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Archive for March 6th, 2015


SEGA 3D Classics – 3D Out Run – Part 2

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Out Run

We’re back with part 2 of our interview with developer M2 and SEGA of Japan talking about the SEGA 3D Classics. In this section of the interview we look at a few of the new options available in 3D Out Run. Yosuke Okunari (SEGA of Japan) and Naoki Horii (President of M2) aren’t satisfied in just bringing out the best version of Out Run ever, they want to add in a few extras to make it even better. But new options aren’t always so easy to implement, so read on and see how it all came together. Enjoy!

A New Machine That’s Speeder Then The Original With Constant Gear-Gacha!

Yosuke Okunari (below YO): Alright, let’s talk about the “Grantanoff” — the new features, starting with the new songs and then the new car. So for the new song, I’m going to bring Namiki-san in to talk about that, and for the new car, we added an American-style car. And that’s not all. When you think Out Run, you think of a candy apple red sports car, so we’ve gone and mixed things up with a not-candy apple red sports car.

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Out Run

Before you start the game, on the attract screen, you can now choose your car on the lower touch screen. The car types are linked to a particular ability, each with an improved aspect over the original car. One has better handling, so it doesn’t drift as hard as the original. The next one has improved fenders so it doesn’t get thrown aside when it runs into other cars. And then there’s the one with the improved engine. It has a higher top speed. And then last but not least, one with improved tires. This improvement allows you to run off the road and not lose speed.

*Check out the 3D After Burner II interview for details about “Grantanoff.”

Naoki Horii (below NH): You’ve probably got it figured out already, but there were a lot of things that had to happen to get each of these power-ups added. For example, raising the top speed with the engine—when you are running at the frame rate of the original Out Run, and you go over the speed of 293 km/h, the amount your car moves around and the collision detection of the objects starts to not match up, and you can clip through things. It’s just too fast (and so the collision isn’t detected in time).

So to get the engine upgrade to work, we had to go in and rework the internal processing quite a bit. Now, your hit collision extends out further in front of your car when you have a high top speed.

– This sounds similar to the glitches that happened when you added the Spin Dash to 3D Sonic The Hedgehog.

NH: That’s right. It’s something we wouldn’t have known about had we not tried to make 3D Out Run.

YO: If you go with the improved engine, your max speed will go to 352 km/h.

– That is quite a power-up.

NH: Oh, it certainly is.

YO: When you speed up the car, the game proceeds quicker as well. As a result, it actually makes handling more difficult.

– I see.

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Out Run

YO: Your car will change color or design depending on which parts you choose. This is because I said that I initially said I wanted to add more cars. M2 told me, “With this schedule? Not going to happen.”

– (laughs)

YO: You know, because in Out Run 2 you had a lot of car options. But that said, there wasn’t really much time to design new cars, and since this is an emulation-based game, we can’t really add in a lot of new designs anyway.* There are limitations on data volume and palette, as well, but I pleaded with them to add in at least one. M2 felt that just a single car would be a bit lonely, so they volunteered to change its capabilities.

* In order to add a single car, you need to add in new sprite angles for the left and right side, as well as animations and patterns for crashes.

NH: We have some young designers on staff, and when we first got started with the additional content, they were all like, “Are you sure you don’t want drifting or anything like that?”

– That’s the striking difference between Out Run and Out Run 2. That and the fact they were different generations of games.

YO: Well, we weren’t looking to change the gameplay for this first-generation Out Run, but we still wanted something that brought a new flavor to the game. So this is what we have.

– Two body types, and some different colors.

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Out Run

YO: When you use the upgraded parts, the timing for avoiding other cars changes. If you powered up everything, it would probably get pretty easy. But if you don’t equip every part, and say just go with the engine, you will notice you fishtail all over the place, and it’s pretty fun. Each part makes the game a little different, and I hope everyone finds the fun in that.

– Well this sounds like it’ll be fun. Not only does the car behavior change, but the difficulty changes as well.

YO: There is separate save data for “Normal” and “Tuned,” as well. You’ll get more parts every time you cross the goal line, so the more you clear the game, the easier it gets (laughs). So your first goal might be the hardest one. For those who think it’s too hard, you can lower the difficulty and remove the other cars from the road. Or save halfway through. In any case, just try to get through to the finish line, collect all the parts, and have fun trying them all.

