Fast & Furious

Xmodule Game: Interview with Developer Daniele Frau

Xmodule

High-concept racing game Xmodule is greenlit on Steam, and soon the Kickstarter campaign launches. ALL3DP interviews developer Daniele Frau.

New video game Xmodule is pitched as a clever blend of futuristic racing and 3D printing. Players can race and build cars in a career mode, but they’ll also unlock STL files to 3D print perfect replicas of the virtual car.

It’s a brilliant idea, and early responses to the concept have been very positive. So positive, in fact, that Xmodule has already been accepted onto the Steam PC gaming platform; the next step is for games studio G21 to raise funds on Kickstarter and push ahead with development.

ALL3DP interviews G21 studio lead Daniele Frau about his love of cars, inspirations for the game, and future plans for Xmodule. And lest we forget, the Kickstarter campaign officially launches on 20 April. Stay up to date on the latest developments via their official Twitter and Facebook.

Xmodule Action

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background in games development and 3D printing?

In 2011 I started studying Product Design in Cagliari, in Italy. There I discovered a passion for computer generated imagery (CGI) and everything regarding 3D modeling. During the three years at the European Institute of Design I learnt how to work on projects and believe in my ideas; I also learnt the basics of 3D printing.

After the school I collaborated with one of my teachers and one of the best Italian graphic designers, Alessandro Cortes. Together we made some commercials in 2D and 3D animation, although I’ve always been a gamer since I was young and I was looking for a job in the videogame industry. In August 2014 I was hired by a videogame company in Dublin where I worked for one year as a 2D and 3D Artist.

I still have a lot to learn about 3D programming and design, but I usually have a pretty clear idea about my projects and what I have to learn in order to create them. In high school I studied also C# programming, and now I’m using all these skills for Xmodule.


Q: Xmodule is a great concept! What was your inspiration for the idea?

I think that I just put all my passions together. As I said I was a gamer since I was a child, I’ve always been creative and I’ve always loved cars. I used to sketch them when I was a teenager. When I learned how to use a 3D modeling program the first object that I tried to do was a concept car. In early 2014, when I was looking for a job in the games industry, I started learning on my own how to use the Unity engine to make games.

I’ve always enjoyed modeling stuff, and I thought that would have been fun to 3D print my creations. It was just a natural thought. I really just put everything together and Xmodule came out. When I had this idea, I was still working on my previous job and I decided with my wife that it was worth it to quit and start this new adventure.

I really enjoy designing cars, especially if they are going to be part of a game, and even more if I can make them real with a 3D printer. The first time that I printed the first Xmodule car was like magic. I can’t describe the feeling but I was excited like a kid.

Now I’m working to give the players the same satisfaction. I want gamers to be creative. I want them to be an active part of the game trying to create their own concept cars.

Q: Another thing that makes Xmodule unique is that you’re running two campaigns back-to-back, on both Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter. What are the logistics here? Will it complicate development and delivery times?

Actually we were already greenlit (on Steam) in just 2 weeks. We received a lot of feedback, and now we’re ready to start the Kickstarter campaign. We started working on the social media campaign about 4 months ago.

It’s really important to tell people who you are and what you are doing; even with a great project, if you don’t have an audience you’re going to fail. Now It’s time to see if we’ve done a good job.

Q: Will the game have an online multiplayer mode, or global leaderboards, or trading system for car parts?

Yes I think that multiplayer is really important in this game, especially for sharing with friends your car designs. Although, creating it requires a lot of time that I prefer to spend on other aspects. We have decided to put the multiplayer as a stretch goal, so if we’ll raise enough money I’ll be able to hire another developer to help me out with this.

I’d like players to earn their car parts, learning how to drift and winning races. I honestly don’t think that this is the game for trading contents.

Q: For the modular system, where hundreds of different components are available to to assemble cars from, can you tell us about the design process?

You’ll be able to chose between at least three car modules (car sets) where each module has different position for the engine, different proportions and height. Once you pick a module, you have to build up your car from the chassis choosing between hundreds of components like wheels, tires, fronts, backs, top, sides, suspensions, engines and spoilers.

Each single component will be available as a STL file to allows players to print the specific components that they own in the game. I’m working on the joints to give the chance to create the car without using any glue between the parts.

The design process always starts from sketches in perspective, then I generally try to sketch a rough side view of the car. The next step is to create a plane in Maya LT (the 3D program) as a reference for the modeling. For me this is the best part of my job, it’s like playing LEGO but just a little bit more advanced.

xmodule

Q: For the 3D printed cars, will it be possible to add radio controlled or electronic components to make them mobile?

Yes, we already had this suggestion and I think that it could be really fun to drive the car in the game and in real life. If the Kickstarter campaign will be a success we’ll try to get in touch with some RC companies to find a partnership for that.

Q: What do you think about the emergence of VR in gaming? Would you like Xmodule to be compatible with VR headsets?

I think is a really awesome technology, and that the prices for those devices are still too high, but I think it is the future of video games. We have already planned to put the VR development as a stretch goal like the multiplayer.


Q: Any forthcoming trade shows or expos where we can see Xmodule in action?

Yes we already exposed the game at the PC Gamer Weekender in London the 5-6 of March, in the common room sponsored by SEGA. It was a great experience, we had the chance to see people’s reaction about Xmodule and to meet other developers. We’d like to join the E3 in Los Angeles, but it’s too soon to say.

Q: What are the pledge levels going to be on Kickstarter?

We’ll have almost 10 different pledges levels, starting from 5 euros with 10 Xmodule wallpapers and your name in the credits, until the last reward at 1800 euros. In the rewards we’re also including some 3D printed cars and characters that I’ll personally produce.
xmodule driver

Q: Any other comments you’d like to add?

I would like to thank all the people that follow our project from the beginning, I want to thank them so much for all the good advice we’ve received so far. I’m not sure if Kickstarter is going to be a success, but the community around us is giving us a lot of support and courage. We hope to have the chance to create and give you a new kind of game.

Q: Finally, what’s the most useful thing you’ve ever 3D printed?

The most useful object that I printed is a simple iPad holder. I found a free STL file on the internet and in one hour I had my holder printed.