This week I was lucky enough to visit the Codemasters Studio in Birmingham where developers are putting the final touches to the new F1 2012 game, due out next month. We recorded an interview with Creative Director Stephen Hood which you can hear in the next JA on F1 Podcast next week.
This is the third year of Codemasters producing the official F1 game and with a new contract in the bag going forward the developers have been able to stretch their legs a little.
There are some interesting new features on the game, including Champions’ mode – a section that reflects the record six world champions in the field, details like being able to adjust the brake bias (you see the driver’s hand come off the wheel and move a lever like on the on-board camera shots), localised weather and a Young Guns test, where the basics of driving an F1 car and how to use things like DRS and KERS are also explained. Part of this is going to be available as a free demo, something Codemasters haven’t done before.
So what’s new on the game? “We have made a game that sits between arcade impressions and racing simulation,” says Hood. “We are trying to make a game that really represents the sport when you watch it on TV. This year we are trying to get people that are still afraid of F1 and racing simulations;people that don’t know anything about DRS and KERS. Sometimes I think the hardcore community think we are trying to dumb down the game or turn it into an arcade game, but the commentators on TV are always explaining these things and that’s what we are trying to do. It’s more of an accessible game.”
Codemasters are very proud of the physics of the game, they model the tyre performance, temperature of the track following another car’s dirty air, aerodynamic effect as downforce increases with speed. They have also modelled some of the tyre wear characteristics of the 2012 F1 cars, so the Mercedes is heavier on its rear tyres in the race, for example, while the Sauber is lighter on its tyres.
“We look at the talking points of the season and one of the advantages of coming out later in the season is we can reflect that,” says Hood. “We’ve played around with that, so in effect each of the teams have their own characteristics: front tyres wear differently to the rears, different bias on different teams, for the true F1 fan who wants to play the long races and experience the sport as it is this season. So that if you are driving a Sauber and you are behind a Mercedes, you know that you can run longer than him. That’s the kind of attention to detail we are trying to incorporate all the time.”
One of the new features of the game is of course, the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Check out the site later when I will be posting a video of Stephen Hood and I driving and talking through an on board lap of the Austin track. A mixture of elements of Turkey, Silverstone and Korea, I think fans will be quite impressed.
* Look out for the next JA on F1 podcast, featuring the Codemasters interview, later next week.