We’re going to play a little game, you and I. It’s called “Can you guess which of these game ideas is real?” Here we go:
Game Idea 1
You’re a sentient car. Headlights for eyes. The exhaust a dirty arse. You have a new owner every fortnight due to your habit. It starts off typical, you act like any other car, just as an owner would expect; you’re submissive but for the odd hiccup to keep them on their toes. Then, after about a week, just as they’ve found a routine with you … click. You lock the doors to trap them inside while you fill your innards with the smog from your engine. You kill with engineered constipation. But can you lure them into that initial sense of security and kill them without raising suspicion?
Game Idea 2
Your patrol car is a Reliant Robin and you’re taking your kid to school in it, and her two friends, as they missed the bus. You have the three-wheeler as budgets were tight and you said you could drive any vehicle with unmatched skill. Now you’re driving across intersections and roundabouts at full-speed (about 50mph with three passengers) chasing a dangerous criminal. Don’t tip it over.
Game Idea 3
You’re in a race. But not just one: five. And you’re trying to win them all at the same time. The five tracks hosting each race are contained in a single columnar space, but twisting around each other in spirals and at perpendicular angles. Sometimes they run parallel like vertically aligned snakes but it’s rare. To recap: you’re driving five cars on different tracks at the same time, against other racers, and you’re trying to win five times out of five.
Now, honestly, which of those sounds the most ridiculous? I guarantee the one you chose is the real game idea. Yep, it’s number three (right?).
I played that game with you as I, too, was toyed with. By who? It was Gordon. I didn’t know his second name at first as it’s nowhere in plain sight. Yes, even that small detail took three whole Google searches before I found it. Gordon Midwood is his name. Gordon. Midwood. Of Different Cloth, the studio that made underwater papercraft shark adventure Derrick the Deathfin, and the overlooked dubstep racer lilt line.
Gordon is making, or has made, Drive!Drive!Drive!, which he describes as “a driving game about racing multiple tracks at the same time.” But that makes no sense. Even if you watch the trailer above it still registers as a zero in my brain. It’s an idea that thuds against my skull unable to gain entry.
So I asked Gordon, quite simply, what the hell is going on? He said this: “What is going on is that you are attempting to race/manage more than one track simultaneously. It could be any number of tracks but obviously there are cognitive barriers this number increases—which, by the way, I think I may have already hit with the trailer alone.”
Who is he talking to? I looked around my room after reading his answer to search for the person it was intended for. “Hello?” I said to my brown leather sofa. Nope, there’s no one sat there. Gordon, mate, what are you on about? After watching the trailer a few times and examining the small clip that lies between 17 seconds and 20 seconds, I had a theory.
So I asked Gordon this: “It seems in the trailer that you might pause the action, zoom out from one car, and then select another track to control the car racing on it?”
He said: “You are very perceptive indeed! You have come the closest yet to understanding the ways of the D!3 philosophy! In all honesty it needs to be played to be understood fully—especially when I don’t explain myself properly.
Hopeless, then. Why am I bothering? I thought I had discovered the ultimate in confusion at this point, but then Gordon mentioned that Drive!Drive!Drive!, or D!3 as he put it, has multiplayer. I haven’t even entered the same room as that thought yet.
So, what can I tell you about D!3 if I cannot explain its supposed philosophy to you? (Tangent: Do you think we’re talking about “design philosophy” or, you know, actual philosophical debate? What I’m wondering is whether D!3 will lead to a noticeable increase in paranoid existentialism.)
It takes inspiration from three points to form a triangle of vehicular-based head trauma. First, is the “Hot Wheels Mega Loop Mayhem Trackset.” It’s what you would expect: a racetrack that could have been created by M.C. Escher; a tangle of interlaced loops and criss-crossing swerves that reappear in unexpected places. Second is the Amiga racing game Stunt Car Racer. This game’s tracks are 3D rollercoasters that are all too happy to let you fall off the edge. Third is, apparently, the contents of Gordon’s brain while suffering from insomnia.
I can also tell you that if you can brush aside D!3‘s perplexing multi-track structure, it contains a softcore beauty. Like most racing games, it is interested in pornography. It has “muscle cars” pushing against a “soft low-poly look,” according to Gordon. It wants to know how many of these hard bodies you can handle at once. Go on, give us a show. And it’s all set against a spacey soundtrack by Zombi, described as “driving prog / synth music.”
D!3 is meant to be beautiful, erotic; big purples and high-speed. It’s about trying to control a rush, perhaps of endorphins or nitroglycerin, while guiding powerful vessels across graceful curves. You’re always riding on a tipping point, bashing other cars out of the way in panic, fumbling to arrive at the destination, once, twice, probably more times before finishing.
Drive!Drive!Drive! is what it’s called. I don’t know how it works, but judging by the mastery of Gordon’s teasing, I think I’m really going to enjoy finding out. I think we all will.