Indie developer Input Games has launched a Kickstarter campaign for D.R.I.V.E (that's 'Diverse Racing In Vast Environments,' – there's no connection to the cult classic film Drive starring Ryan Gosling, sadly), a new massively multiplayer online racing game for PC inspired by Test Drive Unlimited.
The concept for D.R.I.V.E dates back to the launch of Test Drive Unlimited 2 in 2011. The founders of Input Games particpated in the beta for Test Drive Unlimited 2 and provided feedback, but were left disappointed when most of of their suggestions didn't make it into the final game.
"The D.R.I.V.E idea was first thought of after the release of TDU2 where a group of us formed and decided to create out own game," Input Games' director Max Mason tells us. "The group's members switched around a bit, we gained more skills/lost some and finally in 2013 we formed Input Games with a solid development team, from ex-cad engineers from super car companies to computer science graduates. We are now a strong team of 10 with project management tasked to Max Mason (me), Dan Agombar and Helmy de Meester."
"D.R.I.V.E was born with the intention of being an Open World racer with no limits and although from the outset it may seem similar to the Test Drive franchise, the gameplay and mechanics are completely different. D.R.I.V.E caters for the 'simulation' players while still being a pick up and play game."
"Pick D.R.I.V.E up and play with a racing wheel or a keyboard, Drive and race through our vast environment completing races with friends , buying property and vehicles and push them to their limits! This all comes together to create Diverse Racing In Vast Environments."
D.R.I.V.E is set in a fictional European island known as Isle d'Auriga, allowing you to drive around a seamless open world map that's approximately 800sq km. The map has been designed to heighten the sense of speed: "We feel in other recent titles the sense of speed has been lost. Therefore D.R.I.V.E's map has been made carefully to fix this issue. If you're going 100mph on a small road, you'll sure know it! Isle d'Auriga (it has a hidden meaning, can you spot it?) has many terrain types and activities to take part in including race tracks dotted over the map, to vehicle proving grounds to put your car to its limits."
Since creating a large scale open world is a large undertaking for the small team, the map will be released in stages during development – sections will be closed off by road works and tunnels. "This allows us to polish smaller sections of map and give our 'to be' followers something to play which feels finished".
D.R.I.V.E will feature an advanced physics engine that simulates the subtleties of driving, right down to the downforce generated from the bodywork and the fuel moving from side to side in the tank. The Kickstarter describes D.R.I.V.E's driving physics as "realistic, yet characterful, with each vehicle having different characteristics from the factory."
Input Games assures that even keyboard users will be able to handle the realistic physics of D.R.I.V.E using custom settings: "We feel that vehicle physics in games is not too easy to handle with a keyboard and that each has a different preference of how they like to control their vehicle. With this in mind, you can control for example, wheel turning time, wheel turning back time, throttle and braking sensitivity. Along with a lot more! Our settings allow keyboard users to tailor their experience to how they like it." Controllers and wheels will also be supported, including H-pattern shifters for manual cars.
In contrast to Test Drive Unlimited, D.R.I.V.E. does not feature any real world licensed cars. Instead, Input Games opted to design their cars in-house. Over 100 cars will feature based on real life counterparts, ranging from SUVS to supercars. Each car contains an entertainment system located in the interior allowing you to intuiatively control certain options, such as activating sport mode using screens and computers inside the car instead of conventional menus – just as you would in real life. Working functions include indicators, lights, sat navs and radios. Since it's inspired by Test Drive Unlimited, I assume we'll also be able to wind the windows down – a gratuitous detail I've missed in recent open world games.
Cars can be purchased from one of 33 dealerships, where you can explore each car, open the doors, bonnet and boot and choose from different engine types and specifications for each model. Optional extras can be installed as well as after-market parts for suspension, spoilers, weight reduction kits and exterior styling packages can also be fitted which affects the vehicle handling. Once purchased, you can then store your car in your garage located in purchasable properties.
Those of you that have been disappointed with the lackluster engine sounds in some racing games will also be pleased to hear that Input Games are applying their astute attention to detail to D.R.I.V.E's audio design: "For each car, we record sounds in incredible detail, from engine sounds all the way to the tactile click of button presses", the Kickstarter reads. "The sounds are then synthesised by our Sound Engineers and brought into D.R.I.V.E where we can replicate the sound in incredible detail, using a 3D Environment, mirroring specific engine types from the real world."
Being a massively multiplayer online racing game, D.R.I.V.E places an emphasis on competing in online multiplayer events, from point-to-point and circuit races to drag races. Input Games don't want single players to be left out, however: "We are committed to working on a single player experience where the user does not have to be connected to the internet to play."
These events are only scratching the surface: D.R.I.V.E will also feature Sprint, Rally, Evasion/Pursuit and Destruction Derby events, plus Vehicle Delivery, Passenger and Pace Car single player missions, to name a few. Alternatively, you can park up with friends and marvel at each other's creations using a first person mode that lets you walk around and explore each other's cars.
D.R.I.V.E is expected to be released on PC in December 2017 according to the Kickstarter. D.R.I.V.E certainly sounds like an ambitious project and one for fans of Test Drive Unlimited to watch out for. You can help fund its development on D.R.I.V.E's Kickstarter page – rewards range from designing cars, buildings and brands for the game to a paid trip to the Nürburgring with the team.
Like what we do? Support TeamVVV on Patreon: www.patreon.com/teamvvv