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Mar 19

ModNation Racers: Redesigning Kart Racing

Mat Thomas's Avatar Posted by Game Designer, United Front Games

Hi Everyone,

Mat from UFG here to end your week on a high note with our latest trailer and a peek into some of the thought behind the sweet racing action we’ve built into ModNation Racers!

First and foremost when developing a racer, the key thing to outline is what the experience needs to be. As I have mentioned in my previous blog post, we worked through how we wanted the core driving experience to feel. Many development team members here at United Front Games have worked on several different racing games. Our focus is quite simple –- we wanted the handling to be tight and fun but allow the power of the PS3 to take kart handling to the next level with a more physical driving model. While we appreciate the simple arcade handling, we soon understood that if we were going to deliver the best race experience with our Track Studio tools, then we had to give the player a deeper handling model.

Drive Well & Get BOOST
While we developed our core handling model we also realized we needed to offer other race mechanics that were familiar with all types of racing fans, but offered something deeper than what we had seen previously in the genre. We decided to go with a player controlled boost meter, which in turn is filled by driving well.

The major skill the player needs to perfect is the ability to drift – a staple for most kart racers. Our mechanic is simple in the sense that the better the drift, the more the player is rewarded with boost. We also added a few nuances, such as the longer you drift, the player will actually slowly speed up over time, which rewards the user with an overall better speed but comes with consequences too.

ModNation Racers Screenshot 29 ModNation Racers Screenshot Drift

At higher speeds, it is hard to avoid objects so maintaining the drift becomes a game in itself. The other key element with our drift is the ability to still steer and influence the direction of the drift. The player can do this with the basic steering controls, giving them full control over the drift. Finally, one of the coolest features with our drift is the ability to maintain the same drift even when the player jumps into the air. If the player drifts off a ramp, as long as they continue to hold the drift button, they will continue the drift when landing. This makes for some amazingly satisfying race moments on even the most challenging race tracks!

ModNation Racers Screenshot 28 ModNation Racers Screenshot Drafting

Some other race skills implemented in the game include drafting and air play. Drafting opponents is incredibly easy – simply drive in behind an opponent and try to maintain your position behind them. In addition to gaining a speed increase, the longer the player stays there, the more points they will accumulate. When a draft ends, those points are tallied and converted into boost. When in the air, the player will be rewarded in two ways. Firstly, the longer the player stays in the air, they will automatically be rewarded points and the larger jumps such as drops from launchers will give the player points. When the user lands, these points are tallied and then converted to boost.

ModNation Racers Screenshot 2 player ModNation Racers Screenshot new

When in the air, the player can also attempt spins. Using the right stick, the player can spin their vehicle. Every successful rotation will be rewarded with additional boost on the landing. The key thing to note however is that in order to be rewarded the player has to land the spin and face in the direction of travel. It is always fun to try and squeeze in one last spin to bag more points! What does the player do with all this boost when they have it? Well, obviously the player can simply press the L1 button and start boosting. The system is fully analogue meaning that the player can tap the boost for small bursts or hold it for long periods of sustained boosting. For some really hard advanced driving, players can try drifting and boosting at the same time!

We have created what I consider a racing experience that can appeal to everyone. You can pick up the game and enjoy the frantic gameplay but if you spend time with ModNation Racers you will become an expert by using all the strategies the systems bring. We feel very proud of the ModNation race experience and look forward to our fans playing it!

Add Your Own

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PatriotEyez27 said:

March 19th, 11:05 am

Can’t wait.

Getting it both for PSP and PS3 :)

TRIFIVE5000 said:

March 19th, 11:08 am

This game will be AWESOME!

emjayx said:

March 19th, 11:09 am

lovin’ it.

dho331 said:

March 19th, 11:11 am

not getting this game for obvious reasons. Kart racing is for nintendo consoles because nintendo is for kids. I play LBP, and love it, and MNR looks interesting, but I only bought LBP because it was innovative and for everyone, not just kids. MNR just takes cart racing and adds customization, just a NFS and Mariokart hybrid.

ptuck874 said:

March 19th, 11:12 am

my daughter can’t wait for this, as a lbp junkie that she is, this is right up her ally :)

DraxerArkss said:

March 19th, 11:15 am

@dho331 is more like a mariokart LBP hybrid, which if its executed right will make it the best kart ever

FeistFan said:

March 19th, 11:16 am

The beta was a blast. The mid-air spins are harder than they seem — awful risky to go for that last rotation, but great if you can pull it off! Same with a nice long drift — crash at the end of it, and you don’t get anything added to your boost meter. Play too conservative and you’ll be left in the dust, but play too aggressively and you risk being even worse off.

