I’m a fan of open world racing games, and I’m a fan of RPGs. No, I’m not suggesting a fight to see which is better. I’m proposing a mix of the two. I’m saying that mixing two genres that haven't really been done before might prove interesting if done right.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting I know the perfect method of doing this that will achieve a full-blown ten across the board, but I like putting ideas out there, and this month has been pretty focused on racing games already.
Why not add one more to the mix before Star Wars month [where there’s gonna be another racing game idea appearing, depending on what ideas I settle on]? Either way, a specific idea for an RPG open world racing game is ready to roll, so read on and see if you agree with me on something like this.
First off, it’s an RPG. It’s going to need someone to take a role. Racing games have pretty much already done this by having the player be a driver, with some going further to place them within a story as an actual character (see Need For Speed: Payback as a recent example).
An RPG’s going to need a world and things to do within it. This ain’t no simulation racer, the world don’t have to be real. Or even logical if you want to go that far. Let’s not, though. An RPG needs puzzles to solve and combat to… I think I have something similar to implement.
And growth of abilities and powers which technically racing games already have. As for a story, it can be simple but with an end goal in sight. As it’s a racing game, the obvious thing to do is a tournament. And a tournament we shall have.
Going into detail with this, anyone who was following me back in 2012 might remember a story of mine [you won’t be able to find it now, however] called Zincite Storm Cup. In the story, the main character was Cobri Da’mine – a racer who had his sight set on winning the titular Zincite Storm Cup.
His main rival whenever he entered the tournament was Adam Dane – a cocky racer who always won with full points. To enter the tournament, a hefty sum of money is needed, and to earn money racers are required to enter the smaller tournaments dotted around the world.
To fit that into an RPG context, you start out with smaller races, work up to tournaments, and finally the Zincite. Across the story, you’d be travelling across the various cities and entering a range of races, tournaments, and special challenges, meeting up with new people and experiencing this world of racing.
Within the world, there would be a range of cities – large and small – with tracks within them. Some races would be outside of a city, with the entirety of the Zincite Storm cup essentially being its own contained area. How you go about earning the right to enter the Zincite is up to the player, but the end goal encourages movement through the different ranks of racing to earn the larger prize amounts and move quicker in getting to that goal.
If you’re thinking this is a standard racer in always having a set number of racers at each track or always giving the same amount of prize money per position, you’d be wrong. A time system means that different tracks will have different people after certain time frames have passed, with the number of racers entered building up during the pre-race timer.
Different tracks will have a set level guide during the pre-race time, with those levels always changing after the race time has ended. All tournaments need an entry fee, which is then collected and handed to the top three racers in a 55-30-15 percent split. Single races don’t require an entry fee, but only give out small rewards.
Special challenges offer various reward amounts, while racers out in the open can also challenge you to one-on-ones (or you to them) for some quick money. For the Zincite, it’s a bit different, in that it’s four races in a tournament, with you needing to reach a set amount of points to reach the grand finale and a chance to earn that cup. Since the Zincite is the finale, this is the only tournament that has a set number of racers.
While four groups race through the tournament, the only one you need to worry about is the one you are in. And don’t worry – once you enter the tournament and fail to get through to that final race or lose that final race, you won’t have to go through the trouble of earning the money needed to enter again. Unless you wanted to, in which case there’s a setting for that.
The races are pretty much like battles in any other RPG, and as such are where you’d gain experience points. The car you drive starts from level one, and has attributes in speed, acceleration, armour, handling, and stability. As you gain experience and level up, your car becomes a better vehicle.
A speed increase raises top speed. Acceleration increase raises how fast you can reach that top speed. Handling increase raises the ability of your car not losing grip at speed. Armour increase raises the resistance to crashes and bashes that will occur. Stability increase reduces the loss of the maximum speed your car will achieve when it loses health.
Well, an RPG isn’t complete if there isn’t a way to have a health counter reduced to zero and have to start from the last checkpoint, after all. Since this is a racing game as well as an RPG, there is a cost to restoring health to full, and the less health the car has the higher that price is. Don’t worry, it isn’t an expensive fee, and can be done at any garage – including the pit lanes at race tracks.
And speaking of pit lanes, that’s how you enter races. During the pre-race time of any track, you can pull into the open space of the pit lane to start that race. If it’s to start a tournament, the other tracks will remain in pre-race time until you go to them, but during a tournament you won’t be able to enter any other races outside of it.
The races themselves are track-based for the most part, but those special challenges take place within the world itself. These tracks are more about the other skills of a vehicle rather than just racing, as well as navigation. As such, they are more freeform in approach.
Taking place within the cities for the most part, the more obvious routes are blocked off, giving them a more maze-like structure. The forests around the world also make for good mazes. Off-road races would also fall under these special challenges, that take you from one city to another without using a road.
Since there is a health of your vehicle, it is a viable tactic within the game to try and take opponents out. You get an experience bonus for doing so, but might just miss out on gaining first if you do. Since health is a mechanic of the game, a special type of race also exists. It will give a big payout, but only one person can get it.
I’ve touched on the story, but just want to fill in a bit more about the world. Upon first starting, you get put on that final race of the Zincite. It serves as a tutorial, and as a base for what level you should be when you finally enter. You are not to win this race though, as your rival overtakes on the last lap and gains a massive lead.
Once the race is over, you answer an interview where you decide you need a new set-up for your car, and announce you’ll scrap it to buy a new one. Once at the shop, you sell the old one and buy a new one. It’s your choice of which you want. There are three types, with each determining which stats increase above the others.
The aero car builds fast in speed, but at the cost of stability. The heavyweight car builds fast in armour but at the cost of acceleration. The smooth car builds fast in handling but at the cost of speed. This choice is a permanent one, and in case you’re thinking of just choosing the type from the tutorial, it’s an older model that cannot be bought.
In case you want to change the way in which your car increases it stats, that’s where the modifiers come in. As you level up, new modifiers come into stock in the shop. Attaching these modifiers can either give a boost in stats for as long as you have them attached or change the hidden percentages in which they increase upon levelling up.
That’s all I can give for this at present, but it does give an idea of the sort of thing I’m talking about. There is crossover between the two genres already, it just needs that bit extra to bring the differences together. I’m not entirely sure fans of either genre would appreciate both being combined, but it allows a unique spin on them.
In the end, as ever, this is just me spouting ideas that I hope are fun and interesting for people to read. So I hope you enjoyed it, and can even add some ideas on top of it.