Forza 2 Interview

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We asked Forza 2 fans here in the Gamers With Jobs forums to post their questions about the game and what's coming in the future. Producer Korey Krauskopf was gracious enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to respond. Downloadable content, the PC, physics, tips, car flipping and more after the break!

Now that the game has been out for a while, do you have some sense of what kind of downloadable content we'll be seeing first?

You'll be seeing a number of downloadable content packs coming, first of which is a special pack of cars that Nissan of North America has worked with us to release for free that will enable people to take part in a special Nissan tournament. More details on that are coming very soon. We'll have some more announcements of further car and track downloads coming soon as well.

Did you ever consider a PC version? Is that in the cards at all?

While we always consider the PC platform, the question is where we focus our energies. Releasing on the PC would take many months of some very core talent in our studio, so that decision comes with a cost to our ongoing development. Currently we have no plans for a PC version.

Can the physics model handle other types of vehicles such as light trucks, minivans, SUVs, or even buses? Is there any chance we could see some of these vehicles?

The physics model could handle a broad range of vehicles, but the real question here is again one of focus; Forza's heart is in delivering on the emotional impact people feel towards cars and the car culture that springs from it. So whenever we consider the vehicles that will be built for the game, it's more a question of what is exciting about the car, or how it plays with the others in the game.

Are there any plans for improvements or changes to the auction house? It's pretty good, but it's definitely missing some of the features a site like eBay offers.

We've been really happy with how readily everyone has taken to the auction house! We knew it had potential to be a real "glue" for our community, bringing together the personalized designs that people pour their heart into, and rewarding people who spend a lot of time crafting a car with a real soul to it. I agree it's not perfect, and we look at the community feedback every day. As far as enhancements to it, we need to address some edge cases where people can take unfair advantage of it primarily, then we'll look at what more we can do.

Why was night driving left out of the game? Will we potentially see some tracks set at night in DLC?

Again this is question of focus. After shipping version 1, the team immediately looked at how to bring the game to the 360, and not just do a "port", but expand the vision and deliver a larger, more complete experience. While night driving could be done, was that more important than bringing an improved livery editor, or the auction house, or a cleaner UI? Ultimately we felt that expanding on some of the core experiences that connect people to their cars and the expanding community was more important.

Is there any chance you could patch in some filters to use when browsing the "My Cars" section in the career? I've got almost 200 cars in there and it takes forever to find the one I need. Even if it's sorted by class it's still clunky.

We added the sort button to address specifically this issue. However, when you get a really good selection of cars, I feel your pain. There's a lot to go through. We'll continue to look at this and balance it against the other stuff we want to deliver as well.

Knowing how intimidating a simulator can be to your average gamer, what did you focus on to make the game widely accessible - and what was/were the biggest challenge/s in this respect?

This is where Dan Greenawalt's (Turn 10's design director) touch really comes through. The inspiration to make Forza an ultimately personal experience means that the physics go as deep as you want them to go, and the experience will reward you for increasing the difficulty accordingly. For the new user, we set everything according to one selection: the user self-selects based on whether they think they are a novice, intermediate, etc. Regardless of this selection, the options can be changed per-race to be of increasing realism and difficulty.

The challenge here is that people want to classify a game as either a sim or arcade. So our challenge remains to get people to just try Forza. People who would normally be intimidated by a racing sim, find that they are actually having fun. Car nuts find a depth in Forza that drags them deeper and keeps the coming back for one more tweak, one more race. Ultimately the challenge remains to make our game deep enough for the hard-core fanatic, but approachable enough for anyone to find a rewarding experience from the first few minutes.

As for what we focused on to achieve this; there's quite a number of things. Some features were a big success from V1, such as the suggested racing line, so this time around it was just tweaking that to keep the value of it but make it less obtrusive (it goes invisible in places where the user has no decisions to make). There's also overhauls that won't be as apparent at first glance, such as the reward system and pacing. Then there are completely new features like photo mode and auction house or gifting that can potentially reward a different type of player in a new way. Lastly, the UI went through a complete redesign to be more approachable, easier to use, clearer and ultimately more engrossing.

