We all love physics right? Well, most of us love them when we’re not studying them, or when they’re doing something cool (like I say, hovercrafts) but one thing everyone likes, regardless of trade or experience, is good video game physics. Now what would that be you say? Well for me, I personally, typically define them by these traits. Please bear in mind, this is solely my opinion, I’m not miyamato (for the uneducated, the man that made mario) or dan cormack (the guy that made doom), I’m just a breh trying his hardest to make a good, solid experience. So without further ado…
Fit for purpose
I mean, this sounds quite obvious, right? Well. Not always. You see with a game’s visual aesthetic, that in and out of itself also comes with an actual exception (this also ties into difficulty as well, there’s an entire trope dedicated to subverting the users expectations with visual style, see here — tv tropes/surprise difficulty) So, simply put, a game that looks a certain, should play a certain way. For example
But these are extremes, it doesn’t just come down to the graphics and how realistic they do or do not look (because as I posted earlier, a lot of games today go for the realistic look anyway). There’s also subtle differences that will influence your perception and expections of the game. Take a look at these two games.
Need for speed 2015
Forza Horizon 4
They’re very similar games. Both arcade, both free roam. Both amazing fun. The subtle differences in how they’re presented however, do show up not just in the game play but in how they look to. Need For Speed very much goes for a fast and furious (particularly tokyo drift) theme and feel, and its gameplay reflects that, drifting is the order of the day, blazing through traffic with modified cars , just general all out madness.
Horizon on the other hand, looks quite, well, clean. It shows up when you’re playing the game. The entire game is centred around a festival, all about racing (this is partially where the idea for my ethos for my game came from also), now if you watch the game play of it, you will notice that whilst you can drift, slide, fishtail all day long, the emphasis is a bit more on precision.
Expectations mean a lot. These are set by the visual style you choose for the game. Your physics and handling need to meet these or else there will be a strong disconnect.
You could type this into google right now, and I am pretty sure a huge chunk of articles ranting on and on about this would appear. It’s a pretty heavily discussed topic. Simply put, it’s how the game responds to play input, and truthfully, they’re so many different variables depending on genre, that I will honestly just keep to the racing genre so that this post doesn’t end up being the length of a dark tower novel. So, game feel. The most important part of game feel, is how the car feels, and responds to not just the steering and accelerate/decelerate, but also to do with how it handles the curbs, how the suspension reacts to bumps. This plays into game expectations also, because nobody will expect a sports car to react to a bump, the same way a SUV would and vice versa. This part of racing is probably the hardest to capture, regardless of racing style. When driving a car, you can often get a lot of feedback from inside the car, you can feel the down force (or lack thereof) on the car as it speeds up, you will also feel the bumps on the road if the suspension isn’t up to par, and you can feel the car shake once it starts to go into over-steer and spin out (or drift, if you have those skills).
All of this needs to be conveyed in the game feel, the physics of the game needs to be giving you constant feedback to the state of your car, and it needs to be telling a consistent story, you need to know how much power you’re putting into the throttle, how hard you’re steering, how close your car is to spinning out, or under-steering, and all of this, which is meant to be communicated inside of a car, has to be told to you outside, and in a clear succinct way, otherwise the unexpected happens, and that ties into my next point…
Yes, fairness. Fairness is subjective, so therefore, in gaming, fairness is simply a feeling. A game, particularly its handling, needs to feel fair. If it doesn’t feel fair, it’s not fun. Nobody wants to drive a car that is bipolar and spins out at the slightest hint of a turn. At the same time, nobody wants to drive a car that will just stick to the road, that removes the challenge of driving in the first place. But there has to be a balance. There has to be a warning, the game needs to communicate to you in SOME form that what you’re doing can lead to a meeting with a steel wall. No warning, no fair.
