V-Rally 2 Expert Edition Dreamcast prototypes
Sega Rally 2 had revealed itself as the undisputed master of rally racing on Dreamcast. The game's previous incarnations on the arcade and Saturn are no stranger to its success on Sega's 128-bit console. Could V-Rally 2 Expert Edition dethrone Sega's king and make a place for itself on Dreamcast ?
V-Rally is at the origin of the creation of Eden Games in 1997. David Nadal, then a tester for Infogrames, joined the team working on this racing game as a physics and 3D programmer. David joined forces with Stéphane Baudet, the project manager, to create Eden Studios.
The title was a real success (7 million games sold), and a contract for a sequel, V-Rally 2, was signed in the same period. The company was one of the most important French studios of the time. It worked mainly for the publisher Infogrames.
«My lunch for almost six months (the time of the crunch for the Dreamcast port) was Euro-Kebab rue Baraban (apparently "Ararat" now)»
V-Rally 2 is one of the jewels of the French publisher "Infogrames" developed by the studio "Eden Studios" from Lyon. The game had already established itself on other media as a reference in rally racing, including V-Rally on PS1 which still enjoys a certain notoriety.
«Since the PS1 version of VR2 was not finished, I had to compile the PSX sources. Unluckily, the "C" compiler of Hitachi for the Dreamcast was not Ansi/ISO compatible. So I had to write a conversion program to regenerate Dreamcast compatible sources. As I couldn't spend my time changing the UI to reflect the changes of the PSX version, I wrote a PSX GPU emulator so all the Dreamcast UI is displayed as if it was on PSX (OT List management)»
The Dreamcast title was designed to be superior to the Playstation 1 version. The fineness of the textures had been multiplied by four and the graphics were now in 16 bits. The cars were composed of 2200 triangles each. The engine managed up to 4 cars at the same time in 60 frames per second.
«We only had two dev kits. Dreamcast dev kits. One for me (with the GD-ROM burner) and one for the guy who made the tracks for the game. The first versions of V-Rally 2 Dreamcast were basically an emulation of the game running on PSX. At first we used the tracks from the PS1 version. It took a while to figure out how much memory we would have available, then we stuffed ourselves»
Ari Vatanen, former world champion of the discipline, was a consultant for Eden. He brought his knowledge and his remarks so that the players could find the sensations of a real race.
«The damage display in Rally mode is unique to the Dreamcast version, it's something I did one weekend without telling the manager because it would have been rejected (having the car more and more difficult to drive without any visual indication made me think more of a game quality problem/bug than a problem due to the player's driving style).»
After an introduction in a short movie, the player could choose between four game modes: Arcade, Rally Trophy, Championship and Time Trial. At the wheel of 26 real cars, the flagship of the discipline at the time, as well as prestigious legendary cars that have marked the history of rallying, the gamer had to reach the top of the podium. V-Rally 2 also offered an unusual feature, a very complete and easy-to-use track editor.
The engine noises didn't make you want to turn down the volume after ten minutes of play. The audio was realistic as was the sound of acceleration. You could hear even the cracking of branches when you ran into a bush or you could distinguish the different tire squeaks depending on the grip of the surface (mud, tar etc.).
«The guy who was working on the audio for the PSX version of VR2 had no more disk space. He had thrown away all the high quality versions of the sounds. In the Dreamcast (and PC) version, the PSX sounds are decompressed from the Sony ADPCM format to the Sega format, so there is a big loss of quality that could have been avoided easily»
Driving was all about skidding and vehicle control. Depending on the type of terrain encountered (asphalt, snow, dirt, etc.), the game offered 80 different tracks in 12 countries. In total, there were more than 400 km of special !
We no longer needed to take a plane to travel and discover the beauty of the French Alps, the density of the Indonesian jungle and the green forests of England. The graphics were inspired by the geographical and climatic particularities of each visited country. Virtual tourism, it was still necessary to find the time to raise the nose of its notes !
«A lot of people were missing in the official credits of the game. In the Dreamcast version I hid a scrolling message with the complete list of people who participated in the DC version (you have to have the Dreamcast keyboard and make a key combination to see it)»
Right medium, left tight, right short !!!
You can download the V-Rally promotional folder below
They were young!!!
V-Rally 2 Dreamcast avec Debug Menu
The specificities of the January 25, 2000 Dreamcast build :
This prototype of V-Rally 2 Expert Edition Dreamcast dates from January 25th 2000, about 4 months before the creation of the Master. It contains a Debug Menu which is well provided and easy to use, for once. By comparing this early build with the retail version, we can guess the development path of the game..
They liked green at Eden!
When launching this early build of V-Rally 2, the game starts directly on a green Debug Menu (I'll come back to it in detail below). The tempting introduction cinematic is therefore not viewable.
The icon on the memory card is always the same "loading". It should change depending on which menu the player is in.
By pressing START at this screen, VR2 starts normally. That is, without debug functions or game mode shortcuts. This is where the analysis of the prototype really begins.
A language selection window (English, French, Deutsch), with the flag of the 3 countries, appears. This screen will be removed from the final version. It replaces the known title menu. The choice of the language is normally made in "Display Options". Sometimes, the screen with the copyright of the publisher "Infograme" replaces the language choice menu (maybe depending on the number of controllers and vmu connected to the console). The color of the logo is yellow and not white.
Once at the main screen, the title of the game is "V-Rally Millenium Edition 2", maybe a temporary name. It will definitely be called "V-Rally 2 Expert Edition 2". The help button "A", at the bottom right of the screen, has a different look. The description of its function will change from "Valid" here to "Confirm" on the commercial copy.
It was a good menu !
«The name of the game is typically the thing we don't care about during the development of the software, in the end it's always the marketing department that decides.»
During the auto-demo, the player is not prompted to press START to return to the main menu. The "Press Start" message does not flash during the replay. The VR2 logo is also smaller than usual. The loadings between the auto-demo and the main window are black with just "Loading Demo please wait" written. The background should, for example, be a preview of a car in race.
A racing game without replay is like a raclette without cheese !
Where is the sun ?