10 questions for MotoGP 13′s game director Michele Caletti

1. What game that you’ve played in the past has had the biggest effect on the way you make games today?
I’d say two games: Superbike 2001 and Indycar Racing. Two superlative racing sims that taught me a lesson: go real, don’t be frightened. It’s hard to do, but it will pay off. I remember countless hours of fast
laps, crashes, changing vehicle setups… and satisfaction arriving even in 14th place. It’s really something special having joined, some years later, the very software house that created one of my favourite games of all time. My best moments in those games tell a story of championships won at 100%
race length – a tremendous fatigue but an incredible satisfaction.

2. We’ve had motion control, 3D, cameras… what do you think will be the next big innovation for games?
I’m particularly excited by Oculus Rift. I was young at the peak of interest in virtual reality. Do you remember those incredibly bulky and costly devices with ridiculous framerates? I absolutely loved the idea, despite the motion sickness and everything. So I’m just awaiting something that really works to appear. Immersion is the next step. 3D TV was a move in the right direction, in theory, but failed in several ways. I’m ready to get in, folks!

3. What have been the high and low points of your career so far?
The high: the project I’m currently leading, MotoGP 13, is shaping up in an excellent way. When you’re working on a game and you’re just waiting to finish it just to be able to play it, I think it’s a very good sign. I love bike games, and this one is, well… a blast. I [felt that] back at the time of Superbike 2001 – this time I’ve had the pleasure of working on it, and soon I’ll have the pleasure of playing it. The low… years ago we developed a singing game. Imagine a software house devoted to racing games to the bone, which develops a game where you have to sing. I’m a terrible singer, too, but as an audio developer I had to do it to test the game while working on it. A true nightmare.

4. Which matters more to you, review scores or sales?
First of all, personal satisfaction. Sometimes you get bad scores, sometimes average sales – but you can face it if you like what you’ve done. Racing games are a niche, and the most common mistake is to make wrong comparisons – let’s say Need For Speed against a simulation title. You have to be able to read between the lines, sometimes. Then, I’d say… sales. If a game is selling nicely, it means it is hopefully making a large number of players happy, and that’s the very point of our job.

“As an alternative, ask yourself, what would Captain Picard do?”

5. If you had to make one golden rule of game design, what would it be?
Make a strong statement, and evolve from it. During a long, complex project you’ll face countless choices. Some of them will be hard; sometimes you’ll feel clueless. If you have some strong conceptual pillars you can always check your direction against them. Or, as an alternative, ask yourself, ‘What would Captain Picard do?’.

6. If you were to sign a star dev from another team, who would it be and why?
Geoff Crammond – a true genius, who created the Formula One Grand Prix series. Or Takamasa ‘Nana’ Shichisawa, director of Polyphony’s Tourist Trophy on PS2, a true declaration of love to motorbikes.

7. If you weren’t a videogame developer, what would you be doing instead?
A vertebrate palaeontologist specialised in theropod dinosaurs. No joke. I had two passions as an eight-year-old kid: videogames and dinosaurs. And up to now, none of those has faded.

8. What’s your top tip for someone who wants to pursue a career in the games industry?
Don’t sit and wait. There are countless wannabe developers who say, “I love making videogames,” and haven’t done anything – not a tech demo, not a design experiment, nothing. Try, make some mistakes, don’t be afraid to look naïve. There’s time to grow. And don’t copy – the world doesn’t need another Mario clone.

9. You’ve got an unlimited team, unlimited time and an unlimited budget – what game do you make?
Trying to stick to racing games… if I close my eyes I see countless bikes, a massive number of players interacting in worldwide leagues, trading their rides and customising them. Getting away from bikes and cars, I’d take the supposedly unlimited budget and call Hideo Kojima. I’m sure he’d have some ideas about it.

10. What do you think it would take for games to be accepted as part of mainstream culture?
Aren’t they already? Joking. These latest years have faced an exponential growth of videogame culture. Thanks to the always-online devices such as iPhone or Android smartphones, everyone can play and share their progress to their main friend community. In Italy we’ve seen a lot of new TV shows that mix real life with games – a symptom of something changing in consumers’ minds, especially for the ones who’ve never played games in the past. The growing integration with social media helped a lot in spreading game culture, and in my opinion the introduction of next-gen consoles will follow this road of improving the unique gaming touch.