Wushu Studios Interview: Driveclub Veteran Alan McDermott Talks About the Team's Mysterious New Game
Former MotorStorm and Driveclub sound maestro Alan McDermott is now at the helm of Wushu Studios and gives the first detail about his new game.
After the closure of Evolution Studios, known for the Driveclub and MotorStorm franchises, some of its developers decided to create a new team named Wushu Studios, under the leadership of former Audio Director Alan McDermott.
The studio has been teasing a new sci-fi game, but remained tight-lipped about any other detail besides the genre, until now. We sat down with McDermott himself, and finally managed to get some more information on the title, on top of the studio itself.
Giuseppe: Your previous development experience was with a rather large first-party studio. What made you decide to create your own team instead of seeking work at another top studio?
Alan McDermott: Working on big ‘AAA’ titles is a blast, but by the very nature of their large teams and large budgets they must be creatively conservative, and you spend much of your time managing the project rather than making cool stuff. We like making cool stuff; getting our hands dirty with code, art, and design is what gets us up in the morning.
“You can look forward to a primarily single-player, narrative-driven experience. We’re setting the visual bar pretty high too, so gamers can expect it to be no slouch in terms of graphics.”
G: What are the main differences between working at Evolution and as part of your own smaller team?
AM: Small team development is great, but it’s not for everyone. In a large studio you have specialists to cover all kinds of tasks, in a small team, everyone must turn their hand to everything. It’s creative, dynamic and very hard work. There’s also no safety net if things go wrong, but with that comes a great deal of freedom to forge our own path.
G: Is there anything at all you can tell us about your first game? We know it’s sci-fi, but is there anything else?
AM: Absolutely! When we first announced ourselves as a studio back in January, we had a lot of people asking just what kind of game we’re working on and what to expect, with a lot of folks hoping for something story driven. We’re happy to say that yes, you can look forward to a primarily single-player, narrative-driven experience. We’re setting the visual bar pretty high too, so gamers can expect it to be no slouch in terms of graphics.
G: Could there be any racing or driving elements at all in the game?
AM: It’s hard to give a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer at this point in the game’s development, but we can’t rule it out. Anything’s possible! If we do include any sections that involve driving, it most definitely will not be the focus of the gameplay experience.
G: Are there any platforms that you can confirm for now?
AM: We haven’t confirmed specifics just yet, as we’re still in discussions with a number of different publishers. We have extensive experience in developing across all major platforms, but it’s too early to confirm anything yet.
G: Funnily I actually practiced Wushu for about eight years when I was younger. Why did you choose the name of a Chinese martial art for your studio, especially considering that it’s a bit more obscure term compared to Kung Fu?
AM: You know, picking a name for a studio, or anything else for that matter, is not an easy task! We want something that would stand out a bit and stick with people once we start putting our games out there, both verbally and visually.
But aesthetics and mnemonics aside, there’s also something to be said for the competitive nature of Wushu/Kung Fu, right? It’s a performance art and is breathtaking to watch in action. I think there are some parallels to video game development there in the way art and interactivity are married together to create something special.
“in a nutshell our philosophy is that developers are creative people and should be allowed to be creative!”
G: Could you talk a bit about the team? How much has it grown, if any, since the original announcement?
AM: We are keeping the team small, for now, but we’ve bolstered it with some plucky fresh young graduates to complement our aging developer carcasses.
G: Do you have any idea on how long we’ll have to wait to finally see something about your game?
AM: Yes! We’re still working on the “what, when and how’s” of that, but the plan is to show something a little later this year.
G: Could you put in words the philosophy and mission of Wushu Studios?
AM: I guess in a nutshell our philosophy is that developers are creative people and should be allowed to be creative! With the right mix of talent, experience, and fearlessness, incredible things can be achieved!
“We have a very strong heritage in high-quality audio and music production, and that’s an area we feel can really help lift an experience and create a thoroughly immersive world.”
G: Are you already thinking long-term, including possible additional projects beyond the first, or are you completely focused on the initial game for now?
AM: Right now, we have our heads down crafting the backbone of our first game, which is pretty much consuming all of our collective creative juices, but we already have an eye on the future too. The video game industry can be a fickle mistress for indie developers, but we’re laying the foundations for Wushu as firmly as we can.
G: Evolution Studios certainly reached a remarkable level of visual excellence with Driveclub. How relevant will the graphics be in your game?
AM: Lots of games out there have already shown that a smaller team size doesn’t mean you have to compromise on graphical fidelity. We’re keen to add our own noise to this argument too. The feedback we’ve had so far on visual style and graphical accomplishment has been very positive, so we’re confident in our ability to hit a high bar for production values. The same goes for audio, too! We have a very strong heritage in high-quality audio and music production, and that’s an area we feel can really help lift an experience and create a thoroughly immersive world for players to enjoy.
G: Are you already set on an engine? Could you tell us which one?
AM: That we are. We’re developing with Unreal Engine 4. It’s an extremely versatile engine that allows us to prototype quickly. We’re also very familiar with the toolset, having developed with it extensively in the past.
G: Lately, we have seen a sort of conflict between multiplayer games and single-player story-driven games. Where is Wushu Studios positioned on this? Will the story be important in your first game?
AM: You’re right, it’s definitely one of the topics du jour! There’s room for both in the world, we wouldn’t consider it a conflict. The most interesting games are those that manage to inhabit the poorly defined space between the two – games like Journey and Portal for example. Story is indeed very important to us, but a definition of story doesn’t necessarily have to be restricted to a rigid linear form. Video games have the power to free story from those constraints and offer new and unique ways to experience narrative.
G: To conclude, is there anything you’d like to tell to those who are eagerly waiting to see what you have in store?
AM: We’re first and foremost incredibly thankful that we even have so many that are following us on social media and excited to see what we’re doing! Trust us when we say we’re even more excited to share ourselves relatively soon. Keep your eyes glued to our social channels on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @wushustudios!