|a game by||Cyberdreams|
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Imagin looking at a picture and thinking: 'That would make a great game'. That was exactly what went through the minds of Cyberdreams staff when they saw a futuristic painting by renowned futurist Syd Mead. Two years of planning later and Cyberace is the result: a futuristic simulation of high-speed racing and out and out combat. Making use of the much heralded Voxel graphics technology, Cyberace aims to be the ultimate racing game ever produced. Imagine a cross between Comanche, The Terminator and Indy 500 and you get a close idea of what to expect.
'Our goal was to create a game that was superior in every aspect.' exclaims John Krause proudly. He is producer and one of the game's programmers. 'Our president, Pat Ketchum. had wanted to do a game with Syd Mead, but the big question was what type of game? Because my favourite game at the time was Indianapolis 500 and because Syd is especially famous for his renderings of futuristic vehicles, we decided on a race game that takes place in the future.'
The concept behind Cyberace is that in the future war has been replaced by gladiatorial style races. You play the part of Clay Shaw, (don't you just hate your parents for not giving you a hard name like that?) a representative of the Terran empire in the battles. As with most American games, each burst of frenetic action is separated by an animated movie-style segment telling a story that changes depending on how well you perform.
'To make the game as cinematic as possible we chose two graduates from the American Film Institute to write the script (which is over one hundred pages long). We then selected professional actors to play the main characters, hired a costume designer to create the costumes for each of the characters and filmed them all at a studio against a blue backdrop, later replaced by the background art in the game.'
As with Lost in Time, computer games are getting closer to films every day. 'Every game we do will involve filming live actors in a studio, recording professional voice actors for the dialogue and hiring composers to write the musical scores,' confirms Krause. 'Plus with the increasing number of cd rom drives on the market, computer games will have to become like interactive movies. Instead of simply using a cd rom as a low-cost method of distributing multiple-disk games, software companies will be expected to fill up the extra storage space that cd roms provide.
'I wish we could have done Cyberace for cd rom only, as there was a lot more that we wanted to put into the between-race sequences in terms of animation and plot twists. Unfortunately the limiting factor was disk space and it's still too early for cd rom only. Maybe for Cyberace 2.'
Who are Cyberdreams anyway?
Well, it's a good question. Seemingly out of nowhere yet another all-singing, all-dancing American software house lands on our shores, without so much as a by your leave, and proceeds to impress upon us a game that's going to set new standards and join forces with big star names.
Don't go breaking out the apple pies and baseball caps right away though. Cyberdreams uk is very much a European affair, right down to its Bristol-born Managing Director. Mark Scriven. Why set up in the first place though? The answer, according to Scriven, is a simple one: 'If you are going to make the best out of the European market, you need to have an office here. You can't do it from the States. The problem with overseas markets, especially Japanese companies, is that they always see Europe as one market, one language, one taste. They think plainly in terms of Japan. America and Europe, but it's not like that at all. For Europe you're talking about over 14 different countries, ten different languages, ten different cultures, ten different economies. Everything is so different that you need to have a base here and that shows the commitment that Cyberdreams has to the European market. They're not just here to take the money and. like some Japanese companies do. when the market declines, pull out and go back home. This is a real commitment.
As you might have guessed. Scriven comes to the pc market after having worked in the world of Japanese consoles. What are the main differences between the two? 'For me it's incredibly refreshing to come from the Nintendo market into the world of the PC because consoles are all about marketing and not about quality of product. It's a cliche but Cyberdreams is all about quality and not quantity.' Indeed, for a company that spent over two years developing its first title (Darkseed) and a further two years working on the second (Cyberace), you could hardly accuse it of rushing to meet consumer trends. 'That's why we delayed the launch of Cyberace until September. We thought it was worth waiting another three months to make sure we brought out a piece that was as good as it could be. This meant taking on extra artists - which we did -and spending extra money'.