Them’s bold words. When asked about the number of players PS4 racer The Crew can support online, Ivory Tower COO Ahmed Boukhelifa says it’s “everybody” and there’s no maximum headcount. He also explained how a system of gameplay bricks enable developer Ivory Tower to “create any mission that ever existed within a driving game”.
The Crew’s “cannot limit” number of players on PS4
Speaking to OPM at E3 Boukhelifa was asked how many players a server could support and answered, “everyone”. When asked to clarify he explained: “The way we work is we split, technically speaking, the area around you is peer-to-peer, all the MMO services, they come from the server. Those MMO services can manage for everyone in the world from a selection of localised servers and those servers network together”. I’m not sure I entirely understand that but when Boukhelifa was asked if there was a maximum number of players he replied, “No. We cannot limit”.
Boukhelifa also spoke about Ubi’s E3 claims that the game’s setting packed in, “the whole of America”, something he admits is, “poetic license”. That said Boukhelifa did go on to say, “it’s really massive, really huge. It’s over 10,000km of road”. That size, he claims, “opens the road to much, much more gameplay experiences than before. You have this huge open-world. We spent lots of time-building a physics model with the goal to create all the cars with differences in handling, but also to tune them and make them behave correctly whether you’re on a dirt track, completely off-road, roaming the mountains, on circuits. With this and the variety of the physics experience, all the cars in this huge open-world, we can really provide this a la carte experience of driving the way you want, as you want”.
This entire world isn’t there are the start. Instead there are five main zones - the Midwest, New York, Miami, Mountain State, Las Vegas and West Coast. “We tried to recreate the flavour” he says. “So there’s the big cities, the networks, all the natural, beautiful environments, the red mountains, all the west and east coast coastal roads, all the downtown LA, New York, Miami, the outskirts. Each area is unlocked as a new chapter of the story”.
As you open up these new locations Boukhelifa says, “we add new missions, new cars, new content, new ways of playing, new gameplay with new tuning types. So you will progressively discover all the experience of driving through those big chapters”. So the game will develop and change as you play. “First with tuning, then tuning that allows you to start going off-road, then performance tuning which is kind of like Fast And Furious, high-octane tuning you’ll get on the streets of Miami,” he explains. This progression also enhances the replay value of revisiting previous areas: “Because once you’ve got the right tuning then you can start doing intense stuff in the Midwest, even the New York State”.
“You are always one minute away
from a challenge or a mission”
There is a challenge, however, to creating a big world while making it manageable and fun to play according to Boukhelifa. “It was a question we thought a lot about. We worked for about a year on research because it was, of course, a technical constraint but possibly a gameplay constraint. What is the right size to make an interesting world? We thought ‘big’, because we want this exploration, we want to [be able to] cross the desert, but not to be too big for the experience that was there. So you are always one minute away from a challenge, a mission. So the size we have today, I think, is the perfect fit and balance for the game we wanted to do”.
The mission structure within this world has also been carefully designed using what Boukhelifa calls, “gameplay bricks”. These units are made up of component objectives like races, takedowns and escape scenarios. “We can combine them, modify them – limited time, take no damage etc,” he explains. “Actually I think that we can create any mission that ever existed within a driving game. So we have this huge variety, and when you add in the modified terrain – on-road, off-road, with traffic, no traffic – there’s this huge, huge variety and we’re using it extensively for all the solo-missions, co-op missions, PvP missions. And on top of that we have our story layer, our context layer that brings sense and meaning and which sends the gameplay mechanics into the world and because you’re online we can renew content all the time, get the community to be alive. And we’ll provide content for the whole country, all the time”.
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