Well, no. They’re several games that do this beautifully. I’m going to go to the libery of actually listing them out from easiest to hardest, gameplay and physics wise. They’re other reasons for this, but this will be put in below. This isn’t to just cover their implementation of this idea, but to also give you an idea of the varying styles of gameplay in arcade racing, just because its not realistic, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Also, Simulation racers, for reasons that they’re an entirely different genre on their own, will NOT be covered here
EASY — OUTRUN
Out run, what is not to love? Its fast, its simple, and it’s beautiful. I Mean, that’s all there is to say. The car is grippy, it slides the minute you turn and brake, and the only way to cause a real collision is to drive head on into a wall. I imagine most people would know what happens if you drive head on into a wall
EASY — Need For Speed 2016
Need for speed in many ways, especially after burnout was released, gameplay wise, felt to me like a evolution of outrun. Despite all the bells an whistles, car customisation etc, the core gameplay was always pretty simple, and it was even more forgiving and only ever got so. The sliding was simple, the driving was fast paced and the physics were very lenient towards crashes, provided you didn’t do anything egrigous, the game wouldn’t slow down a bunch.
Medium — Project Gotham Racing
Project Gotham racing veers more towards grip racing in general, drifting takes a back seat but it is still possible to actually drift. Still, the game veers more towards grip racing, as a result the game is very “entry” orientated. Due to the handling model in all games being very…understeer heavy, that means the way you enter the corner means a lot more than it would in other arcade racers. In most other games, like outrun, you can quickly correct your line as the cars hug the road, and weave in and out. Not so in PGR, you take a corner wrong, you WILL hit the wall unless you slow down, quite a bit like like real life really
MEDIUM — Ridge Racer 7
Ridge racer…is probably one of the easiest games to get into and have fun with. But 7 is here because of its nitro system, simply put. When you drift, you build up nitro. You use nitro. When you’re done boosting, you’re in a “cooldown” state. When you drift in that cooldown state, your meter builds back twice as fast as it normally would from drifting.
This changes things entirely, because it means you can chain boosts together, which means you now have to pinpoint when and where you are going to drift on the track. This means the optimized racing line for a beginner and an advanced player are worlds apart.
Hard — wipEout (PSX Generation)
Well, where do I begin with this franchise? First is the control scheme, the game handles a little differently to most racers, you don’t have a brake, you have steering, and a left air brake and a right air brake. Now instead of slowing you down, what this does is it instead pulls you towards either side. This nifty thing lets you actually take corners at insanely high speeds, the games tracks are actually designed with this in mind. Combine this just how fast this game is as a whole, (as well as the fact there is weapons) and the fact you can actually die as well as having checkpoints, and its not hard to see why someone would have problems playing a game like this.
Hard — wipEout (PSP — PS3 Generation)
WipEout, after the playstation era got a playstyle change in its physics, they became a little more forgiving, but with it, came a new feature, BARREL ROLLS. Done by tapping left,right, left, or vice versa, this costs 30 points of health, and gives you a quick speed boost when successful. This means you have to now consider the racing line and how far you are in the air, and how to tackle the course with the improved speed, as you will now have far less time to react.
What the Heck? — F-Zero GX
This is frankenstein of racing games. Right up there with games like gunZ. You will not see a game like this in my life or your life time, ever again. It has everything that a hard game would have in spades, let alone a racing game. Execution? Check, speed? Check, insanely hard courses? CHECK. Now you see, in order to explain why this game is so…ridiculous, I need to actually show you the techniques that are standard to do in this game.
Momentum Turbo Slide — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6_sWhr_z1I
So now, after watching all of that insanity, lets see it in motion…
Yeah, well and truly WTF material. Still one of the best racing games ever made though.
Now, also there are a few things also to commemorate…
The first is sickle kan, this is a company dedicated to fighting back and raising awareness for sickle cell, I wanted to give these guys a shout out because they do this off their own back, so on that note. So PLEASE give these guys a visit at their site https://sicklekan.com/. They’re reachable on instagram @sicklekan_
The Second is also a large project I am working on, Densetsu Zone. This is a project designed to help and ease players into the brutal mountain that is tekken. Both Me and The person making the project are easily available (@Kuzmatech) for any questions you may have, and lastly…
I’ll explain more next post ;), alongside an actual GAMEPLAY VIDEO!, yes, that’s right, a gameplay video, see you guys hopefully next week! :).
Originally published at https://www.tumblr.com on October 18, 2018.