This week the much anticipated Need For Speed World finally hit PC screens everywhere, the daring EA MMO racer that's had everyone talking. If you haven't seen it yet jump on over to the official site and get downloading now, remember it's free to download the initial starter pack and get an early taster of things to come.
In our 2009 interview with Jesse Abney he discussed the future goals of the NFS franchise, breaking it down into several parts along with news of a open world NFS, this to be on a scale unlike anything we had seen before. Initial screen shots were disappointing, had EA overstretched themselves on the vision? Later as the title developed and worked through a successful beta period, those early fears were put aside as the vision became a reality.
What is the basic structure, do players start with a slower car and work their way up?
Users start with a choice of Tier 1 cars which are slower than high end cars obviously but it's very important to us that all cars have their own personality and are fun to drive. Some race events are tier restricted to ensure that all car tiers have their importance in the game. From a structure perspective, players will find themselves in very familiar territory, this is the trialed and tested RPG progression. As you race, you gain more experience which makes your progress through a level ladder that progressively unlocks skill points that you can invest in various skills (exploration, pursuit, race). Also, new cars become available at regular intervals and and new race events open up and become available on the map.
In the original NFS a player could slow down and cruise past the cops, then speed up again without a chase ensuing, it is possible to do this in the new NFS world?
Absolutely, we believe that you should control what you want to do in the game. That said going fast in free roam, our open world, will not engage users in a pursuit even if cops are close by. The engagement of pursuit happens if you hit a cop with your car, which require you to be quite deliberate about it. Our free roam is mainly a social hub and we want to keep it that way.
Do cops have a limit to their jurisdiction, between towns etc?
That’s something we have thought about but have not come up with the right way to execute it. But because we get a chance to constantly add more to the game, this is something that will certainly be revisited again at some point.
Does each environment have any unique qualities? How do they affect the gameplay?
The environments have two very unique traits: visuals and difficulty. Our art and rendering team have managed to totally revamp a world that is familiar to a lot of fans and created some very unique locations that look amazing even on a modest gaming PC.
Our designers on the other hand have created events that utilizes the environment as its best. Easy levels have few turns, are rather wide, but harder ones go through narrow roads, jumps, basically create unique and exciting situations during races.
Finally our time of day feature adds an extra spice to the mix with users preferring racing under low light conditions such as an early morning lighting. Our world team did an amazing job on this and who knows they may already be working on night time…
I've always looked at this as a giant Pac Man, the Cops (Ghosts) following a path hunting for the player (Pac Man), what unique AI will the Cops have, both in rest/cruise and chase modes?
That is a very good analogy. The AI is indeed very different in free roam, where Cops car basically cruise along until you hit them. Once you are in a chase however, we have quite a sophisticated system that works on 2 level:
Tactical driving AI which basically consists in trying to stop the player’s car, and a higher level AI Coordination System that analyses what the user does and based on that dispatches different types of Cops, organizes road blocks and so on.
Are their any team modes or is it all 1 V 1?
For launch we will have three main modes. First we have a traditional single player mode against AI controlled drivers. Then we have what we call Private Match which is an invite only mode where you ask people to join your game. The last mode is global multiplayer which is based on a very elaborated fairness matchmaking engine that will match players based on a variety of criteria and adapt in real time to get you in a match as fast as possible with people at your level.
What has been the most difficult and challenging aspect in developing this game on such a scale?
The biggest difficulty is making a game that scales not only technically as in our ability to sustain a large amount of users without lag, but also understand the impact of hundreds of thousands of users in the game.
For this game we have build a complete new server technology called the Victory Engine. When we started this project, there was nothing out there that could fulfill our requirements such as having only one worldwide shard, full web integration and micro-transactions. We had to build it ourselves tapping into expertise from inside and outside the game industry and from around the world.
With regards to feature, it is actually difficult to imagine the impact of a feature on such a large number of users that will also vary a lot during the lifetime of the project as well as daily based on the day and night cycle of each continent. This is something we generally do not need to pay attention to in traditional games but in our case, it is crucial.
Looking at longevity, what is going to keep players coming back for more? Both in gameplay and MMO involvement? What kind of stats/online scoreboards are unique to this iteration in the series.
Longevity will come from the amount of content to explore in the first place which is huge. Obviously the regular content release will be an important part of that, but what we think will be very powerful is our very unique leaderboard system. We are going to talk a lot about it soon, but what I can say for now is that we are going to empower the community to build leaderboards anyway they want.
Finally, what aspect are you most proud of?
The response from the fanbase coming to our CB has been amazing. They have been so patient and provided awesome feedback. They have allowed us to try out lots of things behind the scenes and their commitment has been fantastic. We’d like to thank them all.
Sounds great, thanks for your time guys and we look forward to giving it a proper road-test in the near future.