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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

EORG: Locations

John B. Marine | 1:49 PM |
You need tracks to put those vehicles on. Otherwise, you just have a bunch of vehicles with no place to go. Locations play a big role in the success of a racing/driving game. Where do you want the adventures to take place at? You don't want your precious vehicles to just stand around with nothing to do, don't you? So you need a solid assortment of locations for which your vehicles can perform and provide those memorable experiences.

Welcome to another installment of my "Elements of Racing Games" series here on "John's Race Space!"

--- Elements of Racing Games: Location Lists ---

EORG Location List
A racing/driving game is nothing without location(s) for vehicles to take advantage of.

The ability to conduct your racing/driving across a variety of locations lends to immense appeal if everything is executed properly. If not executed properly, the various locations won't allow you to enjoy a varied and expressive experience. Some of the better titles in the genre allow you to interact with and play within various environments and in various locations. The reason why I am not using "tracks" to describe this element of racing games is because not every game features proper tracks. For example, the Midnight Club games let you race across the individual cities in the game with a number of different events scattered about. Also, some locations don't take place in the world we all live in.

Here are some more talking points on the issue of locations.

Locations: Environment Types.

It would be rather boring if most of your racing/driving took place in one location that doesn't differ itself environmentally. The same would apply if you had different venues, but with those venues having the same sort of natural features.

A diverse array of locations in regards to environment types would relate to being able to race in certain environments that are different from one another in some sort of way. There are certain schools of thought in regards to varying environments in racing/driving games. Let us think about "Sega GT" for example. While none of the tracks are real, the environments are vastly different from one another. You have everything from temporary courses to permanent race tracks. The environments, however, differ. You race in locations such as city streets in a modern city, desert, a snowy mountain, and even something similar to the Bonneville Salt Flats. So you never entirely feel like you've been everywhere.

Another example of mixed environments can be found in games like "Need for Speed 2: Special Edition." The locations are not real, but many of them feature a vast array of environments. Circuit racing games have their own appeal in regards to environments. You may have tracks situated in plains or in some mountainous settings. Of course, you also have venues around city streets and maybe even desert or arid climates. Some racing games in alternate settings may see certain post-apocalyptic scenes in a variety of climates and biomes. All of these items help add to the appeal of various environments for which to race in.

Locations: International and World Tour.

Being able to traverse the world is always a great thing. However, what qualifies as a proper World Tour depends on where all you can play the game at. Some games offer a multitude of locations for you to play the game in. Differences among the various locales are always special in making you feel part of an expansive world instead of one place where everything seems too similar. What I like to do is think of locations in a racing game (or almost any game) as breaking up the world into three international regions:

Pan-America: North and South America
Mediterranean: Europe and Africa
Asia-Pacific: Asia and Oceania

Some games have an international locale while others are a true world tour. What is the difference between the two? Consider the following:

"International" Defined
I define "international" in racing/driving games as going from one country to another. Locales may vary, but most games with an international feel don't really take advantage of all three international regions I discussed prior to this brief section. Some games with international appeal may be exclusively in one international region, or they may have one or two regions represented, but not all three. One example of an international style racing game is "Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli." You race in that game in North America and across Europe, including Ferrari's native Italy. There are NO race tracks in the Asia-Pacific region in that game. So this is more an international style game than any real world tour. Another example of international is in Gran Turismo 2's Euro-Pacific races. Once you clear the Nationals in GT2's official races, you advance to the Euro-Pacific ranks where you race in venues in the United States and Europe, and then United States and the Pacific. You stick to two regions but not yet take on the entire world in a World Tour.

Speaking of world tour...

"World Tour" Defined
Think about something like the Formula 1 World Championship for example. The series is actually global in the various venues they compete in. You can't have a World Championship without representation from an entire world of competition. Not every country has to be represented, but just enough to supplant some sort of World Championship is just fine. Paramount to a true World Championship of locations is being able to visit various parts of the world.

A true World Championship type game is one in which you visit three or more venues scattered across all three international regions. An example of a true international game is "Midnight Club 2." You play the game in three different locations. Each of which, are one location within the three aforementioned regions- Los Angeles (Pan-America), Paris (Mediterranean), and Tokyo (Asia-Pacific). Though you play in one location per international region, every region is properly represented. This is my idea of a true international game.

Some racing games offer a world perspective in locations, vehicles, and drivers. This post has been about international appeal in terms of locations. Gran Turismo 4 was about the best showcase in various international locales with many different nationalities of car as well as various street courses worldwide. Maybe that's why I sometimes think of and want to play Gran Turismo 4 again.

• What is TRUE International, Then?
A real international type racing/driving game incorporates all three regions through locations and/or vehicles. At least one element from each of the three international regions I specified help determine proper World Championship and international material. So a ten-race championship with eight races in the USA followed by a round in England and another round in Japan would qualify (to me) as a "World Championship" or being truly international even if a majority of the races are run in one specific region.

Now you know about locations ranging from world venues to different environments.

--- Vehicle Lists: Final Thoughts ---

When it comes to making vehicle lists for racing/driving games, the best practice is to include as many vehicles as possible to deliver any number of experiences. It is a better practice to allow each of the vehicles to be utilized or customized to one's liking unless you're trying to make the different vehicles unique in their own way. The best racing/driving games allow you to enjoy multiple experiences with a vast collection of vehicles. A solid vehicle list is a start. What included vehicles and the extent of their usage can equal the difference between a solid racing/driving game and those racing/driving games that seem like missed opportunities. Make sure you get to use as many different vehicles as possible to enjoy the full experience offered by various racing/driving games.

I hate that I've taken so long to properly complete an "Elements of Racing Games" blog post for my racing/driving game blog. This is actually something I tried to complete many times before but never successfully completed. I kept putting it off and not knowing what to type up. Fear not, though- the series is live as of this post! Want to discuss this topic? Here is a question for you:

How important are vehicle lists to you? What racing/driving games make the most of the offered vehicles and offered experiences? What would you suggest in regards to vehicle lists?

I hope to continue this series and offer more content in this category. So make sure you're Subscribed and Followed if you enjoyed your time here. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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