This list will consist of the beginnings of an outstanding open-world racing game from many of the features I've conceptualized. I've always had a thought/fantasy in my head of taking some of the best features from many racing games and rolling them into one fantastic game. There have been so many quirks and great things across many racing games and even non-racing games that could be implemented into other racing games to improve upon games. I think some game developers and creative directors owe it to themselves to play many other racing games themselves to draw inspiration from other games and they should directly use polls in social media to see what people want the most, so resources can be allocated in that direction. I will refer to many games throughout this as I feel a lot of racing games (and other games in general) made over the last 15 years or so have features that could contribute to the concepts that would create a great game. Game abbreviations will include MC (Midnight Club), NFS (Need for Speed), TC (The Crew) FH (Forza Horizon), FM (Forza Motorsport), GT (Gran Turismo), GTA (Grand Theft Auto) and TDU (Test Drive Unlimited). This list will not be suggesting any locations, vehicle or part manufacturers directly unless something is used as an example, this is just features that could be incorporated upon a base game. Developers will obtain whatever licenses they can and I don't see this as a thing to extensively cover. An example is that we would all love to see Toyota, but obtaining their license recently has been difficult for many companies. One thing that I can't speak of as I have no personal use, is steering wheels. I'd like to hear some feedback on how to create the optimal steering wheel experience in a racing game.
Physics: Driving physics control the entire driving experience of a racing game so these are ultimately the most important thing to get correct. There have been many games that have gotten so many things right with a mediocre or worse physics system that detracted from the experience so much that the legacy of the games it applies to are tarnished regardless of how many other things are done well, with TDU2 is a great example. Ideally, they would be on par with FH4. Some extent of arcade physics would be nice, but not to the extent of some of the Ghost produced NFS games to where there is some oddly conflicting attempt of two physics systems fighting each other to determine if you are attempting to drift or grip. There would be a difference in the feeling of drivetrains and the AWD wouldn't be dominant over RWD in paved road scenarios, tuning and efficient driving could make RWD better due to the car being lighter.
Controller mappings/settings: I will continue to reiterate the ability to customize things to the user's liking should be the biggest priority in many categories. The ability to enable and disable vibration in the handles and triggers individually would be nice. It's good to have the choice setting of linearity and inner and outer dead zones. I will be using an Xbox controller for my ideal pre mapped settings. I think FH4 has the best control scheme, but could still use some improvement (and features). To maximize the inputs available, the photo mode should be accessed through the start/pause menu, rather than having them mapped to buttons that could be useful for other functions. The standard LT brake, RT accelerate, LS steering and RS camera (with the click of it being a 180 degree look back) are a very simple base scheme. LB to use the clutch, X and B should be downshift and upshift respectable, RB for the handbrake, A for nitrous, Y for rewind, LS click for the horn, the "select" button would be for interact/map when there's nothing to interact with, left d-pad would function the same way GTA5's would regarding the radio (including holding it + RS to select a specific station), down d-pad would function as FH4 does, where you can choose telemetry or a gps assistant, up d-pad could enlarge and extend the mini-map to give an idea of what is ahead. right d pad could pull up a list of mini functions, such as blinkers, headlights, windows, convertible roof, neon lighting, engine off, hydraulics, air bags, cruise control, etc.
