Feature Article

World Of Speed: A Racing MMO With Grand Ambitions

Fast & Furious (and free!)

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"You said 'free-to-play', but I never said free-to-play; I never said free-to-play once. I said, 'you can download the game for free'. That has always been our attitude."

There's nothing quite like the term "free-to-play" to get a developer suitably riled up. But despite what Slightly Mad Studios' creative director Andy Tudor says, it's hard to think of the studio's self-proclaimed racing MMO World Of Speed as anything but. It's a free, online-only game buoyed up by paid upgrades and microtransactions that I'm told will "potentially" speed up your progress through the game. So far, so free-to-play then.

Still, you can understand Tudor's reservations: not even console racing games have managed to escape the frustrating progression times of the free-to-play business model, despite a hefty up front cost. But there's hope for World Of Speed. For starters, it's being released on PC, and when it comes to free-to-play games, the PC does it right. That's not say World Of Speed will, but from speaking to Tudor, it's clear the success of games like Dota 2, League Of Legends, and Team Fortress 2 have had an impact on the studio.

"We're not going to put any content behind a paywall, because that's completely obvious, and we saw that with other racing games on mobile that got a bit more flack," Tudor told me. "And we certainly don't want you to go into a game where you feel like you're at a disadvantage because somebody else has paid, because that is pay to win. Both things are obvious: do it fair, and don't ever let the player feel like they're being cheated because someone has paid; it's not rocket science. You can go all the way through the entire game to the highest level without spending a penny at all."

"Both things are obvious: do it fair, and don't ever let the player feel like they're being cheated because someone has paid; it's not rocket science."

As for the MMO part of World Of Speed, don't get your hopes up for an open-world epic. This is a street circuit-based racer, albeit one that has a focus on team-based events and competition. The idea is that players will be able to create and join clubs with others, and that for every event they take part in, points are awarded to their club. Teams that dominate at certain circuits will then be awarded a clubhouse there, complete with unique items for customising their cars, and the option to take part in the Territory Wars minigame (which, sadly, I wasn't shown).

The idea of a team-based online racer isn't new--Ubisoft's upcoming The Crew and Sony's Driveclub are taking a stab at it, for instance--but World Of Speed is throwing all sorts of incentives into the mix to keep players from trying to go it alone. For one, a podium finish isn't the only way to earn experience points. Performing tricks and drifts during a race will rack up the XP, as will performing defensive blocks on the opposition in order to secure safe passage for a teammate.

Car types and upgrades will prove important too. Some players may opt for a larger, slightly slower car in order to provide an aggressive role in races and take out other drivers, while others may trick their cars out for speed in order to take the win. It's a tricky balance, though, and once the game launches it'll be interesting to see just how many players will be willing to take a back seat. Indeed, the laps I took around the visually impressive London street circuit weren't quite the chummy drives I'd envisaged, with each member of the team tending to just go for a podium place with little regard for their team member's progress.

This was a simple circuit race event, though, and while little was revealed of other race types, I did catch a tantalising glimpse of Destruction Derby during a presentation slide. Perhaps those other modes (along with some like-minded individuals to play with) will encourage better teamwork. As for the racing itself, World Of Speed leans very much towards the arcade. It was little trouble to sling a car around a hairpin bend at speed, or indulge in some wildly ambitious drifts without careering head first into a tire wall, while a nitro boost proved useful for some mean-spirited ramming. The racing and braking lines on the circuit did seem a tad superfluous, to say the least.

I'd love to say that it was all tremendous fun, but the racing felt more serviceable than it did stimulating, Hopefully the final game will feature more in the way of clear, interesting objectives than the early demo did. Still, when World Of Racing does launch, players can expect plenty of improvements post-release. That other aspect of free-to-play games--the constant stream of updates and fixes--is how the studio envisages the game evolving in the future.

"I guess the main differentiation is that it's not a console game with five packs of DLC", Tudor told me. "It is not a PC game that we support via Steam and things like that. It is its own thing that's hopefully going to be around for a long time to come... it's a platform, if you want to think of it that way. The launch title will be the core, and then we're going to continuously expand that with new cars, new tracks, new games types, new features, new upgrades, new gameplay modes, all that kind of stuff. It is a long term strategy."

It's a big promise, attached to a similarly big free-to-play gamble. Ultimately, World Of Speed is a game that's attempting what so many others have tried and failed to do: to make a racing game with the long life and community of a top shooter or MMO. That's a mighty big task, and one that's going to need more than just some shiny cars and striking tracks. The Slightly Mad Studios team have definitely got the right idea, let's just hope there's more substance to its grand ambitions when we next see it in action before its release later this year.