For the tires you get at the very end, it basically puts you into a state where you’re basically always using the gear gacha trick. Scitron* put out a strategy video long time ago about the SEGA “physical experience” games, which included Out Run. They played through the full game using the gear gacha technique, pretty much off the road the whole time. We made it so you can try that yourself without having to use the gear gacha technique, because it’s an automatic gear gacha machine. But of course there’s obstacles like rocks and whatnot, so you have to have an understanding of what lies outside the course. If you get into it, it becomes an entirely different game. (laughs)

* Scitron is a Japanese multimedia company that was known in the 80s for their video game soundtrack publications.

– It’s its own kind of fun. The gear gacha technique is really hectic, and not having to do it is easier on your hardware.

YO: If you’re the type who actually wants to do the gear gacha yourself, you can go to the Input Settings and set the gear type to “Hold.” This will make it so the gear is set to LO when the button is held, and HI when it’s released. Or if you set it to “Switch,” repeatedly pressing the button will switch between LO and HI gear, so try and see which one you like. And I should note that there are four parts that you can get, and when you get to the ending the 5th time, one additional thing will be unlocked. That’s the “Arcade” Mode. I mentioned this earlier, but this mode lets you play a faithful reproduction of the original running at 30 FPS.

NH: Actually, that’s not all. Most of the bugs we fixed for this port that were in the arcade version come back.

– Reverting to its ancestral form, I suppose.

YO: For example, there’s actually a bug in the original arcade version and the previous ports—the displayed times are wrong. This time around, the way Arcade Mode records sectional times is the same as the original, while the Special version has this bug fixed. So even if you race the exact same way in the two modes, your times will differ slightly.

NH: Specifically, the time counter and the lap time counter use different calculations. The counter on screen counts 60 frames as one second, while the lap time counts 64 frames as one second, so there’s a 4-frame difference.

YO: The fun in Out Run is all about running through these courses over and over, so there are a lot of elements you can enjoy—whether that’s the differences between the Japanese and Overseas versions, or the spec differences between the Normal and Tuned cars, or even the internal differences between the Special and Arcade versions. There’s a lot of gameplay to be had here. You times are recorded at every checkpoint, so you can even have fun doing speed runs.

By the way, when we were talking about the “Grantanoff” for this game, there was an idea that was similar to Super Hang-On’s World Mode where you could run all 15 courses one after another. We actually went as far to build it out, but killed it in the end.

After putting it in, we found out it was actually really boring. It made me realize how crucial the forks in the road were to Out Run’s game rhythm.

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Out Run

NH: The road forks are what make Out Run a really tight game.

YO: But since we went through the trouble of making it, there was also a discussion of just putting it in anyway. But the director, Matsuoka-san, was very strongly against it.

NH: I wanted to include it because we had put quite a lot of time into it, but even if we left the forks in there, you drive through the same locations in the end no matter which way you go, which seems pointless. So we just ended up cutting it.

YO: We ultimately couldn’t make it more interesting than the normal game. The fun in Out Run is all about starting from the beginning each time and driving through the different branches. We really didn’t have a choice.

NH: We talked about how nice it would be to create a course editor, but then what would we do about the finish lines?

– If you edit them, then you would have been able to connect the courses in ways they’ve never been connected before.

YO: It’s an issue of whether the end result is fun enough to justify the work involved. We also want to make sure it doesn’t undermine what makes Out Run fun. Those who have tried 3D Super Hang-On’s World Tour mode might have been looking forward to it, but it just didn’t make it this time. If it’s something you wanted to try, I’m sorry!

– There were some people who thought there would be a mode where you could play all 15 courses. Or thought there’d be an editor that allowed you to tweak the car graphics.

YO: We actually looked into that a bit. But even though it’s an old game, there’s quite a few patterns you’d have to create!

NH: And if you don’t understand how palettes work, you can’t make anything anyway.

YO: We even discussed taking polygon based cars and allowing people to edit the textures, and then converting those into pixel versions. (laughs)

NH: The moving tires are animated through the palette, so it would get really complicated. (laughs)

– Oh, wow, you guys really put some thought into it.

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Out Run

YO: The point is: Is it interesting as new content? How does it extend the game’s fun? For Out Run, in the end we settled on making it so you could drive various types of cars.

NH: I think you’ll find it feels really nice if you give it a play.

YO: If you were one of those people played it back in the day, you’ll be able to get a taste of what made old driving games fun.

NH: It’s a different kind of fun from games created with polygons.

– A fun not found in modern racing games

Stay Tuned – The Interview Continues on Monday

Thanks for staying to check out part 2 of our interview with developer M2 and Sega of Japan for our SEGA 3D Classics. Starting Monday we dive into the interview with Manabu Namiki and focus on the sound and music design.