Mirror's Edge Interview: Producer Nick Channon Talks Time Trial, PC Delay

By Nick Breckon, Oct 07, 2008 8:15am PDT The Time Trial mode in Mirror's Edge (PC, 360, PS3) is self-explanatory. It takes some 20 sections of the single-player game that are ideal for racing, breaks them down into several additional checkpoints, and scores you on your time.

A red-hued ghost mode can be turned on, providing some direct competition as you race through the level. It's the addition of this ghost that really allows the mode to shine.

At one point, rather than simply climbing up a stairway, my ghost opponent vaulted up an I-beam and wall-jumped its way past me. I spent the next few minutes attempting to master the ghost's move, and having a lot of fun at failing miserably. Users will be able to share ghosts, as well as download the ghosts of the top online leaders.

After getting some hands-on time with the mode, I had a chance to sit down with Mirror's Edge producer Nick Channon. We talked about Time Trial, that interesting proof of concept video, and the reason behind the delay of the PC version.

Shack: It seems like Time Trial will really push players to come up with crazy paths that make this game so interesting to watch.

Nick Channon: Yeah, you have to take slightly different routes--you might have to use paths that you kind of wouldn't have gone through before because it might not be the straightest route. But it's sort of about trying to find and get through those as quickly as possible.

You know, we created a game all around movement, and we wanted to have an element that was all about speed as well. It's using that movement to get through the levels as quickly as you can. And you start to see the world differently, you start to see--well actually, if I did a wall jump here, I can do it quicker. And it's amazing how much time you can start saving by using some of the more complex moves and using the environment to get through the levels as quickly as you can.

Shack: Obviously going through the single-player levels, you'll probably take one route and miss the rest of the options. Was this mode born out of a need to get some replayability out of those levels?

Nick Channon: Oh absolutely. We wanted people to go back and keep playing the game and get better at it. And this is why we created time trial: it becomes incredibly addicted. It adds tension, it puts you under pressure to try and beat your best time. And also, you're not just beating the clock, you're beating a person--a ghost-person if you like. It just makes it feel very competitive and incredibly addictive.

Shack: Will there be any Xbox Live functionality? Leaderboards?

Nick Channon: Absolutely. There's leaderboards--you'll be able to download some of the best ghosts. You'll be able to upload ghosts to friends, so you can send ghosts to different people, and you can get the ghosts as well. So that's all there, and again I think that really brings out--the beauty of the mode is the fact that you an share it with your friends and other people.

Shack: While I have the chance, I wanted to ask you about that proof of concept video. Was that done right from the start? Was it more of a pitch?

Nick Channon: Yes, it was done right from the beginning. The thing with the game is that we've spent months in the white box, which is kind of like walls, so we spent lots of time just getting the basic movements right.

If you play it, the basic movements are done with three buttons. We wanted to keep it as simple as possible, but the layers of complexity are based on your skill. So the concept that you were talking about was done really early on.

You know, the game is very, very different, and we had to show people what it was going to be like. We obviously can talk about it to a point, but then you have to show it and get people visualizing, especially with such a unique concept.

Shack: We haven't seen much of the game at this point. When are you guys planning to show off a little bit more?

Nick Channon: Well we're doing a lot of that on purpose because we want the users to enjoy the game. We don't want them to have seen it all before they've played it--that's not fair, really. So we're being quite careful with what we show, just because we don't want to give it all away. We think that's fair to people buying the game.

Shack: What's the status of production right now?

Nick Channon: We're pretty much done. We're out in--the game will ship in about five weeks, so we're pretty much done. Just tying up a few loose ends now. We just finished the final polish, and we're really happy with where the game is. Really excited for it to come out.

Shack: So has the PC version officially been delayed to "winter"?

Nick Channon: Yeah, so it'll be later on--it won't be coming out on November 12 when the console versions come out. The PC version will be later on this winter.

Shack: Can you share why it was delayed?

Nick Channon: Well you know, I think that we just wanted ot make the best PC game we can. We wanted to feel really good on that platform, and that's what we're going to do. So we're going to spend time and make it an amazing PC game.

Shack: So was the decision entirely due to production concerns, or were there other reasons? I know there is some speculation about piracy being a factor.

Nick Channon: Yeah, I mean we just want to make the best PC game we can. And by doing this we will.

Shack: Thanks Nick.

The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Mirror's Edge ship to stores on November 11, followed by a PC version later in the winter.

Click here to comment...