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.Â Forza 5Â 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 intelligenceâ€”and error. Creative director Dan Greenawalt toldÂ OXMÂ that the "drivatars" ofÂ Forza 5Â were "trained by real people"Â to allow them to accuratelyÂ mimic professional driversâ€”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 theÂ ForzaÂ series, and sports and racing games as a whole.Â The fact that a long-running racing game likeÂ ForzaÂ has turned to real drivers for game design comes on the heels of the increased focus on immersion found in games likeÂ NBAÂ and Madden, and for the same reason: Players expect realismâ€”be it on the court or in the cockpitâ€”from sports games.
The upside of the Forza
innovationÂ 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.