Project CARS 2 Articles RSS Feed | Project CARS 2 RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Finding Out Whats New in Project CARS 2 with Slightly Mad Studios COO Rod Chong Wed, 27 Sep 2017 16:26:56 -0400 ESpalding

EGX, the UK's biggest video game expo, has come and gone and during the event, we got to sit down with the COO of Slightly Mad Studios, Rod Chong, to discuss the release of Project CARS 2 and what changes have been made from the original game.

The Project CARS games are racing simulators designed to give players the best racing experience from a game -- hands down. Where the game differs from arcade racers is that players are able to customize and tailor the experience to their particular driving style. They can even modify their cars to deal with inclement weather and specific track conditions so that they are as prepared as possible to win any and every race.

The original game was released in May 2015 and received generally high praise, selling 1 million copies in its first month. But it became clear that there were many changes that could be made when developing a sequel, so we wanted to chat to Chong about what had been done to improve the game both aesthetically and mechanically.

GameSkinny: Many thanks for giving us this interview. Let's cut to the chase: I'm sure our readers and fans of Project CARS are eager to know what is new in Project CARS 2 -- so could you tell us?

Rod Chong: When we looked at Project CARS 2, we could have done something really obvious, which would have been adding some cars, some new track locations, and come up with one new feature. That would be the obvious thing to do, but I think there is a reason why we are called Slightly Mad Studios. We set ourselves a fairly big, ambitious project and one of the first things we came up with was a concept that drives a lot of game features, which we called Anytime, Anywhere.

GS: That sounds interesting. So, what does that mean?

RC: Well, the "Anytime" builds upon the 24hrs of lighting that we have in the game, with all the different track locations. They all have 24hrs of lighting and fully dynamic weather, which we did have in the original Project CARS, but to that, we added four seasons of the year now. So you can go back to any track and tell it what date you want it to be and it could be snowing or really windy. The thing to note, though, is that it is not just a graphical trick. That's a complete condition change. 

We've also added a feature called LiveTrack 3.0 which is a continuation of our environmental conditions technology. So, every track has a living breathing environment. Like I said, it's not just a graphical trick, it is a simulation of environments. The end result of that from a gameplay perspective is that the way you drive and what you experience when you are driving changes considerably with these changeable conditions.

If you're driving while it is daytime and you have accelerated time on and suddenly the sun goes down and you are driving in the dark, the track will get cooler and that will affect the way you brake. The way that you would have been driving around the track will shift. But that can go from anything from whether someone has gone off and pulled gravel onto the track to whether puddles have formed after rainfall. It affects all aspects of the game's physics and gameplay.

GS: It sounds like it's a never-ending learning curve, where you have to know how your car behaves in certain types of weather just to be able to get by! So what does "Anywhere" mean?

RC: "Anywhere" refers to the different types of surfaces that you can race on. With Project CARS, you raced on tarmac -- normal race tracks and a couple of roads -- but now we have ice racing, snow, gravel, dirt and again, they are all changeable conditions. Also, Rallycross is a new discipline, so if you are racing on a clay track and all of a sudden it starts to rain, the conditions change.

GS: Ice racing?! That's an interesting one! Other than the dynamic weather, how else have you gone about improving the realism of the game?

RC: We have updated the physics quite a bit so they are more realistic, but, at the same time, they are more forgiving. The end result of that is that it is more fun but you can also push harder and can slide the cars around in a more realistic fashion. If you decide you want to drift or if you lose control of the car, you can catch it and pull back harder meaning you can drive in a most aggressive fashion.

GS: And what about the driving system? Have you made any changes to that from the original Project CARS?

RC: We've made a lot of updates to the tire physics systems. The drive trains are updated quite a bit as well. We've made considerable changes to the environmental elements e.g., how the cars react to the rain. We've done a lot of work on that making it less of an ice skating rink now. You can now control the car in a more linear and expected fashion in the rain.

GS: One thing I need to ask is what have you done to make Project CARS 2 more accessible? I mean, I love racing games of any sort, but I'm not a driver, nor do I have much of an interest in cars. Am I going to feel daunted by a number of settings and variables you need to understand to make the experience more enjoyable? 

RC: We've tried to make a game which is wide in that it is a mainstream title, and is very deep. The thing we say to players is that they should spend the first 20 minutes setting the game up to their level. You can set it up so that it's relatively casual. Put on driving aids and steering help, etc. if you feel like you need a bit of a hand to begin with.

There are a lot of help systems which we feel make it more accessible. You can then turn up the AI in new ways. You can control their speed and aggressiveness separately. So if you want take things a bit easy, you can turn them right down so they don't bother you that much or if you want to really test how fast you can drive, you can turn their speed up but keep their aggression down so that they aren't trying to nudge you off the track etc. Our goal was to make it quite accessible.

I should mention that we put a lot of time into revisiting the gamepad controls. So, underneath the hood, it is still a full simulation but we've laid driver help on top of that and given players the ability to customize the game for their own experience -- whether it is casual or very serious racing.

