Forza Motorsport 4 Gamescom Feature

Forza Motorsport 4

Forza Motorsport 4At Gamescom we were lucky enough to be invited behind closed doors to watch a presentation on Microsoft's upcoming simulation racer Forza Motorsport 4. And what we saw was the very future of the racing genre itself.

But don't take our word for it - check out what Dan Greenawalt, Creative Director at Turn 10 Studios, had to say about some of Forza 4's exciting new features!

Automotive Passion

The mission of Forza is all about car passion. We want to help the next generation fall in love with cars, and we want to create a community for the current generation that is already in love with cars. So we do great things with simulation, the community and user generated content. We've added a ton of innovation, not only with our graphics engine, but also with Kinect, and all of that is to get people excited and passionate about cars.

We've integrated Kinect in several interesting ways throughout the game. When we first saw Kinect, I instantly saw how it could help us achieve that goal, so we broke off a piece of our team and asked them to incubate new ideas about Kinect.

Auto la Vista, Baby

The one I'm most excited about is a new mode called Auto Vista. In Auto Vista, we can lean left or right, standing up or sitting down, we can lean backwards or we can lean forwards, and crouch down and really get a look at the closer details of the car. But also you can walk right up to the car and use your hand to literally open the door, sit down and start the car up!

Forza Motorsport 4One of the big challenges we had when we started putting all of this together was building cars that were highly interactive; where things could move, and held up to this sub-six inch level of detail. If you think about games outside the racing genre, it's all about being epic and expansive, like overlooking a burning New York with aliens and everything. But when you get right up close to a wall, it falls apart. You see the pixels, and it gets all tangly and weird. Auto Vista is exactly the opposite. And that meant rethinking how we did lighting.

In most games, including Forza 3, lighting is handled in two ways: There is object lighting and environmental lighting, with two different systems. The two of them look very similar, but they are actually different math. This means that in very extreme cases they just don't fit, so we usually throw a bunch of post processing over the top and hope no-one notices!

We took a different approach in Forza Motorsport 4. We hired some guys from Pixar, as well as some other Hollywood studios, and we went with a Hollywood technique called image-based lighting. In image-based lighting, the item is lit by the environment, so there is no separate lighting math for the car and the track. So if there is a tree going by, you get light coming from the tree, which happens in the real world. The cars just look so much better now.

Going on Tour

There are also some big changes in the career mode itself. In Forza Motorsport 3 we had a calendar mode, where you selected what events you wanted and you filled up your calendar. But it was pretty much eight car race, after eight car race, after eight car race. In Forza Motorsport 4 we have the World Tour Mode. This mode adapts based on the cars that are in your garage, as we want the career to feel like it was made for the cars you love. So for example, I'm in the BMW M3, and it's given me two events that are custom made for a BMW.

Every time you level up you get an option of cars. In Forza 3 you got one gift car when you levelled. In Forza 4, you might get a few options and you can choose the car you like. Then the career offers up events that were made for that car. Lots of other games would say, "We know you love your Ford Focus, but you've got a Ferrari now so you need to get rid of the Focus!" We say if you like the Focus, drive the Focus! That what I want you to do. I want you to fall in love with your car. Our hope is that you can play it however you want to play it, and it feels like it was just made for you. There will be entire features that you might not ever use, but for someone else that's all they do.

Forza Motorsport 4There is a lot of diversity in the racing itself, so it's not just eight cars racing. We've got passing car challenges, where there are an unlimited number of cars on the track and your goal is to pass as many as possible in one lap. We also have Autocross where you're going through gates on the track, and Top Gear Bowling where you are on the Top Gear test track and you have to drift through and knock over as many bowling pins as possible. The goal is to give you a playground to play with your car.

Smells Like Scene Spirit

We've got people in our community that only paint, and there others who only want to race all the time. You have all these different ways to play, and you can do all of them in your favourite car.

When you come into the community you get news about the Forza world. Every month we'll add DLC cars to the game, it'll tell you about challenges and things that are happening in the community. Then there is File Depot, and this is where your auction house cars and your gift cars come in. Then there are rivals and car clubs. Those are new features in Forza 4.

Car Clubs work kinda how you expect if you've played a first-person shooter in the last ten years. You can start a club where you can run your own events and things like that. You've got car collecting, customisation, tuning and a shared garage. Cars are expensive in Forza, with some being over a million credits. In a club, you can work together and then use each other cars, regardless of whether you're online or offline. But it gets even more interesting with painting and tuning. If you've got a great tuner in your club, he can tune the cars in your shared garage and you can all take advantage of that. This works the same with painting, so great painters can create decals for your cars.

Football at Top Gear

Forza Motorsport 4And painting your car is even more important, as we have Top Gear Football in the game! So you can go onto a pitch with a giant ball and two goals, and you can play 5-a-side or 4-a-side. You are still using simulation physics, but you're having fun in cars that are frankly too expensive to do this with in the real world, and this has affected how we play these games. For example, in Top Gear Football we selected SUVs for defenders, Evos in midfield and up front, lightweight super cars that can really take the ball and move it around. That'd be too expensive to do in the real world, but is more than possible here. If you're in a car club, your painter can make decals for all of your team, so that when we all go out and play football together we can go out looking smart and unified!

One more feature is Rivals mode. There are a series of challenges such as Autocross or drifting, or maybe a track day where you have to move through cars as quickly as possible. On this track day I might set a hot lap time, and then you can see my car on the track and you'll be able to chase it and, if you beat my time, you're gonna send me a challenge and you're also going to earn XP and collect credits.

Your Car, Your Way

With Forza you get to play how you want, and that has always been central to the assist system, where you can turn assists on and off. So you're already at Expert level, and we've now turned off all the steering assists that we had in the past, making it even more 'simmy' and harder than it was in Forza 3. You can turn off rewind, or turn off the race line, or play with the clutch. When you turn all these things off, you are playing with the raw physics.

We've also completely thrown away our old tyre wear system from Forza 3. We worked with Pirelli and asked them to run some test data for us, then we modified our system so we could take their test data and put it straight in the game, without us having to touch it at all. The goal of this was to have the most cutting edge tyre simulation available.

Now, we already have great simulation for body flex, but tyres are really key to a simulation and that why we put a lot of effort into that. But at the same time I want my kids to be able to play with the cars and have fun. So we have an easy level where the game will brake for you and has an easier steering assist that will kind of correct your steering and help keep you on the path.

One last bit of news I like to talk about at Gamescom is the Hockenheim track. We included this for a number of reasons: Firstly, it's another stop on the world tour, and secondly it's just a very historic track, one that people who are familiar with racing will know. It's got this really long straight with a slight bend on it that heads straight into a nasty corner, and it's really one of those great gameplay moments.

SKU: Features-148333
Release Date: 31/08/2011