New Video Game Wrench Lets You Build Cars From the Ground Up in Virtual Reality

From building kit cars to completely swapping drivetrains, this virtual reality game seems super-cool.

Are you an enthusiast who wants to wrench on cars you can’t afford? Are you someone who knows nothing and wants to learn the basics? Or maybe you’re a full-time mechanic who can’t get enough time in the bay, and loves to take work home? Well, have we found the game for you. Meet Wrench.

Wrench is a project in development by Digital Mistake, a studio ran by Alec Moody, who The Drive had the pleasure of chatting with. Working as a video game artist since 2002, Moody had taken on the task of mechanical modeling early on in his career. Being an avid gearhead, he saw an opportunity to combine his work with his passion, and that’s where Wrench was born. The hardest task to learn was the actual programming behind the scenes.

 “Building game systems like this involved a lot of learning and stubbornly working through problems that seem impossible”, said Moody. “Learning something new can be a slog, after you solve a problem it often times seems obvious and trivial. It is very rewarding.”

In the demo below, you can see a bunch of components that will eventually be attached to a Miata subframe. Adding bushings to the control arm, assembling a coilover suspension, and ensuring every part has its place is crucial to transforming the raw parts into a Bauer Catfish—a complete kit car that can be built in-game. Eventually, Moody plans to add more branded aftermarket parts and even allow drivetrain swaps.

via Wrench

As the project began, so did the daunting task of 3D scanning and modeling each individual component of his project. Every nut, bolt, bushing, and cast part was meticulously 3D-scanned in order to have proper in-game tolerances. If an object can’t be scanned in for some reason, Moody sits at his desk with calipers, thread checkers, and various other tools in order to create an accurate to-scale model. Roughly 40 percent of the models in the game are actually modeled by hand, a time-consuming task which in itself is akin to drawing up the original part. In fact, drawing up the front brake assembly took nearly 100 hours to complete.

via Wrench

It won’t always be to easy as just putting parts together either. In the release version, specialized tools will be needed to complete some tasks, such as presses to insert bushings into control arms. 

If the task of hopping into a project seems like too much to bite at once, don’t worry—there will be an education mode to teach you about how to wrench. And if you’re already seasoned, the game will feature a progression mode which will let you manage your own shop.

Moody says the game is about a year out from completion, in terms of development. In that short time, he’ll be transforming his love of cars, fabrication, and motorsports into a full-fledged immersive experience for anybody to enjoy. But don’t plan on actually driving any of your creations just yet (you’ll always have Mario Kart for that)—the game doesn’t have any built-in driving functionality planned as of yet. But that’s not much different than the majority of our project cars.