Wednesday, May 30, 2012
‘NASCAR The Game: Inside Line’ first look
By Jon Robinson
The producers of "NASCAR The Game: Inside Line" are trying to amp up the realism.
Will real-world driver telemetry help drive consumers to the virtual tracks of “NASCAR The Game: Inside Line”?
That’s what the development team at Eutechnyx is banking on with their latest designs, incorporating everything from how hard Kurt Busch hits the pedal at Daytona to the degree of turn in Jeff Gordon’s steer at Talladega to give fans a much more simulated look inside the world of NASCAR.
In fact, this data is so specific, the only thing missing is Danica Patrick trying to wreck you after a race.
“We’re working really closely with NASCAR, and this year we’re able to get the telemetry data that comes out of the cars,” explains Ed Martin, executive vice president at Eutechnyx. “This is stuff the teams can’t even get, and we’re building some incredible features around this data around what actually happens at each race. There will be challenges based around real-world events based on this telemetry data, and it couldn’t be more precise, and that’s everything from positional data to engine performance.
“This data is collected five times per second out on the track, so it’s an awful lot of data, and we’re going to do some really cool things with that. It goes beyond just the challenges in the game, but that’s something I can’t even talk about right now, as we still have some features to reveal at a later date.”
In terms of features Martin can discuss, he says the franchise’s online problems have finally been sorted out (last year’s game released three online patches to date), and from day one of release, Martin promises gamers will find every offline race mode now playable online.
“Online is huge. It’s even bigger than we expected,” Martin says. “When you go from 100 to 200 testers to 150,000 people playing the game on day one, it’s a big jump, and we just weren’t ready. The game wasn’t scale-tested to the level it should’ve been scale-tested. I wish we could’ve done more, but this year, we’ve completely re-written the back-end code just to make sure that when we ship, we’re stable.”
Activision and Eutechnyx say they've fixed the bugs that plagued their first "NASCAR" effort.
Career mode is also a focus for Eutechnyx, as the design team has expanded what was once just “race for the Sprint Cup championship” to incorporate a more dynamic offering.
“We put in 'Team Manager' mode,” Martin adds. “We’re still calling it Career Mode,' but inside it is this 'Team Manager' component. This year you start out as yourself, you pick your car number, and then you go out and start to race. As you start to perform, you’ll pick up sponsor offers, and we’ve gone out and signed every single NASCAR sponsor for the game. We have every sponsor, every partner, every contingency sponsor from all of the real Sprint Cup teams, and we’ve convinced them all to be a part of this.
“So as you go along, you’ll get offers from everyone from the National Guard to Diet Mountain Dew and Lowes.”
And obviously, the more prestigious wins you earn throughout your season, the more prominent sponsors your racer will attract. In turn, you’re able to invest more in your team and your car.
In addition, Eutechnyx is using that telemetry data mentioned earlier to go back into their game and rebuild every track.
“By using that positioning data, we can build much more accurate tracks than what we had in our original game,” Martin says. “We put a lot into this game, and it’s pretty spectacular. We’ve already been running online races between people in our U.K. offices and our U.S. office, and everything is just so smooth.”
Add a handful of new drivers to give you a true Sprint Cup challenge (no more random drivers who don’t belong in the field), and it sounds like developers went a long way in righting the wrongs from the first game.
Says Martin: “We took some lumps, but here we are, and we’re building so much more into this game than ever before, and I think when people get their hands on it, they’re going to see some really exciting new features.
”It’s pretty funny; we were showing some drivers how the telemetry works, and this one guy was like, 'I don’t drive like that.' But then we showed him the data and he was shocked. I just told him, 'Sorry, but that’s you.' How they race in real life, that’s how they’re going to race in our game, and to me, that’s going to make all the difference.”