Codies see evolution and escalation as a pivotal parts of GRID 2's race day experience. And we're not just talking about the obvious transformation of your garage from grimy basement tinkeryard to sleek, high-tech showroom, either.
Tracks have distinct evolutionary states dependent on your fame and wallet. Don't expect stands full of spectators in GRID 2's early hours: the roadsides will be empty. The bunting and the crowds only start to appear once you've built a reputation.
We had a chat with executive producer Clive Moody, who talked us through the all the changes and improvements being made for the sequel.
We've seen three DiRT games since GRID's launch. Why has GRID 2 taken so long to make?
When we started talking about what we wanted to do it was pretty clear that we needed to spend more time developing our technology. When the first game came out we were actually pretty inexperienced in terms of 360 and PS3 hardware.
There's been a huge number of racing titles that have been and gone since GRID, but I don't think any of them have really captured that key point about racing games: the action on the track and all of the drama around it. We're desperate to bring that back now but at a whole new level in terms of fidelity and levels of immersion.
What must a car or a track do or be to earn its place in GRID 2?
I'll begin with the cars. Aspirational, for starters. Cool. A car you would want to get in in real life, put your foot down and drive at the limit. Every car we put in the game is very, very carefully picked and it's picked for a purpose.
Tracks are interesting because GRID 2 has a wide variety of circuit types. We've got a number of elements we look for when determining what street circuits go in. We want cool, iconic locations where there are elements recognisable to the gamer, because they really help seat the track in reality.
The roads need to be places where you could imagine they would section off a strip and turn it into somewhere for racing cars. I could see them doing that with the California coast - it's a cool place. Ultimately, fun's important. You'll be surprised at how many tracks we throw away in the course of production because they just don't work or function well.
How real are your real-world locations?
They're surprisingly accurate. When we're researching, one of the early activities for our level designers is looking at a 2D top-down map and superimposing what a circuit might be using the existing road network. Then there are the landmarks; the points of interest. To try and make it work - as cities are big - there will be a degree of cutting and pasting at a light level. We might, say, take out a couple of blocks that don't offer anything from a gameplay or visuals point of view.
You're going to hand some circuits their game debuts. Surely there must be a reason they've been ignored in the past?
When you look at racing games based around tracks there are all these internationally very recognisable, classic circuits - of which we have very many as well! - but that's as far as they look. There are a lot of racetracks out there that haven't necessarily made it to the international stage yet but play and race brilliantly. We spent a lot of time researching to find out what are the up-and-coming tracks for the absolute best racing action. We've cherry-picked those as potential superstar tracks of the future.
What have you learned from the last few DiRT games?
A huge amount - I barely know where to start! Making games is a continual learning process. DiRT Showdown in particular taught us a lot about multiplayer. We looked at a lot of stuff in terms of asynchronous multiplayer and lots of those learnings are then going to be folded back into what we're doing with GRID 2. But it's not just our games that we learn from. We analyse and play pretty much everything that is out there to death.