NaturalMotion has revealed more details behind its move into full game development – but added that customers of its popular animation technology shouldn’t worry because "technology is still our core business".
The company – best known in the games industry for its Endorphin, Euphoria and Morpheme tech – unveiled the American football game Backbreaker in mid-August. It is the company’s first attempt at developing a full game.
In an exclusive interview in the latest issue of Develop, the company has explained that the game is predominantly powered by procedural content – mainly its Euphoria animation engine – and built by a team of just five core developers.
"Initially it started as an experiment – can we make a top class football gmae that looks great with our technology, but also can we keep the team small using the most advanced technology possible?" explained CEO Torsten Reil, who has helped NaturalMotion forge partnerships with LucasArts and Rockstar North to get its Euphoria technology in upcoming games Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and GTAIV.
The production team is based in Oxford, aided by an American football expert based in San Francisco – using Euphoria and its own in-house tools, the team has devised a game that is only 100MB in size.
"Procedural content really is the future of the industry," said Reil. "There is so much you can do procedural now it’s amazing."
That includes the on the pitch action and a busy in-game sports arena which boasts 90,000 spectators rendered in real-time.
Backbreaker is slated for release next year. Although the filesize is perfect for the likes of Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network, Reil wouldn’t comment on how the game will make it to market, saying only "we will publish the game ourselves".
Plus, he said that the company isn’t planning to take on EA’s mammoth Madden series.
"We’re not trying to compete with Madden or EA because they know what they’re doing. It would be foolish to think that we’d even take a single sale from Madden."
Reil said players can expect the contact sport element to be more visceral like Gears of War, revelling in the dynamics of football tackling the way Burnout emphasises car crashes amongst is racing action.
That said, given those comparable games are made by companies with famed dual lives as tool and game developer (Criterion and Epic Games), Reil was keen to stress that NaturalMotion’s addition of full game development staff won’t harm its bread and butter business as a tools firm.
"What we’ve been quite careful of doing – because obviously the main business of the company is technology – is to ring the game team off from the guys working on Euphoria and Morpheme," he explained. "Technology is still our core business."