Project CARS 2, and the tech that makes it tick.
After a successful crowdfunding effort, the original Project CARS went on to be a great hit for Slightly Mad Studios, being received well, cultivating a loyal fan community, and selling over a million units worldwide. With Slightly Mad Studios having announced their intention to cultivate the Project CARS brand over the years as a community centric experience, it came as no experience when a sequel was announced.
In a lot of ways, Project CARS 2 looks like the next evolution of the series, something that we honestly thought was unfeasible, given how technically accomplished the original game was. So when we got the chance to talk to Andy Tudor of Slightly Mad Studios, who is Creative Director on this game, we naturally asked him a lot of questions about the tech that went behind realizing the vision of this game. Of course, we didn’t miss the chance to discuss the game itself with him, either. You can check all of that out for yourself below.
What are some vehicles and brands that we can look forward from the over 170 cars slated for Project CARS 2?
Andy Tudor: There are a lot of vehicle brands coming to Project CARS 2. One of the key goals with Project CARS 2 was to narrow down the “orphan” cars from the first game. So, for instance, you’ll be able to run a 1998 Le Mans race, at a scanned Le Mans, complete with real-time weather, with cars such as the Mercedes-Benz CLK-LM, the Nissan R390 GT1 Long Tail that finished third, as well as the McLaren F1 GTR that finished fourth. And if you have the Motorsports Pack, you can even add the Panoz Esperante GTR-1 to that battle. And to that, of course, you’ll soon be able to add some other high-profile brands—stay tuned for news on that coming very soon.
In GT3, meanwhile, we have tons of content: The Aston Martin Vantage GT3, the Audi R8 LMS, the Nissan GT-R GT3, the BMW M6 GT3, the McLaren 650S GT3, and many more—with some iconic brands also still to be revealed.
We had a lot of requests from our fans off Project CARS 1. Suffice it to say, we’ve listened and I think we’ve got most of the bases covered when it comes to cars coming to Project CARS 2.
LiveTrack 3.0 sounds incredibly interesting, especially in how it handles surface transitions for vehicle performance. How much time did it take to perfect the system, and how much does it transform the racing experience?
Andy Tudor: The impact LiveTrack 3.0 has on the racing experience is phenomenal. For starters, the track now evolves over both the course of a season, and the course of a race weekend. Race fans know that the track surface on a Saturday morning—before the practice session has started—is very different to what it’s like on a Sunday afternoon after the track’s been completely rubbered-in with skid marks everywhere, gravel carried back onto the track, and in a filthy state. Not only does it look different, but it feels different, too. Now, with LiveTrack 3.0, your racing experience will be even more authentic as every time you go to the track, it’s going to feel different. This is what makes Project CARS 2 the most authentic motorsport’s game in the world.
"With LiveTrack 3.0, your racing experience will be even more authentic as every time you go to the track, it’s going to feel different. This is what makes Project CARS 2 the most authentic motorsport’s game in the world."
How will the dynamic weather interact with LiveTrack 3.0? What challenges will this present for players?
Andy Tudor: LiveTrack 3.0 allows us to look at things in much more detail. Project CARS 2 has the largest track roster on console, and every track will feature dynamic time of day, dynamic weather and now … seasonal changes too. What that means is, you can go to Fuji, for example, in the summer, or you can go there in autumn, you can go in winter—where there’ll be snow—or you can go in the spring. Every season will have a real impact on the racing experience.
With LiveTrack 3.0, every track in the game now has a GPS coordinate. From those GPS coordinates we then work out the height above sea level, track temperature, ambient temperature, and whether it’s windy or not, and how that will affect the car. Another big factor is rain and puddles. So now in Project CARS 2, every rain drop falls from a real rain cloud in the sky, and when the rain hits the track, it then gets absorbed into the surface. Of course, some surfaces absorb at better rates than others and therefore it’ll saturate. And because we’ve got fluid dynamics in the game now as well, those rain drops and puddles will start to drip down the track to its lowest point and create dynamic puddles.
So now you’ve got a situation where it could be completely dry and completely wet depending on where on the track you are. Down in a dip under the shade of trees can be really wet, while on the brow of the hill it can be dry as the sun burns off the damp. So, do you stay out on wet tyres? Or do you go in and swap over to slicks, for example, and try to find a different line on the wet parts of the track?
We’ve now got a dynamic driving line as well, which means that if you are staying out, the more the AI and other players keep driving over the same part of the track, the more it’ll start to create a drying line on the track.
