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Forza 5: the road to Xbox One – Greenawalt talks console conception

Monday, 30 September 2013 08:10 GMT By Dave Cook

Forza Motorsport 5 studio Turn10 has been involved in Xbox One’s creation since the start. VG247′s Dave Cook quizzes Dan Greenawalt on the early tech, and why the racer is pushing boundaries.

We’ve heard Microsoft and Turn10 creative director Dan Greenawalt talk a lot about Forza 5′s new Drivatar system and the fact that it runs in 1080p at 60 frames per second. It may sound like marketing fluff but once you see it running on Xbox One you will see the difference. It’s a lovely game to look at, but even I was surprised when Greenawalt told me that the racer is using 100% of the console..

It’s a flaky metric, and he added that while the hardware is being pushed, the next-gen cycle will see studios optimising their code better and better to improve performance, just like they do every cycle. Still, I was intrigued. Just how does being one of the Xbox One’s launch titles impact performance? How has that early exposure to the tech guided development? I asked Greenawalt these questions at Eurogamer Expo last week.

Here’s what we discussed:

VG247: You’re an Xbox One launch title, and you’re Microsoft first-party. How early were you exposed to next-gen tech?
Dan Greenawalt: “We were exposed to the tech very early. One of the benefits of being first-party, is that when the hardware architects and everyone was starting to think about Xbox One, they came to Turn10, they came to 343 and the internal teams and said, ‘What is the type of gaming console that you need for our players?’ Obviously 343 and Turn10, we make core games. Now, Turn10 … our games are also played by kids and the like, but it’s a core game.

“So, we were talking about how to do shaders, ways of setting up the RAM, the OS, and tools. There are ways and approaches we knew would be best-used for our gam, and part of that was, we knew from the beginning we wanted to be 1080p, and we wanted to be 60FPS. Meanwhile, we wanted to do a new take – in a sense – on how how cars should look in the next-generation.

“We had basically prototyped next-generation cars in Forza 4, because we had those Autovista, and that was us – in many ways – us playing with the idea of how we wanted cars to look in the next-generation. Now, those cars couldn’t be driven on tracks. To be able to make those as a prototype allowed us to be testing the hardware very early as it was coming on. Trying to be there at launch means we’re shipping our game at the same time the console is shipping, and it requires that kind of hand-holding between their team and our team.

“So in many ways, we’re testing their OS, we’re testing their architecture every day, so it’s an incredible partnership. It’s funny, because I hear it a lot: ‘are you using the hardware?’ The truth is, you always use 100% of the hardware. You just do, but it’s a question of whether or not you’re using it efficiently, and so that’s what happens over a course of years.

“Between Forza Motorsport 2 and then three and four, the game got incredibly technical. The hardware didn’t get any more powerful, but we got more at efficient at doing our math. We’re using 100% of this console, but obviously, we will become more efficient over the years.”

VG247: Do you remember when you were first consulted by Microsoft regarding the console? What sort of discussion did you have with them?
Greenawalt: “It’s funny because basically myself and Chris Tector – who is our chief architect on Forza, basically designing our engine – we were, gosh … I don’t think it was very long after Forza 3, they were starting to prototype with Kinect. It was going to be coming to the Xbox 360, and they were already ideating what should the next hardware be. It was just concepting, there was no prototype, so it was just purely concepting.

“Chris and I started getting pulled into these day-long meetings and ideating where we wanted to be and all that. It didn’t really start warming up until at least two years ago where it was like, ‘We really know now. We know the hardware’s going to be, we know the plan and all that.”

VG247: Is the Xbox One architecture far removed from Xbox 360? PlayStation 3 was a dog to code for at the beginning, clearly, so I want to get a handle on how accessible this new format really is.
Greenawalt: “The architecture is similar. Obviously, the tools are different, there are aspects to the language that are different, so there are changes. It’s not a straight port. But, anyone who can use the Windows developer or Xbox 360 developer is going to understand the essence of, the logical way to think about how to program for the Xbox One.”

”Between Forza Motorsport 2 and then three and four, the game got incredibly technical. The hardware didn’t get any more powerful, but we got more at efficient at doing our math. We’re using 100% of this console, but obviously, we will become more efficient over the years.”

