F1 2012 is the third F1 title in as many years from Codemasters. The first two have been well received, with only the major flaw being the number of bugs found in each release. I spoke to Stephen Hood of Codemasters, who is the Creative Director behind F1 2012 about how this third F1 title is shaping up compared to its predecessors.
What is the most significant change between F1 2012
and last year's title?
Stephen Hood (SH):
The most significant change is a brand new visual style to the game. When you think about the money in Formula 1 and the technology, some of the set-ups the teams have are amazing. Some of the headquarters are visually stunning.
So, we've themed the front end around that this time around. We still have the cinematics such as the pit crew running out during pit stops. It's more like a TV presentation.
This suits the spirit of the game as while we're not trying to attract the casual gamer, because that makes it sound like we're trying to simplify the game, we're trying to say that where F1 2010
and F1 2011
were appealing to people who had a passing interest in the sport, with F1 2012
we're saying if you like racing games you're going to like this.
isn't scary because we're going to hold your hand from the beginning. So, right from the start of the game when you fire it up, we go from the introduction sequence, which is commentator David Croft talking about drivers testing in Abu Dhabi, and then the player testing (will be) over a period of two days in game time.
Then we're showing the player what the basic controls are: this is how you drive the car, do some simple tests then from that point forward we assume that you're past the basics and you can go into front-end play whenever you want.
Or you can continue into Day 2 to do far more advanced tests that will teach the player about the tyres and the different compounds, for example. The better you do in Day 2, the more decent contract offers you will get from teams.
The player is basically unlocking elements of the career mode so that there's a reason for Williams wanting you because you have done well during the Day 2 tests. You can drive back into these tests to get better scores and hence better contracts as a result.
Tell us about this new weather effects you're added, I understand they're localised around each track.
weather was pretty good, probably ahead of most racing games. In F1 2012
we have localised weather, so if you're on a different part of the circuit to another player - in the middle of the track when they're approaching the first sector - you might have storm clouds crossing, which are dropping water and making it wet over time. The other player's section of the track might be dry.
So, now instead of changing tyres at the same time, both players know the track's getting wet in some locations but remains dry in others. So, you have to figure out whether you want to change your tyres or stick with the ones you have. It's a gamble and it makes the racing more interesting.
You have addressed accessibility to the game before, could you expand further on that as we're sure you're trying to expand the appeal to the game?
In terms of accessibility, we're really not trying to simplify, we're trying to make it so that we've put a lot of time working on the controls for the game-pad. This makes it easy for the player to drive consistently with a game pad.
One good test of this is watching people play and they go round and start to get into a rhythm. They get a bit faster, and faster, which is helped by the improved suspension model we've created for the game as it reacts to the track a bit better than before.
It's now giving us that feeling of what F1 2010
had, which is where players could attack the high speed corners with the down force in confidence.
Having said that, the suspension did feel too rigid, so we tried to fix that in F1 2011
, but made it too light at the back. Now what we've got with the suspension is that the car is very stable at high speeds, allowing the player to throw it around the track, but when the speed drops then the player is relying on the mechanical grip of the car's tyres and this has them locking up as you slow down and emitting smoke.
How granular are the driver assists? Can you make F1 2012
a full blown sim if you wished?
We've never tried to make a game like iRacing
, where you're spending 99% of your time just trying to stay on the track. Our F1
games should not be that as most people should be able to start the car and complete the circuit, not crash at the first corner.
The better drivers are separated by a few 10ths of a second, not by minutes. We do want players to enjoy lapping in the car, get to a certain standard and then start using DRS (Drag Reduction System) and KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems). We've added brake bias into F1 2012
and players can modify that. It's the tiny bits of time that separate the good from the average player.