Just how tough is it to get a car scanned into Forza?
The answer to that, and more, in our interview with Brian Ekberg, Turn 10 Studios' community manager.
Tim StevensFormer editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Turn 10 Studios has quite the unveiling on its hands. Forza Horizon 3 brings the open-world racing game to the great Australian Outback, and there's plenty of both on- and off-road antics for players to get into. But while you might only see the polished, final version of the game, there's so much that goes into it.
Whether it's chasing down cars on 20-hour drives across the Australian continent, or pulling the "we don't talk about future product" line when it comes to a VR-enabled Forza game, Turn 10 has been very busy preparing for its latest debut. Tim Stevens, Roadshow's editor-in-chief, asks Brian Ekberg, Turn 10's community manager, all about it.
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RS: The Australian auto market is very different from the American and European markets that have featured in previous games. What are some of the most distinctive aspects of Aussie motoring sets these cars apart?
Ekberg: We've been lucky to have Australian cars in Forza before but never to the extent that we've featured them in Forza Horizon 3. I think what makes the Australian market so unique is that there seems to be a nationwide passion for cars and motorsport. The Bathurst 1000 feels like a national holiday when it comes around every year. Fans are as devoted to their Ford or Holden loyalties as you'll find anywhere in the world.
We've put a lot of effort into capturing that diversity in our car list as well. You see some of that here with the 2014 Ford FPV Limited Edition Pursuit Ute and the Holden Torana A9X that are part of our first announcement of cars in the game and you'll see even more of that throughout the summer as we continue to roll out the full car list in the game.
Are there more Ford or Holden fans on the development team?
The Forza franchise has enjoyed a long relationship with Ford over the years -- the Ford GT was the cover car for Forza Motorsport 6, of course. At the same time, the impact Holden has had on the Australian automotive landscape is undeniable. It's interesting to see how many Forza fans -- many of whom have might never have even visited Australia -- rejoice whenever we add a Holden car to our game. In the end, both here at Playground and within the Forza community, people just want to drive great cars in our games, and we're fortunate to be able to bring so many examples from both manufacturers into Forza Horizon 3.
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With the addition of the Nomad and Trophy Truck, it seems like Horizon 3 is going to be as much about off-road as on-road. What's the mix?
Forza has the largest and most diverse car lineup of any racing franchise of this generation and the diversity of cars in the game matches the geographical diversity of Australia, so it's a curated mix. It's really fun to see the world's fastest hypercars to open up on Australia's fast, sweeping, scenic highways, muscle cars to cruise the busy urban streets in the city of Surfers Paradise and trophy trucks and buggies to tackle the rugged Outback, or race through the ocean surf. In Forza Horizon 3, players will be able to explore Australia with more than 350 of the world's greatest cars (150 more than Forza Horizon 2 at launch), including all-new vehicle types like Trophy Trucks and buggies, bringing fresh driving experiences to the game. All of these cars have been recreated in stunning Forzavista detail with full cockpit views, working lights and wipers.
Any plans for a VR-capable Forza?
We have nothing further to share at this time regarding plans for VR versions of Forza titles.
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Which car was the hardest to get access to for scanning?
We send our car sourcing team to the ends of the Earth to find the perfect example of a car we're looking to add to the game and gather detailed references. With Forza Horizon 3 being set in Australia, we of course set out to find iconic new and classic Australian cars all over the country. Without a doubt the most elusive car was the 1951 Holden FX Ute. While these classics once roamed all over Australia, and many still do, it was exceedingly difficult to track down a perfect, pristine example. The day our sourcing expert was headed back to Sydney for his return flight to the States, we got word that one was available, about a 20-hour drive from his current location. We asked him to change his travel plans and go track it down. It was quite an adventure, and we think players will really appreciate the effort when they see this amazing piece of Australian automotive history in the game.
How long does it take to scan each car?
From sourcing to production, bug testing and polish, and finally being available either on disc or as part of a DLC pack, the general process takes around six months.
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Is the process different for certain types of cars?
We have a number of different methods for sourcing cars that will be playable in Forza, depending on what kind of access is available to us. That includes CAD data provided by the manufacturer, as well as digital laser scanning, and our proprietary digital photo-tracking technology. This allows us to faithfully recreate every fine detail and subtle curve with unprecedented accuracy and beauty. We pool this information together to create the digital model of the car, taking into consideration all of its physical properties and capabilities. We take a tremendous amount of care to make sure our cars are as accurate as possible -- they need to look right, sound right and perform precisely as the real car does in the real world.
Just how ridiculous is the Lamborghini Centenario in person? How much time did you get to spend with it?
It's astonishing! We had the real car as the showcase at our E3 booth in Los Angeles in June and it was fantastic to see the looks on people's faces when they would walk by. Immediately the mobile phones would come out and people were lining up to take photos with the car. Our friends at Lamborghini were kind enough to let the Forza team members sit in the car for pictures at the show. I think it took me a full week to wipe the grin off my face afterwards.