ModNation Racers Track Studio Walkthrough with Track Designer Mark Riddell

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I’m Mark Riddell, a track designer for ModNation Racers on PS3. Last week, Rob laid out even more details of the character creation features in the game, and today I’ll be talking to you about some of the features of Track Studio.

One of the design goals of Track Studio has always been to cater to both casual and advanced users. You’ve probably seen and read about people easily creating tracks in just a few minutes. But as a track designer, I’m more interested in what I can do with the tools, and how far I can push them. So today I’m going to talk about a few powerful features that we use to create cool gameplay moments on our tracks.

When you drive out your track, we’ve tuned it so that you’ll always make a track that is drive-able to ensure a good experience. But we don’t want those constraints to stop you from making something unique and wild. That’s why we’ve provided basic width, lift and bank in Quick Edit to allow further customization of the track after you’ve driven it out. They are easy to use, and will give most people what they need to customize and tune their track. As a professional track designer I require an even finer level of control – and this led to the development of the Advanced Edit tool.

With Advanced Edit, I can directly manipulate all the points that make up the path of the track, allowing for very fine control of position, elevation and slope. Even better, I can edit any of the four points across the section of track that defines the width of the road, fence and runoff on either side. While still intuitive to use, this allows me to get precise banks, fun drops and cool technical sections that you can’t get just by driving out a track. Another great trick is with one or more points selected holding the square button will smooth the selection, which has proven immensely handy!

Populating the track with props is another good example of advanced tools. While a casual user may enjoy our impressive Auto Populate feature, advanced users often have more specific ideas of where things should go. We have tools to let you place objects almost anywhere on the track or terrain. The object will automatically snap to the ground, which is a big time saver. You can choose to ‘unpin’ the props as well and just their elevation above or below the track or terrain. These tools also help you place things more easily, such as flattening the terrain under a building you’ve placed, or allowing you to “spray” down a row of fences, even over hills! The tool also allows you to lasso select a group of props and move or rotate them, even spread them out over a larger area or delete them.

Driving on terrain was something that was fun right from the start, and we knew we wanted to include it. We’ve given you Erase Surface road style – just paint it down like you would cobblestone, for instance. It smoothly transitions from the road to driving directly on the terrain, and allows you to construct the drive using terrain sculpting tools – great for rally style tracks! I’ve found the Advanced Sculpt brushes really useful for tight control while adjusting terrain for these sections. Also remember to paint the terrain using Surface and Ground Cover brushes to help define paths for the players — you don’t want people getting lost.

Breadcrumbs also are really useful here. Breadcrumbs came about as a way to make shortcuts across the terrain, while allowing for the game logic for racing, weapons and A.I. to keep working. Starting from the main road, create a trail of breadcrumbs leading off the track and then back, and now that becomes a race-able part of the circuit. It’s awesome for making shortcuts or alternate paths across terrain — just remember to get rid of the roadside fences to allow the players off and back on the main road.

There are so many more cool features to talk about in Track Studio. I look forward to seeing and racing your cool designs!

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