Yesterday I published the first part of my interview with Andy Tudor, Creative Director at Slightly Mad Studios about the new World of Mass Development project being worked on by the studio. In this final part of the interview, I talk to Andy about Project CARS, the racer at the heart of World of Mass Development.
The Reticule – How would you compare CARS to titles like GTR2 and iRacing?
Andy Tudor – A lot of team worked on the original GTR2 and compete regularly in iRacing but Project CARS represents the next-gen of sim racing. By including the guys that love those games (and others) we’re getting some great insight into what the common themes are that really resonate with players (eg.. extensive telemetry, setups, ‘real race weekend’ feel & features) and mixed with our own concepts for social connectivity, dynamic weather/time of day etc.. we feel Project CARS is in a really strong position to both unite a lot of the sim racing community under one roof and compete directly with the competition.
The Reticule – Have you managed to get official licensing for the various racing disciplines you are going to offer?
Andy Tudor – Negotiations are going on all the time but they take a while to get nailed down legally. As soon as things are decided though, we tell our community (see previous Caterham announcements, Motorsport Vision track announcement etc..) so keep your eyes peeled as the next big license might be around the corner.
The Reticule – Can you give us more details about your described approach for CARS? “Being scouted playing high school football and leading your team to win the Superbowl”
Andy Tudor – That relates directly to the Career mode in Project CARS that idolizes a feeling of progression through your career from a junior or rookie starting out with just a raw passion and talent for racing, getting scouted for a semi-professional team, finding your feet and specializing in a discipline you love (BTCC, DTM, Rally, Indycar, whatever) and then going on to win the most prestigious titles/awards in that category and becoming known in the motorsports world for it. That may take an in-game year or season or maybe it’s a long-term goal but ultimately the analogy simulates the progression and opportunities a real racer driver would have as opposed to a more game-like ‘grind for cash or XP’ ethos. This kind of progression is commonly called a Franchise Mode in sports titles but it’s one that hasn’t really be explored fully in a racing title before. Other games have dipped their toe in the water here (GRID, F1) but there’s definitely room to push it further.
The Reticule – How are you going to incorporate DLC with CARS?
Andy Tudor – Plans haven’t been finalized yet, but new content will be released regularly for the game post-launch and will be tied to motorsport seasons, disciplines, manufacturers, specific events, eras (eg.. historic or 80’s cars), locations (eg.. German tracks) and many more. So it’s more like a continual MMO-style delivery than a console-style series of packs.
The Reticule – What are the strengths of the MADNESS engine when it comes to developing a game like CARS?
Andy Tudor – The MADNESS engine was built with foresight of being a multi-threaded, multi-processor engine that can be easily scaled dependent on the game type. So it has already seen a ton of improvements since it’s first inception on Need For Speed SHIFT to allow full dynamic shadow casting lights for truly terrifying night races, huge improvements to AI, physics, tire models, input etc.. Any new game features therefore can be considered as modules to plug into the engine that is already capable and prepared for it.
The Reticule – Has it been a challenge to implement the dynamic day/night and weather systems?
Andy Tudor – Work on these systems is due to start soon and the key thing is always considering the final emotional response from the player whether it’s “Wow, that looks real” or “Jeez, it looks like it’s gonna rain, better pit in next lap”. Getting this emotional response is the biggest challenge, otherwise you’re just making either pretty graphics that don’t have any functionality or something that works but doesn’t look very good. Technically of course there are some hurdles on the render side and some changes to the pipeline on the art side but it’s something we’ve thought of doing on previous projects and so are pretty prepared for it now.
The Reticule – Is Team Management limited to single-player, or will it be something you can organise Clans around?
Andy Tudor – Team Management in Career means hiring AI teammates as your second driver, communicating with your team via Pit2Car radio in races, and managing your career via the calendar (choosing which events to attend, balancing practice times with exhibition events etc..). In connected game modes, Team Management means ‘playing with friends’ similar to clan/guild play with different people taking different roles, recruitment, communication, stat tracking and scheduling systems so people can socialize and play together in a co-operative and competitive way. When combined with the cloud-based network you can imagine your phone giving you a push notification that a teammate has changed the setup for your car that you’ll be racing in that weekend whilst another has applied your new sponsors decals to the front bumper. You can reply back thanking them, and organize a testing session that night to try out the new settings with one of your team acting as the crew chief watching your telemetry.
The Reticule – What platforms is the cloud social network going to appear on, and how will it differ on various platforms?
Andy Tudor – Wherever possible, data will be stored in the cloud allowing it to be accessed either in a web browser, mobile app, or anywhere you can log in to your account. So the only difference would likely be in navigation of all that data dependent on the device you’re using.