This week we’ve made some really great progress on two fronts: physics and tracks. The original plan was to write this blog about the latter, but after those really intensely focused meetings we felt that we should process it a bit and then talk about it.
So, this week’s blog will be not be about tracks, nor will it be about physics. It will be about two new game modes.
Elimination will pit players on a racing track to compete against each other, but not in the traditional sense. This game’s winner won’t be determined by who finishes first, but who can outlast everyone else. Every lap (or, say, 45 seconds, there will be variations) the game checks who is the last driver in the race, and weeds the poor racer out of the competition. In addition, all those unfortunate enough to get wrecked are also out of the race.
This means that all players need to drive fast and furious so they won’t be the unlucky last player that gets whacked after each lap. This, in turn, means that people will resort to dirty tricks to stay alive, and that, in turn, will result in a lot of people getting banged up beyond recognition during the race itself.
Elimination should prove to be a fun game mode, especially since Wreckfest is so delightfully cruel when it comes to damaging your rides. Elimination will be a mixture of reckless driving, insane risks, pure skill and manic mayhem. We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we are.
Our second new game mode is Team Race. This mode will allow up to four teams to race for victory. But, like always, we’ve added a few twists into how this whole thing works.
Yes, the first to cross the finish line gets the most points. Yes, second and third places net their drivers a hefty score, too. But so does wrecking other players, and driving the fastest lap times. In short, Team Race will reward your team in several ways: by being a menace to others, and by being a fast driver. If you get left behind and have no chance of being in the top bracket, take it out on your fellow drivers, and watch as your team’s score goes up.
Team Race aims to be a really interesting mixture of aggressive driving, team spirit, and gung ho attitude. Risks are rewarded, but the real sweet spot here is tactics: when driving with an experienced team who works well together, you can designate different roles to each other for maximal efficiency.
No holds barred, folks! Track shots are allowed, even encouraged
For those more interested in clean racing, do not fret! Even if in their current state both Team Race and Elimination reward aggressive driving, we are working on alternative clean racing versions of both. We’re still figuring out how to reward players in both modes, but as soon as we got some stuff figured out, we’ll let you know.
Mind you that both Team Race and Elimination are still under development. They need to be refined into true gems, and that takes many iterations before we’re done. This is where your help comes in – when the next build is launched, test these new game modes out in earnest, and tell us what works and what doesn’t. That way you’re doing your part in making Wreckfest be all it can be.
That’s it for this week!
Stay tuned for the track status report in our next weekly blog.
And, as always,… Stay safe, all y’all.
- Team Bugbear
This week’s blog opens our design philosophy and the lengths we go to so we can deliver that vision to our players.
The focus is on physics, and what we’re doing with all that jazz.
As a company, Bugbear is committed to making delightful car games. Not only do we strive towards excellent entertainment factor, we want our games to last for years. With Wreckfest, we really let our ambition run rampant, because we don’t want to create just another run of the mill action racing.
Often cars in games have only a few discernable factors, like acceleration, top speed and turning speed. That’s it. They’re really simple creatures, and this usually results in each new car being just plain superior to what you previously had, because of those overly simplified characteristics.
We don’t want to do that. We want our cars to be the main characters of Wreckfest. We want each and every car to be their own person, with their own quirks, strengths and hiccups. To accomplish this, our cars can’t only just feel different, but actually be different.
This feat requires some true magic under the hood. In order to give the cars enough personality, we need to have enough variables in handling and behavior so you could really spot those differences. This, of course, means amping up the physics engine, and to be honest, we’re going out of our way to do this right.
Each car has a huge number characteristics that define how it functions. The values given for the car’s frame affect how it turns, lulls, nods and bends in any given circumstance. In Wreckfest, the suspension portion of the car, meaning springs, sway bars and so on, is just a small part of the whole, but that alone contains over sixty different values. Each of those values affect directly how the car behaves, and each value needs a bucketload of tuning so you can get that feel of the car just right. The suspension is both a treat for sore eyes, as the cars bounce on their springs realistically, but also an important part of modeling car handling to the tee.
The tires of the car get a lot of love as well. They’re actually a perfect example of our attention to detail. For example, the surface of the tire is divided into small segments. Each segment has several layers: our physics modeling takes into account the rigidity of the tire’s surface, the elasticity of the rubber mixture, and shock absorbance of the layers beneath. Not only that, we monitor things like friction and how the tire heats up – and how that heat changes the various characteristics! In short, our tires behave differently when they’re warm, and they have enough values to handle simulating any surface conditions we want.
