Evolution Studios took the wraps off Driveclub’s dynamic weather system at E3 in Los Angeles last month and we were there to see it demoed live. Today we’ve got some new direct feed gameplay clips of the dynamic weather in action and an interview from the game’s Art Director Alex Perkins. This is all from an early demo of the game’s realistic – and fully customizable – weather system that will be included in Driveclub as a free update for all players just shortly after launch.
We’re really excited to give you an early look at how wind, rain, snow and everything in between can affect your races and how you can customize it in your challenges. Take a look at the new videos, then keep reading to catch up with what we’ve learned from our interview with Alex.
How have you approached weather in Driveclub?
“The temperature and height of the sun governs how quickly roads dry out.”
Alex Perkins: We’ve approached our weather system with the same guiding principles as we’ve done with everything in Driveclub: to make it as immersive and fun as possible. We’ve developed a powerful engine that has the capability to model the entire environment in stunning detail; from each cloud that makes up our living skies, to every crest and fall in the tarmac beneath your wheels. From there, we’re breathing additional life into the environments by developing the earth’s atmosphere around it. Originally we focused on authentic lighting and skies as the tool for you to customize stunning backdrops for fun challenges with your friends. Now, we’re developing a dynamic weather system that plays into all of this, adding another powerful tool to your arsenal.
The cloud cover and conditions you choose will dictate how much snow and rain will fall. The wind direction and speed determines where snow will settle. Then when it stops, the temperature and height of the sun governs how quickly clouds evaporate and roads dry out. We’re really striving for consistency in every detail just like we have done with everything else in the game.
What’s the scale of the weather types in the game? Is it just rain or snow, or can we expect drizzle, sleet, downpours, blizzards and so forth?
Alex Perkins: You can expect every one of those and you can expect it to change dynamically and unpredictably while you race – because we’ve designed it to be just like real weather systems. Spots of rain can become torrential downpours or transition into blizzards, quickly or slowly, and when the clouds clear up the tracks will dry out too. So if you’re in Norway, for example, you’ll face heavier snow when you’re racing atop the mountains and much lighter snow or sleet when you descend to a lower altitude. Lots of things play into this, like elevation, wind speed and temperature. We can even adjust all the way to zero visibility conditions too – the only limit will be the need to balance things for fun and usability.
And what about really extreme stuff, like thunder and lightning?
Alex Perkins: Deafening thunder storms with flashes of fork lightning is what we’re aiming for. Our intention is to make this as immersive and exciting as we can.
How customizable will the weather be?
Alex Perkins: We want you to be able to create epic races that you want to share with your friends because they took your breath away. Just like we do with time of day, skies and time lapse speed, we’re going to add lots of options for you to be able to adjust how the weather plays out in your challenges. We don’t want to just offer fixed settings for “rain” or “snow,” we want it to be dynamic and exciting. We’re still working on how best to present this to you and we’ll show more closer to launch.
On that note, can you go into details on exactly what implications dynamic weather has on gameplay?
“…and your headlights are reflecting on the snowflakes ahead of you…”
Alex Perkins: As you’d expect, weather is a game changer. When your tires get wet it’s harder to brake and easier to drift, which has a big effect on how you race and score fame for your club. It’s not just the handling that changes though, visibility can also change massively and impact on how the game plays too, especially at night when you’ve got your windscreen wipers going like crazy and your headlights are reflecting on the snowflakes ahead of you to blanket the sky in white.
Accurately replicating real life weather sounds like a massive technical challenge? Is that fair?
Alex Perkins: Challenging ourselves is part of what makes us Evolution Studios. We’re very ambitious and we want to keep pushing our own tools and the power of PS4 to create new and exciting game play experiences. We’ve had to learn a lot about weather systems and experiment with how it interacts with everything else in the game. It’s all about the detail: the dampening surfaces, moisture absorption, changing material appearances, lighting in the sky, and so on. It’s amazing to see this come together; to see little details like rain forming puddles that can hold water, then dry out or get bigger depending on the terrain topology and changes to the temperature. To be able to make a breakthrough like this is what makes the PlayStation 4 hardware so exciting.
As ever, we are pouring our hearts into every detail to make sure we have a weather system that looks real and is exciting for you to play with.