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Burnout Paradise PC Bonus Car Pack Is Back!

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PC Paradise fans can finally get hold of all the PC downloadable content we created, now that the Burnout Paradise 4-in-1 Bonus Vehicles Pack is back on sale through Origin.

The pack lets you drive a slew of new vehicles, including the Boost Special cars, the toy cars and the awesome Legendary vehicles. Also included is the Time Saver Pack, which unlocks all of 75 cars and four bikes that were included in the Ultimate Box Set, for immediate play.

The pack has been off the shelves for most players for too long, but we’ve got our Origin chums to make it available to owners of the PC Ultimate Box Set, exclusively through the Origin Store. Just click the pic  below to be taken there.

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Check the Origin page for local pricing but what we can tell you is the pack sells for just $1.59 in the USA, €1.59 in the EU and £1.29 in the UK.

Criterion Does Code Club!

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At Criterion we know that making great games needs great people, experts in coding and gameplay. Lucky for us that, in the UK, schools are now doing more than ever to train the next generations of engineers who will be building tomorrow’s games.

From the age of five, students are being taught the basics of creating with computers. By the time they’re eight they will be learning to code in Scratch, progressing through programming languages like Java and Python until, at eleven years old, they are making their own apps and games.

Code Club is a charity that helps support this new learning by organising after-school sessions for kids aged 9 to 11, run by volunteers in schools, libraries and community centres all around the country. The job of these volunteers is to coach, inspire and energise young people about making software.

Code Club Action

After-school game-making in action at a Code Club in the UK. Pic by Chocolate Films Ltd.

Three of those volunteers happen to be on the Criterion team. Our Studio GM, Matt Webster, Chief Technology Officer, Alex Mole and Technical Artist, Edwin Jones all run Code Clubs in the south-east of the UK. “Software engineers will rule the world,” Matt predicts, “So if we want to increase the pool of talent it’s up to us to inspire that talent.”

Matt has been running his Code Club for a year, spending an hour a week after school helping his group of 18 make games in Scratch. He admits you don’t need to be a programming genius to volunteer. “I don’t know a lot about coding,” he says, “but I bought a text book called ‘Adventures in Scratch’ and I thought as long as I stay a month ahead of the students I’d be fine.”

What if you’ve never taught before? “Code Club gives you an induction because it can be scary,” says Matt. “They also provide lesson plans and tutorials for different projects and you can decide which you’d like to use. In our group we voted on which games we should make, and we built them from start to finish. It could be insanely chaotic but it was great fun!”

If you’d like to volunteer to run a Code Club in your area, you’re a parent or you’re between 9 and 11 and would like to find a local club so you can join in, check out https://www.codeclub.org.uk/. Scratch is free to download from https://scratch.mit.edu/ where you’ll also find lots of tutorials and community-made games, so try it out!

All great game creators have to start somewhere. Get involved and get coding!

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Rosa Dachtler

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Audio Design Intern

How did your attachment to games begin?

I grew up with video games. My family moved around a lot and games were a constant. No matter where I went I could explore new worlds. I lived rurally so they were a limited commodity too. I would sink hundreds of hours into playing and replaying games like Mario 64, Neverwinter Nights and Summoner.

Was that where your interest in game audio began?

I come from a musical family so I grew up being an active listener. I remember music had as much of an effect on me as gameplay, so I was always aware of sound as an important part of games. It wasn’t until years later that I was introduced to the idea of being able to make game audio as a career.

What did you study at school that led you in this direction?

I gravitated towards creative or story-telling subjects like English and History. I was home-schooled so I didn’t have a traditional musical education, but the variety of musical influences I was exposed to helped me get excited about sound.

What was the point when you realised it could be a career?

After school, game audio seemed the least attainable option from all the things I was interested in but when I investigated it, it became more real.

There are so many resources online – interviews with sound designers, composers and audio directors. Hearing about their mismatched routes into the industry was inspiring, because they had all kinds of backgrounds and specialisms but they all found a place in games. It seemed like the Wild West, and that seemed exciting! But hearing their stories definitely made the idea of doing this work more real to me.

Tell us about your university course.

My course is Creative Music Technology at the University of Surrey and it’s an unusual combination of sound subjects. There are traditional musical subjects, as well as modules dedicated to individual creative practice using computers. That means there’s a lot of variety. You can make glitch music or rock music, as long as you’re using technology to do it. It was a pretty good fit for someone who was interested in game audio.

What brought you to Criterion?

