Wednesday, June 9th, 2004
What is the narrative of GT 3?
It depends on whos playing. In my case, the narrative of the sim is built around a desire not necessarily to win but to be competitive and to organize what I have in such a way so that that requirement can be met: to be competitive. But its also a narrative of economics. As more money is accumulated in the sim, more money is required, and money comes with skill, but only so much. I imagine that theres some code out there that will give me lots of cash, millions of dollars with which to jazz up any machine. But part of the games design has to do with working for what you get: in many ways this is the heart of the simulation, living with what you have and working with limitations, an aspect of logic. As you learn, you realize deficiencies and these deficiencies in the vehicle can be reduced, if you have the means to overcome them. In a certain race, I realized that my car just didnt have enough handling, and I learned that there were ways of dealing with this: more practice such as better breaking, timing, slowing, and working with better angles. Then theres the acquiring of power, mechanical stabilization, and weight distribution.
Here are two scenarios about power.
You race, get used to a machine, do pretty well, then need to move to a more intricate and more competitive course. The machine Ive been driving has become comfortable. I know how it behaves, how fast it brakes, how quickly it accelerates. Im even attuned to the sound: of my engine and the engines of my opponents. In a sense, Im an operating cyborg, connected to the machine through my senses, inside it, among its sounds, arrested by attention to technique, texture, and panorama. I react physically by leaning into space, clamping my teeth, searching the corners and straights for landmarks, shadows, massive logos, the stands, bridges, feeling the sensation of surface disturbances, disruptions to balance, of yaw and force twists. I also know the course each moment prior to something happening, or try to learn this, as in chess. I can feel the angles, dips, curves, and the atmosphere of each track. If the machine goes through an upgrade, tires, turbo charging, anything, all of this intimate feel for the workings changes because all cars and their possible upgrades have been anticipated systematically: the programming already knows how each upgrade will effect performance. Acceleration changes the speed into which I enter a curve, and the equations change. Momentum, force, friction, speed all work against me. So, even with a new machine, I have to make adjustments, and will usually loose a few races before slowly but surely I re-learn the machine. So, the impetus is to upgrade, but becoming competitive in the sim means that the opponents are ready, and they know the courses better than I do. I fight the machine at many levels because its always fighting me.
As I improve, I know that things will only get faster, more aggressive, more challenging, but the game design presupposes this journey: I will make money, upgrade, drive faster and more precisely at greater speeds, when able. The game wants this. Just as a teacher presupposes improvement and learning on the part of the student, so does a game designer. This is one of the connecting points between games and the classroom, two spaces with similar characteristics.