Why This Next-Gen Driving Game Wants to Look Worse, to Feel Better

By Gizmodo Australia on at

When Forza 5 was released for the Xbox One, there was a huge amount of fanfare about how "real" everything looked. Perving on gorgeously-lit cars in the Forzavista mode made it the must-have launch title for the Xbox One. Driveclub wants to be the next "most-real" driving game on the market, this time for the PlayStation 4, but to achieve that the developers are actively trying to make it look "worse."

Driveclub has released a look at the design ethos behind the upcoming PlayStation 4 title to give people an idea of what they're going for. Thanks to Mark at Kotaku Au for uploading it.

The developers say that they want "a fresh approach, unlike any other racing game" on the market, which makes gamers truly feel like part of a car club culture. To do that, they're focussing on realism in design, complete with punchy iconography and bold fonts.

Curiously, the game designers have decided to make Driveclub look somewhat worse than its competitor Forza 5 to enhance realism, inferring that the two are mutually-exclusive.

The aim of the Driveclub "camera" so to speak, is to film everything imperfectly to enhance realism. Rather than frame everything "correctly", Driveclub wants you to see imperfections like poor focus, film grain, digital noise and motion blur to give you the idea that this is a world in motion.

Driving street cars is meant to be a comfortable ride. Driving racing cars is meant to be a fraught experience: it's meant to be fast, unscripted and challenging. It's meant to be an algorithm without anything on the other side of the equals sign until the first car crosses the line. That's what Driveclub wants to replicate in its game.

"Imperfect filming techniques such as poor focusing via pulling focal ring can help add energy to the footage, alluding to the subject [car] being difficult to film due to constant movement. Using these techniques help us to define a more visceral experience from driving these cars," the developers write.

Cars will often be photographed with blur, or just out of frame to add to that dynamic movement.

The look of a game often comes down to how it's "shot". Similar to a film, if you want a glossy experience you'll use high-end equipment. Driveclub wants this game to look like you made every single piece of footage displayed on the screen, and as a result it is looking to GoPro-style footage to enhance the immersion.

"[GoPro action sports cameras] are used extensively in extreme sports, and more recently by racing and motorsport. They help to convey a more amateur approach to filming which helps distance ourselves from the expensive, huge crane cameras often seen in organised motorsport.

"We will aim to emulate the wobble and vibrations cased from g-forces inside the car on the cameras, adding to the experience."

By making the game look imperfect, they're able to replicate the most watched and loved motoring show on the planet, Top Gear.

Driveclub wants to appeal to the viewers who appreciate how Top Gear looks, whereas Forza 5 aims to replicate the x-factor of the show by tapping the presenters for voice-over work.

The friendly, dulcet tones of James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson certainly lends motoring authenticity and credibility to the Forza experience, but it doesn't translate to the glossy tracks and cars found in the Xbox launch title. Driveclub is aiming to land on the perfect opposite side of the coin by toning down the colours in the game and making it look like you are playing the actual TV show.

"De-saturation is used to add a more honest feel to the footage. It's often used in sports advertising and in TV, including Top Gear, and helps us push the brand further away from the perfect colour representations found in other racing franchises. It's a technique used to add drama to a scene."

Driving is visceral, and so is Driveclub. We want in.


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