Exclusive Interview: Ride 3 Level Designer Federico Spada
In anticipation of their motorcycle racing game Ride 3 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) being released on November 30th, the good people of Milestone held an event at the W Hotel in Los Angeles — no, the other one — where they gave me the opportunity to pick the brain of Federico Spada, the game’s Level Designer.
For those unfamiliar with this series, what kind of game is Ride 3?
It’s a motorcycle racing game in which you drive in multi-lap races. The tracks are a mix of official tracks and closed roads, though we changed some of the road ones to make them more fun.
As for the realism, is this an arcade racer, a sim, or a mix like Forza Horizon 4?
It’s more like Forza. This has a lot of assists if you want them, things like braking assists and a driving line. But if you want to go for simulation, you can turn off all the help.
So compared to Ride and Ride 2, what have added or changed for Ride 3? Aside from the usual stuff like new tracks and bikes, of course.
So there are two main things. First, we completely revamped the career. The menu is set up like a series of motorcycle magazines, and each of those have multiple events where you can earn stars. You get some for winning races, but when you do an event like a time attack, you get them for how fast you complete the course.
Does that mean you can be bad at this and still get pretty far?
You need a certain number of stars to unlock the next level of events. And while you don’t need all of the stars to unlock the next level, you will need a lot of them to unlock the sixth level and the final event. So you will need to get better as you go, and may need to go back and get stars you missed.
Each level has multiple sets of events. When you unlock a level, are all of the races on that level unlocked or do you then have to race the first set of events to unlock the second, and so on?
No, you do not have to further unlock sections in a level. You can start wherever you want.
Cool. What else have you added to Ride 3?
A livery editor, which allows you to customize the look of your bike. You can create stickers or edit the entire look of the bike. It’s pretty powerful, there are over a hundred levels. You can then upload it to the community for other people to use.
Do these designs work for any bike or do they only work if you have the same kind of bike?
It only works on that kind of bike.
Makes sense. Did you add anything else to Ride 3?
Your rider now hangs out in their own house, and you have your favorite bike on display all the time. You can also customize your rider, and not only change what they wear while racing, but you can change your home outfit as well, which is how you’ll look in the cutscenes and menus.
Wait, when you say “cutscenes,” this doesn’t have a story, does it?
No, nothing like that. There’s just a couple little things. It’s more for when you’re in the menu.
So aside from all this stuff, have you added any new modes to Ride 3?
No. We just, as I said, expanded the career mode. Though what we have added are races at night. It’s an option on some races, though there is one track, Macao, where you only race at night, and a bunch where you only race during the day. There’s also some tracks where you can pick between it being a rainy day, a sunny day, or night.
Do you pick the weather separately? Like do you first chose day or night and then chose rainy or clear?
No, you just make one choice.
You’re also limited sometimes as to what bikes you can use on a track. Some bikes are not available when you’re racing at night or during the rain. We found by testing and playing that using some bikes in the rain or at night was not that fun.
Now, earlier you mentioned that some of the tracks in Ride 3 are closed roads, but while they’re based on real streets, you changed them a little. Can you explain what you meant?
Sure. We start with laser scan data, but we then change things that will either make the track easier or harder, depending on where in the game we were planning for it to be. For instance, if a track is supposed to be early in the game, but the real road has too many hairpin turns, we might take some of them out.
In most of the motorcycle racing games I’ve played, the official tracks are all fairly flat. But real roads aren’t always like that. Are the closed road tracks in Ride 3 also flat, or do you go up and down hills?
No, there are roads like that. In fact, we changed the elevation of some tracks to make them more fun to drive, and chose some roads because they have hills.
Does Ride 3 have real motorcycle racers?
No, they’re all people we made up.
Milestone is based in Milan, Italy. Does that mean there’s a track where you drive past George Clooney’s house in Lake Como?
No, not yet. But we do have one in Garda, which was in one of the James Bond movies. Quantum Of Solace, I think.
Along with Ride 3, you guys are also working on Monster Energy Supercross 2: The Official Video Game [which will be out February 8, 2019], and already this year put out MXGP Pro, MotoGP 18, and Gravel. Is there anything in Ride 3 that was inspired by something in one of your other games?
Yeah. In Ride 3, all of the turns have names, which are based on the kind of turn or what’s there and what number turn it is in the course. For instance, the Italian word for small waterfall is “cascatella,” so if it’s the fourth turn on a track, and there’s a small waterfall there, the turn is called “Cascatella 4.” This was something that was in MotoGP 18, and was something the players really liked, so we decided to include it in Ride 3 as well.
We also added the ability for the bike to get dirty. It’s something that people appreciated in our MotoGP games, so we’ve added it to all of our other games.
Lastly, Ride 3 has a first-person viewpoint, as well as a first-person wearing a helmet view. Have you considered making the game work with a VR helmet like the PSVR for PlayStation 4? Seems like using the regular controls but VR to see would be cool.
It’s not something a lot of our fans have asked for, but we’ll probably consider it for future games. It will require a lot of study and experimentation. We’re still trying to understand the potential.