While some humans prepare to purchase Forza Motorsport 6 later this month, perhaps thinking of whether an umbrella should go with them to the shops, the computer-driven drivers in the game are still becoming aclimatized to the rain. According to the game’s developers, players may witness some unskilled behavior from the artificial racers - still called “Drivatars,” yes - who have been raised only in a world of dry circuits, with none of that dreadful descending moisture.
The current batch of cloud-connected Drivatars made their debut with Forza Motorsport 5, where they acted as digital doppelgangers for each player and their driving tendencies. Even you, the little snowflake that you are, can be broken down and recorded into granular chunks of video game data: you skid off the road over here [recorded], you break too late in this turn [recorded], on this track [recorded], and you tend to violently wedge yourself into cars around you [recorded and pretty rude actually]. But as for how you’ve been driving through hard rain in Forza 5, well, there hasn’t been anything to observe.
“Every tendency, from late braking, to how they adjust their throttle, to how they do an apex, how they do a breakthrough and how they react to other cars around them,” says Turn 10 Creative Director Bill Giese, listing off everything that makes a drivatar. “That all gets pooled together and that data is pulled down based on the tracks they do. And what you’re seeing now is the pool that we pulled over from Forza 5 and Horizon, and internally some of the Drivatars that we’ve done as we’ve played.”
It’s the pools in the road you have to worry about, though, with Forza Motorsport 6 offering a rain and puddle simulation far exceeding even the effects in Forza Horizon 2. Even if a Drivatar is trained on a certain circuit, such as Long Beach’s tooth-grinding turnfest, it won’t know how to react to increased slippery conditions or high-speed aquaplaning through a watery dip. If you’re trying to pick one of 2015’s worst video game enemies, it’s probably going to be the puddles in Forza 6.
You’ll begin teaching your Drivatar suitable behaviour as soon as you start playing (or even if you play the huge Forza 6 demo), but Turn 10 expects to see some interesting behavior - a wrinkle emerging from simulating lifelike racers and the effects of water in the same game. If you’re worried about rain turning Drivatars into rolling hazards (as it does with real people too), there is a new option to cut out their aggression.
“The career players, they want to win and they don’t give a crap who’s there," says Bill Giese. “They’re gonna bounce, they’re gonna T-bone, they’re gonna use rewind, they’re gonna do whatever it takes to win.” Over in multiplayer races, Giese says, things are far more polite, and the drivers that spend most of their time online generate “cleaner” Drivatars compared to career players. “So what happens is you’ll have multiplayers playing the career, because they’re just a broad swath, and they’ll find, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m with a bunch of career players who are more aggressive.’” Now you can turn the rude behavior down a notch if it's bothering your career progress.
With Forza 6 - coming to Xbox One on September 15 - Drivatars are entering their terrible toddler phase: we’re trying to get them to calm down and we’re watching them play in puddles for the first time. We'll always cherish these memories, making sure they don't get lost like tires in the rain.