??F1 2010???: The Formula 1 game made by F1 fanatics (Interview, Part 2)

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

Here’s the second part of my interview with the men behind the new official Formula 1 game.

They explained how F1 Fanatic played a role in the creation of “F1 2010″, why Anthony Davidson told them “rFactor” isn’t realistic enough, and what they’ve got planned for “F1 2011″.

F1F: One of the things I noticed playing the game just now is how detailed the handling model is – for example, you can really feel the difference between the option and the prime tyre. A lot of work seems to have gone into that.

Steve Hood, senior game designer: It’s one of the things we were really eager to get it to differentiate ourselves from other racing games.

If you play a “Gran Turismo” or “Forza” people are doing those three-lap races where they’re kind of sprint events. But one of the things you always find in Formula 1 is that drivers have got different styles. We always use Hamilton and Button as a comparison.

Button always seems to maintain a really good pace throughout the race, he’s under the radar in many races and he picks up towards the end because he’s maintained his car. We want to do that in the game as well.

So, for example, you can pick the prime tyres at the start of the race when everybody’s going for options so you’ll be faster at the end. Trying to extract those cool things in Formula 1 and making a game-play element out of them is important.

If you know about Formula 1 and watch it on TV and you know about the difference between the tyres, you can create your own strategies and that can give you an advantage.

Paul Jeal, senior game producer: Lots of work has gone into tyres in terms of their temperature ranges. We’ve got a lot of data from Bridgestone on their grip value and their fall-off and their life.

I think we’ve probably made a little bit more of a difference between the options and the primes – because I was hoping their was going to be more of a difference in real life.

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

F1F: So there aren’t drivers doing race distances on soft tyres like Vettel did on Sunday?

PJ: Yeah, absolutely, doing the entire race is crazy!

It’s the same with the cars as well we spent a lot of time on the base model of the car handling to get that as good as possible. But then we want subtle differences between all the cars which is nice to get.

I think when Steve and Anthony [Davidson] were in one day driving at Monaco and they drove the Red Bull, and then the Lotus and the HRT, and there was about a five-and-a-half second difference between them. And that was really pleasing.

And the cars’ behaviour is slightly different. Some guys prefer the Red Bull, some guys prefer the McLaren, the Renault seems to have a really nice feel – it’s a good all-rounder.

SH: I really like the Force India, for example. When you know the different car strengths for the different circuits, that’s quite good online as well.

I was playing with some guys the other night and they were only running with the higher teams’ cars. But then one of them had to go in a Sauber and you could hear him moaning over the headset saying he couldn’t get the car to turn into the corner and how it was under-steering everywhere and he had to use the front wing flap to get it to turn in.

Stuff like that is cool. And you end up modifying your driving style to get the most out of a car.

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

F1F: How far have you been able to go with the damage model, and are you restricted by a need not to make the sport look unsafe?

SH: We certainly had grand plans for the damage model. I don’t think we’ve quite pulled it off with the first one.

It can be extremely complicated and extremely detailed. We’ve got the scope for doing that in 2011.

Certainly one of the things that we’re not allowed to do is promote the fact that the cars can be destroyed: say, gouging a hole in the side so you can see the radiator and go down to the shell of the car. We’re not really allowed to promote that.

Sometimes it’s a bit frustrating because people are interested in the damage model and we want to put all this stuff out there. But we haven’t developed it as much in 2010 as much as we would have liked to. So I think that’s certainly something we’re going to be building for 2011.

PJ: It’s quite a delicate conversation, actually. Around the time we went in to see them about it there’d been some wheels coming off and there’d been a death in one of the junior formulae [Henry Surtees in Formula Two]. It’s a quite difficult subject to approach.

And also you’ve got the fact that it is a game and you don’t want your rear wing to get smashed quite as easily as they do in real life because that’s race over.

One of the things we were working on which didn’t quite make it into this game was reliability gremlins creeping in – maybe you get stuck in gear, maybe you lose a cylinder and have to drive defensively.

