The third and final chapter of the NASCAR 21: Ignition ‘Dev Diary’ series is here. There’s so much to unpack from this nearly 12 minute video. I think I’ve watched it about 10 times already as there are a ton of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moments. Buckle up, folks.
The video features Elliott Henderson, Game Designer as well as Jay W. Pennell, General Manager of Esports, both from Motorsport Games. NASCAR drivers Ryan Blaney, Austin Cindric, BJ McLeod, Corey LaJoie and Christopher Bell also make an appearance to give a driver’s insight on the upcoming game.
DYNAMIC TRACK AND AI
Before anything else, no matter how shiny a product looks on the surface, the main thing that people want is something that plays good. With the already known addition of assets from Studio 397 and the rFactor 2 sim, we knew it had potential, but now we know that it’s even more than just the possibility of a good driving car for the player.
“We’ve worked with them for about the last year and a half on improving multiple areas of the game, including AI and dynamic track. A lot of what you see in NASCAR is related to the idea of being able to race side-by-side,” Henderson said. “One guy runs by the wall, that famous Kyle Larson line or Tyler Reddick line now.
“You’ve also got the guys that bottom feed, like Kevin Harvick at Atlanta. They’re just known to go down there. A lot of what you’ll see is dynamic AI racing, between characteristics with the AI, but as well as just general AI line running… now the AI have a little bit of dimension to them.”
Dynamic track? AI that responds and changes through the race? That’s a big win if it’s pulled off correctly.
IT’S A RACE DAY EXPERIENCE
From rolling out of the garage to pre-race festivities, NASCAR 21: Ignition is putting a huge focus on the entire race weekend, not just the parts where you get on the race track. Garage sequences, pit road activity, fly-overs during the anthem… from my personal experience, all of the key points about any normal NASCAR race weekend are included.
Immersion is a great benefit for any video game. I’ve started playing the Formula 1 game for this year and it’s great how immersed you can get into it, sitting in the cockpit, talking with the team, and playing through a race weekend. NASCAR 21: Ignition looks to be pulling a lot of those same elements, and it’s a great addition for NASCAR fans to enjoy.
A VIRTUAL PIT PASS
Most fans show up to the race track and find their way to the grandstands seat. Some tracks offer infield access but most NASCAR fans don’t get to experience that. NASCAR 21: Ignition gives that garage access thanks to input from NASCAR directly, as well as current drivers.
“The National Anthem, the fly-over, just standing on pit road, you really get the feel of this is what it’s like to be at the race,” Pennell said. “A lot of people have sat in the stands or watched on television but they might not have had a hot pass or the ability to get in the garage or on pit road. I feel like we’re trying to give them that experience, and it really comes through.”
INSANE AMOUNT OF DETAIL
We’ve talked ad nauseum about the detail in this game, but it really is one of the best parts about it. There were a few more shots included in the video showcasing things around the garage area, in the cockpit, on pit road… just about everywhere this game travels feels like a realistic representation.
Just about everything is 3D modeled, as far as I can see. In one of the shots around the garage, you can see the placards atop the stalls jutting out properly. There are also proper trash cans, orange cones, fuel cans, people walking about, plus the haulers too. Everything is in the right spot. In the car, the wheel, the switches, the digital dashboard, the window net, and the seat in which the driver sits. It’s an incredible amount of focus on even the smallest of details.
“A LOT OF CAMERAS”
Motorsport Games showed off the Human-Engine 3D camera system they used back in March through various social posts. The system was used to capture an insane amount of detail for each driver that is in the game. “A lot of cameras,” Blaney said. “It was quicker than I thought it was going to be. That was a little bit different.”
Now, we can see the results of the project, with the faces of McLeod and Cindric and the others looking absolutely crisp in the game environment. “I have never seen nothing like that,” McLeod said. “That was more cameras per square inch than ever before in my life.”
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE TABLET
This isn’t too much of a reveal, but this ‘Dev Diary’ did explore the tablet UI a little further than the last videos. We get to see the Car Setup tab again, and again it’s still the basic one from last time. Hopefully there is a more intricate setup screen.
We also got to see the Overview and Lap Data tabs. While there was nothing to overview or see data for, we did get to see how it was laid out. It looks like there will be a good bit of data heading our way that will be accessible on this tablet.
A FULL LOOK AT THE UI AND HUD
Most people have probably seen some footage on YouTube from when NASCAR 21: Ignition was demoed at Daytona Int’l Speedway in August. We’ve got the clearest shot yet of the Heads Up Display that is available when in race conditions.
The two new things are the top left with the static standings and the bottom left with the pit options. There was also a screen which had spotter text toggled in the center on the bottom. For the standings, is great to see the details down to the car number graphic included within.
While we didn’t get to see what exactly the pit options are, we do know that you’ll be able to set up the pit stop during racing conditions. That means you won’t have to rush any changes in 10 seconds after entering the pits like previous games.
THAT’S ABOUT IT… WAIT, WOAH, THE PAINT BOOTH!
As the video wrapped up, a couple of frames popped in regarding the highly anticipated Paint Booth. Just from that split-second, I am sold.
Manufacturer selection, tons of color options, REALISTIC LOOKING NUMBERS, wheel rim colors. There are sponsor logos, shapes and stripes that can be positioned, resized, rotated and given a custom opacity.
Really, it is a moment you’ll miss if you’re not paying attention. Slow your YouTube browser down to 0.25x speed and keep pausing frame by frame. Trust me on this one, it is well worth sticking around to watch.
One last footnote is that drivers will change seats as seasons progress, which is another great immersive feature. Overall, a lot of positives to take from this last sneak peak.
NASCAR 21: Ignition and NASCAR 21: Ignition – Champions Edition launch on 28th October, 2021. The title will be released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC via Steam. Did you enjoy this ‘Dev Diary’ video as much as I did? Did I miss anything? Let us know about your thoughts in the comments!
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