KILLZONE79 said:

March 19th, 11:18 am

awesome cant wait

also i love the word that you used “Power of the PS3”
Thats what developers need to look at when creating games and thats what make PS3 exclusive games beat the competition!

poweredbyzen said:

March 19th, 11:19 am

pre-ordered mine already! :D

II-KiLLER-ll said:

March 19th, 11:21 am

Is there going to be a demo for this? If yes when will it be out?

DraxerArkss said:

March 19th, 11:22 am

is it going to have some vs modes? like battle or somthing?

EventStatus said:

March 19th, 11:26 am

This game is REALLY fun, but my question to the devs are, what are they going to do about the voting system? So many people admitted cheating with ALT’s in order to push other creators down, who worked hard on their Kart designs, just to keep theirs in the top three. You should have to download and play with the Kart, in order to vote on them.

And what’s with users getting mad if they’re bumped, when edged out of first? So it’s okay to hit them with rockets, but they get mad when you hug a corner with a slight bump? (not full-on ram)

Vex_Doppel said:

March 19th, 11:28 am

So… what are the chances the Move will be implemented into this game?

eFunk25 said:

March 19th, 11:30 am

I just want it 6 axis or PS3 Move compatable. That would be unreal!

footballrule said:

March 19th, 11:35 am

Hey Mat, when is this game releasing? Any date yet? I Beta tested this game and i loved it. Gave feedback about, not many bugs but were some which are most likely gone now. Can’t wait until it releases.

DMPrince said:

March 19th, 11:36 am

YES! i have it preordered since had it listing for $39.99 (LOL) can’t wait!

Huuuze said:

March 19th, 11:37 am

If you only have 3 players playing, what will be displayed in the 4th screen?

    Mat Thomas's Avatar

    Mat Thomas said:

    March 19th, 4:36 pm

    Hi Huuuze,

    We decided to show the track minimap here for everyone. It definitely comes in quite handy!

Hunter_xx_ said:

March 19th, 11:39 am

I’m glad they fixed the camera, that’s was bugging me a lot in the beta, I hope they add optional install or something like that, load times still a bit long, but not as long as the beta

TooTall19 said:

March 19th, 11:40 am

Is there any sort of leveling or skill system in MNR? It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but I’d like to see other peoples online racing experience/skill while waiting for the next race.

    Mat Thomas's Avatar

    Mat Thomas said:

    March 19th, 5:08 pm

    Stay tuned for more information on this in the near future.

DeviantBoi said:

March 19th, 11:43 am

What’s your response to comments made by journalists that the loading times of the game shown at GDC are still unacceptable?

tenshin78 said:

March 19th, 11:46 am

That guy have a big shinny head!! this game looks amazing

twooh said:

March 19th, 11:52 am

Makes me wonder how many cool things will be left out for DLC. *frowns*

I really think this game looks cool, but I will hold off because I know they’re gonna milk DLC like LBP does. And I won’t support that.

Axecution said:

March 19th, 11:57 am

Lol Chris, did you forget to plug the mic in or something?

Anyway, game still looks amazing. :D Day one for me. >.>

HillYeah said:

March 19th, 11:57 am

I would enjoy a purely optional top-down overhead camera view while racing that would bust the door wide open to having ModNation Racers ALSO be a Top-Down View Racer like the classics. (RC ProAm, Death Rally, Racing Gears, etc)

A killer current-gen kart racer and top-down racer genre in one!

Anyone else think this optional vantage point would be cool?

packy17 said:

March 19th, 11:58 am

I’ll be picking this up. To those of you saying it’s for “kids”, you’re only half right. It appeals to everyone. The beta was great, minus the early connection issues. The creation system is easy and intuitive; LBP lacks the “easy” part.

StealthReborn-- said:

March 19th, 12:00 pm

I’ll b getting this day one for sure. I’ve heard great things about it and I have no doubt it’ll deliver as the final product. Keep up the great work you guys are doing over there.

RuthlessEd said:

March 19th, 12:05 pm

How is the sense of speed in this game? Difficult to tell from the video. Mario Kart 64 nailed the perfect blend between speed and maniacal silliness (the soundtrack in Mario Kart really added to the experience, and almost felt like part of the race itself).

Anyone who has ever played that game can still remember the music.

So I hope UFG pays sufficient attention to the audio aspects.

Absolutely LOVE the split-screen options. Sorely missing from so many games these days.

Finally a game I can play with friends!

