FAST Racing NEO is certainly set to be one of the year's biggest Wii U eShop releases, with its arrival due on 10th December. Shin'en Multimedia has established itself as a leading 'Nindie' developer capable of producing wonderful visuals and strong gameplay, while sci-fi racing is a genre that's been long-neglected on Nintendo hardware. Though Shin'en's game is very different from F-Zero, for example, the absence of high-quality competition for this style of racer could see the eShop release gain a lot of fans.
With its approaching release we've been running a series of behind the scenes 'glimpses' at the game; in the first entry the studio's Manfred Linzner spoke about design approaches and his favourite vehicle and track, while in part two Bernhard Wodok, the Lead Tools Developer on the project, provided some technical insight.
In this final part Martin Sauter talks about his favourite vehicle and track, while also outlining some of the processes behind creating sizeable landscapes in which to race.
I'm the art director, senior artist, junior artist, animator and 2d artist in one person!
As the designer of the cars, I love all the cars, but if I have to pick just one I go for the Fulcon Capital. Its design is quite unique and so is the handling of the car - it's very heavy and therefore hard to handle in turns, but if you master the steering in curves (little hint: use leaning with ZL and ZR), you benefit from the great top speed and acceleration.
This makes it also a great car for time attacks.
So hard to choose one, as so much love went into all the tracks, but I pick Scorpio Circuit. This was the first track and we did so many changes and tweaks to it in the three years of development.
When you play the game for the fist time, it's not so obvious, but everything is there for a reason. When you learn the track you feel the rhythm of alternating boost pads, collecting energy orbs and boosting. You can almost boost through the whole track. For a beginner I suggest to just look for the giant ventilators and to get safely through the gaps and forget about the energy orbs and the boost pad. As soon as you get used to this, you can pick up the stuff. I personally just look for the vents first, then choose the right lane and boost through the whole tunnel.
And always save a little boost energy for the final straight at the end of the race. You never know who's behind you.
To achieve the look we were aiming for we researched all the tech currently available. We made very high resolution ground textures and added distant normalmaps to avoid repetition. We used a lot of procedural foliage and scattered hundred of thousands of rocks and pebbles; we also implemented atmospheric scattering, high quality soft shadows, god rays and so on.
This was fine, but we still needed iconic large assets that add scale to the environment. And what can be bigger then mountains or cliffs? The common technique is to sculpt or displace them using special tools, but these models lacked scale and shape. So we tried out 3d scanning and this was the key. We made hundreds of photos from nearby rocks and even created a small in-house photo studio for smaller assets.
Then we processed these images with special 3D scanning software. The resulting files looked marvellous but were gigabytes in size with a gazillion polygons, so we had to hand tune them to something we can use in a real time game. These final models gave us silhouettes and details, nearly impossible to sculpt from scratch. On top we added highres textures for details and normalmaps.
The final result was really mind blowing.