Legacy Interview

Thursday, October 14, 2004.
Forza Motorsport Box artForza Motosport

MGS/Forza Motorsport Representative(s): Dan Greenawalt – Lead Designer

Q: Will this game incorporate the new Xbox Live Version 3 features?

A: Xbox Live is going to be an important part of Forza Motorsport. As such, we’re definitely going to make use of many Xbox Live 3.0 features, however we’re still determining which features we’ll be taking advantage of. We’ll be announcing our Xbox Live feature set soon.

Q: Do you agree with the critics when they dub this game the "Gran Turismo killer"?

A: We like to think that with our focus on realism, in both damage and physics, combined with our powerful customization options, makes Forza a title that stands on its own. We have the utmost respect for the Gran Turismo team, and the next GT will surely be a great title, but we think that Forza Motorsport will stand on its own, rather than just be seen as a “GT Killer.”

Q: Will there be any exceptional advertising campaigns to get more people interested in this under-the-radar game?

A: I’m not really sure you could call us “under-the-radar” any more. Forza was a big hit at E3 this year, and ever since we showed off what Forza has to offer, we’ve gotten plenty of attention. The marketing folks will get to determine the advertising campaigns, but our team’s focus is on developing the best racing sim Xbox has ever seen.

Q: With Forza Motorsport being an Xbox Live title, will it still support system link and split-screen play?

A: We support two-player split-screen and system link play.

Q: What makes this title better than the other racing games?

A: Right from the start, we’ve been committed to making Forza Motorsport as realistic as possible, and I think racing fans will recognize that commitment the first time they hit the track. We received confidential real-world tire data from engineers at Toyo tires to help us develop and tune our tire physics. We spent over a month developing the tire physics and two months tuning the tire compounds and tire types. We partnered with engineers from Ferrari’s F1 program to learn more about aerodynamics and suspension. We’ve meticulously photographed all the cars and tracks in the game; we’ve even built scale models of the cars to ensure we’re working from detailed reference points. Our sound engine is based on real-world vehicle sounds. We actually recorded countless hours of engine and road noise for most of the cars in the game. So when you redline a Porsche Carrera GT in 1st gear and grease its tires, it’s going to sound and feel as close to real as possible. On top of incredible realism, damage modeling, superb AI and unprecedented customization, one of the big differences between Forza and other racers is the focus on collecting and trading rare cars. We want this game to not only appeal to race fans, but also to anyone who rubbernecks when they see an exotic European sports car, highly tuned Asian import or American muscle car. So if you’ve always wanted a Hennessey Twin Turbo Viper, you can have one. You just need to work your way up to earning the cash for one.

Q: What will the single player game focus on? Is it racing-based or points/money based(i.e. PGR)? Or will it be a combination of the two?

A: Single-player will be about racing for money to customize your car or buy new cars. Cash can be earned by winning races. You can win more money by racing with some of the game assists turned off. For example, you will earn more money for winning a race using a manual transmission than you will if you race with an automatic. The same goes for racing with the damage system turned off, or by racing with the assists (such as ABS brakes) turned off. While there’s more money to be made by racing in the advanced modes, beginners and intermediate players can still enjoy Forza and earn plenty of cash without having to race like Michael Schumaker.

Q: A sim is not a sim without a driver's view or at a minimum a hood view. No pictures or videos have shown either view to be available. Is a hood or driver's view planned for the final release?

A: Forza Motorsport features a hood view, bumper view and two chase views. To my knowledge, no racing game with more than 150 licensed cars has ever featured an in-car view or visible and performance damage. We felt that a game cannot be called a simulator without damage, so we invested our time and energy heavily in that system. Therefore, we will be the first racing game with over 150 licensed cars to feature a visual and performance damage system.

Q: Many reliable sources have stated that the Xbox cannot support a true force feedback steering wheel. There were also reports from E3 that Microsoft is planning to release a steering wheel for Forza. If so, will the steering wheel support true force feedback?

A: There was a Force Feedback wheel made for the Xbox and released in Europe two years ago. While this wheel did feature Force Feedback on the Xbox, it did not have all of the shifting input and dead-zone customization features we feel you need to interface with a simulator. Our team is still negotiating with wheel manufacturers to release a top of the line Forza Feedback racing wheel.

Q: Since we are able to essentially create a customized vehicle, is there an extensive replay mode so we can sit back and enjoy just watching our cars after a race? Please describe what replay functions and camera angles will be included.

A: Microsoft Game Studios brought you Project Gotham Racing and RalliSport Challenge. Expect the same great replay features available in those series.

Q: One of my biggest complaints in PGR2 was that damage did not affect play. On XBL people would smash others to get ahead with no penalties and races were not enjoyable. Will Forza punish drivers who smash others through corners in a realistic way so they will be less prone to behave poorly while racing?

A: Forza is a racing sim, and as such, we felt we couldn’t do the genre justice without having a damage system. So, every car suffers varying levels of damage. And damage costs you -- in cold, hard cash. Depending on the difficulty setting, damage will also cost you in car performance.

Q: How much can you actually customize your car? Are we going to see 4 of the same cars, black with the same red flames on the sides?