DoomnY said:

March 19th, 12:12 pm

What about loading time?

Carl-G said:

March 19th, 12:13 pm

If it is 4 player off-line to can say ‘Player 2’ & ‘3’ & ‘4’ keep their own Stats? & i can rename them to – as in ‘Player 2’ = My mates name etc ;)

dho331 said:

March 19th, 12:19 pm

To clarify my earlier statement, what I mean when I say this is an NFS/ mario kart hybrid is simply that cart games have all been done before, there’s nothing to innovate with, LBP is a sidescroller with state of the art graphics, finding games like that are a needle in a haystack. there are hundreds of racing games released a year, nintendo has dozens of kart racing games, ea milks the nfs franchise which I haven’t played since Most Wanted since it sucks worse than need for speed 2 and 3 which I have on PC, and test drive ( haven’t played unlimited) and the only decent racing games are by codemasters, sony, and criterion games, which ea bought but haven’t fired all the staffers (yet) so sorry if I’m not open to this game, but adding custom characters and cars just takes mariocart and slaps on need for speed in my book. TL;DR kart racers CANNOT innovate

TheGuardianFID said:

March 19th, 12:21 pm

Awesome stuff Mat, I’ll be getting both the PSP and PS3 versions, SOLD!!! 8)

OnslaughtCometh said:

March 19th, 12:32 pm

While you’re redesigning kart racing, might want to redesign the camera angle as well.

UNCyrus said:

March 19th, 12:42 pm

I’ve had a chance to get a hands on experience with this game, and it is a MUST for anyone that just enjoys a solid fun time!

Thrasher20 said:

March 19th, 1:16 pm

Sweet game. I’ll be expecting some Mario Kart tributes :)

NEJI64 said:

March 19th, 1:18 pm

Mat? Will Modnation Racer get some type of battle mode? something similar to Mario Kart.

sfgdfds said:

March 19th, 1:24 pm

Ok. It is official now. We need a countdown on the blog for this game. (just to make the wait a little less hard)

so… who’s in charge of the countdowns around here? Or should I talk directly to Kevin? (oh and by the way; I still would like Kevin in the game. Either you give us one, or I will make one. even if it is the last I’ll do)

VivaGardner said:

March 19th, 1:26 pm

Release date?

Teflon02 said:

March 19th, 1:30 pm

if you Add kevin B. in the game it will probibly be the best sell ps3 game lol. because this will already sell in Japan because they love MK and others in Eur & NA etc plus the people who support the KB as main Weapon in the It Only Does Everything Campaign

Teflon02 said:

March 19th, 1:30 pm

May 25th

WeTeHa said:

March 19th, 1:32 pm

custom camera angles? awesome.
better framerate? awesome.
4 play splitscreen/2 player online splitscreen? yay!

well that decides it, i have to buy it :)

sfgdfds said:

March 19th, 1:32 pm

@Teflon02 exactly. that’s what I’ve been telling everybody. but do they listen? well, maybe. I hope so :)

Teflon02 said:

March 19th, 1:37 pm

@ dho331
you are not making sense because NFS is a Milked Game not genre. Midnight Club Fatalitied NFS for a reason, Kart Racing hasn’t been really a sony thing since CTR (Best Kart Racer Ever). so Milking? no
use a smart comparison MK because its kart racings king right now (i dont agree but w.e)& LBP because theyre both UGC. & u get to change all aspecs of gameplay basically

phinnv8 said:

March 19th, 1:39 pm

Really don’t like the cars blinking when they get hit or fall off the track, but other than it looks great!

Teflon02 said:

March 19th, 1:39 pm

@ sfgdfds
yeah man

LILBUDDY2000 said:

March 19th, 1:58 pm

PS3 and PSP for sure. I’ve been waiting for this game ……forever! I can’t wait to see the levels created by users. By using the same formula as LBP I’m sure this game will still be going strong in 2012.

JumpMan33 said:

March 19th, 2:08 pm

The loading looked a lot faster in this video. Hopefully the full game is much faster then the beta.

DuckReconMajor said:

March 19th, 2:44 pm

Will all players be able to sign in to their profiles in split screen? I hope so.

starBlinky01 said:

March 19th, 3:26 pm

very cool, excited to buy this.

Will there be an option to use vertical split screen? I like that better on my HD :P


March 19th, 3:34 pm

Now that GOWIII has been released, this is the game I am looking forward too!!

ycole11 said:

March 19th, 3:38 pm

This looks great, I just hope they tightened up the drifting and boosting since the beta.

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