Friday, July 19, 2024
HomeMost wanted#Drive Rally by Pixel Perfect Dude is a love letter to the...

#Drive Rally by Pixel Perfect Dude is a love letter to the golden age of rally games

Driving at breakneck speeds over a bumpy dirt road while the co-pilot barks orders in a heavy Arnold Schwarzenegger accent makes #Drive Rally both an intense and intensely fun experience. The low-poly racing game, developed by Polish indie developer Pixel Perfect Dude, feels like a love letter to the PlayStation 1 era of rally games, when you could actually name the top drivers and the cars they drove.

“Ah yes those co-pilots!”, laughs CTO Pawel Szpiczakowski. “We have characters like Hans, Jake, Sarah and Bandit, each with their own personalities, voice over and backstories who react dynamically to the player’s driving style. Their emotions range from excitement and encouragement during skillful driving to frustration and concern when risks lead to mistakes. We noticed that players really adjust their strategy because of their comments, which reflects a deep connection between player and co-pilot.” (And honestly, it’s just really funny to have Arnold, uh… I mean Hans of course, make snarky comments while you desperately try to keep your car in one piece.) 

The idea for #Drive Rally was born from a blend of nostalgia and a desire to fill a gap the team saw in the current gaming market. “Many of us grew up idolizing the rally legends of the ’90s, a time when rally racing was not just a sport but a cultural phenomenon”, explains Szpiczakowski. “We noticed that while there were racing games available, few captured the raw essence and spirit of that golden era of rally racing. So, what sets our game apart is its blend of authentic ’90s rally racing experience with modern gaming mechanics. We’ve gone to great lengths to recreate the feel of driving legendary rally cars.” 

Arcade-style physics

While the cars and environments may look simple through the highly stylized low-poly treatment, the driving is surprisingly accomplished. The handling definitely leans towards arcade-style physics and is designed to offer a balance between being accessible and challenging. “We want it to appeal to both casual gamers and racing enthusiasts. This approach allows players to experience the thrill of rally racing without the steep learning curve often associated with simulation-style games. The physics are tuned to encourage daring maneuvers, spectacular drifts, and high-speed chases, ensuring that every race is packed with action.”

Achieving the right balance was not an easy feat according to Szpiczakowski. “We tested numerous physics plugins from the Unity Asset Store, but each fell short, being either too realistic or not flexible enough for our vision. Ultimately, we decided to create our custom physics engine, using NWH Wheel Collider as a base for collisions and writing every part of car physics from scratch. Developing our own engine was challenging, requiring extensive testing and iteration, but it was crucial for delivering the racing experience we envisioned.”

Racing portfolio

Studio Perfect Pixel Dude, based in the city of Kalisz, Poland, was founded in 2013. With a compact team of four full-time developers working remote, the company has produced several games, with #Drive as their breakout hit on mobile. #Drive Rally is expanding their racing portfolio while maintaining the game’s aesthetic. “The toughest part of development was creating 3D worlds and generating tracks that felt realistic and engaging”, says Szpiczakowski. 

“We initially used tools like Gaia & Gena, which were great but had limitations in customizing tracks to our exact needs, such as adjusting terrain and placing racing assets effectively. Our solution was to develop our own enhancements and workflows alongside Gaia & Gena. This way we bypassed those limitations and were able to craft tracks with the precise slopes, terrain blending, and asset placement we wanted.”

Community feedback

With the project growing in scope, Szpiczakowski admits it’s a challenge for a small team such as Perfect Pixel Dude to give proper attention to things like marketing. But, he says, their limited budget pushed them to get creative and lean heavily on community engagement and social media. “We focused on building genuine connections with our audience, using platforms like Discord and Twitter to share updates and gather feedback. This approach not only helped us grow our player base organically, but also turned our players into passionate advocates for the games. It shows that even small studios can make a big splash in the gaming world with the right strategies.”

The path ahead for #Drive Rally is clear. The game is going in Early Access later this year for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms. Next year the game will launch on PlayStation and Xbox. “This phased approach allows us to refine the game with community feedback, ensuring that our game is polished and engaging across all platforms”, concludes Szpiczakowski. “We hope #Drive Rally will set a new standard for indie racing games, showcasing the potential of independent studios to deliver high-quality, community-driven experiences.”

Eric Bartelson
Eric Bartelson
Editor-in-Chief of PreMortem.Games. Veteran game journalist for over 20 years. Started out in 1999 for game magazines (yes the ones made of paper) such as PC Zone Benelux, PlayNation and GameQuest, before co-founding Dutch industry paper Control Magazine.

Most Popular

Recent Comments