Map/Environment: The map can be a real place or a fictional place. Being able to visit a real place from the comfort of your home is nice, but visiting a fantasy land with no creative restrictions would be nice. Some really cool things that were imagined could happen because there is no need to resemble a real place. Day/night cycle with a weather cycle depending on which part of the map you are on, where snow can be on top of mountains. The map needs to be large, no smaller than FH4, ideally larger than the individual TDU2 maps with little to no exploration restrictions. I'd like to see a couple very long straightaways or near straightaways to allow cars to top out on speed. This could be combined with a highway loop system that can wrap around a large portion of the map. Beaches, bumpy terrain areas for intense offroading and of course tunnels for the sound of engines roaring through and echoing. A moderately large mountain would be cool for a hill climb and maybe somewhere to descend from the mountain with multiple consecutive hairpins from the mountain would be nice for drifting. I’d love for the map to have spots to evoke nostalgia for many of us that have played many racing games throughout the year, with an example being when I played TC1 for the first time and I was in LA, it brought back fond memories of MCLA. Even some areas do not have to be specific, but some areas on TC2 reminded me of the speed challenges on NFSPS. Having a/a few tuning shops across the map would be really cool, along with a few NPC cars completely RNG based on model and visual customization so that every time you visit the tuners, you see something new so the tuner feels less stale over time. Barn finds/TDU2 style wrecks. Having racing tracks incorporated into the map that are accessible while in free roam and used for races would be cool, like TC1/TC2, especially an oval track with an optional infield layout. Having a parking garage or two would be nice as you can do many things with them. I liked how there was one incorporated in MCLA and NMFSMW(2012) provided a good experience while in them. We should have a GTA5 style 48 minute irl day/night cycle with about 10 hours in game (20 minutes irl) of nighttime and 14 hours in game (28 minutes irl) of daytime to provide a balance most would find enjoyable. While viewing the full sized map in the menu, we should be able to zoom out a lot or zoom in to nearly street view, like TC2. Roads need to have believable lane width, unlike how the lanes have become wider and wider every FH installment. We should have some back roads that are very slim and have room to accommodate one car width covering both directions. Gas/petrol stations are nice to see as that is something that some games don't include enough. The planes flying in TC2 add to the immersiveness. Having an airport with a long airstrip is something that is seen as important. It was a place for people to frequently congregate in GTA4/FH2 and the lack of a nice, unobstructed airstrip in FH4 is seen as something that's a letdown. Real life traffic cars with several color options each to increase immersiveness, also cars represent surroundings (taxis in the city, utility vehicles in a rural area, etc). Having pedestrians on foot can also add into the immersive feeling, including them reacting to your presence by having dialogue and running away if you're being reckless. Some places will be in various stages of construction (similar to GTA) and over the course of updates they'll come further along and finish construction and some will become interactive spaces. Some places will also become the sights of demolition.
Camera settings: Getting the right view and feel for cameras is important to giving you the most comfortable experience to get the feel for where your car is at and focus on surroundings in the way that is desired. Importantly, having bumper, hood, cockpit (with and without steering wheel) and chase cameras is a great start. There should also be an "action" camera with additional sense of speed, sensitivity towards turns, etc. Although this isn't a racing game, Rocket League inspired me to take a deeper dive into the thoughts of camera perspectives. Adjusting RL camera settings can assist your ability to be aware of surroundings and I'm sure the same would apply to actual racing games. Settings for RL that would be nice to apply to racing games would be the ability to turn on or off camera shake upon collisions, the FOV, distance of the camera away from the car (and distance gain relative to speed, if desired), camera height in relativity to the vehicle (could be important with SUVs/trucks) and angle at which the camera points towards the ground/sky. I'd like to see settings to turn vignetting and motion blur from a 0-100% scale. This effect is often used to create a sense of speed, but is often found to be disruptive towards viewing surroundings and braking zones. As I feel this would pertain to the player's perception/camera adjustment, I think the cockpit views should contain an adjustable seat, such as TDU1. Keeping something like the drift camera for cockpit views, along with the settings they have related to it in FH4 would be nice.
User interface/HUD: I think being consistent to many other racing games would be good in many ways. Ideally, the ability to adjust which corner things are in would be the best, but if the customization wasn't an option, this is how I think it should be. Having the speedometer/tachometer/odometer in the bottom right would be nice, along with the ability to display it in an analog or digital format, such as FH4. The map should be on the bottom left and should have two levels of details for options; one being a minimalist design with no border that gradually fades out (similar to Grid Autosport's track layout minimap, mixed with the off road icon detail of FH4). The second map option should be similar to a mixture of NFS Heat and TDU1 in terms of borders on the mini-map and detail to show side roads/terrains. The ability to adjust the map rotating or not would be nice. We should also be able to see our recent driving path in a thin line on the map, such as TDU2. The race position should be in the top right and all other race details (total time in race and sprint race % or lap count, best and previous lap) should be in the top left. Another thing that could add into the immersion would be changing the opacity of the HUD, from 0-100% so you could make it mostly transparent, but visible enough to be useful if that is what is desired. Having an odometer built into the HUD would be nice as well. Games such as TC2 have the speedometer and mini-map flipped from the standard positions and it is a minor grievance. The speedometers in non-cockpit views should be able to resemble the car's actual speedometer as seen in TDU and NFS Shift. We should be able to filter the map well when in that menu, similar to FH4.
