Previews// Gamescom 2011: F1 Online

Posted 26 Aug 2011 17:50 by
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F1 Online is a browser-based F1 management game. It's split into two sections. There's the driver element where the player takes the role of an F1 competitor that drives for a team through a season. Then there's the other section - the management side of the game. This is where a player can start from scratch a brand new team in a fictional version of F1.

The first section is the racing mode that comes with a variety of types, such as full Grand Prix weekend where qualifying for race position for the main race occurs. Other types include quick races that are limited to three laps that last around 10 minutes.

The racing is presented via a top-down view, with the car being controlled by the mouse. The player essentially drags the car around the track, with the distance the cursor is away from the car determining the speed it is going at. This sounds fiddly, but it is actually very intuitive.

The management side of the game is very customisable, thanks to the player having to create a team from scratch. Everything from car liveries to the racing suits and helmets their racers wear can be altered in some way.

As the player progresses through the game they can extend their base of operations, which starts out as a relatively modest affair. The expansions include larger R&D facilities and improved manufacturing tool-shops.

The game will be Free to Play upon its release with premium items such as liveries and progression acceleration being the most common draws on your cash.

The game has been developed using the Unity engine, which can run full blown 3D games within a browser window without the need of a separate client. The assets from the console and PC simulation game have been used in the development of F1 Online: The Game. This has saved them some time, but has required them to draw in elements not required in the simulation title such as roofs to buildings.

Having had a look at the game, I caught up with Michael Rowland (Producer) and Tom Gleadall (Lead Designer) for a few quick questions.

SPOnG: How have you found working with the Unity Engine?

Michael Rowland: The people at unity have been very supportive and have done a lot to help us create the game.

SPOnG: Have you considered making this game for tablet platforms?

Michael Rowland: It?s something we have been looking at, but for now we are focused on the browser as the primary platform for the game.

SPOnG: Other than the sharing of graphical assets from the F1 2011 simulation game, are there plans for any other integration between the two titles?

Tom Gleadall: It would be great that some time in the future there is some further integration between the two games, but at present it?s not something we have designed into the game from the offset.

SPOnG: How is the game going to be funded, seeing as it?s a free to play game?

Tom Gleadall: All of the content is going to be available for free. There are no tracks or cars lock away behind a pay-wall. What will be charged for are things like convenience and vanity items, such as super special liveries that can only be bought from the in-game store. For convenience items we?ll offer rate of progress shortcuts for a small fee.

Michael Rowland: We have a lot of experience with micro-transaction models. We have released MMO?s that support a similar model such as RF Online, Archlord, Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. We?re pretty comfortable that we have quite a bit of experience over the last five years or so on what works and what doesn?t.

SPOnG: Have you taken any inspiration from iRacing on what they have done and are doing in the development for F1 Online?

Michael Rowland: I was chatting to someone from Turbine about iRacing and I haven?t actually seen the game, so no not as yet. But we will certainly take a look at it.

SPOnG: The build you?re showing here doesn?t have much in the way of brake-lines being shown on the track, will that be addressed in the final game?

Tom Gleadall: What you?re seeing here is very place holder in status and more work is being done to address the prevalence of brake-lines. At present there is the issue of corners creeping on the player so we?re looking into way to address that. One solution we?re reviewing is small icon warnings like you get on rally games that tell the player what kind of turn is ahead.

SPOnG: What about the number of players? Are you going to have the full racing line up for online multiplayer?

Tom Gleadall: We have been working on this a lot in the studio. We?re looking to support 12 players at launch with the possibility of increasing that to 24 at a later date. It all depends how it plays really.

SPOnG: With this game being browser based, it must be running off of a server, correct?

Michael Rowland: We have a data centre in Amsterdam where Lord of the Rings Online used to run from. So we are using that to run F1 Online: The Game.

SPOnG: Good luck with the game, Thank you for your time.

F1 Online is due out in Q1 2012, with close beta sign ups currently being sought right here.
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