How World of Tanks, Mad Max and the apocalypse inspired MotorGun

Indie game developers Maxx Kaufman and Mike Arkin are united in their love of destruction and vehicular mayhem.

Or, in their words, they like "blowing shit up."

The co-founders of Pixelbionic are currently working with a team of developers to pump air into a new car combat game they call MotorGun. The premise is simple: pick a car, customize it and head into battle. It's a game that draws life from many different veins, including a love of one of Wargaming's most popular titles and a need to smash things up.

After spending a great deal of time with (or "playing the shit out of") World of Tanks, Kaufman found himself interested in something beyond the game's historical aspects. In other words, what about cars?

"We started thinking, ‘Oh my god. We can have all these great weapons like harpoon guns and oil slicks.'" Kaufman said. "...the idea started to take shape."

Arkin agrees that car combat is a fairly natural concept.

"I still smash my toy cars into each other, and when I'm driving on the freeway I'm always thinking how great it would be to have one cannon on the hood of the car," Arkin said. "We didn't need to be inspired — it's just a normal thing to me that cars should be driving around shooting at each other."

Car combat fans will spot some familiar names on the team. David Jaffe, creator of Twisted Metal, and Zack Norman of Interstate '76 fame are both serving as creative advisors on MotorGun. Jaffe says that while Twisted Metal and Interstate '76 are a big inspiration, they're not a guiding influence for the team.

"It's just a normal thing to me that cars should be driving around shooting at each other."

"We learned about the genre via those games," Jaffe said. "We learned about what works and doesn't work in the vehicle combat genre through those games. And certainly those lessons are being applied to MotorGun."

But fans of those titles shouldn't expect to see a shiny new clone, Jaffe said. The game will be "its own beast" that leaves an individual mark.

"What's exciting about this project is we get the benefit of applying those hard won lessons to a brand new franchise without being tied to the specific expectations of those older titles," Jaffe said.

MotorGun takes place in a desolate world where the apocalypse has come and gone. What remains are three warring factions battling to control remaining resources. These factions travel in gangs — MotorGun is a team-based title, but will still allow players to retain their individuality, Kaufman said.

Players have a driver and a crew, which factors into how well a car handles and how effectively it can use tech trees. Additionally, players will have a mechanic to help repair and customize their vehicles extensively. Color, logo, body armor, fender flares and so forth — players have control over it all.

"The dynamic that's cool about team play is classes," Kaufman said. "Players with different play styles can work together to win the battle. Vehicle classes will be a light speed attack, engineer/mechanic and heavy slow attack vehicles for now. We have a lot more planned."

"We're more like Mad Max than The Road."

The game's dystopian, post-apocalyptic world may be a familiar land for players of the car combat genre, but it's a setting that works, Kaufman said. It gives the game a reason to exist as it does.

"The dystopian setting works because it is not natural to see the kinds of vehicles we want create driving around your normal city," Kaufman said. "Then people start saying what about police, what about normal things."

To put it mildly, it's a little scary to watch a car roll down the street with a canon strapped to its hood.

But a crazy world lends itself to more than just supercharged vehicles. It can account for many of the game's outlandish areas, too.

"This also opens the battle arenas up for a lot of awesome visuals," Kaufman said, "like a city with suspended bridges going through destroyed buildings, or a city buried in the snow where players need to race to control the top."

According to Arkin, players can expect action, over-the-top moments and a healthy mix of "oh shit" moments to keep jaws open. MotorGun's creators are shooting for a mix of quality design and well-thought out elements, and they're well aware of what their game's personality is.

"When you look at most action movies, even those in post-apocalyptic or otherwise dark settings, there's always humor," Arkin said. "We're more like Mad Max than The Road."

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