Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jonathan Warner Cars 2 the Video Game Producer: An Interview

Hey Guys and Dolls! I am so excited to share one of my latest interviews with all of you! I have been keeping this a secret for weeks just in case...
April 5 2011 I had the opportunity to go to the Disney Interactive Media Press Event. (I'm a member of the press!) In any case while I was there I had the opportunity to meet Mr Jonathan Warner who is the producer of the upcoming (June, 2011) Cars 2 the Video Game. I immediately asked him for an interview and he was generous enough to say yes. 

What follows are some great insights into the high anticipated game. Thank you Jonathan Warner it was great speaking with you. 

DragynAlly: Tell me about yourself and what you do at Avalanche.  

Jonathan Warner: I’m a Senior Producer at Avalanche Software.  I’ve worked here for almost 8 years and have worked on titles like Toy Story 3: The Video Game, Meet the Robinsons and Chicken Little.

DA: Were you a Disney fan before you started working on Cars 2: The Video Game

JW: I’ve been a Disney fan ever since my parents first took me to Disneyland when I was just a kid.  So it has been a dream come true to work for Disney Interactive Studios.

DA: What does it mean to be a video game producer?  

JW: Well, besides being the best job in the world, it means I’m responsible for making sure the game is true to its’ source material (in this case the  “Cars 2” film), is of high quality and ships out to stores on time.  That’s the short answer!  To accomplish all of the above, I work with teams of programmers, animators, artists, sound designers and game play designers to develop and produce all of the pieces that make a great game.

DA: Are you a gamer yourself or is your main focus story?  

JW: Yes, I’m definitely a gamer!  It is my passion for games that helps me do my job well.  But that’s not so say that I don’t love storytelling, because I do.  I think games can be a great medium for telling a story.

DA: What was the process of creating Cars 2: The Video Game like?

JW: It was a fantastic experience.  Jay Ward, Pixar’s Cars Franchise Guardian, and the entire Pixar staff are always so gracious to work with.  They collaborated with us on all aspects of the game, helped our animators to understand the characters, reviewed our scripts and dialogue…. Basically, they supported us every step of the way.

DA: What were the challenges with creating the game? Anything you would change if you could start over? 

JW: Our biggest challenge was to pack as much content into the game as we could in the time allotted.  We actually have to be done before the movie, so we have to move fast!  As for changes, you know, I don’t think I would change anything major about the game.  I just always wish for more time to make it even more  better.

DA: Who is your favorite “Cars 2” character?  

JW: Finn McMissile!

DA: What was it like working with Pixar? 
JW: It was really wonderful.  They are a very creative group, and they know how to foster and grow creative ideas.  I can’t imagine having a better partner to work with on a video game.

DA: Did you get to see “Cars 2” the film? What was the best part of the film? 

JW: Yes, I’ve actually seen it several times as the movie developed.  The best part of the film? I can’t tell you!  But I will say it is a great movie and I can’t wait to see it again.

DA: “Cars 2” is a highly anticipated movie. Did that put pressure on you when creating the game?

JW:  Absolutely.  The entire “Cars” franchise is beloved by so many people that you want to make sure you get every last detail right.  Fortunately, it was a labor of love.

DA: How is the video game similar or different from “Cars 2” the film?  

JW: The game starts after the movie, so we’re using the events of the film as a springboard for the game.  So you’ll see all of your favorite characters, and settings from the film in a new adventure.

DA: Did the voices of the film appear in the game?  Yes, we got most of the film talent to do voice work for the game. 
JW: We’ll be announcing exactly who really soon! 
DA: What makes Cars 2: The Video Game similar or different from other racing games?  

JW: First and foremost, this is a “Cars” universe experience, which really gives it a flavor all its’ own.  But I think mechanically speaking, the biggest difference is our cars are characters.  They jump, they’re agile and alive, and it really makes for a great gameplay experience.  Aside from that, we wanted to take a great kart racing experience, bring it into the “Cars” universe, and then give the players a lot of different modes to play.  We have a TON of different single and multiplayer modes.

DA: What makes Cars 2: The Video Game similar or different from other spy games?  

JW: I think the Cars characters are what makes it unique… I’ve never seen another game where the Car can become a secret agent!

DA: What will the game play experience be like for the player?  

JW: The multiplayer experience really shines in Cars 2: The Video Game.  We wanted to create a game that you can sit down and play together.  Players will experience a high-octane, action-packed racing game from start to finish.

DA: What level of game player is this game for? Can a kid and an avid gamer enjoy the game?

JW: We’ve worked very hard to ensure the game is accessible to audiences of all ages and skill levels.  If this is your first racing game, you’re going to be able to have a great time.  At the same time, we’ve layered complexity into our controls and strategies so that more experienced gamers will be able to have a challenging and fulfilling experience too.

DA: Will the game play experience change depending on the experience level of the player? 

JW: A little bit.  We have a dynamic difficulty system that will help struggling players keep up with the pack and have a competitive experience.

DA: How many different Cars can a gamer play as? 

JW: 20+ cars.

DA: Does each character come with its own weapons and skill set? Will playing as Mater for example be different than playing as Lightning? 

JW: Yes, there are differences.  We classify the characters in three ways:  Heavy, Medium and Light.  Heavy cars are powerful and have a great top speed, but they don’t accelerate very fast off of the line.  Light cars are just the opposite, and Medium cars are a balance between power and speed.

DA: Will any character give a player an advantage at the game?  If so which character is the best to play?

JW: You will want to pick different cars for different missions.  For example, a small car like Guido is hard to target when you’re playing a spy mission like Disruptor, but a powerful heavy car like Mater is great when you’re playing in big, open spaces.  So you’ll have to figure out who is best to use with your playstyle and which mission you’re trying.

DA: Will there be online game play with Cars 2: The Video Game?

JW: No.  All of our multiplayer is split screen, up to 4 players.

DA: Cars 2 will be available in 3D for the Playstation gaming platform. How did you create a 3D game?

JW: We actually developed some new technology and methods so we could display a 4-player split-screen game in full 3D.  It’s really work-intensive for our 3D renderer, but otherwise, the game development was very similar to our non-3D versions.

DA: How will the 3D affect the game play?  

JW: 3D gaming really immerses you in the experience.  You’ll get a much more intense feeling from jumps and crashing through barriers.

DA: Are there any hidden surprises in the game? Can you share them?

 JW: I think the “hidden” surprises are all in the game play and a matter of discovery!  There are no “easter egg” style surprises, but plenty to discover in the main line of play.

DA: What are you most excited about when it comes to the release of Cars 2: The Video Game to the public? 

JW: I’m very excited for people to play the game and enjoy it together.  I think the multiplayer aspect of the game is going to surprise a lot of people and they’re hopefully going to love it like we do here at Avalanche.



  1. Another great interview! I hope they pulled off the trick of making Cars 2: The Video game accessible t all ages.

  2. Love this interview! We are really looking forward to Cars 2 and can't wait to purchase the Cars 2 game. We love Cars so much, my son actually has a Cars themed room! I can't wait to see the movie and purchase the game!

  3. Great interview Dana. I'm usually not big on racing games, but I might have to check this one out. It seems like it might be pretty cool.

  4. Great interview! The game really does sound like it would be fun across all age groups.

  5. Awesome interview. I've never bought a Disney video game, but I may have to make an exception for this one. It sounds like a lot of fun and I love racing games!

  6. Super interview! I definitely want it for my son....well its a great excuse for me to play too!

  7. I like the idea of the game, but not really liking the 3D aspect. I have seen some of the 3D games out now and man they hurt my eyes.


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