During our introduction to The Crew 2 earlier this month, AllGamers spoke to Ivory Tower Creative Director Stéphane Beley, and Player Experience Director Julien Hummer, about the kind of experience the Lyon studio is striving to create. This is what they had to share:
How would you describe The Crew franchise to a complete newcomer?
SB: You are invited to visit the USA, to become the champion of all motorsport disciplines: bikes, cars, planes, boats. Decide how you want to embrace the world, how you want to play with your friends, because they are there with you. It’s a shared open world – this is your story across a full recreation of the USA with your friends in any vehicle you choose.
How will fans of the original respond to the shift in tone to something more lighthearted? Will this feel like the same experience to them?
JH: You can still drive with your friends in co-op. It’s still a massive open world, but it is a very different approach. We wanted something very colorful, very bright. We wanted to move away from a linear narrative, to give players something to learn, to tell the story that they wish to experience. It’s a very different approach; fun, fresh. But, it’s still The Crew.
When we are building the game we are iterating with players. Every two weeks we have players coming to the studio in Lyon. They are very engaged players with 1000s of hours on The Crew, and they are saying that this is the DNA of The Crew but that we are improving the experience by adding more. We are ensuring that all the playgrounds are fun and interesting to play. So, it is very different but shares the same DNA as The Crew.
Among the players giving feedback on the game, are some of them pro pilots and drivers?
SB: For each experience that you play, we met with some champions – junior and senior. They helped us get the credibility, the real emotion. Although inside the game this is not a real car, we have to convey real emotion associated with driving fast, going hand in hand with anticipation. For planes, we met pilots who ensured things behave in the right way.
This being an open-world, MMO-style experience, is there more to offer beyond the racing?
JH: The massive open-world that we are creating can be an opportunity to play the way you want to play; switching from street race, to rally raid, or any kind of motorsport discipline that we see in the game. From the menu or the map, you are picking what to do, where you want to travel to, or you can just explore: I want to go LA, New York, Vegas…
I could just drive with my car and discover the beauty of the country, experience day and night, the weather. We are trying to give something to do to all these different types of gamers; those who want to complete the story, or those that just have fun exploring.
What is it especially about the USA that lends itself so well to this kind of opportunity?
SB: The USA is the birth of the motorsport experience. It is where cars were born. [We have our doubts about this claim - ed.] You have so many motorsport fans in one place. I wanted to express this way of life, and to allow our players to enjoy this journey in which they can try anything in any moment. There are over 1000 iconic landmarks inside our world.
Could the appeal be more general, attracting people who enjoy Assassin’s Creed or Steep?
JH: Because we have different disciplines in the game, it’s about more than just the vehicles. For us, what’s important as a player is to learn something. You travel to the US in the game, you can discover iconic places and not just the cities. It can be the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore. Maybe in reality we cannot travel there, but now we have the chance to visit.
Our twist is that you can discover this place, and do something there. Just go with your plane and fly under the Golden Gate. You can take your bike to the hills of Hollywood and do crazy things there. Learn something about the country, and do interesting things.
We are also introducing a story. We went to the US when we were developing the game, meeting real drivers and pilots. One street racer told us: “We want to be professional. Street racing isn’t only about illegal races at night.” Back in Lyon, when we pitched the story for the game, we wanted to tell this story about [the shift] from illegal races to legit races. The first drift event is a charity event, for example. Legit races with sponsors and media recognition, not an illegal activity, but entertainment for charity.
Which are some of the most memorable encounters that players can look forward to?
SB: I really like to go with my plane near the Statue of Liberty, and see Manhattan and Central Park from the air, not just from the streets. For me, the planes bring these moments of exploration that’s marvelous. You observe these places from such a thrilling perspective You might visit the Hollywood sign, but you are on your bike and doing some motor-cross. You can’t do this in real life, but in The Crew you can.
Was it important to evoke the character of locations, and share something of the culture?
SB: We try to capture the historic and cultural layers throughout the game. You’ll find specific things like the yellow cabs of New York, or that the traffic and pedestrians will be different for each district. Architecture will be different – Miami is not New York. Each place is crafted with the local culture in mind, and that’s about more than just the buildings.
Has working with the community allowed you to create a longer road-map for support?
SB: Yes, but I am also aware that we need to evolve quickly whenever necessary. I do have a roadmap based on community feedback, which becomes my vision. But, if I am surprised by comments I will be able to respond next month. My roadmap should be agile, to move fast.