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Juiced Interview

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| Racing in Gaming | Posted: Jul 13, 2004 4:00 am

Can you introduce yourself and talk about the aspect of Juiced you're working on, and the game development process of Juiced so far?

My name is Colin Bell, Managing Director and co-founder of Juice. Currently I am shepherding the title through to the final submission, working with the team to assess our situation and decide how best to proceed. Today it's looking spot-on for a timely submission for the console versions.

Juiced is set to feature numerous licensed vehicles from real world manufacturers and real time damage. Has any restrictions been placed on you because of the real world aspect, and what type of damage will players be able to incur on the vehicles i.e. will parts fly off, or will it only be dents and smashed windscreens etc?

When you've spent $50,000 making your car look and perform like a dream, scratching and damaging it is not your first option! In Juiced the cosmetic damage is very visual and dynamic; this means that the damage is never the same twice and is dependant on how hard and where you hit the car. Damaging someone else's cars will lose you respect and will hamper your progress through the game and will also tip your bank balance the wrong way.

In general Manufacturers are not keen on compromising the passenger compartment and they want the player to be penalized for causing damage. All the manufacturers approve the damage model and technology, which damages the cars in a realistic way.

One of the most talked about features thus far for Juiced is the crew aspect. Can you give an overview of how this will work and how players will gain crew members?

The idea for 'crew' or team based racing inspired by the studio's experience in on-line gaming. When you're playing online you continually come under pressure from other drivers which makes you more prone to stress and making mistakes. Juiced AI contains a new driver induced stress system (diSTRESS©) that injects emotion into the racing experience. We also liked the voice communications online that enables tactical play whilst racing. Juice wanted to take this experience into the single player game, blurring the line between the off-line and on-line environment.

The diSTRESS© system gives the AI drivers behaviour that mimics human characteristics; that means introducing the notion of risk-taking and error of judgment. So this means that each driver has a skill that's influenced by a driver's aggression and their stress level. Skill encompasses behaviour related to braking points, acceleration, and choice of driving line in the ever-changing race environment. An unskilled driver will brake far too early or late, lose energy drifting unnecessarily, and take driving lines which increase the risk of spins or collisions. Stress levels are raised by driving aggressively behind and beside another driver, with the result that skill factors momentarily dip and the risk of mistakes is raised.

The degree to which stress affects skill depends upon the AI driver's track record; consistent winners will react far more coolly to on-track heckling. In contrast, the skill level of inexperienced drivers will dip markedly when you tailgate them, with a good chance that they'll make a mistake and spin out. Of course, having a beginner spin out in front of you could ruin the race for even the most experienced driver, so it all gets more exciting.

In summary crew racing in Juiced allows the player to do the following:

- Customize car appearance and performance for the crew (team colours).

 

- Assign different cars to the crew drivers.

 

- Hire and fire up to three crew drivers.

 

- Bet on specific drivers.

 

- Train crew drivers in specific race types and cars.

 

- Control up to two crew drivers with 'high-level' commands during a race.

 

- Take your crew online and race other crews, either human or AI controlled.

Will the crew aspect of the title extend to online play? Can players expect to be able to create clans and will you be incorporating the clan style features of Xbox Live 3.0 for the Xbox version of the game? Can players setup tournaments online with Juiced?

Like the offline game, Juiced online has two distinct modes Arcade and Career. In Arcade you can get your quick fix racing with little consequence to your offline game. Set fastest laps; increase your world ranking and show-off your driving skills here, but the serious racing will be done in online Career. This mode allows you to take your offline car collection and crew online to race against others. As well as normal races you can host your own events, specifying US/ European or US cars or even host single manufacturer events where for example just Mitsubishi cars may be allowed. Race 3v3 or 2v2v2 with your crew against others. 'Show-off' is a totally unique mode providing a freestyle event against the clock. It's not racing, but you have a set amount of time to pull classy maneuvers and impress the crowd . You can do this online too where you get the chance to go head to head with up to six other petrol heads simultaneously, battling it out for the most points.

Finally you can race for Pink Slips, gambling your car, to see who ultimately has the best driver / car combination. If you win you can keep the car for your off-line career. If you lose you'll have the indignity of seeing your pride and joy being driven by someone else online!

You've made a bold claim that 7.2 trillion combinations can be made in Juiced. How much will the modding affect the game and do you think this will reduce the pick up and play nature of the title? Will players have to be car buffs to really succeed at everything Juiced offers?

Juiced has huge scope for modifications, the 7.2 trillion combinations refers only to styling modifications! Performance modifications include aspects such as brakes, air intakes, engine management systems, exhaust systems, gearbox ratios, suspension, nitrous, and turbo systems and more. Juiced features a highly sophisticated physics engine based on state-of-the-art simulation techniques. The Juiced engine models the changing friction on each wheel in detail, and allows for detailed customization of performance and handling. Each individual car is set up with the correct centre of gravity, steering geometry, suspension layout, brake setup, bhp, torque, tyre properties, wind resistance and gear ratios. You can test the results of you modification on the rolling road and compare your results.

