Forza Motorsport 4: Under the Hood Part 5

Brian Ekberg
Friday, December 02, 2011

Welcome to the latest installment of our series, “Forza Motorsport 4: Under the Hood”. In this edition of our ongoing interview with Forza 4 creative director Dan Greenawalt, we’ll be discussing the most recent title update for Forza 4, which went live earlier today. This title update has been in the works for several weeks, involving a tremendous amount of investigation, research, and testing by the Turn 10 team. The result is a title update which covers a wide range of issues, including dozens of bug fixes and a number of significant feature improvements. Let’s hear from Dan and dive into some of the highlights. 

  

 

FM4_IMS_Announce_2

 

 

This is the second title update for Forza Motorsport 4. How does the team decide which problems are addressed in a title update? 

 

First and foremost, now that Forza 4 has been released, we have a tremendous amount of data available to us. This includes how often people are playing, what modes they are spending their time in, what kinds of accessories they are using, etc. We spend a tremendous amount of time poring through that data, looking for trends and for areas that we feel can be improved, whether through server-side updates or via title updates. Analyzing this data helps us to objectively look at how people are playing the game, the features they are enjoying, and the problems they are running into—to really get a feel for what’s happening in Forza 4. This allows us both to identify and prioritize the issues that we want to address in a title update.

 

Beyond the objective data crunching, however, we also listen to what the Forza 4 players have to say. We pay attention to the forums, to e-mails we receive, as well as what the press has to say about our game, and so forth. For example, many of the issues that were addressed in this title update came directly from problems identified by our most dedicated sim racing fans.

 

Finally, of course, our studio is full of Forza 4 fans and we all have our pet issues that we’d like to see addressed in a title update. Many of these overlap directly with the things the community is talking about; some are a bit more behind the scenes. However, they all derive from the same motivation: making Forza Motorsport 4 the best car experience it can be.

 

What have you done to improve gameplay in Forza 4 for players that use accessories such as the Fanatec CSR wheel? 

 

The new title update addresses a number of issues for players who use 900-degree wheels like the Fanatec Forza Motorsport 4 CSR Wheel. First up is the so-called “Zero credit” bug, where users playing Forza 4 with a 900-degree wheel weren’t receiving credit or XP after finishing a race. This problem was created because of some anti-cheating measures we had in place. If our system didn’t detect more than a six-degree movement on the wheel in a single frame, we would invalidate that session and the result would be that the player would not receive credits or XP. Because of the fidelity of a 900-degree wheel, and the smoothness of so many hardcore sim drivers in Forza 4, it was easy to trigger our detection system by rarely (or, in some cases never) making more than a six-degree turn in a single frame. In essence, we were failing to reward our best drivers simply because they were so smooth behind the wheel.

 

With the title update, we’ve changed the detection logic to accurately support smooth driving with 900-degree wheels.

 

In addition, we’ve also addressed the issues with countersteering when playing with the 900-degree wheel. Previously while countersteering, the 900-degree wheel was inadvertently being mapped as a 270-degree wheel -– effectively a 3:1 ratio. This had nothing to do with simulation versus normal steering or speed-sensitive steering. This was a mapping bug.

 

After some intensive play-testing internally, we were able to completely isolate the countersteering bug identified by the community and have implemented a fix that keeps the wheel mapped as a 900-degree wheel under all conditions. The result of this change will be more consistent steering and countersteering, though catching a car when getting loose in corner will require more wheel input and better timing. In essence, it’s even more realistic than before and I believe it will add an even greater simulation challenge for our most advanced drivers.

 

This title update introduces some new tools designed to better regulate the Forza 4 economy. What can you tell us about that? 

 

We take the economy in Forza 4 very seriously, because we know it’s one of the things that make the Forza community such a gratifying and rewarding place to be. We have thousands of players who spend hours creating vinyl groups, car designs, and tunes, and we love to see them rewarded for their efforts with in-game credits. We also know that there’s a small group of players out there who are intent on glitching credits; and that small number of people can end up having a seriously negative effect on the Forza 4 economy. 

 

We have instituted a number of server-side tools that will allow us to better regulate and stabilize the economy and, as a result, make the auction house and storefront experience more fun and more rewarding. Along with these tools, we will be instituting an upcoming cap on auction house sales. While this cap is in place, you will receive a maximum cap of credits for an auction sale, even if your auction sells for more than that. This allows us to remove “glitched” credits out of the system, while still rewarding those who want to sell cars on the auction house. We will be regularly reviewing the auction cap and will raise or lower it as warranted in the future.

 

How does this title update address issues with leaderboard cars? 

 

With this title update, we are temporarily removing the ability for certain cars to post times on the leaderboards while we investigate refinements to our Performance Index system that will allow us to once again admit these cars back in the mix. The affected cars: 

 

  • 1968 Dodge Dart HEMI Super Stock
  • 1970 Dodge Coronet Super Bee
  • 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA Stradale
  • 1967 Dodge Coronet W023
  • 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
  • 1971 AMC Javelin-AMX
  • 1992 Lancia Delta Integrale EV0
  • 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

 

In addition to this temporary removal of these cars from posting leaderboard times, we will be wiping the leaderboard times of those cars across different leaderboards. In a future title update, we’ll be addressing the PI refinements in greater detail and once again allowing these cars to post leaderboard times. Stay tuned for more in the future.

 

Will there be future title updates for Forza 4? 

 

We are always looking for ways to improve the Forza Motorsport 4 experience for our fans and I would encourage players to let us know their comments (both positive and negative) about the game on our forums, or by sending us an e-mail to forzafb@microsoft.com. While I can’t tell you exactly when our next title update will be, the kind of in-depth and passionate feedback we receive from our fans is invaluable to our ongoing effort to make Forza 4 the best game it can be.