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Exclusive Test Drive Unlimited 2 Interview

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Test Drive Unlimited was a well-regarded racing title released early in the Xbox 360's life cycle. Loved more for it's glamorous and beautiful version of the island of Oahu, Test Drive Unlimited was a distinct and unique racing game for early adopters. Releasing in February 2011, its sequel Test Drive Unlimited 2 is taking the "open island" MMO approach and doubling it. Recreating Spanish club mecca Ibiza, rebuilding Oahu, and offering side diversions like first-person shopping, house decorating, and casino gambling, Test Drive Unlimited 2 will be much more than a racing game. Thankfully, off-road racing and guild-like racing clubs will offer a more focused multiplayer experience, and keep that racing itch scratched once all the single player content is completed. There's a lot going on with this one, that's for sure.

Thankfully, to help offer a little focus to understanding Test Drive Unlimited 2, we chatted with Alain Jarniou of Eden Games, the Game Director of Test Drive Unlimited 2. He offered some insight into Test Drive Unlimited 2's multiplayer experience, some of the brand new customization options, the challenges of building a digital car inside and out, and what returning players can expect.

The original Test Drive Unlimited offered a fairly robust multiplayer experience, and Test Drive Unlimited 2 will be taking that to a whole new level. What can players expect when racing across Ibiza with their friends?

Multiplayer challenges are very important in TDU2. As they are the core gameplay, we worked hard to make them more interesting and challenging. We enhanced what we call the “instant challenges”: in free-ride, at any moment, player can challenge the other players he meets. They are more “instant” today, and can be played over and over without any repetition feeling. “Classical” races are present, of course, with world rankings. “Original” speed and speed traps challenges of TDU1, are still in there in enhanced versions. But the biggest innovation was made with the creation of cooperative multiplayer challenges. Because in a MMO, all is not about player versus player, but also about doing things in cooperation with friends, we developed “follow the leader” and “keep your distance” modes. Good performance in those game modes is the performance of a group of friends, playing together. We hope the players will enjoy this new way of playing a racing game and spend lots of time to make scores with their friends.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 offers quite a bit of content that is actually not about racing and cars at all. With customizable avatars, housing on two islands, and clubs, players will be spending a lot of time outside of a car. What other offerings will be available for non-vehicle based entertainment?

As TDU2 became more social, with the possibility of meeting other players everywhere (car dealers, shops, houses) and invite friends at home, it was important to make a focus on the avatars and their customization, in an immersive way. That is why you can go in clothes shops and hairdressers, but also to the surgery clinic. The clubs are an advanced racing feature which allows players to race in group, against other clubs or in cooperative modes.

I know that off road is a major component with the game. Have there been any specific challenges in making off-road a great component of the game?

Off roads are a big addition to TDU2. They give the opportunity to experiment new driving experience on new playgrounds. SUV in TDU2 is a full category, with specific cars, racing schools and championships, which means lots of specific challenges. TDU2 has some very special problems. For one, your team not only has to get the external details for the cars right, but they have to get the internals right as well. Was that a specific challenge working with the car manufacturers, with that much detail necessary? And with that, how many cars are actually in the game?

We pushed the limits both for external shape precision and interiors’ quality. We wanted a real quality gap in terms of modeling accuracy and details (logos and lights are fully modelised for example), but also new materials and shaders for a more realistic rendering. We doubled the quality for both exteriors and interiors in terms of 3D shapes. TDU2 has [more than ninety] brand cars, and they are all premium quality… We are proud to say we got official congratulations from some car manufacturers for the quality of our work!

Players can buy every car, house, and customizable item in the game, leading to a very personalized game. TDU2 also allow players to create their own races. Please describe that experience for posting your own paths across Ibiza and Oahu.

Player can create new challenges with the Game Mode Editor. He can select the tracks they want, specify rules and car categories at his will. Once he is satisfied and has validated his challenge with his personal score, he can post it online, in the Community Racing Center, and bet money on the fact other players can’t beat it! Every player entering the competition will pay a fee which goes into a pot that will be given to the best player on that track. This is a very exciting way of gaining good cash and compete with other players. For those returning to Oahu, what is new and what is the same from the original Test Drive Unlimited?

Players will re-discover the island of Oahu. There are still the cities and the main roads of Hawaii, but they will start the adventure on the other side of the island and access to nearly 1000 kms of new roads (mainly off-roads, but also racing tracks) and access to new beautiful spots. There are also new houses, car dealers, tuner shops, surgery clinic, hairdressers… to guarantee a real new experience on this good old island of Oahu!

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Ben PerLee
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