What was the inspiration behind adding the driving line assist? More than anything else, that is the single element that made it so that I could finally understand, and thereby get into, racing sims when I played the first Forza. It seems like such a simple concept now, but I really wonder about the thought process that brought it into existence.

Most racing Sims assume that great racers are simply born. We feel that great racers are made. Our goal in Forza is to create a world of racing where even new players can feel at home. As a result, we put in several powerful assists. Chief among them is the "optimal line". Despite its name, it's not the perfect line. It's a helper. The process was very organic. In the original Forza Motorsport We were planning a static line that would be optimized more generally for all cars. However, because of the huge differences between a purpose built race car and an entry level hatchback, this static line approach was becoming more and more problematic. About two years into development, one of the designers was helping the AI developer tune the AI and noticed that the AI line was extremely dynamic – constantly moving, displaying target speeds and steering angles. And like that, the dynamic line was born. We did a lot of usability iteration to turn that debug tool into the dynamic "optimal line" you see today.

Is it actually possible to flip a car? We have yet to see it happen, is that a realism thing or something else?

This is something we purposely limit because of how some car manufacturers want their cars presented. While we work hard to have damage modeled realistically in the game, we also want to ensure we present the cars in ways the make the manufacturers proud to have their cars in our game.

I know you are having a hard time keeping the servers for Tournaments running smoothly as is, but once you do, is it possible to set-up tournament for working blokes that can't get the time to get really skilled to compete in the high level tournaments as they are now?

Tournaments is one area that we've been watching with a lot of interest, and there's a ton of behind-the-scenes work going on to ensure the tournaments are performing well, working correctly, and available. The great design on the tournaments lets us post new ones with different rules and settings to appeal to lots of different types of players. Unlike providing new cars or tracks, we don't have to do any updates to the game to set up new tournaments, so I expect we'll be able to do a lot more with tournaments over the coming months and years.

The replay feature has a great camera mode, however the actual video playback portion is lacking (no slow motion, no easy scan/skip). Any plans to tweak this?

We've read lots and lots of comments on this topic. I don't think we can do anything for this in the near-term, but in the long term we have some very cool ideas"…

Any possibility of a quarter mile drag strip as DLC?

All things are possible, but again it's a question of focus and priorities. There's a lot more to delivering a mode like drag racing than just putting a long strip of tarmac down. Rules, game logic, specific UI, rewards, scoring, etc. We continue to look at what we can do to expand Forza over the coming months, so look for more announcements soon.

Why am I penalized when an AI bumps into me?

In general, the penalty system is in place to suggest correct behavior and keep players honest on the online scoreboards. Ideally, the penalty would only appear when the collision was the player's fault – and, it would be more severe if the infraction was intended. Members of this team have been working on racing games for over a decade. Several of us have worked on arbitration systems in the past. It is far more difficult than it sounds to arbitrate blame for a collision. And, it's nearly impossible to divine intent. We've prototyped arbitration systems (and shipped some in past titles). However, they result in inconsistent results. We felt it was better to be consistent and occasionally wrong, rather than inconsistent and still occasionally wrong. Even in real-world racing (like in sports), the officials have a lot of trouble arbitrating penalty – just look at the 2007 12 hours of Sebring. In the last corner of the last lap a collision occurred between the Risi Ferrari F430 and the Flying Lizard Porsche 911. This collision resulted in the victory for the Ferrari. The officials deemed the collision legal. Flying Lizard filed a complaint and the debate still rages about who "really" won.

I'd love some tips for driving a RWD car, I can never seem to stay on the road with them long enough to compete! Is there something I can do to make them handle better, or some fundamental difference in technique I'm missing?

