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Inside The Crew’s connected next-gen playground, Ivory Tower speaks

Thursday, 15 August 2013 08:47 GMT By Dave Cook

The Crew developer Ivory Tower talks VG247′s Dave Cook through its huge open-world racer and explains how next-gen tech makes it all possible.

The Crew

Developed by Ivory Tower, The Crew is an open-world racer heading to PC, PS4 and Xbox One in early 2014.

It was recently confirmed that The Crew has been in development for over four years.

Ubisoft has confirmed that The Crew has 10,000km of road and no player-limit.

You can check out The Crew’s E3 2013 trailer and debut screens here.

Announced by Ubisoft at E3 2013, The Crew is the next-gen, open world racer from the former Test Drive Unlimited developers that make up Ivory Tower. It’s big, it’s online and it’s indicative of where tomorrow’s connected play-spaces are headed.

Like Destiny, Titanfall, The Division and scores of fellow next-gen releases, The Crew’s heart consists of persistent online features that deliver a populated, socially-integrated world teeming with competition, collaboration and interaction.

It’s clear that this space is where several publishers see the future of online gaming, and with a 5000 km-squared rendition of North America to play with, Ivory Tower has laid out high ambitions for the format. Make no mistake, this game is huge.

I recently spoke with the game’s creative director Julian Gerighty to get a handle on the scale of The Crew’s world and the online features buried within.

“The Crew surely features one of the biggest playgrounds ever conceived in videogames,” Gerighty explained. ”The map is about 5000 km² big and features 10000km of road. To travel from coast-to-coast with the fastest car in the game would take you about one hour and a half if you stick to the road. A little longer if you’re going off-road.”


Here’s The Crew’s E3 2013 trailer in full.

To avoid falling into that old trap of making an open world that feels barren, Gerighty added that Ivory Tower has put variety firmly at the forefront of design. As you cruise the landscape you’ll be able to drink in the sights of rolling hills, dense forests, bustling cities, quiet suburbs and sunny beaches all with 1,000 real-world landmarks peppered throughout.

“Variety is essential because it allows our designer s to create an experience where you constantly have to challenge yourself and adapt to new conditions,” Gerighty continued. “A police chase or even the simplest outrun feels completely different when they are set in the scorching canyons of Nevada rather than in the busy streets of NYC.”

Of course, variety isn’t purely visual, and Gerighty explained that within this ever-changing backdrop players will have a slew of online-enabled missions that span street racing, time trials, smuggler’s runs and rally raid courses – as well as campaign missions that can be tackled solo if a player wishes.

Gerighty confirmed that The Crew was always coined as an online, open world racer and that the team’s work on Test Drive Unlimited spurred it on to further explore what could be possible within such a setting moving forward. Given the advanced clout of next-gen formats and the increasing interest in emergent gameplay across the board, the decision was a no-brainer.

“We thought of The Crew as a connected driving game right from the beginning,” he continued, “because the ability to create living worlds and interactions between players is something that really got us excited. In that regard The Crew is a foray into the genre but our bet is that we’ll be seeing a lot more of open world games in the future.

“What does that bring to the table for videogames? Well, you now share the same world and therefore you’re part of a community but perhaps the most important thing is that it creates a stimulating environment in which your accomplishments are all the more valuable and motivating because they are shared with peers.

“This is not particular to driving games but instant competition and showing-off have always been popular among gear heads and that’s why we thought of The Crew as a connected driving game right from the beginning. With that in mind we designed the user interface as to facilitate instant cooperation and crew building.”

Building a crew and smashing opponents online is just one strut in the game’s framework, albeit a significant one. Beneath the show-boating, leaderboard scraps and bragging rights lies a narrative and this is perhaps The Crew’s backbone that fuels progression across the world.

The plot sees players infiltrating a nation-wide criminal organisation and attempting to shut down its operations on a city-by-city basis. To do so they’ll need to participate in race events to prove their worth and amass a stock of faster and more ferocious vehicles along the way.

