FUEL: Introduction

By Shamus Posted Monday Sep 21, 2009

Filed under: Game Reviews 46 comments

Fuel is an open-world racing game from French developer Asobo. Weather-based cataclysm has made the land uninhabitable. Most people fled to somewhere safer off the gameworld map, but some people remained and live in this Mad Max-ish wasteland. Inhabitants spend their time racing for fuel and vehicles. That’s not a summary of the plot. That is the plot, in its entirety. It’s just a premise to justify the whole “racing in a vast wasteland” thing.

Link (YouTube)

Now to the point: I really don’t like racing games. I find them to be pretty much the antithesis of what I want from a game. They’re boring and frustrating in equal measure, and they don’t generally have the gameplay elements I enjoy: Characters, story, exploration, and experimentation.

These red flags mark roads as being part of a particular race.  Sometimes I encounter them in free ride mode and realize, “Gosh, this is someplace I’ll end up if I ever get around to playing the racing part of the game.
These red flags mark roads as being part of a particular race. Sometimes I encounter them in free ride mode and realize, “Gosh, this is someplace I’ll end up if I ever get around to playing the racing part of the game.
The standard racing game mechanic is that you are placed into a race where all the other cars can out-accelerate you, but your vehicle has a 5% higher top speed. (Even if you’re all supposedly driving the same type of car.) The race starts and everyone leaves you in the dust in the first hundred meters, and then you gradually pass them and work your way to the front of the pack. You’ll win, as long as you don’t make any mistakes. Of course, running a course without making mistakes requires practice. They are designed at the outset to be a practice-makes-perfect experience. That’s not an element of gameplay, that’s the point. You race over and over until you master the course well enough to best the AI drivers, and then you get another course to master.

I enjoy learning general-purpose skills, and I can’t stand learning one-task skills. Learning to drive like an expert is fun. Becoming an expert on course #19 is, for me, not fun at all. When I’m running a race I don’t experience the “thrill”, I experience intense stress. One bad turn might cause me to clip a bit of scenery and crash, and the entire run will be ruined. The better I’m doing, the worse I feel because the closer I get to the finish line the more I have to lose. When I finally beat the race I don’t feel elation, but a sense of grudging relief. “Geeze. I hope I never have to do that again.” Racing games are built around failure, and you fail until you master the hurdle. You’ll spend far more time running races where you lose than having races where you win, and negative feedback far outweighs positive feedback.

This is not to say that racing games are bad or an invalid game type. Some people really enjoy this iterative learning, and I certainly wouldn’t want all games to suit my tastes at their expense. (And I can’t imagine how a racing game could be made to suit my play style anyway.) It’s just that racing games have nothing to offer me from an entertainment perspective. I don’t enjoy it when I lose, and I don’t enjoy it when I win. A victory is just a short window wherein I stop being miserable for a minute or two. This is why I hate Grand Theft Auto games. They’re built around this same practice / punish mechanic, and I always feel like the designer is deliberately wasting my time.

“Then why”, you ask in a shrill, indignant voice, “are you reviewing a racing game, Shamus?!?”

Well, I’m not going to review the gameplay in FUEL except to say that’s it’s a racing game and if you like that then it does that and it might be a game which could appeal to you. There’s no point in me reviewing the gameplay itself, since I don’t even know enough about racing to know if this game does it particularly well. We’re not here for the racing, we’re here for the technology.

The world of Fuel is BIG: ~114hkm on a side.  Varied, too.
The world of Fuel is BIG: ~114hkm on a side. Varied, too.
I try not to make a big deal about graphics, simply because so many other reviewers focus so heavily on graphics. I hate to give the subject more attention, and I never want to encourage the notion that more good graphics = more gooder game. But I do feel the need to point out that the graphics in Fuel are remarkable if you’ve got the hardware. (I now have a high-end graphics card, so I can no longer offer advice on how well a game will run on most systems or how gracefully a game scales down.) And of course you can try the Xbox 360 version if you don’t. Er, assuming you have an Xbox 360.

No, we’re here for the technology this time around, and the technology in Fuel is amazing. I went over the details at The Escapist, but the short version is that this game wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t procedurally generated. I want to look at what it does, how it works, and where I’d like to see these ideas go from here.

