One major difference between Distance and Nitronic Rush is the addition of multiplayer. Holdwick goes so far as to say that Distance's multiplayer is a primary focus for the team. Distance will include competitive Classic Race, Stunt, Challenge, Tag (both normal and reverse), Capture the Flag, and Speed & Skill modes. More details for these modes will be revealed in the coming weeks, but Holdwick also mentioned that the team is looking into the idea of co-op modes, where players will have to work together to survive particularly harrowing tracks. Holdwick isn't ready to reveal how many players will be supported, but says that the team hopes to support as many players as possible for each mode.
Another of Distance's new features is a level editor, with the team putting a heavy emphasis on user-friendliness. "We're working as hard as we can to make the level editor in Distance very powerful, flexible, and easy to use," Holdwick explained. "We already have a number of features in the current version of the level editor like interactive icons for placeable objects, free or snappable object translating, rotating, and scaling, as well as tweakable properties like material colors or lighting attenuation. A more advanced feature, that is already fantastic to work with, is the level editor's spline-based procedurally-generating track system. You can select one of the ends of a road piece and move it wherever you'd like or snap it to another end of a different road piece. Using a spline curve, it will generate the track based on the end points. It makes building levels and iterating on them much faster and, honestly, more fun!"
Holdwick then briefly talked about how much the team has grown since working on Nitronic Rush. Beyond focusing on multiplayer from the start of the development cycle, Holdwick says the team has learned the value of playtesting. "Playtesting is essential to making a great game," he said. "We playtested almost every week while developing and improving Nitronic Rush. Some of the most fun and innovative features in that game were there because of playtesting and iterating on what we had all the time. Going forward, we'll continue to playtest Distance every week to make sure the game is a ton of fun."
In addition to that, Holdwick wants to focus on user-friendliness. "A lot of systems in Nitronic Rush were not the most user-friendly and slow to work with. Painstakingly working with those tools was a great lesson to learn and with Distance, we are focusing on improving upon that right away. You can't teach experience and I'm glad we had the opportunity to make and learn from Nitronic Rush while at DigiPen."
Nothing, however, is as important to Refract Studios as community feedback. "At the end of the day, we're making the game for them," Holdwick added. "We had a fantastic community surrounding Nitronic Rush and it was always exciting for us to follow their posts and videos. They've sent us a lot of ideas over the past months and we looked at every one of them carefully. One of the most requested features was multiplayer and that's one of our major focuses with Distance. A lot of community members also wanted Mac support, so I'm proud to say that Distance will be supported on Mac. Some members wanted an official user-friendly level editor, so we're working on that also. Overall, the community has been incredibly supportive of us and we want to be supportive to them, too. We want to build an incredible experience around the experience so we're doing our best to listen to their requests and be actively responsive."
What the game could look like