The beginning of the Speeders process involved the usual fleshing out of our design document, what we were going to do, and how we intended to get there. One of our greatest challenges was altering our vehicle physics to fit the feel of a hoverbike rather than that of a car. Along with changing the traditional friction, speed, and turning rates, we added side-to-side motion into turns, an FOV change when boosting at different speeds, and addressed the way the vehicles fell through the air, all in an effort to mimic the unique way the bikes hug the ground in the Star Wars universe.
I was in charge of designing three of the six tracks for Speeders, all of which were to be located on the icy planet Orto Plutonia. To fit the theme of the minigame we needed to make the tracks look like improvised races through pre-existing environments, and for art budgeting considerations we needed to reuse locations as much as possible. Collaborating with an artist and using elements inspired by the television show, I designed a short, medium, and long course that all originated from a remote base, traversed the dangerous terrain of the frozen planet, then returned the player home.
Next we blocked out the entire environment, and once we had the rough tracks finalized an artist went to work Star-Wars-ifying them. At this point I was asked to take lead on the rest of the design tasks for all six courses, including boost pads, AI, and scripted events.
Boost Pads were a new addition to our racing engine designed specifically for Speeders. As opposed to the power-ups of Free Realms, SOE asked for a more steering-focused racing experience. I set up different configurations of boost pads, and placed them in such a way that skilled players could chain them for most of the race.
Scripted events were another new feature. It became my responsibility to come up with ways that would make the track feel more dynamic as the player raced, and as a result each course has many scripted events that can trigger based on race conditions. Some are subtle, some are obvious, and a few actually alter the way that players drive, like an ice bridge collapse which drops the road out from under the racers to open a new path. I was in charge of designing the system that set them off, as well as coming up with the ideas for the events and deciding where to place them in the world. I worked closely with programmers, artists, and animators to build, trigger and configure the various components that would allow our universe to come alive.