Around the time I started this blog, I had a programming project where I tried to make some procedural roads. (Sadly, I’ve lost the source. I went looking for it a few months ago and couldn’t find it. I can’t imagine what I did with it. It’s not on any of the backups I’ve done in the past couple of years. I don’t know. It’s just… gone.) The source is gone, but I remember the project and the lessons I took away from it, and it was interesting comparing the techniques I used with the ones in Fuel. (This is not to imply that my project looked like Fuel or did anything even in the same ballpark, but I was playing with the same ideas on a much humbler scale.)

I divide the procedural systems of Fuel into three broad categories: One generates the terrain, another generates the roads, and the other populates the world with objects. I want to look at each of these systems, see what makes them tick, and maybe compare them to work I’ve done in the past. I’ll look at each of these three systems in a later post.


From The Archives:

46 thoughts on “FUEL: Introduction

  1. unitled says:

    I bought the game on the strength of your article on the Escapist… Like you, I’m no big fan of racing games, but as a sandbox, FUEL is amazing. It’s just a shame the game inside that sandbox is so dull…

    I described it in a review as ‘the best Mad-Max game that never was.’

  2. Yar Kramer says:

    You know, I feel the exact same way about practice/failure games. I was particularly taken with the “Do it again, stupid!” term you used. It makes me disappointed that, with all the interesting technology that went into this game, I won’t be able to enjoy it even when I get a computer that can play it.

    The comment about “don’t know if the gameplay is particularly good” reminds me of a conversation I witnessed on a MUD once. Person A was lauding Plants vs Zombies; person B was bemoaning the lack of very many tower defense games in which you could actually redirect enemies’ movements with your defenses and make mazes, as opposed to games like Plants vs Zombies, in which they move in straight lines or on predetermined paths, which person B detested. Person A was trying to encourage B to play Plants vs Zombies anyway, since it was a really good example of the latter type of gameplay. (For the record, person A has been banned from said MUD, for mostly-unrelated reasons.)

  3. Daimbert says:

    I’m not a huge racing game fan, but I was addicted to an F1 game I had on the Commodore 64 a long time ago, and those sorts of games can do this better. In that one, you could play a real F1 season on various difficulty levels (which included whether or not you had to shift gears yourself and other things). You started at the first race of the year, and went through them all, going from qualifying to the actual race. If you had enough wins at the end, you won the championship. If you didn’t, well, you didn’t.

    But you went onto the next race even if you didn’t finish it, and raced them all even if you didn’t have enough points to win. In the end, I did really well on some of the courses — Monaco being the best — and NEVER finished the race in some of the others (I always crashed in the tunnel in Detroit and Japan). But I was able to win championships anyway.

    So that sort of thing might alleviate some of your issues. You do need to be able to drive in general, but messing up is messing up; it might cost you the championship, but you’ll still get to see how well you can do without it.

    If that game had stopped me after Detroit, I’d have never finished a season [grin].

  4. Sam C. says:

    This is an aside and not the main point of the article, but what is the best example of a game where you learn general purpose skills?
    Because I would think GTA would fall into that category, since most of the early missions are teaching you general skills used throughout the rest of the game. Any of the timed missions in those games (well, in almost any game) seem to be the practice/punish type, but those seem to be less common in GTA, at least the current iterations.

  5. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Proceduraly generated worlds are rarely if ever really all that useful for games as they are now, as the games that can get the most use out of having randomly generated worlds, namely stratgey games, are already using them.

    I’m not saying this isn’t interesting technology, generating entire worlds isn’t something you show someone expecting them to go “Eh”, no, my sticking point has always been how they could be applied to games in ways that don’t suck.

    Maybe the devlopers could use this tech as a time saving tool, have a world ready built to add the game onto, but leaving everything up to chance like this game does is… well, unless you have something interesting in every half km, you’re just gonna get a big world that’s mostly empty.

  6. Jason says:

    So Shamus isn’t reviewing the race part of FUEL, but from what I’ve heard (Idle Thumbs, elsewhere) – it’s not very good. The game is all tech, no play.

