Why The Grand Tour Game’s perpetual motion makes you feel like one of the trio
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“Unless your TV’s bust, you very rarely see a static scene in a TV show,” explains Craig Sullivan, Creative Director of The Grand Tour Game. And he’s got a point. When did you last see Clarkson, Hammond and May freeze stock-still for even a second? Things in real life keep moving – and the Amazon Game Studios team has made this perpetual motion a core part of the game to make you feel part of the show.
Craig’s been busy putting the finishing touches to the game, but he took time out to speak to DriveTribe about the underlying ethos for The Grand Tour Game: the idea of ‘Playing The Show’. For some games it could be a cynical marketing line, but it genuinely underpins the whole game and completely dictates how you’ll experience it when it launches in early 2019.
It started with 20 pages…
In fact, the idea of simply ‘playing the show’ is so fundamental to the game that it was baked into the project even before a line of code was written.
Craig explains: “I started at Amazon on April 24, 2017. My new boss, Rich Hilleman, was employee no. 39 at EA a long, long time ago, so he’s super old school and a great, great guy to work for. His original idea was that we’re going to do a game based on The Grand Tour, and that we want it to be based on the idea of playing the show.”
Game-dev legend Rich had a surprise in store for Craig.
“He handed me a 20 page document outlining his idea for the game on my first day at work, and said: ‘it’s over to you now’.”
“We knew that we didn’t want to do a big open world game based in the universe of The Grand Tour. We went to the UK and pitched the game to Andy Wilman, Richard Hammond and James May. They said: “wow, we expected you to pitch us some fictional story and CG characters of us doing some stuff’ – they didn’t expect us to pitch play the show.”
Perpetual motion in action
“A lot of the creative direction I did very early on was to make sure we had perpetual motion in the game”, says Craig.
“In a traditional video game you see static screens all the time – all the menus are completely static, you have press X to continue, press X to do whatever it is. When you start playing an episode from our game, the credits roll as they do on the screen, then they roll seamlessly into the game – there are no static loading screens.”
I’ve seen it in action and it’s seriously impressive – and because the ‘cut scenes’ are footage from the show, they’re instantly the best, most naturally amusing cut scenes in any driving game. There’s not a moment where you put your controller down and play with your phone while waiting for the next segment to load.
But getting to this point hasn’t been easy, as Craig divulges.
“When I pitched the idea of perpetual motion and no static screens to the team, there were a few raised eyebrows because we had to do a bunch of tech work to make that happen. But we got a team on it and it’s a great feeling to have done it.”