A: We’ve put a complete customization engine in Forza Motorsport; it goes way beyond paint schemes. Other games have limited the player to specific pre-canned paint scheme with stickers limited to pre-defined regions of the car. That’s not Forza. We’ve created a system much more powerful. Players completely customize the paint and sticker setup on the car. Want to put a stripe over the car at a specific angle and look? Well, you can do it! Just take a box shape, stretch it to make it longer and narrower and stamp it on the car. Want to put 500 different colored, skewed and resize shapes and decals on your car – go ahead, we support it. Oh yeah, and we support text. In Forza Motorsport, cars are customized in the same way you can in the real world – do whatever you want. Gamers will also be able to swap out engines, hoods, side skirts, tires and much more. We want gamers to feel like their car completely reflects their personality and style of racing. We’ve put a ton of work into the customization system, and it’s really going to show on Live, when you see all sorts of customized cars, from simple paint job swaps to full-on carbon fiber body rebuilds.

Q: I read that TVR Cerbera 12 is in the game, will it continue being the fastest car?

A: Because Forza features upgrades, tuning and customization, there won’t be only one “fastest car.” The TVR Cerbera Speed 12 may be faster than a stock Ferrari F50, but is it faster than an F50 with racing tires and a turbo kit? I don’t know. Also, I’m not convinced that the Cerbera Speed 12 is faster 0-60 or 0-100 than a LMP car like the Audi R8 or Panoz LPM-01, especially if you run low downforce. With tuning and upgrades, the possible combinations are endless – and somewhat unpredictable. Players that invest in their car will be rewarded.

Q: Can I expect having some Lamborghinis in this game?

A: While Forza Motorsport features for over 200 cars including Ferrari and Porsche, the car list does not have any Lamborghinis.

Q: How will the tuning of the vehicle work? Will this be like most racing games which feature upgrades, where it is simply a matter of racing until you can afford all the "best" parts and utilize them? Or will the game follow a more realistic path and force the player to understand the nature of a car and balance it to create an effective racer?

A: Vehicle handling can be customized in two major areas of Forza Motorsport. The first is in the Upgrade Shop. In this area, the player buys parts in specific packages. These packages were designed to keep the less knowledgeable player out of trouble. The second major area where players can customize their cars is in the Car Setups or Tuning area. Here, players can change settings such as camber, tire pressure and spring rate. These settings are less black and white than the upgrade packages. Depending on the car, track and driving style these settings can make a car extremely well balanced. Both of these systems were patterned after the real world. For example, I drive a tuned Audi S4 to work every day. Though I know a fair amount about real-world parts and upgrades for the 2.7t engine and the B5 chassis, I still work with a shop to design my next big install. They watch out for me and make sure I don’t install upgrades that will leave me worse off than when I started. At the same time, when it comes to changing my car setup, such as the anti-sway bar stiffness setting, I make the decisions and do the work. The results are occasionally disastrous. Last year, in trying to tune out my understeer, I ended up introducing some dangerous oversteer. This is the trial and error required when tuning.

Q: Can you customize race-bred vehicles? For example, modify a Ferrari F50 mechanically?

A: Any production car in the game, including the Ferrari F50, can be upgraded, customized and tuned in Forza Motorsport. Install aftermarket aspiration, racing tires and give it a custom pearlescent paint job if you want – it’s your car.

Q: One major flaw in many racing games is the AI of computer opponents. The lines that opponents take can be memorized after running a track a few times. Will the cars in Forza be all over the place like they should be? What can we expect from the AI racers?

A: As you may have heard already, Forza is going to utilize a new AI technology that learns as it plays. This new technology is called “Drivatar”, and it’s very exciting. As you’ve said, some games simply program specific racing lines into the AI and call it a day. We’re not going that route with Forza Motorsport. Instead, the Drivatar technology will learn from the people it’s playing against. It emulates how the better racers are driving, without just copying them. Drivatars can also generalize. They’ll take what they’ve learned on one track, and apply it to a new track, even if they haven’t raced that track yet. And if what it’s already learned on one track doesn’t seem to be working on the new track, it’ll adapt its racing technique to the new track.

Q: In what ways can you balance the game play between arcade racer and simulation?

A: Forza is being built from the ground-up as a pure simulation title. While there is an Arcade Mode in the game, the physics do not change. You could, if you wanted, make it easier to play by turning on all the assists, such as Anti-lock Brakes and automatic transmissions and turn off the damage engine, but that’s not what Forza’s about. We wanted to create the best racing sim the Xbox has seen, and that’s what we feel we’ve done.

Q: For those of us that have High Definition TVs, what Hi-Def resolutions will Forza Motorsport support?

A: At this point, I can say with confidence that we will support Widescreen, 480p and 5.1 Surround Sound. We’re still investigating 720p. We will not be supporting 1080i in this version.

Q: How accurate are the cars on Forza to their real life counter parts?

A: We’d like to think that the cars in Forza Motorsport are going to be the most accurate models of their real-world counterparts you’ll see on a console up to this point. We’ve collected real world lap times for many of these cars on the same real world tracks we feature in the game. At this point, our lap times are pretty spot on. We spared no expense in putting together lifelike models of the cars and tracks for this game. We shot thousands of photos, built untold numbers of model kits, purchased dozens of die-cast models and spent more hours running cars on dynamometers than we care to recall to ensure our cars are spot-on matches for the real thing. They aren’t just visual matches either; the physics and weight characteristics are going to be as realistic as possible. Throw in the fact that we recorded actual engine sounds for the cars, and you’ve got an outstanding match for the real thing.

On behalf of the members of Xboxaddict.com, I'd like to thank Microsoft Studios for answering these questions about their upcoming game: Forza Motorsport.

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