  7. rofltehcat says:

    I described it in a review as “˜the best Mad-Max game that never was.'
    Omg would this be awesome if this technology was applied to a Mad-Max game (well, also with the ability to walk around on foot and shoot stuff and some quests maybe)…

    Other than that… I don’t really care about the game (I don’t like racing games) but I am looking forward to more articles about the procedural system. If it works as well as you describe it could be awesome for many other games!

  8. Mark says:

    I don’t usually enjoy racing games either, but something about Burnout 3 really appealed to me, and it wasn’t just the explosions. When you wreck in Burnout, you have the option to enter slow-mo and control your crashing vehicle to a degree. If you can cause others to wreck, you gain turbo. So each wreck became a minigame where you could put others behind and put yourself ahead, reducing the penalty for your mistake. It did help that the crashes were gorgeous, spraying car parts everywhere.

    Unfortunately, that focus shifts somewhat toward the late game. I imagine they did that to introduce more challenge to the game, but it was a departure from their established theme and a return to more traditional trial-and-error racing. Curiously, that’s when I quit playing.

  9. Abnaxis says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but procedurally generated!=always random. The world of FUEL is very likely designed similar to non-procedurally generated, but rather than storing the maps as static files that are loaded, they are stored as procedures to generate the map. To me, this can be used beyond the random map generators to design a world without all of the legwork required to place every blade of grass, but still with enough artistry to make it interesting.

    On racing games: I agree with most people here, in that I don’t like games where you have to restart every time you don’t place in the top 5, but can continue on even if you’re not going to take the final cup in the end. The repetition is too much. OTOH, I really enjoy the game play if I can continue, and grab whatever racing game I know will let me. Unfortunately, this information is rarely available in reviews or ads…

  10. Torsten says:

    I am not a big fan of racing games either, and I used to race with radio controlled cars when I was a kid. You can divide racing games into two categories; simulators and arcade racers. Based on Shamus’s thoughts about racing games he seems to have played mostly arcade kind, for example Need for Speed serie. They dont usually aim for high realism and some of them tend to be full of this “do it again stupid” gameplay. Simulators try to be realistic but interestingly usually have options that let you set the difficulty so that they are more forgiving to mistakes. But simulators also often require you to buy steering wheel and pedal controllers to fully enjoy them.

    Still, I look forward to reading more of your thoughts about the game and its technology. And hopefully you can throw in more of your thoughts about racing games too.

  11. Drew says:

    Indeed, I’m sure Shamus will go into this in great depth, but procedural does NOT mean random. It simply means that instead of storing content, you store procedures that generate the content. These CAN involve randomness, but they can also be completely deterministic.

  12. Henebry says:

    One example of a purely deterministic, procedurally generated world is the Mandelbrot set.

  13. WWWebb says:

    It might not be fodder for the site, but I’ll recommend Burnout Paradise as a non-standard racing game for a couple reasons.

    #1- There are no people in the cars or on the streets. Yahtzee mocked this, but for me, it means I can play the game with/in front of my kids without worrying about the death and dismemberment.

    #2- Varied gameplay. There are four varieties of races: a standard first-to-the-finish, a timed demolition derby, a survival race, and a timed “how many stunts can you string together” challenge.

    #3- Packed, open gameworld. The whole map is open from the start. You can race across it or just cruise around and find ramps/shortcuts/whatever. It’s not too big, you can race corner to corner in ~5 minutes, but almost every corner is the start point for a new race. So after every event, win or lose, you’re already at the start of a different race. Oh and besides the official races, it tracks your best time and best crash on every stretch of road so you can race yourself while your explore the city. There’s enough content available that I never felt like I had to keep on trying a race over and over again if it was frustrating me.

    #4- The stunts. There are ramps and shortcuts hidden all over the gameworld. I was never very good at stringing them together under pressure as part of the stunt races, but darn if it wasn’t fun to discover you could jump your car between two parking garages, though a billboard, onto a highway, down to a railroad track, then do a mid-air spin as you launch yourself back up to a city street. This isn’t a vast wasteland for you to explore and discover, it’s a darn big playground.

