Color Splashes and Epic Crashes: Interview with ONRUSH Director Paul Rustchy

By Mark Delaney, 9 months ago
The racing game genre is as crowded as the Daytona 500 these days. For creators, it may feel tough to stand out from a field filled with Forza, Dirt, Need for Speed, and so many more. At Paris Games Week last autumn, a new contender emerged in a colorful explosion and with strong pedigree behind the game. ONRUSH is a brand new franchise from the racing veterans at Codemasters, and it's being headed up by Paul Rustchynsky, who has spent most of his career working on numerous genre titles, including WRC, MotorStorm, and DRIVECLUB.

We recently got to steal a few minutes of the Game Director's time as the studio races towards ONRUSH's June 5th launch. In our interview, Paul dishes on the wrecking-encouraged multiplayer modes, the focus to make the game's color palette really pop, and the unique ways ONRUSH rewards players for more than just crossing the finish line.


Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Paul. Throughout your career as a developer you’ve worked on a lot of racing series. Was that a particular interest of yours even before it became your job, or did things just sort of unfold that way? Tell us a bit about how you got here directing a new IP with Codemasters.

I had always been a huge fan of racing games, with everything from WipEout to Gran Turismo, and Mario Kart to TOCA Race Driver, eating up far too many hours of my teenage years. However, I didn’t actively pursue a career in developing racers, it was a mixture of luck and circumstance where I happened to end up working with a genre I love.

The first game I ever worked on was actually a racer for Codemasters, Indy Car Series 2005, where I was a QA contractor. That was my gateway into the industry, and not long after I found myself working at Evolution Studios as a designer on WRC Rally Evolved. From there I worked on all the MotorStorm titles, then DRIVECLUB, and now I’m once again with Codemasters working on ONRUSH — my tenth racing game!
ONRUSH has been getting a lot of love on TA in particular — we love our racing games around here — so I’m happy to have you with us to go more in depth. But for those that might be new to the game, can you talk about the general idea behind it? What makes ONRUSH different from other racing games?

When we were given this amazing opportunity at Codemasters, we knew from the start we wanted to recapture our love of arcade racers and bring back some of the fun and over-the-top action that the racing games of our youth captured. But as passionate gamers, we also wanted to bring in some modern influences from other genres, looking at what some of the best games are doing right now and applying what makes them fun to a racing game, to create something that is unlike any racer that has come before it.

‘The Stampede’ is truly what makes ONRUSH unique. It’s at the heart of every moment and provides structure to the game’s modes by keeping all 24 competitors in the thick of the action all the time.
The trailers we’ve seen so far have definitely brought a hint of that MotorStorm flair for the dramatic but then the Codemasters blog talks a lot about team- and class-based racing. How big are those multiplayer lobbies? And how important is communication to success? Can players expect to succeed even when playing with random teammates?

We certainly want to appeal to our MotorStorm fans, and it has been one of our influences, but ONRUSH is much broader and deeper in potentially more surprising ways. ONRUSH is indeed a team-based racer, where the focus is on what you do in moment-to-moment with your chosen class of vehicle to score points for your team, instead of just racing towards a finish line.

Multiplayer is 6v6 with an additional 12 AI in the mix for 24 vehicular carnage, where you’ll always have someone in your sights. Communication and coordination will be important if you’re going up against a skilled set of opponents, but we wanted to make sure that anyone could jump into a match and easily contribute towards their team in their own way. We’re confident we’ve got all types of gamers covered.
Smart and effective teamwork is the key to ONRUSH's multiplayer modes.Smart and effective teamwork is the key to ONRUSH's multiplayer modes.

Does it offer any single player modes or is ONRUSH strictly a multiplayer-focused experience?

Whilst we believe that ONRUSH is at its best when playing online, we absolutely do have a full single player campaign with a nearly 100 individual events to compete in and test your skills against the AI. All of which can be played co-operatively with a buddy!
On the Codemasters blog, your team also revealed the eight vehicle classes spanning cars and, apparently, motorcycles. We can reasonably infer some traits of each vehicle type just by their names alone, but what can you say about these various classes? Do you have a personal favorite so far?

