Project Cars Wii U: Director Talks Graphics & Gamepad In Full Interview
Project CARS will run in 720p 30fps on Wii U, utliise the Gamepad and feature more environments than Gran Turismo.
NowGamer spoke to Slightly Mad Studios creative director Andy Tudor about the upcoming crowd-funded Wii U racer ahead of its release on Nintendo’s console and PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 later this year.
(Note: Screenshots in this article are from the PC version of the game).
What are you hoping to achieve with Project CARS?
As with all our games, it’s to continue breathing new life into the racing genre; keep innovating in that space, providing new experiences, refining existing features, and striving ever more for perfection. So specifically for Project CARS that means breaking the mould on the traditional ‘grinding for cash’ mentality that so many games seem to have.
“It’s providing breadth in terms of the motorsports on offer rather than just concentrating on a single one, giving players freedom to choose their own path through career, going 100% on weather, time of day, and pit stops to have them truly impact the gameplay and be presented in a stunning way, and – as you hopefully have seen evidence of already – to be the prettiest racing game ever.”
What advantages does crowdsourcing the game bring? What challenges does it create?
“The instant advantage is that the game gets greenlit! It may sound silly but even with our pedigree in racing games, and as other developers have been finding too, the expectation of getting a new game (especially a new IP) off the ground is not always guaranteed so being able to put your idea out there and have a mass of gamers think it’s cool and encourage you to make it with financial backing is a huge advantage.
“Then, once work starts, being able to communicate with those gamers directly through our WMD platform on a day-to-day basis means we’re constantly reminded who we’re making the game for rather than sitting in a meeting room talking to people in suits.
“To then see that passion from the community manifested in them creating fan sites, taking beautiful screenshots, and editing cool trailers off their own back is heartwarming and greatly appreciated.
“Of course, it also means there’s a great responsibility on our shoulders though to make sure we listen to those gamers and ‘steer the ship’ amidst threads upon threads of comments and suggestions and that is where creating games in full public view is challenging but by being transparent and honest I think we’ve done pretty well so far.
Crowd-sourced games are becoming increasingly widespread. Why do you think that is?
“Simple – you get the resources you need to make the game you’ve dreamed of, you find out there are people out there that also want to play that game, and it’s free from external interference – it’s just you and your team making a kickass game for people that are paying you to make it.
Which console will host the best version of the game?
“Sega Mega Drive without a doubt – the game really pops in 16-bit ;-).
“Honestly, each has their own advantages: the PC will always benefit from the most bleeding edge processors and graphics cards but the Wii U has brand-new ways of interacting via the Gamepad, and the PS3/Xbox 360 versions continue to push those machines to their very limits whilst hooking in to already-popular systems like PSN and Xbox Live. So no one single platform wins I’m afraid!
About the Wii U version specifically: how will the graphics compare to the game running on other consoles?
“We always prefer to aim for 30fps generally in order to keep gameplay-specific features like having more cars on track or better weather effects etc.. so that’s standard across all consoles, and we’re more likely to utilize the native 720p support of the Wii U for launch especially since our physics and rendering systems demand a lot of processing power in order to deliver a truly next-gen experience.
“All you need to know is that when you get the game, it’ll look and feel amazing and you’ll want to show it off to your friends.
What was it that attracted you to developing for Wii U?
“Seeing the announcement video and then getting hands-on at E3, the gamepad just screams new innovations for gameplay and is a perfect match when thinking about using the gyroscope as a handheld wheel like in Mario Kart Wii and showing data on the screen such as a map, telemetry, speedo, or rear view mirror. When you couple that with Miiverse functionality and community it’s a no-brainer.
Which racing games do you draw inspiration from for Project CARS? Gran Turismo and Forza? In what ways?
“We keep a watchful eye on the competition but it’d be the wrong approach to use them as inspiration as you’ll only ever be a copycat doing that.
“Instead we draw our experience from every game we’ve ever played from every genre.
“You can see that in our first Need For Speed SHIFT game where the depth of field that appeared at high speed was inspired by Call Of Duty’s iron sights, the disorientation effects when you crash were like a grenade going off in Gears Of War, and the career unlocked by earning Stars which was kinda like Rock Band.
“For Project CARS, the career is inspired by a calendar like you might see in Madden NFL, whilst the flow for a race weekend takes direct inspiration from one of our classic titles GTR2. So we draw inspiration for everywhere really.”
What are you looking to do differently to GT and Forza to improve on those games?
“Both games are encyclopaedias in terms of how many cars and tracks they have and it’s a game of Pokemon to grind cash to catch them all.
“Our ethos is more sandbox – all the cars are unlocked out of the gate. Pick the style you like, jump into career, and opportunities will unlock based on your success on the track rather than how much money you have in the bank.
“So it puts the emphasis back on the racing and the feeling of being a driver. Gameplay is the thing that evolves, not cars.
“There’s also a bunch of things in terms of handling, AI, lighting, weather, and social connectivity that we think are a step above the competition.
How many cars/tracks will you have in the game? How deep will customisation and tuning go?
“Although we don’t play the numbers game, Gran Turismo has 27 locations in the game currently, we have 35 all with full day/night cycles and dynamic weather, plus a dedicated Test Track where players can test their vehicle’s performance on hill climbs, slaloms, banked oval sections, and drag straights.
“In terms of customization, all cars can have their own unique livery and the WMD community are making some beautiful ones currently!
“They all have individual tuning setups too that are save-able to either individual tracks or groups of tracks and you can control fuel strategy, tire choices, asymmetrical setups, and all sorts of other stuff making it extremely deep and rewarding for anyone that puts the time in there to shave seconds off their lap times.
Do you think there is still a demand for sim racing games outside of the ‘big two’ titles?
“On PC, there’s a steady trickle of new and updated racing games whether that’s iRacing 2 or Assetto Corsa or SimRaceway and in some ways we’ve gathered those individual fans under the banner and ethos of Project CARS so there’s definitely a passionate audience out there.
“On console the spectrum is much wider with games ranging from fantasy (Mario Kart, Modnation Racers) through arcade (Ridge Racer, Outrun), and action (Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Motorstorm) so there’s definitely an opportunity there and a demand for a realistic racing title like Project CARS that also includes elements of those sub-genres in terms of presentation, feature set, and accessibility.”
Stay tuned to NowGamer for all the latest Project CARS coverage leading up to release.