Project Gotham Racing talent Bizarre has openly contested the merit of online leaderboards in the racing genre, referring to the concept of a global competition as a “bit of a red herring”.
Having been acquired by Activision in September 2007, and thus relinquished from development of the Microsoft-owned Project Gotham franchise, Liverpool-based Bizarre has recently unveiled Blur; its newest project that aims to broaden the appeal of the racing genre.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Bizarre Design Manager Gareth Wilson explains that Blur has refocused the online competition model as part of its wider ambitions:
“I don't think the majority of people really care that much about being number one in the world,” he said.
“Don't get me wrong, [in Blur] we're still going to have leaderboards of who's the best on certain tracks. But PGR3 was a good example of this; you could download the world's best ghost, and you could race against it and at the first corner, it's gone. Mere mortals such as me couldn't keep up with that sort of thing.”
“I think the whole leaderboard thing is a bit of a red herring… What's going to be much more interesting is in time attack, if you're in my friends list and you do a best lap, [Blur’s inbuilt] social network will inform me that you've just done a fastest lap on this particular track.”
“You can send that ghost to me and go ‘beat that bitch’ and then I'll race it, and then I'm actually playing against someone, probably of comparable difficulty, who I'll actually care about beating.”
Wilson's attitude towards online competition is in line with the development team’s new aim to eradicate what it labels as ‘Racer Frustration’ – the increasingly antiquated tough demands on player-skill that ultimately only satisfies a small group of skilled players.
Bizarre’s new approach is conspicuously different to the Microsoft-supported model of an evolving global leaderboard and achievement-driven community.
“You can actually go and select all the people that you want to race against even though they're not online,” Wilson added. “That's so much more inclusive than just downloading the world's best ghost.”
Develop’s report on Bizarre’s newest racer, added with an interview with Wilson, will be published here soon.