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Things never tried in rally games


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I’m not sure if this should be in the suggestions thread, as it’s not really Dirt Rally suggestions exclusively, so I’m posting it here. Prompted by a comment on another forum where someone said something to the effect of “there aren’t any more features you could add to a rally game now”. I actually think rally games have the most scope for improvement and development, especially compared to circuit racing titles, which actually do seem to have run out of features. Anyway, these are some things that I’m pretty sure haven’t been done in a rally title yet, aside from the usual ‘better physics’, ‘more cars’ and ‘VR support’ type stuff. Can anyone think of any more?

 

-         Stage/route creator. We are yet to see this implemented in a rally title, which would probably be the best use of an open world scenario in sim racing. User created, or regular developer-provided new stages made by changing routes using existing roads and stage furniture, such as bales, yumps, barriers and cones. Large open worlds are best suited, but smaller ones such as DirtFish or the WRC Test Area would be a great start (I believe the FIA RallyStar stages are made up of routes mapped out in the Test Area). A robust pace note generating system would be required here if users were to create their own stages.

-         Road sections. Following on from the above, there has never been a rally title in which road sections between stages have had to be driven, providing further incentive to keep the car in one piece along the way. Finish the stage with a puncture and choose to drive to the next stage on it, or stop to change the wheel, risking missing your time slot for stage start. This also makes ‘live’ multiplayer rallies more interesting, with traffic on the stages and road sections following any incidents.

-         Recce mode. Again, this ties in with the above stage creator feature. New stages are driven first in a recce car. These are generally road cars fitted with stage rally safety gear such as a full roll cage, painted all one colour, used to drive the route before a rally and fine tune pace notes. The Volvos used by the Ford team for years were a particular favourite!

-         Circuit rallies. These are becoming more and more popular, especially in the wake of WRC Monza and the UK’s MSN Circuit Rally Championship on Amazon Prime, the first round of which was just used as the opening rally of the British Rally Championship. These events are made up of stages based at a race circuit, utilising not only the circuit, but the access roads, pit areas and surrounding roads.

-         Single venue rallies. Similar to the above (circuit rallies are single-venue events really), these are rallies in which all stages are created within the same venue, such as an airfield, industrial complex or quarry. Stages are created by changing the route and using stage furniture, such as barriers, bales and cones. Very popular in the UK, and a simple way of having a large number of layout possibilities in one relatively small area.

-         Services vehicles. As an addition to crew management, the level of service vehicle support dictates how many crew members can attend your events, and how many spares can be carried. This also introduces possibilities for ‘random moments’ such as the service crew arriving late to service, or breaking down themselves on the way, adding to the immersion and realism.

-         The option to create custom car classes. Many cars in recent titles have been rendered ‘useless’ due to be uncompetitive in their given class, such as the Fiat 131 and Escort Cosworth in DR2. A player controlled class system, along with the ability to ‘ban’ certain cars or run one-make championships, can help to eliminate these issues and make every car worth driving competitively.

-         More detailed setup options, such as tyre pressures and fuel levels.

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I agree there's more that can be done, and thinking laterally can help. I think we discussed in the gossip thread that it's difficult for rally game makers as they have to come up with increasingly high fidelity rallies across different countries, which must deplete resources for expanding play areas within single country locations, like the Forza Horizons can do. But it'd be great to see at least one more open-world type location.

Driving between stages would be an expansion of the 'driving beyond the stage finish and parking the car' addition that I believe was introduced in Dirt 4 (iirc). How immersive was that extra touch!

For me I've found career modes lacking in the serious rally games so far. It's all been a bit sterile, and I wouldn't want to see just more management elements thrown in that don't make sense for a rally driver to be overseeing, a la the WRC series. Instead some simple imaginative tricks that draw from other genres, like making choices with consequences, a list of rivals given some actual writing and characterisation, emails of encouragement and rivalry, that type of stuff. Without going the full tacky Car-pg of Toca Race driver etc of course. It needn't cost much resources at all as it could be done mostly through text.

Carrying some of these elements over to custom championships would be good too, so they're not so totally sterile as they have universally been. 

I think there was a circuit rally in WRC7, is this what you mean? I found it fun but also something of a distraction, it felt like a gymkhana session (complete with doughnut) that had me relieved to be back on the open road.

 

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On 6/14/2021 at 4:47 PM, merseyxshore said:

Stage/route creator. We are yet to see this implemented in a rally title

 

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That deja vu stage section repetition gives me fond memories of Dirt 4 🤗

I think a stage editor could actually work well within a retro style game, as in theory you could have a much larger variety of elements to begin with. Big elevation changes, lots of different types of bridges, chicanes, road widths, etc.

That and a lot of random elements too, and the option to go random at every step. So you could just click on 'insert random bridge' if you wanted to, same with elevation etc.

On top of that the game could randomise from a lot of different trackside objects, people etc. It could vary the colours and whatever other aspects.

The last thing you want is to see the same group of people and objects on the trackside keep re-occuring. It's the killer. The game could even keep track of these aspects and ensure it doesn't re-occur per stage.