VG247: Forza as a whole is a technical achievement already. How did you decide where to go from Forza 4? How did you plan it?
Greenawalt: “Well that’s interesting because that’s my job and Chris Tector’s job. He’s on the technical side and I’m on the design side, as far as ‘what is the experience we want to create, and what is the technology required to do it?’ So he and I – partnered – is like a hand and glove, ying and yang you know? I’ve got a place where I want us to go feature-wise for our fans, and he is so smart, so wicked-smart about how we technologically get there.

“We have a lot of innovation coming into the game, and the think about innovation is, what’s really great is that one: you don’t know how to really explain it. With the Drivatar stuff, people say ‘oh is it like this?’ or ‘is it like that?’ All I can really say is no, it’s not like anything you’ve ever driven.”

VG247: It’s always good to see new features coming out of new tech, and to see the end of pre-scripted AI racing lines on the track. This is where Drivatar comes in.
Greenawalt: It’s funny because the original Drivatar in the original Xbox, on Forza Motorsport was way ahead of its time. In fact, I don’t believe it could have been by us at game developers. We had a lot of experience as game developers, but it was machine learning, and we had a partner in Microsoft Research Cambridge. Honestly, if we worked as a global game company, we wouldn’t have a research department in Cambridge that could just think of things, new technologies. It’s not a game company thing.

“So they came to us with a prototype for it. They do hypotheses and they build little prototypes, but they’re not necessarily ready to go in a product usually. They had this prototype for racing AI, and this is back in the days of Schumacher versus Juan Pablo Montoya. They were trying to say, ‘what would it be like in a racing game?’, and these guys were wicked-fast right? Juan Pablo and Schumacher were incredibly fast, but they did it very differently.

“What if players could train AI, and they’d still be fast but they’d do it very differently? So we turned that into the Drivatar in the first Forza Motorsport. That was very local. You trained it like a Tamagotchi, and it would behave like you. It had trouble dealing with the complexity of our physics. Our physics was incredible complex.”

VG247: But now you have all these suspension and tyre types, different surfaces and all of those variables?
Greenawalt: “Right, all the different kinematics, the suspension and all of that. That was on the original Xbox. On the 360 our physics got way more complicated, but now it’s a relief because we’re doing things that simply weren’t possible in the last generation physics-wise. So now the Drivatar system – while it has the same name, and it’s the same philosophy of training a Drivatar. It’s 100% different, it’s cloud-based, it’s more like Bing, it’s big data where it learns from everybody.

“Basically, as you drive and I drive and everybody, millions of people drive, it watches the whole system. It looks for correlations like, ‘hey well there was a car in front of you and a car behind you, and you were you were heading into turn three on this track, then you hit the brakes.’

“It doesn’t need to learn that you were check-breaking the guy behind you, but then it looks at all the other people and guess what? ’20% of the population also did that, maybe I should learn that?’ It’s not learning new behaviour and it doesn’t call it check-breaking because it doesn’t care. It just learns that in these scenarios, people do these things.

“It learns in real-time in essence. Real behaviour. So, you’ve got millions of people playing for many hours. It’s going to learn all sorts of things. It’s already learned a lot of stuff from the 400 of us that are playing right now. And then, if I never check-break, my individual Drivatar will never learn it because I never did it. But if you’re the one that trained it to do that, then your Drivatar is going to do it.

VG247: That tech must be good for metric tracking, patching and bug-fixing?
Greenawalt: Oh yeah. We had a lot of telemetry that we captured in Forza Motorsport 3 and even more in Forza 4 and Forza Horizon. What cars did the population prefer? What assists? A lot of data, and that’s allowed us to be smarter in our design of number four and of course number 5. The cool thing about Xbox 360 is that it’s a data-driven box. It’s much more easy for us to decide if we want to change things up.

“It’s not obviously like the whole game is in the cloud, so some bugs, you can’t just fix that way. You have to fix it with a title update. But when it comes to just tuning, balancing and changing things, it’s so configurable. It’s very easy for us to … it’s not like you’re downloading anything, it’s real data in real-time.”

Forza Motorsport 5 is an Xbox One launch title, releasing alongside the console on November 22.

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6 Comments

  1. Lahanas

    This game is reason to buy the Xbox One

    #1 2 years ago
  2. VibraniumSpork

    @1…if you’re into racing sims. Can’t stand ‘em personally.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. sebastien rivas

    Thanks Dave for the article,
    This article tends to prove 1 thing so far unless of course I am completely out of my mind. I understand it to prove The Power Of The Cloud is of help to boast fluidity and framerate for an educated full load of visual amazing thrill and gameplay.

