We ask the Michael Rowland what players can expect from the new browser game.
A few weeks ago we caught up with the fine folks at Codemasters to see exactly what they’re up to with F1 Online. Producing an authentic Formula One experience in a broswer should be impossible, but that hasn’t stopped them giving it a jolly good go. We chatted with live producer Michael Rowland to ask what has propelled the game’s development and it went a little bit something like this…
GamerZines: F1 Online seems like a very robust game, which will surprise a lot of gamers as when the ‘free-to-play browser’ label gets thrown around it’s all too easy for people to lose faith…
Michael Rowland, live producer: We’ve been very fortunate. The guys at Codemasters Birmingham have sent us all their assets [used in F1 2011]; we have a great pipeline between us, them and FOM (Formula One Management). It’s all been very nicely done, we started showing it off for the first time at gamescom last year, and at that point we had Monaco and a few other circuits done. Most of the race elements were included, but we didn’t have any of the management stuff in there, as we were still working on those at the time. I think we’re going to be working on those aspects forever! It’s always going to be evolving. Once we started putting all that into place it started to make sense as a game, and it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster putting it all together. We have some very good monetisation people as well who know all the tricks.
GamerZines: So the whole time-verses-money reward thing?
Michael Rowland: We don’t have anything in there that’s game breaking, it’s just a convenience thing at the end of the day. We’ve all done it; we’re all addicted to it.
GamerZines: Could historical liveries be on the table at some point or anything similar to that?
Michael Rowland: I couldn’t possibly say, but there’s a lot of stuff potentially we can do. In the custom [career] side of F1 Online, we try to steer clear of anything official looking or anything that has a historic feel, because we don’t want to infringe on licensing. It’s very hard to do vintage stuff, as there’s a lot of older sponsors out there that don’t exist any more, so we need to stay aware. Obviously we can add things into the game that look similar, but fortunately on the custom side of things we don’t actually have any real sponsors at all. That’s advantageous for us, as it means we have the freedom to do anything.
We can do loads more achievements, and we’re going to constantly evolve that as we add more content to the game. Your car is going to have a unique look and feel, as you progress through the game anyway. The way it’s going, we’ve got thousands and thousands of different iterations of cars, via each component you can add throughout the game, and I think there’s around 40,000 different possibilities.
GamerZines: With regards to the tournament side of the game, where you can take your created car and enrol in competitions for more XP and cash. Could you have sponsored events and things of that ilk?
Michael Rowland: Very much so. The system itself has been designed so we can do live championships. All we need to do is go into the back-end and, say, the German Grand Prix is going on a certain weekend, we could have a themed championship to go out during that time. We can do lots of different things. We have a lot of tools and the guys want to do some pretty cool stuff that we’ve been asking for since day one. There’s definitely room to surprise and do something new and different now and then.
GamerZines: Seeing F1 Online uses real-time as a resource for researching new components, etc. Is there ever a danger of having to reset the game, as surely it makes it hard for new guys to knock the top guys from their pedestal if they’re always playing catch-up? Will there be seasons to counteract that trend?
Michael Rowland: Definitely for the rolling stuff. We’re starting to get the F1 2012 assets over now and from there we’ll start to work on that. There will definitely be different things for the licensed stuff, as we start resetting drivers, teams and performance. Tournaments are exactly the same, and every 24 hours we have new tournaments running – as opposed to waiting for race season we can cut that down to a few weeks. There’s a lot of things the guys want to do with regards to the custom mode – that’ll be our bread and butter where people are playing the game. We opened up the Beta properly a few weeks ago, and we had lots of people coming in, so there’s lots of interest out there.
GamerZines: There are a lot of F1 fans out there that perhaps find racing sims too intimidating, and it seems to us that F1 Online completely suits that niche…
Michael Rowland: Yeah, it isn’t quite MMO Championship Manager with stats and things, but under the surface there is a lot of that information going on. Everything is calculated on the track, so you have full physics, surface types and aerodynamics that all play an important part, but we communicate that in a way that’s very easy to understand. Also progressing through the custom side as well, we showed you the tech-tree which shows basically of all the components, but what you didn’t see were the separate layers. You can build up on a B-class component, so your rear-wing can go up like five different levels. As you start researching and getting new buildings, that actually adds an extra of layer of complexity to your components. There’s a lot of depth there and we’ve spent a lot of time creating them!
Hopefully we have enough to keep people busy until we bring out updates one, two and three. The plan is we get people playing, get their feedback in, factor in our own plans, take into consideration what the players want and evolve the game in that direction.
If you want to know what we think about F1 Online, check out the latest issue of MMOZine.
Tags: F1 Online
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