Oh, and if you're wondering what's happening with Slightly Mad Studios' other, less arcade-style game--the community developed Project CARS--I'm told that it's "still on target" for a November release.

Discussion

47 comments
guardianofhonor
guardianofhonor

Or you could just play Forza online and skip the subsciption fee.

cboye18
cboye18

Keep rollin, rollin, rollin.....

dnathug
dnathug

Good idea, I would like to see this on game consoles but if it works for PC and is popular, maybe they will.

quakke
quakke

Since this is f2p, i am very interested in it. It also shows there is some sort of resemblence to that Simulation side of things, because afterall, these guys apparently were behind NFS: Shift. NFS: Shift was the last true Need For Speed game. None of that adhd Burnout nitro speeding and dumb Underground thing. 

I get it that someway this has to be accessible enough for it to have very much players, but just don't make it too accessible and i will like it. Though, if you don't make steeringwheel support along with manual transmission, i'm not gonna even touch this game.

26whitewolf
26whitewolf

I lost interest as soon i've read "Slightly Mad Studios". Shift series and the Test Drive Ferrari game were terrible experiences.  Inexcusable Input lag (even above 60 fps and no vsync) and the atrocious 'driving on ice' feeling and lack of weight on the cars, on all the 3 games. the most horrendous and unsatisfying driving mechanics i've seen in an AAA racer.

croxus
croxus

Its destined to fail, the graphics look outdated, the physics are awfull, they have done a terrible job with them, the cars seem to be floating around, rather than sliding on four wheels. This is definitely not a simulation, but they have overdone it with all those arcadeish touches, the anime blur and lack of damage.

Whats worse, is that it is pay to win, as long as the upgrades were pay to decorate, it would be ok, but since you pay to buy upgrades, right from your very first races, you will have to face fully upgrades cars, with upgrades you wil have to play hundreds of races to install.

The only chance this game has had, was to be one of the launch titles in PS4, where currently there is a striking lack of racing titles (nadda, bar NFS) When this will be available the crew and driveclub wil be upon us and they far far superior games...

Senor_Kami
Senor_Kami

I'd play this if it came to consoles.  I like free games

secretnickname
secretnickname

I understand the constraints of the classes and why things are not available to all, 

because social groups are dirty and advertise certain things are put to be polluted. 


Then greed sell public space and products are now virtual, 

without participation where all trades are made, 

conflict in doing nothing together with others, or keep private club of developers. 


With the internet being not free, everything is already set in sabotage,

and everyone knows that already are groups accommodated these residences. 

Ideas are not made in the faculties and intellect to production is on social media, 

where these interests are camouflaged production-the disposable. 


Since the free availability are paid production groups, 

how to organize the internet to profit from the large social groups? 


The value of the already virtual money between tasks become more partucular groups.

foxhound_fox
foxhound_fox

This was probably the next step that Forza and Gran Turismo needed to take. The simcade racing genre is becoming less interesting to consumers on the console platforms, and largely in general. Either the full-sim or the arcade-style racers are doing well.

jer_1
jer_1

I have a much better idea for SMS than making some low bar of entry MMO crapfest...FINISH THE OTHER GAME PEOPLE ALREADY PAID YOU FOR FIRST!  



eyeball2452
eyeball2452

Tired of MMOs.  They are the worst type of game mechanics and haven't changed over a long period of time.  The worst part is that they've spawned micortxn games like Dungeon Keeper.


F2P, MMO and microtxns are an immediate non-starters.  DLC and Day DLC raises serious red flags.  The business model gets in the way of creating good games.


Basically, anything that asks you to "lose to win" (CoD) or "pay to reduce time gates" (Dungeon Keeper) or "pay to win" (Any crappy MMO) is a broken game design paradigm.

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

IDK, not really interested in this, trailer looks passable at best, just the little bit I've seen of Project Cars, Driveclub and The Crew I'm more impressed with them than this.....

this just screams I wanted to be NFS but decided to go after TDU instead.....

cjtopspin
cjtopspin

I still miss motor city online....building up 50's muscle, drag racing...good times


robertcain
robertcain

Aren't DriveClub from Sony and The Crew from Ubisoft trying to do the same thing? Putting players into a connected world? World of Speed might have a hard time making itself known with other similar games coming out.

daviz88
daviz88

forget mmo, look at the beautiful graphics

LADIES & GENTLEMAN THIS IS NEXT GEN

too bad I'm not a pc gamer

Gamer3344
Gamer3344

World of Speed. I see what u did there.

