The ultimate geek jamboree – the E3 games expo – Is going on right now in Los Angeles. And the big brain behind Forza Motorsport, Dan Greenawalt, has just stepped off the stage of the big Xbox speech to excited whooping after announcing that developer Turn 10 have finally dropped the Nürburgring – all 26 kilometres of it, GP course and track – into Forza 5.
It’s free to download right now. So if you’ve actually got one, why not turn your Xbox One on, do that mandatory you’ve-just-turned-it-on update, kick the download off and come back while it’s cooking?
Back? Excellent. Here’s Mr Greenawalt himself with the reason why he thinks this – possibly – is the greatest Green Hell ever captured on a computer game. “Well, it’s by far the most ambitious track we’ve ever done,” begins Dan. “We’ve had the Nürburgring before in the game, but it’s never been delivered like this before. Not by us, and not by anybody.”
Turn 10 were allowed to book the ‘Ring out completely for two days to scan it to their satisfaction. With an all-new, next-gen compatible laser scanning set up to capture every last, unforgiving, terrifying inch. “Laser scanning’s been around for a while,” continues Dan, “and we’d looked at laser scanning at last generation, but found it wasn’t detailed enough for what we really wanted to accomplish. So we invested in new laser scanning rigs and a new process for Forza 5, and most of the tracks were laser scanned.”
“The Nürburgring is an all new laser scan, so it’s getting to that millimetre of accuracy. We had 30 artists who worked on this track, and it took us nearly a year to deliver. That’s 13,000 man hours that went into this track. We want to be something where the professional racecar driver, the Jackie Stewarts of the world, can recognise every little bump, every piece of grass. Can recognise the trees, every building, they can use all those references that most of us have never seen, but they don’t hurt our experience either. So we have this incredibly detailed track that we can learn, and fulfil our fantasies, while having pro drivers able to drive it at any level.”
“Even the graffiti is all up to date, as of our capture date, but again, we were working on this track for nearly a year, so actually captured it quite a while ago.”
So… If the graffiti is accurate, it would be remiss of us not to ask. Have they scrubbed out all the gentleman sausages? “Yes,” says Dan. How many? “We don’t have a count.”
Gamers – and ‘Ring enthusiasts – are somewhat obsessive about authenticity. Will removing the sausages make the community grumpy? “People are certainly welcome to their opinions! What I will say is that part of the vision of this game is having a game that any professional racecar driver can get value out of while anybody can step right in and play it. So having it be entertainment that a family can enjoy is important to me.
“Meanwhile, if you think about the graffiti, it is transient, it actually comes and goes. So if you really know motorsport and you really know the ‘Ring, getting angry over one particular piece of graffiti shows that you really don’t know how this track gets painted. It’s not like it’s painted once, by a council and stays that way. It happens via motorsport fans who come in over night, hop over the wall and do what they want to do. Sometimes not motorsport fans, just people who want to have their presence be known.”
And having done a hot lap of the track, we recommend you try it for yourselves. The thing is that the 'Ring - whether in real life or virtual - is such a big challenge it actually becomes an unusual thing, a track you don’t feel the need to rewind your mistakes on. Usually we’ll be slamming rewind to retake the perfect corner, or repair our wipeouts. With the 'Ring, you just want an unadulterated, cheat free, you vs track, lap of the Gods. Now, where's Sabine's phone number again?