I believe it's fair to say that Codemasters have somewhat struggled with the general lack of stages found within their rally titles over the years.
Indeed, DiRT Rally was one such title which received criticism with its lack of stages and DiRT 4 looks set to follow, although the latter does have a potential ace up its sleeve. That ace, as you might know, is their much-touted stage generator which goes by the name of “Your Stage”.
Your Stage will enable players to craft new rally stages based off of the players chosen parameters which include location, complexity and length. Senior producer Clive Moody recently explained to IGN that the roots of the Your Stage technology date back further than you may think. “[Your Stage] is a piece of tech which we’ve been prototyping and thinking about for many, many years,” says Moody. “Actually, when we came off the back of Dirt 3 – which was 2011, a long time ago – we were already starting to think about how we could do something that would solve this content problem.”
Chief game designer Paul Coleman admits that once you've run a stage a few times it becomes less of a rally and more of a time trial exercise, and that's where the course generator can hopefully make such a difference. “Your Stage gives us the opportunity to curate an individual track for every single stage and every single event, throughout the whole career, and then give that to the player and say, ‘You know what? When you’re done with the career you can keep generating tracks and keep getting that new experience,” stated Coleman. “I genuinely think this is a game changer, and for us it’s just the start of something here.”
“I don’t think at any point I’ve got bored with what’s coming out of [Your Stage],” said Moody. “You just get these regular moments of wonder and you just think, ‘We’d never have done that if we were making a bespoke track.’ But because it’s organic and we’re generating these things you just get things you wouldn’t normally get within the game. It’s really exciting to see those things coming through.”
It's not all about twists and hairpins every twenty meters either just for the sake of adding extra playtime liked we've had to endure in many rally games over the years, as Coleman explains, “a really good example of those moments are just straights. A straight, to me, was burning budget before – because it cost us pretty much the same amount to make a kilometre whether it’s going around a lot of corners or not.”
“So for this, just having that ability to have straights in there – and that can play out into a couple of kilometres of just pinning the throttle at the horizon, really going for it – it’s a sense that we haven’t had in our rally games for a while because we’ve been compromised by that up-front content decision. Now the lid’s off, and we’re letting the system run away with itself”, continued Coleman.
It will certainly be interesting to see what the course generator can come up with based off of what is essentially two sliders: length and complexity. As the process of generating a stage is so fast, we can easily imagine ourselves hitting the generate button a hundred times (probably more) just out of sheer curiosity.
We won't have long to wait until we can get our tinkering mitts on the Your Stage course generator as DiRT 4 slides onto the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on June 9. Let us know in the comments if the Your Stage feature excites you.