John Wendl: It takes 4-5 months to build tracks for Forza Motorsport 6

Forza Motorsport 6 is one of the most comprehensive racing games of all time, with more than 450 cars and 26 tracks. Represented in stunning detail, racing in the...

Bathurst_InGame_03

Forza Motorsport 6 is one of the most comprehensive racing games of all time, with more than 450 cars and 26 tracks. Represented in stunning detail, racing in the game feels more realistic than ever before and after racing Forza for almost 10 years, we thought it was time we sat down with the creators of the game, Turn 10 Studios and found out what it takes to make the game.

John Wendl is the Content Director of Turn 10 Studios and in an exclusive Australian interview, we learnt about the painstaking process and substantial man-power that goes into creating the environments we now love to race in.

To create tracks in Forza Motorsport 6, Turn 10 Studios sends teams of 6 people around the globe capture each location in serious detail. This is done by laser-scanning each track, often at night as the busy schedules of most locations mean that after the sun goes down is the only time available. The laser scanning uses a Time of Flight  (TOF) camera, in which the entire scene is captured with each laser or light pulse.

With every release the accuracy of the scans improve thanks to constantly improving camera technology. Despite the developments, you can’t simply strap one of these to the top of car and drive a lap and be done. The capture process is multi-tiered and also involves the use of a backpack style sensor for finer accuracy, so the entire circuit needs to be walked, multiple times.

There’s also high resolution photography taken (obviously this requires daylight), for the team generate textures from and ensure the final product accurately reflects the real environment.

This capture team typically spends between 3 and 4 days at the circuit, depending on the size and complexity. Tracks like our very own, world-famous Bathurst and the dreaded Nürburgring amongst the most intensive.

Once the data at the track is collected it’s then sent back to a team of around 15 artists back at HQ that take the data and inputs it into the game engine. Thanks to the accuracy available in the data, bumps in the roads and even surface changes are captured and reflected in the game. Once textures and lighting are added, crowds, buildings, and other landmark environmental features, the entire process has taken a staggering 4-5 months to complete.

Obviously with so many tracks in Forza 6, there’s not a single team that creates the tracks in the game, to deliver on their 2 year development cycle. Turn 10 Studios have multiple teams dedicated to track development.

It’s easy to talk about, but seeing photos of the game in development, really helps us understand the ridiculous human effort required to ship a game like Forza 6. Check out the gallery of photos below from Mount Panorama’s Bathurst track and you start to realise why this time around, the elevation changes the commentators continually rave on about, are actually felt in the game this time.

Bathurst_Reference_01Bathurst_Reference_02

Bathurst_Reference_03 Bathurst_Reference_05Bathurst_Reference_04

Before the game had even been released, the Forza Forums were alight with requests for additional tracks in the game. In my review, I argues the V8 Supercars partnership should finance the development of more Australian tracks and so I asked about the likelihood of more tracks arriving in the game as DLC.

Wendl says the issue isn’t really even cost, it’s access to tracks, man power and the very specialised equipment used to capture the tracks and digitally recreate them.

Bathurst_InGame_01Bathurst_InGame_02

Above we see a couple of shots from the final game, but below are shots of Bathurst like you’ve never seen before. These images are derived from the data captured from the track, once it gets stitched back together. It may looks rough, but compared the level of detail computers from autonomous cars can see, there’s a stunning level of accuracy here. Dimensions, angles, depths and elevations are all key here, so the track we end up racing on, isn’t an approximation of a track, it is the real track.

Bathurst_LaserScan_01Bathurst_LaserScan_02Bathurst_LaserScan_03

As an extra level of verification, Turn 10 Studios invites real racing drivers who have driven on the track to provide feedback while the game is in development. Drivers have an innate ability to remember the tiniest level of detail like bumps that they expect to be there. If you’ve had a chance to race Bathurst in Forza 6, you’ll understand exactly what the drivers talk about when they explain the difficulties of nailing the perfect lap around this uniquely different track.

With the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on again in just over a week’s time (8th-11th October), it’s a fantastic opportunity to jump into Forza 6 and experience the track for yourself in a V8 Supercar. After far too many laps around the mountain, I captured one of the few average to good laps which you can watch below. It is a sobering thought that drivers spend their entire career trying to master this place and few can honestly say they ever lay down the perfect lap. It sure is fun trying though.

Here are some more examples of tracks from Forza 6, just stunning the world over.

Ultimate Car FantasyAs Real As It Gets

Categories
Xbox One