The latest Real Racing 3 update adds a brand-new track and three teams from the FIA Formula E Championship.
We sat down with Real Racing 3 Artist Nick Mead to learn more.
The FIA Formula E Championship is the world’s first fully-electric single-seater series. This year was the first time that Formula E ran this track on the streets of Hong Kong.
When the Hong Kong update was first decided on for Real Racing 3, the team realized it was going to be quite different from the other tracks they had built.
“Sandwiched between the harbourfront and dense cityscape of Hong Kong gives this track a unique presence in Real Racing,” says Nick Mead, lead environment artist for the game.
To tackle the 1.86 KM course set on the Central Harbourfront, weaving through iconic structures such as the International Finance Centre, Central Star Ferry Pier, and Hong Kong City Hall, the team started with research.
“When it came to gathering reference,” says Mead, “we didn’t just look for images, we also looked for information about the structures: how tall is it? How many floors? Is there any other detail that might add to us recreating it accurately?”
Thanks to a strong relationship with Formula E, the team got early access to the official layout while it was still being designed, in the form of CAD.
After the team gathered an initial reference pass along with the official layout, Mead moved on to creating a prototyped scene, also known as a “grey box” scene.
A “grey box” is usually a simple scene merely intended to show an accurate layout of the track, a basic fence line, and a blocked out version of main structures. Rather than adding details or texturing, most items are left a flat grey.
However, Hong Kong was a special case. The team began blocking out more detail than usual, adding basic texturing and mapping to the track and fences in order to better gauge how drivable the track was.
“It’s surprising how some small details can drastically impact how easy it is to drive around the track,” says Mead. Getting an early prototype afforded the chance to deal with these issues. Designers, the art team, and Quality Assurance all played through the “grey box”, making suggestions on changes to help playability.
Once design decisions are made, Mead uses the “grey box” to set up track production. From here, they can start the planning and tracking side of things: creating an asset list of all items to be made, adding the items to an asset tracking system, and assigning tasks. This lengthy process gives them greater flexibility in the creation and time management of the track production, guaranteeing the team can make an accurate, beautiful track on time.
“That’s when the real fun starts, with everything planned out and goals in sight, we can start making the art,” Mead says.
The team divides up the track into numerous components so that individual artists can work simultaneously. The driving surface is given another round of treatment, and accurate road lines, better ripple strips, and final textures are added. With the building of structures, the team focuses on the silhouette of the structure, and on the building’s materials. In a city track, the structures make up the bulk of modelling and texturing time.
Props are made around the same time. This includes road signage, traffic lights, and more items that matched the real world Hong Kong Harbourfront. The final pieces of the puzzle are trees and spectators, which add extra color and vibrance to the game world. A total of 200 structures and over 150 props were created and placed on the Hong Kong track.
The Real Racing Environment Art Team created all of the 3D geometry in Autodesk’s 3ds Max. The team uses Adobe Photoshop to do the texturing, which is a mixture of real world photographic resources and digital paint overs.
Once the track is finished, it’s handed off to Quality Assurance for a final pass.
When asked what his favorite part of the update was, Mead responded with, “I’m biased, but I love the look of the city. It’s unique in the Real Racing line up, and I think it’s our best looking track to date.”
A lot of effort went into the Hong Kong update, and the team is excited to have players jump in and race.
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