How would you design the ultimate kart racer?

Discussion in 'Console & PC Gaming' started by MIE1992, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. MIE1992

    MIE1992

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    I don't mean as in actual karting, like that iOS game that's coming featuring Nico Rosberg - I mean "kart racer" as a videogame sub-genre, like Mario Kart, Crash Team Racing, Sonic Team Racing, and so on. Even some "futuristic racing games" such as the WipEout series of Xtreme G could be said to have shared elements.

    To begin, here are the main elements of what I think is essential to a kart racer:
    -Characters. (They may have multiple classes, or change the range of karts that are selectable afterwards, where it's the latter that truly impacts the stats versus the character itself.)

    -Tracks with strong theming and potential "stage hazards." (It's like comparing the Super Smash Bros series to other fighting games, in this regard.) There should ideally be a track themed after each character. Other common elements of kart racer tracks would also be shortcuts and boost pads/"zippers."

    -Items (With various staples like projectiles that are non-homing, ones that are homing, items meant to be tossed behind you...)

    -Battle Mode (Which can also have multiple modes. Not only a "three hits and you're out" sort of mode, but also stuff like Shine Runners from some Mario Kart installments.)

    In a particular idea of mine, my take on the sub-genre would have meaningful customization beyond just relatively minor stat/aesthetic changes like in more recent Mario Kart games, but instead affect major mechanics of the racing. So for example, there can be a variety of how karts can gain mini-turbos from drifting, gain a boost start, or obtain certain items. A further example being that there could be a hypothetical kart that gains the most boost from a boost pad, but cannot gain mini-turbos from drifting. Some concepts could be taken from actual motorsport/cars, too, like DRS, KERS, and active aerodynamics. So a way I'd interpret KERS is by having a kart design that can build up a gauge to reserve mini-turbos from drifts, but cannot use it until it's been filled once, although once they have, they can otherwise use it without using it all at once, sort of like the nitrous from the NFS games.

    This would ultimately try to be a remix of pretty much all the major kart racers - or at least, my favorite elements from each one. I do like how various Mario Kart games have drafting, so here's my idea on that: you could have a kart that has high downforce - in that it doesn't need to slow down as much for turns, perhaps even not needing to drift - but as a result, it becomes a kart that other players can use for drafting, whereas a kart design that has low-downforce cannot be used by other players for drafting. A higher-downforce design would likely have lower acceleration, too, given the drag caused by the higher downforce.

    Overall, I'm not too sure about the characters, but otherwise, the emphasis would be on the karts and their potential designs from a gameplay perspective, and it could be much like the customization in the semi-obscure DS JRPG "Infinite Space," where it's almost a bit like Tetris, in that each part has a volume of sorts that needs to confine to the design's available space, but a clever player can get a lot more parts to fit in the same space. On top of this, I also really liked the "Total Cost" aspect from the customization in Ace Combat Infinity, which as the name implies, indicated the total cost of your build, and it was a fun parameter to limit for some lobbies and challenges. Perhaps the characters wouldn't have stats in themselves, but would be more indicative of what karts/parts/etc. they would be able to use.

    I'd likely also design the gameplay/tracks around a capacity of twenty players - I suppose that I picked that number because F1 comes to mind, haha. But there would be a team-racing mode, inspired by the respective team-racing modes in Mario Kart Wii and Team Sonic Racing.

    What do you think so far? What would you potentially like to hear more about?
     
    MaxAttack likes this.
  2. MaxAttack

    MaxAttack

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    A suggestion for your characters would just be to caricature the stereotypes that already exist within motorsport... Your stiff upper lip gentleman racer, robotically efficient German, flamboyant and passionate Brazilian, an icy Finn that doesn't talk much... They kind of write themselves, and the concept lends itself to the "varied approaches" angle you seem to want to come from; say if I play as the Senna analogue, he might have a little more speed when drifting the turns, where the Schumacher analogue might get less unbalanced from contact with others, or something to that effect.

    It would be pretty cool to see a crazy action packed Kart racer where the characters are human and the cars look somewhat realistic, as opposed to your choice of kid's merchandising mascots.

    Sound is also paramount. You're going to want a really good soundtrack, good engine noise and ambient sounds on the tracks. To get that actiony-karty feel, it should be really satisfying smashing the power and hearing the engine roar, and a good set of sounds for picking up/using items would go a long way. Think along the lines of how Mario Kart's music intensifies on the last lap, and how much that actually adds to the action.
     