    About the only thing missing is a plot, and I don’t really mind that since Burnout is a game I put in when I want short bites of action that I can walk away from.

  14. Dev Null says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but procedurally generated!=always random.

    Would that make it functionally generated? I.e., the outcome responds to some set of inputs?

    I’m another “I agree with not caring for racing games for exactly those reasons”… BUT, I enjoyed the buggy sections of HL2 well enough, because there was a point. I like to go back and run those levels for speed sometimes (because the first time through I just took my time and jumped out on foot anytime there were badguys about.) So there’s potential for a game using this technology to appeal to me at least. So while you talk primarily about the tech here Shamus, you have to promise to tell us if you managed to have fun with it too, even if you did so by running off the rails and into the wilderness…

    1. John Magnum says:

      What, to you, is the difference between “procedurally generated” and “functionally generated”? Or a procedure and a function?

  15. unitled says:

    Elite had a procedurally generated universe (consisting of 8 galaxies and innumerable planets), but it was the same every time you played.

    Interestingly, it had roughly the same purpose in the 80s as it does now; it allowed a massive gamespace with minimal storage space.

    I remember reading somewhere that a few of the galaxies were unreachable because of the method of generating them, though…

  16. kikito says:

    I’m eagerly awaiting for this series to expand – procedural content is one of my best interests these days.

    I have a question, though. Since we are on the subject of procedural generation, wouldn’t Borderlands be a better candidate for study?

  17. Helgi says:

    I agree with WWWebb about Burnout Paradise. In my opinion it’s one of the best racing games ever. It’s also one of the most fun multiplayer game I have ever played.

  18. DarkLadyWolf says:

    I’m not much of a race fan, more an ‘arcade’ race fan. Oh alright, a Burnout race fan (Burnout 2 and Paradise being my favourites. They seem to encapsulate the silliness and fun best).

    However, I’m really enjoying FUEL. Part of it is because I just love exploring, and driving for the hell of it. I’m enjoying ‘collecting’ the livery and vista points. I race very little, but have opened up 5 areas so far and am still having a blast.

    I think there’s so much more they could have done with this, but given I’ve already had maybe 50+ hours playing, I guess I’m getting my money’s worth!

  19. bkw says:

    WoW needs procedurally generated dungeons. Perhaps Blizz’ next MMO will have PG content, and they’ll port it over.

    Can you imagine going through an instance and actually being startled and surprised by a patrol?

  20. Unbeliever says:

    “(And I can't imagine how a racing game could be made to suit my play style anyway.)”

    Ooooh, I got it! Turn-based, role-playing racing!

    The possibilities are endless… :)

  21. Ben says:

    I didn’t read the responses in any great detail; I just skimmed through. However, there’s one very important aspect to racing games which I think only one other commenter picked up on – the distinction between arcade and simulator.

    By the sound of it, you’ve only ever played the arcade style (almost every racing game in history falls here) – these games are very strongly DIAS, and I won’t waste any time defending them. You should take an opportunity to try a good racing simulator, like Forza or Gran Turismo. The games run on physics engines using strange things like math and science to determine how cars go, stop, and turn. The behavior is utterly predictable and your opponents are actually the AI racers, not artificial handicaps and problematic scenery. Your practice on any track is 100% applicable to any other track, and any failure is due either to your skills or your car (which can be replaced or upgraded).

    This is not to say you will definitely enjoy racing simulators. The don’t have a plot or character development (or even characters). They have limited exploration, in the sense that driving on a new track the first time is exploration. They allow experimentation only in the sense that you can try different lines around the track or try out different upgrades. Still, if you’ve never tried one, it’s definitely worth looking at.

  22. Ninjariffic says:

    Does anyone know what song/band was used in that trailer?

  23. Andy says:

    From what I have read in the comments, the general consensus seems to be that the gameplay isn’t all that but the tech behind it has produced some interesting results.
    Presumably, now they have the Procedural Content Generator Engine locked away, they can now set it to one side and work on Awesome Game Mechanic Engine, tie the two together and take over the world with an Epic Game of Awesome.
    Or just spend a couple of years tweaking the graphics and release something slightly shinier…

    @Unbeliever: I remember many years ago (circa ’94) playing an F1 type racing game that was turn based in multiplayer mode. Every couple of laps (or unit of time, can’t remember which now) the computer would take over your car and switch to the other players so they could have a go.
    This actually worked surprisingly well.

