Who: Dan Greenawalt, Game Director, Forza Motorsport 2Where: X06, Barcelona
When: Thursday 28 September
Give us an introduction to Forza 2.
Forza Motorsport 2 is all about passion. Its about car passion, its built by a team thats got a ton of passion. I upgrade my car, I take it to the track, weve got former pro racers on the team, weve got amateur racers, to guys who do motorcycle racing. The people on the team just love cars. Whats really cool about Forza is weve got so many cars and theres such diversity. You can really do anything you want. Weve got over 300 cars – and thats actually on the disc! And thats everything from an Audi R8 – a purpose built race car, won Le Mans five years in a row – all the way to classic American muscle like the Plymouth Hemi Cuda, hot hatches like the Civic Type-R and exotic sports cars like this Ferrari F430. Weve also got new cars; the newest models that are coming out this year like the 2007 911 GT3, so this is the 997 model that everyones all excited about – the round headlights are back, the classic style is back, Im pretty excited about it.
What new cars have you added to Forza 2 that werent in the first game?
New to Forza Motorsport is the Lamborghini. An example is the Lamborghini Gallardo this is a 500 horse-power all wheel drive car. I got to drive one at E3, its a kick in the pants, its really fun. Theyre really loud actually, its kind of funny. I told this story at E3: I was showing up to the E3 and there were people all crossing the street, jaywalking and usually youd use the horn, but this car is loud enough that I could just step on the accelerator and it would just go RRRRNNNNH and everybody just got out of the way
Cars like that really show car passion because you get a car like that and you drive by people and they all stop. And they look at it. You get this emotional response out of them. Whether they look at it and go, Thats a really expensive car. Hes spent too much money on that. Or whether they look at it and go, What an amazing piece of technology. Theres just something about cars, and its global. Its not just racers that like em, its people all over the world that respond to different types of cars. And thats what Forzas all about.
How deep is the customisation in Forza 2?
Forzas got all kinds of customisation that you can do with all these cars. Remember the Gallardo, 911, F430, BMW M3, Z06, all these cars are fully upgradeable, fully tuneable, and fully customizable. You can put body kits on em, so, for example, the Corvette Z06 this actually is an incredibly fast car, for its price especially, it has been just putting other cars to shame. But we allow you to put a wing on this car, you can put a racing wing unit even on a Lamborghini Gallardo, so you can really make these cars truly incredible. But more than anything, our paint scheme editor, or livery editor, was a huge hit in Forza Motorsport 1, and were making it even more powerful for Forza Motorsport 2.
Give us some examples of what you can do with the livery editor.
I dont know if you guys have seen the classic Steve McQueen movie, Le Mans? I love that movie, I watched it when I was a kid. Whenever I get chance to paint a car, and when I go online, this is the type of paint scheme I want because it really represents me and my passion, my love of racing. This shows how powerful this livery editor is. None of this is pre-canned, you dont just go in there and say: I want striped livery Number One and make it blue and orange. This is really something to empower the player. We know include text, even, as well as a lot more shapes, and we have a lot more decals as well. Your imagination is the only thing thats going to limit you. In Forza Motorsport 1 we had somewhere between 600-1000 layers you could put on your car. Now weve got 4000 now that you can put on your car so youre not limited by how many layers you can put on.
How much of an impact do you think the livery editor have in the community?
In Forza Motorsport 1 this livery editor became a huge success and we got this grass roots community that built up around it. People were trading liveries, and they were creating these works of art, and it was people who were not necessarily that into racing, what they wanted to do was express themselves as artists. And cars elicit so much passion in people that its a perfect canvas for them to paint on. What people would do is, theyd make this great paint job, and then theyd take their camera phone and theyd take a picture of it, off their TV, and theyd put it on the Web, and there were scan lines, and it doesnt look very good. Thats not the experience we want to give people. We want to allow them to share this, so weve got a photo mode in the livery editor itself. Of course theres a photo mode on the track, but theres one in the livery editor so when you take this picture, itll get rid of all these bars and theres just a pristine environment in the white light very, very beautiful. And then you can upload it to the Web, download it onto your phone, or put it on your PC, or once its on the Web, you know, you can do whatever you want with it. Put it on the forums! So, Im pretty excited about that cuz last time, Id go on the forums and Id see, like, some PT Cruiser with a Mona Lisa written on the side or Halo or anything on the side, and I got to see these incredible works of art.
Do you need to pay to change the design of your car?
No, no. As the game director on this project, Ill tell you, I want people to paint cars. I dont want to unlock decals to you. I dont want to unlock anything. If youre an artist and you want to paint your car, paint it! As soon as you buy it, go into the livery editor and do whatever you want. Now the upgrades, those cost money, but they also have performance impacts so it makes sense that you have to pay for those. But, man, if you want to paint your car, do it. More power to you. Take pictures of it, do whatever you want.
