NEWS - Friday, August 13, 2004

NASCAR 2005 Designer Diary

When NASCAR® announced its new system for crowning series champions before the start of the 2004 season, it created a new buzz and excitement around the sport of stock car racing. NASCAR was looking for a way to add some excitement and drama to the end of the season in its NEXTEL Cup Series. To do this NASCAR implemented a new wrinkle to their championship points system, which would take the top ten drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point’s standings (and any other driver within 400 points of the leader) and reset their championship point totals. These ten drivers would then qualify for the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup and battle amongst each other in the final ten races of the season in NASCAR’s very own version of a postseason playoff. This new system radically changed teams’ and drivers’ strategies for the 2004 season. In year’s past, drivers fought for the coveted top spot in the standings throughout the season. Now, the focus had shifted towards battling for one of the top ten standings positions and a chance at racing for a championship in the final 10 races. Here at EA-Tiburon, when the new Chase for the NEXTEL Cup system was introduced, it spurred an idea for a great new stand alone game mode for our upcoming NASCAR title. In this Designer Diary, we’ll take you through the inspiration and creation of this game mode and how it came to be the fun and exciting feature you can find in EA’s NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup. When NASCAR announced this rule change at the beginning of the season, we of course knew that it would need to be implemented into the game’s Season and Fight to the Top modes, since the old points system had been done away with and fans of the game would be expecting us to keep up with the new rules change. We also couldn’t help thinking that this new season-ending points system was so dynamic and exciting, it would make a great stand-alone game mode. So we started to brainstorm a game feature based around the Chase for the Cup and its final ten-race battle. However, we knew right off the bat that we needed to make this mode customizable and engaging for the user to distinguish it from the Chase that they would experience in Season and Fight to the Top. In the Chase for the Cup game mode, the User takes over as a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver who is about to take part in the ten race Chase. Before they begin, however, we wanted to allow the user to setup and customize various aspects of their Chase for the Cup. This would allow them to create a personalized Chase which caters to their own individual skill set. In order to do this we allow the user to set a variety of custom game options before entering the mode. Gamers can customize everything from setting their starting position in the Chase for the Cup standings, to selecting which of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stars they would like to compete against in the Chase. We also wanted to add a reward system for those players who chose to set up their Chase to be a little more challenging, so during the design phase we decided to incorporate our Skill Points feature into Chase for the Cup. The concept is simple: the more challenging you make the Chase, the more Skill Points you will receive. Lastly, we wanted to address the flow and feel of the Chase for the Cup feature during game play. We wanted to make sure that once the user began playing, that it felt fresh and unique. Some of the ways we accomplished this was to make the flow from race to race a little more efficient by eliminating as many menu screens as possible. This would allow users to go from race to race much more quickly than in other game modes and let them focus on the main aspect of the mode… racing for the championship. We also added dynamic post race commentary from our in-game announcer Bill Weber, and unique post-race standings screens at the end of each race in order to set the game mode apart that much more. When it was all said and done, we were all very happy with the results we had achieved with the Chase for the Cup feature. With the help of a strong Development and Art team, we had accomplished our goal of taking a new NASCAR rule, which we were all very excited about, and turned it into a game mode that we think the gaming public will be very excited to play in NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup. Click Here To See The First Designer Diary For Nascar 2005

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