Interview: Live for Speed

Live for Speed is a game which maybe beats TOCA Race Driver, Need for Speed and other racing games on PC. With its great car performance, graphics and realistic sounds Live for Speed is one of the most expected games of this genre. Therefore we interview the creators of the game.
Interview: Live for Speed

Where are you from? Are you old friends or did you meet yourselves only because the game?

Erik and Scawen (graphics and code), both residing in the UK, have been colleagues at Lionhead, during development time for Black and White. This is where they met and were the first to come up with the basic ideas of Live for Speed. As they made the first versions of the game, and things started to progress nicely and take shape, the need for a music and sound man arose. After asking around here and there for references, one Lionhead colleague came up with Victor (me), living in the Netherlands. The joining was a new one, we had not met before.

What had you been doing before joining to Live for Speed team? Had you had some game experience?

Eric Bailey: I started my working life in 1988 as a messenger in the Advertising industry. I was "promoted" to a Visualizer Artist before I left the industry about three years later. I started in the Computer Games industry in late 1992. My first game was the Incredible Hulk. Its all been downhill ever since! :-)

Scawen Roberts: Haha :) I must add that Eric`s games industry experience before this has been as a talented animator and he was responsible for nearly every animation in Lionhead`s Black and White. My own history is - after leaving half way through a computer science degree course which was only partly interesting, my first full-time occupation was as a motorbike courier in London which was great and taught me a lot about life and bikes. I left that to work as a programmer in the business sector for 6 months before moving to Digital Integration, and after a gap then to Lionhead Studios.


Victor van Vlaardingen: I got interested in making music around 12 years ago. First being a drummer in several little bands that never got anywhere, later on I started to make music on computers only in the so called demo-scene. This is where people come together and compete in groups with each other to make the best looking and sounding `demo`, which should be seen as a show-off video clip, played (calculated) in real time. During these demo years I met some very talented people who got jobs in the gaming industry and later on hooked me up with Scawen and Eric to work on Live for Speed. In the meantime I had moved from pure computer music to using real synths and instruments and have been doing music for commercials, little game projects and released some mixes of dance tracks as well as some tracks of my own. I have learned a lot during this 12 year period, by `doing it yourself` and following sound engineering courses. I have been chief of sound in a big club here in Rotterdam and worked on big festivals around Holland. But working on this game has been the best thing yet!

Why did you decide to make absolute realistic racing simulator? Do you think there is no such game?

You know the feeling where you are using some piece of software, or playing a game, where you think: `oh if I could only do ...`. Well, we had that with racing games. The ones that existed all had something good, but not all of it. Since we like to play racing games but couldn`t find anything that would fulfil our needs, the thought arose to make one ourselves - to create a game that we`d have fun with playing.
So in a sense you could say we wanted to create something that didn`t exist yet. The -feeling- of Live for Speed is quite unique. Everything has been made to be controlled easily, yet with deep going details. This in combination with the two click online play, makes for instant fun. At least for us :)



It`s amazing that only three people are working on this project. How do you cope with this difficult quest?

It`s not hard really, the only drawback (if one could call it that) is that things go a bit slower compared with a development house working on a game with 100 people. But other than that, we think that being a small team actually benefits us. Changes in any part of the game are done easily, as there is only one creator. One man for code, one for graphics, and one for the rest. Decisions can be made quite easily too, as we don`t need to agree with many - just us.

I can`t imagine how you want to make realistic game without special testing and much work, which can be done only in professional team. What are you using to make game so realistic?

Common sense and the internet :) We don`t have allies in motorsports or related companies. We have some experience with engines and cars, not even much with racing. But everybody knows how to drive a car and how it handles in real life, that`s where much of our reference material comes from.
By simulating as much of a car as possible, Scawen has been able to recreate a basis for cars. By adjusting the variables, this basis can be turned into, for example, the cars in the demo. These cars are excellent test material - as said before, everybody knows how they drive. So it`s a matter of adjusting the basis - all the details - until you get the feeling right. As soon as you`ve created this good basis, the step to other types of cars is possible and can be quite accurate right from the start.

Also number of people working on the game sounds unbelievable. Since august 2002 you have managed to make two interesting courses and great car performance. How is it possible?

Hard work.



So it looks your work on game is full-time. Is it true?

Yes, fully full time, even though I still have a second job on the side, which I can resign from soon hopefully!

Are you cooperating with some car company or will be all vehicles fictive? How many cars are you preparing?

For now, fictive cars have been planned. We don`t know how many cars will be in Live for Speed eventually. Basically a lot :) Plans are to have any type of car in the game. From normal road to formula, from kart to buggy. Several cars for each category will be made to be able to have sufficient enjoyment and variety for all tracks.

On your web pages you said, "you have noticed massive feedback through mail, forum boards and even third party applications have been and are already being made."  How many people (you think) know about Live for speed?

That`s a hard question to answer near exact. My estimates of people that have tried the game are 60-70.000. People are learning about Live for Speed every day and it spreads over the world via webpages, coverdiscs and word of mouth.

What is your goal? Do you want to make professional game and send it to the markets? Or establish groups of hard-core fans of your game?

Our only goal is to make a racing game we want to play :) To do this we need to remain small. I don`t think we are not professional because of this, as we try to do a decent thing and take Live for Speed very serious.



However, the way we will be selling the game will not be `normal`. The growing internet will help us out here, as more and more people have (broadband) internet at home or work and can acquire the game this way. Everybody who likes the game can join the community and we are very glad a community has already formed and is growing! Leagues are taking place, people are massively creating skins, websites are being made, charts for best laptimes are created, etc.. Some people even become interested in car physics after having played LFS :)

We`d like to see things continue this way. Live for Speed is for people who love racing, who live for racing - who live for speed :)

Can you reveal how price of the full game will be?

We`ve not yet decided 100% on that and rather would not say anything about it until we are sure.

How many tracks are you preparing to full game?

Again, hard to say how many tracks exactly. Just like with cars, there will be a big variety of tracks available eventually. Different types of tracks, each with several configurations, like Blackwood.



And how is the situation now? How many tracks have you made by now?

We have several tracks under development, with the 2 meant for the first release receiving priority. However, many tracks we have are ideas and try-outs and Erik will later on create new ones, based upon the ideas we had earlier.

There are some nice screenshots on your web pages with tracks in city. Can we expect some drives under Big Ben etc.? And where will be other places set in?

Heh, no, all the cars in LFS are fictive, and so are the tracks, even though they can look quite realistic, taken from a real scenery. So this means that the Big Ben will not make it into LFS and there are no real-life sceneries planned so far.

When do you expect to publish full game?

We expect our first release pretty soon. But when, we really don`t know. Also we have experienced deadlines simply never are reached, so we think it`s pointless to give a date, if we can`t make it... But as people often like to hear a number anyway - my best guess is 3 weeks :)

Thank you for your time. I wish you would realize all you want and hope it will be enjoyable game!

So do we, cheers :)

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