Interviews// Stephen Hood - F1 2012 Creative Director

Posted 9 Jul 2012 17:33 by
Games: F1 2012
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.

SPOnG: 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.

F1 2012 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.

SPOnG: Tell us about this new weather effects you're added, I understand they're localised around each track.

SH: In '10 and '11 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.

SPOnG: 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?

SH: 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.

SPOnG: How granular are the driver assists? Can you make F1 2012 a full blown sim if you wished?

SH: 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.
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Games: F1 2012

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Albert 10 Jul 2012 12:49
I would still prefer rFactor if you don't make it more a race simulation than an arkade game. You should take good examples from iRacing, it is one of the best race simulations out there. People who like the races would prefer simulations rather than arkade games.
leedrummer100 10 Jul 2012 13:28
@Albert you didnt read what he said at all did u????????
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GT86 10 Jul 2012 13:54
Yikes he cant be very good at iRacing if he struggles to keep it on the road, its piss easy to drive around in iRacing, its when your on the limit that it gets hard, as it should be. In 2011 you could do stupid slides keep your foot in it in 6th gear through a bend and counter steer and be fine, its ridiculous. This is seriously the last chance im giving these guys,,,
Lucas 10 Jul 2012 14:43
Seriously? You're not going to have PS3-Vita integration because 'it's not fair to other system users.' I'm sorry but I'm 100% sure Sony didn't spend millions of dollars on a new handheld only to be told, 'Oh yeah we're not going to have integration between the PS3 and Vita because it's not fair to xbox users.' No thanks, if MC aren't happy about it they can make there own handheld.
Mark 10 Jul 2012 14:47
They've already had their last chance with me. I won't buy it until it's completely bug free, if it isn't they can stick it where the sun doesn't shine. I already wasted money on the first two games.
Seb 10 Jul 2012 16:25
@Lucas you own a PS3 & PSVita don't you.
Mike 10 Jul 2012 17:48
@Lucas Think of it more logically, they'd need to put a fair bit of investment (time, money and resources) into developing a feature for only 1/3 of the user base. That way it makes literally no sense. Don't get me wrong I can see why it would frustrate you if you have a Vita/PS3, but there's no use crying over something you never had in the first place...
.42 10 Jul 2012 17:52
GT86 and Mark you can both shut up and stop being so judgmental if you don't want to buy the game don't. Codemasters are the best thing to happen to F1 games ever. F1 2011 and 2010 are really good games and 10000 times better than what Sony and EA where making before. there not perfect but nothing ever is and we have too high standards now. people aren't happy unless they find something wrong to complain about. its so easy to bad mouth on the internet but try doing a better job yourself then if your such an expert.
UGX Racesimulator 10 Jul 2012 18:26
Will be waiting for it !
Callum B 10 Jul 2012 19:32
Renan 15 Jul 2012 00:07
@leedrummer100 he didnt haha
JAFO 15 Jul 2012 16:32
@.42_ You play racing games with a gamepad dont you. We understand why you like there games now
CR 18 Jul 2012 12:44
2010 game is way better than 2011 in terms of handling and realism. 2011 is basically dumbed down 2010 and seems they are going to dumb it down further and release 2012 game totally dumb so kiddos can play with the controllers. You know what? I'm out.
Unless they improve frame rate then I'd get it just to have fun with good looking racing.. but it won't happen. Frame rate is going to be s*** and handling just awful. There is only one way to find out... Ah, and seeing what they have done with Dirt in Showdown, there is a high chance that only playable F1 game will remain 2010.
Mika 18 Jul 2012 12:52
@CR yes, it should count as a criminal offence what they've done in Showdown and then called it a DIRT:( Colin McRae must have turned around in his grave!! Thats a sacrilege to rallye as a sport. Its obvious Codies now aim for preschool audience and spat on core gamers who actually earn money and buy games.
Murphy 19 Jul 2012 23:02
how can you take a developer for a current rules F1 game seriously when he is not be aware that there is no refueling aloud in F1!!!!

I'm racing around 10-15 laps and while I'm doing that I'm trying to judge how the tyres feel and what the fuel consumption is. On laps 16 onwards I'm trying to see when I have to pit and at what point I have to refuel.
hardcore racing fan 20 Jul 2012 12:11

You stupid or something? F1 2010 had the worst arcadish handling ever! 2011 was much better, and hopefully 2012 will be same or even slightly better sim still. Also, racing 2011 on a pad with no assists (as I do) takes about 10 times the skill you need to apply with a stinking wheel, so shut the f*** up. Hopefully Codies attention to pad usage level things up a bit. Most people - even the hardcore racers - are on pad.
NoAssistsRWD 24 Jul 2012 13:53
@Murphy Pre-season testing and practice/quali allows refuelling...
l Blue Cheese l 18 Aug 2012 01:21
End of the day u all slag codemasters off about what they are trying to do, make a great driving game, 2010 n 2011 have been the best games for f1 ive ever played. So Thank you to codemasters that have put F1 back on our computer screens :D
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