Game Director Paul Rustchynsky answers some of our questions about Codemasters’ unique racing game, Onrush.
Onrush is a video game that is all about causing as much havoc as you possibly can using one of the many different vehicle classes that are available. However, there’s also a lot of depth underneath the hood here, and while remaining accessible, it will take time for players to truly master the game. This is a unique racing game, and one that could have a very bright future in the eSports scene!
To learn more about the game and its development, Gamingbolt reached out to Game Director Paul Rustchynsky who answered the following questions.
"For driving games and Onrush in particular, it’s a case of prioritizing what catches the eye the most at speed."
Most of the development team that are working on Onrush actually worked on DRIVECLUB (such as yourself). What kind of advantages does that bring to the studio and to the game itself?
Most of the development team have worked together for over a decade, so we really know how to get the best out of one another and the gameplay. Plus we’ve been working on racing games since the PlayStation 2 era, so we’ve learned a lot of lessons in that time.
Without that experience and the support of Codemasters I don’t think it would have been possible to bring this game to life in just two years!
With DRIVECLUB, the team developed one of the greatest looking racing games of all time, how will Onrush surpass that achievement?
First of all, thanks for the compliment. We’re proud of our past achievements, and we always strive to raise the bar even higher with every game we make! The goal with Onrush was to create a fast-action arcade game that is beautiful, dynamic and runs at a super smooth 60 frames per second, with more action onscreen than we’ve ever delivered before.
I believe we’ve struck a great balance between fidelity, density and performance in the moment to moment gameplay. There’s a lot going on which is sometimes hard to see due to the speed and chaos of the intense action, but don’t forget you can dive into photo mode and take your time to look around and appreciate the efforts we’ve gone to.
Sometimes, I just sit back and start thinking how do you even approach developing racing games and incorporate real life elements into pixels? Where do you begin and where do you end, from a technical perspective?
For driving games and Onrush in particular, it’s a case of prioritizing what catches the eye the most at speed.
So highlights and reflections give shape to surface and objects which help them stand out. Modelling creates the silhouettes, but how we light the modelled surfaces becomes key. So surfaces with true specular and ambient lighting are a must, especially if you’re going to make the environment dynamic or wet, and the lighting and surfaces have to react to those changes. This automatically informs the techniques and approaches required to make the human eye believe the elements they are being shown.
For example if you have large areas of wet surface then reflecting all the elements visible in the screen will sell that wetness better than something that is either generic or pre baked. Screen Space Reflections (SSR) as a technique can then be easily prioritized to reach this goal.
I am assuming the game is using the EGO engine. So, I wanted to ask what kind of improvements you have made to the engine in terms a. Physics b. Physical Based Rendering and c. Rendering more cars on the track?
We’ve built the latest version of the EGO engine on a new DX12 platform that has allowed us to push today’s hardware in a lot of ways. The physics can support 24 vehicles always on-track, with large amounts of damage and destruction. The deferred renderer is fully dynamic allowing us to transition seamlessly between night and day and weather conditions. The PBR shaders and materials bring dynamic weather to the game, with surfaces that fill with puddles and snow that builds up over time. And there’s much more going on here too, including very fast loading times which I think is super important for this game. We want you to spend as much time in the action and enjoying the gameplay as we can!
Were there any particular challenges you faced during the game’s development?
The actual day to day development has been surprisingly smooth actually, with no major hiccups or panics along the way. The most challenging part of development was probably early on when we were prototyping and trying to find the fun. We had such a variety of influences from racers, shooters & sports titles and trying to fuse together such a variety of ideas into a cohesive and fun game took many months to achieve.
[You mentioned] dynamic weather, will the game have rain, thunderstorms etc and dynamic track deformation?
Absolutely! We want to make the most out of every one of the games environments and make them feel dynamic and different every time you play. It’s great racing along in the sun and having the sun set as you play, seeing the snow start to fall and build up until it’s as deep as your wheels! And then even better watching it deform beneath your tires and reacting to the changing handling dynamic as you fight a little more to keep control and get a satisfying drift going.
Be sure to keep an eye out for Thunderstorms and the Northern Lights. They’re spectacular!
"Onrush is perfect for Esports in many ways and I’m excited to see how the community around the game develops in this area."
What made you come up with the idea of different vehicle classes, each with their own unique abilities?
We always wanted a variety of different vehicles on track so there was a good deal of options to choose from, but the need to create classes with abilities was born out of necessity. As this is a team based game which heavily focusses on combat, we needed to give them all distinct strengths and weaknesses, so they all have opportunities to take down the other classes and have an impact on the match.
It was also important for long term depth, as the makeup of a team, what vehicle classes you pick together and then how you work together can have a huge impact on the match.
It looks like Onrush is a game that would be perfect for Esports. Is that a part of the plan for the game?
Onrush is perfect for Esports in many ways and I’m excited to see how the community around the game develops in this area. The team-based setup and unique game modes mean there are many strategies and tactics on offer, it’s round based structure means the game is exciting up to every finish and the all-in-the-thick-of-it action means it’s also a lot of fun to watch.
We hope that the community embraces the game and that a strong competitive scene grows, and we’re going to support the game and the community to help make this a real possibility.
Can you tell us a little bit about how exactly RUSH works?
RUSH is a 10 second burst of high speed and adrenaline that gives you the opportunity to score big for your team and make an impact on the match. It doesn’t just make you go faster and hit harder though, as each of the eight vehicles has a different RUSH Ultimate, an ability that you need to skilfully use and coordinate with your team to get the most out of it.