Need For Speed Hot Pursuit arrived in my life just when I was getting interested in vehicles and motorcycles, and it’s the racing game I always go back to because I like to play in that space between ‘arcadey’ and ‘simulation’. I want something that’s a bit more than reality, something more escapist.

Is ‘beyond realistic’ the kind of thing that drives your sound design work?

I like to compare it to riding my motorcycle. When I’m riding a bike, how I remember it feeling isn’t how it feels. I remember it being a lot cooler and a lot faster and with much clearer roads, and with me as a much better rider. That’s how I want to feel in a game.

Do you feel like part of a new generation of women in games?

Yes and I feel lucky to be coming into the industry right now. It’s a surprise to find out how few women are working in game development, but I’ll be even more surprised if the same is true in five years. I don’t know of another industry that is so self-aware and so keen on spreading the good word. Growing up I was never aware that it was a problem that I was a girl who wanted to get into games. Certainly, by the time anybody got around to telling me that it was a problem I wasn’t having any of it!

Fun Facts

Rosa’s Top 3 game soundtracks

1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
2. Fez
3. Journey

Local Boy Does Good! – 25 Webster Years

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Matt at 25 years

In a startling example of what “following your dreams” can ultimately lead to, September 3rd was celebrated as Matt Webster’s 25th anniversary at Electronic Arts. That’s right. Twenty-five freaky years of game-making!

Matt joined the company as a slip of a boy in 1990 working with the Quality Assurance and Customer Services team, finding bugs on Magic Fly on the Atari ST and talking users through their quandaries with Amiga Deluxe Paint. All of this was but a warm-up for stardom, though. In between production duties on the early FIFA titles, he came off the bench to play up front for the England team, and he was also cast as selectable winchman, Mamba, in Desert Strike.

FIFA-Webster

His star continued to rise until it collided with Criterion’s in 2003, when he came to work with us during Burnout 3: Takedown. Since then he has been a permanent and highly-placed fixture on all of our racing titles, masterminding features such as Burnout Paradise’s online challenge gameplay.

In 2013 Matt took the reins of Criterion and now rides it, like a thoroughbred Arab stallion in the Kentucky Derby, to further glories. Next on his list is Criterion’s #Beyondcars project. You can see what he has to say about that here.

Congratulations Matt! We salute you, boss!

Alex Bailey

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Software Engineer

What’s your Criterion gameography, Alex?

I’ve worked on Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, Most Wanted, including the WiiU version, and then I helped Ghost Games with Need For Speed: Rivals. Now I have a couple of projects on the go…

Did you start off as a geeky kid?

Yeah I loved games from an early age. My parents won us a Sega Master System II in a Rice Krispies competition, then my brother got a second-hand Mega Drive II and I saved up for ages to get a Nintendo 64 with Goldeneye. We had an old Olivetti PC and I got hooked on some Jet Set Willy-clone platform game, then I discovered Monkey Island…

Did you teach yourself programming in between playing games?

I was quite an academic kid, and I knew I wanted to get into game-making so I studied maths and sciences at school. But I made the mistake of thinking, “I won’t teach myself programming because I’ll just pick up bad habits and when I get to university they’ll teach me all the good stuff.” It might also have been that the teach-yourself-programming books I picked up were all very dry – “Teach Yourself C In Three Months”. Blech.

Anyway, when I finally started my Computer Science course at university it was all theory and halfway through I realised that I’d have to teach myself to program. I knew that most games were built with C++ so when we got to pick assignments to work on I always picked projects I could make with C++.

I did find it tricky at the time because being a good student at school meant being spoon-fed problems and learning how to solve them. University was a lot more open-ended and I wasn’t in the habit of imagining a problem and solving it for myself. What’s different now is that there are a lot more people online who will pose little problems to solve and more people who will give you pointers. Being able to just ask around for help stops you being scared off by thinking there’s only one correct way to do things and you have to work that out for yourself.

So you were the antithesis of the teenage hacker who becomes a game programmer. When did you write your first game?

It wasn’t until I was at university, and I think I wrote a Tetris clone in C++ to teach myself how a game loop worked.

Looking back, would you have preferred a more game-focussed programming course?

Some of the more general computer science I did at university that seemed like it would have no game-making purpose at the time actually turned out to be pretty useful. For example, I had to learn SQL, which is a database-building language. I had no desire to be a database programmer, but as it turned out the first job I got was on a football management game which was all about manipulating tables of team and player statistics.

