2020 Roadmap Update (June)
We have updated much more frequently in 2020 than in the same period of 2019. Not every update is substantial, and there are still more bug fixing updates than we’d like to do, but even those come through at a faster rate and more issues are fixed than before. This time last year, we had released 2 updates, this year we have released 22 client and server updates.
We expect to continue this approach, and release more things as they become ready, where it makes sense to. As such, when I talk about features, I won’t talk about them in relation to an update number. Let’s talk about some big picture features.
Retuning & Engine Improvements
Much of this is done. The one-off retuning feature works and many of the engine issues are fixed. We haven’t yet had a deep dive into the data yet to see which things are we happy with, how it affects the game, and how interesting each tuning is. The aim is to eliminate as many of the simulation issues that have been reported and ensure that different tunings are competitive in different challenge types to make tunings strategic and interesting. This will be released at some point - but I don’t know when.
Polish & Usability
We continue to work towards testing different parts of TD, looking at polish through a different UI and a higher fidelity to races, to better appeal to new and old players alike. We are excited about the future of Top Drives - and like other free-to-play games we rely on our players sticking around, meaning that any improvement that helps us keep our existing users and attract new ones is very efficient and impactful.
The reasons to really care about this stuff as a veteran player is:
The changes we’re looking at are really cool. They also create a lot of new opportunities for the future. If we have great 3D environments, what improvements can we make to the 3D car models? If we have 3D cars, could we change how you visualise your collection/garage? It opens up a lot of new possibilities which tap into other parts of the game e.g. making your collection of cars even more desirable.
More players can help the game and team grow further
More players actively playing the game means matchmaking can draw a wider pool of players to draw from.
The home screen isn’t particularly flexible, especially when it comes to thinking about features of the future. We’d like a future proofed UI that is expandable for additional features.
When a feature is designed, it gets broken down into pieces and you try to identify the minimum number of pieces to build the thing. When doing this with a few different ideas, the same piece was present each time; the need for flexible criteria. So we are just going to build it now.
It’s similar to how when we improved Filters, we ignored the limited car group system in favour of something far more powerful. This is what I’m looking for.
Flexible criteria that allow me to join smaller brands together just for a single event. That allow me to say this event is Motorsport, but only British and French cars. That allow me to say Production (non-Concept cars) that are RWD and Petrol. That allow me to change a pack offer to exclude Off Road cars when they’re irrelevant for this event, and not particularly desirable, and instead only allow Performance/Standard Tyres to drop from the pack.
In doing this, we’d be improving the relevance of some packs, improving the pack localisation issue (it takes time, and it is often imperfect), improving how quickly we can go from event idea to event live (if it requires new car groups, it requires a client/server release right now).
It’s the biggest expansion of how criteria work since Complex Criteria was introduced in PL3, over two years ago. Hopefully applying to Events, Challenges, Packs, and then whatever feature comes after...
Tune In To The Future
We often look to other successful roster based games to see potential features and directions to travel that are engaging and fun. One of the interesting notes is that most of these games have four or more ways to upgrade the roster and these are gradually introduced throughout the game. TD doesn’t have four, it maybe has one and a half (upgrades with fusion gates).
In addition, cars in the real world have the concept of tuning through making material changes to your car. Notably, requests for tuning companies are one of the most popular requests we receive from players. So there’s definitely an opportunity here where a common construct in games has a real world equivalent that is popular. I’m really keen that when we introduce tuners, we embrace aftermarket tuning as something more than just regular cars we add to the game.
So whether that’s fine tuning your cars in new ways, or earning a variant of the Porsche 911 (991) Turbo S which allows you to go on a journey to tune it, where you have to win races against certain characters to source particular parks, where it culminates in becoming a Edo Competition Blue Arrow, or maybe it’s a more flexible system where a new kind of race pops up, allowing you to earn limited tuning materials and augments that you can apply to any of your cars. There’s definitely a format in this space that we can build new gameplay to advance in and new strategic decisions.
I hope we can in time introduce a new endgame format to play, a new structure to improve and customise your garage, with the bonus of breathing some life into stagnant cars that have been fully upgraded since 2017, and transforming some cars into some really special versions.