  24. Vladius says:

    I’m sure it can’t be any worse than Mario Kart (the Wii incarnation), where you’re deliberately punished by the developers for NOT LOSING.

  25. General Ghoul says:

    The best racing game of all-time was Road Rash! Motorcycle racing, with weapons. Nothing like hitting another racer with the cattle prod, then kicking then into oncoming traffic! Or doing 180mph, then cresting a hill to see a car coming, trying to hit a wheelie to jump it, missing, crashing, and sliding 1/2 mile down the track, getting up and jumping back on your bike to do it all over again. Great scenery for an early 90’s game, especially liked the Hawaiian mountains, where you could use your nitro burst to fly off the top of the hill and land .4 miles later.

  26. A Gould says:

    I don’t hate racing games that much (although I don’t go out of my way to play the non-party game versions – I like Mario Kart, but I’d much rather play online or with a group than against the AI).

    I agree with you on the “learn to drive this course perfectly” front, but can offer an alternative – sloppier driving from the AIs. I personally hate when the AI drivers all follow their course exactly every race. Let’s make them par with us, and drive a little wackier. When an AI does a header off the cliff, that’s not bad AI – that’s realism. Because I did the exact same thing last lap.

  27. Nick says:

    I feel the need to correct your math Shamus:

    “The world of Fuel is BIG: ~114hkm on a side. Varied, too.”

    The game world is actually 14,400 km^2 which is 120km per side, not 11,400km per side, which is 14,400,207,360,000km^2.

    Just a little bit of difference. :)

  28. JB says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but procedurally generated!=always random.

    The word is pseudorandom. An algorithm in a computer cannot generate a random number. What they can do is generate strings of numbers that seem random. But given the same internal state, they will generate the exact same string of numbers every time.

    These pseudorandom algorithms are usually seeded. To get a completely different string of numbers, just change the seed. So often games had seeds based on some internal clock.

    What this means is that you can use a pseudorandom algorithm to generate the world. And using the same seed every time will give the same world every time.
    My favorite racing game so far is Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge II for the venerable Amiga. It’s what I call a cruising game. What I like about it is high speed cruising, over hills, around bends in the road, fog and rain. And you don’t have to think too much, just give max speed every time, and avoid the other cars (which you were not racing against, only the clock in order to unlock the next level).

    It had a total of only eight levels, if I remember correctly. And you can play from the first to the last without ever stopping. And I played them over and over, just enjoying the feeling of the game.

    That is very simple game play, but I really enjoyed it, and I’m still looking for something similar today. The nearest I’ve come is Out Run: Coast to coast, but it does not have quite the right feel.

    Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge III had (pesudo)randomly created levels. Each level had a string of letters associated with it, so you could play the same level again later. But unfortunately that took a loot of the charm out of the game. “I set a new record on “ANBFJSNJE” today! Hurray!” Not quite the same. It is not like beating setting a new record on “pea soup” or “e bow” in Lotus II.
    Rage is an upcoming game from id software. It is described on wikipedia as a “first person shooter and racing video game”. It’s supposed to have an open world you can rive around in, as well as several locations and quests. So it seems to be something of a blend of Fuel, Fallout and FPS-games.

    There have been talks back and forth about a Linux port. If that shows up, I’ll definitely buy it.

  29. felblood says:

    Unbeliever Wrote:

    “(And I can't imagine how a racing game could be made to suit my play style anyway.)”

    Ooooh, I got it! Turn-based, role-playing racing!

    The possibilities are endless… :)

    Wouldn’t they all be like this?

    AAAA used Left Turn on Track1!
    Critical Hit!
    AAAA gained 328 meters on Track1!
    Butz used Left Turn!
    Butz Gained 211 meters on Track1!
    Carr used Left Turn on Track 1!
    … Repeat Ad Nauseam.

