Codemasters talk F1 2010
The grid is full, the engines are roaring and it's almost time for the lights to go green on F1 2010. Representing Codemasters' first HD attempt at a Formula One game since they pipped Sony to the license a couple of years ago, F1 2010 has a lot riding on it, with a podium finish required to ensure the racer becomes a champagne-drenched yearly franchise. They clearly have high hopes.
So, with just a few short days before release, we sat down with senior producer Paul Jeal and chief game designer Steven Hood to talk about development, DLC and why F1 2010 will sell more copies than Gran Turismo... on the Xbox 360.
So, you are all done now and preparing to ship the game later this week. Was there anything that didn't quite make the cut? Anything you had to leave out?
Steven Hood: Always...
Paul Jeal: When we came up with the game design, we came up with what we want as F1 fans to be in the ultimate F1 game. So there's so much more that we want to expand on, to be honest.
We obviously spent most of our development effort on the driver's side; the weather, the handling, the A.I, the damage - there's room for improvement with all of them, but I think the biggest room for improvement is in the Live the Life' aspect. That was, rightly so, the secondary focus of this one, you have to get the on-track stuff right before you can even consider doing this.
The multiplayer options as well. Not just in terms of ideas that were left on paper. We had to leave things out that were taken on fairly well through the development cycle. There was stuff that we tried to introduce too late into the development cycle that just didn't work, too many bugs.
It's always difficult when you're working on a game, because you're always mindful of the things that just missed it by a week or two. We haven't deliberately left anything out, we've really, really, tried to squeeze in as much as possible.
You've said that F1 2010 won't have any DLC so that you can bring as much new content to F1 2011 as possible. Is that still the case?
Steven Hood: Absolutely yeah. There's such a short amount of time, as far as we're concerned, development-wise, to get the next game out. We don't really have the resources to be doing DLC as well. It would actually take away from the next game.
One of the things we've been very adamant about is, if we are going to do yearly updates F1 2011 will come out next year, so we don't really want to dilute that. We don't want to update with new tracks and new drivers, we want to put a ton of new features in there as well. If we start doing DLC, which can at times be a bit of a minefield. Plus, some things we want to do at the moment, we might have a few problems licensing-wise.
So if we can't really do the DLC, we wanted to put all of our focus into the next game. That's not to say that we won't update this current game, we may well do that. But not with the traditional DLC sense.
Ok, so what, title updates but definitely no DLC?
Steven Hood: Perhaps.
Ok, so you are committed to annual releases? How long do you have the license for?
Steven Hood: At the moment we've got the license for 2011. I think we're in negotiations about 2012. I personally would love to see Codemasters - if we can keep building on this every year - as a FIFA-type yearly update.
When we set out our ideas for Formula One in the first place, a lot of people said to us, What can you do in Formula One that is original?' There's shitloads of things that we've got ideas for, but it's a case of trying to get as much as you can in 2010 and update that with a bunch of new features in 2011. But I'd love to plan further ahead as well, and build towards the ultimate F1 game.
How much does the license cost?
Paul Jeal: Lots (laughs). That's the thing really. You have to weigh that up with whether there is an appetite for a yearly, which is partly down to us to make sure we give fans a reason to buy the next one.
It's slightly easy with football management games because by then your season has gone so far down the line and there's been so many player moves. You look at next year in F1 and we've got one extra race, there will be a handful of driver moves, but I imagine it would be fairly static. And if you look at 2013, there's all kinds of talk about diesel engines and turbos and all sorts of crazy things.
I think we can definitely plan for the next one and have a few ideas for what we'd like to do with the one after. I certainly think it is something that would work as a yearly franchise and it's something we would very much like to do.
So what pressures does a big, expensive license bring?
Steven Hood: I think the main pressures come from the fact that you have to adhere to all the sponsors and the brands.
At times that can be complicated, because you have to constantly prove yourself throughout development. If you built a Ferrari that was going to be licensed, the sponsors have to be in the right place, on the driver's helmet and the gloves, all this kind of thing has to be perfect.