First, keep traction control "on" until you've learned how to carefully modulate the controls. Second, keep in mind that any traction used to turn the car, can't be used to accelerate or decelerate. This means you can't 100% corner while 100% braking or accelerating. Third, give inputs smoothly. Making rapid and varied input changes will upset the balance of the car – this makes things go from bad to worse very quickly. And finally, when you are driving consistently and have turned off the TCS, try some chassis tuning – stiffen the rear differential and add a little tow in to the rear tires.

The in-game descriptions in the tuning screen are pretty good, but I'm still kind of lost when I'm messing with tire pressure, differentials and gears. Can you recommend any resources to help me along with learning to tweak my car?

Luckily, one of MGS's hard-core racing fans put up a guide to help with exactly this. Check out "Albus presents: car tuning – a way of life" LINK

It's rare to see so many non-enthusiasts taking such an interest in a "simulation game" like this. Thanks for putting together such an amazing gateway into the genre, we're all the richer for it!

Thank you for such kind words! I can't tell you how great it feels to see that the insanely hard work that the team put in to create this game is received so well. To know that the personal sacrifices made to ensure the game was as good as it can be has lead to players discovering an appreciation for cars and car culture outside of the game is very much what we hope and aim for.

Happy racing!

-Korey

Comments

We'll have some more announcements of further car and track downloads coming soon as well.

I'll take that as an announcement that tracks are coming at some point.

Thanks for putting this together, Certis!

OK, OK, I give up. Just picked it up, and getting a wheel tonight.

Great Q/A!

Dear Certis,

Please tell me how do you bag all those wonderful interviews.
Also, when I grow up, I want to be a big cool grown-up man, just like you.

SWALK,
Gorilla.

Great questions, folks! It was an interesting read, and I don't even have the game.

Nice to see this up. Thanks for making this happen, Certis. Wonder when we'll see those new Nissans.

souldaddy wrote:

Great questions, folks! It was an interesting read, and I don't even have the game.

\Echo

Yeah, i've been living vicariously through an aquaintance that has forza 2 as he recounts his forays into the game. I'd love a PC port though i realise this probably isn't going to be realised within the next year.
All the hype made me pick up Test Drive Unlimited again though after i dropped it for a while... i just like to pretend i'm playing forza...

Good interview. Thanks much Certis for snagging this fella. I'm sure with the popularity of the game the way it is, his time is priceless and you made it happen. Very nice.

Is it actually possible to flip a car? We have yet to see it happen, is that a realism thing or something else?
This is something we purposely limit because of how some car manufacturers want their cars presented. While we work hard to have damage modeled realistically in the game, we also want to ensure we present the cars in ways the make the manufacturers proud to have their cars in our game.

I think a little part of my soul just died.

I take it someone has already asked/answered the 'why can't we export/import body paint/decal jobs back and forth to our PC?' question?

EDIT:

We asked Forza 2 fans here in the Gamers With Jobs forums to post their questions about the game and what's coming in the future.

I must've missed this thread...

Yeah, the thread was roughly two weeks ago by now. And don't thank me guys, it was your questions and Korey's willingness that made it happen. I just shuffled some papers around and looked busy

Certis wrote:

I just shuffled some papers around and looked busy ;)

Sounds like you're a model employee rather than a CEO

Hey I wonder who owns that sexy looking GWJ car, oh yeah that's right it's mine. Booyah!

I am having a lot of fun with the game but I am starting to get to the point where I am not sure how deep into the game I am going to get. The tuning even as simplified as it is, is not easy that easy for me to figure out. I'll have to read that how to guide, see if it helps.

Super article! Forza has turned this driving-game-hater into a total car nut.

ChrisLTD wrote:
Certis wrote:

I just shuffled some papers around and looked busy ;)

Sounds like you're a model employee rather than a CEO ;-)

Yeah, a CEO would go play golf and hit the bar while making middle management pretend to be busy.