Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon has signed up to help develop a completely new online motor racing game experience that promises to deliver a near-simulator level of accuracy and involvement to its players.
Wheldon is teaming up with San Francisco start-up Ignite Game Technologies to help guide the development of its new Simraceway
online game environment that will allow live head-to-head competition between gamers across a variety of real race tracks from around the world. It will use the same advanced physics modelling employed by top professional racing teams around the world in their simulators to prepare for races.
"I've always enjoyed my time in the simulators," said Wheldon. "It was pretty obvious that Ignite was not looking to build just another racing game, so the opportunity to influence Simraceway'
s physics directly was pretty appealing."
Unlike existing console games such as Forza
and Gran Turismo,
the fully online nature of the game - similar to the World of Warcraft
way of playing - will enable continual upgrades of track and series details to ensure everything is always up-to-date. Ignite plans to use laser scanning of tracks to achieve millimetre-accurate precision recreations of some of the most famous race courses in the world.
"It's been a fun project to be involved with but I'm really looking forward to getting into the meat of it later this month when we do the physics model shakedown at Infineon," said Wheldon.
"The core aim of the Simraceway
online racing environment is simply to do online, live, multi-player racing really, really well," said Jonathan Haswell, the founder of Ignite. "This racing environment will be much less about high detailed visual models and cinematic replays, like most current racing games, and much more about close, hard, door handle-to-door handle racing."
As well as fair play and anti-cheat measures, a key feature of the new game will be matching players based on skill level to ensure close, competitive races, with Ignite pointing out that "it's simply not fun or engaging to easily beat or be easily beaten."
"A critical design realisation for us has been that it really doesn't matter how good, or not, you are, or actually what you're driving," continued Haswell, who wanted to break away from the existing model of having to work through a game sequentially to unlock multiple levels. "If you're battling hard against other real drivers of similar skill level you're having fun and that's what we're looking for here."
"The real fun will begin when I get to start racing against users live online!" agreed Wheldon.
The company expects to announce further partnerships with other top professional drivers, car manufacturers, racing series and teams over the coming months. Ignite has already signed deals to include current and historic licensed content from a variety of car and racing brands including Bentley, Bugatti, Mitsubishi and Saleen.
Ignite is planning to launch its first online game in the autumn.
More information (including video, more screenshots and a form to sign up for news updates about beta testing and the release of the game) is available at www.simraceway.com