We’ve still got that in terms tyre strategies and maybe you dial your revs down. The AI do it as well – so, say Hamilton’s got a 20-second lead, he’s going to ease off. Which makes it better from a gaming point of view because he’s not racing off into the sunset. But also it’s what he actually would do in real life to conserve his engine – until you get within ten seconds of him or so, then he’s going to speed up again.

SH: All the damage aspects feed back into the physics engine. For example if you damage a front wing endplate or something you’ll have slightly less front downforce.

I think the casual player won’t actually notice that. But if you’re really consistent and doing lap times within a couple of tenths of each other then you’ll notice that difference.

And it plays on your mind, you worry about it. You think “how far can I push it now” and “do I need to compensate by turning the front wing up?” That sounds massively geeky but I love it!

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

F1F: What kind of input has Anthony Davidson had – where has he stepped in and said “you need to change this”?

PJ: He’s been brilliant as far as I’m concerned. Not only is he a gamer – he plays racing games all the time – he’s driven the cars and many of the circuits.

He’s able to say to us “you know such-and-such that happens in this game, they’ve got that completely wrong, and everybody thinks that’s really hardcore”.

He helps up massively because when we’re working on something he can say “I can feel this happening in the car now” and we might say “oh, we didn’t think that would come through” and then we can tweak it further.

He’s a great person to bounce ideas off, he’ll come in every couple of weeks and point us in the right direction. When we asking “should it be as easy as this or as difficult as that?” we can get a definitive answer from him. We don’t have to constantly research things or make second guesses, we can just ask him.

SH: That’s the thing with the public perception with games like “rFactor” – because they’re hard to play, everyone perceives that it’s an accurate simulation.

But if you speak to Ant, the F1 cars in “rFactor” are more difficult to drive than they are in real life. So he was keen to help us get an authentic experience.

We would never have got to the level of car handling we’re at if it wasn’t for Ant. But the thing that excites me the most is that for a large part of this project a lot of the car handling stuff was being totally rewritten from Grid. So at that time we weren’t maximising Ant’s potential.

But now it’s all there and operational we’ve had great benefits since February or March where it’s started to come together. Ant would be in every other week, spending all day saying “change this, change that, do this, do that”, getting the set-up right, getting all those kinds of things.

We have to evolve everything forward for the next one ["F1 2011"] and then we can make some pretty big gains relatively easily next time because we won’t have to re-write huge modules.

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

F1F: One of the great things I noticed playing it just now, which I hadn’t experienced in an F1 game before, is how difficult it is to see where you’re going at Monaco.

SH: Yeah – with Monaco you have to get into this rhythm where you know what’s coming exactly where you are. Because otherwise you just don’t get the lap times.

You can see how the drivers have to lean on it around the track just to get a time out of it.

Very early on in one of the versions we had I remember Ant driving around using the cockpit view. There’s some little rumble strips against some of the barriers just to remind you you’re getting close to the barrier and he rode those on every lap – it’s really annoying, actually, that he was able to do that first time out!

PJ: He did a lot of work with us on developing the cockpit angles. In the end raised them marginally for game-play purposes because when you see how low they really are it’s hard to play like that.

On a lot of the stuff he would tell us “No, stuff doesn’t come at you as fast as that”. People’s perception is that at 215mph at Monza everything’s come at you like you’re in a rocketship. Even at Monaco now he still thinks it’s a fraction too fast.

SH: I certainly think that the drivers become accustomed to the speed and we wanted to get the player accustomed to the speed as well so they’ve got time to concentrate. They can think about what they’re going to do tactically, how the car is performing, what the other guy is doing, is the weather changing and so on.

I want them to be thinking about that so that you can play out these stories during the race. It’s not just about doing the qualifiyng laps in the race.

PJ: It’s about consistency, really.

One of the things I like about your website in particular is you do lap time comparisons. That helped us with the artificial intelligence.

I think it was Kimi R??ikk??nen I was looking at whose lap times at the start were just bang, bang, bang consistent right up until his pit stop.

