Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two Great Things I Want To See In Racing Games (Fine Tune This In The Garage)

Hey guys, I just finished that pizza delivery flash game for school.  It's good (in my opinion that is).  I'll post a link to it some time in the future.

But anyway, you think about racing games and they're cool and all, but here's two things I can think of that would be interesting to consider adding in the future.  These ideas may be ridiculous/unnecessary but I guess this is just to make you think.


1. "Practice A Turn/Section" feature.  This is something the casuals won't really care about, but if you're the slightest bit die-hard, then it can be a problem.

Usually, when you go to race, tracks are usually about 40-80 seconds per lap.  If you go to "practice" (which is basically a time trial mode, just admit it), seldom is there a way to practice the taxing turns that you want to.  And running through the entire track again and again doesn't help much because you can't focus in on the turn/section you want to improve on the most.

If this were part of the track, you'd want to prepare for it too.

Let me explain how I thought of this.  I was recently playing Sega Rally Online Arcade.  I was time trialling on the Tropical course.  Now that course is easy but there's one broad right turn about 2/3rds of the way in (the one after the trail of mud).  My natural instinct is to get to the left side of the track and "guess" when to turn hard right (usually gauged by the billboards nearby).  But sometimes I would come too close to the outside wall or start "chunking" the tires (get too sideways and you lose lots of speed).  So then I tried again next lap but by doing a little downshifting.

At this point, I was a bit confused on what to do.  Every time I made that turn, I tried to think of how I did on that turn and how I should take it next time.  However, I had to drive for 40+ seconds afterwards just to get back to that part of the track again and by then, I had forgotten what I was trying to do.  So I've gotten into a nasty habit of just "winging it" every time I approach that turn during a race and that's not good.

Oops, bounced off the outside wall.  Better luck next time.

Even reading "guides" on the internet aren't as effective and still doesn't do much justice.  You can't possible memorize all these details (approach this corner at 160 mph, turn two car lengths past the sign, let off the gas then apply it here, oh geez).  Not to say guides are bad...sure I'd love to take advice from professionals but you can't learn something just by reading about it--you need to actually DO IT and get hands-on experience.

Ever read these guides for arcade racing games (non-Sega) like San Francisco Rush 2049?  There's a bunch of coins in the game hidden in each of the tracks (like keys on the console versions), but this time, there's many of them (about 100 per track) and they're in completely different locations.  So this one guide on GameFAQs tells you where all these coins are...but are you going to print out some sheets of paper and read them while you're actually at the arcade?  So just reading how to do something then go do it doesn't cut the mustard (usually) that one time I read that Golf for Dummies book and tried golfing the next day.  It's not that easy.

This book is USELESS.

So basically, what I want to do is run (with a rolling start) through the same 10-15 second section of track over and over again until I think I got it.  Use split-time so I can see how much I improved.  Is that tough to do?  It's a bit extreme and unrealistic (yeah, just warp me back to where I was), but so what, these are video game we're talking about. The same games that allow you to drive wrecklessly without result and block off major sections of New York City just to watch some bubble cars race in circles.  The only game that has come close is Gran Turismo with the license tests.  Or if you're playing on an emulator, you can use save states to go back to the beginning of the turn.

Seriously, wouldn't a "practice mode" come in handy for turns like this?


2. Heighten the intensity of music when you're on the final lap and/or near the finish line.  Now this is something that Sega racers really don't do but it's not that big of a deal (no one else does, really) but I really think it could serve to put an exclamation mark on an already exciting game.

Now I'm a big believer in that a racing game needs to have a tight soundtrack.  Songs have to be fast-paced and /or related to driving to a certain extent, although this is not set in stone.  Sega racers do this but not many others do.  I like to find licensed music that's awesome for the job.  Put them all in a folder on a flash drive, pop it into my Xbox 360, it sweetens the whole thing.  BTW, if you want supplemental material, read my super-old post on why I love the Sega soundtrack.

