Test Drive Unlimited

Platform(s): PC, PSP, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Eden Games

About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!


'Test Drive Unlimited' (ALL) Developer Diary #1

by Rainier on Aug. 21, 2006 @ 12:47 a.m. PDT

Test Drive Unlimited is the ultimate automotive experience for car and bike enthusiasts alike. Visit the most sophisticated car and bike dealers to purchase new vehicles or simply take them for a spin. Collect and trade rare performance parts and customise each vehicle to make it one-of-a-kind. Test Drive Unlimited challenges players online to experience the most exotic and fastest vehicles on more than 1000 miles of diverse Hawaiian roads. Gamers win races, challenges, missions and tournaments to earn credits and purchase new cars, bikes, rare performance parts, clothes, apparel, homes and garages.

When you drive on OAHU, you'll discover hundreds of challenges. It was an important goal for us to make sure every single challenge feels and plays different from the other - but how did we do that?

First, with such a huge island we made sure every kind of road would be available: from highways to narrow mountains roads, from downtown to suburbs, from green pastures on the east coast to more arid settings on the west. With over 1000 miles of such diverse roads, we made sure to leave space for the player's exploration and also for the designer’s imagination.

The easiest way to get into a challenge is to drive and look for opponents on the fly: flash your lights to send an instant challenge, and set the goal on the map if it's accepted. Offline, you can train with AIs. Online, you can challenge up to 7 other players at once for a monster free fight. There are no rules except to win, and you're free to drive wherever you want to try and be the first.

Then, we tried to identify generic categories of racing: Time (be the fastest from point A to point B), Speed (Reach the highest speed), Race (Compete versus opponents) and extra missions (convoy a car, travel a hitch hiker, etc.)

Then we identified all parameters that would allow to make each challenge unique: with/without traffic, cops, time limit, entry restricted to some categories (or even brands or specific vehicles), penalty for leaving the road or crashing into opponents, no collisions with opponents, etc.

It was then easy to create a huge variety of fundamentally different challenges to experience: Imagine you have to convoy a Ferrari Enzo over 15 miles. Easy. Add a time limit - let's rush. Add traffic - let's try and avoid it not to loose time. Add penalties for crashes and leaving the road - let's be extra cautious.

Start with an $80K reward and lower it along with every penalty - let's be extra, extra cautious. See what we mean?

Here's another example: Set a few speed flashes around the lake, a score to reach (5000mph over 5 speed flashes), add traffic AND police cars, and set the police to VERY aggressive. Now you have a challenge!

The pace and skills required for each challenge do change a lot, and give a really unique pace to the game. And don’t forget you have to drive from challenge to challenge and are always free to exercise your driving skills in the traffic. Or you can accept challenges with other drivers on the fly - or go shopping at the numerous car and bike dealerships, or you can decide to go clothes shopping. It’s really up to you how you spend your time.

The more achievements you gain through your actions, the more challenges you'll reveal in the solo mode - and the more money you'll get when defeating them. Which you'll be glad to get to expand your collection of cars, bikes, houses.

Of course, you'll also have access to numerous multiplayer challenges - build with the same rules and patterns, they'll let you compare your skills with other players in numerous ways. Will you go for the Shelby Gt500 exclusive challenge / no collisions / no traffic / in a mountain path to test your pure driving skills? Or will you rather go for a dogfight in an eliminator race no holds barred? What sort of driver are you? What sort of driver will you become?

Finally, as we wanted to give the players the maximum freedom, you'll also be able to edit your own challenges (in solo time and speed modes) - you have access to all parameters and the whole island, and will post your challenges in the drive ins, with a fee and reward. You pay the reward when you post the challenge, each player pays the fee to play it, and after up to seven days, the best player gets 90 percent of the pot while the challenge creator gets 10% - will you try and win your creation to grab the whole prize?

So when you're on your own (either offline or online), you can play in ... let's say, unlimited ways. :)

But why don't you create or join a club? When you create a club, you'll have to first to buy a clubhouse on the island. Then, you give it a name and description... and you're ready to receive candidates, up to 16 members, with a president. Once you belong to a club, you'll be able to act like a true club member: hang around with your pals at the clubhouse (and show off with your latest clothes). You can jump directly into one of the dedicated Club challenges; race with fellow club members to outrank them in your intra-club ranking. Go after other clubs and challenge them to make it to the top of the inter-club rankings and competitions.

Many things to do. Many ways to drive. Or to race. Just drive for the sake of it to meet new people. Or gather directly with your friends for some cool races. Or jump directly into ranked competitions... We really wanted to give an unprecedented level of freedom to recreate all the pleasures you may have when you drive - either socially, or competitive, in group or solitary, of sheer speed or cool ride (did you try the Camaro?). Let's meet online in September so you may tell us how well you think we succeeded!

Ahmed Boukhelifa, Producer, Eden Games


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