Codemasters Chief Games Designer Paul Coleman talks DiRT 4 and the stage generation tool 'Your Stage'. In a recent interview with Redbull.com, Paul Coleman of Codemasters gave a substantial interview discussing the hotly anticipated 'Your Stage' feature due to debut in the upcoming DiRT 4 rally game. Simply speaking, 'Your Stage' is a direct response to fans of the previous DiRT and DiRT Rally franchise who have often criticised the series for a lack of fresh rally stage content. Often one of the biggest thrills of high speed rally driving can be found hurtling through narrow stages with very little knowledge of the course in front of you, hanging on the every word of your co-driver as you look to best interpret the road in front of you over your immediate rivals. Unfortunately despite an admittedly very impressive game under the hood, the previous Codemasters release, DiRT Rally, very quickly became all too familiar to it's dedicated player base due to its relative lack of unique stage locations and tendency to re use sections of a stage throughout the location. With 'Your Stage' now on the scene, Codemasters have utilised the increasingly popular procedural technology to allow players to specify a number of parameters that will allow the game to automatically generate unique stages, offering players the opportunity to create, save and share near endless variations of the locations shipping with DiRT 4 as default content. The opportunity this presents Codemasters should not be underestimated, especially given the fact that the studio have made the wise move to allow players and league organises the opportunity to create their own stages and share them for others to use, seriously mixing up the experience on offer and taking away the previous premium placed on memorising a stage before getting into an event and recording top times. So let's have a look what Coleman had to say to Redbull.com... Firstly as can be seen at the screenshot above, it appears that several variables have already been added by Codemasters, with the user handed the opportunity to adjust them as they see fit during the design process. When speaking to redbull.com, Coleman explained what the different features do, and how those options effect the stage that gets built within the game software. “In the background, our algorithms take the landscape and run a stage through it to those parameters. The generation is near instant and you get to see a map of the stage, so if you don’t like what you see, you can keep hitting generate until you get a stage you like the look of. You can also reverse it.” It is interesting to note Coleman insists the stage generation is almost "instant", which will come as a big relief to those of us concerned that such a detailed process would cause a significant drag on resources during it's operation. As well as the ability to create ones own stages, the new DiRT 4 game will of course ship with a number of locations already plugged in as default content. With five unique locations in the shape of Australia, Spain, Michigan, Sweden & Wales, Coleman surprisingly revealed the teams own designers employed the assistance of the 'Your Stage' functionality to help build the new default stock stages, helping negate some of the complaints from fans about recycled blocks of track from recent games. “Previously when we picked the tracks to use in our career modes we’ve had to make do with a limited selection". Said Coleman. "As a result, we ended up having to reuse stages over and over again. With Your Stage we’ve been able to generate hundreds of curated stages but the real beauty is that we can control the difficulty curve and ensure the stages that the player is facing earlier in their career are appropriate to their experience. We can then build up the challenge as they work their way through the championships and get into the faster, more challenging cars.” “If you’re the type of player that likes to push things to the limit then you can set a decent length stage and keep the complexity down to a minimum,” Coleman explains. “This means that you’ll get a fast and flowing stage that will test your nerve for a sustained period of time.” “If you want a tight and twisty sprint stage then you can go to the opposite end of the spectrum. The complexity slider affects the elevation and corner severity part of the algorithm and gives different results in each location.” “In Australia you’ll see undulating stages through forests and farms, but in Spain you’ll get heavily cambered asphalt stages that weave in and out of towns under the shadow of some beautiful mountains. It’s really all about generating tracks and finding ones that you love.” the designer continued. As alluded to earlier in this article, Coleman is at pains to explain that although the near infinite stage generation possibilities exist in game, players will be presented with the opportunity to save their creations for use over and over again, but more importantly those designs can be shared amongst other users for social use or in major organised league events, much like the