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BadGroove Interview with Ed Martin VP of Eutechnyx (developer of NASCAR ’14)

Posted by Amy in General

Tony Stewart on the NASCAR ’14 cover.

I am so excited that I get to bring my readers this interview with Ed Martin, Executive Vice President of Eutechnyx North America- the company that developed NASCAR ’14!  I know that I was among the fans voting EVERY DAY to bring Tony Stewart to the cover of NASCAR ’14 and obviously all of my Tony Stewart fan readers were as well because as you’ll find out in this interview- he won by quite a bit.  I know that you all are just as excited as I am for February 18th for the release of NASCAR ’14 and I hope that you will enjoy this interview about what it takes to develop a game like NASCAR ’14 and working with Tony Stewart for the ad campaign that I know you all love just as much as I do:

BG: What was the most challenging aspect of creating NASCAR 14? The easiest?

 Ed Martin: Most fans don’t realize but there is about a 90-day window from when a finished game is submitted to Sony & Microsoft until it is approved, manufactured and hits the store shelves.  So in order to catch the beginning of the 2014 season and ship on February 18, we had to have the game complete & submitted in late November.  So the most challenging thing was trying to get 43 drivers, paint schemes and the 2014 season complete even before the 2013 season had ended!  Quite a challenge when you’re dealing with over 1,000 licensed properties in a game.

The easiest?  Well, everything is relative.  But we’re really happy that NASCAR didn’t come out with completely new car models in 2014 like they did in 2013.  Fans certainly understand how hard it is in the real world for teams to build and test completely new hardware.  Well, it’s not much easier in our world.  So 2014 was a lot easier than 2013 in regard to the gen-6 cars.

BG: How much involvement did NASCAR have in the creation of the game? How much involvement do the drivers have?

Ed Martin: A lot!  And it’s a 2-way street.  We deal with many different groups within NASCAR.  The Licensing group is our main contact and they are completely hands-on with every aspect of the game.  But we also do a lot with other groups.  For example, we use the game to help create all of the drivers meeting videos – so quite literally, every real Sprint Cup race starts with a video game these days!  The broadcast partners all use a lot of our graphics – both on TV and online.  As do the teams.  And the flip-side to all of that is that we are able to have access to a wealth of information and experts to make the games even better.

BG: Tell us what the most exciting feature of the upcoming NASCAR 14 game is in your opinion?

Ed Martin: The online gameplay in NASCAR ‘14 is huge… and we put a lot into it again this year.  The most-requested feature has been online leagues.  And in NASCAR ’14, we’ve delivered.  We’ve also brought in dynamic skill-based matchmaking that will make online races more balanced and fun for everyone involved – regardless of skill level.  We’re also really excited about the NASCAR Highlights where we take the actual highlights from the real race and then let the fans play-out the ultimate “what if?” scenarios.  So instead of just being able to talk about what so-and-so should have done or could have done, with NASCAR Highlights, you can drop into the action EXACTLY as it happened and try it.

Actual NASCAR ’14 Screenshot

BG: Can you talk about how Eutechnyx came to decide to let fans vote on the cover of NASCAR 14? Were you surprised by the outcome?

Ed Martin: I have to give initial credit for that to NASCAR.  They are constantly pushing us to come up with new ways to engage fans.  And Drive for the Cover is a great one.  When we did it last year, we kind of figured who the winner would be… Dale Earnhardt Jr. tends to win every popularity contest.  So this year, we “retired” Dale Jr. to the video game cover “hall of fame” and had him act as the weekly host for Drive for the Cover.  And yes, we were a little surprised.  Not necessarily by who won, but by the volume of votes for him.  Tony Stewart had an amazing outpouring of support.  He ended up getting even more votes than Dale Jr. received the year before.  Fans obviously can’t wait to see him back in the car.

BG: What was Tony Stewart’s reaction to finding out fans had voted him onto the cover of NASCAR 14?

Ed Martin: We keep all of the teams up-to-date on how the voting is going.  Tony and the entire SHR organization were thrilled and humbled by the volume of voting.  There’s a lot of social media and mainstream media chatter out there.  But having an actual vote really spoke volumes to all of us – Tony included – about how popular he really is.

BG: Tony Stewart fans have taken the ad for NASCAR 14 up as a battle-cry almost for the 2014 season as they look forward to Tony Stewart’s return to NASCAR after his sprint car accident last August.  Can you talk about teaming up with Tony for the ad and the ad concept?

Ed Martin: When we first came to them with the idea for the game trailer, they liked it but they were clear that this had to be about the future – not the accident.  Life is in the windshield, not the rear-view mirror.  But it’s hard to come up with a concept that hits home with the passion without somehow touching on what lead up to it.  So we went back and forth on the script.  But from the outset, everyone loved the last line!

At the shoot itself, Tony was fantastic.  He was still sore from the rehab but he spent about 3 hours with us shooting until we got it right.  A real class act!

Thank you Ed for taking the time to discuss NASCAR ’14 with us! We are looking forward to it’s release on February 18th, 2014!

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