By John Salazar
We can’t blame the modern gamer if they’ve gotten to associate “car games” with racing. That’s really what car games usually are – games with a ton of high-speed races on tracks with an assortment of customized vehicles and machines. Rarely do we see car games with different mechanics, such as hazards and power-ups.
And much rarer are games with other quirky mechanics that can spice up the gameplay at large. So we can’t blame ourselves for wanting other features to spice up the future of car games. Are we going to see other car game features in the future? Or are we perhaps stuck with the usual assortment of power-ups, terrain hazards, and weapons that our card can gather around the track?
In this article are some features we really want modern car games to have:
We want customizable drivers. What better way to claim our awesome racing machines than to see our own drivers take them for themselves, right? Granted, a lot of people might argue we’ve been seeing enough customization in car games with car customization. However, driver customization takes immersion to the next level as this essentially symbolizes “ownership” of these machines by players. We’d always like to see cutscenes of drivers with professional or wacky costumes enter and leave our own cars in races and single player modes. Moreover, we can make use of this new feature to add new elements of strategy to the game, such as extra driver bonuses.
° There are actually a ton of interesting mechanics that customizable drivers can add into racing games. Imagine, adding a customizable driver can give your car slight enhancements or even special “skills” you can use to take advantage of races. These can include slight power-ups or even visible advantages. This can add a lot of interesting gameplay elements.
° The closest we’ve got to this kind of mechanic is Need for Speed: Carbon, where races are done in “teams” and each team member have special “roles” with special perks in the track.
We want to make our own tracks. Customizable tracks add a new element of thrill to the game. Editing apps and add-one have been a staple of some popular platform and RTS games, as this feature adds a ton of replayability and immersion to the game. Instead of just being able to modify racing conditions, why not just edit the tracks themselves? A level editor for racing games can add a whole level of competition in titles, as they explore the capabilities of player skills when faced with new tracks out of the game. We can even have a sharing feature that lets us show our tracks to the global player base, and even challenge others with them.
° Imagine being able to boast and race on a track you’ve made using a custom level editor. This adds a ton of opportunities for you to make fun tracks for you and your friends to enjoy, instead of just limiting yourselves to a set of adjustable settings depending on the track.
° Imagine playing Need for Speed: Most Wanted in a customized track, where you have to race against other underground racers with a lot of police involved. That’s pretty exciting.
We want more realistic physics for stunts. We already have physics in car games responsible for crazy stunts and as much realism as possible in car games. And we do have titles that try to make racing as technically-sound and realistic as possible (sometimes people even complain it’s too difficult). However, we do want to try having racing games with realistic physics even in environments and hazards. Cars that get broken during races shouldn’t be repairable, or repairable at a cost. Hazards change depending on the weather, and certain car parts work best in certain conditions. These additional elements can greatly spice up gameplay for racing fans around the world.
° Granted, a lot of car games actually do demonstrate realistic physics. However, it’s interesting to see how all these elements combine in a single game. Imagine having a high-speed car game that takes almost real-life technicalities into the picture – such as damaged parts translating into vehicle effects, or even environmental and weather hazards affecting the performance of cars.
° Destructible vehicles that can result in a game over can be an interesting gameplay mechanic. Imagine, everytime you hit a part of the track that’s not a road, a part of the vehicle can get damaged and even knocked off. This can decrease elements of the car’s performance, and make it much harder to control, hard to maneuver, or even hard to stop.
We want to feature more motorsports for different mechanics. When we talk of racing games, we often limit ourselves to drag racing, street racing, Nascar, and even MotoGP. However, there’s a ton more motorsports that racing games can explore and bring to the limelight. All these games have their own set of quirks and interesting mechanics, as well as the intricacies that could make for fun racing game titles. And considering how these motorsports have their own sets of vehicles and unique tracks, developers and publishers have a whole host of potential materials to offer racing game aficionados.
There are a ton of car-based motorsports that we can make games out of, alongside various series that can be the inspiration for tracks and in-game cars and drivers.
Competitions like Indycar racing can be a suitable competition for Formula 1 and Nascar-based games, and we can do this to other motorsports as well.
The Future of Car Games: More Quirks, More Replayability
With the above in mind, it’s reasonable to say that today’s car games might be exciting but lack elements that make them unique from one another. And despite differences in terms of graphics, featured cars, and some bit of gameplay, there’s barely anything new that these games offer. And for the modern gamer, this can slowly make car games and racing games a bit boring for them. Having a posh car or a well-customized machine might not amount to much without fun mechanics to help show it off. So the above tips would hopefully be able to offer publishers and developers to come up with ways to spice things up for car game enthusiasts, and to show there’s more to car games than “just” racing and the features we’ve grown to expect from these titles thanks to popular franchises.
John Salazar is a certified techie-at-heart, but he shares a love for all things science and technology, health and wellness, and even a bit of music on the side. As a creative writer, John makes sure to write both informative and entertaining pieces. He loves writing, and he plays the guitar when he has free time.