So, we’re hurtling along with the development of GRID 2 and things really are coming together at an incredible pace. One of the things we’re very excited about is our new LiveRoutes system and as we are really enjoying how it’s shaping up internally, it feels like a good time to explain the system in a little more detail – the thinking behind it, what we believe makes it a game-changer and how we came to include it in GRID 2. For those of you who aren’t aware of LiveRoutes yet, it’s our new system which gives players unpredictable, dynamically changing routes through our city environments which adds a new way to experience racing. You have to be on your game – you can’t predict what’s coming next, because we can’t either. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
We’ll start at the beginning…
The second ideal was innovation and a desire to do things within the racing genre that hadn’t been done before.
A big part of what went into designing and creating the original GRID title was hitting two development ideals. Firstly, a push to over-deliver on the core racing experience; making the title all about the race and everything racing a car entails – the tension, moment-to-moment excitement, intuitive decision making and how the cars feel on track… you get the picture! The second ideal was innovation and a desire to do things within the racing genre that hadn’t been done before. This design gave us focus yet a lot of scope for new ideas. And those overarching ideals remain at the core of GRID 2.
LiveRoutes was a product of the latter aspiration to break new ground. Our game design and level design teams devised the system along with the support of a number of other teams within the studio as a way to provoke the player’s driving instincts, drive excitement and produce unexpected gameplay scenarios which keep the action fresh.
The difference between racing and driving.
In a race, you generally have to have the basic criteria of a start and end point. Without those criteria, it’s easy to find yourself drifting into the realms of just “driving”, which is not what GRID 2 is about at all. However, we wanted to investigate ways in which we could broaden that race experience and make it more variable. Open world games have many benefits, some of which we wanted for GRID 2; the sense of awe a player has when something happens they didn’t expect, the variety of gameplay from one moment to the next, finding new challenges and so on. However, retaining a clear focus and goal for the player is pivotal to a racing experience – without that clear purpose, you’re just driving around.
That’s why we’ve taken some open-world sensibilities; near limitless possibilities and permeations – but framed them inside a system with really clear goals. In simple terms, LiveRoutes gives racing gamers variation whilst retaining the competitive nature of getting somewhere faster than your competition.
So – how does it work exactly? Well, LiveRoutes is in essence a system which dynamically streams in alternate sections of city tracks seamlessly. When LiveRoutes is running, the system selects which direction the track should go in at various junction points on the track at random and on the fly – be it straight on, left or right. It makes this decision a number of junction points up ahead of the player. This means that the relevant crowd, barriers and race-day placement – grandstands, signage and so on – are all loaded into the environment seamlessly to suit the direction the race will then travel in.
Crowds, grandstands and other environment ornaments can switch in and out seamlessly.
A new way to play
We’re devising a number of race types in GRID 2 which have had LiveRoutes specifically in mind. Players will get these in a mixture of scenarios – scattered throughout sections of the career mode, in custom race setups they choose themselves and the real beauty of the system is that we can do everything I’ve explained in the online modes. Unfortunately, until early in the New Year I can’t explain an awful lot about what the game modes are! But we will be revealing all…
The most important thing for us with LiveRoutes was to provide something which changes the race experience. With LiveRoutes the focus is no longer to master the circuit and better yourself a lap at a time – that’s something we serve-up in our other modes like fixed city routes, point-to-point races and on our traditional motorsports circuits. Instead, LiveRoutes challenges players to better their reaction times, driving skill and intuition to maximise their chances against the competition. If you turn left on the same junction twice – who’s telling what speed you’ll be entering that corner the second time round – it could be 80mph as you come out of a tight chicane, or over 200mph as you fly into the corner from a flat out straight. The nuances and intricacies of the challenge LiveRoutes poses are not quite infinite, but pretty close! We’re loving how it’s come together and we can’t wait for people to experience it for themselves.