Wary that some people often skip solo campaigns in favour of multiplayer, I asked Gerighty for his thoughts on how the narrative co-exists alongside the online competition. “The narrative is one way for us to propel the player into the full online experience,” he explained, “engaging players throughout their journey and structuring their progression while embracing open world play. 

“Our aim is to deliver a flexible narrative presence while keeping a certain amount of control, we call it ‘structured freedom’ and it is quite challenging to achieve considering that every single player in the open world evolves at his own pace. The storyline ties everything together and challenges the player on a regular basis so he always has a goal to strive for, a clear objective that keeps him motivated.

“By doing so we avoid one of these pitfalls many driving games have where at the end of the day you’re just doing laps around a track. But if one enjoys fooling around with friends and making up their own challenges together they can choose to take a break from the main campaign any time and roam our playground for the hell of it.”

Gerighty confirmed that you will be able to team up with friends on both a cooperative and competitive level, and that this engagement is organised through the game’s social interface. It’s a way of letting players communicate and compete with ease that means you never need to stop driving in order to micro-manage or fool around with countless menus. Fluidity is key.

As Ubisoft is wont to do with games like The Division, second-screen features will also make an appearance in The Crew. Using a connected device players will be able to browse and manage their garage, car set-ups, locate their friends in the world and coordinate events, all within the same interface as the full game.

Tantalisingly, Gerighty added that each car in your garage will have 19 key tuning components and that every vehicle will bear over 10,000 customisation combinations that will impact how they handle on different surfaces. If you really want to get lost in car tuning and stat-maxing then this is just the ticket. All of this can be done on your second screen as well.

Oh and I can’t remember who asked me this on the VG247 comment threads once but yes, Gerighty confirmed to me each of The Crew’s vehicles has cockpit view.

I closed by asking Gerighty for his view on how Sony and Microsoft are approaching the notion of persistent online multiplayer and how each company’s next-gen consoles have helped make Ivory Tower’s vision for The Crew a reality.

“Sony and Microsoft have integrated the fact that digital activities have come to represent an increasing share of time in everyone’s daily life,” Gerighty concluded. “And so has Nintendo with StreetPass. But this did not influence us as much as MMO games on PC.

“You have to keep in mind that the core team at Ivory Tower was the core team behind Test Drive Unlimited which when it was released in 2007 had a living world around the player and it was ahead of its time in terms of online features.

“It was not perfect. That vision of a connected world and a shared world between car enthusiasts, this is something that we are continuing to improve upon. So imagine five more years of iteration on this very idea. That is what we are bringing with The Crew.”

The Crew will hit PC, PS4 and Xbox One early 2014.

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1 Comments

  1. KAP

    I love the concept of the whole of the US is playable, obviously its a slightly scaled down version but they can of course reiterate on it and maybe use it for another genre completely like an third person MMO maybe…

    That’ll be insane.

    #1 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    GTA 5 modders have made a dream come true, adding a gravity gun to your arsenal of mayhem-causing weaponry. GTA 5 isn’t ready for this. It looks like a heck of a lot of fun, but the poor old Los Santos po po can’t deal with the resulting carnage at all. If Rockstar were ever […]

  • “Mod makers should be able to make money from their creations,” says DOOM creator

    DOOM co-creator John Romero has weighed in on the paid mods debate. Paid mods are a hot issue right now. For years, Valve has been enabling content creators to make money from their work on Counter-strike: Global offensive, Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2, but when it partnered with Bethesda to offer the same for […]

  • Watch WRC driver Kevin Abbring smash through a DIRT Rally challenge

    WRC driver Kevin Abbring has been participating in Dirt Rally’s daily events – and kicking ass. Dirt Rally seems to have ticked one of the most difficult to attain boxes of racing development – creating something professional drivers like to play, and which rewards their years of experience. Codemasters published the video below showing Hyundai […]