As for styling you can make a start with new wheels, lower suspension and a fresh coat of pain...or three. With a base, metallic and pearlescent options you are guaranteed to make a unique look for your car. Next add an air dam, side skirts and a spoiler, be aware that this will affect drag and downforce on your car so you'll be trading a little acceleration and speed for increased roadholding. Good for circuit racing but maybe not what you want for a sprint!

What type of game modes can we expect to find in Juiced and will the game feature real world locations or fictional street tracks? What are the special challenges which have been previously mentioned?

Variety is what will keep Juiced fresh on everyone's console for some time to come. You can choose how you go through the career. You'll probably want to focus on circuit racing and point to point to start off with.  This will familiarize you with your chosen modified car and you'll start to win some money and hopefully some respect by your driving. Street Sprinting in Juiced is presents an alternative type of challenge for both driver and car. In addition, the sprint tracks vary widely between the eight different environments in Angel City which has a wealth of sprint environments, day, and night, wet or dry. Once you get competent at driving and have viewed the show-off tutorials, its time to gain some serious respect with J-Turns, Donuts, 360s and you latest combination trick. Top that off with some tactical team racing and you should be ready to take on the crew leaders. Firstly with Pink-Slip racing you can back your own ability by betting your car on the outcome. Believe me this adds a real edge to the race! Pink slips can be Sprints, Point to Points or circuit races.

Each crew leader has 3 different challenges for you to complete to gain their ultimate respect. These range from beating a specific lap time, to completing a full lap with-out reducing your speed below a minimum. For each one though you'll need to be ready to tune your car for the perfect setup!

What will the main aim of Juiced actually be? We've seen that modding can be done and players can also collect cars so is the complete, 100% goal of the game to have all the cars modded up and ready for action or something else? Is it possible to collect all the cars?

The goal in Juiced is to gain full respect with each of the crew leaders. Each crew leader respects different things so you'll have to be eventually good at everything to complete the game.  It's a bit like spinning 8 plates at once (circuits, sprints, show-off, crew racing, best car, car collection, gambling and pink slip). There's no need to try everything at once though, master a couple of things first before trying to get respect off others. Respect first affords you the right to attend an event, then Race. After that you can have Pink Slip races and finally when you have ultimate respect you can host your own Events on other people's turf.

Once your car collection increases you'll find that you have the right cars to take on the Challenges from the crew leaders, all of which need to be completed to achieve the highest accolade.

Besides the online aspect of the title and how that is handled, will there be any differences between the Xbox version and PS2 version at all and what graphical effects have you employed for use in both systems?

Xbox gives you full screen anti-aliasing for free, and on the PS2 getting rid of aliasing is a much tougher cookie. We have half the memory to play with on PS2, but when you stand the two side by side, there isn't a huge amount of difference in the finished game. We have developed a new core technology that is able to automatically interpret artwork requirements for the chosen platform, delivering the best possible results within the constraints of the technologies. What that means is that one platform doesn't equal the lowest common denominator.

Or for a more technical explanation, where possible we have tried to keep the two as similar as possible, whilst at the same time working to the strengths of each platform. For example we can use higher resolution textures and meshes on the Xbox than on PS2, whereas PS2 lets us offload tessellation to the vector units so we can use procedural surfaces to save on memory, and generate detail only where required. Both platforms feature environment mapping on the cars and buildings, and reflections in wet roads and in puddles. We also do depth-of-field effects, heat-haze, motion blur, Fresnel reflection modeling on glass and bodywork on cars and in buildings and pearlescent and metallic paint on cars, and of course damage modeling using mesh deformation.

With many simulation competitors on the way such as Forza Motorsport for Xbox and the powerful Gran Turismo franchise, offering real world cars, physics and in some cases customization, where do you see Juiced fitting into the market place? The hardcore race fan or someone wanting a quick bash with friends every once in a while?

Juiced will appear to all fans of good racing games. I think you'll see that we haven't just tried to simulate the mechanics of driving; we've simulated the whole racing experience. This makes for a whole new dimension of gameplay; suddenly you're not just against the clock. In some racing games, although there are AI cars you can't help feeling that they're just an indicator for a time-trial  Other games have scratched the surface of the modding genre, and people have really liked it. Juiced opens up the bonnet and shows real depth, no other game will come close to the experience you will have when playing Juiced.

In the first hour of play what will players be encountering and what challenges will they face?

Right away, the player will be modding every aspect of their first car, and checking out the differences on the race-track. They'll be betting, racing and trying out the show-off mode for the first time. If they buy two cars with available funds, they could even join team race events. In the first hour the player will have got to grips with all the principles and will have started developing their own strategies for winning. Time will tell whether they will work or not.

Is there anything you want to cover about Juiced which hasn't been thus far?

Juiced is the studio's first release and it's a key product for both Juice and Acclaim. We believe we have created a product that stands apart in the genre and offers a genuinely new and rewarding experience. Try it and give us your feedback.

Thanks for your time.

 

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