If you've ever played a racing video game, odds are you're familiar with the genre's notoriously broken AI: When computer-controlled cars fall behind, they have a tendency to become more aggressive, or spontaneously get faster, and then you lose. Y'know, realism.
That could all change with the next generation of racers. Forza 5 developer Turn 10 has designed the next installment of its racing franchise to move away from the predictability of racing opponents and instead replace it with real human intelligence—and error. Creative director Dan Greenawalt told OXM that the "drivatars" of Forza 5 were "trained by real people" to allow them to accurately mimic professional drivers—and more impressively, to learn from the player actions. "So when gamers cut corners, the Drivatar will learn where to do it and how to do it appropriately," he continued. "We didn't train it to run into you."
This is an impressive technical feat, but more noteworthy is what it means for the Forza series, and sports and racing games as a whole. The fact that a long-running racing game like Forza has turned to real drivers for game design comes on the heels of the increased focus on immersion found in games like NBA and Madden, and for the same reason: Players expect realism—be it on the court or in the cockpit—from sports games.
The upside of the Forza
innovation is that clever, well-timed drifts and slipstreams will no longer be trumped by an unfair spike in speed. The downside is that you have one fewer excuse for losing.