Mellowcow
Mellowcow

"I said, 'you can download the game for free'." And you're also already caught in a lie. It's merely a client dependant on constant server feedback. It's like a spider trying to catch victims in its net with a shiny incentive. Is Final Fantasy XIV free because I can download the client as much as I want? I think not.

nbf4548
nbf4548

cautiously optimistic

iloveyourface
iloveyourface

i want my car to flatulate and shoot snakes out of pvc with lasers as blood. if i can live this fantasy, you will have my money.

hopefully its compatible with the g27. i aint immersing myself into a racing mmo without my wheel.

hell. im in one of the leading guilds in tera using just a racing wheel and pedals. by the time this game is released. youll be paying ME for just thinking about playing it. i make existentialism seem like a justin bieber fan club.

Barighm
Barighm

Thankfully, some better business type groups are currently investigating the use of the term "free to play". So far, they consider it a misleading term.


Anyway, some free design advice for these guys: don't award exp. for winning races if you want there to be a balance between the various car types. Restrict exp. to performance on the track. Instead, award parts. Races are more likely to award speedy parts and Destruction Derbies and the like are more likely to award parts suitable for toughening up your car. To give players incentive to help players with cars of other types, allow them the ability to create "partnership contracts", so that if your partner wins the race, you get bonus exp. or money or something. If an entire club shows up on the track, EVERYONE in the club would benefit from seeing one member winning the race, although the rewards might be averaged out across racers so it doesn't become overwhelmingly unfair. Sure, they may win more often, but the rewards would come in more slowly to balance it out. Maybe the presence of an entire club in one race would earn a "represenation bonus" (because of ads) if it's prestigious enough.


The way it sounds as described, there is no real incentive to partner with anyone because you get the most rewards for winning the race.

plaintomato
plaintomato

"As for the MMO part of World Of Speed, don't get your hopes up for an open-world epic"...

Coulda put that at the top and saved me some reading.

3dmatrixgamer
3dmatrixgamer

" World of Warcraft" then "World of Tanks" then "World of WarPlanes" now "World of Speed" what a coincidence.

rasterror
rasterror

I love how he changes gears without using the clutch pedal.

19James89
19James89

I'm not interested in F2P games, but I am very interested in Project Cars.

immortality20
immortality20

Yeah, I bet people who pay will have the best cars and will be pay to win. I have no problem with paying for a good game, and will never go near the free to play stuff, just doesn't interest me.

lightingbeal
lightingbeal

Looks like garbage. Any racing game that has NOS that gives stupid flames tends to be lame.

playstationzone
playstationzone

Well free to play dead  MMO the future paying fee  .

eternaldragoonx
eternaldragoonx

Oh your going for broke with free-to-play that's for sure.

RTHKI
RTHKI

@croxus  The graphics are not outdated. They look the same as pcars, which is one of the best looking racing games.

pez2k_
pez2k_

@jer_1 If you mean Project CARS, it's well on schedule for its release date and has been developed alongside WoS for quite a while now. The only people who have paid any money towards pCARS can already play the development builds too.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@robertcain  Yea it feels like several major racing developers are working on the whole open-world long-lasting kind of racing game right now.. too bad one of them never warmed up to the idea 5 years ago and got ahead of the trend!

wyan_
wyan_

@3dmatrixgamer Keen observation son. I hope World of Zombies is next. Just kidding....... mostly....

iloveyourface
iloveyourface

im still waiting for world of world and war of war. those. look. tight.

however, goty for 2015 is prolly gonna be Of of Of. its the closest to perfection right next to barbie horse adventures and keen 4.

iloveyourface
iloveyourface

thats how paul walker went to heaven. awww too soon.

Kiaininja
Kiaininja

@19James89 Just let GS focus on F2P for a while, better than them going back to focusing on negative Wii-U news. And if you want neither you'd be asking to much of their amateur reporting skills and better off looking for a new gaming news site. :-)

Saxondale
Saxondale

@lightingbeal  Do you mean the actual gameplay looks bad? Graphically it looks terrific IMO. 


I wouldn't expect this to be a straight sim with a steep learning curve and complicated tuning options. It needs to be a fun arcade-style game to attract the wide number of users MMOs require. I'm intrigued.