Real Racing 2, possibly the most ambitious app to hit the App Store launched today. It’s a new version of one of the best racing games ever seen on a mobile device, and better than many seen on consoles. Firemint, based in Australia, has a lot riding on this game with a reported 2 million dollars spent on it’s development. We fired off a few questions to the fine folks down under to get some of their thoughts on the iOS platform and development of Real Racing 2.
 
Q: Real Racing 2 integrates Game Center for multiplayer, leaderboards, and achievements. How have you seen the performance of the Game Center multiplayer system?  You’ve been able to do something others haven’t by bringing 16 player multiplayer to iOS.
 
Game Center has been great for us and we are big supporters of it. Beyond just leaderboards and achievements, we can use your Game Center ID to locate your save games and link to other services like Youtube uploads etc. The awesome thing about Game Center is that it provides an easy way to create peer to peer multiplayer connections with up to four players at once. We have supported this in Flight Control, Real Racing, Flight Control HD and Real Racing HD.
 
For Real Racing 2 we have implemented a hosted solution because we wanted to support our 16 car single player grid in multiplayer games as well. We also wanted to make it really simple to find and play multiplayer games, on every device. This is something we have been working on for a long time. It is more difficult for us to do things that way, but it means we are able to support all devices.  

 
Q: A few months ago you released a story about how you had tuned the AI in your bots to such an extent that they were cheating.  Are you sure they aren’t still cheating?  Some of the AI race drivers seem awful good! Tell us more about the AI in the game for the computer drivers.
 
Well the Real Racing 1 AI weren’t cheating as such, it was more that they were finding exploits in the physics engine, the same exploits that human players could find. An example of that was that the AI found if they hit a certain corner at exactly the right angle, they would explode down the track faster than any car could drive. Needless to say, we fixed that bug before release!
 
In Real Racing 2, we have gone to great lengths to make sure the AI are competitive without cheating. Some games allow their AI to have faster or more responsive cars, or add catchup code so that they are competitive. On release, our game has none of this, the opponents never drive a car that out performs the ones the player can drive in the game. However, they may take you to the cleaners if you enter a hard career race under-spec’d. So choose a car with as high a performance rating as possible and ideally well suited to the particular track, for example top speed is pretty critical on an oval but it’s not so helpful on a winding track. If the AI is driving a car that you know has a higher top speed than yours, then you can be pretty sure that they won’t be so good on the corners.
 
The AI have been written to use the same inputs that the player has, accelerate, brake and steer. The down side of this as developers, we have to make our AI really smart to keep up with a human player.
 
One advantage that the AI do have is that they are precision drivers, the best AI can hit a precise racing line every time, so while it may seem like they are cheating, they actually take great lines through the corners and may come out of them faster than you if you make a small mistake. So just like when you are down at the track, winning at the high levels in Real Racing takes precise driving.
 
Even with all our effort into improving the AI, we would still rather take on the fastest AI we have than try to compete with a top ranked Real Racing player!

Q: What can we expect in the future for Real Racing 2?  Any planned updates? An iPad version perhaps?  Voice chat like we’ve seen you recently add with Flight Control?
 
You can be pretty certain that we will do an iPad version and we want to do something special, but definitely not until next year. We also have the online save game system now so that we can share your progress across versions of the game including from iPhone to iPad.
 
We do have all sorts of ideas and plans for Real Racing 2, however they are just ideas at this stage. Announcing things is easy, but delivering is hard, so we are cautious about announcing too much at this stage. Hopefully then, when we do deliver something, we will have over-delivered :)

 
Q: You’ve developed your own 3D engine for Real Racing 2, Mint 3D. Can you tell us a little more about it and what are the advantages of a custom engine over a pre-built one?
 
Mint3D is a powerful and highly optimized rendering engine designed to get great performance out of the current iOS platforms, particularly iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4. It supports standout visual effects like shadow mapping, depth of field, motion blur, detail textures, reflections, level of detail, specular highlights, glints, flares, particle effects, animation and even some improved real time shadows, whilst being able to push large quantities of polygons and models through the hardware each frame. The cool thing is, we have a very optimized legacy engine within Mint3D that was developed along with Real Racing, which is how we are able to continue to support earlier devices, albeit without the same high level of effects possible on the newer hardware.  
 
We have to render a 3 mile track being traversed at high speed, from any angle with 16 cars, sometimes all on the screen at once, all with unique textures, see through windows, reflections, shadows, damage etc. It all has to look great regardless of what the player is doing with their car or with the camera or where they are driving. Everything moves by very quickly so dealing with a large object count is very important to a racer, and when you have 16 cars with physics and AI on top of that, there is a lot of variety to deal with. Mint3D is designed to handle this and to do a large variety of things well and at consistent framerates.
 
The choice of going with a custom engine over something pre-built is something that should be made for each game and each developer individually. It is not just an economic choice, sometimes a pre-built engine is the right choice for creative reasons. In our case, we design the game first and the engine has to keep up with that. By using our own engine we have the freedom to do whatever it takes to make it deliver for our particular needs. It feels like that is the best way for us to build signature titles and make them stand apart.

Q: How about some racing tips? Do you have any tips our readers for getting the best times on the Real Racing 2 tracks?
 
Generally, the fastest race times can be achieved by turning and braking as minimally as possible: a good race line with the goal of taking straight lines through corners, sufficient but minimal braking (losing traction washes off a lot of speed) and trying to maintain a high, constant speed throughout the race will hold you in good stead.
 
Every car handles differently, and braking and acceleration in and out of corners can count for a lot. Learn to exploit the varying performance attributes of each car and practice the techniques listed above. Driving with assists can be a very helpful way to learn to get your braking and racing line right.

 
Thanks to the folks at Firemint for answering our questions. Real Racing 2 is out now, and I strongly suggest you grab it if you enjoy a good race. Feel free to add me in Game Center, I’m jeff148apps — I’ll see you on the track.
 

$0.99
$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-12-16 :: Category: Games

Posted in: App Store Insiders, Blog, First Looks, Interviews

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