GS: So to what lengths did you go too to get the cars looking, feeling, and sounding right?

RC: We spent a lot of time ensuring that the cars drive, feel, and have the characteristics of the real thing. To that end, we had seven racing drivers that were part of the development team. They come from different disciplines, for example, GT racers, Le Mans champions, a champion drifter from America, 2 rallycross stars -- one of which is an ice racing champion and one of the top sim racers in the World. They would drive the real cars for us and then test them out in the game.

We also asked all the car manufacturers to have their drivers test the game as well. We spent a huge amount of time scanning and getting CAD data for the cars, even getting technical data from cars as they went around a track which we then compared to data from in-game. 

GS: Are there any cars that you wanted to get in the game but for some reason couldn't?

RC: I think we did quite well. We are greedy people. There is always more that we want to do. We'd love to have every famous racing car ever made in the game but there are always production limitations. But we are very happy. We signed Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, and then there are a lot of people that are not interested in those brands, they are more interested in Japanese brands. So we got Honda, some Nissan race cars, etc. So we are very pleased. But, yeah, there are still a couple of brands that we want to get for the next game.

GS: Speaking of cars, what is your dream car and is it in the game?

RC: I really love this one race car since I was a small kid. I saw it race when I was very young and that is the Porsche 935. It's a 911 based race car. I probably have over hundred little models of it. I even own a replica and so I was very happy that we put this car in the game. When you drive the car in-game, the sounds you hear are actually sampled from my car.

GS: Finally, what would you say has been the hardest part of the development of Project CARS 2?

RC: I think the toughest part is always finalizing. When you're in the last four months of any game production, for any studio, it is a very challenging time. Sometimes it feels like you are walking on the edge of a cliff. You know that the finish line is over there somewhere but it feels like at any moment wind could come and just blow you off the cliff. But if you are experienced enough in game development, you know a game will be made.

You just have to stick to your guns, remain confident and work really hard. But that's always the most challenging thing is. Finishing a game, polishing it, getting the efficiency of the engine working well. Always chasing better and better performance with the game engine because you are pushing it to the maximum. If you aren't pushing the technology, you are not trying hard enough.

GS: Well, Rod, thank you very much for talking to me today. Sounds like Project CARS 2 has come on leaps and bounds from the first game! I wish you all the best with this game and I hope that becomes as successful as the first!

Project CARSis out now on PC, Xbox One and PS4. You can buy Project CARS 2 on Amazon here

Project Cars 2 Review: A Racing Sim Done Well Fri, 29 Sep 2017 12:38:41 -0400 ESpalding

Project CARS 2, one the most anticipated racing games of the year has made its laps and finally crossed the finish line! The racing car simulator -- not arcade racer -- is the sequel to the vastly successful Project Cars which was released in May 2015 by London-based Slightly Mad Studios. 

Out of the box, Project CARS 2 boasts an impressive lineup of 180 cars from nine motorsport disciplines and 29 different racing series. You can start your career in Formula Rookie cars and work your way up to Rallycross, IndyCar, and higher, mimicking exactly how professional racing drivers work their way up through the career ranks. You have to learn each car and set it up with personal variables as work your way to the top.

It's all very involved -- as simulators should be. 

This is a Simulation -- Not a Sunday Drive

This game is full of management options from fuel usage, tire wear, and grip, to suspension, handling settings, and more. It really isn't for the faint-hearted or those who just want to be able to race and win straight off the grid -- which sometimes is not a good thing.

Don't get me wrong, I am a massive fan of simulators and I'm not new to racing sims, but even the level at which you need to understand all the various sliders in Project CARS 2 was beyond me. In a recent interview with Slightly Mad Studios, COO Rod Chong makes a point of saying that the game is accessible to newcomers to the genre -- but I'm not entirely convinced.

You really need to come at the game from a driver's point of view. Thing is, not everyone who likes these kinds of games actually drives on a pro level. I don't even drive a car. I ride a motorbike. And this immediately puts me at a disadvantage. I don't know exactly how a car would race and handle in certain circumstances or different weather conditions. 

I can see how this amount of granular tuning would be great for someone who has played games like this before or knows what they are doing in real life (or have gained a lot of that knowledge from watching races all their lives) but it isn't wholly accessible to non-drivers or first-time players.

There's a lot to tweak -- and the options can be overwhelming -- but new players are in for a bit of luck as the developers have included a handy feature called Race Engineer. It's somewhat hidden and a bit difficult to find, but once you do stumble across it, the feature helps you tune your car without you having to know the specific ins and outs of braking or drifting, for example. Essentially, you are asked a series of questions to ascertain what you need help with (such as if your car isn't accelerating faster enough or doesn't take turns sharp enough) and the game tunes your car accordingly. 

And although you won't have some of the customization options found in other racing games, such as adding nitrous to your speedster or turning one car class into another, you will be able to fine-tune your tires (which you have to make sure are the right type for a specific track's race conditions, such as rain or heat), gear ratios, and suspension, for example. 

