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DiRT 4: A Look at 'Your Stage' Track Generation Tool

Discussion in 'DiRT 4' started by Paul Jeffrey, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    DiRT 4.jpg
    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...
    D4 3.jpg

    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.

    DiRT 4 Rallycross.jpg D4 1.jpg D4 2.jpg D4 4.jpg D4 5.jpg

    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!
     
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  2. Tim Chitwood

    Tim Chitwood

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    I think it will be great, but it will be mostly used by players in single player mode. There is a limit of how many tracks any one player will really keep and share with their friends. I would really like to have the game generate a new track or series of tracks for daily, weekly and monthly online events. That is probably what they will do anyways. I really am looking forward to the new game but what am I supposed to do with Dirt Rally? Delete it and move on like so many other games I have had over the years? I am sure I will sooner, than later. Only so many hours in a day.
     
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  3. tonio duran

    tonio duran

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    To live up to Dirt rally dirt 4 I even changed the name because the saga dirt 123 sounds like I was arcade because dirt 1 dirt 2 dirt 3 very nice but it was an arcade tota.l when I bought dirt rally I tried it thinking I tried another m ***** but it was not so I was surprised that only the first curve already came out I had to restart 7 or 8 times to make a stage a little decent thing that impressed me a lot was the physics. I was very impressed by a very high quality jump and also physical retouched in Racedepartment which are very good to be up to the dirt 4 I wish I have good expectations but I do not know how I can forget or uninstall dirt rally ....
     
  4. M D Gourley

    M D Gourley
    Premium

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    Can DiRT 4 rise to the heights experienced by DiRT Rally in your opinion?

    I wonder if DIRT Rally was the prototype in the handling / physics / track dept to see whether it would be accepted by fans and if it would sell enough copies etc as it was a big departure from the previous Dirt series....I personally hopefully Codemasters keep the handling / physics side of things like that of Dirt Rally...then I will purchase for sure.
     
  5. RinusDirtRally

    RinusDirtRally
    Premium

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    Your Stage will be THE feature of every other future rally games from now on. If you don't have a stage generator in your rally game then you have failed already. Not memorizing stages is the pinnacle of rallying anyway. I am looking forward this, because I assume this will widen the field of the leaderboards and stop players, cause memorizing and muscle memorizing the stages of DR and any other rally game are just taking way too much place
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
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  6. function9

    function9

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    Wasn't there 15-16km stages in DR?

    It's also a shame they're not going to have proper replays with telemetry, so the top "x" on leaderboards have the replay automatically uploaded to racenet or something. Would make it easier weeding out cheaters, not just the blatant ones either.
     
  7. tunaphis

    tunaphis

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    This not memorizing stages is bullshit,Drivers pre-run the stages several times,Have up to date video of each stage and/or tested there.Your Stage (why is this not trademarked) will generate different stages that will be similar due to algorithm limitations imo.I love hotlapping stages and the very healthy Dirt Rally leaderboards suggest that alot of other people agree.Any time I feel the need to strangle CodeMasters it's tempered by the fact that they support rally.
    Australia went metric in 1966.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  8. Ole Marius Myrvold

    Ole Marius Myrvold
    JWB 96-13 Staff

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    There is nothing that stops you or others to hotlap on the original stages in the game either. It's not like you only get one thing.
    But for a championship like RDRC, it is a nice thing to have somewhat new stages for each season and so on.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
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  9. Celestiale

    Celestiale
    Premium

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    If Dirt 4 reaches at least Dirt Rally simulation-wise (which is pretty sure after what you can read about it), will there be club events with completely newly generated stages noone has the possibility to practise and memorize beforehand? Then a big huge yes, this would probably elevate Dirt 4 to my top to-go-sim for quite some time.
    If not, i won't be that much interested...
    You were completely right a few weeks back. Once you sniffed into club racing, everything else then online becomes redundant at once.
    As redundant as myself planning future sim purchases after what is getting run and being popular in RD club races :laugh:
     
  10. Celestiale

    Celestiale
    Premium

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    Sorry but that's absolute bollocks. You have around 300km of rally stages per weekend, they get altered a lot every season. They pre-run stages exactly once, with a maximum of 80km/h. Barely a speed where you'd recognize the stage afterwards. They don't have up to date video of newly introduced stages, only of old ones. And even there the conditions change so much over a year, that you can't drive it like you would possibly know it (if you could memorize it all). It's a slight reference point, nothing else.
    You must be mad if you think the Rally drivers can memorize 2500km over the course of a season. Experienced Rally drivers can usually explain yourself the first 2 minutes of the popular stages that get reused every year (like Col de Torini), but that's pretty much it. I know what i am talking about, Rallying is my favourite motorsport for years, and i also know some pro-Rally drivers (and co-drivers) myself.
    Fair enough if you like to use Rally stages for hotlapping and treat them like a race track. But don't act as if it would resemble the real sport in any way. Because it doesn't. Not even close.
     