Despite all this hyping up of how detailed we are with our physics modeling, the main goal, however, is not because we want to be a simulator. No. We need our physics modeling to have this much detail because we want the cars to behave like they’re supposed to when you’re sliding. We want that feel when the car remains in your precise control even when you’re drifting like crazy. That feel when your steel horse bucks and whines under you, but you, you remain in control. You can’t do that without digging deep into physics. So, we dug deep.
This is why it’s taking so long to get the next build ready for launch.
This is also why we think it’s worth the wait.
This week at Bugbear!
*cue drum roll*
Aaaand no, the new build is not ready yet. We’re sorry that it’s taking so long, but the physics are a huge chunk of stuff you need to get just right. Once that’s done we should be able to focus on other stuff and push out new builds on a more regular basis, so there’s that, at least. We’re still doing our utmost best to launch the new build for everyone to marvel, but also working on asynchronous gameplay and new game modes.
We envy how well Forza does their asynchronous gameplay with Drivatar. It is absolutely fantastic in how it learns from the way you play, then mimics your style in someone else’s game, effectively letting you race against people who you have never, ever played with! We’d love to have our own Drivatar in Wreckfest, but we can’t. Our studio is just too small to pull it off. Instead, we’ll approach asynchronous gameplay from a less ambitious angle.
In effect, the way we’ll aim to create an avatar of you in the game will be through keeping record of your statistics. What’s your favorite car, your favorite track, your best lap time, your average position upon finishing, how much damage you do, and so on. Mostly they’re basic statistics, ones you see in many a game. These will be useful in themselves, helping you see how well you race with any car on any track, and also fun, when you want to e.g. check on how much time you’ve spent flying through the air!
With the statistics, we will try to build a guesstimate of you in the game. If your record shows you like crashing more than clean driving, your stats show that. If you tend to speed too much and take a corner way too fast, your stats will show that. And based on those stats, we’ll basically assign an AI behavior to your avatar. It won’t be 100% accurate, since it won’t mimic your driving to the tee, but it should be close enough to guess your preferred style of driving.
That’s the plan, anyway. Creating an asynchronous AI model is very difficult, but we’ll try nonetheless. In any case, the career statistics should be a cool thing to have.
This past two days we’ve also started developing a new game mode to Wreckfest. It’ll be a cooperative race, dubbed cleverly Team Race. Players will be split into two teams, Red and Blue, and face each other off on the track. Here’s what we got so far:
The teams gain points in three ways. The first is, obviously, your position when the race ends. The second is from best lap time: the player driving the fastest lap time nets their team a certain number of points. The third way of scoring is wrecking opponent cars. When the race is over, the points are added up, and the team with the most points wins. So, even if a Red car crosses the finish line first, it doesn’t mean their team will necessarily win, if Blue has managed to rack up points by other means.
Team Race is still very much under development, and we’re yet to get to internal testing. Still, plans are made, and they’re being executed as you read this. Once we’re ready, it will be included in the next build, and we eagerly wait for your feedback!
Also, regarding physics, here’s a small video from this Monday, showing how bad a broken physics engine can get
Don’t worry, it won’t happen for you – this is a result of internal testing and tweaking the settings a bit too much
This week the Wreckfest blog is all about game design. We’ll give you a glimpse on what we’re working on, and how those processes are approached.
What the game designer does is best explained in this wonderful blog post “The Door Problem” by Liz England, and we truly recommend you give it a read: click here to open the article.
As game designers try to know why, what and when everything happens in a game, and what the game is expected to do, one of Wreckfest’s biggest game design challenges is physics. Even without the difficulties of coding the physics engine in the first place, tuning the physics is an utterly complicated and convoluted process. We need to hone the balance between all the aspects of how the parts function – for example, car suspension has qualities that must be put into numeric values, like length, rigidity and such. Of these values eight are such that altering them produces a completely different driving experience. And we’re talking about suspension alone!
This is why tuning the physics requires an awful amount of testing by trial and error. That’s why there’s always someone sitting in our official test bench, playing a track, adjusting a slider, playing some more, adjusting another slider, and repeating that for weeks on end. Literally. Fortunately, this test of focus and patience is not a one-man job – we have several experts present who know how physics and cars work, and they constantly discuss how the game and physics feel and what needs to be done next.
