Last month at E3, we were invited by Sony for their theatrical presentation of DriveClub. During the presentation, Col Rodgers of Evolution Studios talked about how connected the game is and how the technical prowess of the PlayStation 4 has played a big role in developing DriveClub.
“DriveClub is a totally connected game where you can play anywhere with anything. Be it your Vita, your tablet or your smart phone. You are always connected 24/7. There is always something to do and a new experience to be had.You can meet up with your friends and leave messages for them. DriveClub lets you do what you exactly want to do. ” Col Rodgers said.
“The thing is though, none of this will be great without the awesome graphics fidelity. The PlayStation 4 is quite simply the most powerful console from the graphics point of view that’s ever existed. And you know we are proud to actually make use of that. Some of the things that you actually see in the DriveClub demo like the accurately simulated clouds, they are random every single time you play the game. In addition, during the day, none of the lighting is baked in to the game at all, everything is live so if you want to be in a certain geographical location within a certain a time of day, that will appear exactly as it would in real life,” he said.
“In addition to that we have gone to such lengths, that we have actually have the stars correctly mapped in the sky. Which means when you look out you will see your favorite constellations, if you have one.
And on top of that there are the cars. We love cars. In fact I have been driving now for 18 years and I have 54 cars myself which includes some pretty amazing stuff . This is something that is pervasive in the entire studio. In fact, I went out to see Neon, the lead car artist. And he was looking at one of the car models and I asked what’s going on. He said ‘ I am just rejecting this car again.’ I said ‘ Why? This looks perfect’. He said that the wrong size screw heads were build in to the floor mats and it wont’ do,” Rodgers added.
Thereafter, Rodgers asked us to fire away any questions we and other press members had about the game to Design Director Paul Rustchynsky and Art Director Alex Perkins. Check out the entire transcript below:
What is the slowest car in the game? You talked about the super fast cars but what about the slower cars?
We have got everything down from the hot hatches all the way through super hyper cars. I don’t think we have announced any of the slowest cars in the game. The slowest car that we have announced, I believe…is the Mercedes Benz AMG A45 which requires 4.5 seconds to reach top speed, so that’s pretty quick.
Because of the fact that we are moving into service model as well, even though we have gone for the biggest and brightest now, there is all sorts of stuff we are going to cover. This is just the start.
Is DriveClub aimed for car enthusiast (people who follow Gran Turismo 6) or can casual audience also enjoy it?
Hopefully all people can enjoy it. That’s kind of aim we have gone for with the type of handling model. Obviously this is a realistic looking game and we want to deliver an authentic racing experience but at the same time we want people to pick up the game, be accessible and have fun.
There were comments before about how thrilling it is to throw the car on a corner but at the same time we want to make sure it is a very deep handling model so that players can shave off those extra milliseconds of time. If you drive the perfect racing line and you hit the apex, you hit the right breaking point, that’s going to be the fastest way to drive. But it’s a handling model that you are going to have loads of fun as well.
Are the tracks in the game fictional and is there any off-roading in the game?
There is no off-roading in the game and the tracks are actually kind of fictional given that they are all based on roads that exist in the real world and we tweak them slightly. We have used something called as DEM data to get the correct geometry of the landscapes of a particular areas that we have built.
It is really about getting the heart and soul of the locations of where we go and getting the indicative type of roads, the corners, the feel and the wear of tarmac and all the things that go around the track are all distilled to the best of that location.
Can you join multiple clubs in the game? How does it work in the game?
You can only be in one club at any one time. The reason being of course is there are so many benefits…shared benefits of being inside a club. So if you are a member and all the rest your team mates are earning fame, they’re earning cash etc, this is essentially a shared pot so you get to revel in their rewards as well. So it is very important to pick the right club for yourself, cause different clubs will have different focuses. Some clubs will just want to just get out there and top the leaderboards and some might try to win the weekly tournaments. It’s all about picking the club that’s clever for you.
Are there any limits to the number of clubs any player can join?
There is a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 12.
How many tracks are there in the game?
I don’t think we are talking numbers just yet. We have varied locations spread over the planet, spread in southern and northern hemispheres. We’ll be announcing where and exactly how many later on but there are some definite surprises.
Technical wise, can we expect the game to run at 60 FPS?
Obviously, the demo…which I am not sure whether you have played it… is currently running at 30fps at this point but 60fps is something we are targeting. Obviously we are a game in development and we are just going to aim towards that but we cannot make any promises right now.
Absolutely, 1080p native.
What about the weather affects in the game?
Well…So the thing is that this question actually comes up quite a bit. Obviously, what we’re currently focussed on is getting the game perfect and building a community around it first, but if there is a call for weather effects back in the day then, nothing is off the cards at this point. Because ultimately, I can’ts stress this enough, the game is buying your way in to the community. DriveClub is something that is going to evolve over the period of time.