Is it easy to store and select your designs?
Weve added a catalogue. This is sort of like a wardrobe for clothing for your car. Every single livery youve got for, like, your 911 GT3, all those different liveries show up in this catalogue. Whether you got em through trading, or got em from your friends online, or painted them yourself. An example is one painted by one of the guys at home. I got it off his box so, were trading things up. This is one celebrating X06 here in Barcelona weve got the Barca football club logo here. This one I think is really stunning, I didnt draw this one actually, I wish I could claim Im this good but Im not. One of the artists on the team still using the livery editor though he didnt import it or anything, he actually did a livery editor, he put these beautiful gradients, and built the logo its just a stunning car.
Is the FC Barcelona logo a standard design that is available in the livery editor?
No, you still have to make it in the livery editor. We are making a lot of improvements that make the livery editor easier to use and more powerful, however were not putting in some sort of importer its really a security thing more than anything else.
But its up to you how you put it on the car how big, or ?
Yes. Oh yes. And I just love this because, again, its all about passion. So if your blend of passion is between Porsche and racing and football, well there you go, and you can express yourself online. Whats really powerful about this is that no two cars look the same. So when you go into Forza Motorsport TV, similar to what you see in PGR3, none of the cars are gonna look the same, and you can start recognising racers.
Will you see the driver too, and his helmet?
The car is the star in Forza Motorsport, so there is a driver, hes fully modelled, he does have a suit and helmet and all of that. But really, were trying to say its not about the driver its about the car because thats where the passion is.
What can you tell us about the graphical improvements?
The final game will be at 60 frames per second with the same sorts of bells and whistles youre seeing right now. You can see the bloom on the car in its metallic paint. This is full-screen anti-aliasing. Youll also see HDR lighting see the shadow roll over the top of the car – its real-time shading, you dont see that in a lot of other games, you might think you do but its not actually there. And the High Dynamic Range lighting just gives the whole environment a feeling of life.
How accurate are your real-life tracks?
One of the things you struggle with making racing games, and Ive worked on a few Rally Sport, Project Gotham, I worked on Midtown, Ive worked on a lot of the racing games out of MGS one of the things thats really hard to do is to make a track environment like this, Tsukuba, a real track, look very exciting. If you get a fantasy area its a lot easier. But when youre in a track like this it really is all about the details because we cant add fake stuff. Its really the details it comes down to, to make a track like this look beautiful. Weve got 3D grass and bump-maping on the sand. These are very detailed textures; you can see the different skid marks going on and off. These are also our new view modes, you can see reflections going across the top of the car, this is one of the views available its a HUD view to give players a better context.
Will there be a cockpit view for hardcore racing fans?
We are not featuring a cockpit view; weve got that HUD view. For the most part, and this is just all honesty, weve got 300 cars on the disc. Not only that, its 300 upgradeable cars. Its one of the things that most people dont think about but we allow you to do full weight reduction on your car, and when you do weight reduction on your car you strip out the interiors, you know, all the stuff so we wouldnt be making 300 interiors, wed be making more like 600 interiors. Its always something were gonna look at were developers, were always pushing the genre, were going to continue to push the genre forever, but in all honesty, when you get these really dynamic shadows and you can see the car travelling through. It really is more immersive.
Whats your approach to damage?
First and foremost Forzas a simulator. And you really cant be a simulator without damage. Damage is a key part of racing its actually what keeps you honest, because if you dont have damage you just run into walls, and scrape along walls, and run into the AI, and run into the other players, theres no reason not to do it. But in Forza weve got damage, and its very dynamic, its very exciting. So youll see bumpers flying off here. What weve found in just testing the game, whats been a lot of fun is, in every racing game online, at the first corner everyone piles into each other, it becomes this big explosion of, you know nothing, because nothing ever happens, they just go flying off the track. Well, we didnt necessarily plan it this way we just wanted to make more dynamic damage by having bumpers fall off and particle effects and glass breaking out and all of that. But what we found while playing it back at work is we still do the same thing, right, so we all run into each other at that first corner and it turns into this just mayhem of parts and dust and dirt and everything like that. And then when we come around the second lap and everyones kind of found their groove, theres parts all over the road because they stay. They dont disappear or anything like that. So when you come around on the second lap theres all these other parts to hit and its actually it just becomes a fun little mini game to play while youre racing around the track.
How does damage to your car influence how it drives?
