Welcome to another Week in Review, where we run down everything that’s been happening in the world of Forza. This past week or so has been a hectic one, full of frenetic Forza work as the team here at Turn 10 works feverishly to finish the game. In the midst of all that, however, we’ve opened up the doors of Turn 10 to a few special guests.
Last week, we had a visit from funk/jazz musician Brian Culbertson who was visiting Seattle on his latest tour. Brian and his trumpet player Michael Stever are both big Forza fans and, and in addition to a tour of Turn 10 they both got a chance to try the E3 2011 build of the game for themselves. I was particularly impressed with Michael’s skills on the sticks—he managed to tame the Bernese Alps track driving the always-squirrely Ferrari 599 GTO using the simulation steering setting. Pretty impressive stuff.
Another group of VIPs came by the studio earlier this week—winners of the International Game Developers Association’s Scholars program, a scholarship for students interested in entering the games industry. After visiting other local game studios such as Popcap Games and Gas Powered Games, the group dropped by Turn 10 to learn about how our studio manages to produce the epicness that is the Forza Motorsport series. Personally, I enjoyed watching them interact with our studio leads during the tour of Turn 10 and the game demo of Forza 4, to get a sense for how a younger generation of game developers think about the process of creating the entertainment we all love.
Finally—and here’s a tease for you—we’ve had a film crew inside the walls of Turn 10 on a couple of occasions over the past week or so, interviewing staff and gathering footage for a special project that we’ll be able to tell you more about soon. Stay tuned.
It’s been a busy week in the Forza community as well. We are one week into our daily series of car announcements on Facebook and Twitter and, yesterday, we unveiled the second in our series of Thursday “Forza Garage” entries, where we take you a bit deeper into the cars that you’ll be able to drive in Forza Motorsport 4. Yesterday we unveiled the 1997 Civic Type R and 1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth, the latter of which I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time with while playing through the World Tour mode (which is the new single player career mode in Forza 4). I’m not a huge fan of the car’s looks but there’s no denying its quickness, especially off the line, where it barely generates any wheelspin even at maximum throttle. Take a look at the photo of the Escort below, and we posted a second picture of the car on our official Forza Motorsport 4 page on Facebook, so hop over and take a look. Don’t forget to “like” our page while you’re there!
All of the car write-ups you read in the Forza Garage feature come courtesy of our resident community car expert Alex Kierstein. We like Alex’s writing so much that we decided to give him his own column in the Week In Review. Ingeniously titled “Ask Alex”, it’s our chance to show off Alex’s automotive brains, while interacting with you folks, the Forza Faithful. Take it away, Alex!
Forza player Courtenay asks, “Do you have much knowledge on our car culture and some of the amazing breeds of old school and new school muscle that we live and breathe in Australia?”
Thanks for the question. I love Australian cars, and I think the best way to talk about what’s unique and interesting about Australia’s car scene is to think about the kangaroo. OK, sure, a bit of a cliché, but let’s look a little closer–Australia has unique mammals found nowhere else on earth because it’s really far away from other landmasses, making it hard to get there. The result is that, isolated from other influences, Australian animals evolved very differently. How does this apply to cars? The first carmakers to set up shop on the island continent quickly realized that shipping assembled cars across oceans was going to add up as demand increased, so they began building cars locally using knock-down kits (essentially, shipping the pieces over and assembling them locally). Australia’s unique in other ways–for years, roads were rough and primitive, and the distances between settlements were huge. Automakers, GM and Ford in particular, started evolving their American designs to suit the local conditions. After WWII, the first all-Australian cars came out, the Holden FX and the later, more famous and legendarily rugged Holden FJ, and that’s when things in Australia really started diverging from the rest of the world. Eventually, some standard traits emerged, like a preference for very heavy duty suspension, and interestingly enough, sedans. When the muscle car wars heated up, the emphasis was on hot four-doors, not coupes like in the US (although the Holden Monaro and the Ford Falcon XA and XB Coupes are notable exceptions). While coupes are still available, most muscle cars have always come in four-door flavors in Australia.