Event Types: Blueprints (FH3), random events where you can taxi or tail someone (TDU2), Drag races with proper street light, track light or an NPC human signaling in the middle of the road making the countdown (also with burnouts like NFSPS), score based drift racing, sprint races, circuit races, speed trap races (NFSMW), pink slip and money wager races (MCLA), unordered races (MC3), rivals (FH3/4), true street races and official sanctioned races (FH3/4 and NFSH) and end the game with a goliath type of race (FH3/4). Off road racing in the form of sprints and circuits would be nice. Bringing over speed traps, speed zones, drift zones and danger signs/long jumps from FH4/NFSH would be nice. Removing the potential disruption of traffic would be nice by ghosting vehicles in these situations, as FH4 has done. A route creator along the lines of MCLA/FH4 would be nice with the ability to add/remove some objects like barriers and ramps. The TDU2 style limited time events would be cool. Maybe a certain event would be worth double money or level progression. Some of the limited time races would utilize the places being constructed and demolished.
Online Play: Free roam such as TC2/FH4 in terms of grouping with friends is ideal, but have the option to have private lobbies (up to as many players as the developers can make work) and the ability to search for public free roam lobbies based on preferences of drifting, car meets, cruising, etc. Free roamers should be able to disable or enable collisions with random players not in their group. Lacking the collisions removes some of the immersiveness and the ghosted appearance ruins things such as drifting tandems and trains with random players. Something similar to Forzathon from FH4 could help players unite and group together and optionally have something to do in the lobby every hour. Ranked and unranked playlist organization like FH4, but make completely separate on and off road playlists for online along with a voting system for the class of racing and location. Online race collision penalties and ghosting similar to FH4. Free roam quick 1v1 wager races against other players in cruises. We should have the option to play through the campaign in a cooperative fashion, similar to FH4/TC2. Cross play would be nice to implement.
Driving Features: Race Driver Grid style rewinds as they're probably the smoothest working rewinds compared to the segmented rewind system in other racing titles. TC2 back on track compared to FH4 weird reset, FRIM (TDU2)/skill chain (FH1-4) in freemode to reward in small XP/money. The ability to enable settings on a 0-100% slider would be nice as well as a detailed damage model. The ability to render in more tire smoke than other games would be nice. I'm aware it requires a lot of system resources, but I would like to see how far it could be pushed on next generation consoles/and always-improving top of the line PCs. Using the car with manual transmission would allow us to put the car in neutral. Some vehicles with visible engines/engine components have a noticeable shake while idle, so seeing that would be nice. Being able to enable/disable fuel management (both for cruising/racing) would be nice, along with gas/petrol stations to refill the fuel and nitrous (just a drive-thru required). Slipstreaming other cars will make your car faster, not give nitrous like NFS. Nitrous should slowly regenerate like NFSMW2005, where there is also a slight delay for it to begin regenerating again, unlike TC2 where it begins regenerating immediately. Difficulty settings to lower driving assistance, if desired. Wipers operating along with rain buildup would clearly add some realism. Reversing your car would add a backup camera in place of the infotainment system displaying the map until you've left the reverse gear. While driving in the cockpit, the wheel needs to be given a 900ish degree rotation from lock to lock to add into the realistic feeling of being in a car.
Non-Driving Features: Players should be able to enter their homes similar to GTA5 and TDU2 and they should be able to have a vast array of customization for their house and a trophy room, which can be earned from high tier sanctioned races/tournaments (inspired by NFL 2K5/Auto Modellista), photos taken in game can be framed and displayed around the house (TDU2) and multiple garages and garage types like TDU/GTA along with the ability to interact with and move cars around different garages and spaces within the garages. The ability to test drive any car at any level of progression and visit themed new dealerships and used dealerships would be cool (TDU/TC). Character customization would be nice to control the appearance of your character, such as a plastic surgeon and clothing stores. The ability to control blinkers, headlights, windows, convertible tops/sunroofs, neon lighting, turning the engine off, operating hydraulics and adjusting air bags. Having a large variety of standard and gimmick horns. Using horns to control police lights to flash rapidly upon the horn being pressed, along with the siren remaining operating upon letting go of the horn. The internal navigation/infotainment screens of cars show the in game map/gps (TDU2). We could see the drone from FH4 return as it’s a good way to view tricky areas and get a live view of other players without obstructing them. Wheelspins (FH4) exist, but guarantee car or money and have the potential of earning clothes as a side bonus. We could maybe have a casino (similar to TDU2/GTA5) with various attractions, such as slots, a daily wheelspin for a rotating car weekly, the ability to bet on real life PvP races that the large room would randomly put you into spectate and other casino based activities. Our character shouldn't be mute throughout the story, we should be given a few voice choices for a little more personality for our character (similar to how Saints Row operates its voices). Car clubs would be cool, similar to FH3, along with leaderboards based on the clubs. Oil changes at the performance shops and car washes would be nice. Garages/dealerships and tuning shops will have various ambient noises (hydraulic lifts, airsaws, torches, metal slamming, etc.) and subtle music.
