Eurogamer: How do you describe the game's handling model? There seems to be a tug of war between sim and arcade.
Paul Coleman: It's the challenge of being placed in the middle between the guys who just want to pick up a game and play it, and the guys who want that full on simulation experience.
We've made improvements to our physics that have made the car handling more realistic. Suspension's greatly improved. It's enabled us to raise the centre of gravity on a car so we can model weight shift more accurately. This means you can throw the car into a corner and swing it from left to right, perform a Scandinavian Flick and use that weight shift to maintain a drift around the corner.
That also feeds into the Gymkhana driving. What we find is players who do rally and then go to Gymkhana and then come back and do rally again, are improving their rally experience by learning how to throw the car around.
In terms of the two mindsets of gamers, we found a lot of novices picked up DiRT 2 but were getting frustrated with the difficulty of the handling. I know it's not exactly simulation, but it was still challenging to those newcomers to the series.
The way we've approached it for DiRT 3 is to improve the physics and the realism of the handling, but apply a series of driver assists to the handling model. A novice player is assisted, stabilised, they're given a visual racing line as well as throttle management systems and braking assists and stability control.
Those novices get their arcade experience while the more simulation driven and hardcore element. And the people who really appreciate the finer nuances of a car-handling model get that improvement they've been seeking as well.
Eurogamer: There's more emphasis this time on rally, but how will that manifest itself in the game experience?
Paul Coleman: The first thing to say is we haven't taken away from the other disciplines. We've merely added a significant amount more rally to the game. In DiRT 2 we only had 41 routes through the whole game. We've now got over a hundred routes, and 60 per cent of those are rally. So we've taken the route count we had for DiRT 2 and added another 60 odd rally routes.
That means we've far more variety and ability to put in rally events that keep the player on their toes and give them new stuff to do. DiRT 2 had an issue where players were constantly repeating the same track over and over again.
We've tried to alleviate that with DiRT 3 by making sure the variety is there not just in the number of tracks, but the weather conditions and the time of day effect that mean you'll go to a stage maybe three times through your entire career - but each time that stage will look and play differently because of the weather and the time of day.
In terms of the career mode and the decision-making the player gets to do, if you are a real rally fan you can focus more on those point to point events, such as rally events and trailblazer events. You won't be able to have just a rally play-through and not have to touch any other disciplines, but we're aware some players don't like the Landrush trucks. The choice is there. We're aiming for players to only need to do 60 per cent of the career to get to the end of it.
With the career being 60 per cent rally, you could predominantly do rally to get to the end of the game and leave those other disciplines behind if that's what you want to do. But we'd like players to at least sample a little bit of everything. Trying Gymkhana for the first time might make them fall in love with that new discipline and do all of those Gymkhana events.