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IGTV: Colin McRae: DiRT 2 Interview

With DiRT 2 screaming aroud the corner towards its release in early September, our own Tamer Asfahani decided to get DiRTy with Codemasters’ chief game designer Matthew Horsman and find out just how filthy the rally game can get. For 2009  (September for DiRT2) we wanted to add in more of an extreme sports vibe, just like what’s happening in the real world with rally and taking part – in America – in the X-Games. So now throughout the game it’s very much about you living the lifestyle of an extreme sports star.Our first brainstorming that we had, we put three main points on the board that we wanted to prove, and it basically just said “Multiplayer,” “Multiplayer,” and “Multiplayer!” *laughs* So very much, multiplayer is a big focus of the game. We’ve very much focused much more on our single-player as well as we love the single-player experience, and there are still a lot of people who aren’t online. But multiplayer, we went a bit crazy. We’ve got competitive multiplayer, we’ve got anti-cheat methods – so if people start mucking about and griefing they get kicked out – and we’ve got this feature called Jam Sessions where you’re the host. You can pick any car, any track, you can change the rules if you want to. If you want to put a big buggy down rally tracks that’s fine. We’ve team support, so you can have teams of four, teams of two and you can compete against other teams. Private sessions, open sessions…We’ve had some feedback, especially in America, where people love the damage but hated doing one corner, smashing their car up, and basically getting terminal damage and having to restart. So for DiRT 2 you can choose what you want. You can have full damage, or use our Flashback system to come back. If you want a nice experience – you want to see all the damage on the cars but just want to keep driving – then you can pick visual damage only.If anything, DiRT 2 has got more rally than DiRT 1. We have a sort of DiRT World Tour, which is our version of the WRC-inspired event. We have staggered starts now, just like in real life, so you will catch someone up if you do well or someone will catch you if you do badly. We have a Scottish co-driver in there now. We have a couple of co-drivers you can choose. You can choose simple calls, or you can use the numbered system where the gear that you should be in on each corner is used. We think rally, and we’ve tried to improve, and I think there’s more varied rally tracks now, so you’ve got jungle rallies, you’ve got dust rallies, you’ve got Croatia which is a very traditional twisty, hardcore rally. I think for the rally fans, there’s a lot in there, especially as we’ve got authentic vehicles as well. We’ve got the new Evo 10, the new Subaru…Are they all licensed?Yep. All the vehicles in the game. We’ve got 40 plus off-road vehicles and they’re all licensed, from all the big manufacturers – Subaru, Mistubishi, Nissan, BMW…How are they with damage? Usually they’re not very happy.They’re quite good now! They’re relaxed. In the old times they’re fine but because they get damaged because of racing, they’re okay with it. They don’t let you set the cars on fire, they’re against that! And because all the cars are protected by rollcages the driver has to be protected, but apart from that, you can fully smash up the cars as much as you want.{PAGE TITLE=IGTV: Colin McRae: DiRT 2 Interview Page 2} We’ve got a lot of information from the manufacturers and the drivers themselves on how these types of vehicles actually react. When you’re driving a rally car, it’s pretty nimble and agile, but compared to, say, the Hummer – which is a bit more bouncy, a bit more heavy, and definitely takes more to power around the corners; you have to brake more. It’s almost like point and squirt: get your back end and then put your power down and hope it goes round. With a rally car, you can do a Scandinavian flick now. You can use proper weight-shift on the cars. In the game, you can drive like a normal grip driver like Sebastien Loeb who drives very clean, in straight lines. Or you can do Ken Block, Colin McRae style – get the back end out, drift it round, and use the power of the car to pull the car around. So the handling’s quite versatile now and quite realistic.With terrain deformation in the game we use normal maps to make it look like there is deformation, but… we actually tried deformation on the tracks early on in DiRT 2 and we found that it actually made the game more harsh, and harder to play. So we basically got rid of it. So track deformation, while visually the tracks look deformed – and of course, you can crash into a big barrier and cause tyres to go on the track and the player, if he ever hit those… but when it came to actually deforming the track, we found that by the time the eighth guy got onto the road he could hardly drive and it just wasn’t a pleasant experience.But surely that’s taking away from the realistic aspect of the game. Was that the idea; to make it just a more fun, casual game?Yeah, exactly. We want to make sure that everyone can enjoy DiRT 2. We have got lots of simmy options in – car setup, having full damage, having the real cars there for the sim guys – but the casual guy just wants to have fun with his friends and just have a laugh, and that’s in there as well. We’ve very much had to go on either side of the community.Just like in DiRT 1, we’ve got quite extensive setup options in there – we’ve got things like the gear ratios, the suspension, the ride height – so if you’re on one of our Trailblazer tracks that’s all about speed, they’re quite flat, they’re not as bumpy, you’ll want to drop the ride height, get the gear ratios longer, and if you like to have your car’s back end go out you can change differentials so you can actually induce oversteer if you want.We have got plans for DLC. I can’t really explain what it is fully -Oh come on, you can tell me. The camera’s not on.No, no, I’ll get in trouble! I think there’ll be later press releases about it, but yes, we’re planning DLC.How many pieces, can you say…?At least a couple! *laughs*


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