  3. MIE1992

    MIE1992

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    Perhaps GP drivers could be a basis for personalities and nationalities, but otherwise, I think I'd make it a lot less on-the-nose that they'd be based on GP drivers. So for example, instead of simply having "Senna" but made into a lawyer-friendly version, I'd also tinker with what comes to mind when one thinks of Brazil in general, such as the notable history of Japanese ex-pats, or the Amazon rainforest and its respective endemic species. The mechanics wouldn't depend on the character in itself, but on the kart and its respective equipped parts - the availability of which would depend on the character, so it's not like there'd be no point in picking different characters. Overall, I think only a tiny fraction of the cast would be based on real-world drivers (let alone GP drivers), if at all.

    But that said, I think each character would embody a different nation; I think that'd be a good idea, especially since I had the idea of subverting the usual national stereotypes. For example, a male driver from an East Asian nation that isn't depicted as weak and emasculated like many (not all, but many) Asian males have been depicted in movies, but quite sturdy and handsome, perhaps modeled on notably attractive East Asian men, including the first male sex symbol in Hollywood, the Japanese-American Sessue Hayakawa.

    I suppose the idea I had wasn't a kart race that was necessarily more realistic, but more technical, from the gameplay perspective. It'd still have a colorful collection of characters and karts, but while being a just a little more "mature" to match its more technical gameplay. Ideally, I don't want all the characters to merely have identical silhouettes, but have a stylized appearance that helps to communicate what sort of options are available for each character. (As many good character designs do, AFAIK.) Just because it'd be stylized wouldn't necessarily mean it'd be childish, but I also don't want to do something that's just a young teen's image of "maturity," either. Besides, F1 Race Stars is already a thing, to also tie into that first point you made, so I'd like to stray away from just remaking that.

    Yeah. I suppose I did have a few general sorts of engine types that I think would be good for audio, but I think I'd only do so insofar that the audio helps to emphasize the fact that you're using a different sort of engine. Otherwise, I'm not planning on being too meticulous with audio, although I think audio for stuff like item collection/use as you mentioned is a good thing to consider, as would things like what noises are made when navigating menus, and so on. Perhaps I could be inspired by the engine noises from each of the titles I'd be inspired by when picking what sort of audio is generated by the kart that's inspired by that respective title, and then go from there.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  4. MaxAttack

    MaxAttack

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    Good ideas man! I definitely think having a distinct visual style is the way to go, and I like your idea to switch up expectations with the characters.

    I like the idea of a real-world -ish racing championship that's become so competitive and gotten so out of hand that teams are weaponising their karts and driver rivalries boil over to the point of attempted murder, but where the action is so good that the whole world is still watching :p

    Hope I could give you a few ideas, good luck if you decide to work on this...
     
  5. MIE1992

    MIE1992

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    Thanks! A more adventurous idea I had on the production side was to actually try to approach Marvelous Games, specifically one of their subsidiaries known as Honey Parade games. They seem to have a history of launching multimedia IPs that center around a game or two, most recently being a game featuring jet skis known as Jet Girls. The common factor between all their works is having, uh, rather voluptuous women - it's a studio that's connected to Kenichiro Takaki, the creator of the Senran Kagura series. You'd think that this would be a turn-off, but surprisingly, there's a very sizable amount of women who enjoy the Senran Kagura series, and I don't mean in the "it's big in Japan" way, either. I've actually met one woman at a seasonal job who was a fan of the series herself! Ideally in that case, my cast would have a comparatively varied bunch of bodytypes - I've always thought that Homura from Senran Kagura should've had a more chiseled, muscular body, especially in regards to her in-game model, and that the characters in that series have all too similar body-types, but hopefully the new engine that's going to be used in the next SK game will bring a well-needed change of pace to that. It does seem that approaching Honey Parade games would be a potentially good idea for distinctive character designs; one character design could even be inspired by this artwork that I once saw by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, showing some sort of futuristic motorcycle race.

    The idea in that scenario would be to use the character designs as the initial draw, then players are further drawn in by the genuinely interesting mechanics. Usually, I've seen this approach used for games with more consumer-unfriendly mechanics, like a large amount of "gacha" games on mobile platforms, but I think this approach could still be "used for good," so to speak. A bit like that anime Galko-chan had some educational stuff about hygiene & anatomy, including that of more...discreet parts of the body.