The menu to tune these aspects of your car isn't immediately visible, but instead nestled inside a few other menus within the game. However, once you find it, you'll be glad you did -- whether you're a new or a veteran. 

Beautiful, Dynamic Tracks Create New Strategies

One thing the developers have definitely got right, however, is how the Project CARS 2 looks. The graphics are next level, and the attention to detail is impeccable. And it doesn't matter in what area of the world you're racing, either. The game has more than 140 different track layouts spread across over 60 locations, from the tarmac of Brands Hatch to the icy roads of Scandinavia, the locations are all stunning, rendered in gorgeous detail. 

Not only that, but each track is a "living track" with life-like weather conditions and seasons. You could be racing on a sunny day, but then it starts to rain. Not only is the track now wet, but there are puddles on the road -- meaning that you are at risk of sliding off course, making you handle your car differently as you take it through turns and down straightaways. On top of that, tracks also get hot and cold, which drastically affects how your tires grip the asphalt and how your car handles while blazing down the track. 

In the space of a lap, your driving strategy has to change to take into consideration the change in track dynamics. It's an interesting wrinkle and something that racing fanatics and enthusiasts are sure to enjoy. 

All in all, I have found that Project CARS 2 satisfies my need for a decent, in-depth racing game. While the settings may be a bit too much and the gameplay via a gamepad may be a bit off the mark (playing with a gamepad just doesn't feel like actual racing), Project CARS 2 does deliver a great racing experience. You can tell that a lot of time has been taken to make sure the cars, tracks, and environments are as realistic as possible. The dynamic weather feature really adds to the overall experience and keeps the game fresh.

Would I say that this is the best racing game I've ever played? Sadly, no. The game has a lot of accessibility issues and is heavily geared more toward car aficionados. 

[Note: A copy of Project CARS 2 was provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment for the purpose of this review.]

Project CARS canceled on Wii U; "too much for the Wii U" Tue, 21 Jul 2015 20:43:52 -0400 Courtney Gamache

The motor-sport simulation game Project CARS developed by Slightly Mad Studios and distributed by Bandai Namco Games, was set to release on the Wii U but has been cancelled due to the hardware limitations that the arose with Nintendo's console.

Details on Project CARS

Project CARS released on May 7th, 2015 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. To broaden their reach among all the next-gen consoles, the developers were working on a Wii U release that has been unfortunately abandoned due to the intense features in the game that can't be supported by the Wii U. Specifically frames-per-second is the main issue.

"The official line is that we're awaiting an announcement from Nintendo on new hardware." - Ian Bell, head of Slightly Mad Studios

Slightly Mad Studios is waiting on news from Nintendo, particularly on what type of new hardware they have in mind. In the event that the Wii U edition is not available, the backers who crowdfunded this game won't be distraught, as the Wii U edition was always listed as a "maybe".

Slightly Mad Studies was hoping that during this year's E3 Nintendo would announce hardware updates so Project CARS could be released on the Wii U. As E3 has passed, no new information on Nintendo's hardware has been announced, so the Wii U edition is looking very impossible.

Bandai Namco's Statement Confirming Reasoning

"We eagerly look forward to any announcement of further hardware from Nintendo but right now Project CARS is simply too much for Wii U despite our very best efforts. Apologies to our Nintendo fans out there that have been waiting for further news on this but have no desire to release a product that isn't at the very least comparable with our highest-rated versions on other platforms. We optimistically look forward therefore to what the future may hold." - Bandai Namco

Heading for a Sequel

Although Project CARS just released this past May, Slightly Mad Studios has started launching their crowdfunding campaign for a sequel. The sequel has no significant information currently except they hope to include a cooperative career mode, more race tracks, broadcasting methods, and lastly customizable test tracks. These might seem like wonderful features, but for them to become a reality they're looking to raise $10.7 million. 

Project CARS 2 announced, receives backlash from community Mon, 22 Jun 2015 11:46:48 -0400 Ford James

Project CARS 2, the sequel to the recently released Project CARS has been announced by Slightly Mad Studios.

They have announced Project CARS 2 will be funded the same way as the original was: crowdfunding. They’ve opted to use their own crowdfunding platform, World of Mass Development, instead of more popular platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

Project CARS was the highest funded project to use the WMD platform, receiving $3,142,808, only slightly surpassing their goal of $3,108,600.

On Facebook and Twitter, the backlash to the news has been rather strong and seemingly justified.

Project CARS released just over a month ago on May 7th and has been ridden with problems since the release.

Broken AI, unfinished features, and game-breaking bugs are just a few of the complaints strewn across the review section on Steam. Slightly Mad’s blog post and tweet evoked similar responses:

There’s no release date for Project CARS 2 yet, not even a date for the launch of their WMD project. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel Slightly Mad have jumped the gun a little by announcing the sequel so soon.