Interviews// Ferrari Challenge - Interview with Producer, Mark South

Ferrari Challenge – Interview with Producer, Mark South (cont'd)

Posted 14 Sep 2007 17:39 by
SPOnG: Another thing that?s very clear is that Mark Cale is both a Ferrari Obsessive and a passionate gamer. He?s not like your usual CEO of a games publisher?

Mark South: As he will be the first to happily admit! [laughs]

SPOnG: I would imagine he?s very hands on with Ferrari Challenge, he?s very passionate about his likes and dislikes relating to games and gameplay.

Mark South: Yes, very. He gets very involved. He?ll come down and play a lot with the team and will always offer straightforward, constructive advice and criticism ? in terms of, ?This needs to be better? I like this? Can we do this?? Always very specific things he asks for and always with the aim of making the game better, so we?re always happy to do it.

Having that input is vital, as is Mark?s own relationship with Ferrari. To get this together simply would not have happened without that relationship. To get car damage on Ferraris to happen, that was a real achievement.

SPOnG: Yeah, how did you manage that?! That must have taken some doing? I heard it took six months of hardcore negotiations before Ferrari agreed to having car damage in the game.

Mark South: Well, I wasn?t privy to the details of the discussions. But I think they eventually realised that having car damage is pretty much what you need to do in racing games right now. Especially when you see the actual Ferrari Challenge Series, those guys smash their cars to bits. Then they line them up after the race and a guy comes over from Ferrari and says, ?Okay it?s going to cost you this much to fix this, this and this?, and then hits them with a bill! [laughs] I mean, we didn?t want to do that in the game, but it?s part of the realism of a Challenge race that they beat the cars up. And that?s part of the fun.

At the same time, we made a decision that we didn?t want the in-game car damage to effect performance, which is a common question we get asked. We made this decision purely because it doesn?t help a bad driver, so you just get worse and you lose the race and you don?t enjoy the experience. But visually, it?s cool.

SPOnG: What cars and tracks are in the game? What will be coming as downloadable add-ons in the future?

Mark South: At launch there?s going to be 22 cars in the game: a mixture of Ferrari Challenge cars, like the 355, the 360, the 430 Challenge and the GT cars - like the 450GT I was just talking to Malcolm about. There are also production cars like the 599, the 575 and there are also the older historic classics in there as well.

The plan is then to release four to five cars every month as downloadable content. Mark?s plan is to have every single Ferrari available in the game, so if you are a Ferrari enthusiast or if you just love the cars, you will be able to get them all. All 270-something of them, I think there are!

This track [indicates Mugello behind us] is in the game of course. We?re using all the tracks from the official Challenge Series, so as well as Mugello there?s Misano, Monza, the Ferrari test track, Fiorano and in the rest of Europe there?s Hokenheim, Spa and Franchamps. There?s also the North American Challenge Series as well which is Virginia International, California Speedway, Homestead, Infineon, Montreal and Mont Tremblant. All the licensed tracks that are used in the series are used in the game.

When we launch the game we also plan to offer Monaco as a downloadable track, even though it?s not actually part of the Challenge Series. But it?s a cool track, which we want to do at night.

We are very aware of where our game sits in the market, so we want to offer something that is kind of specialist. Obviously we?ve modelled all the interiors, we?ve got the side mirrors working, we?ve recorded as many engines as we possibly could have to get the sounds right. We have just done what it takes to get players to believe that they are sitting in and driving a Ferrari. So, we have the authentic tracks, the authentic cars and we go back and forth to these guys [indicates Ferrari mechanics in the pit] on handling. We?ve spent around a year now, just making sure we have the handling model spot on. It?s nice to see it all coming together now, finally, after all this hard work.

SPOnG: How detailed are the in-game cars?

Mark South: At the moment, in-game, the cars are around 300,000 polygons - and around 800,000 polys for the cars in the virtual garage.

SPOnG: What?s the process of capturing that model?

Mark South: Well basically the model is built from scratch from a wire-mesh. Amazingly, in terms of car approvals from Ferrari, they came back to us straight away with approval and told us they were the best models they?d ever had from anyone, which is almost unheard of.

SPOnG: What about the process of actually capturing the tracks?

