Very big news coming from the gaming industry - Namco has announced it has signed a deal with Finnish Bugbear that they will develop the upcoming Ridge Racer Unbounded console game. Bugbear is renowned for making car games for over 10 years now.
We had a chat with Bugbear's Sami Nurmio and Joonas Laakso about the game and what this will mean for the company. For the younger among us, Ridge Racer is almost 20 years old and was a huge hit in the 90s. At a time when game consoles were pretty much limited to Mario kicking turtles around on an 8-bit machine, you had to cycle to the local arcade to find Ridge Racer on a slightly more powerful machine. I personally remember spending quite a bit of money on Ridge Racer as it was in my opinion one of the first car games that managed to grab the user with great game play and graphics.
Back to 2011. About a year ago Namco got in touch with Bugbear about the possibility to discuss if they were interested in developing the upcoming game in the series. And Bugbear was. They discussed in a mutually respectful manner how to create an interesting game for the series that is about 18 years old already. I asked Bugbear if they knew of other companies Namco was in talks with, but this wasn't the case according to them.
Bugbear has pretty much their whole team working on the product currently as well as some additional freelancers. The company itself employs 37 people and they have 4-5 new positions open. At times they may have over 100 people working on the project if you calculate the freelancers as well.
Despite having this many people working on a game, Bugbear's approach is still considered a leaner way to build games compared to its European contenders. Then again, like I mentioned earlier, they have a decade worth of knowledge and a very strong technological backend to support racing games. According to Nurmio and Laakso, their technology can naturally be used for other causes as well, but they've still hung on to the racing games for now.
Developing a game is a long process, but I Nurmio and Laakso hinted that we might see more material in the upcoming months.