unbelievably popular RaceDepartment Rally Championship (RDRC) we regularly hold here at the site. This is a critical decision and an incredibly wise move by the British studio. Coleman explains: “If you generate a track and you like it you can save it to your favourites. From your list of favourites you can then choose the tracks that you want to upload to RaceNet. Your friends and the wider RaceNet community can then download those tracks and use them in their own Freeplay championships and custom multiplayer lobbies.” Additionally Codemasters have paid attention to the usability of the shared tracks and plan to include a useful rating feature, driven by community applied scores, that should hopefully allow players an easier time sifting through the probably massive number of variations that will most likely be made available once the game launches. "We have a rating system that lets you rate a stage once you have driven it,” says Coleman. “It’s part of the results hub, so if you love or hate a stage you can upvote or downvote it accordingly. We’ll be looking at which tracks are loved by the community and which ones are… well, not-so-loved, and we’ll be putting the spotlight on the best of the best. “We’ll also be using it to help us work out what we should do more of as we develop Your Stage further in the future,” Coleman said to redbull.com. “It’s all very exciting and this really is just the beginning.” Not only can you create, save and share your unique creations, but also DiRT 4 will offer up the opportunity to create considerably longer stage lengths than has been possible in previous DiRT franchise releases produced by the studio. Using the 'Your Stage' tool, Coleman expects players can adjust lengths of stages using the in built sliders to lengths of up to "10-15 minutes of sustained driving depending on what car you are using", rumoured to be around 12km, which is considerably larger than was previously the case. All in all it looks like Codemasters are on the right path towards hitting the ball well and truly out of the park in terms of stage design and interaction with DiRT 4, addressing one of the main issues from their previous universally highly acclaimed attempt to crack the difficult rally sim marketplace. Added to the new stage creation innovations the constant talk from Codemasters about how DiRT 4 will increase the simulation aspects of the game, plus thrown into the mix a much larger focus on more and varied content, DiRT 4 could well be the answer to many sim racing rally fans racing dreams. With a release not far away now, all that remains to do is wait and see.... "Introducing Your Stage" Trailer Video: Codemasters Chief Game Designer Paul Coleman recently ran a substantial Q&A session with fans of the game. You can catch up on our summary article HERE. KEY FEATURES: OVER 50 OF THE MOST BREATH-TAKING OFF-ROAD CARS EVER BUILT – Including Ford Fiesta R5, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI, Subaru WRX STI NR4 and Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 5 INCREDIBLE RALLY LOCATIONS WITH MILLIONS OF ROUTES – Australia, Spain, Michigan, Sweden & Wales THE OFFICIAL GAME OF THE FIA WORLD RALLYCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP – Race at Montalegre, Lohéac Bretagne, Hell, Holjes & Lydden Hill in a multitude of different series LANDRUSH – Short-course dirt track racing in Pro Buggies, Pro-2 Trucks, Pro-4 Trucks and Crosskart vehicles in California, Nevada and Mexico JOYRIDE – Laptime challenges, smash challenges, free-play area and send challenges to friends DiRT ACADEMY – Taking place at the DirtFish Rally School in Washington, USA, learn the skills, techniques and practice to become the best! CAREER MODE – create your driver, compete across the disciplines, gain sponsors and build your team with clear goals and rewards COMPETITIVE GAMING – Daily, weekly and month-long challenges against fellow players from around the world NEXT GENERATION OF RACENET – Live ladder, leagues and tournaments, cross-platform leaderboards, enhanced CREST telemetry system TUNING – Tweak your set-up based on vehicle, track and weather conditions to best suit your racing style DAMAGE & REPAIRS – Wear and tear is faithfully recreated with an improved and realistic damage model. Damage can be repaired by hiring Engineers to work in the team’s Service Area between stages but with a finite amount of time available. DiRT 4 will be available to purchase for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC in June 2017. Check out the DiRT 4 sub forum here at RaceDepartment to keep abreast of all the latest news and discussions around the newest rally game to be produced by Codemasters. We will have all the latest news when it becomes available and of course offer up a place for fans to discuss the game and share in our combined excitement for this new Codemasters title. Do you think the new 'Your Stage' tool will be a genuine benefit for the series or more a glorified gimmick? Can DiRT 4 rise to the heights experienced by DiRT Rally in your opinion? Let us know in the comments section below!