E3 Interview with Nino Ceraolo of Sony Studio Liverpool

Resources: Real Audio File   /   WAV File

Managing to pin down Nino for an interview had been quite difficult. Being the more hyperactive side of manic meant that he didn’t seem to be in one place long enough to be spotted! However, when I did catch up with him during the afternoon of E3 day one, he was more than willing to give an interview for WipeoutZone.

Sadly things were to work against us. With the dull roar from the crowded show floor of the Los Angeles convention center making even conversation with someone close difficult, we had to find a meeting room in order for my relatively basic recording equipment to pick us up from the background noise. This was no mean feat - there were corporate deals going on all over the shop and when we eventually did get a meeting cubicle it might as well have been in the middle of a busy junction for all the sound proofing it offered.

So, if you find my Scottish accent and Nino’s Liverpudlin accent too audibly challenging to understand, you will probably get more of an idea of what was said from the following transcript.

RF: Nino, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to give us this exclusive interview.

NC: No trouble at all, you’re welcome...

RF: So it’s the run-up to the launch of Wipeout Fusion - hopefully before christmas!

NC: Uh-huh, yeah - hopefully! *laughs*

RF: Can you tell us anything about the difficulties or the challenges the developers have faced while bringing it to us?

NC: Yeah, well, developing for the PS2 has been a challenge in itself. With any new hardware you get it’s difficult to develop for and it’s only when you actually get a chance to try and develop for that hardware that you find out how difficult it is and the problems you have. So, when the specs for the PlayStation 2 came out they said "it’s goanna do this, it’s goanna do that, it’s goanna do this" and until you actually get the hardware and find out what it actually does, that’s when you start finding out what your problems are. Everyone who has been developing for it has had problems, so it’s not been as clear cut as everyone thought it would be. But we are getting over them now and we’re trying to find better ways of getting things out of it.

I mean, keeping the frame rate up with the speed of the game with Wipeout - that’s always a problem! So you’ll even get a problem with the new console with the new processing power, so we wanted to make it go faster, but to make it go faster we’ve had to drop the anti-aliasing because that took up too much time on the CPU. Any development for new consoles is difficult - PlayStation 2 isn’t an exception at all, even though everyone’s found it difficult.

RF: What about anything you wanted to include that you’ve had to leave out?

NC: Nothing yet! Everything we want to put in is still going in and we haven’t really compromised at all, and I think that’s why the launch dates have slipped - because we want to keep it as solid as we said it would be at the beginning and we just want to bring a better game out.

RF: Good stuff! I noticed some new weapons on the version that was running downstairs (on the show floor), can you tell me anything about the weapons that are included?

NC: Yeah - there are going to be a lot of new weapons! New one’s like the Grav Stinger which takes away the anti-gravity of the ships and you just end up on the floor and it slows you right down!

There’s a new Grenade that fires three grenades from the front of the ship - and we’re still going to have some of the old weapons in, but there’s a lot of new weapons - a lot of them aren’t in there yet, it’s a sort of last minute thing - once you’ve got the speed up you put in the weapons. But there’s going to be, like, 26 weapons!

RF: That’s quite a number! What about the tracks - how many of those?

NC: There’s seven environments, and each environment’s got three tracks, and each of them three tracks you can play it in reverse as well. And there’s also going to be two tracks for endurance mode. So there will be 46 tracks in all to play on in the game.

RF: That’s quite impressive - quite an amount of tracks - it’s no wonder it’s taking this amount of time to polish it!

NC: Yeah, it’s going to take a few times to get through the game as well - there’s like 200 races to get through the game.

RF: I noticed the speed, and the progression is slightly different from the previous versions of the game where you raced at different levels, like Phantom, Rapier, whatever, but this time you customise your ship to increase the speed...

NC: Yeah, there is a customisable section on there now, and there’s five elements of the ship you can upgrade: the stability, the speed and the handling of the ship. So you now earn money at the end of each race and you upgrade the ships at the end of each race and then they will physically change the way they look as well, so they look different the more you upgrade them.

RF: Is Wipeout Fusion it as far as the Wipeout series goes?

NC: Hopefully not, we’d like to take it on but obviously until we bring it out and see how it goes in the market place we’ll have a better idea, but we’d like to keep bringing them out as long as people still want to play them.

RF: I suppose that online play is the next step?

NC: As soon as the technology is there for the PlayStation 2 we will be implementing online play into it, but, at the moment, Sony are being a bit slow with the online stuff... so, I mean, for our release date at the end of the year, the online structure for the PlayStation 2 might not be in place, but if it is then of course we’ll try and get it in there - and we’ll look into the possibility of using an I-link as well so you can use two PlayStations, two TV’s and link them together...

RF: Ok - I wont take up any more of your time, thanks very much for doing this interview.

NC: That’s okay - not a problem!

Sadly at this point some corporate dudes knocked on the glass door to usher us out of the precious meeting room and the interview is well and truly over. I didn’t get to ask half the questions I wanted to in the short time allowed, but I am extremely grateful to Nino for giving us this exclusive insight into the work behind the scenes at Studio Liverpool.