My assignment on Kart Racing was to help take the project from idea, to paper, to prototype, to completion, working closely with SOE to ensure the game meshed well with their pre-established lore and game systems.
In tandem with another designer, I took realistic car physics and tweaked them to reflect the fun arcade feel we both envisioned. Working with environmental artists, we then developed a test track with differing angles and obstacles to drive on, under, through, and around, in order to determine the most successful approach to level design. During this time we also collaborated with programmers as they created systems that would allow us to shape the player's driving experience, such as compensation for digital controls and camera behavior that would emphasize speed changes.
Track creation was our next task, and I was the primary designer on two: "Briarwood" and "Thunder Falls." After laying out my initial idea of the course, I took my concept to the artists. As a team, we blocked out rough versions of tracks that approached the environment's theme from both a design and art perspective, working until the elements flowed together.
While artists set about making the levels visually pleasing, I went to work making them extraordinarily fun. I was in charge of making the race feel like a race, with power-up locations and A.I. splines for each difficulty level. There was also the additional job of connecting the MMO experience to the racing experience. We were tasked with integrating NPCs from SOE's game world into the driver seats of our racing AI, and connecting vehicle parts in the player's MMO inventory to in-game upgrades that increased speed, handling, and item effectiveness.