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In this article Nick Court responds to questions and critisicms about Grand Prix 4, as well as responding to previews posted on sites across the Internet.

By Team SimRacingWorld
3 April 2002

The version available on the press tour was an Alpha build. Bug fixing and code optimisation is still very much on-going, meaning the game will crash and strange things may be experienced and frame rate problems may be noticed. All of this was explained during the press day.

I am only too well aware that gamers like you would like the game to include stop & go penalties; the safety car; parade laps; career mode etc. Believe me, many of the features on your wish list are on ours. However, none of these features can be added quickly - the game needs to be able to deal with all eventualities of new features. An example of this is the addition of the cars starting from the garages rather than the pit lane:

It is unfortunately not as simple as just moving the starting position for each car. We need to ensure all cars are able to exit the pit lanes without collisions with the walls or the other cars. Plus, on their return to the pit lane, the cars need to be placed back in the garage. All of this is made more difficult due to the addition of the animated engineers and the advanced pit monitor in which you can watch your competitors doing their qualifying - from when they are sat in the garage to when they return to the garage.

Everything we add to the game needs to add to the experience. This obviously takes time to get right, and so when, in 1999, Hasbro gained the multi season FOA license, we created a list of all features we would have liked to be in the games. Being huge fans of Formula One, you can imagine the list was extensive, so extensive there was no way we could implement everything into the next version of the game and retain the balance of gameplay & quality vs reality that has been present in the brand to-date. Our main concern is to ensure the driving experience and the game play is of a very high standard.

We therefore had to create a plan based upon a prioritised list of features, and the need to release the games on a regular basis. The plan takes us from after GP3 to the final game covered by the license.

At this time, we were aware the render engine utilised within the games needed to be replaced to enable the visuals of the game to be competitive with other games in the market place and to match the quality of the rest of the game.

We therefore took the decision to change the renderer and also change the method used to create the circuits.These changes result in a huge step forward for the game:

The GPS data provides the game with added reality - we know the track width, height, and camber. The data also provides the game with individual profiles for each individual kerb.

The new renderer handles so many more polygons than the previous system, enabling us to increase the amount of details in the cars and the tracks - details that are necessary to enhance the driving experience.

A fast, dedicated 3D renderer is not quick to create; GPS data does not come in a format that enables it to be placed straight into the game; and building 17 tracks from nothing is a huge undertaking.

We have considered enabling the player to drive their chosen car with the attributes of the real-life counterpart - i.e. race the Minardi with the attributes of a Minardi. Development wise this should be easy to implement, but we need to balance that with the amount of dedicated testing required. In truth the implementation of this will depend upon how trouble free development to Beta proves to be.

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