A lot's expected from Colin McRae DiRT 2 and senior executive producer, Gavin Raeburn, is confident the final game will live up to the target renders the developer's dishing out at press days.
When announcing the game you said that the decision to continue using McRae's name was made jointly between his family and Codemasters. Has his family had any input or contributed to the game's development at all?
Gavin Raeburn: Colin's death was a huge loss to us here at Codemasters. We have worked closely with him on the McRae series of games for 10 years and we considered him a friend. The decision to continue using Colin's name was made jointly between Codemasters and the McRae family.
His ventures into events such as the X-Games, Dakar Rally and the Race of Champions have inspired us to look at events covering the extremes of off-road motorsport. This is where we're taking the series with DiRT2 and Colin will play a part in that. DiRT2 will be a great tribute to an incredible champion.
It must be an honour to see his name live on in what many consider to be the best rally game around?
Raeburn: We certainly hope Colin would be proud of where we're taking the series.
How has working on this game been different to previous ones, that McRae would have been involved in? What's the mood like?
Raeburn: The most obvious thing to change is that Colin hasn't been to the studio this time, and we've really missed his contribution and his enthusiasm. However, we learned a lot from him over the years and we have an experienced team who know what they're doing. The mood in the team now is great - we see this game as a tribute to Colin and are dedicated to doing the best job possible.
You put out some "target visuals" with the original announcement. How confident are you that the final game will match them and are you aware of the backlash in waiting if you don't?
Raeburn: Target visuals are just that. A goal for our team to try and achieve, which I think we did with DiRT 1 and GRID. DiRT 2 is no different and is already by far our best looking racer to date, putting both GRID and DiRT 1 in the shade.
What has the EGO Engine allowed you to do that that couldn't be done in previous games and how will we see this in gameplay?
Raeburn: DiRT 2 is actually running on the third iteration of Codemasters' EGO Engine proprietary technology, whereas DiRT was the first generation. As a result, there are many improvements that have been made to DiRT 2 over DiRT. We made key improvements to the EGO engine during the GRID project which lifted the quality of the game to a level we were very happy with.
The development team have learnt a lot from the development of GRID, and have strengthened massively in their ability to get the most out of the hardware, notably pushing SPU usage on PS3, improving multi-core performance on Xbox 360 and adding PC specific features and technology.
In DiRT2, we're building on these changes to the engine, adding more physical modelling of the environment, improving lighting and shadowing, water physics and we're broadening the use of our streaming system to allow much higher texture detail. Overall these changes mean we are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the hardware as much as possible, and we're confident in our ability to lift the quality bar again.
You promised the game would bring with it "new social features". What can we expect from this?