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  11. tunaphis

    tunaphis

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    "They don't have up to date video of newly introduced stages, only of old ones"
    "Experienced Rally drivers can usually explain yourself the first 2 minutes of the popular stages that get reused every year"
    "I know what i am talking about"
    Yeah Right.
    Rallys whole essence is hotlapping,each year you return with the only goal being to go faster.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
    • Sad Sad x 3
  12. dynt

    dynt
    RDRC Rally Champion

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    Getting sort of fed up with the folk that think blind rallying is true rallying, or just going with notes having not seen the stages. On WRC events you get 2 passes to make and check the notes, this is also accumulative as many of the stages are done every year so you build up a knowledge of well known stages. Add to that works teams also have gravel and ice note crews, these are cars that are will experienced drivers who take the original notes of the crew there working for adjust notes according to conditions.
    European championship events which many of these same wrc events rotate between from year to year you have virtual unlimited practise.
    Having said that if the notes are good it would be a nice change to have events that are basically blind and you have to rely totally on notes but there would have to be some very good consistency in the notes.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
  13. Fergutor

    Fergutor

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    Every year the events change, there are new stages and some others are just modified, and some stages remain the same.
    With an average of 350 competitive kms per rally (see in wrc.com now 27/03/2017 only the first 6 rallyes have distance specified and the average is a bit more than 351km)
    13 rallyes a year=4550 competitive km
    Lets say that 70% of the competitive surface is the same from one year to the next=3185km
    80% of those repeated in the rally=2548km divided by 2 (only run 2 times) =1274km plus the 20% not repeated=1911km
    1911km of particular and individual curves with its angles, banking, deviations and lenght and etc, rocks, trees, jumps, bumps, ditches, etc, etc, etc, etc AND you have to remember 147km of those one time each 12 months in changing conditions,sometimes with different cars, rules, tyres.
    And THEN you have 1365km to do for the first time or for the first time in years...
    Of course you have the recce, but you don't do that in the rally car at rally speeds, it's only to check and make the notes.

    So yeah, why we have co-drivers right?!
    ....

    Then this by "tunaphis:"
    "Rallys whole essence is hotlapping,each year you return with the only goal being to go faster."
    Incredible...Rally is and always was about going from point A to point B faster than the rest of the drivers. And doing that each rally accumulating points to win the championship. It has nothing to do with comparing one self previous time, that's just absolutely ridiculous.
     
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  14. thewarmer

    thewarmer

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    The WRC & ERC have not used the blind rally route for years now , in fact the last blind rally in the WRC was the old Lombard RAC rally.
    The UK was still running lots of its rally's under the blind rally format well into the 80's. I think 1985 or 86 was the last blind RAC Rally , with no reccy's allowed.
    There are some drivers that are very good at remembering complete Stages. Seb Leob & Walter Röhrl have exceptional memories for stages, Walter always tells the story of practicing stage's in his head the night before the event & both won the Monte year in year out.

    Even allowing for such talents there are still to many variables in rallying no matter how much practice you make some thing the Dirt 4 wont be able to simulate.
    I can see blind rallying working as leveling the field & combating cheating for online leagues.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. Alex72

    Alex72

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    Elevation and corner complexity should have been separate sliders imo. So if you want a lot of elevation changes you are forced to get complex hard corners. Maybe you want a lot of elevation change and jumps but a very straight forward fast track.

    Looking forward to the dirt, but not the tarmac if it stays as in Dirt Rally. Also, thanks Paul for bringing all the news to our attention. :)
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
  16. Dag Inge Hansen

    Dag Inge Hansen

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    Very much looking forward to this "your stage" feature, and anything else that also can be adjusted and be surprising for us rally-gamers. Just think of the weather, and how a road can be completely different from one year to the next. Time of day, sunshine and temperatures. Gravel can be very dry or very wet. Ice and snow is a completely open field when it comes to creating different grip-levels, and it could be just that one small patch around a bend or the shadows of a tree. And the organizers can do different things with the barriers and markings from year to year. The crowd can be filling up different spots, and I could go on and on...
     
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  17. Strahil Kotlarov

    Strahil Kotlarov

    Messages:
    170
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    I was about to go ham but decided to make it as short as possible.
    There is only one proper way of dealing with cheaters and the way they handled it at DR was huge mistake ,introducing VAC to mostly SPG was hilarious enough ,not to mention the modding capabilities are heavily restricted ,it takes quite a bit of effort to even unpack the car files sigh .
    The way it should have been dealt with is ,introducing default value requirement as long as you going online while you are staying at SP you could do what ever you want and how ever you want ,just your competitive times won't be eligible for the "leaderboards" while you are running modified files .
    On a side note,i'm being very skeptical about this title especially how they handled DR prior to abandoning ship completely .
    If they were to open the game to modders it might become a staple rally title for the next few years but if that's not the case i don't think this game would be able to challenge the undisputed king of rally games ( RBR) Dirt Rally had potential but it dried faster than sahara .

    As things stand currently about DR,the game is barely playable completely offline thanks to the stupid VAC that was introduced months ago and since then i haven't touched it once and went straight back to the real deal ,we even have better pace notes than the current ones .
    Also looking trough the list of cars at Dirt 4 ,its a disappointment once again not a single complete car class.
    If they have reworked from scratch the tire model(current one is complete joke we are not even able to select different type of tire,softness + if it's stubbed or not and how deep it is and variation since tires in modern rally are really key .now we have multi functional all seasonal tires with best possible performance QQ),the service park(needs complete overhaul You don't repair car parts unless you don't have a spare ) and finally fixing the damage system(It needs soft body physics + realistic damage ) i might actually pick it up until they introduce yet again another VAC/EAC/BE etc .

    p.p I have nothing against VAC in general since i tend to play quite a bit of CS GO since i'm global for quite some time after making the switch from 1.6 but still single player games should not have it period . It just ensures the game would be as good as dead in hands of people that enjoy tinkering with the game files and making modification to suit their tastes .
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  18. shimon.ifraimov

    shimon.ifraimov

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    iam just glad to see a 205gti :]
     
    • Agree Agree x 2