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Zummy

Racing!

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Yes, I am here to spark a discussion about the racing genre. I'd like to ask a couple things:
What do you think is among the best racing games, in terms of overall execution?
What do you think is the best feature of the racing genre as a whole? The one thing unique to racing games that seal the deal for you.
As a genre, what do you think is holding it back? What's the next biggest hurdle?

You know, I really do have a love/hate relationship with the whole racing scene. I love the competition and the tension you get when you're trying to pass someone or you see someone approaching up behind you. I like the sort of dual competition between the other players for first, as well as yourself for the lowest time. The overall feel is pretty great. Though, I just seem to find the genre pretty stale lately... Cars racing around in a city setting. Cars racing around on a track. It seems like the only difference really is the physics and the amount of customizing. I dunno. What I think would make a new racing game stand out is a proper implementation of the Z axis. Racing up-down-left-right-forward-backward. I think that just sticking to a flat ground track is starting to become stale. Have there been any titles that are more 3D in that respect?

Anyway, I was thinking of a concept just as a collection of ideas to see exactly how far I can bend this genre and still keep it satisfying and inherently "Race-y". The purpose of this concept is to explore new ideas within the genre and see what works and why. Feel free to dissect and comment on this as much as you please.

First thing's first. No vehicles. Your character is a sentient being closely resembling humans, except you can climb/run/jump higher/faster/longer/quicker. The racing is done on foot.

Now, I don't have a lore/story planned out or anything so everything isn't going to be named or descriptive or anything of that nature. This is purely a mechanics-gameplay experiment and should be judged only on that.

Okay, so now fast forward to the part right before a race. You're on a section of map. Let's just say you're in the bottom left hand corner, and whatever you're racing to obtain is in the top right. Story doesn't matter at the moment. This is a get from point A to point B.
Instead of having a continuous loop of track to run around, or a winding hallway with turns, it's an open ended map. If it's an urban area, you'll have buildings/roads/bridges/maybe a river. If you're in a jungle, you'll get cliffs/waterfalls/tree canopies, and the likes. The trick is to plan and think of what would be the way you'd want to choose to go.

Let's go back to the example of the urban city. Say you'd choose to stay low and follow the roads. It could serve you well, however, if there's a large structure in the way you'd have to go around it or spend time trying to climb it. You could opt to climb a building and jump rooftop to rooftop. That might work, too. To make things interesting there are certain powerups you can slot to your character before each race. For instance, you could have explosives to topple a building. Now the person that chose tso take a high road and jump from house to house doesn't have a houe close enough to continue jumping at a good pace, causing him to re evaluate his course and give you some breathing space. For revenge, the person from the roofs makes a fissure on the ground, blocking a choke point. Since you decided to stay low, you now have to resort to an alleyway or some other means of crossing.

So not only do you have an open ended map to traverse, you now have the potential to alter it, creating a bit of strategy. Certain powerups can also grant your character brief periods of extra speed, or maybe a second jump.

I've even considered adding in map dangers. For instance, the forest levels may have animals that will try and slow you down. Or the city may have certain construction zones and traffic jams. I'd like to make it feel like you're in a living world, you're not isolated when you're racing. Even though you're chasing/being chased you also have to worry about the world itself.

Player positions could be kept track of how many total m or km they are away from the specific location they are racing to.

Anyway that's the gist of it.
Open ended map
Multiple paths
Powerups
Map alterations mid-game
Map obstacles

I think this solves my major concerns about the genre as I believe it adds a bit more depth and it opens up racing to a different perspective. If anything, a breathe of fresh air and not gasoline.

Comment and discuss below! I'd love to hear what you guys think about the genre as a whole as well as my thrown-together-game-concept. Include your own ideas too if you want. I would enjoy listening to what other players haved designed when it comes to racing.
Thanks~

~Zummy.

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