Oversteer Racing: Dev blog #1 – The one where I go racing

Welcome to the first dev blog for Oversteer Racing. I've been working on the game for a while but thought it was about time I started talking more regularly about what I've been up to. My plan is to publish a new dev blog during the last week of the month throughout the rest of the game's development (inc. post-launch).

Game overview

Oversteer Racing is a top down racer for mobiles and tablets. It is not based on any existing racing series. My thinking behind the game is that it's about time someone did a top-down racer for mobiles and tablets. I grew up playing games such as Super Sprint and Super Cars and I don't think the genre is well represented these days. If you don't know what a top-down racer is then it's a racing game where the perspective is third person and looking vertically down at the cars and race track. In Oversteer Racing the view will move with the car rather than show the entire track on a single screen. For a bit more information you can read the official announcement.

Work to date

Test track

One of the earliest tasks was to create a test track. This isn't based on any existing circuit and needed a mixture of corner types (from slow hair-pins to fast curves) and straights. The test track allows me to check out my ideas for controlling the car and car handling. I can also work out the calculations for tyre wear and fuel usage.

I've also been able to use the test track to work out how running off the track or in to gravel traps affects the car.

The Oversteer Racing test track showing detection points for track sections

The Oversteer Racing test track showing detection points for track sections.

Car controls

As the game is for mobiles and tablets it will use touch control but this doesn't lend itself to really precise control. I've tried a number of control methods, including a virtual joystick, but my current work in process has touch controls for throttle, brake and turning (i.e. all or nothing input). The virtual joystick was problematic because sometimes you may want to have full turning lock and full throttle and a virtual joystick using a circular area cannot provide that.

All or nothing touch control is working well in the game so far. It's simple to master but by, reducing how fast the car will turn as the speed of the car increases, it's still a challenge to drive a quick lap. You need to match car speed to the corners and that's very similar to racing in real life.

I spent a very long time working on car handling. This is a critical component of all racing games and it's hard to strike the right balance between fun and realistic/challenging handling. Also, by naming the game "Oversteer Racing", I'm committed to make it possible to experience oversteer 😉 At this stage I have a good working model for both understeer and oversteer (it took a pretty long time to find something I was happy with) and this is influenced by the weight of the car (affected by fuel load) and how worn the tyres are.

Pre-alpha screenshot of Oversteer Racing - car turning right

Telemetry

In any racing game it's really important to track the progress of the cars. You need to make sure the cars properly complete a lap and, in many games, it's important to track lap times too. I've added a telemetry component to not only track the progress of the cars, the lap times and also the best sector times for each car. Like many race tracks in real life I divide each Oversteer Racing track into three roughly equal sectors and track sector times for cars.

Oversteer Racing will feature pitstops so the telemetry component also has to cope with cars visiting the pit lane. So, basically, it has to cope with cars taking multiple routes around the same circuit.

Summary

So, at this point in time, I have a test track and can drive a car at speed around the track. The car can take trips through the pit lane and its progress is tracked and lap times calculated. Also, the car tyres wear and the fuel load is used up and, depending on settings, this affects handling.

The coming month...

My plan for the coming month is to work on the damage model for the car. This needs to include graphical effects on the car and handling effects. I also hope to work on pit stops so that tyres can be changed and cars refuelled.

About Kieren

Director of Mucky Creature Ltd. As it's a one-man games studio I suspect that also makes me lead developer, sound designer, lead artist, marketing director, community support officer etc etc...