United Front Games Studio Tour: Behind the Scenes with the ModNation Racers Developer

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Hello ModNation!

My name is Julian Beak and I’m the Lead Producer on ModNation Racers. Today I’m going to talk about our studio at United Front Games in Vancouver, Canada where we make the game. Rob Oliveira, who you’ve met before, will walk you through so you can picture it for yourself.

We have a lot of design, technology and art direction to discuss every day. Sometimes this is done in meeting rooms which are very sensibly named after Mexican wrestlers. More often these discussions take place right at our desks. There are no offices at United Front Games — not even for the President. This puts everyone on an equal footing when it comes to access. We believe making innovative games requires a touch of chaos and lots of communication.

Our character, kart and world artists make up the largest group on our team so we don’t let them sit together or they would take over. Designers, artists and programmers are mixed up in small teams devoted to major features. All the people who design and build a particular feature sit close. This lets them play and improve these features very quickly.

The creation tools you’ll use in ModNation Racers are the same ones we’re using to make our characters, karts and tracks in the final game. The team of designers, programmers and artists who make these tools are the same people who made the first prototype of the game back in 2007. Sitting close by is another team who design and engineer the user interface for these tools so anyone can pick them up and start playing immediately.

At the core of ModNation Racers is our racing and online teams. As Mat Thomas described in an earlier post, the racing mechanics have evolved a lot over the course of development. In addition to multiplayer races, there is an online community in ModNation that we’ll talk more about in the coming months. All of this sits on top of our game engine which is optimized for the PS3 thanks to our technology team. They will be tweaking performance right up until we ship.

Around the corner we have animators and programmers who bring the Mods in ModNation to life. Our Quality Assurance group keep us honest and are fast becoming the best racers on the team. Which brings us to our front lobby and lounge with all the regular office features: leather seating for about 40, a 10 foot bean bag, rotating disco balls, many, many PS3s and screens for multiplayer mayhem, DJ turn-tables and a glass video wall.

I hope you enjoyed a look behind the curtain at United Front Games. We are very excited about what you will build in ModNation Racers in 2010.

Comments are closed.


7 Author Replies

  • Nice place.

  • Hi there Julian Beak, I have been checking out the beta from the qore beta keys and I have not been able to play a single online game since I got it. I was just wondering if you fine folks are going to be patching the beta as we go, or is this all you guys need for testing purposes. I hope you guys do patch it cause I have tried about 5 times to get it to work, and to no avail. But I do understand it’s a beta and keep up all the hardwork!

  • Ps. Heading across the Rockies for the Chaos known as the winter oylmpics…maybe I will see your studio while I’m on the coast!


  • Nice tour, I can’t wait for the full version of MNR!!

  • Great walkthrough and awesome studio. I cant wait to buy the game.

  • you guys need a personal assistant?!

  • Cool vid, you guys like working in the dark or something? It seemed really odd that most of the video was so dark.

    I look forward to seeing more from this game.

    • haha, pretty close! it\’s pretty dimly lit in here for atmosphere. winters in Vancouver are also pretty dark and grey too which doesn\’t help. On the plus side, the art on our monitors pops pretty good :)

  • It’s amazing what others and I were able to create in the beta using only the limited items given to us. Imagine what we can create when the full game comes out! That’s why I love these kind of games. I can’t wait for the full game.

    • We are absolutely amazed at what folks have accomplished with the limited amount of content. I actually had a minor panic attack a few days before the beta thinking we had not included enough, and then you guys proceeded to blow our minds withing a few hours of it going live! great work folks!

  • What about Heavy Rain…you guys said more details in the next few days and now it is a week and there is nothing….what is this?!!

  • this looks awsome im so looking forward to this game but can sum1 tell me y i never ecieved a beta invinte even after i bought qore just 4 that n i bought it b4 the deadline

  • Wow all this in Vancouver, B.C… AMAZING! I`m currently looking into studying for game art and design possibly. Would be awesome if you guys did a launch event sort of like Insomniac did for Rachet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time

  • Hey Rob, great stuff. I’m really curious how moderation will affect copy righted mods. I made a pretty sweet Warmachine and Harley Quinn.
    So what happens when people recreate Mario Kart tracks? In LBP sonic and mario levels get deleted.

