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SimRacingWorld was invited down to a press and media game launch event for F1 2010 in London. We were shown videos and presentations, and were allowed to play a pre-Alpha version of the game on Xbox 360. Here is our report.

By Team SimRacingWorld
18 March 2010

F1 Brand Manager - Paul Walker Commented: - * F1 Audience in the UK has doubled from 2006-2010.

* When designing the game, Codemasters spoke to gamers, non-gamers and F1 fans. They scoured internet forums from gamers and simmers alike and came up with a feature list. They then prioritised that feature list based on what would “add most to the game” as it is impossible to include every feature in the 2010 game. Features that do not make it into F1 2010 may make it into F1 2011 (more on that later)

* One of the key trends from customer research was a desire for the game to be more than just driving, gamers wanted to see and experience behind the scenes action both on and off the track (I.e. in the garage and paddock). Therefore an intricate career mode has been developed to broaden the game’s appeal and immersion, and thus the slogan “Be the driver, live the life” was born.

Senior Producer - Paul Jeal comments further on “Be the Driver”

* Aim was to create a truly authentic racing experience. There is an evolving race strategy (the strategy in race can change from your pre-defined strategy agreed with your team before the race start), and car handling will be “authentic, predictable and consistent with the car behaving as the player expects”. He prefers not to talk about sim v arcade in purist terms.

* There has been a large focus on AI - these will have racing instincts based on real driver personality profiles making some drivers more aggressive and defensive than others. This will also be track specific, for example Massa will be stronger at Istanbul than other drivers. Drivers that are better in the wet such as Vettel will see this mimicked in game.

* We were then shown a movie with this in action (unfortunately we were not allowed to film the movies as Formula One Management have not sanctioned them for release yet) - showing Button overtaking one car and then being blocked by a Force India. It appeared from the video bumps on the track were modelled well.

* Evolving race strategy will play a large role in game - tyres will suffer from blistering and punctures (with the tyre visually delaminating), and the race track will go from green to rubbered in, to having marbles off the racing line.

* Pit stops are fully modelled and animated and the driver will be required to apply the pit limiter and brake the car into the pit box.

* Engine management & wing adjust will also feature with the driver being able to adjust fuel mix and engine rev limits as well as being able to adjust the wings. However, the driver is only allowed 8 engines in a season so you will have to be careful not to ruin your engine in one race by pushing it too hard.

* We were then shown a second video of tyre graining in action (you could visually see this on the tyre) and of an animated pit-stop which I must say looked very good.

* The team have spent a lot of time working on weather and are extremely proud of what they have achieved. They say it is the “best weather ever seen in any racing game”. There are three variable rain effects - light rain through to monsoon, and this will negate larger team advantages where appropriate. The track is modelled in 30cm sections, with rivers and puddles featuring. A dry racing line will also appear over time should the conditions suit.

* The rain effects also vary track by track (you will never see a monsoon at Bahrain for example).

* We were then shown a video of the rain effects - with lots of spray, raindrops, puddles, reflections and more. It looked impressive and like an upgraded version of what we had in Grand Prix 4.

Steve Hood then went on to talk to us about the other aspect of the game “Live the Life” (career mode). This for me was very interesting and I will be looking forward to seeing how this is executed in game.

* Whilst you will be able to choose what settings you want to make the game more arcade or sim-like, the game will open with you being interviewed by members of the press who will ask you questions and the answers will determine initial game settings.

* The career mode will put you in the paddock and VIP areas, where the media will chase you depending on how good a driver you are or become. There will be a driver’s room in the truck (a lot like the DIRT RV vehicle) where you will engage in contract negotiations from the third race in a season until the last race which will be influenced by your performance on track.

* There will be impromptu media questions such as “why did you not make it into Q2”, “who is your biggest rival” and you will be able to respond blaming it on your team mate, or for not going out on time. Your responses to questions will influence the media’s feeling towards you and also your contract negotiations.

* You will be able to take part in the driver’s post race press conference (this takes place instead of a podium ceremony) where the media will ask more questions.

* We were shown a movie of Mark Webber chatting in game to his race engineers outside of his team truck. It looked well modelled and realistic, but we could not hear what was being said.

* You will be set tasks in game by your team and influenced by the media such as beating your team mate. The media may also ask “who do you consider is your biggest championship rival”.

* There will be a technology / R&D race throughout the season where your car will evolve as the season progresses. Your team may evolve quicker if you achieve better results. When one season changes to another your car will also change, but you may not be aware of how much until you test it for the first time. If you are a leading team in one season, your car may evolve less the next season due to effort being focused on winning the previous championship. Take a look at how well Ferrari have changed in 2009/2010 for an example.

* The team’s objectives for you as a driver will depend on which team you are in. For Mclaren it’ll most likely be to win, for Lotus it’ll be to finish the race.

* Another video was show of the driver sat in the garage with his mechanics busy working around him. A “Grand Prix 4 style” monitor where you could edit settings / setups / look at telemetry was in front of the driver.

* “You are the driver - it isn’t just about menus” was the mantra from Codemasters.

* The career mode will apply to both single and multiplayer.

* Closing remarks were then given and it was revealed that their stated objective was to “re-invent F1 games”. They have been surprised by how well F1 2009 sold, and the Codemasters boss was said he was “gob smacked” by what the team have achieved with F1 2010 so far. A final video was shown of a race start at Monza with the driver winning and cheering.

