It's a driving game, but also like an adventure. Producer Gavin Raeburn explains how this is possible in simple words we can actually understand 16:50 E3 is a confusing, disorientating experience at best. All those flashing lights and bright colours make our sensitive heads hurt, especially if there's no strong continental lager in the vicinity. So the prospect of thinking hard about a racing game with a storyline was almost too much. Fortunately Codemasters ultra-producer Gavin Raeburn was on hand to talk about it slowly and clearly. Jet-setting dep ed Pat G investigates. It's obvious there's been a graphical improvement, what have you actually done to change the gameplay, obviously you've got the driver but what have you done to actually change the racing over previous versions? Gavin Raeburn: Before we started TOCA Race Driver we analysed what we'd done with the previous games, and looked at other racing games, and we decided that the big thing that was missing was the people aspect; we really wanted to focus more on the driver. With most sports you're more interested in the people competing in it than the actual sport itself, so we added a character element. You play the part of Ryan McCane and you follow his career as a rookie driver all the way through to, hopefully, world champion - but that's down to you. So that's the story element, but from a physical point of view we've got all new car physics, and what we've tried to do this time - not many people actually are racing drivers but people want to be like racing drivers when they're playing a game - so we've tried to keep the physics model as close to a real car as possible. By including the indentifiable driver do you think this is the best way to extend the genre rather than, say, online racing? Gavin Raeburn: Online will grow and grow as online sport becomes available on consoles, but if you look at any other genre, like first person shooters, they're all getting storylines now - you're living a story like everyone's living a story in the real world, so I think including that can only enhance it and only give you more motivation to race through and play through the game and every game really, I think, can have a storyline. So what in terms of animation and so on have you done to actually involve the player with the character? Gavin Raeburn: Again, looking at other games, motion capture's not been well done in the past so we've looked at where people have gone wrong and one of the key things - right now you're talking to me and I'm talking to you, we're looking at each others' eyes and mouths and so on - so we wanted to make sure the lip synching was perfect. So in our scenes we've recorded all the actors at once in a scene and we've done the facial motion capture at the same time. But on top of that, as well as trying to get good motion capture, it's all played live using the in-game engine; what that means is we can put the actual car you've been racing in into the scene so if you trash the car in the race you'll see Ryan McCane talking next to your smashed up car so it makes it very personal to your progression through the game. So what about online stuff? Now that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have all made a move towards playing online - we're going to see a lot of games going online on consoles next year, are you planning to accomodate that? Gavin Raeburn: For the PC version, obviously, yes we'll have online, for Xbox we're looking to get it into this version because if it's there for PC it can be put into other versions. PlayStation 2, yeah Sony has finally jumped onto the bandwagon but I think it's a bit too late for this version so next time round, Race Driver 2 will definitely have it in on all-formats. So when are we actually going to see this game released? It's gonna be this year, yeah? Gavin Raeburn: Oh it'll definitely be this year. It would have almost made June but Codemasters policy is we only put stuff out when it's absolutely at its best and it was gonna be good but we couldn't get any marketing out there and that's important as well. But as you've seen it looks absolutely incredible. How many actual tracks are in the game? Gavin Raeburn: We've got 38 real, licensed tracks from around the world, which is twice as many [real tracks] as any other racing game out there. For me the tracks are as important, if not more important, than the cars because they take such a lot of learning - there's just hours and hours of gameplay there. How have you found working on next generation hardware compared to PlayStation? I know it's an old question but now we're starting to see games which actually are pushing the hardware, so how have you found it to actually get to that point? Gavin Raeburn: I've got to say PlayStation 2 was an absolute bitch. When we first got the code in there it was running at 15 frames per second but we learnt how the PS2 works, and it's now running at a solid 60 with 14 cars, and that's just incredible but it shows the power of the PlayStation and how the parallel processing works. Xbox was a dream, it's just like pure powerhouse and PCs, well, PC but it's been helped by the fact that we've honed the code on PlayStation 2 which means on Xbox and PC it's just running as sweet as a nut. What are you particularly proud of in TOCA? Gavin Raeburn: I'm proud that we managed to pull the whole thing together, how the storyline has enhanced the gameplay - you know, it doesn't interfere, doesn't get in the way, the quality of the racing is as I wanted as well and the new physics model has paid off - the damage is great, it just seems to have come together to a perfect whole.