Q&A: Turn 10 on Forza 2's new DLC track
Lead designer Dan Greenawalt lays out the new Twin Ring Motegi downloadable track, which peels out on October 26.
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When Turn 10 rolled out its second wave of downloadable content in September, Forza 2's lead designer Dan Greenawalt told GameSpot that the team was hard at work to bring more than just new cars to the racing circuit. However, as Greenawalt put it, "Tracks take upwards of 3 to 5 months to build, plus testing and iteration time--not to mention the reference collection and coordination trips. That said, DLC tracks are on the way."
Today, Microsoft confirmed to GameSpot that Forza 2's first downloadable track is off the blocks and will be delivered over Xbox Live on October 26. Forza 2's 14th track is Twin Ring Motegi, which is based on a real-world track designed by Honda in 1997 for testing cars. The track is also a premier destination for circuit racing in Japan and accommodates CART, IRL, NASCAR, SuperGT, and Formula Nippon events. The Twin Ring Motegi downloadable track will be available for 600 Microsoft points ($7.50).
Due to its unique "twin ring" layout, the course offers several different racing paths. The full course combines long straights with sharp corners, which should please those who enjoy fiddling with Forza 2's car telemetry options. The course also favors cars that have a good downforce balance and quality chassis.
For some more insight into Motegi and its inclusion in Forza 2, we spoke with Forza 2 game director Dan Greenawalt.
GameSpot: Why Motegi as the first DLC track for Forza 2?
Dan Greenawalt: First, some backstory... It's much faster for our car team to turn around a car pack than for the track team to create a new environment. Environments take upwards of 3 to 5 months to build. Basically, because of the level of detail, building environments in v2 take four times longer than in the original Forza. Meanwhile, the fans were beating down our doors for some DLC tracks...
So, why Motegi? Motegi was already on a short list of tracks with international name recognition and cool gameplay moments that we started researching immediately after finishing FM2. However, knowing how long it took to create each environment, Motegi moved to the top of the pile because of how many ribbons that we could give players with this one environment. Basically, we knew that Motegi would give players the most gameplay bang!
GS: For those who've never seen the course before, what aspects of the track should they look out for?
DG: The full track is one of the longer ribbons in Forza Motorsport. It's a nice mix of combination corners and pretty brutal hairpins. The short West Course is one the shorter ribbons in the game so that there are always cars around. The bonus is that Motegi Speedway is really different from any of our other tracks (even the other oval). The NW curve is tight enough that braking is still required. This also seems to make it less of a pure flat-out top-speed contest than the Nissan Speedway.
GS: Motegi is known for its dual-track nature--a road course and an oval. How many variations will you be able to run in the game, and how are the different ribbons configured?
DG: Four variations, including three road courses and the oval.
GS: Do you have any setup tips for folks looking to be fast around the course?
DG: I'm still trying to crack that nut. The three road-course layouts range from very short with long straights for maximum speed, to very long with varied turns. These layouts demand tuning trade-offs. I've been focusing on an understeering setup that gives me high speed and braking stability in order to set up a late apex onto the long straight. I'm still not convinced that this is the best approach for my driving style.
GS: One slightly off-topic question regarding Project Gotham Racing 4. In the past, you've spoken before of Turn 10 and Bizarre sharing ideas between Forza and PGR and I'm curious to hear A) your general thoughts on the game, B) if there's something in PGR 4 you'd like to see in the Forza series, and C) any thoughts you have about the future of PGR now that Bizarre has been acquired by Activision.
DG: I think PGR4 is the best PGR to date. I really like hydroplaning through standing water. The photo sharing from your garage is pretty cool, too. If there is one thing I would add to Forza from the PGR series, it would be Geometry Wars. As far as what happens to the PGR franchise now that Bizarre has been acquired...your guess is as good as mine. Personally, I really liked having a second racing franchise in MGS to commiserate with.