During Sony's increasingly hazy unveiling of the PS4 last week, we didn't get to see much of the Evolution Studios-developed racer "DriveClub" in action beyond an almost pornographically-detailed seat texture demo. But some of the assembled journalists did get some face time with Matt Southern, boss at the studio behind "World Championship Rally" and "Motorstorm," who laid out some of his team's lofty ambitions for the next-gen racer, which include Facebook challenges (it will have them) and trying to enhance the game outside of the game (hey, do you have a tablet?).
"DriveClub," according to Southern, will hit the sweet spot between racing sim and arcade title, part of the "everything to everyone" approach some devs are rallying around (this seems to be the vision of Bungie's "Destiny" as well). Ultimately, though, Southern was pretty tight-lipped about "DriveClub"--par for the course with anything involving the PS4, which Sony has been maddeningly evasive about. Still, if you'd like to hear about how a Sony console will be launching without a "Gran Turismo" title, read on.
“We were asked to come up with a game for new hardware—and it was the fourth time that we were asked.” This is Southern when talking about why Evolution Studios was the one showing off a new racer and not “Gran Turismo” developer Polyphony Digital.
Southern says it's “a game we have wanted to make for a very long time, and the stars have aligned and it’s finally happened.” Seeking the opportunity to reward players for playing together—whether they’re good at racing games or not.
“DriveClub” has been in development for ten years. The challenge with racing games is that essential racing and driving hasn’t changed over the years—the hope is finding some kind of hook to make the a new game more interesting and appealing to gamers. “We’re going to make it feel like it really feels to be inside those [cars],” Southern boasts. He says that other racing games have achieved the raw, scientific accomplishment of photo-realistic cars, but none have yet captured the visceral feel of being in the car.
Southern says that in talking about the unwelcome term “social,” there are opportunities to connect the kinds of pro-social user on Facebook and the more aggressive, competitive console gamer. He considers the dividing line between simulations and arcade racers as a last-gen concept. Southern talked about players tapping into what are so-called “companion apps,” what he feels is a derogatory term for applications and cross-platform software that will enhance the player’s social experience with the game.
To reach their goal of making "DriveClub" accessible yet deep, Evolution Studios has rebuilt their handling team, bringing together over 50 years of experience with devs from “Gran Turismo,” “WipeOut,” “Project Gotham,” and more titles. “The way we built this game is we became cross-platform developers.” Without going into detail about the social features coming to “DriveClub” (that’s coming later), Southern teased the ability to send out challenges from another device and monitor the response to that challenge with a visualization of that challenge.
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