F1 2014 – Lee Mather Q&A
This year we’ve spoken quite a lot about the game’s all new accessibility options and how we’ve made it much easier for F1 novices to jump in and experience our game.
But we have not forgotten those that are willing to turn off every assist and dial up the difficulty. This blog post is for you and we hope our Q&A with Senior Games Designer Lee Mather sheds some light on some of the new rewarding challenges you may face in F1 2014.
How do the cars handle without assists in F1 2014 – are they more challenging than last year’s?
As with all the games in our Codemasters F1 series, driving the cars without ABS or Traction Control enabled will be a challenging experience. Two of the biggest rule changes in the sport this season have really allowed us to change the way in which the cars drive and handle. The previous 2.4 litre N/A engines and cars with blown diffusers were very different beasts to the cars we’re seeing this season. Obviously the biggest change is to the power unit, which produces a much larger amount of torque lower down in the rev range and across a wider range. The old engines not only had a much lower amount of torque, but this was delivered across a very narrow rev band. So the most noticeable difference this season is in how the power is delivered. Lighting up the rears and causing the car to squirm around a lot more under acceleration.
Couple this with the lack of blown diffusers and you have cars which move around a lot more on throttle, but also in the corner.
Will each car handle differently based off what we’ve witnessed this season?
Each team have their own distinct handling characteristics, and performance is balanced to mirror the 2014 season. For example, the Mercedes is the most dominant all round package, but the Williams is particularly strong in a straight line. Likewise, the Red Bull still has strong cornering ability and aero set-up, but lacks in straight line performance. Moving further down the grid, cars like the Marussia and Caterham will move around more, but also perform to a lower level.
How has the higher level A.I. changed this year, will they prove more of a challenge?
We’ve made a number of changes and refinements to the A.I. this year to benefit the way in which they race across all difficultly levels. Firstly we’ve worked on improving how they trail brake to the apex of the corner; this not only benefits overall lap time and pace but the flow when racing nose to tail. Secondly we’ve improved on how the A.I. reacts when they are racing wheel to wheel and entering a corner offline. Previously they would break a little too conservatively and lose a significant amount of ground to the player. Now they’ll deal with these situations far more effectively.
This year we’ve seen teams manage their fuel a lot more conservatively this season – has this carried through into the game?
Fuel management has always played a part in our games, but more so than ever this year. There’s a definite sweet spot for driving efficiently whilst still extracting a good level of performance from the engine. Something which people aren’t necessarily aware of is that our extremely advanced fuel simulation model reacts correctly to lifting and coasting. Leaving the car in a higher gear when braking for a corner really helps you to save a significant amount of fuel, as does not hanging on to a gear for too long when accelerating.
We’ve seen some changes to tyre wear this season too – will players not have to manage these as much this year?
Last season the tyres were one of the overwhelming factors in each race. This season they still play a large part in the strategy, but they’re less severe in how they wear. We’ve mirrored this behaviour in F1 2014. Also, each team have unique wear characteristics for the front or rear tyres, which really mixes up the pit windows in longer races.
How about engine temperature, will players have to keep an eye on that too?
Something you’ll notice this year is that the cars which feature the new LCD display on the steering wheel now display tyre and engine temperature. Under normal driving circumstances engine temperature is easily managed, even when running Rich throttle in most cases. However, following another car for a long period of time has a negative impact on engine cooling, which in turn reduces engine performance and increases wear, which reduces the long term performance of the engine.