Photo mode: This deserves its own category and also can help a company market the game by users sharing their photos if the mode allows such great photos people will be prone to sharing them. We should have a filter/time of day/weather system like TC2. The focusing and motion blur of FH4 is well executed. We should be able to zoom in and out (adjust focal length) without it altering our field of view. We should be able to apply different lens effects, such as fisheye, rectilinear, etc. The camera should have the ability to position freely, in terms of raise, lower, tilt, rotate, etc. The maximum height for the camera needs to be much higher than FH4. The camera should have the potential to be on a gimbal, so it can remain even while a car is going up and down a hill to emphasize how drastic the ascent or descent is. All these features on top of standard stuff such as exposure, saturation, etc. Also, the live rewind and fast forward again option in TC2 is amazing. It’s easy to miss that perfect single frame shot on other games, but the ability to do that solves it.
Soundtrack: It needs to be eclectic with hip-hop, rock and electronic (maybe 2 of each) like modern and classic hip-hop and rock and electronic can be split between chill and hype. Maybe we can get pop, country and classical stations? Have a mix of some lesser known songs and also some billboard topping hits. Don't have stations where many of their songs sound very similar. Something great that could be added could be Spotify integration if any company can figure it out/contract Spotify. Groove integration was a good idea on FH, but Groove wasn't successful. Having the ability to fully mute all music sounds would also be nice (unlike FH4).
Vehicles: As I said, I will not be going over brands, but I would like to see a variety of entry level cars, sports cars, super cars, hyper cars and full on race cars. Concept cars would be great, as they are seen in limited fashion on most open world titles. I'd like trucks and SUVs as well for off roading and to maintain a wide variety of vehicles on par with FH4. I’d also like to see a vehicle categorization similar to FH4 (i.e. Hypercars, classic muscle, etc.). While I'd like to see a variety of vehicle types, I'd still prefer to see quality over quantity. Each vehicle needs to be replicated well and many should have extensive customization. We should be able to favorite cars and also choose a random car (totally random or random from favorites for whatever vehicles are applicable to the given event or freeroam. We should be able to tag vehicles as designed for off-road, wet driving, drifting, drag, etc. These will just be two examples, but we should be able to provide donor cars to speciality shops and convert them into improved, rarer editions. Two conversions that I'll reference would be converting a Porsche Carrera GT into a Gemballa Mirage GT or a Mustang GT into a Saleen S302. A growing variety of vehicles over the course of time, similar to FH4 and TC2.
Visual Customization: No visual adjustments will relate to performance gains or losses (i.e. camber, wheel swaps/sizes, bodykits, etc.) other than you will need to equip some form of spoiler/wing to adjust rear downforce. We should be able to set wheels smaller than stock, as well as larger. Track width should be an option with multiple sliders (like NFS2015). We should be given manufacturer options for paint, wheels and interior choices, etc. (TDU2/TC2). We should be able to save paint colors (MCLA), instead of just having them in recents and eventually disappear (FH). We should be able to adjust trim as chrome, titanium, gold, black, etc. (MC3) The paint options of NFS Heat and MCLA would be nice, such as gloss, metallic flake with size options, carbon fiber varieties, chrome, matte, satin, fading from left to right as well as top to bottom and the ability to add multiple colors in a color shifting paint job (MC3), colored nitrous (MC3/NFSH), colored tire smoke (GTA5/NFSH) and backfire (NFSH), tire design (MCLA/NFSH), wide body kits (both from manufacturers and developer designed), bumpers, spoilers/wings, skirts, mirrors and fenders (non real life brands can autosculpt like NFSC). Neon colors designs and patterns (TC2/NFSH), hydraulics (MCLA) and airbags (MCLA/NFSH) Brake calipers should be able to be from brands (MCLA/NFSH) or painted (TC2). Interior parts such as steering wheels and seats (MCLA), along with materials, alcantara, suede, leather, plastic, carbon fiber, chrome, etc. (TC2). We should be able to chop the roofs of some vehicles (MC3). Cars have individual licence plates and can get multiple states/countries given they fit the spacing allocated on each vehicle for them (MCLA) Tinted headlight and taillight housings are great options along with light bulb temperatures. Although it isn’t the taste of many people, we should be able to do all kinds of unique styles, such as monster truck (or at least an extreme lift), donk, bosozoku and even NHRA style drag body modifications (with optional wheelie bar) for some of the vehicles you would see them on in real life, but modifications this drastic will impact performance and vehicle hit box/collision physics. Vinyls on widows should be a thing with the ability to make vinyls able to utilize different paint materials (NFSH). FH4 has the numerical system to mirror and scale things fairly well. I’d like to keep the placement system of FH4. Also, the FH4 marketplace to download tunes and designs is the best I've seen, so that can be duplicated. As this will blanket all of the above, some customization parts should be recommended by a popular magazine or website. MC3 did this with Dub and created a fantastic game with a lasting legacy and many of the style options were relevant when the game was released and for a while after. We should be able to adjust tire width and profile, similar to MCLA. The ability to paint engine bays and accent parts would be nice, similar to NFS UG2. Custom exhaust tips/mufflers would be something nice that many other games have incorporated.
