FUEL is taking racing games to a whole new environment. The game's Producer, Phil Wright, makes sure you're all tanked up with info for the ride of your life.
Where did the idea for FUEL come from?
The idea was really borne out of the technology. About seven years ago the development team at Asobo were working on the technology that could create this huge world and created a few buggies on early versions of the world to race around for kicks. They were enjoying it so much that a racing game emerged as a natural way to create a really fun game that could exploit this landscape and give a range of racing experiences within it.
The setting, of a world where the accelerated effects of global warming has destroyed the environment, is obviously influenced by a worst-case scenario of real life, but is used in the game to enable us to leverage another way of adding drama and presence to the huge world through dramatic weather effects.
It's been a long journey, but everyone is pleased with the results.
How is the game different to other titles in this genre?
It's unashamedly an arcade racer, but it breaks free from many of the usual expectations of arcade titles - things like a small numbers of vehicles, or closed circuit racing, for example. Instead we put the player in this vast expanse, with race tracks cleverly using the natural terrain to create thrilling driving moments, and then offer huge diversity with our 70+ vehicles.
We've also tried to make the game as broadly accessible to as many different types of player as possible, meaning that if you want to drive from one area to the next in order to access career races and challenges you can absolutely do that, but there's always the choice to just use the menus to quickly access areas and races you've unlocked. Free riding around the FUEL world is also a pretty unique experience - no other racing title offers such beautiful views backed up by a 40km draw distance.
One of our catchphrases for FUEL is "What you see is where you get", so if you see a snowy peak in the far distance, you can be sure that you will reach it if you keep driving. Then when you consider the possibilities our race editor brings to the genre... it's entirely possible that the best races in the game are yet to be discovered by the gaming community, which is a brilliant prospect.
How did you set about creating the huge world the game takes place in?
America seemed a natural starting point because of the huge diversity - it has such inspiring landscapes from the Grand Canyon, Utah salt plains, Mount Rainier and so on. To build the world, we selected what we thought were the real standout areas, environments that would add most to the gameplay experience and used satellite data as a basis to create the game world.
The game runs on a proprietary engine, built from scratch, which is able to use the selected data to generate this world on the fly using procedural generation based on these designs. It's a totally different approach to development than you normally see in a racing game, and as a consequence that gives us unique gameplay experiences - there are no unnatural barriers or no corridors, and that gives players total freedom to explore, take their own routes and a huge world to create their own races in.
What research did you do into the diverse terrains and extreme weather conditions contained in the game?
To get a real sense of what the terrain is like in the areas we use in FUEL, some of the development team went on a road trip to Wyoming, travelling hundreds of miles through vast wilderness gathering video footage and photographs, really soaking up what it meant to be in such harsh environments. The resulting environment in FUEL is a conglomeration of the more spectacular natural scenery from all of this data, a sort of best of the North American landscape.
What types of vehicles will players have at their disposal and which are your favourites?
Vehicles in FUEL are split into six groups: Bikes, Quads, Buggies, Cars, Trucks and Specials. Within these groups are offerings which have different performance attributes, so for example you might have a car which is sleek and sporty which is great on tarmac but handles like a dog off road, then another which is more like a muscle car which loves tearing up dirt roads as you drift it around corners. The same is true for all vehicle classes; some vehicles are best for off-road, some for tarmac, some a mixture of both. My personal favourites are a bike called the Shuriken and our hovercraft. Who wouldn't want to take a spin across a lake?
What are some of the challenges and obstacles players will encounter when playing FUEL?
Some of the tracks you'll race around have traditional obstacles such as concrete crash barriers, but FUEL offers more natural challenges to the player, such as streams and riverbeds, abandoned machinery, steep slopes, dense pockets of trees, rocky outcrops, and so on. Any combination of these can conspire to make racing through FUEL a real challenge. And then there's the weather...
What online features will the game have?
FUEL has a really strong online offering, with up to 16 players supported. There's the option to compete in the offline Career races, or free ride around the world with friends and strangers. Then we have our custom race editor, a simple but powerful feature which enables you to create any kind of race you want anywhere in the FUEL world, then host those races online.
Custom races can be anything up to 150km distance and be set as A to B, checkpoint or circuit races just by setting down a start point, finish point and up to 30 checkpoints in-between. These can be tweaked and adjusted at any time by the player and their custom tracks tested offline before unleashing them on the community. We think the race editor is one of the game's strongest features and offers enormous potential for people to keep playing FUEL and enjoy new experiences far into the future.