MotoGP 09/10

From 2008 to 2010 I worked on  MotoGP 09/10 in a design role with Monumental Games Ltd. The game was released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on the 19th of March, 2010, and was published by Capcom.

MotoGP 09/10 PS3 Boxart

“MotoGP 09/10 takes the series in an exciting new direction rewarding players for their racing style as well as skill on the track.

Gamers will get all the riders, tracks and teams from the official 2009 MotoGP season AND free downloadable content from the 2010 season as it unfolds. The free update means gamers will be able to play the most up to date MotoGP season content earlier than ever before.

MotoGP 09/10 delivers a racing experience like no other. The blistering speed and intensity of race day will be just one of the challenges as MotoGP 09/10 will add many new modes and features for the best in offline and online racing.” - Capcom

Credits

The credits can be found here.

Design Responsibilities

  • Gameplay balancing
  • Vehicle handling/dynamics
  • Scripting
  • AI behaviour
  • Dialogue
  • String-table localisation/management
  • Downloadable content
  • Achievements & rich presence
  • Replay camera system
  • Track data editing
  • Menu layouts & flow
  • Research & documentation
  • Testing & bug-fixing

Recommendation

Tom Goodchild, Lead Designer of MotoGP 09/10, was kind enough to leave me this recommendation on my LinkedIn profile:

“Matt was a fresh faced student straight out of university when he first arrived at Monumental Games. I was a fresh faced lead designer at the time and we both had to grow into our roles while working together.

Matt instantly displayed a maturity and calm temperament that was head and shoulders above that of his student peers, in fact surpassing several industry “veterans” and even, after a year of working together, fooling our new game director into thinking Matt was a industry vet himself.

Matt has professional, considered, focused and careful approach to design that proved very successful at reducing project risk and getting work done on time. We knew that we could leave Matt to a task with minimal supervision knowing that we’d get a complete and fully tested piece of work that could slot into the game with minimum disruption.

Matt then returned to university after giving our company two solid years of hard work and (nearly) two full boxed current generation titles under his belt.

Highly recommended.”

Details

My role entailed working with the Lead Designer’s vision of the game, taking the game’s development in the desired direction. It was a strong learning experience that I feel I benefited from greatly.

Balancing the game involved more than simply ensuring that the motorbikes were competitively fair, since MotoGP 09/10 featured a Career Mode and Arcade Mode – both of which needed smooth rates of progression that would grant longevity and interest to the game. To that end, I authored many spreadsheets to calculate the monetary income and reputation that the player would receive throughout their career experience.

MotoGP 09/10 had sophisticated physics and handling. I worked on the vehicle dynamics for the 2009 250cc class, which involved configuring hundreds (if not thousands) of variables. I also took over the 2009 125cc class later into development. When we developed packs of downloadable content, I created the updated handling for the 2010 classes. My work on the Moto2 and the 2010 MotoGP classes in particular appeared to be well-received by the community.

We had scripts for many game components like the bikes, riders, staff, upgrades and so on. Some of the work I did involving the scripts was related to gameplay balancing, as I created spreadsheets that used Visual Basic to output the names and skill values of the staff and sponsors that are available in the game. I also used the scripts to determine how much the upgrades would affect the performance of the bikes.

The AI in the game does not “cheat” – in other words, it does not have bike handling characteristics that are any different from the player’s bike. It is not artificially made to go faster, or to have super-powerful brakes, or to have magic tyres that don’t skid. The AI would read meta-data from the track to tell it where to turn, where to accelerate and where to brake, and that meta-information was set by us, the designers. We could also calibrate other aspects of its behaviour, such as aggression when overtaking, in order to create individual on-track personalities for the riders.

All of the voiced dialogue in the game was written by me (although I have to admit, the voice actor differed from what I had in mind), and edited by the Lead Designer / Producer. I was also placed in charge of maintaining the game’s string table, which was a big responsibility during localisation.

As previously mentioned, we developed three packs of downloadable content for MotoGP 09/10. The first and third packs were free, and contained track and bike updates for the 2010 season. The second pack was premium content, adding two classic tracks that had been retired from the calendar. Creating this additional content was almost like developing a mini-sequel, since it involved work in all the same areas as the main game, for example scripting and track-data editing. This gave me experience of deploying DLC to the development kits of both platforms, including using XLAST (Xbox LIVE Authoring and Submission Tool). XLAST is also used for setting up the game’s Achievements and Rich Presence for the Xbox 360.

I created many rough mock-ups of menu screens in Photoshop to demonstrate what information they should present. I used Microsoft Visio to create flow diagrams of how the menu screens were linked, using colour co-ordination to indicate game mode.

Knowing the background of the sport and past titles of the series was imperative. I needed to know the rules and participants of the sport thoroughly, so I conducted extensive research and compiled a significant amount of information and documentation for reference throughout the project. To help ensure we captured the atmosphere of the race events, someone from the team was present at pretty much every one. I myself attended Donington Park in 2009 and Silverstone Circuit in 2010.

Finally, I have experience of working with a large-scale bug database and I also contributed to recording gameplay footage and screen captures for promotional use.

Since I returned to university, Monumental has produced the next game in the series, MotoGP 10/11, which has added many overall improvements that were built on the foundation work of MotoGP 09/10.

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