TRYING THE GAME OUT / Q&A SESSION / FEATURES

There was then the opportunity to try the game out on Xbox 360 gaming rigs. It should be noted the game available to try was an early pre-alpha game around the Monza track with Mark Webber, and the settings were on arcade style. The damage shown in screens and videos is not representative of the final product.

During this time I had an extensive conversation with one of the game’s developers and here is the information summarized that I find out from him - based on the questions you sent in: -

General

* Limited development for F1 2011 has already started, and there will be no DLC packs for F1 2010 as this would divert resource from F1 2011.

* There are around 100 staff working on the game in the Birmingham studios. There are many more who work on a “base” code elsewhere - it is therefore hard to put a true figure on how many people are “working” on the game.

* The game is fully scalable between sim and arcade modes. You can pick and choose which elements you would like to be more or less realistic to give the gamer best satisfaction.

* The game is based on the EGO engine that powered DIRT 2 and Grid. The latest code shown was at pre-Alpha stage.

* Throughout the event I constantly heard references to “F1CE” - that is “Formula One Championship Edition” the last F1 game on the PS3 released in 1997 and developed by Studio Liverpool, it seems that this has been used as some sort of internal benchmark to beat in every aspect. They claimed to me when I probed them about features “it’s better than in F1CE” etc. This is a good sign!

* PC system requirements will be very similar to DIRT 2.

* Lewis Hamilton’s dad is a big F1 Championship Edition fan!

Contact with F1 Teams

* Contact with teams has been extensive and is done through the FIA. Codemasters are not allowed to approach teams that have not raced (e.g. US F1).

*All the teams have been visited and are very keen to help and input into the game. They have been particularly keen to help model the inside of the pit garages (most likely because it gives their sponsors exposure!)

Pit Stops

*You cannot steer the car in the pit lane (due to FOM regulations about running over pit crews apparently!) but it is up to you to hit the rev limiter and to brake into the box.

* If you overshoot the box you will knock down the jack man. If you stop too short the pit crew have to re-adjust their positioning (all motion captured) and it will cost you time.

* Force India assisted in motion capturing the pit stop.

* Pit radio will be included. Your race engineer will talk to you throughout the race and before you enter the pits.

Sounds

* Sounds are recorded from real F1 cars and have been captured from several different teams.

* Sounds are accurately modelled and include downshifts etc.

Career Mode / “Live the Life”

* The career mode will feature 7 seasons. I don’t think the 2009 season cars etc will be included.

* You can’t change teams mid-season.

* The F1 2011 game will have some interesting features that will expand on the career mode and results achieved in F1 2010 (but they cannot say specifically what this is yet)

* As you build your results over time and seasons your team can improve (I.e. you may pick Lotus). If the team’s expectations of you are to win you can get in trouble.

* There is an individual profile for each driver and team in the game and this will evolve.

* The loading screen tells you how you are doing against your team mate and other drivers etc.

Multiplayer

* Networking allows up to 13 cars.

* Online multiplayer for now will be the same and may be increased for F1 2011.

* The online mode will be similar to DIRT 2 but has been modified to better cater for racing leagues.

Damage Model

* What is shown in the videos is not representative of the damage modelling.

* The team are proud of this so should be good to see.

* The cars will not deform (like in DIRT or GRID) but will shatter like true carbon fibre.

* It will be possible to damage just apart of your wing or destroy the entire thing.

Car Setup / Garage / Weather

* Before each weekend you will be told what percentage chance of rain for each session exists. This can change and will be reflected on the data screen in the car’s garage.

* There will be full car setup options - at least to the level of Grand Prix 4.

* Your race engineer can advise you of changes and you can copy your teammate’s setup.

* There will be full telemetry.

* “Dirty air” I.e. following behind another car will affect the car’s handling.

Track Development

* The tracks have been developed using CAD data from the circuit owners and designers.

* Anthony Davidson (Brawn / Honda test driver) drives every track and advises where bumps are too soft, too hard or missing. Anthony plays the game 8 hours a day two days a week in the Codemasters offices, therefore the team are confident in the accuracy of the tracks and thus negates the need for laser scanning.

What isn’t included & why

* You cannot save game during a race, but it is possible to “flashback” to a previous stage. If playing in sim-mode flashbacks are disabled.

* There is no pre-season testing. It was felt development time better spent elsewhere.

* The game will not feature the same on-screen graphics you see on TV.

* Visor tear offs will not feature in F1 2010 due to development time, but will feature in F1 2011.

* A lot of discussion about the safety car and formation lap and why it was not included. It was felt when they were prioritising the features for the game the safety car would use a lot of development time for very little “gameplay benefit” and most users would simply skip the sequence, therefore it was decided to focus resource on other areas. Both of these should feature in F1 2011.

Testing the Xbox 360 Rig

* The arcade mode seems similar to the Wii version.

* Force feedback was in use. Didn’t feel bad but needs work (but this was a pre-alpha!). Worked quite nicely over kerbs.

* Unfortunately given the game was in arcade mode it is too early to tell how good the physics are, but I must say the gameplay videos we saw looked more promising than the arcade mode we were allowed to play. The Codemasters team state that they have worked very hard to cater for arcade and sim fans alike and judging by some of the features confirmed in this section I think there is a lot to back this up.

That’s it for now - I will try and post some more tomorrow but I hope this gives you an insight into development of the game so far.

Time Stamp: 22-Jul-2014 17:58, Execute Time: 5.6 ms, MySQL Queries: 1023
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