4 September 2023

7 Min Read

the crewthe crew motorfestinside ubisoftaccessibility

The Crew Motorfest Accessibility Spotlight

The Crew Motorfest roars onto the open roads of O'ahu on September 14, when players can delve into its wealth of Playlists - multi-event campaigns themed around specific aspects of car culture - and explore the island from behind the wheel of more than 600 vehicles, including boats and planes. It's a big motorsports adventure, and the developers at Ubisoft Ivory Tower want to ensure that as many people as possible can play.

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To find out more about accessibility in The Crew Motorfest, we spoke with Project Coordinator Anthony De Rueda about new features, how the developers built on their previous efforts, and the challenge of making high-speed gameplay accessible for players from a broad spectrum of ability and skill. 

What was your approach to accessibility in The Crew Motorfest?

Anthony De Rueda: Having The Crew 2 to build on meant we already had an accessibility legacy to benefit from. For example, the flexible analog-to-digital control remapping, and mouse cursor mode for compatibility with external accessibility software. Having some of these features already implemented meant we were in a position of taking it further rather than starting from zero, and the team was keen to reach a higher level of accessibility.

Our philosophy for this was one of enabling access through reducing friction, and was shared across all disciplines at Ivory Tower: design, UI, art, audio, code, and so on. It was vital for this to be considered from the start, so from the earliest stages of development, we worked in partnership with Ubisoft's accessibility team to step up accessibility across motor, cognitive, visual, and hearing pillars, which in turn formed a key part of the creative vision for the game. We also worked in partnership with other studios, particularly the Kyiv and Bucharest teams, which was vital in bringing key accessibility features to life.

What is the most important thing to consider when designing for accessibility in a racing game like The Crew Motorfest? Does the genre present any unique challenges?

ADR: A priority for us was the improved racing line. The functionality we had in The Crew 2 indicated which route to follow; we upgraded this to also communicate ideal speed and optimal trajectory. Another important aspect for us was flexibility - to open the racing mechanics up to a wide range of not just capability, but experience and preference, too - through features like adaptive difficulty, flexible controls, and a wide range of configurable assists like auto-steering and auto-braking.

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This also applies to UI. HUD visibility is a common barrier in games in general, but especially so in racing games, often with white text without any background against busy, fast-moving gameplay. So we've included solid, high-contrast backgrounds for HUD text, which is rare for the genre, but very important. They're also optional, ensuring that the needs of people who need greater contrast and people who prefer greater immersion can both be designed for.

Open-world games can present some specific barriers too, so this was another area of focus for us. We aimed to reduce some of those barriers through features like navigational breadcrumbs, the in-game personal assistant (CARA), landmarks and tags that are visible at a distance, and fast-travel to previously unlocked areas. 

Is there something you're particularly proud of when it comes to accessibility in The Crew Motorfest?

ADR: Supporting a wide range of ways to play is important, but accessibility isn't just about options. It's part of the overall experience, and was considered from the earliest stages of development.

So something that we were very happy with was being able to work to avoid barriers by default, through the day-to-day decisions we make about how the game works for everyone. Sometimes that's achieved through good design practices, like how color is used and reinforced, and sometimes through specific feature development to benefit everyone, like our new rewind feature, the racing line upgrades, or the way players are guided to waypoints.

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There were two key pillars that enabled this: The first was thinking about accessibility from early in development. The second was processes - for example, integrating accessibility into our UI style guides to ensure a consistent approach to size and contrast throughout production.

One last thing we'd like to say to everyone reading: this is just the beginning for The Crew Motorfest. We've already had great accessibility feedback from our beta events that has helped to shape our vision for the game, and we'd love for that to continue, so , please get in touch and let us know how it works for you.

KEY ACCESSIBILITY FEATURES

VISUALS

  • Readable text, simple clear text formatting scalable to larger and smaller sizes, with menus high contrast by default

  • High-contrast HUD option, to add high contrast black backgrounds behind key HUD text

  • Brightness/contrast/gamma settings, and HDR brightness/black point/white point

  • Color reliance minimized, with preset schemes for common types of colorblindness

  • Customizable HUD, the ability to toggle specific elements and notifications on and off

  • Camera shake can be turned off

  • Motion blur can be turned off

CONTROLS

  • Flexible controls, including between analog (e.g., stick direction) and digital (e.g., button), inversion, sensitivity, support for multiple input devices with controls shared across them.

  • Simple controls, through remapping, the essentials can be controlled with one hand

  • Windowed mode and mouse cursor for compatibility with external software (PC only)

  • Remove button holds in menus, and replace with simple presses

  • No button-mashing/QTEs (quick time events)

  • Vibration level is configurable

  • Fine tuning of controls for steering/throttle/brake, with both presets and individual sliders for linearity, deadzone and highest, and extra options for steering wheel controllers

AUDIO

  • Subtitles are on by default, with speaker names, clear formatting, and configurable size and background

  • 17 separate volume sliders covering a wide range of sound types, including dedicated sliders for engine, nitro, surface, aero, and other vehicles

  • Sound cues for rewind tips, missed checkpoints and heading the wrong way

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NAVIGATION AND GUIDANCE

  • CARA provides voiced assistance and GPS/satnav directions

  • Fast travel to areas of the game world that players have visited and unlocked

  • Navigational breadcrumbs with visible lines to guide players to objectives

  • Objectives shown onscreen during gameplay

DRIVING/PILOTING

  • Racing line showing optimal trajectory and ideal speed, with configurable opacity; can be always on/always off/only on when braking

  • Difficulty configurable through three presets

  • AI level configurable through five levels

  • Wide range of assists; auto braking, auto steering, traction control, ABS (anti-lock braking system), counter steering assist, ESP (electronic stability program), drift assist, and airplane handling assist

  • Rewind, reverse time to a point of your choosing to drive a section over again, with visual and audio prompts to suggest when to use it

The Crew Motorfest will launch on September 14 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC via the Epic Games Store and the Ubisoft Store, and will be included with a Ubisoft+ subscription. For more on The Crew Motorfest, check out the inside story of how The Crew first came together, and take a look at our deep dive into the Closed Beta