Published on June 10th, 2020 | by Joseph Saulnier0
We Talk Heavy Duty Challenge With Łukasz Pleśniarowicz At Nano Games
Recently I spoke with Łukasz Pleśniarowicz who is the Lead Designer at Nano Games about their upcoming game Heavy Duty Challenge.
Americans are (mostly) familiar with a different style of racing when they hear “off-road motorsport.” I know I did when I was first asked to cover this game. What made you want to bring this particular aspect of the sport to screen?
The idea for Heavy Duty Challenge came to us when we were finishing up our previous game, a work simulation called Cityconomy. We wanted to continue making simulation games and truck games in particular, so we started searching for a new, more exciting topic. We came across Europa Truck Trial, a championship that has now been around for over 30 years. We decided to contact the organizers, take a company trip to one of their events in Austria and we just fell in love with the sport. Powerful trucks and tough terrain plus a crowd of amazing, friendly and helpful people. During the development, we’ve been working with ETT, consulting the gameplay, talking about the trucks, getting references. And we acquired a license that allows us to include real trucks in the game.
What do you feel that Nano Games can bring to this game that other studios cannot?
I think what we have is a unique, fresh vision of an off-road sports game. We want competitive gameplay to be a part of the simulation genre and Heavy Duty Challenge will be about using and developing your skill, about winning and becoming the champion. We have the ambition to build a league around the game, hold events, have an esports approach to the game. And the foundation is a strong – fun, challenging and realistic driving experience, the truck trial sport theme and the license from ETT.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had its effects reach far and wide, has this impacted any of your access to reference materials such as the trucks themselves?
To some extent, yes. The restrictions and lockdowns affected the ETT league just as many other sports and live events had to be postponed until later this year. In addition, borders in Europe have been mostly closed and travel abroad has been limited. All this means that this year so far, we haven’t been able to meet with the truck trial teams in person. Fortunately, we’ve already gathered a lot of the references we needed, so it wasn’t that bad from the production point of view. And on the bright side, Europa Truck Trial started a new initiative called ETT Virtual. They share videos and materials online, including our teasers and news about Heavy Duty Challenge, so in addition to our Steam Store page where you can add HDC to your wishlist, it gave us a new channel to show Heavy Duty Challenge to players.
It’s no secret that sims are in the details, can you tell us about some of the things that you are doing to make the game feel genuine and authentic to the real-life truck trial experience?
We are aiming at authenticity from different angles. Take the trucks. Thanks to the license and access given to us from the teams, we recreated them from the ones that take part in the championship. They have realistic physics and driving mechanics, especially those off-road functionalities that allow you to drive on difficult terrain. We consult with the teams to find out if the feeling of driving is close to the real thing. Also, you can choose to play from the cabin, see the world from the eyes of the driver, look out the window, and you will be able to use the mirrors. Or if you need, you can switch to the co-driver view to see what’s happening on the right side of the truck. But it’s not only trucks. We use photogrammetry to make the environments and decorative assets look real, we base the levels on championship locations around Europe, we’ll have deformable terrain and interactive objects on the obstacle courses. I think this will all let the player feel like a driver of a powerful off-road truck.
The big question on the top of everyone’s minds these days is monetization. Are there plans for DLC, or purchasable content for the game?
In the base game, you will drive 12 trucks and drive in five open-world locations, but we would like to add some more later. Three truck categories will be included in the base game – two, three and four-axle trucks. There’s one more category in the ETT called Proto, which includes custom trucks with strange mechanics – you can turn all your wheels or block the suspension in a certain position. We’d like to see those mechanics in the game, but probably as a DLC. Of course, new trucks in the “standard” categories and new locations in and outside of Europe will be added to the game. But the first step for us will be finishing the base game, and we are on it right now.