Were making damage more dynamic and more exciting. On of my goals was to make the different assists that you have in the game really mean something. So in Forza Motorsport 1 we had all these assists. We didnt want to dumb down the game, but I wanted to help users. So theres still that incredible depth to the simulator but players who are not as dextrous can have the green line that helps people drive, traction control and stability manager and all of that, and you can also set your damage level, either Cosmetic Damage, or Limited Damage, or Simulation Damage. But we didnt go as hardcore in simulation damage as we could. We made it so that it cuts your horse power by a bunch, it made your shift times a lot longer and it made the suspension damping not as good. When I watched people playing online, I kind of felt like people werent taking it as seriously as I wanted them to. When youve got limited damage on its fun, youre having a good time yeah, it hurts the performance of the car but you can still have a good time with your friends. My goal for the hardcore was, when you put that simulation damage on and you run into a wall at 150 miles per hour, youre done. Youre out. Thats it.
So you can totally wreck your car?
Yeah. What that also helps is that it keeps people honest online. If you want to get in and have a good time with your buddies, put it on Limited. But if youre on there and you dont want some guy just running into everyone on the track, hell be disabled after the first lap so theres not much youve got to worry about from him.
Is there variable weather in the game?
Theres no plan of dynamic weather. Again, were trying to make a simulator and some people will argue, Well its a simulator so it should try and simulate everything. To me, I take my car to the track and I dont like rainy days. The game is a simulator, and its not easy when you add the variable of rain.
What can you tell us about Forza Motorsport TV, will it be anything like Project Gotham Racing TV?
Yeah, this is the hidden strength of this entire franchise the hidden strength of MGS. First off weve got Xbox Live so as a developer I dont have to worry about a whole bunch of stuff. We dont have to write all our custom servers, we dont have to take care of friends requests, we dont have to do all that crap. And thats a huge liberation for us on Xbox Live. On Xbox 360 weve got that same thing and also the really cool thing is I worked on Project Gotham 1 with Bizarre Creations, the producer on our team also worked with them. We go way back as a team and we share different pieces of technology that are written to go into both games. So, whats incredible is, a game thats released every two to three years, they worked on their system and then they release it in one big batch and its done.
So the PGR team and the Forza team work very closely together?
What we do is, Project Gotham Racing 2 came out and we had Leaderboards, Quickmatch, Optimatch, it had a lot of great features. Forza Motorsport came out, we had seamless single player and multiplayer competitions, we had ranked matches. We had even more scoreboards. We had car clubs, so we pushed the bar even higher. And then Project Gotham Racing 3 comes out and theyve got seamless single player and multiplayer for credit. So we just keep stacking. Theyve got Project Gotham Racing TV and theyve got photo mode and now Leaderboard qualified tournaments were not taking anybodys code, we just keep working. We worked on that code, they worked on this code. The thing is that nobody can keep up because every other company is working every two years or three years, but we have a whole dev team working on new features, not the old features, were not trying to reinvent the wheel and heres another dev team just working on new features.
What will be on the soundtrack for Forza 2?
You always have custom soundtracks, just like in Forza Motorsport 1 and the Xbox 360 we dont have to write any of that either, right. Thats a nice thing about being on the 360 is we dont have to write that. But, the for the 360 we went back to the drawing board and licensed three hours of music, its all real licensed tracks from around the world. Its actually centred a little bit more towards Europe. So, three hours of music. Youre going to have to play a long time before you hear anything repeat.
Will you be able to race online for pink slips and win your opponents car?
Forza Motorsport is all about that car passion and people may disagree with me on this but everybody liked the idea of winning somebody elses car, but I just want to say that 50 per cent of people lose their car. So, if youve painted your car, youve upgraded it, youve tuned it, youve put all this work into it yeah its really cool to win your car, and I can go Yay I win your car but, you know, not everyone wins. So, I dont think thats as great an experience as trading for money, you know. If I want your car, I give you money, you give me your car. And when were racing together online were racing for money, so if I win I get money, and if you lose you get no money and you have to pay for your damage but its not like youre out of this incredibly important thing to you. What pink slips encourages people to do, and Ive seen this in like Motor City Online and other games, is like it encourages people to shut off their box. And why would they shut off their box? Because theyre not having fun.
How much will downloads cost from the Marketplace?
Some are free. Some are pay. What I can say is that theres 300 cars and 70 tracks on the disc. Youre getting a giant game. Its just an incredible package. The thing I like about DLC is that we can freshen the game up. The Paris Auto Show is right now, and theres going to be new cars coming out from the Paris Auto Show, and it takes a long time to build a car so its not like we can say, Oh, we just saw it today, lets get it in! right? We have to get it, license it, build it, make it, and then we can say DLC. So by the time the car hits the streets its available for DLC, and you can play it in the game.
Will there be a demo on Marketplace?
Not until were ready.
When will that be?
When its ready! This is our baby, and were going to make sure its ready before we put it out there.
Thanks for your time Dan!
This interview was recieved thru Xbox Community Network