Making games doesn’t just mean making gameplay though. The understanding of logic and algorithms and searches and all that stuff you get from a computer science degree helps with making tools and systems as well as making the action. There are all kinds of things you can specialise in if that’s what you want, but in games you can be making tools or engines or systems or changing the software in all kinds of ways you never expected.

What keeps you coding?

The best times I’ve had are when I’ve woken up in the morning and I couldn’t wait to get into work to solve the next problem with the people I was working with. I’ve been lucky insofar as I’ve always worked with energetic teams who loved games. No matter how different we all were, we all loved games. The people around you are really important.

Fun Facts

Game I wish I’d made

Any Lucasarts SCUMM adventure, Solving the puzzles was massively rewarding. The closest I got to that euphoria recently was when I eventually beat a boss in Dark Souls.

Xbox guy or a PlayStation guy?

I’m an everything guy. I have an Xbox One, a PS4 and a WiiU. All day one purchases.

Most extravagant game purchase

The Destiny Collector’s Edition. About £125 and I got a Ghost figure that speaks awful lines when you wave at it.

Pete Lake

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Producer

You could be Criterion’s longest-serving team member. What was it that brought you here?

I joined Criterion in November 1996, officially as a Junior Artist on a motorcycle game called Redline Racer. Before Criterion I was working at a small multimedia company in Cwmbran in Wales, doing some programming and interactive kiosk systems. I actually spent a lot of time making 3D models of virtual kitchen cabinets to be sold as clip-art!

But you had loftier ambitions than kitchen cabinet clip-art?

My real ambition was to work as an animator in feature films, but I always loved games. I studied art, music and computer science at school, but unfortunately there were no university courses in game development at the time. At school they told me that I might as well try to get an office job or work in a supermarket.

So you didn’t get to Criterion via the usual university route.

I knew someone who had come to Criterion so I knew it was up-and-coming and willing to take a chance on people. I was 18 or 19 when I got that first job. After Redline Racer I worked on Sub Culture, Deep Fighter, Airblade and did a few bits on Burnout and Burnout 2.

By the time Burnout 3: Takedown came along we realised that having an artist work with designers to help them envision their ideas was a good thing. Prototyping gameplay back then was slow, but ‘previsualising’ or ‘pre-vis’ was a good way of showing what an idea would look like when it was in the game, and that’s what I got involved in. My first job was to figure out how Burnout 3’s intro screens and HUD messages should look, and also what crashes should look like.

That was a pretty big deal wasn’t it? To go from Burnout 2’s bump-n-slide crashes to Burnout 3’s big, trademark crashes?

A big part of it was analysing the kind of crashes that were in Burnout and Burnout 2, and working out how they could be more exciting and happen more often. We looked at what Hollywood was doing. If they wanted a car crash they didn’t just rely on physics. They’d fire an air-ram under the car at the right moment to pop it in the air. So we looked at those movie techniques to get more exciting crashes into the game. Then we threw in explosions and 20-car pile-ups, and two player Crash modes… Other people have done cool crashes since, but maybe not in the volume that we delivered!

Your next big job was Art Director on Burnout Revenge 360…

That was exciting because it was our first run at a full-on HD game that used that next generation of console power. After that I realised that I liked working with designers and engineers as well as artists so that’s when I became a Producer, running the crash team on Burnout Paradise.

The challenge there was to create crashes that matched player’s expectations of a Criterion game that used the power of the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Until then we’d had one type of crash – throw the car down the road – but in Burnout Paradise we added the slo-mo head-on crashes.

I worked with the team on the Year of Paradise project, when we added motorbikes to Paradise, the new cars and Big Surf Island – I was Island Pete in Crash TV if anyone remembers that. It was great to take the fans on that journey, expanding on the game we’d made. That was awesome. My career highlight. It was the closest we’ve got to our fans and it gave us a chance to add some of the crazy stuff we didn’t think of when we made the original game, which is something you don’t usually get the chance to do!

After that I worked on the user interfaces for Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, and I got the chance to direct Framestore on the game’s big reveal video. The great thing about working at Criterion and EA has been that I’ve worked with an incredible range of people.

Including Maxis.

Yes, after Hot Pursuit I got the chance to move to our Maxis studio in the USA, where I learned about making a completely different type of game, like The Sims 4 and Sim City Social. I was working on player feedback again and I discovered that what I’d learned in Burnout, telling the player when they were doing good stuff or bad stuff, carried over surprisingly well.

