Project Gotham Racing 3 Designer Diary #2
In his second designer diary, Bizarre Creations' Ben Ward discusses 80 of the world's most desirable cars, as well as why you'll be racing all of them in PGR3.
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Now only a couple of weeks away from release, Project Gotham Racing 3 is an ambitious racing game that will let you race through the streets of real-life cities, such as London and Tokyo. The game will be among the first to really take advantage of the Xbox 360's new online features and is undoubtedly Bizarre Creations' (Fur Fighters, Metropolis Street Racer) most ambitious game to date.
Kicking TiresBy Ben Ward
Welcome back to Bizarre Creations' official development diary on all things PGR3. If you previously read part one of this diary, you'd already know that I'm Ben--the Web guy at Bizarre and the creator of Bizarre's community portal at www.bizarreonline.net.
This time around, I'm going to be concentrating on what makes the Project Gotham Racing series great: the cars. If you've been doing your research on PGR3, you already know that there's been a fundamental change in the way we picked which automobiles would star in the new game.
If you haven't played PGR2 (shame on you!), you won't know the setup. Basically, we had a "Kudos World Series," which was your career mode. You started at the bottom of the pile, with the slowest cars on the easiest tracks. The more you played, the more you unlocked--until you got to the ultimate class, with the superfast four-wheeled racing machines.
There was a huge selection of cars in PGR2, which varied a lot in terms of overall performance. You had your Mini Coopers and Ford Focuses, right up to your Enzo Ferrari's and TVR Speed 12's. There was a large vertical spread. That is, you started with the slowest and built up to the fastest. There was usually the best car in a class, and everybody flocked to it. After all, why use a slower car than your rivals, giving them an advantage?
Before we started production on the new game, we went back and looked at what worked (and what didn't work) in PGR2. It's a heck of a lot easier to be objective about your work once it's out in the public and people are giving you feedback! We came to a pretty radical conclusion, though: We needed to treat the gamer with more respect. Many people weren't able to unlock the best cars in PGR2, or even experience the joy of the Nurburgring! In fact, around 70 percent of all the gamers who played Gotham 2 only played through to the third or fourth stage in the Kudos World Series before they lost interest. More than two-thirds of all gamers didn't race the Enzo, nor did they get behind the wheel of a Koenigsegg! Ouch!
With our new game, we saw it as our responsibility to give the gamer more choice.
So PGR3's car selection was born with a new ethos: no compromises. We'll give you 80 of the best cars ever made, and superrealistic cities to drive them around. Who cares about the crappy 80mph tin cans? We're talking about the ultimate sports cars: the cream of the crop. If you've ever had a poster of a Lamborghini on your wall or have fantasized of owning that Ferrari that just flew past on the motorway, we feel your pain. With PGR3, you're going to experience the joy of cars in a way that's never been done before.
We've completely updated our design philosophies based on what we've heard gamers tell us. We've seen that people want to race their favorite cars straightaway, instead of being forced to drive something they're not interested in. We listened when gamers told us they wanted all the tracks available straightaway. The game isn't an obstacle any more. We've tried to take away the frustrations that we were guilty of including in the previous Project Gotham Racing games.
Let me make this totally transparent to you, though. We're not just talking about the common Ferraris you see cruising around. We've got cars here that travel 250mph-plus. We've got limited-run cars built purely for speed. We've put a car in PGR3 of which only three were ever in existence. In fact, two of those have been destroyed, so we sampled the only surviving version in the world. In the world!! If that's not exclusive, then I don't know what is!
As we're working with the new Xbox 360 hardware, we've got this great opportunity to showcase the best graphics, the best realism, and the best sense of speed ever seen in a racing game. We want to make the experience of buying a car in the game as close to the reality as possible (obviously, without it costing you hundreds of thousands of pounds!). You'll pick your favorite car, and you'll climb into the driver's seat in a fantasy street race. You'll be able to look around the fully rendered interior to admire the details on the dashboard. Rev your engine, and watch the needle fly into the red while the thunder of a supercar's engine erupts all around you (due to the 5.1 sound setup). Feel the realistic vibration as the chassis shakes violently. It doesn't get much better than this!
My personal favorite thing about this new design direction is the level of detail it now allows. In our older game, we had to concentrate on making a Porsche feel faster than a Volkswagen. Sure, the ultimate class was faster than the American muscle class, but did driving the TVR Speed 12 in the game actually feel like it did in real life? It wasn't bad. But if you've been lucky enough to actually drive a supercar, you'll know there are all sorts of little details that make up the incredible experience.
Now that we have focused our car selection, we can concentrate on the defining features of each supercar much more than we've been able to in the past. For example, the McLaren F1 LM is a speed machine that's difficult to master for novice drivers. If you're not careful, you'll be spinning your back end out with too much throttle as you try to corner it.
The Bentley Continental, on the other hand, is a huge, heavy car that is more effective at drifting. It's easier to drive and is ultimately slower (despite the fact that it still can go more than 170mph). Both cars are plush, desirable, and (for want of a better word) "super." However, in PGR3, each feels completely different from the other; just like in real life.
In PGR3, we can concentrate on perfectly re-creating the feeling of a supercar redlining at more than 200mph. We've actually put the Bizarre team in these exclusive cars on test tracks all over the world. The team members took notes and did firsthand research on the appearance, handling, sound, and specs of these monsters. We're building the game with detailed experience of what it's like to skid around a corner at high speed, and we're aiming to pass that experience on to the gamer. We hope you enjoy it!