I’ve always been a huge fan of the racing genre, be it hardcore sims, arcade entries or anything between. That love helped fuel our own debut into the genre, mobile title Mini Drivers, back in 2016.
When we considered bringing the game to PS4, we knew a simple port wouldn’t suffice. Instead, we took the original concept and reimagined it for console, taking inspiration from a diverse range of genre heavyweights such as Crash Team Racing and Codemasters’ Formula 1 (a personal favorite).
This ensured that our title would be packed with the features players have come to expect: cross-platform multiplayer, crazy yet customizable power-ups, and plenty of accessibility options. A great physics engine. Stunning visuals. And lots of courses, all with dynamic race-disrupting dangers to make every lap different from the last. And so was born Touring Karts.
1. Keeping the multiplayer lobby thriving
Making sure there are enough online players to keep multiplayer healthy is always a challenge. Cross-play, coupled with no segregation of VR and non-VR players, proved to be a simple solution… on paper. Of course, the reality is somewhat more complex, and involves building server infrastructure, testing all combinations of platforms and control methods, and so on. Ensuring that all players — regardless of where and how they’re playing — have the same experience was difficult, but ultimately worthwhile.
2. Power-up precision for everyone
It was a real challenge to create power-ups that were attractive to use in VR and also engaging and easy to use on any other platform. The hammer, for example, can be moved in any direction in VR, the same when using the touchscreen on a mobile device, or by following the position of your finger or direction on the D-pad of a DualShock 4.
The implementation of the bazooka was another challenge, as we decided to use a hybrid approach mixing auto-aim and manual aiming. That way, you could easily regulate the precision for each shot both in VR and outside of VR.
3. Funny how?
Battling for pole position can be a serious business. We wanted to alleviate that tension (or ramp it up, if you’re on the receiving end of an attack) with our multiplayer power-ups, which highlight our interest towards the wackier end of multiplayer racing. Sure, hammers and grenade launchers are unorthodox items for the racetrack, but they’re not unfamiliar to gamers in other online arenas. But how about a giant, irate chicken, or a troop of miniature monkeys trained to briefly hypnotize your race rivals?
The circuits deserve a special mention, as they have been enriched with tons of dynamic gameplay-disruptive elements (random slopes, new curves with superelevations and final jumps, optional side ramps, etc) many of those fit the culture and location of each place (a big slice of pizza that throws olives in Italy, giant Frankfurt sausage that hits the ground with beer jugs in Germany, etc).
And as previously mentioned, you can fuse power-ups. Combine that angry avian with a bazooka and watch it stampede ahead of you, sporting a military cap and laying explosives onto the heads of those unfortunate to be in its path. Switch a bazooka for an ice cube and you’ll replace grenades for ice cubes, a military cap for an eskimo hat.
4. Comfort settings
Touring Karts offers multiple camera modes. Arcade Cabinet recreates the oversized sit-down machines that once frequented arcades, and can help players who suffer from motion sickness. You “sit” in the cabinet, with the game screen built-in in front of you. Power-ups still appear in your hands, and are “thrown” into the cabinet screen, ensuring you still enjoy the immersive physicality of a race.
Practice makes perfect
Touring Karts had a few practice runs before it roared onto PS4, with tests conducted and bugs ironed out as the game took its first Early Access laps last September on PC. Changes weren’t just behind the scenes: we continued to refine tracks, in both gameplay and aesthetics, adding dynamic elevation to further emphasize the ever-changing courses. All in answer to player feedback. As a result, the PS4 release offers the best version of our arcade racer!