What was different about working at Maxis?

Well, what was the SAME was that they were also an incredibly passionate group of smart people who loved making games. Working on a Facebook game was a completely different experience though. You launch your game and you’ve got 20 million players on day one! And the bond between the Sims team and the fan community was amazing.

You transferred back to Criterion in 2013 so what have you been doing since?

Well, I’ve been working on a couple of super-secret things that I can’t talk about yet. But we’ll have something amazing to reveal soon…!

Fun Facts

Dream Job That Isn’t Being A Producer At Criterion:

Being an animator on a Disney movie, bringing characters to life!

Favourite Disney Movie:

Lilo and Stitch. It’s a very touching story with great characters and the story is told in a really modern way.

Favourite Game Of All Time:

I enjoy Disney Infinity for obvious reasons, but the LucasArts games are all-time favourites. Playing Day of the Tentacle was like playing a cartoon.

Didn’t you make the instruction videos for Burnout 3 on your own over a weekend?

Yes, that’s all my handwriting in those videos…

Paradise Rockers Tour ’07

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Burnout-Rockers

From L to R: Lyndon Munt, Iain Angus, Kasim Niazi, Garry Casey, Matthew Jones, James ‘Jimi’ Warren

Bizarre Burnout Memories from the 2007 Criterion Family Album: We can’t remember why, but at the end of production on Burnout Paradise, some of the team set up in the middle of the studio and treated the team to an impromptu concert of Burnout Original Soundtrack music.

Many a tuneful axe in evidence but gameplay super-engineer, Iain Angus, surprised us all, rocking it with electric violin and sandals. Young-blood-now-old-timer, Gary Casey (third from right) wins the competition for “Best Attempt At A Rock ‘n’ Roll Grimace”. He can do much better now though.

Giuliano Lo Bocchiaro

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Lead Vehicle Artist

Is being the lead vehicle artist at Criterion as fun as it sounds?

It means I’m in charge of making the vehicles we create fit the game design and the visual theme of the game, and making sure they look amazing when you’re playing with them in the game world. It’s a big responsibility and I love it!

For the benefit of all those young artists who want to be where you are, tell us how you got your start in games.

Well, like a lot of 3D artists, I got started when I was a kid and I got into playing with 3D software on my PC. Nowadays there’s software and information all over the internet, but back then it was very hard to get started. If you wanted a tutorial you had the programme’s built-in help and that was it.I remember my first model was a dromedary camel. I called him Gary and he looked pretty awkward, but the more things I tried to create, the more addictive I found it. I lived in Italy where there wasn’t much of a games industry, certainly in comparison to the UK or USA, so I didn’t think of making a career out of 3D graphics. In fact, I started studying medicine at university – my mother dreamed of me being a doctor! But after a while I had to be honest with myself and I realised I had to follow my dreams. I had to give my folks the news that they weren’t going to have a medic in the family.I ended up studying 3D graphics for three years at university in Milan. At the end of the course we had our degree show and I got talking to someone from a Milanese game company. They liked my work and they offered me a job as a 3D artist. So that’s how I got into video games.

You’ve ended up as a vehicle artist. Is that because you have a special love of cars?

I’ve got to be honest, the love I have for vehicles is purely aesthetic. I love to watch them, to see how precisely they are engineered. The shapes amaze me. But I’m not so interested in what’s under the hood. The specs about horsepower, torque… I really don’t care so much about that.

You’re an Italian vehicle designer who loves beautiful cars. So do you have a fondness for Lamborghini and Ferrari?

I do have a thing for supercars but thanks to Criterion I’m discovering there are tons of vehicles I’d never even heard of before, so this project will be great fun.

Sure, because our next game has a much broader range of vehicles than before. Does that mean you can be more creative?

Well, in the past I have worked on a lot of licensed games where I was only reproducing a few real, specific vehicles. In that case you don’t have any room to create. In fact if you get creative at all you can get into big trouble with the licensor.For Criterion’s next game we’re not limited to just picking cars, or cars that have a big name attached to them, and the priority is definitely to build vehicles that our fans will love looking at and playing with.

Fun Facts

My First Game:

Doom on DOS. When I wanted a network game I had to telephone a friend to let him know, and have him put the phone down so I could dial into his computer.

Favourite Burnout car:

Rossolini Tempesta GT: a sexy beast that was super fun to dodge traffic with, at insane speed.