    Something to wonder and ponder is about 2 things.
    -How is the workflow fr the power of the cloud
    -how hard is it to code/develop and use the power of the cloud to intertwine a game in development to remain 1080p instead of 720p @ 60 FPS?

    Anyone, anyone?
    It may help the indie guys too… Or… is it a secret ;)

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Riseer

    Yea if I was buying a Xbone this would be my game.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Dave Cook

    @3 Any time man. I live to write :)

    #5 2 years ago
  6. ysleiro

    I remember another post (don’t know if it was on VG247 or not) where people went bananas dissing the current gen for being “weak” because Mr. Greenawalt said he was ALREADY using 100% of the system’s capabilities.

    Yes they are using 100% of what is available, every game tries to use as much as possible. The question is “is the game using the resources in an optimized fashion?”

    PROBABLY NOT since it’s the beginning of the generation. Optimization is how they get more done with the same hardware 2 years later.

    #6 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Facebook has said it is “too early” to discuss large-scale shipments of Oculus Rift as the VR headset is still in the development stages. Speaking during a call to investors, Facebook CFO David Wehner said the company had nothing to announce regarding the amount of stock it expected to ship. “We have not announced any […]

  • Battlefield Hardline’s first patch and rental server program hits next week

    Battlefield Hardline’s first patch has a release date for both consoles and PC. PC & Console patch and RSP for Consoles coming April 28th. Fixes include TDM spawns and more: http://t.co/BZYJeomPlr pic.twitter.com/27TCiY8hmf — Battlefield (@Battlefield) April 23, 2015 The update will include fixes to Punkbuster, Nvidia DirectX drivers, TDM spawns, contains weapon balance tweaks and […]

  • Modders can now earn money through Steam Workshop starting today with Skyrim

    Valve has introduced a new functionality within Steam Workshop which will allow mod makers to earn money for their creations, starting with Skyrim. The update will allow content such as mods, items, or maps to be sold through Steam Workshop for titles which have the feature enabled. A new “streamlined process for listing” has been […]

  • Play Skyrim for free this weekend on Steam and take 75% off while you’re at it

    Skyrim is free this weekend on Steam providing wanna-be Dragonborns who have procrastinated on wetting their blades with Stormcloak blood the perfect opportunity to give the RPG a try. Head over to Steam and download the game and play for free until April 26 at 1am PDT. The game is also 75% off if you […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 “Ember” teaser video released ahead of full reveal

    Activision has released a Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 teaser video titled “Ember” and you can watch it right here. Here’s the video blurb: “In the next 50 years, technological advancements will lead us into a world where only those who risk going too far, will find out how far we can actually go.” […]

  • Dragon Age Keep update includes more customizability and control

    Bioware has updated Dragon Age Keep after listening to community feedback. The update includes more customization and control over heroes, world states, career and more. Players can now customize hero portraits or delete Dragon Age: Inquisition heroes from the Hero section. They can also remove playthrough states from the World State Manager and keep up […]

  • Here’s a look at some Conker community creations in Project Spark

    Conker’s Bug Reunion releases today, and below is a video showing some of the community creations you will be able to download using the creation pack. Project Spark is a free download on Xbox One and Windows 8.1, and you can download the Conker Creation Pack today. It contains 350 assets in order for users […]

  • Rainbow Six: Siege video shines spotlight on the British Counter Terrorist Unit

    Ubisoft has released a Rainbow Six: Siege video which gives you a look at the British Counter Terrorist Unit which features “the best of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.” The firm said that over the next few weeks it will introduce the public to each of the units in the game. Rainbow Six Siege […]

  • Mario Kart 8 DLC and Mewtwo for Super Smash Bros. headline eShop update in North America

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with an update and new DLC for Mario Kart 8 and the Mewtwo DLC for Super Smash Bros. Other highlights include Mario Kart DS on Wii U Virtual Console, the continuation of International StreetPass Week and more. Full update is below. Nintendo eShop Mario Kart […]

  • Square Enix host E3 2015 conference this year on June 16

    With Final Fantasy 15, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on the horizon, it should come as no surprise to learn that Square Enix will be hosting a dedicated E3 2015 conference this year. The presentation will take place Tuesday, June 16 at 9am PDT/12pm EDT/5pm UK. It will be broadcast […]