Mark South: There are a number of different processes here. We use satellite data images, video-footage taken directly from the in-car video-cams like we?ve done today to ensure we get the braking points right and using the in-car camera to get all the data reference points we needed for the game. We took around 700,000 pictures of tracks. Terabytes of image data! It was a four-man team basically going on lots of trips, with four cameras. They snap all day, then get up again and do it again the next day. But it was entirely necessary. With about eight people working on each track, it took us around fifty days to properly recreate each track in the game.

SPOnG: Brilliant! Thanks for your time today, Mark.
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ozfunghi 15 Sep 2007 19:14
This interview shows what Wii owners can expect. Other than in the opening sentence, the platform wasn't once mentioned. Expect a watered down port, made as a sideproject to fund their expensive PS3 engine.
need4speed 16 Sep 2007 19:56
This seems like the kind of gaming experience a true Ferrari aficionado like myself can really sink his teeth into. Especially if these thoroughbred machines do get a bit banged up.

Looks like a whole lot of research went into this production. If Mark put half the virtual automotive realism and driver "feel" he spoke of into this game, I know I'll be hooked...
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whiny wii wii 16 Sep 2007 22:22
what do you expect for the wii version?
wii is a gamecube on proplus so its always gonna get lame ports cuz its got decade old hardware.
with an over rated controller that few devs have a clue how to exploit maybe ppl will finally see wii for what it is - a one trick pony that is the flailathon party game
ozfunghi 17 Sep 2007 20:22
whiny wii wii wrote:
what do you expect for the wii version?
wii is a gamecube on proplus so its always gonna get lame ports cuz its got decade old hardware.
with an over rated controller that few devs have a clue how to exploit maybe ppl will finally see wii for what it is - a one trick pony that is the flailathon party game

Wow, a troll that doesn't even have the balls to use his true account. Shocking. A one trick pony? Okay, buddy. What exactly would be the one trick? Metroid Prime 3? Super Paper Mario? Dewy? Mario Galaxy? No More Heroes? Manhunt 2? Mercury? Or were you referring to that pony game by Ubisoft? Lol.

I bet if we go back 2 years, this is exactly what you said about the DS, mirite? I'm laughing my ass off, knowing you're probably reaching boiling point every time sales data get released, and Wii is ridiculing PS3 and 360, and more and more devs start restructuring their development spendings towards Wii. Maybe then people will start seeing the HD systems for what they really are: lastgen experiences with pretty graphics. OMG! T3h Biaz!!!
kitkat 18 Sep 2007 14:50
what can i say.....awesome, awesome, awesome! Just the work alone involved in such a game! I commend Mark and the team.... can't wait to try it!
scorpion 18 Sep 2007 20:36
before you get too excited about this, ask yourself why he only mentions one previous game.i guess they are not too proud off big mutha truckers or pimp my ride or any of the other lame ass games before that,i may be wrong though but i'd keep it in your pants for the mo.
RiseFromYourGrave 20 Sep 2007 12:20
i think youre right about the wii version ozfunghi. theres a chance that even with the minor focus theyve given the wii version, it still be good if the ps3 version is hot, but i wouldnt expect decent wiimote implementation. it wouldve been a massive deal getting the wiimote to feel right with all the different ferraris, he wouldve mentioned it if it had been done well
Rappin Dazza J 2 Oct 2007 15:11
Your comments about Wii are incorrect. Ferrari Challenge really pushes the envelope on Wii with a dedicated engine - you cannot port from PS3 to Wii. There is nothing else like it on the market and it is every bit as impressive as the PS3 version considering the hardware. Don't take my word for it - check out the features in the UK's Official Nintendo Magazine for an un-biased opinion.
tyrion 2 Oct 2007 16:42
Rappin Dazza J wrote:
Don't take my word for it - check out the features in the UK's Official Nintendo Magazine for an un-biased opinion.

Heh! Paid for by manufacturer magazine, un-biased?
matt 30 Jul 2010 10:15
no the wii is an evolution of gamecube its so much more powerful u are stupid to think how u think factor 5 said that the wii can do every game out there with his engine ect and at higher frame rates wii can do HDR/AA as found in darkside chronicles and MH3,ps2,gamecub,xbox could not do HDR/AA/MOTION BLUR without faking it wii can do it at 60fps with 16 texture passes and programmable shaders ect so now your stuff before chatting rubbish
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