We’re approaching the Christmas rush, the period where every week sees several new releases, many of them triple A. Of course you’ve got you CoDs and your Assassin’s Creeds, but this season also sees several new racers coming out for the new generation, a genre that has so far been pretty neglected.
One of the hottest new titles is Project CARS, a thoroughbred PC racing sim brought to PS4, Xbox One and at some point Wii U. We got a chance to ask the game’s Creative Director Andy Tudor some questions.
Towards the end of the year there’s a glut of driving games coming out, DriveClub, The Crew etc. What sets Project CARS above the rest? “All those other titles are in the arcade/action space so have a free-roaming world or involve you sliding around corners or engaging in chaotic battle. Project CARS is the most realistic, the most authentic, and the most immersive racing game out there and puts you in the shoes of a driver that is free to forge their own career path from any of the many motorsports on offer. It has the largest track roster of any recent racing game, it’s the most technically-advanced too playable at 12K resolution and supporting virtual reality via Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus, and it’s been made by players like yourselves that have been guiding the game and its features for almost three years now. ”
One thing that seems obvious to anyone, is that Project CARS is jaw-droppingly beautiful, but so are a lot of other racing sims. Sometimes though it feels like the graphics and drive for realism take precedence over the on track action. Do you thing you’ve found a good balance between the two?
“ With Project CARS we’ve crossed the uncanny valley now and the game looks photo-real in some instances but yes as you say, graphics across all games are good nowadays which is why we always make sure that whatever feature we put into the game not only falls into the Best In Class category (eg. how we’ve approached weather for example) but is also Innovative and offers significant extra gameplay or immersion. In the case of weather therefore we made sure it was dynamic so it can change at any minute in the player’s gameplay. And we’ve provided a race engineer that can pre-warn you of that as well as offering other insight. And we’ve included fully-animated pit stops that allow you to adapt to your new conditions along with refuelling and fixing damage that can impact the performance and handling of your car. So we’re constantly thinking of gameplay therefore over just ‘making something look pretty’ although as you say, Project CARS does indeed look stunning. ”
With so many different types of car, are you confident that the quality across them matches? “Yes. Ha, it’s as simple as that. All cars are treated equally since we all have different passions for different motorsports and car cultures. And we ensure they all feel authentic to real life and different to each other also. So stepping into the cockpit of a single-seater open-wheel car feels very different to the luxury of a road-going saloon. ”
Obviously a major aspect of Project CARS is crowd-funding. How have you found the constant fan feedback on the game? Has it been a joy, or have some moments been more like designing by committee?
“A joy. We couldn’t have made the game without the community. Usually you only get that kind of player feedback near the end of the game when you’re in the ‘marketing mode’ of trying to tell people about your game and sell them on it and usually it’s too late by then for them to make key differences. With Project CARS though we’ve had almost three years of that throughout so there’s a huge confidence level there that what we’ve been making is something that the fans really want and has all the features and polish that they expect and hope for in a game like this. ”
You seem to have managed the crowdfunding element well, despite some issues towards the end of 2012. Recently though there’s been a several Kickstarters that have imploded –Yogventures most infamously– was there any point where you feared this might happen to you, or has controlling funding directly with World of Mass Development allowed you to find the limits of your ambition?
“Whilst we can’t comment on how other teams manage their projects, we can say though that we’ve been doing this for years. We’ve been making games for over 10 years now and the team are very experienced in both the skills needed for games creation and the discipline of time management and scheduling so that pedigree we bring from all that time has definitely been an advantage and helped us stay on track compared to others that are newer to the games-making experience. ”
How has it been getting all the licences for the game? It must be hard enough for a single discipline, but you have so many, as well as all of the tracks.
“As I said, we’ve been making games for a very long time so we have good relationships with a number of manufacturers and license holders. Plus, the quality of our previous games shines through and our dedication and attention to detail are things those guys appreciate and know therefore that we’ll represent their car or location perfectly.
How’s work on the Wii U version coming along? It’s unusual for a driving sim of this kind to make it’s way to a Nintendo console – Mario Kart is more the norm.
“Absolutely. There’s a massive gap for a game like Project CARS there and the Nintendo fans we’ve heard from are looking forward to it so please bear with us a little longer whilst we get it up to the same high standards we’ve set for the Xbox One and PS4 versions. ”
What would you say is the ‘best’ way to play the game? Is it with an Oculus Rift and a steering wheel, a 4k display, or is it just a fun with a pad on the living room sofa?
“There’s no ‘one true way’ I don’t think. Project CARS is very much a ‘simulator’ and for the hardcore guys that are into sim racing they’re not going to be disappointed – it’s extremely authentic, has an ethos that has been based in the sim racing culture of our past and our WMD community, and has support and features in there that those guys both expect and want. So whilst they’ll be happy playing on PC with a triple-screen set up and a race rig of steering wheel and pedals, equally you can pop in the PS4 disc and sit back on your couch with a DualShock 4 and play the game too. And that kind of accessibility comes from our previous Need For Speed SHIFT series where we want a casual gamer to be able to dial the handling model, the assists, the onscreen guides, the AI difficulty etc.. to something they feel comfortable with and have a great time. That doesn’t mean the game is ‘simcade’ or ‘dumbed down’ it just means it’s playable by everyone without sacrificing anything.”
We’d like to thank Andy for his time, and Bandai Namco for arranging the interview.