A few nuggets about F1 2010; is this the game you’re waiting for?

Do you consider yourself as being among Formula 1’s “core audience”?

Well, then I suspect you’re familiar with the Codemasters racing simulation games.

Now, this isn’t really my thing. I have a PS3 that pretty much sits unused, and when I got it as a gift I should have insisted more vehemently that we take it back. (Although the streaming video feature by a certain company is nice, although I just missed Grand Prix going off the play list and Le Mans isn’t on it, either.) But one of your fellow F1B readers pointed this interview with a senior producer for the F1 2010 game out to me. I won’t out him/her unless the person says, “Go on, out me!”

A few things that do catch my attention; all the quotes are producer Paul Jeal:

I mean it comes down to being a production tasks: obviously there’s going to be qualifying and so on, but other stuff like refueling you want to move to the back end of development. September [the release date] is the earliest we could feasibly deliver an accurate season content to the game for release.

That may be all some of you need to know: Look for it in September. From the website (also at the page we’ve linked to), it appears it will be across platforms, including my neglected PS3.

But here’s a bit more:

Being an F1 fan myself I’ve been able to pick up on all the things they’re saying about the game and we can come back and think “how can we get that in game?” Stuff like the dusty tracks or the evolving tracks – you hear the technical talk surrounding those conditions and then get back to the studio and start thinking about how we get that in.

With F1 themselves there’s some stuff to consider. The contract is black and white in some places: we don’t depict fatalities for example, but there’s a lot of grey. Everyone knows that F1 games haven’t been doing well, so we need to expand the boundaries of what you get from this kind of game, which is seen in the “Live The Life” stuff. Once we were able to get in and show the F1 guys what we meant then they were able to see what we wanted to do, to give feedback, and that allowed us to work those elements into the game successfully. So I think that relationship is working well for us and them.

The video captures look pretty good, I have to admit, and there’s even one shot where the Virgin car appears to be in third place! Or maybe it’s just in a pack that’s been lapped.

Here’s some on the career mode:

There have been career modes, but it’s generally some UI, such as an email system, linking together the time you spend on track. Our plan was for a total immersion experience, and we’re basing that on the stuff we managed to do with DIRT2, with the atmosphere created with the backstage area, behind the scenes and so on. It works better in F1, because it gets you into the paddock – it’s not all pretty no substance, we needed a reason for players to be in there! It starts out with some questions related to the player announcing themselves to the F1 world, and the answers to those questions are going to be configuring the game in the background – when you go out on track it’s set up roughly were you think it should be. That’s our solution to the problem that all racing games face: that everyone wants to dive in and see what the on-track experience is like. So you either go in with all the assists on, and hardcore fans will think it’s a bit dumbed down, not a good simulation, or you turn them off and have the first experience of the car being quite daunting for a majority of players. We’re tinkering around with difficulty and options based on those questions. You go into the paddock after this and meet your agent, you pieces together contracts and gives you feedback on how the outside world perceives you. As you get more popular the paddock gets busier, too, making it a bit more interesting, but it’s all “RPG-lite”, where you can drop in and drop out, talk to people to engineer moves and so on.

Another thing that I’ve never really liked is that most racing games see you perhaps do a lap, then go in and burn straight through to a podium position on your first race. That’s not what F1’s about, it’s about working your way up. You’re not going to win straight away because there are essentially tiers of car, even though they’re all the same formula. So we want races within races – objectives for specific teams. HRT or Lotus or Virgin would not expect you to win outright, you’d be expecting to accomplish smaller objectives. We’ve put a lot of effort into making that feel like a win, making you feel like the star in the unsung team. After this players have two options: they can take the natural career path within F1 to the bigger teams – McLaren, Ferrari – or they can develop one of the smaller teams over a series of races.

There’s plenty more, so I encourage you to take a look. But, as always, come back here and let us know your thoughts. And, I know a few of you who are into these games, *cough* Doug *cough*, so I expect some expert opinions. Like: Should I be psyched for this? I have kind of been waiting for the full 5th game of a series that shall go unnamed…

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