  • Final Fantasy 4: The After Years 3D remake releasing on Steam next month

    Final Fantasy 4: The After Years has been given a makeover and will be released on Steam of PC next month. You can now pre-order it on Steam and take 10% off for the time being. The game will be released on the digital service May 12 and will include trading cards and achievements. Thanks, […]

  • This Project Cars video shows off the racer’s multiplayer

    Project Cars developer Slightly Mad has released a new video giving you a look at the game’s multiplayer. The game is out next month, and if you would like to refresh yourself on the tracks included,  give this a look. While you are clicking links, here’s the minimum and recommended PC specifications which dropped last […]

  • Looks like Logitech is getting out of OEM mouse production business [Clarification]

    Logitech will no longer produce “low-end” mice, citing a decline in PC accessories. This story has been updated to include a clarification. According to a Reuters report, per MCV, the firm will instead focus on video accessories and streaming music, as its wireless Bluetooth speakers are now its best-selling product rage. This will help offset […]

  • Win! We have 1,000 Heroes of the Storm beta keys to give away

    Must have more MOBA? Win one of our 1,000 Heroes of the Storm beta keys and see if you’re more Blizzard than LoL. Can’t wait for June 2? Of course you can’t. We have 1,000 closed beta keys for Heroes of the Storm to give away this week, allowing you access before Blizzard’s MOBA goes […]

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X Nintendo Direct airs tomorrow, April 24

    A Nintendo Direct devoted entirely to Xenoblade Chronicles X will air this Friday, April 24. The video showcase will start at 11am PDT/2pm EDT/7pm UK. After the showcase, a new Nintendo Treehouse: Live presentation featuring the game will air. This is the second Xenoblace Chronicles X Nintendo Direct, but the first in English. The first […]

  • Blizzard will have 500 game stations set up at gamescom 2015

    Blizzard is heading to gamescom 2015 in August and it will have 500 game stations set up for attendees to get their hands on five of its titles. The developer will be set up in Hall 7 and those who stop by will be able to get hands-on with the latest content for Heroes of […]

  • PS4 price cut to £299 in UK

    Sony has dropped the price of the PS4 in the UK. For a limited time only, you can grab the console for £299.99 from Argos, Game, Tesco and Very. Go to Amazon.co.uk and you’ll get it for £289. You’ve only got until April 28, then it goes back up to £349. Go, go, go. For […]

  • Mad Max: first ever gameplay footage revealed

    Today, we get to finally take our first look at gameplay from Mad Max. Avalanche and Warner Bros. have shown off the first gameplay trailer for Mad Max today. The trailer below offers a look at melee combat, car combat, customisation and much more. Give it a watch below: There are a few new screenshots […]

  • Overlord: Fellowship of Evil has four-player co-op like we figured

    Codemasters has pulled the veil back on the next Overlord game, and its a four-player co-op game called Overlord: Fellowship of Evil. Rhianna Pratchett is back to write the story. The game may be co-op at its core, but it can still be played single-player. Each of the four playable character have strengths and weaknesses, […]

  • Update now available for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon X and Y

    Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire along with Pokemon X and Y are being updated by Nintendo to fix a few bugs and in-game text. There’s also the possibility of a few hacks and exploits being fixed. Per Nintendo Life (via Serebii), both patches are 250-270 blocks in size, and it’s a mandatory update which […]

  • Side-scrolling cover shooter Not a Hero gets a demo

    Not a Hero, the upcoming game from OlliOlli developer Roll7, has received a demo. The demo for Not a Hero was made available today on Steam. In the game, you play as Steve, the campaign manager for BunnyLord. A time-travelling rabbit who’s running for mayor of London. Think this is an absurd premise? This trailer […]

  • You have until April 30 to export your Green Day: Rock Band tracks to Rock Band 3

    Harmonix has announced that those looking to export their song collection from Green Day: Rock Band into Rock Band 3 can only do so until the end of the month. April 30 will be the cutoff date for anyone who wants to export tracks from Green Day: Rock Band into their Rock Band 3 library, […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight minimum, recommended, and ultra PC specs revealed

    Batman: Arkham Knight is looking like it’s going to be quite a taxing game. Nvidia has released a list of the minimum, recommended, and ultra PC requirements for Batman: Arkham Knight. Here’s the full thing: Minimum OS: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required) Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom […]