We’ve got bikes, buggies, cars and trucks split into 8 classes — all of which offer an awesome loadout of abilities to suit a range of play styles and situations. You were right to guess that the class names give you a good clue as to what their abilities might be. My favourite vehicle is currently the Vortex – and as the name alludes to, when it triggers RUSH it leaves a disruptive wake of turbulence behind it.
In screens, trailers, and even the box art, the game’s color palette is quite arresting. Combined with this, Codemasters has partnered with UK artist collective, AnyForty, to design the vehicle customization options. Can you talk about how important that visual style has been to your team? It seems apparent you’re going for something that really pops, and I can imagine that extends to the options for each player to make their cars do the same.

When we first came up with the concept for ONRUSH we wanted to make arcade racer that popped with colour and style. Something that would be bold, bright and uplifting, that would stand out from the crowd. To achieve that wanted to bring in art from a range of talented artists who could help bring that vision to life, and with AnyForty they had such an impressive roster of talented people that just got the concept from the first time we spoke to them. Their artwork is used across everything from livery designs, to Crashtags, and even graffiti on our tracks. It really complements and lifts the look of the whole game.
On that note, tell us a bit about the game’s setting and tracks. We’ve seen tracks on dirt and snow, as well as during night and day. Do the options extend beyond those? Do tracks have alternate routes, either from the start or perhaps with player influence like crashing through barriers?

ONRUSH takes place in an Offroad Heaven, a hyper-real collection of over-the-top multi-route tracks that are full of spectacular moments and opportunities. All of which can be raced day or night, in rain and snow that’ll change dynamically as you play, with the conditions having a direct impact on the handling of the vehicles.
It's not just cars, but trucks, buggies, and even motorbikes that make up the game's eight vehicles classes.It's not just cars, but trucks, buggies, and even motorbikes that make up the game's eight vehicles classes.

It seems aggressive driving and wrecking other cars play major roles. Can you talk about the risk-reward element to each race?

Taking down opponents are some of the best moments in the game and are often the best way to get an advantage on the competition. After all, whenever an opponent is out of the action — even if it is for just a few seconds — they can’t score any points or help out their team.

Getting involved in combat is always a risk, so you’ve got to pick your battles, wait for the right moment and make the best use of the track and your vehicles’ abilities to gain an advantage and get one over on your rival.

Risk-reward also comes in the form of earning boost. There are many ways to earn boost, but the bigger risks you take the more boost you can earn. So whether that’s trying to get big air-time, perform an epic barrel roll or narrowly missing the environment, you’ll be rewarded for doing so.
After working on so many racing games in your professional career, what most excites you personally about ONRUSH? Does it do anything differently this time that you’ve wanted to do for a while and never had the chance?

ONRUSH is a new breed of racing game, which doubles down on everything we love about racing: the speed, the flow and the instinctive moment-to-moment action. But I’m most excited about fixing some of the frustrations of racing that have bugged me for years - the best example being the first corner pile-up. With the Stampede it doesn’t matter if there’s a ten car crash in the opening of a match, position doesn’t matter anymore, wrecking just becomes another opportunity to be flung right back in the thick of the action.
You’ve announced an open beta for May ahead of the game’s June 5th launch. Can you tell us what to expect to see in that beta?

The beta in May is going to be a great opportunity for everyone to get their hands on the game ahead of launch and help us test the servers to ensure that we have a smooth launch come June. Additionally we’ll be looking for your feedback so that we can balance the game for the optimal experience.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise of exactly what you’ll be playing this early, but you’ll get to play a handful of tracks, modes and classes to get a great taste of the game.

We were also told you happen to be a fan of achievement hunting and you’re even registered on TA. Have you and your team finalized the trophies list or is that something you’re still working on? Can you give us a hint of what the list may look like?

I’ve been hunting achievements since day one and I think I’ve got a pretty good Gamerscore. So I like to take extra care with getting the trophies right in ONRUSH, where I wanted to have a good mixture of progression, commitment and skill-based trophies.

We’ve got 32 trophies in total, the list is finalised and right now the focus is on tuning the numbers, making them feel fair and getting the right balance of time invested versus your rewards.
It’s a cliche, but I think it’s a good last question too. What’s the one word you would use to describe ONRUSH?


Thanks again to Paul and the team at Codemasters for stopping by TT. If you'd like to see more of ONRUSH you can check out its hub here on site, visit the developer blog with a regularly updated FAQ section, or catch the open beta this May ahead of its June 5th launch date.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark has been gaming for over two decades and writing for the TrueGaming Network since 2011. He greatly prefers single-player to online modes, but is always taking challengers in Rocket League and Madden. Aside from games, he loves sci-fi, NFL football (go Titans), and biking. He'll be disappointed when The Last of Us 2 is announced.