of the track files are less than 10 kilobytes!
The Reticule – The track editor shown off in the recent Inside Xbox video looks extremely detailed, has it been a challenge to get it to work with the 360 pad?
Jani - Obviously a gamepad is a challenging input device to get working for environments with multiple simultaneous user actions. However, I think we’ve pulled it off as our RedLynx track designers are very effectively using that exact same editor and gamepad to create the actual in-game tracks. And they do that on an Xbox 360, we don’t build our tracks or mini-games on a PC or some development system. It’s the exact same tool you get with the game.
Of course, you don’t have to be a professional to create tracks. Just launch the Lite Editor and you will have all the features and objects needed to create Trials tracks from Easy to Extreme. Track creation is easy to pick up but allows huge possibilities for experienced users.
Jani - Anything you see in the single- and multiplayer game can be re-created by you in the editor and then shared with the whole world. We also expect users to create some wild stuff that we haven’t even thought about, once they get familiar enough with the editor.
You can also shape and re-texture the terrain, you can place and expand buildings, you can use more than fifteen hundred different objects (including variations), you can place effects like fire and smoke, and you can use the all-new trigger system to create a simple elevator or a complex skill game logic. Environment, lighting and camera settings can be modified to make tracks that look completely different from a “normal” Trials track.
The only limitation is the capability of the Xbox – if you try to create a level featuring ten thousand exploding basketballs covered with flame effects all on one screen, you will get into trouble. As long as you are reasonable in terms of hardware performance and avoid having one thousand exploding basketballs, the only limit really is your imagination.
The Reticule – Will tracks be automatically rated for difficulty, or will players rate that themselves?
Jani - When you create and upload a track, you will set the difficulty that you think your track represents. Users can rate tracks on a five-star like/don’t like scale.
The Reticule – What can you tell us about the new bike and rider customisation?
Jani - First things first – all bike and rider customisations are 100% visual – they will not affect performance in any way. We want to keep a level playing field, so the bikes will run the same for everyone.
When you progress in the Career, you will earn money and unlock rider gear and bike parts. You can customize your rider by changing riding gear and then changing the colours. Same goes for the bikes: you can buy decorative parts like bodywork and wheels and completely customize the colouring of your bike.
Trials Evolution is out Spring 2012 on Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade.