The folks over at Gasworks Games have created a new sports management game focused on racing, called Title Town Racing, that comes with a number of classic social challenges as well as features reminiscent of a city-builder.
Title Town Racing reminds us of sports games such as Bola, mixed with a dash of fantasy sports. Managing drivers, cars, and upgrades, the title has surprising breadth. One of the few quality titles for racing fans, it’s main drawback is that it doesn’t always provide that much user feedback.
The idea is, of course, to build up a successful racing franchise. Players are given a virtual space out in the middle of nowhere and it’s up to them to turn it into a functioning business. While there a number of elements to this, perhaps the most important place to start is the actual racing.
Players don’t have much at the start, so with the few cars they have, or decide to purchase, they need to start racing. Well, the basic income earning mechanics ought to be familiar enough, as the game uses the traditional “quest” type mechanic. Players select a car and put it out on a race track for a set amount of time. The longer the time frame, the more money is earned. Curiously, while on the track, players can also pick up items — Wrenches — that can be used to upgrade their vehicle.
These Wrenches act like a form of currency to improve the performance of the vehicle in terms of its engine, tires, suspension, transmission, and chassis. Unfortunately, this is where user feedback issues appear. The game doesn’t actually explain the benefit of each one. At the very least, a mouse-over tooltip would be expected, but such isn’t the case. All the player really knows is that increasing these values “improves” the car. Furthermore, if the specific aspects of the car don’t affect specific things, it makes the whole upgrading system seem a bit shallow.
Regardless, once upgrades are complete, players can take their cars to the next set of racing venues. This next “race” is where the fantasy sports come into play, as players can create a driving team of actual NASCAR drivers. Each week, they can pick cars for specific racing cups (certain cars can only race in certain cups) and a driver for each of them. Each Sunday — dubbed the “Sunday Cup” — a race will take place with the player presumably earning income based on how their drivers do in reality. Once again, however, the game lacks any tooltips or help section to reference any of these nuances. There is a tutorial, but after that is passed, the information appears inaccessible again.
The last form of racing comes from social play. In fact, it’s social play of some of the oldest variety: Challenges. As users invite friends, they will be able to “race” against them in a sort of mini-game. Choosing a car from their garage, the player is presented with a series of prompts to time a mouse click with acceleration, turning, and so on. The more accurate the timing, the more points that player accrues. Then, the opposing friend must also complete this mini-game, and the one with the best time wins a fiscal reward. Like the challenges of yesteryear though, and as one can probably already see, nothing occurs until the friend accepts and completes the race. That said, there are two non-player characters users can race, but several hours later, the results are still “pending” for us. Hopefully, results will come back soon, but as this game has just released in the last week or so, it may just be an early bug or oversight.
On one other social note, Title Town Racing also has a nice in-game section for players to interact and chat with one another forum-style. Furthermore, this “Tailgate” even has a great section entitled “Add Me!” so that the game’s Facebook profile page isn’t covered in such requests.
Now that the racing is out of the way, it’s time to start upgrading one’s virtual space for both nicer appearance, and new functionality. With this app, players don’t “level up,” but rather, they acquire a better license. In order to do this, they must meet a number of different requirements including revenue, franchise value, fans, more cars, and star rating.
Star rating is probably the easiest; even if it is one of the more expensive. This is earned by upgrading the buildings in the virtual space itself. The higher the upgrade, the higher the rating. The others, are a bit more difficult to earn, as they take more time.
Within the virtual space, there is yet another space (a race track) that can be decorated in a city-building kind of style. Though items can only be place in specific spots, users can purchase revenue generating buildings, seating, and décor. Each of these will increase the franchise value of the player’s space as a whole, while revenue buildings such as concession stands will generate periodic income, and seating will periodically generate fans. Unfortunately, all these different stats feels a bit arbitrary as none of them really have much of a purpose other than satisfying the new license requirements.
It would be nicer if they had some deeper purpose or were interconnected in some way. Also, and once again, these have no tool tips to signify their meaning. It actually took a bit of random poking about to find that each of these stats — franchise value and fans namely — didn’t affect one another but are just mark arbitrary numbers to meet for leveling. With the space resembling that of a moderate city-builder, we had expected that they would be doing more.
Overall, Title Town Racing comes with a lot of kinks, but it does show good potential. Nothing is terribly deep about it, and some of the elements feel arbitrary, but there is a lot to do and tinker around with in a single sitting. Even if it didn’t have the fantasy elements, it wouldn’t be a bad experience. Of course, it wouldn’t be all that different from other virtual space games either in that regard. However, the fantasy aspect is there, and it does add an extra level for racing fans. All that in mind, there’s nothing terribly offensive, design-wise, with Title Town Racing, making it at least worth a spin.