Playground Games' Ben Penrose tells Stevivor why.
Playground Games’ Ben Penrose, Art Director on Forza Horizon 4, sat down with Stevivor to discuss the festival’s latest location alongside its weekly, changing seasons.
“There are some good reasons as for why it’s set in Britain,” Penrose said. “We were coming to a point where we were making a final decision on the location and we had a couple of other threads going on at the same time. And one of them was an R&D project that’d been going on for a couple of game cycles.
“We wanted to do the dynamic seasons thing for a while right, so maybe we had been talking about way, all the way back to the historical period, and it was always a thing that was held slightly unachievable based on what we were able to do with the tech at the time.
“When we got to that point with this game, with the decision on the location, we actually finally got to the point where we were pretty happy that the tooling was ready. And at the point, because not every location in the world is subject to seasonal difference. Britain’s got a whole heap of stuff there. I mean, we are pretty exposed to all the kinds of seasonal changes you expect. So, you get all those amazing colors in the autumn. We got a pretty healthy amount of snow over the past couple of winters and pretty good summers.
“Essentially, it was we got to the point where knew we could do the seasons thing and we also were making a decision on the location and there was something about doing Britain as well, which obviously appeals to us as a British developer in a particular way. And it felt like an opportunity that was far too good to pass up, really, hence the decision.”
Penrose told Stevivor that Blizzard Mountain, a piece of Forza Horizon 3 DLC, was heavily weather-focused, but not tied to the development of the seasonal Forza Horizon 4.
“In all honesty, it was pretty unrelated,” he said. “We definitely learned a lot when it came to snow. It’s like a snow implementation in our game. And that, you always learn from whatever it is you do in the past and there is stuff that we took from our learnings on that game that we brought into the winter implementation in Horizon 4.”
Penrose said that Blizzard Mountain was really all about snow, but Forza Horizon 4 is about many more aspects of the winter season.
“There’s also a bunch of stuff that we decided we should do better in that regard as well and that’s what made its way in as well,” Penrose continued. “Snow, in particular, was something that we learned a lot from Blizzard Mountain, but winter in this game is not just about snow. We didn’t want people to be driving around in an environment that felt one-note at any time.
“So every single season, we tried to make sure that there’s a much variety and visual diversity as you would expect in a Horizon game that you’ve played in the past in any season. So you get that more frosty areas towards the south and less snow, more deep snow up in the sort of higher areas of the map. But even the roads, they’re not always highly covered with snow, you’ll get areas where the roads are just wet or slick or slightly icy. There’s a range of experiences.”