As the racing game genre has inched away from arcade territory and ever closer to simulation territory, it's become correlated with punishing difficulty -- but does that really make for more entertaining games?
Not necessarily, says Dan Greenawalt, who as director of Forza Motorsport 3
at Turn 10 Studios, is taking a slightly different tack. "I think the problem with simulation in general is it's gotten this reputation -- a well-deserved reputation, I might add -- for being overly punishing," he says in today's Gamasutra feature
"And it's something that, frankly a lot of our fans ask for, but I don't think they really frankly want it. The hardcore fans of the racing sim genre, in particular, are constantly calling to be punished more," adds Greenwalt. "It sounds weird. It sounds like we're in some strange sadomasochistic relationship."
Especially when the community receives Forza 3
's rewind feature with hostility, fearing it will "ruin the sim."
"I could not disagree more," says Greenwalt. "I am a sim racing gamer as well, and I can't go back to games that don't have it now. When I play other racing games and they don't have this rewind, I just feel like, 'Are you kidding me? I mean, this is kind of old school.'"
Such a feature "doesn't make the challenge less," he says. "It doesn't hurt the tension. The game still has great tension. You still have to earn all of your victories."
Does Greenwalt see more racing games heading this way? "I sure hope so, because I think this is where the industry needs to go," he says. And while part of it is making games more accessible to casual audiences, that's not the entire picture.
"I think part of this is just embracing modern game design and realizing that people are different and what they're looking for is great entertainment, and entertainment does not have to be punishing," he says. "It can be, and it has been, but it doesn't have to be."
You can now read the full feature
interview with Greenawalt on Forza 3
and the evolution of the racing genre at Gamasutra (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).