DiRT 3 : An Exclusive Interview With Paul Coleman, Senior Game Designer

Posted By | On 15th, Feb. 2011

DiRT 3 is an upcoming rallying videogame in the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters. It contains a new racing mode, gymkhana, which is featured in the teaser trailer. The game will feature split screen and a cockpit camera view. It is scheduled to be released globally on 24 May 2011 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows.

We recently got a chance to sit with Paul Coleman, Senior Game Designer of the game and talk about some of the new features in it. It’s a pretty interesting read and we touch a lot of points of the game. Do read it till the end.

GB: The weather and track deterioration of DiRT 2 were criticized by quite a few people. How do you plan on improving on that?

Paul: We have introduced a wide variety of weather effects and times of day in DiRT 3 that will mean that the player will hardly ever experience the same stage in the same conditions. On our snow tracks we now have deformable snow banks that will allow the player to experience some track deterioration as they drive through the stage.

GB: Will damage have more influence on our races in DiRT 3? And will we still have to drive a new car for every race?

Paul: If you turn mechanical damage on you will see a more noticeable effect on performance and handling as you drive through the stage. In fact damaging a wheel can lead to punctures. If you continue to drive on a punctured tyre it will shred off the rim and you’ll be limping to the service area.
You’ll always get a fresh car at the start of each stage as we want players to focus on the racing but we may be bringing back the repair and management aspects of the service area in future titles.

GB: What exactly is the gymkhana? How do you plan on implementing in DiRT 3?

Paul: Gymkhana is something that grass roots motorsports enthusiasts do to test out their cars in simple courses laid out with cones often in open areas such as car parks. Ken Block took part in these events and actually went and built a car to take part in one of the first sanctioned Gymkhana events. Unfortunately the event got cancelled and Ken was left with an awesome car and no event to compete in. He figured the best thing to do would be to Hoon it around El Toro airbase and create a video of his antics. Millions of YouTube views later and Ken has turned Gymkhana into a phenomenon and we are proud to be the first video game to represent it.

In DiRT 3 we have taken all of the fundamental trick types that you’ll see in a Gymkhana video and then created environments that have objects that you can perform these tricks in and around. When you take this style of driving and then add the ability to upload clips of your own driving skills directly to your YouTube channel we believe we have really captured the essence of Gymkhana. We are really excited by the response we are getting from people who have had the chance to try it out so we can’t wait to see the reaction when the game comes out.

GB: Will we have any new modes in DiRT 3? Last Man Standing and Gatecrasher were extremely fun in DiRT 2. Can we expect anything of that sort?

Paul: Yeah, we will be introducing some alternative ways to have fun while throwing a car around. We have a series of Challenges in the career that are designed to give the player a break from the rigours of competition driving and give them a chance to have a little fun. These include Speedruns, Drift challenges and Gymkhana attacks.
We then have a series of Party Modes that will give players a chance to have a great time chasing each other around in both Online and Split Screen game modes. These are really fun and cause a real disturbance in the studio because we are making so much noise while play-testing them in the studio.

GB: What kind of new tracks will we see this time around?

Paul: We have over 100 routes in DiRT 3, many of these are conventional rally and trailblazer stages which we have refined to give players the most intense experience possible. We have the new Gymkhana courses which provide a whole new driving experience. We have also reintroduced spectator stages in events that we have called Head to Head. This style of racing puts players against another opponent in a knockout style event. After three rounds the winner is crowned. We have also adapted our Landrush and Rallycross tracks so that they give the player a more engaging experience.

GB: Will we be traversing any new terrains? Mountains, beeches, highways or what?

Paul: Our Rally and Trailblazer events will take place in Finland, Kenya, Norway & Michigan in the USA. Rallycross, Head to Head and Landrush events will take place in Aspen, Monaco, and a disused Smelting plant. These environments allow the player to experience a multitude of surfaces including Gravel, Asphalt, Mud, Dirt, Snow, Ice and many more. They will be tackling all kinds of environments from the forests in Finland, to the mountains in Aspen and the safari landscapes of Kenya.

GB: In the face of other Driving Simulators such as Forza Motorsport, Gran Turismo, F1 or even WRC, do you ever feel your franchise has less relevance?

Paul: I believe that the DiRT franchise has always found its own space within the Racing Genre. We are confident that our realistic handling model is accessible enough to be enjoyed by all and is incredibly rewarding to master. With DiRT 3 we have set out to create the definitive off road racing game and I am confident that we are going to do that. We listened to the Fans, to the wider gaming community and we looked at the telemetry data from DiRT 2. From this research we have created a fantastic blend of Rally Racing and its heritage, Off Road racing and its excitement and the precision driving skills required to master Gymkhana. I firmly believe that the DiRT franchise is more relevant than ever.

GB: With the hype surrounding the Kinect and Move around, are guys going to include support for those in Dirt 3?

Paul: We have not included any Kinect or Move support in DiRT 3. We are looking at the technology though so if we can find a suitable use for it in future titles we will look at including it.

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