This rubber-burnin’ coin-op conversion, sequel to Atari’s classic Hard Drivin’, was expected around Christmas 1991.
After the miserable attempt to get its predecessor onto the Commodore 64 (the filled polygons moved slower than London traffic), the programmers dispensed with the own-eye 3D perspective favoured by the coin-op, and gave the game the same perspective as the crash replays in Hard Drivin’.
It didn’t really work. The nail-biting immediacy was lost and the main sprite’s animation defied the laws of physics. Domark wisely decided not to release it.
The coder of this game was actually Zach Townsend of Ocean / Batman The Movie fame, and from a interview with him, he informed that Race Drivin’ was almost at a completed stage. The development was being done as part of his new Technodream development team, with graphics by Joe Brown we believe.
Zach has recently revealed to GTW that the game was subject to problems from Domark and messing Zach and his team around. Because there were so many delays with the signing of the contract, many of his team were forced to go onto other projects as money was running out.
Zach started the project himself alone and continued it roughly for several months before the game was cancelled by Zach. Payment was not coming, and Zach was losing trust in Domark.
It is known that a working demo was actually created, and according to Zach, this is believed to be on disk somewhere as source code. Asking whether Zach would be willing to allow GTW to release the remains of Race Drivin’, Zach has said that he will allow it once he has managed to check his disks to ensure it still exists. Then finally Zach may get the credit he deserves for his hard work.
Also, it is confirmed that the screenshot here is of the actual game, and not a replay sequence from Hard Drivin’ (Which does not feature a replay sequence in the C64 version). Zzap issue #75 gave a small write up about the up and coming game, which gives plenty of details about how the game would have been and a much clearer picture for us…
“RACE DRIVIN’ “Domark have sensibly jettisoned the solid 3-D which doomed Hard Drivin. Instead Domark and Zach have come up with a Paperboy style perspective, with the action shown from above, the road scrolling at 45 degrees. There will be all the coin-op’s tracks including the standard Hard Drivin’ one, Speed Circuit and the Stunt track, complete with a corkscrew loop! There’s also a choice of four cars to drive and the Phantom Photon, a competitor car which duplicates your last best performance so you can race against yourself!”
Seems like some excellent ideas there to try and save a potentially doomed conversion… maybe this idea did not work out the way they intended.
Zach was very honest in saying that the game was doomed from the start. Hard Drivin’ was more Grannies Racing than anything, and Race Drivin’ should have never been started. Zach took what was a doomed game and gave it a new perspective to save things, but it would never be how it was originally intended. But you never know, the new version may be good?
Richard Browne ran external development at the time for Domark, and got in touch via the comments to confirm that it was his idea for shifting away from the first person perspective. The original idea was to take inspiration from Racing Destruction Set and go down that path for the 8-bit editions. When leaving Domark to join Psygnosis, this may have slowed communications down and what caused Zach to leave the project.
In Commodore Format issue 22, in the review of DJ Puff, Gerard Gourley mentions that he worked on tunes for Race Drivin’ (listed in the piece as Hard Drivin’ 2), so was this true? It is claimed that Gerard did the music for Pitfighter (which was done by JCH) and Shadow of the Beast (which was done by Fredrik Segerfalk).
Will anything ever be found of this one?
Contributions: Ian Osborne, Area 64, Zach Townsend, Stephen Stuttard
Zach Townsend speaks about work on Race Drivin’…
“To be honest, I don’t think it ever got that close to finishing. As I recall, the project was a bit of a disaster from before it started. Let’s be honest – a £40,000 polygon mapped, real-time 3D arcade game was never going to convert that well to the humble C64. Good as it was for its time, the C64’s main strength was its sprites and its sound chip, not its 3D ability.
As it was, I arranged with Domark to organise the C64, Spectrum & Amstrad versions. I personally sub-contracted the people to do the coding & graphics (with me to code the C64). But Domark delayed the actual contract signing for 4-6 months (reasons unbeknown to me), by which time I was running out of money and the people I’d sub-contracted had all been forced to start other projects.
I started the project alone, and probably continued for several months before calling it a day. Stage payments were not forthcoming, and I felt I couldn’t trust them. I had a mortgage, had just got married and needed to get regular income. So the game was never finished, although a ‘working’ demo was created, for which I still have the source code (I believe).”
- 25/07/21 – Added extra scan and graphics credit.
- 25/06/20 – Updated music credit + added higher res scans.