Since we’ve announced GRID 2 it’s been great to speak more openly about its development. Many of the recurring questions I’ve had since the game’s unveiling involve TrueFeel – our new handling model for GRID 2. It’s something we’re really excited about and it lies at the core of our racing experience. I therefore thought I’d take a little time out to explain TrueFeel further… what is it, why is it so important and how will it help GRID 2 become one of the most immersive and rewarding racers of this generation.
What is TrueFeel?
It’s not just how pretty they look or simply hitting realistic speeds, it’s about capturing the character of those cars.
TrueFeel is the result of our unique approach to vehicle handling development, refined specifically for GRID 2. As you’d expect, within the Racing Studio we’re nuts about cars and we love the process of recreating the iconic, exciting and unique vehicles that we choose to work with. We really care about communicating the unique character of each of these special vehicles to the player through the game. It’s not just how pretty they look or simply hitting realistic speeds, it’s about capturing the character of those cars. We want the player to understand how each car truly drives, moves on the track, carries/shifts it’s weight, when/how it breaks traction and ultimately how easy or tough it is to recover when things go wrong. These character traits (along with a multitude of other subtleties) represent the true spirit of each individual car; it’s this spirit that we want to capture and share with everybody that joins us on the track.
When we set out designing GRID 2, capturing a car’s true personality for players was our goal. In order to achieve this goal we had to make a number of decisions, one of these was that GRID 2 should not feature any artificial assists. While our racing team have done fantastic work with assists for previous titles, ultimately having a system artificially braking or modulating your throttle input and potentially even turning into corners for you all detracts from the direct connection the player should have with their car. We want the player to feel everything the car is doing in order to fully understand how it reacts in certain situations and adapt their behaviour accordingly. It’s this process that leads to a player truly understanding the unique character of some of the greatest cars in existence. “Reflecting world class engineering” is a phrase we coined in the studio… some of the world’s leading automotive engineers ploughed years of their lives into refining the handling models of many of our vehicles, it would be criminal not to accurately reflect these handling models in GRID 2.
You may be reading this thinking “well that’s all well and good, but I didn’t think GRID classed itself as a simulation title?” You’d be right; we don’t class GRID as a simulation game, and it never has been. This presents the second challenge – how do we capture and portray the key characteristics of each individual vehicle, yet minimise the potentially punishing aspects associated with a hard-core simulation? This is the question that we answered with the TrueFeel process. This process allows our handling team to accentuate the drivability of each car at a base level (simply getting it around the track) while retaining the core handling characteristics and subtleties which define the real-world car. This leads to a real spectrum of performance based upon the player’s level of familiarity with the vehicle, once you learn how a car handles you can adjust your driving style accordingly, nailing the perfect line through every bend rather than simply making it to the finish line.
So how does it work?
Within the studio we pay a huge amount of attention to each individual car. There are several stages which each goes through.
On average around 75 sets of technical data are collected per-vehicle. These figures are precisely entered into the game, simulating the vehicle’s behaviour as accurately as possible
Real-world specifications – Our handling team begin by taking the real-world technical specifications of each vehicle (everything from precise physical dimensions to weight distribution, torque graphs, gear ratios and aero figures). On average around 75 sets of technical data are collected per-vehicle. These figures are precisely entered into the game, simulating the vehicle’s behaviour as accurately as possible using our cutting-edge physics engine. This is a very important stage, it’s critical that we achieve realistic handling which demonstrates the key traits of the vehicle.
Real-world drivers – When initially setting the car up from a purely “simulation” perspective we aim to involve drivers with real-world experience of that specific car. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the world’s greatest racing drivers over the years, along with several manufacturers’ in-house test drivers. These guys are invaluable when it comes to ensuring that the true character of each vehicle is genuinely captured and reflected in-game.
Identification of defining characteristics – The handling team (working with real-world drivers where possible) will then identify the key defining characteristics of each vehicle. These could be the way the car handles on corner entry, how it shifts its weight through bends, how traction is lost in various conditions (under-steer versus over-steer), the amount of grip and cornering ability of the vehicle overall etc.. Once identified, these become the pillars of that individual vehicle which must be maintained through to release.
Drivability – Once everybody is happy with the car from a simulation perspective the level of drivability is explored and iterated if absolutely necessary. Essentially, the handling team will assess any “blocking characteristics” that the vehicle may have, for example this could be excessive under-steer on corner entry leading to player’s repeatedly running wide or off-track. Elements of the vehicle setup will then be very carefully tweaked, rolling back the blocking characteristics to an acceptable level while ensuring that everything identified in step 2 is maintained. This is where the talent within our handling team really comes into play, coupled with the depth of our handling/physics systems – the team have in excess of 300 parameters to carefully balance here.
This approach doesn’t mean one difficulty level across the game, nor dumbing down. In reality a monstrously powerful rear-wheel drive hyper car such as the Pagani Huayra is nowhere near as forgiving as a lesser powered, front-wheel drive road car. This divide is absolutely reflected in-game. For this reason all vehicles within GRID 2 are sorted into a tier structure (becoming available to the player as they progress), thereby supporting a natural learning curve. But that’s another blog…
So to summarise, once the above is complete each vehicle should; be drivable at a base level, taking into account its tier and position within the title (“easier” cars first!) and have true depth to the handling, allowing the player to learn its unique character (reflective of the original) and thereby achieve a better result on-track
With these boxes ticked the player can truly experience and understand the defining characteristics of some of the greatest cars in the world.