Gamescom 2011: Forza 4 Interview – Dan Greenawalt Talks Cars
Written Tuesday, August 30, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Turn 10's Forza franchise has earned itself a well-deserved reputation as a racing game with passion. It's all about the passion for cars and passion for driving, so with Forza Motorsport 4 the onus is firmly on expanding upon that passion with a host of new features that fans will no doubt be excited about.
First and foremost, there's Kinect support, which Turn 10's Dan Greenawalt claims has made the game look better, then there's the game's Top Gear license, which means having the dry wit of Jeremy Clarkson narrating as you explore Forza 4's new Autovista mode.
Hell, there's even multiplayer car football in the game, also inspired by Top Gear, except where the TV show used Toyota Aigo's and VW Fox's, you can use Ferrari Enzo's and RUF 911's instead. We caught up with Greenawalt - a man who is quite clearly car crazy – to talk more about Kinect, Top Gear, Autovista and of course, much more besides.
Has Kinect improved Forza Motorsport 4 as a core game?
It has, absolutely… I never thought that I would be saying this but the graphics are better in Forza 4 because of Kinect, because it forced us to rethink some old problems – that we all deal with but we’ve all been doing them one way as an industry – we had to think of them in a new way.
How many cars are there in Autovista?
We're actually not announcing the number. We really took a different approach when we chose the cars for Autovista, because frankly the cars are more like levels than cars, so we wanted them to be markedly diverse. I love the STi and I love the Evo, and people that love those cars kind of love or hate one or the other. You look at them in this kind of level of detail, they're actually more similar than different because they're both front-engine, turbo charged, 4-cylinder cars, 4-wheel drive, leather interior, the doors open the same... They're great cars, but what we're trying to provide in Autovista are cars that are radically different and also cars that are very rare.
What we're providing here are cars that if you don't live in London, New York, Munich, Berlin or any of those big cities, you might never see in your life. And even if you do live in one of those cities, you're never going to sit in one. Some of these cars, there's only six in the world, some of the cars there's only one and it's in Jay Leno's garage. So, you're never going to see it, you're never going to sit in it and you're never going to have the chance to start it up. So, the cars we chose are really about having that experience that you can't get anywhere else.
Are they all going to be supercars, classic cars et al?
No. We're going to have some surprises. Stay tuned! There are some very surprising cars.
Were you ever tempted to put your first car in there?
Nope. I just really believe in the vision, so from the very beginning, I've not been making the game for me. I've been trying to make the game for everybody that I can also sit with. For me, it's not about the playing of the game, it's about the community getting together and getting passionate about cars. While I love playing it, and it does have my first car in the game to play, it's about interaction between people. And my car is not necessarily going to get that. It's having the cars that are going to speak to the largest number of people.
How does the data transfer between Forza 3 and Forza 4 work? Will upgrades port over or just the base cars?
There's been so many changes to the actual models themselves, throughout the database and the whole game, that it's not an actual transfer. We're reading in the data between Forza 4 and Forza 3 and gifting cars into your garage. Car upgrades are not the same between the two games, so we can't just take them from one and put them into the other.
Have you done much work on Forza 4's damage modelling?
There has been work done to the damage model, but there is a luxury when you only do 100 cars in a game. When you only have 100 cars and less cars on track, you can actually have each car do a lot of crazy things. With hundreds and hundreds of cars, we have done improvements, so the damage is more localised, there are parts moving around, the textures for damage look better, so there are visible improvements.
Are you concerned that not having weather effects and so on might be holding Forza back somewhat? Is it something that you're planning for the future or is it too difficult to apply with the level of visual fidelity?
It's not too difficult, but there's a reason that the features we're doing, nobody's doing. Because they're extremely difficult. The issue is, what is [weather] really adding to the gameplay, whereas things like Autovista, things like 16-player multiplayer, and our real hope was to add more to the overall gameplay. I'm not saying one feature is good or bad or what have you, but we're basically just hedging our bets with what we think is going to add to the gameplay the most. There are always more features to be done and there always will be.
Our goal is to get more people really excited about cars, so we add features to stoke that car passion and for me the investment always happen in physics. So there are superficial things you can do and there are real physical things you can do, like physics with the tyres, which is far beyond what anyone is doing. That what was important to me, because it changes the gameplay radically.
Now we did add alternate times of day, because it makes the tracks look different, but it's just not a huge feature to us, because we've got much bigger features elsewhere.
Apart from the Top Gear test track, what else has the Top Gear collaboration brought to Forza 4?
It's a complete creative partnership, so we have Top Gear bowling in the single-player, Top Gear soccer in multiplayer, there's obviously Jeremy Clarkson in Autovista and they were integrated into the game based upon what made sense.
Forza Motorsport 4 is out on October 11th in North America and October 14th in Europe.