GDC Europe 09: Lead gameplay programmer on a new model for catch-up logic

Black Rock Studio blasts â??rubber-bandingâ??

Speaking at a GDC Europe session titled ‘advanced racing game AI in Pure’, Black Rock Studio’s lead gameplay programmer Iain Gilfeather has criticised the rubber-banding technique that is intended to hold races together in driving games.

In the session, Gilfeather advocated continued use of race scripting – an alternative solution to catch-up logic – which the Disney studio put to use in critically acclaimed off-roading game Pure.

"Players want to feel like they are playing with the same rules as their opponents,” said Gilfeather. “And if they see the opponents adjusting what they are doing, based on the player, they’ll feel like they’re only along for the ride."

The race scripting technique lets designers write a draft based on how they feel a race should evolve, and hides race management at a level less obvious to the player. At various stages of the race, the scripting dictates how a pack of vehicles will behave in relation to the human entrants, rather than simply tethering AI-controlled cars to the player’s position.

Gilfeather admitted that internally Black Rock was unhappy rubber-banding was used in the ATV series to ensure tight, busy races, despite the fact the fact the techniques used avoided heavy criticism.

Black Rock will be using race scripting in its forthcoming, unannounced driving game.

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