    I am being facetious, but making a racing RPG with an interesting story and turn based races would be really difficult. The go-to mechanics that game designers have come to rely on, and refined over decades simply wouldn’t fit. You’d have to have a truly inspired mechanic, to make a hit out of that, and an even better marketing strategy.

  30. Stringycustard says:

    @felblood: I’m pretty sure Unbeliever was joking with that one. But if you want to take the idea seriously then I think something along the lines of football management games would probably fare close to the rpg style genre with races generated completely in game based on skills and random events. Particularly if taken with Formula One, this could actually turn out to be a good game (for heavy sim fans, only obviously).

  31. Zerotime says:

    Nth-ing Burnout Paradise. My absolutely favourite feature of it is the complete lack of a speedo – because you should be too focused on actually racing to care about how fast you’re going. The bike part of the game is also much, much better than Fuel’s attempt.

  32. Dev Null says:

    Ooooh, I got it! Turn-based, role-playing racing!

    Did you just say Car Wars? I’m sure I heard someone say Car Wars. (In the original, guaranteed-or-your-money-back nuclear weapon-proof PocketBox!)

  33. jubuttib says:

    Sorry for the upcoming wall of text…

    @Unbeliever: I think that’s already been done, at least there are tabletop racing games and even an Initial D (a racing, mostly drifting, manga and anime) card game.

    @Ben: At first I was thrilled that someone other than me brought up the subject of proper racing sims, but then you dared to call Forza and Gran Turismo simulators. They’re advanced arcade games with simulation elements, but nothing more. Sorry if I come off as hostile, but having played through pretty much every racing sim since Papyrus’ IndyCar Racing and nowadays being an active Live for Speed (not Need), Race07, GTR Evolution and rFactor player I hate it when people call GT and Forza simulators. But that’s my problem, and I’m working on it.

    Phew, that was a bit excessive, but now back to the topic, somewhat. Having played Fuel for a few days I put it on par with some recent racers like Motorstorm. The racing is pretty dull because the handling of the vehicles has nothing to do with real cars, buggies or motorcycles, but I do like the world. Everytime I play it I think “Damn, this would easily be my favorite game ever, if only it was a proper simulator.” I like racing around a track, but what I like most of all is driving around normal roads at high speeds, and since that’s pretty much the stupidest thing you can do in real life, I try to look for it in games.

    I have a dream of a game that is only possible with a procedurally generated world. I dream that sometime in the future there will be an Elder Scrolls game with the whole of Tamriel in it, and in a proper scale. Which would mean that, for example, the bridge leading to Imperial City would be over 18 miles long. And none of that super-fast running business (unless magic is involved).

    And am I the only one here who actually likes iterative training? Pretty much all my favorite games include this aspect (at least the way I play them), starting with TrackMania (an arcade racer where the only point is to finish the track as fast a possible, most often this leads to around a 100 retries continually fine tuning the lines) and doing speedruns of old console classics, playing curtain SHMUPS, etc. If the point is that you practice and practice and practice until you get it just right, then it’s right up my street. Especially if timing is involved. =)

    Though I also really enjoy turn-based strategy games and games that incorporate general-purpose skill training.

    PS. The driving skills I’ve learned from racing sims have probably saved my car and my body from serious injuries quite a few times, since Finnish backroads can be more than a bit treacherous, especially in the winter.

    1. Shamus says:

      I didn’t even remember Gran Turismo until someone mentioned it above. I did play the iteration that was on the PS2. I did like it much better than an arcade racer, although I didn’t have the technical knowledge to get the most out of it. I suppose this is what it’s like when people end up playing something like Neverwinter Nights 2 without ever having played an RPG before.

      “Gosh, which is better… a magic item with +1 to constitution or +1 to hit points? Er. I dunno.”

      I could sense my ignorance was getting in the way of the fun. Still, I enjoyed GT a lot more than the arcade racers.

  34. jubuttib says:

    And I really don’t like the Burnout series at all. =)

    And you don’t need a speedo in a racing game, the most important gauge is always the rev meter. Though you don’t really need that one either, you should always primarily listen to the engine.

  35. LintMan says:

    Shamus, you’ve perfectly described why I dislike racing games, doing it far better than I would have.