The old RPG game Daggerfall from 1996 had the biggest game world ever, and made the Guinness book of records for it. It was randomised from a seed, and had thousands of full-size towns you could explore in first-person 3D. Yet it managed to really brilliantly keep things (relatively) interesting by having different zones with different architecture, and playing really cleverly with its basic elements. It made for a really un-replaceable feeling, that standing before you was a full sized world.

I can see why Paul Coleman's eyes would light up in interviews during Dirt 4's development about the prospects of Mystage. There's a great feeling when you truly don't know what you'll be served during the next stage. 

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On 7/6/2021 at 4:19 PM, PJTierney said:

 

Haha fair play, but as I've no doubt banged on about elsewhere on the forum, I'm talking about a set environment in which different routes can be mapped out by the player. Kind of similar to the Playgrounds mode and route creator on Forza Horizon, but with a simulation approach. 'Tiles' as used in Dirt 4 MyStage would be terrible haha.

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Hmm. You'd need a whole game designed around that.

If it's not already in the works then you're waiting several years.

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On 7/6/2021 at 4:06 PM, Jake Cushing said:

I agree there's more that can be done, and thinking laterally can help. I think we discussed in the gossip thread that it's difficult for rally game makers as they have to come up with increasingly high fidelity rallies across different countries, which must deplete resources for expanding play areas within single country locations, like the Forza Horizons can do. But it'd be great to see at least one more open-world type location.

Driving between stages would be an expansion of the 'driving beyond the stage finish and parking the car' addition that I believe was introduced in Dirt 4 (iirc). How immersive was that extra touch!

For me I've found career modes lacking in the serious rally games so far. It's all been a bit sterile, and I wouldn't want to see just more management elements thrown in that don't make sense for a rally driver to be overseeing, a la the WRC series. Instead some simple imaginative tricks that draw from other genres, like making choices with consequences, a list of rivals given some actual writing and characterisation, emails of encouragement and rivalry, that type of stuff. Without going the full tacky Car-pg of Toca Race driver etc of course. It needn't cost much resources at all as it could be done mostly through text.

Carrying some of these elements over to custom championships would be good too, so they're not so totally sterile as they have universally been. 

I think there was a circuit rally in WRC7, is this what you mean? I found it fun but also something of a distraction, it felt like a gymkhana session (complete with doughnut) that had me relieved to be back on the open road.

 

I fully get what you mean. In my opinion though, a developer needs to be brave and break away from the usual locations format. It’s great that Dirt Rally has accurate real 1:1 stages, but honestly how many players would even know if they weren’t? Circuit sims are different, as the circuits are very well known across a large array of racing series, and accurate representation of these adds to the immersion. I’d argue that rally sims don’t have that need for location accuracy, and this is actually an advantage. Look at the WRC series; aside from some of the super special stages, the locations aren’t 1:1 accurate to their real life counterparts, but the stage design is incredible and makes the game all the better for it. I feel that rally devs are really missing a trick here. I’d love to see less resources being used up on faithfully recrafting real-world roads, and more being spent on larger and more interesting environments.
The open world idea I’ve got in my head would do away with different countries with set stages. It would just be one big location, the size of a Forza or GTA map, with the surfaces and road characteristics changing as you travel. So the roads and environment would stay the same (for the most part), but the routes themselves would be up to the player and devs.

Also, that's the Rally Catalunya super special stage, it's been in most of the WRC titles, one of my favourite stages actually! Circuit rallies are different though, look up the MSN Circuit Rally Championship on youtube to see what I mean.

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14 minutes ago, PJTierney said:

Hmm. You'd need a whole game designed around that.

If it's not already in the works then you're waiting several years.

Oh no doubt. Just saying I think that this is the future of rally sims, and would be really successful as a competitive e-sports title if done right.

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Potentially, but I watched a video recently that gave a decent opinion on why DiRT 4 didn't last so long.

With custom/random Stages, you don't have a permanent leaderboard that all players have easy and direct access to. There's almost no reason to come back unless you liked the randomness aspect, and it was clear that the majority did not (or at least, not the way it was implemented in that game).

When Time Trial was added to DiRT Rally 2.0, we found that it was one of the most popular modes across the entire game, as people would constantly go back to beat their friends, test cars or simply get better at driving. Yes you'll eventually learn the roads, but I personally don't see that as an issue considering real rally drivers do ungodly amounts of research and preparation for their rallies (ask Jon Armstrong).

Custom/random Stages can be good for certain pockets of the community, but if you look at games that have that feature (like Forza Horizon 4) you'll see that the vast majority of players aren't level designers, or have the skills/knowledge to truly make a Stage that's as enjoyable as the hand-crafted ones you get now. That and it's extremely hard (even with some staff support) to pick out the best ones for everyone to play as there are so few good ones.

While many of us here are big rally fans, I guarantee the majority of custom routes would either be haphazard projects or meme layouts.

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Every aspect of a rally title needn't be geared towards online popularity. 

Have the multiple country fixed rally routes, sure. 

But a 'home base' rally area that's say in the UK, which is an area rather than one long route like the others, could be grand. 

It'd be divided into sectors, so the software could pick from random permutations that gave a cohesive outcome each time. 

Then players could go the custom path on top of that in a separate mode. 

Just wishful thinking but it'd really make for something fresh after the typical format we're so used to for decades. 

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