Some new tidbits about the upcoming new Forza Motorsport, simply titled Forza Motorsport, were revealed at the July 2023 Forza Monthly stream. This includes a little explanation of how AI cars work in this upcoming game by Turn 10.
In all Forza games, AI cars are called Drivatars. You will see people in your friends list racing against you, and if they have played that particular Forza game, the game AI will try to emulate how they drive.
It’s an AI system powered by machine learning, using telemetry data of how you drive cars around in the game. Content creator AI In Games has a good breakdown of how Turn 10 created the Drivatar system and how it’s implemented Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon games.
However, with this year’s entry of Forza Motorsport, the Drivatar AI won’t be learning how to drive from players. In Forza Motorsport creative director Chris Esaki’s words, they “ripped it all out”.
And this is due to one major flaw in the system: it’s only cool and works well if most of the player base drives clean.
“If you’re driving like a little hooligan on track, or if you’re crashing into other cars, that’ll come through into the game… All of a sudden you’re now racing with unsafe drivers.”
Previous Forza Motorsport games have a history of players not behaving on track, mostly due to the lack of consequences for things like corner-cutting and sending people into the shadow realm. And that even bled into the Drivatar system, to the point of the need to have a “Limit Aggression” toggle.
Instead, the Drivatars are instead are taught to drive as fast as possible, as fast as the fastest real drivers, via machine learning. So it’s not being fed data of less than stellar driving performance (and etiquette) from all players anymore.
The result of this change is AI Drivatars being able to drive cleanly (thank goodness) but also drive faster without utilising cheats, hacks or rubberbanding, as Esaki repeatedly mentions throughout the stream.
The stream also showed a side-by-side comparison of Forza Motorsport 7’s Unbeatable AI (the hardest difficulty) driving an LMP racing car around Maple Valley, with the same car and track as Forza Motorsport’s new AI. The new AI is 13 seconds faster.
Esaki noted that while the Drivatars are powered by machine learning, that doesn’t mean that it’s continuing to learn to drive faster over time. There will be 8 difficulty options to choose.
Also, the AI isn’t perfect, and it is possible for them to make mistakes by braking too late or going off-track. And supposedly none of these are scripted sequences.
The machine learning aspect is only used to train the “AI controller”, which allows the AI to understand how to drive, and then create racing lines for them to follow.
The Drivatars still carry over a player’s car livery, customisation and driver suits.
In a lot of ways, the new Drivatar AI leans closer to Sony AI’s research on GT Sophy for Gran Turismo. That AI model, which has proven to be mighty fast but also aware of its surroundings, hasn’t been integrated yet into Gran Turismo 7 outside of a limited-time event.
So it will be curious to see how Forza Motorsport, who has been doing Drivatars since the original Forza Motorsport from 2005, attempts to create an AI that drives fast and cleanly.
Forza Motorsport is set to release on October 10 for Xbox Series X|S and PC (Steam, Microsoft Store). The game will be available on Game Pass day-1 of launch.