Roadtrip Rally

Race You to the Beach!

Join Lightning McQueen, Cruz and Mater as they embark on a road-trip of a lifetime through canyons, forests and snowy mountains, to join the Dinoco beach party on Californian coast.


Disney was looking to push the limits of browser-based gameplay with a fully 3D Cars racing game. They were keen to see something that stood apart from previous games, and provided young Cars fans a fresh Cars experience, full of cinematic moments and exciting gameplay.

Our Response

In collaboration with the Disney team, we developed the idea of an epic road-trip across the USA from the Cars characters home in Radiator Springs, to a sponsored beach party on the Californian coast. We would leverage the latest in HTML5 technology to bring the game to life with fully 3D models and a broad range of geological environments, whilst featuring unique gameplay mechanics that make the racing feel exciting without being complicated.

The Challenges

We knew that developing 16 unique 3D tracks was going to be tough. How could we design a system that would allow us to test and tweak the track layouts iteratively? 

Fitting a fully 3D game this large into browser memory was always going to be be a challenge. How would we keep memory load low enough throughout the experience?

There have been many Cars-branded racing games already. What could we do to ensure that this one felt different, without making it too complicated to play for the young target audience?

How could we tie the the story arc of road-tripping across the USA in with the racing? How would Mater fit in? And what could we do to make the gameplay feel unique?

How would we enable brand-holders to sign off our optimised interpretation of classic Disney character models in an accurate and efficient way?

The Results

Road Trip Rally represents a fully-featured, unique racing experience for Cars fans, combining a road-tripping story arc with fast and playful drifting, jumping and boosting mechanics, all powered by the very latest HTML 3D technology including normal mapping, dynamic lighting, reflections and particle systems. 

Tracks are stitched together using a modular system made up of 12 different shaped turn sections for each biome. All textures are combined into a shared pool to save memory. This system allowed us to very easily define unique track layouts, test and iterate until we had the mix about right for each level.

We created a web-based model viewer tool that allowed Pixar to see and sign off the 3D models we were putting into the game in real-time and from all angles.

16 races take place across 4 unique ‘biomes’ (Canyon, Forest, Mountain and Beach) and across 4 times of day (morning, noon, sunset and night) spanning the overall road-trip across America to the beach party on the Californian coast. Some races contain ‘super-jumps’ where time slows down and players have a short window to quickly sketch a simple shape with the cursor (or their finger on touch devices). Success here instantly fills the boost gauge to the max and blast ahead!

For the daytime races, McQueen and Cruz race with other racers such as Brick, Cal and Jackson Storm, as they drift round corners, kick up dust in off-road sections and pull of huge cinematic jumps across jungle bridges, through giant palm trees, crevasses and giant metal rings. Picking up boost tokens along the way fills the boost gauge and allows players to blast past rivals when unleashed.

During the night-time runs, we join Mater and the slower Radiator Springs gang, including Flo, Ramone, and Guido as they strive to keep up with the racers that passed this way earlier in the day. Mater is a little slower but makes up for it with his unorthodox backwards-boosting skills! In the end, the gang are finally united at the party, where the fireworks light the sky! We hope players enjoy this blast across the states with their favourite Cars characters on Mobile and Desktop.

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