We compared that with one of the rookies and he took maybe six or seven laps to get up to speed and in those few laps he lost 15 seconds or so.

We’ve seen Anthony play it, we’ve seen Lewis Hamilton, Adrian Sutil and Sebastien Buemi play it, and they just get in and they’re hypnotic with their rhythm. Ant did six or seven laps within a tenth of a second of each other around one track and you just watch them thinking “that’s it, we’ve got it”.

F1F: OK last question: the radio voice. Is it Rob Smedley?

PJ: No, it’s not…

F1F: Really? It sounds an awful lot like him.

SH: No but he does sound like him.

When we were looking at it we didn’t want to do TV style-commentary we wanted to do engineer-style commentary.

We wondered if we should do a Pat Symonds-type, quite technical voice [this is accompanied by an impressively authentic "OK, Fernando" delivered in Symond's distinctive accent] or should we have someone’s who’s like your best mate – and we went for that.

F1F: But he doesn’t call you ‘baby’ at any point?

PJ: No, he doesn’t call you baby! We were dying to get something about the white visor in there but we decided against it.

F1 Fanatic will have a detailed, multi-format review of “F1 2010″ early next week. In the meantime, please post any questions you have about the game in the comments and I’ll try to answer them there or in the review.

Read the first part of the interview here: ??F1 2010???: The Formula 1 game made by F1 fanatics (Part 1)

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Buy Formula 1 2010 for PC DVD

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“F1 2010″ by Codemasters

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154 comments on ??F1 2010???: The Formula 1 game made by F1 fanatics (Interview, Part 2)

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  1. Really looking forward to this. Particularly because of Ant’s input.

    Bitterly disappointed that yet another F1 game does not allow truly realistic damage. Not just fragile wings, but also the opportunity for real race ending crashes.

    I actually worked on Virtua Raving at Sega in Japan. We used to setup the arcade cabinets in networks of 16 and play full length 70 odd lap GPs (in our breaks of course).

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th September 2010, 10:34

      Oh you can definitely end your race with a crash, I can confirm that…

      • Ha! I am sure. :)

        It’s just that it would be nice to have the possibility of Kubica or Webber style crashes (just referencing the ones freshest in my memory).

        Not looking for gore, or death and destruction.
        But for them to carry the realism all the way through the simulations dynamics. Both from minutiae (like graining, and bad gear shifts, broken but manageable car problems) up to cataclysmic events (like out braking your self and flipping because of contact with another car at speed).

        I am going to love this game anyway. It would just be nice to one day take the physics to the same level as the awesome eye-candy. Or at least have the option to do so, for fanatics!

        • Well just maybe they are getting things like that into next years game :-)

          From what they say it sounds pretty good. Who would like knocking his front wing off at the first kerb on the first lap out?

      • M just glad Codemasters took over formula 1. From the day I played Dallara Formula 3000 in “GRID”, which is made by Codemasters, I’ve been praying that Codemasters makes Formula 1! M just glad it’s finally happening. I still have it installed on my PC. I still try to beat my lap times in the F3 car on the SPA track! :-)

        • I must admit, after playing GRID, and hearing that CodeMasters had this contract I was quietly excited. Despite the more arcadey feel of GRID you could tell the guys doing the game love racing.. even then.

          • Uncle Bob said on 18th September 2010, 9:30

            You’re joking, Grid was awful.. Pure arcade, not even a patch on the previous Codemasters Racedrive games. However, these guys seem to be able to talk the talk. Fingers crossed!

    • Tony Johnson said on 17th September 2010, 23:25

      This just shows how it can be done, using passionate people, working for a proven publisher and involve Ant Dav, we are so lucky to live in this day and age guys n girls!

  2. Sorry.. Qs:

    Would love to know just how much damage is possible.

    How tire degradation etc. affects handling and so on.

    Just how smart are the AI cars at the first corner? That was always pretty crap in the last PS3 version. Like going into a corner with 16 Sato’s (in their first year of F!).