Greatest car in the world, ever:

Ford GT (2003/2006)

Birth of a Takedown

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TakedownWhen you’re making a game, the best features aren’t things you design into it. It’s what the players get out of it. Burnout 2: Point of Impact was designed to be all about speed, crashing and traffic, but when players got their hands on it the thing they liked to add in, especially in split-screen multiplayer was smashing into their opponents. Sure, there was Pursuit mode, but what if it was possible to win a race by whacking your opponent into a wall just before the finish line?

That was the thought behind Burnout 3’s aggressive driving and Takedowns, although checking back through the first design documents, Takedowns were originally going to be called “Knockouts”.

Knockouts

Initially there were doubts. Would aggressive driving change the Burnout racing experience? Would it mean we’d have to change the way we built the tracks to put obstacles on the track? Would it mean a lot of extra AI work to get battling to work?

The answer to all of those questions turned out to be yes, but when Burnout 3: Takedown was finished in September of 2004, the results were worth the effort; a more exciting game that came to define the Criterion racing experience, as well as redefining the arcade-style race game experience for all time.

Do you have a favourite Burnout 3 memory or were you more of a Burnout 2 person? Or perhaps even a hardcore fan of the original? Or maybe it’s got to be open-world like Burnout Paradise? Let us know!

Arthur Rohart

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Game Designer

Salut Arthur! Introduce yourself to the folks.

Salut! I’m Arthur Rohart. I come from Paris, France and I’m part of Criterion’s game design team, working on our new #beyondcars game.

What were the games that inspired you to join the games business when you were un enfant?

The first game I played, when I was about six, was OutRun. By the time I was 12 I was totally into Nintendo 64 and PlayStation – Mario 64, Metal Gear Solid – and I spent weekends playing arcade Time Crisis. I knew that this was what I wanted to do, to make video games for a living.

What did you do about it?

When I was 16 I lived in Paris so I got myself invited to playtests that a big publisher would run so I could try to find out how things worked and speak to some developers. After high school I spent four years studying video game design and I did internships as part of that course. It’s fun being on a course with people who also love games. You get to make little games in Flash or practise building maps for published games. But you learn a different set of skills when you’re in a studio, working as part of a team with a wider range of people, so it was great to be able to do both.

Wind back to when you were at high school. What were the subjects that helped you?

I studied art and literature which helped because those subjects are about creativity and expressing ideas, as well as culture. It’s important to be open-minded as a game-maker so as well as knowing a lot about games you need to be interested in movies, books and art. But I suppose the thing that was most directly helpful was something called Commercial Communication, which helped with documenting and presenting ideas. That’s something you do a lot as a game designer.

How did you come to be a designer at Criterion?

I came from France to the UK and was working at a British developer when I saw a design position come up at Criterion. I’d always wanted to work at Criterion so I applied and got the job designing the multiplayer gameplay on Need For Speed: Most Wanted. I helped to define the online experience and set up the multiplayer events, the Speed Lists, the Park-Up Challenges and so on.

Was it scary to go from being an intern to taking responsibility for a major feature in a big game?

What was surprising was it was the first time I worked in a studio where everyone could contribute ideas and be listened to. In other places you were given your own responsibilities and that was it. At Criterion you could give feedback to different teams and if your suggestion made the game better it could go in. It was very liberating – hard work but liberating!

What are you working on now?

Mostly I’m focussing on what we call the hour-to-hour experience in our next game. That’s the structure of the game, how new features are introduced to the player, how the reward systems work and so on. But I’m also involved in many other areas, events, vehicle handling, all kinds of things. It’s going to be amazing fun!

What advice would you give to players who want to be designers?

Make yourself learn from new things. Go where you wouldn’t expect yourself to go. In games, don’t focus on one platform or genre. If you’re making a racing game you should be an expert on racing games, sure, but you need to play other games to learn and find inspiration there. Play the games you think you wouldn’t like and maybe you’ll learn something that will surprise you. And play the bad games as well as the good ones. Good ones teach you what to do but bad games warn you what to avoid!

Fun Facts

Game I Most Admire:

The Last of Us – Amazing that the team that made Uncharted made something that’s almost its opposite. Still great story-telling, but with no need for the usual Hollywood explosions.

Lunch-Break Game Of Choice:

FIFA ’15

My FIFA Team:

Paris Saint-Germain toujours! “Paris est magique!”

Greatest FIFA Moment:

Beating Criterion’s boss, Matt Webster 9-2. He’s fine about it, though. He won’t mind me mentioning it.