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Racing Evoluzione (XB) - Background Story & Screens

by Thomas on Aug. 15, 2002 @ 6:15 p.m. PDT

Driving expensive sports cars is very cool. Owning a legendary brand of sports car is even more desirable. Compete against the world's most famous cars. Driving machines you created and beating them is the ultimate dream. This is what Racing Evoluzione is all about... How's your Franglais? A load of background info on the game's development and a quite frankly bonkers 57 screenshots below!

Antonio FARINA (managing director) speaks about RE :

After developing Bike simulations we felt that the company needed a change towards something more creative, still using the strong experience in racing games gained during these years.

Creating an innovative and original racing game in these days is very difficult: if you look at the market situation it seems that companies have already experimented with any possible racing combination. We therefore wanted something really original that would give something more than the usual race and win.

We therefore started thinking about fantasy cars to be developed by the user: this would have allowed us creative freedom for cars and race track settings. But fantasy alone is not very interested as people are used to see real things. The solution was that of integrating our fantasy world inside the real world: the final outcome is that you challenge with your fantasy cars all most famous and recognized real world cars.

We therefore managed to create a believable experience still keeping maximum creative freedom.

The Xbox format did allow us to fully exploit this world trough amazing graphics and complex physics.

Infogrames as a publisher has the marketing muscles to really push such an innovative concept in order to make it become the next successful worldwide franchise.

Mario RICCO (tracks architect and graphic quality supervisor) speaks about RE :
12 original environments distributed along three continents, Asia, America, Europe, more than 50 tracks planned for 4 kind of racings, motor racing circuits, urban tracks, mountain racings, stadium; more than 1000 3D objects among simple buildings, big constructions, parts of furniture and decoration, parts of vegetation, a whole car factory reconstructed in the slightest details; 4 original characters animated with more than 80 animations captured in studio; more than 90 cars of which 27 purposely realised for the game by young designers; 2 years of development and more than three rich months of projecting.

That's in short the figures of the engagement of the Milestone artist team for the RE project, Racing Evoluzione.

An engagement with two main objectives:

  • The prompt and total immersion of the player into the "race" environment and his "participation" as a leading player in the building of his car factory.
  • To obtain everything we have immediately thought that something more should have been added to the standard "realism" of the racing simulation games: the "characterisation" of the environments, the characters and of the situations..

Talking about the graphical project of the tracks, the characterisation of the scenes, characters and environments has always followed these 3 basic principles:

  1. The race as a sequence of visual events: in our case the "event" is a particular design that beats the race timing and becomes a reference point for the player and a distinguishing mark of the environment.
  2. The research of the detail as the element that sets up the scene.
  3. The sense of depth; playing with RE the player goes through different space situations where the sense of depth has been created by opposition: to open and panoramic spaces follow passages closed by side scenes, like in the mountain or in the race tracks.

The game of the opposition is also in the design of the characters, with a very accurate design, studied with great care and in any small details, in the look, in their sign behaviour and with a strong visual impact.

That's in short the core of RE; the master principles of the project which have been improved by the large quantity of effects that allowed us to exploit all the graphic and build the game.

To conclude RE has represented for the Milestone artist team not only a pleasant return to the origin, after the Superbike simulation, but also a big challenge where our big passion for this work has been come true again.

David YERKESS (technical manager) speaks about RE :

Development of RE has been a big challenge, also because when we started, we weren't sure the Xbox would be the amazing console that Microsoft had promised it would be.

Well Microsoft kept their promise:

Our games have always struck for their stunning graphics and in RE we reached more than half a million polygons on one track. That's ten times the amount of detail we had in our last game Superbike 2001 and thanks to the 64Mb of memory and texture compression, we didn't have to save on texture quality for all those polygons.

To handle such a detail we had to create our own tools, because it would have been impossible to work with traditional 3D modeling programs.

One main technical evolution we introduced is the use of ray tracing to handle light and shadows. In a way, this was a necessity, because it would have taken our artists months to create the shadows of a single track. The result is a step towards true photo-realism.

I could also describe all the other effects and features we were able to add to the game, but I think the best description is the game itself. I bet that many people at a certain point will stop racing to be able to admire the amazing scenery the game has to offer.

Sebastien CHAUDAT(Infogrames Producer) speaks about RE :
Working on the RE has been an amazing experience for a lot of reasons.

First, the concept itself lets me imagine a very innovative game where the player will be able to discover something different compared to other racing games. AS I usually says, finish first is a logical goal, but now, players want more, they want real motivation.

Moreover, to create RE, we needed a complex worldwide organization in order to provide the best result for each part of the game:

  • The development of the game itself was managed by the Milestone team, based in Milano (Italy)
  • The character animation were created in Sheffield ( UK ) with the last technology in motion capture ( body and facial recording )
  • The creation of the 3D cars models and the CGI part of the intro was outsourced through the Infogrames Melbourne house studio (Australia) and used more than 5 different companies and freelances.
  • The voices recording ( for the main characters ) were created in London (UK) by an external company (AllInTheGame)
  • The sounds and musics were created by an external company (Innerwaves) based in Paris ( France )
  • We used several other companies or freelances to add the final touch of quality.