  3. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 17th September 2010, 9:24

    One of the things I like about your website in particular is you do lap time comparisons. That helped us with the artificial intelligence.

    There you go, Keith. You can say you helped develped F1 2010. Very awesome.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th September 2010, 10:32

      Paul said before the interview he reads the site – I said he was just trying to get an extra point on the game score!

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 17th September 2010, 11:22

        I actually think it’s an incredible achievement on your part, Keith. I don’t know that much about programming software, but I do know that when it comes to games, artifical intelligence is one of the most difficult things to program. As an example, Grand Turismo 4 is one of the most in-depth racing simulators around, yet its artificial intelligence is of pretty low quality. Not because Polyphony Digital skimped on the build, but because it’s such a difficult thing to program. That the blog has provided all of the lap times for every race this year is no doubt an excellent starting point for Codemasters.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th September 2010, 11:34

          The AI on GT is shocking – in the last versions, anyway. Hopefully they’ve sorted it for version 5. But it is more of a driving than a racing game.

          • Codemasters have always been really good with their racing game AI, right from the TOCA Touring Car games in the mid-’90s. The AI and damage modelling in Race Driver: GRiD was absolutely brilliant, even if the car handelling was dialled-down and arcadey.

            Really looking forward to this game.

          • sato113 (@sato113) said on 17th September 2010, 12:44

            good AI is not new however. Look at TOCA 2: touring cars from 1998, on single player if you move out to overtake, the car in front will also move out to defend.

            and there were also mistakes from the AI out of your field of sight. and this was more than a decade ago!

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th September 2010, 22:30

            and there were also mistakes from the AI out of your field of sight

            This is definitely in “F1 2010″.

        • Yea, I agree. Props to Keith on the awesome site….and on getting us involved with the comments on the game!!

    • Igorilla said on 17th September 2010, 11:03

      Now demand your reward, Keith. You helped them, after all.

  4. Hamish said on 17th September 2010, 9:24

    Have to sort something out between us and maybe have a series coinciding with next years season (bar India).

    Good rundown Keith

  5. Chris P said on 17th September 2010, 9:28

    Fantastic set of interviews Keith. Made me want the game even more! Even taken the day off on Friday next week to collect my pre-order from Asda!

  6. Dr_Jones said on 17th September 2010, 9:34

    I’ve been to Singapore GP last year & compared to their computer renderings is almost exactly what I’ve seen from the real thing! (atmosphere, lighting, details…) Hope I can get a copy of this game – looks very promising to me. :)

  7. christopheraser said on 17th September 2010, 9:46

    I doubt this game will get close to rfactor for realism. Codemasters do a good job of making arcade style racers like Grid and all the Racedriver games. I know rfactor is dated and lacks weather effects, but when your talking about the physics of how a race car works then rfactor has it in spades. For anyone thats seen Red Bull’s simulator, that is made using rfactor.

    I have pre ordered the game and hope that they get close to what rfactor offers from that perspective, but I am not holding my breath.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th September 2010, 10:21

      For anyone thats seen Red Bull’s simulator, that is made using rfactor.

      I think you’ll find that’s just the ‘public’ simulator, which they show to the media and which appears in their race preview videos. They also have a ‘private’ simulator which they do their real development and testing work on, and I doubt that’s running rFactor!

      • Omegaz3ro said on 17th September 2010, 10:49

        I know there’s a rFactor “pro” version (http://www.rfactor-pro.com/) which is supposedly more realistic.

        Surely teams aren’t using the “average joe” version, but I don’t exclude they’re using simulators customized upon rFactor Pro.

        Are you aware of any insider information about that, Keith?

      • sato113 (@sato113) said on 17th September 2010, 12:46

        it might run fractor’s engine.

        • Alastair said on 17th September 2010, 12:51

          I think it’s an evolution of the GRID engine. Certainly the flash back thing on the vid looks just the same. Hope so, as the racing on GRID was great.