For example, the Blade has the Firewall Ultimate, which leaves a destructive trail of fire behind that destroys any opposition that attempts to cross it. The Firewall can be used to protect your team or take out opponents, and good timing can make a big impact on the match. The Dynamo has Energize, which supplies nearby teammates with boost to help them get their RUSH more quickly and lend a bigger edge in combat.
Does it matter in the game whether you’re ahead on a track, or is all that matters the points you get?
Onrush is a new breed of racing game without a finish line that focuses on racing to complete a shared objective for your team. The goal can be scoring points, driving through gates, capturing the zone or taking lives away from the opposition, so you’ll want to be attacking the pack and attacking the track in a variety of ways to make sure your team comes out on top in every battle.
What can you tell us about the different game modes that will be available to play?
There will be four original team-based modes that all offer a unique style of gameplay:
Overdrive celebrates a free-form style of play and classic arcade points scoring, where you’re constantly seeking out your next hit of boost to keep your combo up, whilst trying to stay alive and takedown the opposition.
Countdown is a race against the clock, capturing the classic arcade thrill of the mad dash to the next checkpoint. You have to fight to squeeze through a series of gates to add time to the clock for your team, to keep it from running out.
Switch is an eliminator mode, giving everyone three lives to fight for, and forcing you to change your vehicle when you wreck. It’s a bit like Gun Game in Call of Duty, with everyone starting on the same level as one of the motorbikes and eventually progressing to the biggest vehicles – creating an evolving attack and defense dynamic with all of the vehicles, with the final seconds becoming an intense cat and mouse chase as you try to close out the match.
And finally Lockdown, which is a 100mph version of king of the hill that has teams chasing down the moving zone before fighting to capture it to score points. This mechanic of chase and capture creates a unique ebb and flow to the mode, with the pace slowing ever so slightly when in the zone to focus on the combat, which is where you’ll probably see Onrush at its most chaotic, and then everything gets back up to full speed as everyone chases the next zone.
The game looks like a lot of fun wreaking havoc everywhere, but is there also an element of tactics involved if you want to be the best player?
Absolutely, there is an incredible amount of depth to the gameplay in every single mode because of the nuances of each vehicle class, the rules of each mode and the constantly evolving dynamic between the two teams.
That said we’ve also worked hard to make sure that from the very first moment you pick up the controller it is immediately fun to speed around the track, get huge air, smash fodder, take down rivals and contribute to your team, with lots of encouragement for players to improve, discover new tactics and create new strategies for that all important long-term depth.
Every track, vehicle and mode needs to be mastered as whilst they might seem straight forward, each has layers of subtleties that won’t seem obvious at first. How you work together as a team plays a huge part too. Creative use of vehicle line-ups and switching to the right class at the right time in the middle of a match can have a huge impact. We think it’ll take players a long time to master Onrush and we’re also excited to see what cool strategies we see that we haven’t even thought of!
"Onrush is a wildly different racing game from anything you’ve ever played before, flipping the genre on its head by making takedowns, team-play and objectives the focus."
Does the game have any sort of microtransactions?
There are no microtransactions in the game at launch.
Can you reveal your post launch plans for the game? Do you have any plans for DLC in the form of new tracks and vehicles?
We’ve got plans in place and we’ve got a number of great ideas for the future, but we also want to work with the community and react to what they want from the game. The recent Open Beta was the start of this and we’ve already had a lot of fantastic feedback that we’re actively working on right now, making improvements to several areas of the game. And we can do a lot to evolve and update the game via the servers too, to make it a constantly evolving experience that we can fine-tune and balance based not just on feedback, but on the gameplay data we see from how players are interacting with the game as well.
I can’t reveal exactly what will be added to Onrush after launch but you should expect more new features, awesome new gear to unlock, and great new content to play with. Expect to hear a lot more about this in the coming weeks after release.
How would you best summarize all that Onrush offers as a unique video game?
Onrush is a wildly different racing game from anything you’ve ever played before, flipping the genre on its head by making takedowns, team-play and objectives the focus. With different vehicles that have a loadout of abilities and game modes which don’t focus on one payoff at the finish line, there truly has never been anything like it before.
The game is now nearing launch. Can you reveal to us the resolution and frame rates of all console versions i.e. PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, PS4 and Xbox One?
We actually give the players the choice of how they’d like to experience the game on Xbox One X, PS4 Pro and PS4. We’ve done this by letting you choose your preference of prioritizing either resolution or frame rate.
Choosing to ‘prioritize frame rate’ will offer 60fps gameplay with a dynamic resolution based on your console. In contrast, selecting ‘prioritize resolution’ will make the game run at 30fps with resolutions of up to 4k based on your console and setup.
Given that you are now working on both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, what kind of technical differences did you found between the two?
We’ve really enjoyed working with the new hardware. They’re both extremely capable platforms with their own strengths and weaknesses. Due to our familiarity and experience of working with PlayStation hardware and tools, we have generally found it easier to work with the PS4 Pro and get the most out of it. The Xbox One X is also a powerhouse though, as it has extra memory which allows us to add 4k assets and textures to improve the overall presentation.
Is there anything more you’d like to tell our readers?
Expect something new, something fresh, something entirely original when you play Onrush. This is a brand new take on what a racing game can deliver. So take the time to experiment with different vehicles and tactics and change your mindset from finding the quickest racing line to attacking the track and attacking the pack. I’m certain you’ll have a lot of fun with it!