View Full Version : Interview: Infogrames Evolves Racing

10-08-2002, 08:57 AM

As it plans to redefine the way racing games function, we speak with the team behind Xbox's Racing Evoluzione to shed some light on its ambitious vision

18:45 The racing genre isn't the first place you'd look for innovation and originality, which is precisely why Racing Evoluzione is such and interesting prospect. Taking the basic concept of a driving game, RE introduces the concept of brand building.
You don't just race a vehicle, you form a brand, taking it from obscurity to a globally recognised product through success in all aspects of driving.

If the concept works in practice, Infogrames could be onto a winning formula on Xbox.

To get a better picture of the developer's vision, which is slated to hit early next year, we spoke with VP of product development and creator of the original concept Arthur Houtman and senior producer Sebastien Chaudat.

When you initially came up with the idea for Racing Evoluzione, what kind of experience did you wish to create? Have you remained true to your original goal?

Houtman: My initial idea was to move away from the classical award system and routines we always see in racing games. My wish was to create more immersion and a more personal gaming experience. Rather than racing in order to purchase and upgrade licensed vehicles, like every other game on the market, the objective in RE is to create your own successful brand of new cars and prove them against the world's automotive leaders. I think that the team has done a great job and has stayed very close to the original concept throughout the game.

The big USP of Racing Evoluzione is the ability to create your own car manufacturer - how detailed is this function?

Houtman: It's very realistic: as some of today's famous brands you start out small and gradually grow into a full scale factory. We didn't want to go into a sim kind of mechanism so the evolution is automatic and triggered by one's success on the track or in special challenges. The interface is the area where all this becomes visible. The 3D interface will grow, adding Race Department, Design Department, Reception Area and Production floor.

Every department will come with a character that will serve as interface giving the player feedback on options and progress. In the background the environments will also give an indication how things are going through the level of activity and size of the department.

And in the wider scheme of things, once created, how does the brand building aspect operate?

Houtman: The way it works is this: you begin the game with a relatively modest garage and a mechanic to build your cars. As you prove the speed of your cars in races your company will grow. Once people become aware of your brand, the orders will start rolling in, first by individual consumers looking for the next hot car, then by larger parties with larger orders. At one point you may even be contacted to give a demonstration to the police, who are considering using your car for their new highway patrol vehicles.

Soon, if you play it right, you will have a full roster of clients, sponsors, and more business than you can handle. Your brand will blossom into a full line of cars, and to that you will add new lines and expand your factory. You will become the leader of the automotive industry joining the sports car legends.

What do you feel the ability to create your own brand brings to the overall experience?

Houtman: The essence of racing games is the satisfaction one gets when mastering a vehicle and the tracks. One of the things the brand creation adds to this experience is the feeling of ownership. As you create the name, choose a logo, car model and its evolution level every player's brand will be unique, so the rewards connected to the brand building aspect enhance the feeling of personal achievement.

Beyond the driving, what other steps must the player take to ensure his
brand is a success?

Houtman: You must keep in close contact with your team of experts. Your R&D manager will propose new concepts with different designs and driving characteristics. Some concepts will be more suitable for certain tracks than others, so the choice of car to develop will influence your ability to perform well in the championships.

The production manager will give you feedback on how your driving is influencing sales and the expansion of your factory.

If you are racing a model with which you are having difficulties winning, the interest in your brand will slow down and you might want to go back and race a previously more successful model and raise interest again. Finally, your secretary will inform you of in coming opportunities presented as specific challenges, which if successful, will get your brand into the headlines or result in a big order coming in.

Can you give us a run-down of the various modes of play included?

Chaudat: RE contains 2 main modes: Dream mode, and Arcade mode.

Dream mode is the main mode of the game, a sort of story mode which enables you to create your own brand and race against the real car manufacturers in order to promote your brand.

Arcade is more classic, but no less interesting for it: you'll be able to use the Quick Race mode (race against AI), the Time Attack mode (try to beat the reference times) and the One-on-One mode lets two-players play in versus mode during amazing races.

Information on the game mentions that there are four different driving styles present - can you describe what these are and the different experiences they offer?

Chaudat: It's quite simple. By racing on a mountain, you'll feel and discover a different driving experience than race on a stadium track. Same thing for the Race tracks or the City tracks. Actually, the four-driving-styles feature is linked with the amazing number of tracks we propose (more than 50) in three continents, each continent proposing four different environments each.

Following these main differences based on the track variety, you'll be able to play with the different evolutions of the cars (street, tuning or racing model) which give a new dimension to the gameplay every time.

What licensed vehicles have you included in the game and how accurately are they modelled on their real-world counter parts?

Chaudat: In order that the player feels he is achieving something we wanted him to race against prestigious brands. Here's the whole list of the real manufacturers cars:

Toyota MR2 Spyder (and TRD MR2 Spyder)

Toyota MR-S (JGTC style)

Lotus Elise 2000

Lotus Elise Sport

Renault Spider

Renault Spider Trophy

Mercedes SLK 230

Mercedes SLK 32 AMG

MG TF 160

MG TF Xpower 500

Toyota Supra RZ-S (and RZ)

Toyota Supra competition (JGTC style)

Mitsubishi Eclipse RS (and GT)

Mitsubishi Eclipse competition

Mercedes CLK 430 (and CLK 55 AMG)

Mercedes CLK competition (DTM style)

Ford Mustang GT (and SVT Cobra)

Ford Mustang competition (Transam series style)

Chevrolet Camaro (and SS 35th anniversary)

Lotus Esprit V8

Lotus Esprit competition

Aston Martin DB7 Vantage coupe

Aston Martin DB7 competition (Le mans style)

Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Chevrolet Corvette C5-R

Jaguar F-Type

Renault Talisman

Mercedes SL 55 AMG

Lotus GT1

Mercedes CLK GTR AMG

Toyota GT1

Ascari KZ-1

Jaguar XJ-220

Dodge Viper SRT-10

Aston Martin V12 Vanquish

In summary, for each manufacturer we integrated the most beautiful and powerful models. Regarding the technical side, all vehicles are high-poly count models around 10,000 polygons each and damage is also represented.

Moreover, we put on the cars the most beautiful real-time environment mapping ever created: the RE real-time environment map is displayed for each frame, so you really get the mirroring effect of the environment (trees, buildings, landmarks, etc.) on the car.

The final touch comes from the anti-aliasing, which smoothes every part of the car.

Do you feel you can only do this title justice on Xbox or can we expect to see versions for PS2 and GameCube?

Chaudat: Initially, we decided to create an exclusive Xbox game to be sure the developers could concentrate on the original concept. As realism was the objective, we set out to fully use all the power of the Xbox - that's always difficult to do that with a multiplatform development strategy. For the moment, nothing is scheduled for other platforms, but it doesn't mean we'll never do it.

What's been the most satisfying aspect of development?

Chaudat: Obviously, a lot of aspects are very satisfying, because RE integrates so many very exclusive features.

But for me, the most satisfying aspect is probably the photorealistic tracks. The fact that from the first drawings to the final 3D representation in the game, we managed to keep all the detail and the depth of the environments is simply unbelievable. The full-screen anti-aliasing provides a high level of visual comfort, as the area where one spends most time concentrating on when driving - the track in front - is completely stable and every curve is clearly identifiable from far away. It's perhaps strange to consider the tracks as one of the most perfect aspects of a racing game, but play Racing Evoluzione, and you'll understand!