Disney’s UK racing studio Black Rock reckons that its 2010 game Split/Second will help spark a turnaround for the driving game genre.
Speaking to Develop as part of a in-depth feature looking at the creation, production, and technology of the title, studio head Tony Beckwith and the game’s director Nick Baynes both asserted their view that the racing genre is in an unhealthy state.
“If you look at the sales figures, the racing genre is in many respects dying out – take Mario Kart out of the equation and the category is in a dire way. I think this genre is ripe for something new and inventive to give it a kick start," said Beckwith.
The new 360, PS3 and PC game puts players in the role of a race car driver starring in a TV show who can trigger explosive special effects to eliminate racing competitors.
“We’re all fans of street racing here, but as a genre it is relatively stale – the evolution is only coming from how you customise cars, which can only serve to remove you from the action – I think Split/Second will do the opposite," added Baynes.
This approach stretches throughout the production through to the design – from things like technology to the on-screen design.
So the game features an almost HUD-less display, and asks players to pay attention to the environments they are driving through – rather than just racing lines.
Technical director David Jefferies said the production had been “a huge transfer of ideas, which is a little different from other productions where the different coding, art and design teams can be ghettoised and ordered to just shut up and get on with it.”
Baynes added: “If you look at screenshots of racing games, they all kind of look the same. [The minimal HUD is] another example of how we’re trying something different, and really want to reject a lot of the things that are established or expected of a racing game.”