Next week, Atari and developer Reflections will attempt to restore the Driver name to good standing with Parallel Lines, the series' fourth installment, which will put the focus back on the driving action that has defined the franchise since its beginning. Here to talk about the development of the technology that will power that action is studio manager Gareth Edmondson.
Building the FrameworkBy Gareth Edmondson
Studio Manager, Reflections
How did we first create the driving engine for Parallel Lines? What was most important in order to have the driving be the focal point of the franchise? The Driving engine has been in constant iteration over the years. Our first driving engine was created for Destruction Derby, which was a launch title for the PlayStation. It had a significant number of modifications made to it for Destruction Derby 2, as we allowed cars to be flipped upside down in that game, and we added some more-tunable elements to make the cars a bit less twitchy.
The engine was redone for Driver 1, and it drew on our experiences from our previous games. The type of handling that we needed for Driver 1 was a bit different, though, as a race-track-handling model didn't suit the car-chase, movie-style tail-out slides that Driver was so well known for. There were some more upgrades and modifications made between Driver 1 and 2, as well. When we moved on to the PlayStation 2 with Stuntman, the engine was rewritten again to take advantage of the new hardware, but again, of course, we drew heavily on the experience we gained through earlier games.
With each game since then, the engine has had significant amounts of work done on it to improve it and make it more flexible, including adding bike handling for Driver 3. Also with Driver: Parallel Lines, we now allow players to have access to some of the parameters that affect how the cars handle, via the vehicle-modification garages, so that required some significant work to change the in-house development tool that we use to tune the handling of cars to something that is more user friendly.
We have also made modifications to the engine to make available a much wider range of handling styles. We have racecars, '70s muscle cars, modern SUVs, and so on, to cater to Driver: Parallel Lines, so the whole system is a lot more flexible and can deal with a wide range of vehicle styles. Driver: Parallel Lines' vehicles are also capable of higher speeds, so the engine also has to cater to that feature as well.
The way the cars handle is absolutely crucial to any driving game, of course, but the key thing with Driver games is that they make you feel like you are in a Hollywood-movie car chase.