This year's entry in Codemaster's F1 series marks a change in pace in more ways than one.
First and foremost, F1 2015 is the series' PS4 and Xbox One debut, and benefits from the use of an updated version of the company's Ego Engine.
And while this let Codemasters make a more graphically impressive game, this isn't all the firm has done with the move to the new formats.
You want a certain amount of power dedicated to securing a high frame rate and driving experience, but we really wanted it to be a visual showcase for next-gen as well,” game director Paul Jeal says.
But I can't begin to explain the uplift we've had in the car handling model, the complexity of the physics. And the AI is much more natural and human-like. We didn't want to just port across what we had done before and give it a bit of a facelift, but really re-build and take a much bigger step onto the new platforms.”
The fact that F1 is finally coming to the newer machines will surely be good news to fans disappointed by F1 2014, which was only available on PS3 and Xbox 360. But Jeal says he has no regrets about last year's title being on the older hardware.
It's fair to say that the transition speed from old gen to new gen took us by surprise in terms of how fast the uptake has been,” he says. When you're planning a project well in advance of the consoles even being available it was the right decision at the time, and I still strongly believe that it's still the right decision.”
F1 2015 is also coming out far earlier in the year and – more importantly – earlier in the F1 season. Last year's F1 2014 launched in October, just as the races were coming to an end, while F1 2015 is coming to stores in June.
It's a much more sensible window for us,” Jeal insists. The season's barely started yet. We've still got the huge races like Silverstone and Monza to come. That can only be good for us.
We have clear statistics that show that engagement with our product is so higher on live Grand Prix weekends. Multiplayer lobbies are full of people playing the game at the same time as the Grand Prix. This earlier release will generate more sales and interest.”
"June is a much more sensible
release window for us. The F1
season has barely started."
Paul Jeal, Codemasters
This game has also benefitted from a longer development time. Before F1 games were normally made over a 12-month period, but F1 2015 began development in 2013 so the team could get used to the new tech. And Jeal says he'd like to have longer to make F1 games in the future.
We wanted a long run-up on it as we were getting up to speed with the new tech and trying to understand what we had to play with,” he says.
We weren't trying to rush. Going forward, I'd love to cycle teams in a similar way to Call of Duty. That's going to enable us to get more into a product. But for now, it's about trying to maximise the development time. Stepping onto the new consoles is a huge unknown. We're the first Codemasters team working on that, and we've gotten right in with the technology as well as the game. We really needed that two-year run-up period.”
Next year, Codemaster's ownership of the F1 game rights runs out. But Jeal is confident that the firm will secure the contract once again.
Contracts obviously include dates, but we're always in discussions with the Formula One Group,” he explains. We have a razer-sharp focus on F1 as a part of our portfolio.”
He concludes: We're discussing what we can do next year and beyond in terms of existing F1 products and perhaps adding something new to our F1 portfolio. It's an on-going partnership that we want to continue.”