      • Wificats said on 17th September 2010, 14:26

        I think that I read that rFactor Pro is almost completely different from rFactor, but that they share a graphics engine, because graphics aren’t the important bit in that kind of high-end simulation and so they used it so they could save time and develop the underlying sim.
        Something like half of the F1 Grid use rFactor pro simulators now, so there’s obviously some serious power and customisability behind it.

      • christopheraser said on 17th September 2010, 15:41

        I should have siad rfactor pro. I am 90% sure that is what they are using.

    • rFactor is a good engine for racing simulation. But it doesn’t mean that it’s a simulation close to reality as all F1 cars you drive are “mods” made by fans that have no F1 experience.

      The Red Bull simulator uses indeed Rfactor… but it’s made by an actual F1 team which works with real data collected on track, professionnal drivers.

      On the other hand, fans can make cars that “looks” like the real ones, but they cannot reproduce how the real cars react on the track.

      So yeah, I believe Steve Hood and Anthony Davidson when they say that rFactor F1 cars are not realistic

  8. Well I can’t wait to see your feeling on the game next week before I buy it. I wonder if they managed to solve the “first corner problem” realistically, it is always a bit of a difficulty for game developpers it seems (either a massive number of cars go out or they all stack up very nicely and slowly, and you can overtake 10 cars way too easily).

    Oh and a small question, sorry but i have to ask : are you paid for these reports etc… (apart from the free game version) ?

  9. Christian Biddon said on 17th September 2010, 9:48

    I am thinking that we need to set up an F1 Fanatic championship. 1 for PC, Xbox and PS3. :-)

    Pre ordered this game 2 weeks ago on Steam and have now preloaded it. I can’t believe it is on my hard drive and I can’t play it for a week.

  10. themark said on 17th September 2010, 9:55

    The only thing I wish you had talked about Kieth was hardware. A lot of us are planning to run this on our PC’s and you know those publicity shots are maxed out renders. I would honestly like to know what is a good median for running this before I buy it.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th September 2010, 10:19

      I think you’re best off testing to find that sort of thing out rather than asking. I’m sure one of the PC websites does that. I will include details on the specification of the machine I test it on in the review.

      PS. ‘E’ before ‘I’ :-)

    • Visit http://www.systemrequirementslab.com/cyri/

      They already have test up for F1 2010. You can see if you meet the minimum specifications and the recommended requirements aswell. It’s obviously based on what they have from codemasters, and is likely not 100% accurate, but it’s a good way to get a general idea of how the game might run.

  11. giorgio said on 17th September 2010, 10:03

    can’t wait for it! already pre-loaded on steam, and i just got off my Playstation 1, i had Formula1 game on it. epic! :)
    Q: career mode, how does it work? we got to go through all practices? and qualifying: we qualify or its just automated/randomized?

  12. i dont think i’ve ever been more excited about a computer game before, i really like how they’ve made the cars handle and act differently.

  13. Jonesracing82 said on 17th September 2010, 10:31

    i wonder if for “f1 2011″ they could have the 2010 season cars as well so u could do 2 seasons and in “f1 2012″ have ’10 and ’11 cars etc?
    also, an F1Fanatic championship league would be awesome, maybe for the off-season?

    • There’d probably be some licensing issues there but, in theory, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to do it. I mean, they’ve got the cars and drivers for this year, so surely they’re allowed to re use them in future games? A career mode with cars and teams that change would be awesome!

  14. Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 17th September 2010, 10:36

    I have to say that I pre ordered this game purely because it’s an F1 game – I expected to race a couple of seasons, tire of it and leave it sitting on my shelf until a few years later when I got the urge to recreate Alonso’s victorious 2010 campaign… ;)

    I have to say though that this sounds brilliant, they’ve put a lot of thought into everything rather than just making some cars faster than others and leaving it at that. That said I will miss the amusement of old F1 games though (Once while racing at Interlagos on F1 2002 Alex Yoong led Mark Webber home in a Minardi 1-2)

    Can’t wait for this to arrive!

