Voor de Rally-fanaten onder ons maakte UbiSoft een Q/A van zijn nieuwste game 'Pro Rally 2001'. Hieronder staan wat algemene vragen aan de project manager.Project Manager : DAVID DARNÉS

Nationality : SPANISH

Working place : BARCELONA - SPAIN

1/ Who developed PRO RALLY 2001? When did the development begin?

Although the initial concept was thought in France, most of the project has been developed in Ubi Studios Barcelona (Spain). The production began fall 1998.

2/ What are you aiming at by developing PRO RALLY 2001?

When you develop a Simulation game you have to be completely sure that the game will have all the ingredients that match reality. Rally, as it is one of the most impressive racing sports (it provides heat, speed, emotion, challenge…), you have to give the player the same sensations but through a screen.

One of the most satisfying things is when you see a player who has finished a Special Stage spending time to race the Stage again. He wants to see very accurately all the graphic details, Special Effects… that are spread through all the Stage and he couldn't realize while playing.

4/ is the development team keen on rally?

Even if for most of the team “Pro-Rally 2001" was the first time developing a game, everyone agrees that it has been a very, very interesting experience. Developing Pro Rally 2001 involved of course being a rally fan. Everyone also agreed to say that it was a great opportunity to work on a project as big as “Pro-Rally 2001”.

5/ What about the 3D engine? Did you create a new one? What are its main specifications?

It's completely new. It supports the most important APIs (Glide 3.03 and DirectX7 are currently implemented) and upgrading or adding a new API can be easily done - by simply replacing a DLL or adding a new one.

At low level it uses most of the 3D accelerators' features, ranging from the simple hardware fog or mipmapping up to the latest techniques in transforming and lighting, multitexturing, vertex buffering and many more.

At a higher level it offers a simple, but versatile and powerful interface, oriented to generic primitives and materials.

6/ Can you tell us more about the gameplay? Is it a simulation or arcade oriented one?

Most of the simulation games require a high knowledge of mechanics to perfectly customise the car. Generally, there are more than 20 parameters to adjust very precisely (braking disc's diameter, length and stiffness of the bumper's spring, inclination of the wings, etc…), which is too complex for the common player. With Pro-Rally 2001, we wanted to keep the good aspects of the simulation and get rid of all the tiresome tunings.

In order to obtain this realism in the behaviour, our engine simulates more than 60 mechanicals elements of a real rally car. We have also worked on the behaviour to make it very accessible for a maximum of players. In fact, we have taken the good points of a Simulation (realistic behaviour, real mechanical elements simulated) and the good points of the Arcade Games (intuitive learning, very fun handling among other things).

“Pro-Rally 2001” will satisfy ALL players: the simulators' fans as well as the arcade gamers.

7/ What are the key features of PRO RALLY 2001, according to you?

The main difference with most of our competitors is the high quality of the graphics. Many engines cannot handle a great amount of polygons, large views or complex landscapes, and as a result they are forced to resort to « tube-like » circuits. Pro-Rally 2001 is just the opposite. You may have the views of a flight simulator, race in perfectly set and scenarios and get a real out-door sensation. In addition, there are a great variety of scenarios, ranging from the African desert up to the Swedish snowy forests or the Mediterranean coasts.

For the sounds, Pro-Rally 2001 innovates with the latest techniques in 3D and ambience sounds. All engine sounds were taken from real Rally cars, making thus the quality of these samples doubtless. For the music, which changes every time you race in a random way, are original compositions composed by great musicians. Obviously, the sounds change depending on the view, state of the weather, damage of the car or distance to the different sound sources.

The mechanical model, partially inherited from previous Ubi Soft games, has been dramatically improved. The result is a realistic behaviour that is closer to a simulator than a typical racing game. There are many kinds of mechanical surfaces, and the mechanical data of the cars was taken from the real ones. This adds more hours to the game's life, since being a good driver on tarmac does not mean that you can run fast laps on snow or sand.

8/ What about the menus of the game?

Menus were a headache in development time. We needed a new visual aspect without having to drop to the most extended graphical controls, like lists, slide bars or simple buttons. The result in Pro Rally 2001 is a highly intuitive interface, with a nice graphical level. Menus do use the 3D engine as well, and this allows us to do interesting effects in it.

9/ What about the required specifications? Will it be necesary to have a "powerful" PC to run PRO RALLY 2001?

Pro Rally 2001 is a highly scalable game. This means that you can run it a PII 266 MHz, with a Voodoo2 card – something really unusual nowadays.

But the most interesting is the fact that the program was not thought for a specific hardware: the better your computer is, the more quality you'll get. Even more: thanks to some few variables, the user may choose between a perfect frame rate and a perfect graphic quality. You're not tied to a single configuration: it is up to you to configure it the way you think it should be.

11/ What about the stages? How did you create all these environments?

The idea of our Artistic Director consisted of obtaining the most realistic surroundings, by the use of photo realistic textures, forcing to the limit the benefits of the machine (and the programmers). We didn't use the so-called "tube-like" technique, which practically doesn't allow the player to move off road. The scenes are built with up to 100,000 polygons. We also worked hard on the lights and ambience, which makes Pro-Rally 2001 one of the most realistic games of its category.

12/ What about night conditions? How did you develop them?

Night circuits are always a problem, for the programmers as well as for the artists.

Regarding the programming, I think that we've made a quite acceptable work here. We introduced some new techniques, especially for dynamic shadowing, plus other more frequently used, like vertex colouring (our greater profit in this field is the calculation of shades projected on real-time of all the objects (public, trees, signals) and on all the surfaces, with an amazing result).

For the artwork, Pro Rally 2001 includes night and dusk circuits, giving thus a wide range of intensities and colours.Krijgen we nu naast de EA 2001-reeks ook een UbiSoft 2001-serie? Het lijkt er nu wel even op.