    • hi Vex! I\’ve seen your work. Great stuff man! we are very impressed with what you and others have been creating! I spend at least a couple of hours looking at everyone\’s creations every day since the beta started! We are trying to keep MNR a heavily COMMUNITY moderated place, but unfortunately copyright holders are understandably not happy when people use their stuff without permission. We\’ve also seen so much good stuff that\’s not based on copyrighted stuff, that we think you guys will create amazing content no matter what happens!!

  • The studio looks cool and by the way I have problems with playing online it seems that the room I am in nobody comes in to play can u guys send a patch if evrthing gets fix i will buy Day 1 For Me Thanks and happy New Year

  • very cool time to throw an insight behind the scenes, but i think that the moderator makes the impression as if some burden on him ^^…

    • are you talking about me? robo? the guy in the video? No burden at all my friend. We\’re excited to share and show off the studio and the wicked people who work here. that was like my 10th video that day so the burden may have been dragging my tired butt around the studio :)

  • All this time I thought going to school was the secret to getting a job as a video game developer. In reality all I need to learn is how to mix records.

  • I liked the video, but I was kind of hoping to see something you hadn’t shown us about the game. There wasn’t some new level scheme on someone’s computer monitor that I missed, or someone playing splitscreen multiplayer in the background, or anything, was there?

  • you guys are working on True Crime as well right?
    is it going to be different from the older True Crime games?

    • At United Front Games we have two complete teams, on separate floors, working on our games. The ModNation Racers team is sworn to secrecy on what goes on downstairs ;)

  • Hey guys, if you are fans of MN in facebook, check out the update. They just put up an assload of beta codes. Finally scored one.

  • Will you be doing something similar to MAG were the beta will be available on the psn closer to launch? Also even though there’s been no word I can guarantee this will get a Psp counterpart and I will purchase it. Day one can you confirm or deny?


    good luck

  • looks great friendly place to work, can’t wait for the game looks very good. I’m doing a games development course atm and its interesting to see work places etc. All bigger companies are sectioned off but i think id prefer to work for a smaller one as you get to know more people and your decisions are much more likely to make an impact. Thanks for the tour, can’t wait for the game :)

  • lol at 2:03 I think that is Will cant tell from SD quality he is like “Wtf? *stop*” XD

  • Will Modnation racers be sort of compatible with LittleBigPlanet?

  • Awesome studio. Great lighting too. Looks like an enjoyable work environment.

  • Got a question for you Julian. Say I wanted to work at your studio/in the game industry. Would I be better served with a BS in game design or a BS in computer science with a little bit of an art background?

    • Both routes work. To start I recommend following your passions. At a mature studio designers, artists and programmers get to participate in designing the style, rules and logic of the game. Once the major decisions are made the designers will work out the rules in detail. The programmers will codify those rules and also present new capabilities to the designers for future features. Artists are involved in much the same way. Each group imagine features throughout the development of the game that the other groups help them create. All of this is to say pick the part you want to START doing, because you can change your role once you get into the industry.

    • what he said :) definitely specialize to start. If you want to be a game designer, focus on that. if you want to code, definitely learn how to code really well. Most companies look for people who are excellent at one thing. The cool part about games, is once you start you get exposed to every single area. Julian for example started off as a coder back in the day, but now runs entire teams, like on our game (with an iron fist…kidding boss! :)

  • I would love to get a career path in video games started where do I begin




  • I hope this game has different camera angles. the camera angle now is too zoomed in on the racer so he covers up most of the screen.

  • Looks like a cool office.

    When are we going to hear more information about MNR? like release dates, trophies, etc.?

  • Freakin beta is sweet you got a masterpiece there . made my own kratos dude have a god of war 3 mobile and made my own tracks . awesome game

  • I got one thanks for posting codes been waiting to get in on this

  • Can you guys add tunnels in the track creation software? I’m really surprised there isn’t any…

  • Nice office, kinda remind of an internet cafe.

  • Man i love these studio tours
    PLEASE keep them coming
    Naught dog next that would be awesome.

    Please Sony send me a beta key for ModNation Races.

