Interview with Project CARS

Editor’s note, 24/09/2013: this article has recently been picked up on the NeoGAF forums. I would like to clarify that it is actually about a month old, and was published by Sensible Nintendo (which became Sensible Gaming about 2 weeks ago) and was republished due to technical problems.

Nintendo consoles aren’t exactly known for authentic racing games. Indeed, they have been conspicuous by their almost total absence on both the GameCube and the Wii. Aiming to change this record is Project CARS, a new game from Slightly Mad Studios (developers of the Need for Speed: Shift games) which has drawn as much attention for its unique community involvement model as its gameplay.

While much attention has been lavished on the PC version which the community can play, Project CARS will also make its way to consoles next year, including the Wii U. Creative director of Project CARS, Andy Tudor, kindly took the time to answer some questions about the game.

Slightly Mad developed the two Shift games for EA which were fairly successful. What inspired you to go it alone with the community?
“Simple – after working on two of the biggest racing franchises there are (Need For Speed and Test Drive) we wanted to develop own own IP with Project CARS. However, getting the financial support from a publisher was quite challenging despite our long pedigree in this genre. This is understandable when considering the economic climate of the time and the then-unknown quantity of when next-generation consoles would appear so we were not alone in this respect.

“Although in its infancy, Kickstarter and Indiegogo were gaining momentum as viable ways to get your projects off the ground whilst also providing some way to actually engage with the community that were backing you. At the time though, a combination of Kickstarter not being available in the UK and it not matching our needs in terms of the level of communication possible with the community necessitated us creating our own system – the World of Mass Development – where gamers can not only fund the project, but play it straight away, talk to the team, provide feedback, and ultimately earn money dependent on its success.”

Do you see Project CARS as a rival to Forza and Gran Turismo, or are you aiming more for the “hardcore” PC sims like rFactor and iRacing?
“Forza and Gran Turismo are the ‘household names’ in terms of realistic car games – high standards in terms of the sheer amount of content, compelling features, and presentation but not as accurate or as in-depth as online-focused sim racers like rFactor and iRacing.

“Project CARS offers both therefore… the power and authenticity of a sim racing game mixed with the accessibility and features you’re used to seeing in a console title. And on multiple platforms too!”

What kinds of cars and tracks can we expect from Project CARS? Will the focus lean more towards racing cars or road cars, and is there any bias between European/American/Asian tracks?
“Location-wise we’re covering a large portion of the Earth 😉 There are some gaps still in Canada, South America, and South Africa that I’d personally like to fill but we’re truly a global racing game with tracks, roads, and cities represented across the US, Europe, South East Asia, the Middle East, and Australia!

“Car-wise, the clue is in the name – we cover a wide variety of vehicles! There are GT cars which are the ‘superhero’ versions of road cars like the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, touring cars, stock cars, open wheel cars (both modern and classic), LeMans Prototypes, track day cars like the BAC Mono and Ariel Atom, supercars like the Pagani Huayra and Gumpert Apollo, ‘everyday’ cars like the Ford Focus RS, and even karts!”
Are there plans to release DLC for Project CARS?
“The level of which we talk to our community during the development of Project CARS feels very familiar to that of an MMO… there’s a continual back and forth with the actual people that are playing our game and giving us feedback on it and we respond accordingly with new patches, builds, and content. So when it comes to DLC it feels appropriate that we break from the usual ‘season pass of four packs that appear throughout the year’ and instead continue the MMO analogy by using the core game as a platform from which new content can be added thereafter.”

Moving onto the Wii U version, what kinds of opportunities does the Wii U provide for racing sims that other systems do not?
“The controller makes all the difference really. The ability to use it as a gyroscopic steering wheel, your track map, your rear-view mirror, your telemetry screen, an input device for changing your pit strategy, menu navigation etc.. that’s where you’ll be seeing the unique, enhanced experience that the gamepad offers over the standard Microsoft and Sony controllers. Gamers concerned over the digital triggers shouldn’t be – you can play Project CARS with keyboard keys that are inherently digital and we do input filtering to mimic the same effect as a pedal or analog trigger.

Do you see a market for Project CARS on Wii U, even though there have been comparatively few driving sims on Nintendo systems over the years?
“Absolutely – the Wii U is a cool machine and players haven’t really had a Forza or GT equivalent on a Nintendo platform in quite a while so we’re set to provide one for all those fans out there that are after something a bit more realistic and mature over the usual fantasy or arcade racers that appear.”

Will the Wii U version of Project CARS support third-party steering wheels such as those made by Logitech and Thrustmaster?
“I’m not quite sure how widely used either are to be honest but we’ve always tried to ensure proper wheel support for players in all our games so it’s something we’d definitely look at.”

When will we see screenshots and/or gameplay of versions other than PC? Obviously the development model is different from the PC version, but I recall it being said that the various versions are being developed simultaneously and it would be interesting to see how they compare to each other.
“All our screenshots and videos that you’ve seen so far have been created by the community and therefore you can trust that what you’re seeing is exactly what is in the game and hasn’t been doctored in any way. When we show images from the Wii U version we know they’ll come under heavy (and justified) scrutiny from the fans next to the PC version so if you can bear with us just a little longer we hope to make it worth the wait.”

Finally, is there anything else you would like to share with people looking forward to the game?
“We know you’ve been waiting quite a while for Project CARS and from the whole team we appreciate your patience. We’re approaching our 2nd Anniversary in October and comparing the game today to that very first build we released they’re almost completely different games! A dynamic day/night cycle! Weather with lightning! Pit stops! Pit 2 Car radio! Oculus Rift support! A sandbox career! A meaningful variety of car types! Hundreds of options allowing you to dial the experience to your level of challenge! Time trials, weekly events, qualifying sessions. ghost leaderboards! Car setups! 4K gaming! The Stig and Nicolas Hamilton consulting! Second screen support! A podcast! Completely re-written tire model, physics, feedback , and particle systems! 50,000+ videos on YouTube! 10,000+ screenshots! And of course, the world’s largest development team present in the WMD community members. So thank you to you all – Project CARS has always been a game created by racers, for racers, and we hope you love it when you get your hands on it.”

Once again, I would like to thank Andy and the Project CARS team at Slightly Mad Studios for taking the time to answer these questions. If you would like to find out more about Project CARS, you can visit their website.