Racing games for the PC and console sometimes can be hard to make different from each other but developer Eden Studios and publisher Atari are definately tring a different approach with Test Drive Unlimited, creating an open world game with some MMO properties as well. FiringSquad got a chance to chat with Eden Studios producer Ahmed Boukhelifa to find out more about Test Drive Unlimited.
FiringSquad: First, how did the idea for the latest Test Drive Unlimited game come about?
: It was a clash of eras, actually. When we were given the opportunity to design the next Test Drive, we went in two directions. First, we went back to the roots, with the very first Test Drive games, a loooong time ago. We had very good memories of these games, as they let us drive very cool sportcars in the open, chasing with cops, with unprecedented details in the recreation of the fully functional cockpits. This was, and still is the core of the Test Drive experience: you test drive unique, amazing cars and enjoy the pleasure of driving at insane speed in the open.
But our game is not about nostalgia: our intent was to bring this Test Drive experience into the 21st century. So we decided to break all the rules, and to try and give birth to our wildest car fantasies, which basically is: let’s recreate a perfect world for car lovers to play their way.
Imagine: You’re in your house, you go to your garage. You pick a ride among your amazing collection of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Ducati… and dozens of other brands. Drive out: you’re in the street, among the traffic. Other sportscars you meet are actual players, driving around like you do. Challenge one if you wish, and race till the goal you set wherever you want on the island – with a bet if you wish. Then why wouldn’t you go to a car dealer to see the latest models, or try and defeat a solo challenge? Or maybe you’d rather go to your club and chat with your friends? Or create another challenge and post it in the drive-in for other online players?...
Test Drive is about freedom – freedom to play your way in the biggest sandbox ever offered to car fanatics, with over 1000 miles of roads in Oahu, Hawaii. Test Drive is about community, as you’ll be transparently logged in as soon as you enter the game.
The ultimate sandbox for car & bike enthusiasts online – this is really the experience we want to offer to xbox360 players.
FiringSquad: How hard is it working on a next generation version of one of the classic racing game genre?
: From the very beginning, we wanted to go boldly where no man had gone before. We started two-and-a-half years ago, and the concept did not change much since the beginning. The hardest part was actually to convince people that we were not completely insane, and that this very cool concept was actually something that could be done, and not the delusionnary dreams of grandeur of would-be Napoleons. Very often, you’re afraid not to do enough – not enough innovation, not enough new features… We had the chance to walk the other way, as our main worry was to aim at the sky and try and reach it.
Just to give a few examples, we not only wanted to create incredibly beautiful next-gen cars, but make them available with full manufacturers options – which required to create shaders for all available materials and colors, from alcanthara to carbon, from plastic to leather… We not only wanted to create huge roads to unleash the power of your supercars – we actually decided to try and recreate a real-scale replica of Ohau, Hawai…