The game that you play day one on PlayStation 4 is not going to be the game you play a year down the line because it will have evolved a lot, as time swings. We are specifically leaving the entire architecture, how we develop the tracks, the materials, the cars and so are all of these things are left open. We’re not a closed ended box game. You basically buy the box and it expands. We could just throw storms in there. Right now there is nothing but later down the line who knows.
Will the game have dedicated servers?
Yes. It’s all built around custom server architecture so you know this actually plays quite nicely in to the service model from the point of view that you log in the next day and you will will find something better. Everything about it is just going to evolve.
Is there some fixed structure for the single player?
Yes there is, we have a championship mode that you can playthrough. It also has a good deal of gameplay so if you choose to play offline you won’t be disappointed.
Is it necessary to complete the campaign or the championship mode in order to unlock cars for multiplayer?
No. You can play whatever way you want, whenever you want. There is no split down in the middle and it’s not like the single player is here and the multiplayer is here. It’s all one experience. You will unlock the cars and content the way you want to.
Will the solo player evolve during the playtime?
Absolutely. Yes it will, as we add new locations and other things into the game. These will be integrated into the single player experience.
PS Plus version aside, is it a full priced game?
Yes. It will be available day one at retail and on the PlayStation store as a digital download, and then there is the PS Plus version which is downloadable day one. The PS Plus version is virtually the entire game except some tracks and cars, but the online multiplayer, challenges, single player campaign…that’s all there in the PS Plus version.
It just gives us the biggest community day one, with so much variety. The game is all about socializing so we need a big platform for it.
If I have the PS Plus version, can I buy additional content?
Absolutely, anything you want. You could download the PS Plus version and then then you say you want to convert this to the full digital version, then you can pay a sum of money and everything else will be delivered to you.
Are you talking about performance and visual customisation right now?
About visual customisation: As a club its very important that you have your own identity. You can create a club badge, and apply it that to your car, create club liveries as well. But it is also important that you need to share these with your other club members. So if I create a black and white livery, all of my club members can have that.
Can you upgrade cars for better performance?
There is no performance customisation in the game. We have spent a lot of time developing the handling model for each of the cars so we’ve made sure the handling and characteristic of each of the cars really come through. We don’t want to change that. We want to make sure that the experience is just like the real car.
Can you talk about the damage model in the game?
Obviously our focus is on the actual driving, I mean, we’re not making Burnout, but the cars do damage, they deform and all that kind of stuff, so you are effectively scuffing up million pound supercars.
Besides the club progress, is there a personal progress, a ranking system or something like that?
Well everything about what you do is personal but then that all feeds into the club. It does not feel alienated. If for example, you decide that you did not like the people in the club and want to join another one, you can leave that club and you take your points along with it.
In challenging clubs, are you able to, say, set up an event where your club mates will race against another club?
Absolutely, you can customise your own events and challenges, you can set wagers, or time limits or a number of attempts a player can have even attempt that challenge, or you can also set up a schedule for an event to take place as well, so like 2pm on a Saturday, and then if you are playing the game you will be pulled in that session.
One of the joys of a dynamic system is that you can set it in the middle of the night with the weather being overcast and set it on one of the Scottish tracks that has no street lights, meaning you’ve got to drive with just your headlights and that is very hairy thing.
If I change my club, do I take my progress with me, and does my old club lose this progress?
Yes.You have to keep good people. When you recruit people into your club, you want to make sure they’re the right sort of people you want to play around with. It’s going to be you know challenging to get into the best clubs. You’ll see the best clubs at the top of the league and wonder, how do I get into this club, how do I make my name in Driveclub and get in to that club? It will be interesting to see from the developers side cause we have no idea how it will turn out. It’s all about social dynamics isn’t it.
Can you play against people that are in your club?
Yes definitely, there are no restrictions just because you’re in a club. Effectively you can look at everyone as individuals and everyone can send challenges and set up events for anyone. There is no restrictions because you are in the club.
Fundamentally the members in the club are your friends so you can challenge them.
Will you support wheels ?
We’re trying to get as many in as possible. Obviously there’s going to be some potential issues with compatibility with the hardware. Ultimately it’s up to the manufacturers; they have to make their wheel support the PlayStation 4 first. As long as that wheel supports the PlayStation 4, then we see no reason why we can’t.
The Q&A ended with the developers stating how they believe first person racing (cockpit view) is the best way of playing DriveClub.
For our continued coverage of DriveClub, please check out its hub page here.
Note: This presentation was attended by our writer Leonid Melikhov.