  • Mortal Kombat X patch to bring PC version up to console standard

    Mortal Kombat X PC will be fixed tomorrow, NetherRealm has promised. The PC version of Mortal Kombat X has come under fire for poor performance, including stuttering frame rate and bugs as plenty. About 45 minutes into a recent Twitch stream, NetherRealm boss Ed Boon said an update will drop tomorrow to address many of […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: all new Crucible maps detailed

    Destiny’s House of Wolves DLC will add four new maps to the Crucible, the game’s competitive multiplayer mode. Let’s take a look at all of them. Alex brings you new footage showing all of the four maps that will drop with House of Wolves. He goes over the layout, landmarks, gameplay styles, and other important […]

  • Custom Xbox One Star Wars controllers look very tempting

    Microsoft is celebrating May 4 by showing off concept designs for Star Wars-themed Xbox One controllers. May 4 is of course Star Wars Day and the controller concepts you’re about to see are just that, concepts. Or at least that’s what they said they are. There are four designs and they don’t look very practical. […]

  • Project Cars launch trailer is an anthology of race cars, set to the beats of Deadmau5

    Project Cars comes out this week and there’s just enough time for one last trailer. Project Cars, Slightly Mad Studios’ ambitious racer that has been in development for ages, is finally coming out this week. The racer received plenty of changes throughout its development based on community feedback and the final product will be in […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront dev reveals planet Sullust

    Sullust, a planet that has not been previously shown, will be featured in one of Star Wars Battlefront’s maps. Star Wars Battlefront developer DICE revealed today that planet Sullust will be one of the game’s locations. The planet was mentioned in the films and other Star Wars works, but was only shown today. DICE posted […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: Tower vendor changes

    House of Wolves will change the inventory of some of Destiny’s vendors and add new roles to others. Here’s everything that has been announced so far. You know that House of Wolves will bring a new social space to the game in the form of The Reef. But did you also know that the good […]

  • Nintendo apologises for Amiibo shortages, will reissue some out-of-stock figures

    Nintendo released a statement today to apologise for fan’s frustrations in finding some Amiibo figures and promised to handle distribution better going forward. Nintendo has been criticised recently for its lack of communication when it comes to new Amiibo figures. Something which has lead fans to not know if certain figures are limited to some […]

  • Halo: MCC “a black eye for us,” Halo 5 won’t suffer the same fate, says franchise director

    The development of Halo: The Master Chief Collection was of an “outrageous complexity,” which was one of the reasons it suffered a horrible launch. None of that will happen with Halo 5: Guardians, according to Frank O’Connor. Frank O’Connor, Halo franchise development director opened up to Xbox Achievements about the difficult task of developing The […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: weapon Reforging explained

    When House of Wolves drops in a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to change the stats of some in-game weapons. This process is called ‘Reforging’. Alex goes over all the details Bungie revealed about the new Reforging system. This covers the materials you need, the weapons that can be reforged and much more. Make […]

  • GTA 5 PC: control the in-game phone with your iPhone using this mod

    GTA 5′s latest mod lets you control the in-game phone with your real-life iPhone. Reddit user Planetleak wanted to see if he would succeed in getting his iPhone to control the phone in GTA 5. He did it and has a video to prove it. It’s not a mod per-se, but it emulates mouse and […]

  • SoulCalibur dev wants to know fans’ favourite characters for “something huge”

    SoulCalibur developers are probably working on a new game, because they’re asking fans to vote on their favourite characters. Project Soul, the longtime developer of the SoulCalibur series is soliciting feedback on fans’ favourite characters. The developer said as much in a post on its Facebook page. “Calling all SoulCalibur Fans! Project Soul would like […]