  • Bloodborne patch 1.03 is live, reduces loading times, fixes suspend/resume bugs, more

    Patch 1.03 is now live for Bloodborne. The patch reduces loading times, adds item descriptions to loading screens, and fixes other various bugs. From Software has pushed update 1.03 live to all Bloodborne owners. As promised, it reduces loading times by approximately 5 to 15 seconds. Another new addition is showing item descriptions instead of […]

  • Battlefield 4: first look at Community Map in action

    Get your first look at the map designed by the community of Battlefield 4. Battlefield 4′s community-designed map is a reality. DICE has recently updated CTE to include an early version of the map. It’s not fully textured as Westie is about to show you, but the layout is nearly finalised. Westie goes over the […]

  • Microsoft apologises for uploading misleading Witcher 3: Wild Hunt footage

    Xbox’s YouTube channel uploaded a video of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt yesterday that was captured from the PC build. The most recent gameplay video for the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt appeared on the Xbox YouTube channel and showed a quest from the game’s opening section. A few minutes after it had gone live, […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator’s new game is Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

    Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is the game Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets has been working on. Patrice Desilets has just announced that the next game his indie studio Panache Digital Games is making is called Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. The announcement comes from Desilets’s keynote at the Reboot Develop event in Croatia. The trailer started […]

  • Bloodborne: Cathedral Ward closed door mystery solved

    The mystery of the locked door at the bottom of the Cathedral Ward in Bloodborne has been solved. Bloodborne, like earlier From Software games, is filled with doors that don’t open the first time you try them. Some will give you “locked” messages, others “does not open from this side”. Some of these will open […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets is revealing his next game now [UPDATE: ended]

    Patrice Desilets, one of the original creators of Assassin’s Creed is hosting a presentation where he’s expected to talk about his next project. Patrice Desilets has emerged once again. This time he’s attending development conference in Croatia. Desilets is giving a live keynote and there’s a good chance we’re going to hear about his next […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: everything you need to know about gear upgrades & The Reef

    Bungie revealed plenty of important details in last night’s Destiny stream. Let’s go over everything. Alex wants to make sure you don’t miss any of the information revealed yesterday. Most of it affects all Destiny players too, even those who don’t intend on buying House of Wolves. During the first stream, Bungie explained the armour […]

  • Mod-friendly Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access in May

    Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access next month for a full release, Stardok has announced. The developer called the game the “largest and most diverse strategy sandbox to date,” as players have a variety of tools such as diplomatic treaties to resource exchanges, and United Planets resolutions to hundreds of research directions for […]

  • Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim is out next week on PC – here’s the pre-order trailer

    Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim will be released next week on PC, and today, we have a pre-order trailer for you. The game will be made available on April 28 for $19.99/€17.99/£13.99 on GOG, the Humble Store and Steam. Along with improvements over the original PSP version, it will contain less backtracking, controller support […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – full gear set up to level 34 in PvP and PvE, upgrades, more

    The Destiny: House of Wolves livestream this afternoon was chock full of information. Read onward for our full report. According to Bungie, Petra Venj, who serves the Queen, is the main story agent who leads the player through the main series of quests. Players who complete bounties will be able to level up in her […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – watch the livestream right here

    Bungie will host a Destiny: House of Wolves livestream at 2pm EDT today, and you can watch it right here. Watch live video from Bungie on www.twitch.tv The stream will introduce the new social space, The Reef, as well as gear upgrade paths. House of Wolves contains new Strike missions, The Prison of Elders three-player […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team: week of April 22 team includes Barcelona, Chelsea players

    This week’s FIFA 15 Team of the Week is now available for FIFA Ultimate Team players. Each team member, as with previous weeks, is selected base on the previous weekend’s matches. Here’s the list of players now available: Starting GK: Claudio Bravo – FC Barcelona (Spain) CB: Leonardo Bonucci – Juventus (Italy) CB: Ömer Toprak […]

  • Sony’s Spring Fever Sale winds down with Shovel Knight and Call of Duty discounts

    It’s the final week of Sony’s Spring Fever Sale which means more games have been added to the mix. Shovel Knight, which launches today is one offer, and the rest are all Cal of Duty titles. The Taken movie series is on sale as well. With Shovel Knight available today on PlayStation 3, PS4 and […]