    I have to admit, though, one racing game I enjoyed for a bit was Trackmania United Forever. It has all the DIAS of other racer games, but the tracks are usually quite short and restarting if you screw up is pretty painless, so the tension you talk about generally wasn’t there. And the color, variety and gimmicks of the tracks was enough to keep me playing for a while.

    I liked it enough that I thought “gee, maybe I like racing games after all”, and went out and bought GTR Evolution. I played that for maybe an hour and realized “no, I definitely still don’t like racing games”. :)

  36. jubuttib says:

    @LintMan: From Trackmania to GTR Evolution in one step? The two most different driving games in the world? =)

    That’s like going from throwing paper aeroplanes to trying to pilot a supersonic fighter jet. =) And since you probably didn’t have a wheel controller the jet had it’s controls replaced with a keyboard.

    Racing games aren’t for everyone. Especially sims. It helps if you generally just like driving cars. They require time because they tend to be really difficult (depending on the cars simulated, many first timers have problems getting around two corners without crashing) and they require money, because unlike many other games, your controller really affects your performance and enjoyment of the game. I can play using a cheaper, more basic wheel than what I’ve got now, but not having a clutch pedal, not having a stick shifter and especially not having a wheel that turns 900 degrees would cut around 30% of the enjoyment and slow me down.

    Still, too bad you didn’t like it. We need more simracers. We’re a dying breed.

  37. Caffiene says:

    Awesome, I love me some procedural discussion. Maybe I can even get inspired to get off my backside and get around to coding something myself, this time.

    One minor quibble regarding the Experienced Points article: You guesstimated 4 bytes per point for the height map, which sounds to me like it could be getting a little carried away. 32 bits makes 2^32 = 4,294,967,296 possible height values, which is more than youre likely to need unless you’re making an Alpine Explorer game. But I think you were generous for a lot of the rest, so I wouldnt be surprised if the total size still ended up at about the figure you came up with, anyway.

  38. LintMan says:

    @jubuttib – Yeah, there was quite a difference between them, as I discovered. I was/am still pretty clueless about racing games since I usually avoid them, so I can only blame myself for not doing my homework first.

    Also, if I had an actual wheel instead of a keyboard (or 360 controller) to use things would probably have been better.

  39. someguy says:

    … now that I see GT mentioned:
    While I tend to dislike racing games, for the exact reasons given by you, Shamus (and FUEL is a perfect example here), I want to pick up this line “Becoming an expert on course #19 is, for me, not fun at all.” – there are racers where this very point – becoming an expert – makes all the fun. Usually involved is a lot of cursing, but in the end the rewarding feeling of “Perfect Lap!” (WipeOut), or finally making a hard level with 0 faults (Trials2) by far outweighs any frustation. But (and back to GT,) what these games have (and what racers generally need!) is the possibility to measure progress by keeping track of records, the possility to beat your own (or other players’) run.

  40. jubuttib says:

    About the “Becoming an expert on course #19” point, I don’t think it’s completely fair. Sure each track is different and has different… Well traps, if you can call them that, but mostly each track in FUEL can be won by following a proper racing line. I’ve noticed that the corners in FUEL tend to be taken from a limited set of corners and after a few tracks you can begin to predict what type of corners are coming up. So learning an early track properly will help you in the future because you’ll know what’s coming and can react properly and hit the right line.

    At least in the first four areas a vast majority of the races are either on roads, short circular tracks or are just plain faster to drive on some sort of road or track, not completely off-road. Your eyes adjust to following and finding the correct line and you (or at least I) can definately use what you’ve learned in the early races later.

    And the last thing you want to do is follow the AI vehicles, their lines are terrible. On some tracks they lose almost a second in every corner.

  41. Stringycustard says:

    So it seems there is already a car racing rpg: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/10/13/i-like-dying-in-my-car-darkwind/

    Aaaand back to what the article was all about again…

  42. Stringycustard says:

    So it seems there is already a car racing rpg: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/10/13/i-like-dying-in-my-car-darkwind/

    Aaaand back to what the article was actually all about again…

  43. Norine Tody says:

    This is really what I was serching for (FUEL: Introduction – Twenty Sided : report)!!

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