How do you one-up the most technically-advanced and accurate driving sim the world has ever seen? You put it in VR.
We talked to developers behind Project CARS 2 to learn about making the move into virtual reality.
Interview with: Joe Barron (Marketing & Esports Manager), Andy Tudor (Creative Director), Darren White (Art Director), Mark Adams (Art Manager), Jan Frischkorn (Vehicle Art Manager), and Casey Ringley (Technical Vehicle Lead)
What made you want to make the move Project CARS to VR?
ANDY: Well, we’re almost always playing with new tech toys. Any new gadget that comes out, we’re all over it, whether that’s a steering wheel, monitors or whatever, the company has this kind of ethos that if a gamer can play with it, then we want to support it. That’s why our games support almost 40 to 50 different wheels and we have 20 odd apps that are made by the community.
I don’t know about the other guys, but as soon as I saw that Oculus was announced, I jumped on the Kick Starter immediately. It was pretty clear from day one that it was going to be an amazing racing game because everyone sits in a car, so, you know what the experience should feel like. The racing genre has always been pretty accepting to view peripherals, like a steering wheel, pedal and now finally with the helmet. The fact that it makes you a better driver is a bonus. You can look to the apex, look up at the rear view mirrors or side mirrors. You can even lean and look out a back window if you want. You can judge distance better and therefore you know when to break better. All those things are what real drivers do and to have that built into the game just makes the whole thing even more immersive.
CASEY: It’s remarkable the difference that it makes. People who are not experienced gamers usually sit down, and, if they’re just playing on a regular TV screen, they all make the same inevitable mistake of going too fast. They can’t judge their depth into a corner correctly and they steer off into the wall. But the instant they put on the VR goggles, it’s a complete transformation. They drive like they’re in a real car and they’re having more fun. It’s a huge step forward for the kind of games we make.
In terms of gameplay, what are some new things you needed to take into consideration to develop for VR?
ANDY: Well, we actually had to take stuff out. On our previous games, no one had drove from the cockpit view because it was the equivalent of driving through a widescreen view and it felt really constricting. We wanted to change that and therefore we did lots of things to make it feel like your head was being moved by g-forces. When you go fast, the cockpit view blew it out so it was as if your eyes were focusing on the road ahead. We did lots of things like that to mimic the sensation of speed, g-force and things like that.
But, when you’re in VR, all that is naturally happening. Your eyes naturally are looking at the road ahead. You don’t need to simulate g-forces as much because it’s actually disconcerting to have the virtual head move and not your real head move. So all those kind of things propagated motion sickness. We actually have to strip out stuff that we were designing for a flat screen to make sure that the VR experience works well.
What kind of hurdles did you encounter in development?
ANDY: I can’t speak for the others but game development in general for all the projects and all the companies we’ve worked on in the past, game development is a bit like a roller coaster. It goes through lots of ups and downs. You need to let go of some creative ideas sometimes, because it would take more time. We save those ideas for the next project. There’s not one thing I can put my finger on that was a challenge, because the whole thing was a challenge. But, it wouldn’t be worth doing if it wasn’t.