And yes, there’s work to be done, like this video shows us.
While the physics team works their wonders on car handling, others focus on player progression. This is almost equally important, as it affects everything outside the track proper. The questions we face include how experience opens tech tree, how to purchase new items, will there be a crafting system and if so, what will it be like, and how various parts wear out and what effect durability has? All examples go much, much deeper than one sentence can deliver – e.g. durability contains questions like how fast will the parts wear out, what will their repair cost, will the maximum durability lower with each repair so that the player has to replace the part eventually, how will the part be replaced, and how will all this be presented to the player in a meaningful way that is not only informative and clear, but also cool and fun!
With all these, we’re finally settling on a model that should provide a system that is simple to use but complex within. The first iteration of the system is already in the build, but it needs a bit more work before we’re ready to show it to you. Let’s just say that we ourselves are pretty happy with it, so it’s probably going to be all right
That’s it for this week! And, as always, our dear friends and followers:
All righty! This is what’s bubbling under at Bugbear when the end of January comes closer.
The question you most likely want to be answered is: will the new build finally be launched this weekend?
Unfortunately no, it will not.
The decision boils down to essentially a very simple risk management choice:
Going public with a build with broken physics is foolish, and doing so with a game that entirely revolves around said physics would be sheer folly. In short, Wreckfest would be unplayable and unenjoyable. We know many of you would take the broken build as an opportunity to help us develop the physics, but thousands of other players wouldn’t. All they would see is a broken release that crippled their game, and there’d be no repairing the damage our credibility would take from that. That’s why we can’t launch the new build before it’s absolutely ready.
In theory, we could’ve gone and done a separate build for other features so we could have released those while physics were still under development. However, that would’ve created a plethora of problems we’d need to fix later on, and how many hours that’d taken is anyone’s guess. We didn’t want to go that way, so we stuck with a single build.
So, that’s why the new build isn’t out yet. Have patience, have faith :)
And how hard can getting the physics right might be, then, you ask? Well funny you should mention! Remember that small tool we had for helping us see when the tires lose their grip? Well, we kinda had to expand on that so it could meet our demands… Now witness the power of this fully armed and operational physics tool!
In other news, and these are much more on the “good news” variety of news, game feature design is well under way. We’re settling down on what kind of tech tree we’ll include in the game, what the character progression will be like, what kind of effects the condition of upgrade parts will have on car performance, what part the parts play in general, and so on. Interesting times, and there’s much, much more we’d like to say – but that’ll have to wait until next week’s blog, which will be all about new features that revolve around the career mode.
Oh, and we also had a table top ice hockey tournament. Hot pizza, cold drinks and slack jawed goofing off were just the perfect way to end this week.
Until next time, and, as always, stay safe.
- Team Bugbear
Happy New Year, all y’all!
So, it’s a brand new year, and we’re back from our holiday hiatus! We’re back on track (bad pun intended, hurr hurr) in creating new content in earnest, blasting full speed down the road (hurr hurr).
But, despite the next major build looming just right within our grasp, we’re not there yet. We’re tuning the physics engine like madmen, pounding away crazy amounts of time trying to hammer it into shape. As it stands while this is written, we’re still a bit off from that mark: yesterday cars could fling themselves into low Earth orbit after hitting a pebble, or do a full 720 backflip from the smallest bounce. Today, we’re down to doing only mad amount of big air and several consecutive barrel rolls, so there’s definite progress!
And, as soon as the physics of the driving experience itself are good enough, we’ll push the build out. This may take a few days, or a couple of weeks if we can’t immediately find what causes all these issues. We’re almost there. Almost. We can taste it.
But, nothing bad if not something good as well! Bugbear is happy to have one of our lost flock back, as Johannes joins us once more! Johannes is the fellow responsible for developing the ROMU engine deform mechanisms, and nobody knows the intricacies and gimmicks of deformation better than him. So, you can expect some stellar changes in the damage and deform mechanisms of Wreckfest! Us, we’re just happy that the man is back at Bugbear. Welcome home, Mr. J.
We have a lot more great news and good stuff brewing behind the scenes, but we’ll get to those later on, once we get the build ready to launch. For now, be safe, and do take care.
Oh, and a few new screenies, just because we can.