Today saw the release of the Forza 2 March Car Pack, and what better time to find out a little more about what the pack entails with an exclusive to XCN Q&A with the dev team of the game. What follows is an in-depth Q&A with Dan Greenawalt, Lead Game Designer of Forza Motorsport 2, and Che Chou, Community Manager at Turn 10 Studios. Enjoy!
What’s the overall theme of this car pack?
Each of the car packs we’ve released so far have had little mini-themes. For instance, in the September Car Pack, we had a couple of late model Civics, and a classic/modern pairing of the Lamborghini Miura. But I think the way to look at DLC so far is to see them as one complete package. Since Forza 2 launched last summer, we’ve released 35 of the hottest cars that didn’t make it on disc, many of which are related across the different packs to make up an overall “theme”, like new vs. old, exotic vs. everyman, and everything in-between.
Could you pick out some of your favourite cars in this pack and tell us why you like them?
I think the March Car Pack is our strongest batch of cars added to the roster yet. Every one of these cars are absolutely incredible in the real-world. Starting with the three Ferraris we included: the 430 Scuderia, the F40 Competizione, and the F50 GT… each of these cars symbolize the best of what the prancing stallion has to offer. Joining our families of Mitsubishi Evos and BMW M3s is the Evo X and the stunning new M3 coupe. My personal favourite probably has to be the 2008 Porsche 911 GT2, with its upgraded 3.6 liter Flat-6 and innovative expansion intake system. Of course no matter which car you fall in love with, each of these rides are yours to totally customize and make your own in Forza 2.
How did you go about choosing the cars in this car pack?
We put these car packs together based on a number of variables. We listen to community feedback on our forums at Forzamotorsport.net. While we can’t please everyone but we try to be as strategic as possible to please the largest number of fans. Some of the timing of the cars and when we release them come down to licensing, or other times, when we can get our hands on the actual car in real-life to do the dyno session or reference for our car stats and models.
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is coming soon on PS3 – what’s your view on the ongoing rivalry between Forza and GT?
As a GT fan, I’m eager to see what features Polyphony implements in GT5. Prologue is an interesting demo but doesn’t hold much interest for me as a $40+ dollar game.
What do you have planned for the future of Forza?
Looking at how well Forza 2 was received worldwide, I’d say the future of Forza is looking very exciting. As a matter of fact, we’re currently expanding Turn 10’s studio operations to ramp up for our next project. If any world-class developers are reading this, be sure to visit Forzamotorsport.net for any employment inquiries.
Community was always a huge part of your plans for Forza 2 – has it lived up to your expectations?
I had pretty high expectations for our community because I knew going into the launch that Forza 2 was going above and beyond what other console games were doing in terms of community features. The ability to completely customize your car, then sell that work of art in our auction house on Xbox Live – I knew all of it was going to propel community to new heights on the 360. That said, the popularity of Forza 2, everything from the auction house artist community, to the hardcore competitive hotlappers, completely blew me away. Managing and growing a community like the one we have for Forza has been a fun and interesting ride so far, and one that I hope every community manager experiences with the title they’re working on.
How have you seen the Forza community evolve since the launch of Forza 2?
Just like every game has a lifecycle, so does its community. When the game first came out a lot of early adopters established the “rules” of how to interact with each other in the community and really set the tone for the community. These are who you often consider the VIPs, and they evolve to become your key moderators, etc. Since the game’s launch last May, we’ve seen waves of users come and go — and most folks who leave for another game usually come back after a month or so. One thing I truly believe, and I’ve heard this from so many of our users, is that Forza 2 is what you’d call a “home base game”. You might go off for a while to play COD4 or whatever’s hot at the moment, but you always come back to Forza and when you do, there’s always something new to discover because the community will have grown once again. At the moment, we have very healthy weekly unique user numbers for Forza 2 and Forzamotorsport.net.
Have you noticed any differences between the European Forza community and the North American/Japanese communities?
Generally speaking, our European and American communities play together pretty well, whether it’s in the hotlap and tournament area, or the tuning marketplace. On our forums, both Europeans and Americans mingle together to discuss topics. The most discernable differences between Euro and U.S. Forza fans are the cars they’d like to see in the game, with either side preferring models on their respective sides of the ocean. When it comes to our Japanese community, language is obviously a barrier for interaction. On the Turn 10 side, we have Japanese speakers on the team so we can support them if they need help, but for the most part, the Japanese players stick to themselves. That said, they’ve got a pretty vibrant community they’ve created, with the majority focused on car painting and the auction house. It was great having Forza 2 launch early in Japan, since all the Japanese players began creating awesome anime-inspired cars and putting them on the auction house within a couple days of the game’s release there. We were just blown away by what they were able to pull off with such a short amount of time.
What’s your favourite story you’ve heard from the Forza community?
Ah, there are many stories, where do I begin. In terms of community, we truly cover the 18-35+ demographic of Xbox Live, depending on which aspect of the Forza community you’re looking at (i.e., painting, tuning, racing, etc). We’ve had husbands who have gotten their wives into the game, for the livery editor alone, and as a result, the wife has now completely taken over her husband’s Xbox 360. We also had one woman who wrote in to let us know that she got into quite a pickle with her car while driving over some ice last winter, but was able to recover from a wreck because of the skills she learned playing Forza 2 with the force feedback wheel. Those kinds of stories stay with you, and honestly, makes it all worthwhile.
What ongoing community plans do you have?
As the community continues to grow, we continue to come up with new ways to keep folks engaged. We run weekly scoreboard challenges for anybody to enter and try to win in-game prizes like rare unicorn cars or in-game credits. We also run design contests, as well as support tons of community-run photo-mode contests. I’m also cooking up some pretty ambitious plans for community right now and a lot of it will have to do with how we use Forzamotorsport.net going forward. Stay tuned!
How are you planning to involve the community in any future Forza or other Turn 10 games?
Anything we do with the Forza franchise will always have the community in mind. We’re involved personally on our forums, and have a really open two-way channel of communication with our players. They know how to get in touch with us, and know that we try and respond as often as possible. Community is an important part of the Turn 10 culture here and we will continue to support it in any game we create.
Thank you for your time fellas!