So back to your own custom racing setlists.  Forza 3 did something like this before.  As a promotion for this Microsoft Zune music service, Turn10 took a survey from the fan community to submit their favorite "racing music" per genre.  Then Turn10 compiled a bunch of setlists per genre (50 songs each) to download on Zune.  Now for some sucky reason, you cannot see this list without having created a Zune account...but thankfully, the Forza 3 game came with a Zune free trial so I used it to see what songs were on this list.  Particularly Classic Rock since that's my main genre.

I see some good songs (I'll save my "good songs" for another day) and some bad ones.  Like I'm not knocking on these songs, but when you hear songs like More Than a Feeling, Fortunate Son, Message in a Bottle, Do You Feel Like I Do, Money, and (get ready for it) SLOW RIDE (yes, that's right, a song about DRIVING SLOWLY), do race cars come to mind?  No, some of these are poppish/slow mellow songs and I don't know but they don't fit with racing.  But that's just me--some people may like driving to this (hell, that have friggin Classical music in this Forza setlist as well as in Project Gotham Racing 3/4), but I dunno, just my suggestion.

But anyway, about in-game soundtracks, games aren't going to have a bunch of high-profile songs so they either make their own soundtracks (Ridge Racer, Cruis'n games) or get a bunch of cheapo bands you've never heard of to get the job done (Need for Speed, Crazy Taxi on Xbox 360/PS3) EDIT: including Papa Roach with their cheeseball albums (Metamorphosis, etc.) that are perfect racing game fodder too.  Now neither isn't bad but when the music is boring and/or unmemorable, then those games tend to suck or be less exciting to me.  Like I can't recall a single tune from Fast and the Furious which makes that game even suckier than it already is.  Although from what I've experienced, I do think Need for Speed has done a decent job of picking songs so kudos to them (yes, I said it).

Anyway, what was I saying?  Ok, about reaching the climax of a song.  Imagine you're editing a racing movie.  You reach the climax of the film when the driver's on the last lap, trying to overtake his rival(s).  What kind of music are you going to play there?  Slow Ride (forget about it)?

  Although now that you mention it, I think Slow Ride would make a great song for crap movies like this.

Now some of my favorite racing songs have either great intros (Thunderstruck, Flirting With Disaster) while some have great outros (every Daytona 2 song, The Chain, Running Down a Dream).  So let's take running Down a Dream and put it in our climatic final race scene (likewise, you can begin the race with something with a great intro...get the hint??).  But you're not going to cue up just the middle portion of the song, you're gonna go for the ending guitar solo.  An exciting conclusion to the race is capped off with the exciting song.  It would cause your head to explode.

Skip to 2:50

Or how about Slingshot?

Skip to 3:25 for the GLORY NOTE!

So save the most exciting part of the song at the end of the race in order to convey the message, "Ok, this is the last lap, leave it all out on the track now!!"  Yeah, skipping around to other parts of the song (come on, seaming these parts together can't be THAT hard) may say weird but someone try it.  But what most racing games do is that they cue up the song and just play it through.  The race ends and the music stops.  Simple as that.  You may even end the song on no music at all (the song ends and you wait for the next one to begin).  Now that just sucks, especially if the race was really close.

Now what game does this?  Well, I hate to bring this up again, but it's.....Split/Second.  Well, I think so anyway.  If you watch this gameplay footage (ugh), you'll see that the music becomes a lot more apparent.  At least from what I see.  The music doesn't just jump from one section of the song to another but it does so in stride.


So anyway, that's the two things that I want to point out about racing games.  There's also other stuff for me to talk about pertaining to racers, but I'll address them later.  This post has gone on long enough and it's really late so good night, good morning, good afternoon...whatever time of the day you happen to read this.


  1. Hey dude,
    looks like Sega have been reading your blog.

    This is from the Australia Classification Board:
    Looks like Daytona USA is coming - even though most die hard players have been running the Model 2 emu - still online multiplayer racing would be awesome via XBLA/Steam.

    I bet they release the DC version...
    Here's the link

    Date of Classification

    Consumer Advice

    Computer Games
    Date of Classification
    Production Company
    Country of Origin
    File Number
    Classification Number

    Hopefully the model 3 emu will have force feedback (Scud/Daytona 2) as I doubt they will ever see the light of day...



  2. Hey dude,

    Keep up your blog

    Keep on chooglin'