This morning Codemasters unveiled F1 Race Stars, its racing spin-off described as "a fast-to-the-fun arcade racing game for all ages featuring." To coincide with the unveil CVG managed to get a few questions to the game's senior producer, Chris Gray...
How does F1 Race Stars fit in between your existing racing portfolio and 'sim' F1 releases? Which audience is it for?
It's 'Formula One for everyone' is the quick and easy answer. It was very much our vision from the outset to create an F1 game that everyone could enjoy, be that kids, family and friends, or mates before and after the pub. The game has been built from the ground up to be a social multiplayer experience, but one that supports playing to have fun, not just to win. You only have to look at the trailer to see that what we're offering with F1 Race Stars is very different to anything we've done before.
Do you think the F1 was always crying out for a more accessible game tie-in?
F1 is by far and away the world's biggest motorsport with viewing figures that make your eyes bleed. Our F1 releases up until now have done well for us both critically and commercially, but there's a massive part of that audience that want more entertainment than simulation. Having the opportunity to take what is a serious sport, and turn it completely on its head with a playful twist - both in the visuals and the game play - has been great fun, and given us something that never fails to make people smile. More often than not, that usually means you're on to something.
Your tracks take inspiration from real 2012 Championship courses. Can you explain your design process?
From the beginning we knew the real layout of the circuits would not be suited to the type of game experience we were creating, so we used them as a starting point and then went crazy. You'll always start on the circuit and it was important we retained links to the original track; each has its own distinctive character, history, style of racing, famous landmarks and corners.
In addition, F1 is a globetrotting sport and so the identity of each country gives us even more material to draw on. All of these elements were fed into the design process, as well as giving consideration to what was needed to support the game play - such as wider tracks, plenty of shortcuts, jumps and other fantastical features - we've got loops, barrel rolls, extreme banked corners, corkscrews... loads more.
Drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso are said to have been "transformed into personality-packed heroes" in the game. How do you determine their character traits?
It's been a challenging process and it took a lot of preproduction time to nail the character direction, but the results speak for themselves - the art direction for F1 Race Stars is detailed and thought through to an incredible level; it's nothing short of the back work that goes into a Hollywood's studio big screen animation movie.
For the driver characters, a term we have used continually through development is 'toy-like', it was important to us that people had a tactile reaction to the characters - to have a desire to want to pick them up and play with them. We focused on the complimentary traits, while still being playful - rather than resort to caricatures, where we could easily have ended up with something quite mean and less appealing.
We believe we've arrived at a point where the F1 Race Stars drivers are really delightful while also being heroic characters too.