The Russian Gamestar website recently held an extensive interview with Slightly Mad Studios’ Andy Tudor, the Creative Director behind the WMD-powered Project CARS title.
The interview touched on several topics such as realism in Project CARS, the decision on community-fund the title and more as Andy explains how the WMD platform works and why it is superior to other sites like Kickstarter.
What additional features/elements of true realism in Project CARS are designed to satisfy and pleasure hardcore simulators fans?
There are simply too many to mention to be honest since our attention to detail covers all aspects of the project. On the cars this addresses the insane level of detail we have on each beautiful machine — even down to individual nuts & bolts and suspension springs. On environments you could look at the localized weather and 24 day/night cycle we have that no other game is coming close to currently. From the player experience perspective we have a freeform career mode that throws away the usual grind-for-cash mentality entrenched in most racing games and puts the focus back on the driver and all the opportunities that a real driver has. Handling, physics, and AI we have the most dedicated community in the world giving us feedback on these systems and testing each iteration week in week out until we get them perfect. Specifically for hardcore players we want to ensure everyone’s race rigs work perfectly — that means wheels, pedals, multi-monitors, force feedback etc., and that’s something that we continue to address as new hardware comes onto the market and more testing is done with the latest builds of the game.
Could you please name the major reasons Slightly Mad «escaped» the publisher to develop games independently, with the help of the audience?
Even with the racing pedigree of the team and our titles, getting a new game greenlit by a publisher (any publisher, and any team) is still a lot of work. Even though your concept may be fantastic, there are any other number of factors that may stop it from getting off the blocks: the amount of money needed, the title not fitting into a particular publisher’s portfolio, inability to guarantee a window in the market for the intended time of release, marketing and distribution costs, etc.
When we came to thinking about our next project after Shift 2 Unleashed it just made the most sense to look to the actual gamers for support especially since we wanted to launch our own IP with Project CARS; it would get us greenlit and funded much quicker, and in return we would invite the actual gamers themselves to join in and make the project alongside us with a true collaborative spirit just like the mod community that the company was built around back in the day. So it was a natural evolution really and brought the team back to their roots in many ways.
Can you say WMD is a Kickstarter rival? Why?
Well the WMD platform is better than Kickstarter in a number of ways… Kickstarter is a one-way donation service where generous people pledge money to projects and sit back and hope it gets completed. Project owners might do blog updates or video updates (although they’re not required) but the power is all with the people that received the money.
With WMD all our people that ‘pledge’ are treated as fellow ‘project members’ (to put it in the similar terms). So they can see the project being built from the inside rather than just relying on the info that is pumped out to them — you can get on our forums, talk with us, ask us questions, vote on decisions, and create content yourselves! So no need to wait until the end of the project or rely on blog/video updates as to how it’s going.
Right now you can watch cars being made, then download them, drive them, and give feedback on how they look/sound/feel. There are also a core group of exceptional screenshot and trailer creators that show our game off to its best off voluntarily since you can also play the game right now through regularly-released builds and get to know your fellow community members.
We also offer incentives just like Kickstarter (called ‘Perks’) but we go one step further with ‘Fees’ which are our way of thanking team members for their involvement in the project as a monetary return based on the success of the title. So those things combined make for a strong community, a healthy relationship with the kind of people that play our games, and ultimately lead to a strong game being created by the fans for the fans.
To your mind, how seriously (in the perspective) can WMD pump up the audience’s interest directly to the process of development?
I got into the games industry because I loved playing games and there are tons of people out there who are similar but already have a career in another sector and would love a chance to have some input (however big or small) into a game or genre they love.
Yeah, it’s hard to get people excited about, or understand, certain processes that there are in the games industry but that actually makes us reflect on those processes ourselves and question why they are like that in the first place. Other things however have a natural attraction like discussing the shape of a car or are easy concepts to get across like how menu navigation should work in the game. But generally, we originally put out the Project CARS concept doc when we started, people were interested in the idea and joined us and day-to-day the forum is extremely active with members talking about all aspects of the game without being forced or prompted to do so.
Externally, the ethos we would always say is: «Ever wanted to make a game? Well here’s a game idea we’ve had, if you think it’s good too then come along and help us make it.» and we’d hope there’d be a bunch of people that find that exciting and want to do so either in a casual way by just playing the game or in a more pro-active way by writing bug reports, giving continual feedback, voting on important decisions, and generally being an evangelist for the game.
Do you consider the possibility that some of the «Tool Pack» buyers will interfere in the process of Project CARS development in the negative way? If «no», then why? If «yes», then how do you plan to «fight» such «wreckers»?
Obviously there’s no screening process when you first join, but the forum is self-policing really. Every forum is going to have trolls and flame wars but it’s up to the community, the moderators, and ourselves to keep things in check. The forum is in essence our workplace so as long as you treat it as such everything is fine.
In terms of affecting the direction of the game though, we have polls and voting methods to determine important decisions so that’s handled democratically. Purchasing a higher Tool Pack means your voice will be heard more, but it doesn’t mean you’re right all the time;-)
Make sure to check out the full interview here.
Project CARS is coming to the PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii U in late 2013. More info can be found on the WMD website.