So, LiveTrack 3.0 really does create a completely dynamic, living track. Every time you go to Brands Hatch for example, it’s going to be a little bit different depending on what season you’re there, whether it’s night time, whether you’re in blazing hot sunshine in the summer, whether it’s starting to rain, whether it’s just rained before the race, etc.
But that’s motorsports, isn’t it? It’s not just about driving; it’s about a whole host of elements that you need to conquer in order to win.
The sequel will have the “largest track roster of any console racing game ever” as per the Steam listing. How many tracks will we see and across how many iconic locations?
Andy Tudor: Yes, Project CARS 2 does have the largest track roster on console. As of today, that number is 62. If you break the 62 down by number of individual layouts, you can make the number even bigger.
Along with Rallycross and GT, what are some of the other vehicle classes we can look forward to?
Andy Tudor: One we’re really excited about is IndyCar. You can run the Dallara DW12 on both ovals such as the scanned Indianapolis Motor Speedway and road tracks such as the scanned Long Beach. We also have GT3, GT4, GT5, and a large host of other vehicle classes. And we’re about to announce some really epic road cars to add to the mix as well as some legendary race cars from today and yesteryear.
Can you tell us about the eSports functions and how you see Project CARS 2 growing as an eSports presence in the coming years?
Andy Tudor: The most important thing for us is to highlight the skills of our best drivers. To tell the stories about the personal battles and rivalries between teams, especially by increasing the quality of our live-streams and video content. We’ve got an incredibly talented and dedicated competitive community, and we want to showcase that to our fans. Our partnership with ESL is a big part of this too. They developed their online structure for racing game tournaments specifically for Project CARS, and they’re doing a fantastic job at creating a platform for drivers to compete every week using the first title in the franchise. From entry-level weekly cups to major tournaments like the upcoming SMS-R Championship Series which will run throughout the summer with €20,000 in prizes. We’ll be continuing to work with ESL with Project CARS 2, and we have some big plans for the next few years with new events and bigger partners.
In terms of functions, we’ve worked extremely hard on that end. You can find all the information on that here: http://bit.ly/PC2EsportFunctions
What changes are being made to the classic career mode? What kinds of new challenges can players expect?
Andy Tudor: We’re not talking about Career just yet. But we’ve expanded it in a number of ways—more motorsports to play and routes you can take on your journey, the ability to play Invitational Events whenever you want as opposed to when they turn up in the calendar, more than double the number of Lifetime Goals, more control over the length of a season and its difficulty, as well as a completely revamped Career Dashboard, Accolades, and one other feature. Did I say we won’t talk about it yet? ☺ We’re going to be revealing a lot more about this pretty soon, though.
"If we can do something extra on Scorpio easily we will do, we won’t hold it back due to PS4 Pro."
With regards to multiplayer, will we see any new modes this time around? What will they be?
Andy Tudor: Time Trial returns from the first title, along with a revamped Community Events mode with both regional and platform-specific events for the community to play, and also some special elite events for those who own a high-ranking Competitive Racing License. But our biggest new game mode is Online Championships, which allows friends to create their own ongoing leagues and series to play in, as well as providing a structured format for all our Esport events going forward.
What is the current plan for post-launch content?
Andy Tudor: Again, it’s way too early for that. We’re not going to go into detail about DLC right now, but fans can expect the game to be supported long after launch with new content for sure.
Microsoft have finally revealed the specs and I have two sub questions regarding this. 1) from a development perspective do you think it has enough power to deliver 4k/60fps in AAA games? 2) What is the target fps/resolution for PC2 on Scorpio?
Andy Tudor: To your first question—in principle, yes. In principle because we really don’t know until we get things up and running and see what it can do. We are exploring the console now, so it’s too early to give specific answers on those.
Scorpio also supports FreeSync and next-gen HDMI 2.1. What are the advantages of this and how do you think this will impact anyone playing PC2 on Scorpio?
Andy Tudor: We may go higher resolution on Scorpio compared to Pro, or we may keep lower res but increase detail. Again, too early to say, and if we can do something extra on Scorpio easily we will do, we won’t hold it back due to Pro.
Scorpio features a high end GPU and a ton of memory. It’s kind of interesting in a way that Microsoft are finally ahead in the hardware race. Where does this leave the Pro version? Are you going to aim for parity on both Pro and Scorpio so that you can reach the maximum audience or are you going to push each hardware to their respective strengths?
Andy Tudor: We have scalability in our cross-platform engine already, and use that on PC. We can apply a number of detail levels reasonably easily to help differentiate between base and advanced versions.