Let’s look at another good example of how the Australians went their own way by peering under the hood of a car sold nowhere else: the Chrysler Valiant Charger E49 Six-Pack. Rather than pick from one of Chrysler’s numerous V8 offerings like the 318 or 340, Chrysler Australia decided to invest in a family of inline six cylinder engines that better suited the Australian preference for torque and good fuel economy. Those goals were accomplished with the lesser 215 cubic inch six, but if you checked the right boxes, you could get the rather insane 265 cube six with three Weber carburetors, and loads of go-fast mods. The result (302 horsepower and 320 ft-lbs. of torque) made the E49 the fastest car ever sold in Australia until the Porsche 911 Turbo made it to the country three years later. For a faster Australian-made car, you had to wait even longer. Australian Ford Falcons are another good example, starting out exactly like their American cousins and then evolving into something completely unique. If you’ve ever seen Mad Max, then you’ve seen Max Rockatansky’s “Pursuit Special,” the film’s hero car. A dingy supercharged Ford Falcon XB coupe with a very rare Arcadipane “Concorde” front end conversion (and a switch-operated Weiand supercharger–pure movie fantasy, unfortunately, and not workable in real life), it helped Max fight off a post-apocalyptic swarm of ruffians and became one of the most famous Australian cars ever. And finally, there’s the ute: while the El Camino car-truck concept had limited appeal in North America, Australia went wild for the idea. Ford’s Falcon and Holden’s Commodore/Monaro are both available in ute guise to this day, with high-performance versions available.
Unlike the rest of the world, where the muscle car wars entered a dark age in the wake of the late 1970s fuel crises, the battle between Holden (GM’s Australian operation) and Ford Australia never really cooled down. Currently, the Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon battle for V8 supremacy on the street (with super-high performance HSV and FPV variants, respectively) and in Australia’s own race series, the V8 Supercars, which includes Australia’s most famous race, the Bathurst 1000. In summary, Australia’s indigenous cars have gone their own way for years, and with a robust car culture centered around interesting vehicles found nowhere else.
Thanks Alex. If you’ve got a question for Alex send it via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask Alex.” If we pick your question to be featured in Alex’s column, we’ll send you a free gift. This week’s winner will receive a free DVD copy of the first season of Top Gear USA. Get your questions to Alex now! You may already be a winner!
Pre-Order Incentive #1 Is Here
Speaking of winners, everyone is a winner if they pre-order Forza Motorsport 4. I mean that. Honestly. Even if you are 40 years old and you live in your parents’ basement, you will immediately vault up the social standings ladder with a quick link or two off our Forza 4 Pre-Order page. Not only will your social life improve by an order of magnitude guaranteed,* but you’ll also be the winner of cool stuff, just for pre-ordering. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
That’s a picture of the Forza 3 Spirit R unicorn, with a sweet Forza 4 livery from Fred, that will go out next week to all Forza players who have taken part in the Pre-Order Incentive Program. And you can get it, as well as the rest of the Forza goodies we’ve got coming in the coming months, just by pre-ordering the game and letting us know about it. And remember: it doesn’t matter WHEN you pre-order the game; all you need to do is get your pre-order receipt to us (according to the rules in the link above) and you’ll be eligible to receive ALL the pre-order incentives between now and the launch of Forza 4, starting on October 11.
Next month we’ll unveil the next award in our pre-order incentive program, so stay tuned.
*Not an actual guarantee
BMW Design Challenge – Final Week!
Last week, I featured my daughter’s pen and paper entry into the Forza Motorsport 4 BMW Design Challenge. I’m happy to say that her entry is far from the best submission we’ve seen from the Forza community, who have represented strong in this contest. Choosing the final winner will be a challenge for our partners at BMW, who will have final say on this competition’s winner.
In the meantime, you’ve got one more week to get your entries in. We’ll be shutting down the BMW Design Challenge on Sunday, July 31. From there, the community team will choose a group of finalists to send to BMW, who will choose the final winner whose livery will appear in Forza Motorsport 4. Good luck to all the entrants and look for the announcement of the winning design soon.
Another Friday down, another Week in Review wrapped up. I hope you folks enjoyed this edition and be sure and join us next week for more!