Performance Customization and Tuning: PI system like Forza with classes (but actively tuned for balance), different turbos for rpm ranges/turbo lag, supercharger. We should have different tire compounds, even being able to set for front/rear separately. As mentioned earlier, a RWD car that is tuned well and driven well should have the potential to beat an AWD vehicle due to it being lighter. Keeping the tuning settings of what you can adjust would be ideal. We should have the ability to combine the live tuning of NFSH, but enhance it while at a test track (with an off road area in the middle) connected to the tuning shop. You can isolate many tuning options and slide them around while hot lapping. I’d like the ability to run fat rear drag tires, unlike FH4 where it’s just a tire compound.
Audio: This is something that will be very important to many, so great sounds like the noise of turbos on NFS2015 and raw engine noises of FH2 and other games held to a high standard will be important to nail. Exhaust tuning from NFSH was nice, but I would like to see a little more of a difference in the sound with this idea further improved. Getting the proper transmission noises can be useful for cars on top of just the engine noise. Tires skidding is nice noise to get correct for realism as well. Having nice ambient sounds will also be important for immersiveness, such as birds chirping, waves washing up on the beach, wind noises and great echo sounds for traveling through tunnels or densely surrounded areas, such as down a row of highrise buildings). Other than making a car sound how it sounds and making realistic sounds for the environment, there is not much more to be said. It's a moderately limited description, but still something that is pivotal.
Story/post launch content: I would like to see a sense of progression built up throughout the game by starting in a low end car as someone who freshly arrived in the are the map takes place in (MCLA), maybe the antagonist could be someone who scammed you in a previous city or dismissed your talent at the beginning of the game. For me, the outright story isn't too important, but can contribute to how much you will enjoy a racing game. Any DLC map expansion needs to be seamless and not require a separate load in, similar to Burnout Paradise Big Surf Island bridge or (MCLA South Central expansion) and unlike FH4 Fortune Island. The 1000 Club was a great thing that occurred on FH1 that would be nice to bring reason to use every car and for the 100%ers to have something else to chase. Police are something that hasn't been done extremely well in a racing only game in a very long time, in my opinion. I would ideally focus on everything else before attempting to add police in. If they were added in, something along the lines of NFSMW (2005) would be nice, but with higher stakes. We should have an end-game hero car, similar to the M3 GTR from NFSMW, but make it a car that isn't already iconic from another game, movie or real life racing, as people wouldn't think of the hero car associated to this hypothetical game, but related to whatever it was previously iconic in, as whatever work that went into making it that car would go to waste as people would want to overwrite that design. Alongside the hero car, we should also have a couple cars that are unique variations of pre-existing cars (Dub Edition cars of MCLA) for other special events (MCLA hard tournaments/FH3 street race bosses). The post-launch support needs to be good, unlike NFSH. Adding cars monthly would be a great start, along with any necessary QoL updates.
Sorry for any formatting or grammatical issues. I’d like to hear any additional features to add into racing games from the feedback of other people or changes that they would prefer. Also, if there are any ideas in here that others would like to emphasize. Any of this content is free for content creators to recycle if that is desired. I’d like to see some of these ideas be passed around and heard to developers on what could be improved upon. Many games have great ideas and I’d like to see them build off of each other’s greatness.
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