  • Jason Voorhees doesn’t look out of place in new Mortal Kombat X trailer

    Jason Voorhees comes to Mortal Kombat X starting tomorrow and it’s time to celebrate his arrival. Jason Voorhees, the first DLC character for Mortal Kombat X has been given the trailer treatment. Jason is part of the game’s Kombat Pack, owners of which can start using him tomorrow, May 5. Being an iconic horror character, […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition – Dragonslayer DLC announced, free to all this week

    Dragon Age: Inquisition is getting a multiplayer expansion this week. BioWare has announced that all owners of Dragon Age: Inquisition will receive a new multiplayer expansion, for free. The expansion is called Dragonslayer and it’s centred around fighting dragons, hence the name. Three new playable characters will join the roster as you explore an all-new […]

  • Sonder is still happening, and this is the best news of the week

    Sonder is a really interesting-looking new indie adventure, which I am quite excited to remember exists. We first heard about Sonder in late 2013, when its debut trailer introduced us to a Kamai Media’s ambitious vision. In the intervening months Kamai has been hard at work on its space station management sim slash non-linear narrative […]

  • Twitter axes playable Internet Archive embeds

    The dream has died: Twitter has disabled Internet Archive game embeds. Remember how for a few days you could tweet a link to an a game on the Internet Archive and it was playable direct from that tweet? Well, Twitter has cancelled that. All those tweets now just show links. GamesIndustry suspects it has something […]

  • Lords of the Fallen, Divinity: Original Sin developers will reveal new games at E3 2015

    Lords of the Fallen developer Deck13 and Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian Studios have new projects in the works which will be revealed at E3 2015. Publisher Focus Home Interactive is behind both new games. In a French press release [PDF] spotted by RPG Codex, Focus said it will show off the two unrevealed titles […]

  • Rare game announce expected at E3 2015

    Rare’s new game will be shown off at E3 2015, apparently. Rare hasn’t announced a reveal, and neither has Microsoft, but it looks like the news has slipped out anyway. IGN cites a tweet from Rare creative director Simon Woodroffe in which he says that a new project from Rare designer Gregg Mayles will be […]

  • Batgirl expansion included in $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass

    Here’s what you get in the $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass. Batman: Arkham Knight’s season pass was announced last week, but apart from the news that it would cost a whopping $40/£33, we didn’t get many details of what it would include. Thankfully, Warner Bros. has since acknowledged the clamour this caused, as players […]

  • Star Wars Day Xbox sale discounts Force Unleashed, Lego games

    Star Wars Day is upon us, and here’s an Xbox sale to mark it. Microsoft is offering discounts on Xbox 360 games to celebrate May 4. From my desk here in Australia the sale is a bit light on content – two Lego games, plus The Force Unleashed and its DLC packs. Your mileage may […]

  • Here’s hoping this tease means we see Mass Effect at E3 2015

    Mass Effect boss Mike Gamble has shared a teaser image, which we’re more than happy to draw speculative conclusions from. The new Mass Effect game in the works at BioWare Edmonton is a mysterious beast. Judging by how long it’s been in development, it feels like we’re about due for a proper reveal, to clear […]

  • Watch almost a whole hour of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is almost here. Are you ready for old-school shooter action? Wolfenstein: The Old Blood publisher Bethesda livestreamed almost an hour of the Machine Games shooter recently, and has now uploaded the archive to YouTube. Check it out below: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood launches digitally on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on […]

  • Splatoon lacks voice chat to promote a positive online experience

    Nintendo’s multiplayer game Splatoon will not contain a voice chat option in order to “focus on the positive aspects” of online gaming. Speaking in the latest issue of Edge magazine (thanks, GamesRadar), Splatoon co-director Yusuke Amano said personal experience with negativity in online voice chat was one of the main reasons for excluding the feature. […]

  • D4 on PC: differences from Xbox One version, system specs announced

    D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die – Season 1 is coming to PC, and Access Games has provided a list of features different from the Xbox One version. We’ve pulled most of the changes off the game’s website and posted them below, along with the PC specs. D4 on PC Kinect gesture input controls replaced with […]