Obviously, a strong coordination was necessary to make all the people communicate with efficiency.

I would like to precise that Noël Kechichian was very helpful to drive specific components of the game, like sounds and quality check of the 3D cars models.

Moreover, some very original parts of the project always came to increase the interest in this job.

For example, for the concept cars, we organized a specific contest between different European design schools which provide a lot of 2D drawings including some very original designs. Following the creation of these concept cars, we organized an election of the 25 best models where the jury was composed of car magazines journalists. It was a complete new experience for me.

I'm very proud to work on this project, because we managed to reach our objective which is to create a photo realistic game, better than GT3 or Project Gotham, and provide in the same time an real opportunity for gamers to drive amazing cars and live a new experience in video games.

Line up Infogrames racing :

RE is the last game of the next generation of racing games created by the Infogrames Racing studio. Grand Prix 4, V-Rally 3 have already been launched and now, RE will push back the limits of the Xbox hardware and provide a real innovating gameplay.

Technical references:

  • RX is a very realistic world in which the player will see his car manufacturing company grow from nothing to a fully functional factory and he will be immersed in the exciting world of car racing.
  • 3D User Interface :
    In the various stages of growth the company goes through he will see the amazing power of the XBox unleashed with:
  • Realistic modelled buildings starting from a small and untidy garage until he reaches the final stage of growth of his factory:
  • +60000 polygon building with high definition textures, Mental Ray generated light maps; rendering, lighting and special effects based on vertex and pixel shaders, obtaining a realism yet to be seen on any platform.
  • 4 main characters the player will be working with at the factory, will have about 8000 polygons each, character skinning based on a very complex skeleton, motion captured movement, facial animations and lypsinc.
  • About 4 or 5 other characters will also be working in the factory
  • In total there will over 250 motion-captured animations
  • More than 12 cars each with up to 10000 polygons, 1Mb of compressed textures and cube environment mapping will present simultaneously in the factory
    Tracks (each)
  • Up to 500000 static polygons
  • Up to 50000 polygons based on bezier patches
  • Up to 15 Mb of compressed textures
  • Up to 2 Mb of procedural textures
  • 3D volumetric textures for light effects and particle effects
  • Texture animations
  • Mental Ray generated light maps using up to 5 Mb of compressed textures to obtain realistic static shadows and light effects
  • Rendering, lighting and special effects based on vertex shaders and pixel shaders
  • An impressive 3 Km line of sight
  • High polygon count 3D trees and bushes
  • Extremely detailed buildings and other tracks objects; buildings made up mainly of just cubes at last are a thing of the past
  • Static cube environment mapping on buildings
  • A texture detail method, so that you can see the blades of grass, the stones in the asphalt and the grains of sand
  • Persistent skid marks left by the cars
  • Physics moveable objects such as bales of straw, tires, traffic cones, etc.
  • Very realistic water effects, using pixel shaders and particle vapour effects
  • Variable environmental sounds

Cars (each) & Handling

  • Up to 30000 tristripped polygons and 2 pop-free LODs
  • Open and closed cars with a high level of detail.
  • Up to 1Mb of compressed textures
  • User choose-able car colours
  • Dynamic shadows using shadow buffers
  • Realistic procedural car deformations based on physics
  • Procedural tires with deformation based on the car physics and blur effect
  • Breakable parts such as glass and plastic
  • Custom illumination model using pixel and vertex shaders
  • Driver with +1000 polygons, well defined textures and over 20 motion captured animations
  • Dynamic car engine sound effects

Playability - Game experience

  • Extremely realistic rigid body simulation implementing realistic suspensions (real spring and damper behaviour)
  • Accurate collision detection
  • Gaming experience greatly improved by a tire/ground contact force determination
  • Slipstream physics, will make the battling on high-speed tracks a breathtaking experience
  • Road surface information; oil slicks, manholes, broken road, etc
  • Human-like, learning AI; the more they drive the better they get, so they will always be an exciting challenge for the player
  • Advanced AI behaviour
  • Soft driving learning curve
  • Various types of driving aids; gear-changing, steering, counter-steering, acceleration, brakes, etc.

AUDIO

The capabilities of the Xbox audio chip let us to implement very realistic engines sounds, with real crowds and life environment.
In the 3D user interface, each room will have its own ambiance ( music, activity of people machines… ) , and using lipsync, will deliver a very immersive experience when interacting with the player's team.
Support of the Dolby Digital 5.1-channel of the Xbox; the driving experience will be greatly enhanced through the use of it.

General Points :

  • FSAA ( antialiasing )to get rid of those annoying "jaggies"
  • Quick access times and possibility to save tons of replays, thanks to the hard disk availability
  • The game at a smooth 60 fps
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