  15. Alastair said on 17th September 2010, 10:38

    I WAS really excited about this game. Now not so much:

    “I don’t think we’ve quite pulled it off with the first one.”
    “We’ve got the scope for doing that in 2011.”
    “But we haven’t developed it as much in 2010 as much as we would have liked to.”
    “ certainly something we’re going to be building for 2011.”
    “we can tweak it further.”
    “We have to evolve everything forward for the next one”
    “I’m certainly not saying we’ve done that in out first iteration.”
    “We’re going to have to move our car handling forward”

    What is this, a BETA, or a fully developed game?
    Think I’ll just wait for next year when it’s done properly!.

    • Jarred Walmsley (@jarred-walmsley) said on 17th September 2010, 10:54

      No, all they are saying is that they haven’t gotten it to the uber version that they want, considering that this is their first effort there are bound to be things that they need to change or improve.

      Remember that they had to build everything from scratch this time round, tracks, cars, etc… whereas next year, they will just be able to modify and so will have more time to develop better things

      • Alastair said on 17th September 2010, 10:56

        Yeah, I’ll probably buy it anyway. Codemasters have always made the best racing games, TOCA, TOCA2, GRID etc. TOCA2 in the fog round Thruxton remains the most intense racing I’ve ever done on a console!

    • You have to remember that they need to release one of these every year. Its not like other game developers who get between 3 and 10 years to develop a game.

      I play rFactor all the time and its interesting to hear from him that rfactor is harder to race than in real life. I just hope they have not dumbed down the game. I enjoy rfactor because I can change almost every single thing in the cars setup. There are around 30 different suspension settings you can play with for example. I hope this game dosnt just have “Soft, medium and hard”.

      The whole point of F1 is getting the setup right and we are never going to get it perfect if we only have a few settings to play with.

      I’m also sad to read that there is no mechanical failures.

      • I’m gonna go on a limp here and say that this is due to the license. Presumably, teams and manifacturers don’t want their cars to break down in-game. Just like there are only 12 cars in MP (one of each team) so you can’t ram a teammate. Same with the pitstops that only require you to use the pitlimiter, brake and accelerate, so you can’t run over your pitcrew in GTA-style.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th September 2010, 13:21

          From talking to them I got the impression that’s not the case and it’s something they want for future versions of the game.

          • Alastair said on 17th September 2010, 13:28

            Regardless, this game is going to put my marriage seriously at risk ;-)

          • All the better! Bernie-phobia got the better of me :D

          • Chippie (@chippie) said on 17th September 2010, 18:17

            I hope they don’t put breakdowns in the game, or a future one. F1 2000 would sometimes just stop your race for no reason, telling you your engine broke down and it always felt like you’d been cheated. Games are supposed to be fun.

          • @Chippie If implemented correctly breakdowns could be a good feature. For example:
            Say you sustain damage early in the race and without attention to the affected area (a pit stop), the damage could would propagate and potentially prove terminal ending your race.

            However, having a race result decided by…

            rand() % 24 + 1

            …is not my idea of fun. Although from the way the developers have accounted themselves in this interview, I think they will implement it correctly.

          • Chippie (@chippie) said on 18th September 2010, 0:47

            Good point, and I could see how this could be applied to wings and tyres, even side-pod radiators (Thank you Vettel). However I’m thinking engine failure, like with Hamilton at Hungary, I’m sure a pit stop wouldn’t have fixed his problem. Perhaps a decent compromise would be where you suffer minor engine failure (Vettel-esque) which is difficult, but not race ending.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 17th September 2010, 14:14

      What is this, a BETA, or a fully developed game?
      Think I’ll just wait for next year when it’s done properly!.

      It’s a fully-developed game and will doubtless be done to Codemasters’ usual exacting standards of quality. But they’ve clearly found that they could not include all of the features they had intended to add with the EGO Engine. There simply wasn’t enough space for it all. Codemasters are believed to have a new engine under development, one that F1 2011 will be able to use. Especially since most of the work in scripting AI and circuit data will already exist.

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