Project Type . . . . . . . . . . PC Game / Arcade Racer
Job Function . . . . . . . . . . Level Designer
Company / Client. . . . . . . Artifex Mundi
Made with. . . . . . . . . . . . Torque Game Engine Advanced
In January 2009 I switched developers and moved from City Interactive to Artifex Mundi. The first two months (January and February) I spend most of my time working on Maluch Racer III. On this project I was responsible for designing 24 racetracks, distributed over 4 different environments. The roads lay-outs, visual style and creation of the locations were done by the rest of team.
Designing racetracks means more work than one would suspect. It's not just determining the place of the start / finish line and which path vehicles should take. Of course, this is what is most noticable to the player, but placing barriers, player and AI vehicles starting points, AI path points, direction sensors and roadside camera positions all form a part of creating a racetrack. Finally, accurate minimaps are needed to guide the player.
Obviously, the most important criteria for a racetrack is gameplay. It is a good idea to line up paths and place fixed cameras in such a way that the environment is shown at its most appealing, but it must never get in the way of good gameplay. If a track is not fun and/or exciting to race on, it doesn't matter how great it looks.
Some general tips on designing racetracks.
- You have to keep the player on his toes. Make sure the player has to use all the controls, and often.
- Use the environment to your advantage. Don't regard it just as scenery; it can offer unique gameplay possibilities, forcing the player to interact.
- Some tracks can be fast (straight parts, gentle curves), other tracks slow (few or no straight parts, sharp curves), but make sure that each track has a combination of slow and fast paths.
- reason 1: variety keeps the player focused and increases the fun.
- reason 2: allows for a larger variety of vehicle types on a single track. Fast cars with bad handling will do well on straight parts, but slow cars with good handling will be able to catch up in corners.
- Racetracks must have a good "flow". No matter if they are fast or slow tracks, the player must always be provided with a sense of speed - of rushing. If a player comes to a near-standstill in a specific place every single time, then there's something wrong with that part of the track.
01. Box Art. Shown for reference.
03. Selection Screen.