Dangerous Driving

Online Play in Dangerous Driving

By 26th May 2019 June 19th, 2019 No Comments

DANGEROUS DRIVING

Dangerous Driving is evolving – to date it has all been about Single Player Racing but we’re in the process of  introducing Networked Online Racing.

 

It’s an exciting step. It’s something we started doing back in 2004 so we all have experience of it and something we have been itching to get back to.

That said it’s not straightforward, if we were ever in danger of forgetting that the last 2 weeks has been a blunt reminder! Adding online play is just really complex, it’s why many small development teams don’t do it.

But we’re in this for the long term and Online is central to the experiences we want to create – so here we are as I write this today, Friday afternoon, and 2 of the guys are out (and our 7th member works off site) so there are just 4 of us, making a 6 player online game!

In keeping with how we have approached everything in the last few years we are taking a step by step approach, focusing on the fundamentals first.

Here’s what is in the first Online Update :

  • 6 player online racing.
  • A Ranking system directly related to your finishing position in each race. Finish a race and you will get 1 point plus another point for every person you beat, giving a maximum of 6 points per race (As we add more game modes we will likely add more ways to earn points)
  • 18 pre set events.
  • Client Server but without a dedicated Server – so one player will be the host and they will create the game and choose the event (and hence the car).

We’ve kept the first release deliberately focused. Our first priority is getting a good, competitive online race and that has 2 main aspects to it:

  1. Good technical solutions to minimize lag, to ensure players are where they appear to be and all the other quite complicated programming that has to happen to ensure you can find players, get into a game and have that game play out as you would expect it to.
  2. Balancing solutions to ensure the race itself is fun – and a lot of this comes down to game balancing to ensure that its a level playing field based around player skill.

Fortunately we have had a bit of experience in both of these areas.

One of the big technical challenges we face is synchronising players together when they’re travelling at over 200 mph – this involves a trade off of making the opponents travel smoothly round the track whilst needing to update their position regularly so that you have a fair chance of taking them down. It’s all about finding the Sweet spot between accuracy and reaction.

The reason we have gone for a Client Server model without a dedicated server is really for simplicity and ease of support going forward. We’ve never been a fan of servers being turned off and as a small team we have to choose solutions that fit how we work. That’s the same reason we have opted to start with 6 players – there are 6 of us in the office so we can test that every day and we make a point of playing at least 3-4 times every day.

To balance the game around player skill we have made a few changes to how the game works online such as introducing a much larger penalty (speed loss) for hitting barriers. We’ve also re-tuned Boost earning to really reward dangerous driving.

We’re also aiming for a consistent number of traffic cars around each player. However online these will only appear in oncoming – which increases the risk / reward balance. You’ll earn more boost driving in oncoming but it increases the risk of your crashing.

To keep things fair players will always be in the same car type. Even within one class the speeds vary by up to 30 mph making the races very unbalanced if we didn’t do this. 

Our first online offering will focus on getting these fundamentals right – to do that we have accepted some limitations.  6 players, no host migration, start with one game mode, pre set events that the host chooses.

We’ll talk more soon about what else we will add but right now our focus is on getting this first update into submission so we can get it to you as soon as possible.

We’re excited about bringing Dangerous Driving to an online audience.

UPDATE (June 18 2019) – Third Party, Fire & Theft is now live on PlayStation4, Xbox One and PC.