  • Tell Alex Luffman I said he was a fruit and I will pwn him in ModNation racers.


  • i signed up on the modnation site before you guys had made a beta, and you guys said that anyone that signed up before the you made the beta would get a code for the beta, but i never got mines. Can you give me some info on that? I love the game and i can’t wait to try it out. I signed up with this account PSN: MGteuzin Thanks for the help!!

  • Hey guys. Modnation kicks ass. Finally played Beta, and in one evening, I have three tracks, that I am pretty proud of. It was as easy as you said, and the more I learn the tool, the easier it becomes to experiment. I hope there will be night levels and lighting abilities (since I noticed some street lights).

    You guys made it this SO easy to do, and some people have come up with some awesome tracks.

    Your terrain editor is so simple (yet creates such awesome results) that one would wonder why you guys don’t make your next project a “Zelda” style game-maker Share-and-trade game. Damn that would be awesome. I know the programming for something like that would be challenging, but the things people would come up with would be limitless.

  • @38-Anyone registered before would be entered to win a code.

  • @39, well then we get into AI, something nobody got working that well in LBP, and then we make it more complicated, something better left to actually programming.

  • No offense but how the hell is your studio so big and yet I’ve never heard of you guys EVER? What games have UFG made before?

    • The studio is new, but we are not. United Front Games was formed in 2007 by game industry veterans who led development on groundbreaking titles including the Need for Speed series, SKATE, Bully, Scarface, Godfather, Hulk I & II, Spore and the NHL Sports franchise.

  • i cant sign in to play socom is the network down

  • i would get this game if u could have something like playstation home u walk around with your avatar and talk with others that would be cool because u have total control with making ur guy

  • Hey there UFG-er’s, thanks for letting us get a behind the scenes peek at what it’s like around your office.

    Kind of a random question: can you tell me if any graphic design jobs within the gaming industry or if design jobs (box art/manuals/guides/etc.) are usually sourced out to design firms?

    • Graphic designers are an essential part of the art team on most large projects. The user interface is usually at least co-designed by a graphic designer. Publishers often have graphic artists and designers on staff for more traditional media like the game\’s packaging, advertising and other marketing materials as you guessed.

  • Apologies for the typo – “if there are any graphic design jobs”.

  • you guys are AWESOME but the only thing is i dont have a beta code so can you help me out please

  • Nice of you to show us your studio thanks for the walk through.

    I’m loving the MNR beta. I have just over 50hrs in, 40hrs just in editing.

    My new 120 slim HDD is going bad (got it for Christmas) so is all my hard work lost or will all mods/racer/track be there when I log in with the newer 250 slim?

    I was backing up files for the exchange and I didn’t see any game save data for MNR.

    One recommendation.
    When laying track I get lost as to where on the map I am, (where’s the next mountain, how close to edge am I, ect..) it would be nice if we had an option to pick an aerial view (when paused).

    Thanks again, looking forward to the release of MNR.

    • Share (upload) your favorite creations online. That way when you log-in on your new PS3 you can search for and download your gems again. Remember, the Beta ends January 10th.

  • HEY the game is great. I really love the create station. but was wondering if we could get a few things.
    -like a cut tool or delete tool like lbp. for example: in lbp i can make my own crescent shape by deleting a portion of a circle. this would help me get that perfect shape.
    -Also, could we change tire color? i mean the black rubber.
    – A showcase area of sorts so i could see more than just the top 3 designs. I wanna see what everybody is doing. Maybe do like a MRC ingame magazine that shows like a hundred most recently uploaded creations.
    -Can we get creation save? not just a completed vehicle but also like a sticker design.
    -You have photo mode. Can we use those photos as stickers?
    -I know tunnels were mentioned but how about pit traps?
    -Different horn sounds.
    -And i have been screaming this to the Lbp crew: Can we get like a direct upload link to Youtube. I’m tired of seeing crappy youtube vids.

    sorry it long. hope that some of these thoughts catch your attention.

    Thanks great game.

  • sorry for the double post but im playing now and i just thought of layer control. i’d love to be able to just create and then change my mind and put something ontop. that has been a problem for me. i like some stickers on my character to be under the clothes.

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