Trevor Ley of Lucky Mountain Games and Tom Turner of Sumo Digital speak with GamingBolt about their upcoming arcade racer.
We don’t get a lot of arcade racers these days, with most of the major developers focused on the simulation space, but every now and then, a game comes along that reminds us of the good old days when arcade racers ruled the roost. That, it seems, is exactly the approach the upcoming Hotshot Racing – developed by Lucky Mountain Games and Sumo Digital – is doubling down on. With its retro-style visual aesthetic, its focus on drifting mechanics, the emphasis it places on high-speed thrills, and modes that put pure adrenaline-fueled enjoyment front and centre, it looks like a game that fans of the arcade racer genre should enjoy. To learn more about the game, we recently sent across some of our questions about it to its developers. You can read our interview with Trevor Ley, Creative Director at Lucky Mountain Games, and Tom Turner, Development Director at Sumo Digital Nottingham, below.
"The look of the game is incredibly deceptive, because although it utilises a low-poly style, there is a lot of content and detail in every level, giving it that rich, vibrant look."
Hotshot Racing features a very distinct retro-style visual aesthetic that immediately stands out upon first glance- can you talk about what the process was like for settling upon this look?
Ley: The vertex coloured artstyle is inspired by Virtua Racing, Hard Drivin’, Winning Run and other 3D non-textured arcade games. The bright colour palette was influenced by Daytona USA, early Ridge Racer games etc. The goal was to create something that looked clean, colourful and fast, as many other modern racing games were aiming for photorealism or film style lighting effects.
Turner: The look of the game is incredibly deceptive, because although it utilises a low-poly style, there is a lot of content and detail in every level, giving it that rich, vibrant look. Once the levels are composed and laid out, there are still extensive optimisation passes required to get the game running at that silky smooth 60fps. Low-poly doesn’t mean you get that performance for free. There’s been a lot of love and craft applied to the game and we’re really proud of the way it looks.
Hotshot Racing places a lot of emphasis on drifting. Can you explain to our readers how that functions mechanically?
Ley: The drift mechanic is a feature that is easy to do, but hard to master. A quick tap of the brake as a player enters a corner will get the back of the car sliding out, the player will then have to use opposite lock to control the drift and gain as much boost as possible but without sacrificing too much speed. The feeling of the drift was influenced by Split/Second to feel weighty and controllable.
Turner: We have built the game using Sumo Digital’s proprietary “Sumo Engine”, which has been the basis of many of our racing games to date. As such, the tools we have available give us incredibly fine control over the car handling/physics and have enabled us to craft a driving experience that’s really versatile and fun.
Can you talk about the characters – or the “Hotshots” so to speak – and what role they play in the game from a mechanical perspective? Do they each offer different driving styles or attributes?
Ley: The Hotshots were a feature I wanted to incorporate from the start. As they provide an additional element the player can relate to, whereas many racing games tended to have car selection only. Each Hotshot racer has their own backstory and reason they are racing and their selection of cars reflects that.
"Hotshot Racing will bring back memories for those who played arcade racers growing up and for new players they will be able to race under bright blue skies, drifting through great tracks in unbelievably fast cars while listening to amazing music."
The Drive or Explode mode sounds like a blast (literally)- is that something that you designed tracks around, or is it more a case of players having to learn to keep up high speeds on regular tracks?
Ley: The tracks were built for flat out racing, so in Drive or Explode you can use your track knowledge gained in the other modes to make sure you keep ahead of the pack. Ramming your opponents into the barriers can also help you stay in 1st place!
Turner: What I particularly love about ‘Drive or Explode’ is as the max speed that you must maintain increases, your car’s reaction to collision becomes more and more extreme. So the tracks that you know so well from general racing become increasingly challenging to navigate and you’re tearing around on a knife-edge, just trying not to touch anything. It’s a really exciting mode that gives a really different driving/competitive experience.
Can you talk to us about the Cops and Robbers mode, and how it is structured from a gameplay standpoint?
Ley: I think people may get flashbacks of Chase HQ or Burnouts Takedowns in the Cops and Robbers mode! As you have to ram the robbers to convert them to cops. Or if you are a robber, drive it like you stole it to the finish line!
What are your plans for the game’s post-launch support as far as new content or updates are concerned? Are more new tracks and modes something you’ve given any thought to?
Turner: This is something we’d love to do and obviously Hotshot Racing, unfortunately we don’t have any future plans to announce today.
While racing sims have mostly been going from strength to strength, it seems the last decade has seen arcade racing games become much less common. What are your thoughts on why that may be the case, and what are your hopes for critical and commercial reception to Hotshot Racing in that light?
Ley: I think arcade style racers fell out of fashion for a time as people stuck to the ongoing franchises that used licensed car models, real world tracks/locations etc. Whereas great racers that tried to be different such as Blur or Split/Second didn’t catch on. These days racing games look very similar and feature the same licensed cars and tracks. Hotshot Racing will bring back memories for those who played arcade racers growing up and for new players they will be able to race under bright blue skies, drifting through great tracks in unbelievably fast cars while listening to amazing music!
Turner: Obviously, nostalgia plays a big part in the appeal of Hotshot Racing and will attract fans who remember and love those great arcade games of the past. However, what we’ve tried to do with Hotshot Racing is provide enough depth and differentiation between the handling models of each class of car, that fans of current day racing games will also find something to get their teeth into and master.
"What we’ve tried to do with Hotshot Racing is provide enough depth and differentiation between the handling models of each class of car, that fans of current day racing games will also find something to get their teeth into and master."
Will the game feature Xbox One X and PS4 Pro-specific enhancements? Is 4K/60 FPS on the cards?
Turner: There are no specific enhancements on those console, we’re aiming to deliver the same great experience across all platforms.
How is the game running on the original Xbox One and PS4, in terms of frame rate and resolution?
Turner: Both versions run at 1080p and in terms of frame rate, single-screen play runs at 60fps and split-screen runs at 30fps.
What are the docked and undocked resolution and frame rate of the Switch version?
Turner: The Switch version runs at 1080p Docked / 720p undocked. In terms of frame rate, single-screen play runs at 60fps and split-screen runs at 30fps.
Given that next-gen consoles are right around the corner, have you given any thought to next-gen ports for the game?
Turner: We don’t have any future plans to announce today.