Welcome back to our Dev Stories, where you can peek behind the scenes of SBK Official Mobile Game!
This post is all about Game Design, the creative force driving game development and powering the stories, characters, gameplay mechanics, interfaces and worlds which bring video games to life.
WHAT DOES A GAME DESIGNER DO?
Filippo Gandini, one of the SBK Official Mobile Game Designers, sums up his responsibilities as follows: “I’m the keeper of the Game Design documents, which detail how the game mechanics and modes are supposed to work. I’m also responsible for keeping all those documents up to date with any changes made during the game’s development, as all the artists and programmers refer to such documents to implement their part of the game. Moreover, I’m responsible for the A.I. ‘learning’ and tuning process, in other words how the computer-driven opponents ride, the trajectories they follow and how competitive they are across difficulty levels. Last but not least, I design the in-game menu flows”.
Fil defines SBK Official Mobile Game as a “Living Game”, where “we try to offer SBK enthusiasts a new gaming experience—although not an actual simulation—bringing them closer to the real World Superbike Championship”. In fact, “our biggest challenge is adapting the game features to the rules of a real-life competition which, unlike other types of games, imposes strict constraints on the design”.
And the complexity of this project is not limited to working on a popular license: “On top of that, balancing difficulty is key in racing games, where the A.I. opponents’ difficulty tuning is an ongoing effort that lasts throughout the design process and is only closed at the end of the production cycle: our final goal is to guarantee the maximum fun to the player, with a tailor-made challenge free from frustrations of any kind. We have a dedicated PC that uses all its raw power to teach the A.I. how to ride on every track and score the best possible results. I’ve had to learn all the parameters of motorbike physics affecting the riding performance and to set multiple objectives for the A.I. training system to obtain the best lap times, trajectories, time spent on the tarmac and much more. All that with the machine dedicated to A.I. training running remotely due to the pandemic that we are all sadly familiar with”.
FROM CREATIVE IDEAS TO WINNING EXECUTION
In case you are wondering how Fil comes up with new ideas for SBK Official Mobile Game and how they go into production, this is the creative and validation process he follows with the support of the rest of the team: “Everything in the game is the brainchild of one or more team members, but many, many ideas have been discarded. Once we have an idea for a game feature, the first question we ask ourselves is how it can improve the gaming experience. If the answer to this first question confirms the feature is worth implementing, we proceed to make sure it doesn’t conflict with the official WorldSBK regulation. If that is a pass too, we move on to design the feature in detail and submit it to the other departments for review, namely art and programming. Once that step is also done, the feature implementation is planned in the production roadmap”.
For the design of the new SBK Official Mobile Game, we took players’ feedback very seriously too: “We aimed at improving the riding experience and the artificial intelligence, creating a system that would allow the A.I. opponents to ‘learn’ how to ride on different tracks as we made the game. Moreover, some players asked for a team management and bike customisation component to be added to the game, and we have a little surprise in store for them in the new bike management system—which we actually hope can be further expanded and explored with future updates”.
A BIKE IS MORE THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS
As a matter of fact, the bike components management system is Fil’s favorite feature among the new additions: “Players are no longer only riders on the track, but they must also take care of their motorcycles like in real life, making sure all the components of their precious creatures are in good working order for the best possible performance. The parts degradation and tuning system enhances the perception of realism and reinforces the idea that a motorbike is not a static object but rather a wonderful and complex piece of equipment, which is so much more than the sum of its parts! All the parts have their own settings, issues, and deteriorate over time. This feature is intended to reproduce the love and care every biker gives to their motorcycle, as each player is also expected to keep it in good condition to race better, and they can even tune some parts to enhance the overall performance”.
Watch out for the next entry in the Dev Stories series to know more about the challenges and secrets of game development, or simply to get a behind-the-scenes look at the new SBK Official Mobile Game!