Paddock Pass: The Handling

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August 9, 2013

Welcome to our first F1 2013 Paddock Pass blog post! In this series we’ll be giving you a behind the scenes look at F1 2013 and specific areas within our studio. Not only will this provide a glimpse into the game’s development, but it’ll give you the chance to have your questions answered by those that are working on it. This week we pitched your handling questions to Experienced Games Designer, Lee Mather who’s been working on our F1 titles since 2010.

Is the handling more similar to F1 2012 or F1 2011?

As in real F1, the more you work with something the more you learn how to extract the best from it

It’s hard to compare the handling to previous titles. But what we have done is to draw from what both the Design team and the fans have enjoyed up to now. As in real F1, the more you work with something the more you learn how to extract the best from it, and that’s something we feel we’ve really been able to showcase this year with the way the cars behave on track and in the accuracy of the lap times. We’ve been able to take the model used in 2012 and refine it to achieve what we believe is the best-handling F1 title to date.

Has the braking been refined in F1 2013?

Yes, we’ve worked on getting the braking distances as close to real life as is realistically achievable as well as improving the overall control of the car under braking. Out-braking yourself won’t just mean you’re going to go straight off, you’ll just lose time and take a less effective line through the corner. The improvements to the braking of the cars also help generate close and consistent racing.

Will players be able to attack the kerbs more without the risk of spinning?

We’ve spent a lot of time refining the on-the-limit handling of all the cars in F1 2013 to allow the player to catch the car in these instances, losing time and position without spinning out totally. Obviously there are limits to this.

There has obviously been a big change in tyre wear this season, how has this affected the game’s handling?

A lot of time has been spent balancing the wear rates for the tyres in F1 2013. It’s a large task most years, but with the tyres being such an overwhelming feature in the sport this year, we’ve spent a huge amount of time making minor adjustments and tweaking them to work correctly. We’ve also balanced how the cars use their tyres, closely following the characteristics we’re seeing from the teams this season.

What were the first steps in creating the handling model for the classic cars?

Initially we watched a lot of videos, (any excuse to watch cool F1 cars on the limit), as well as getting as many of the specifics/dimensions for the chassis, engine power, torque and power curves etc. as possible. Then we started to calculate the kinds of lap times each of the cars would need to achieve, along with the type of handling characteristics we thought they exhibited. Obviously, the ability to sit and drive in these cars is practically zero so to back up the assumptions we took from watching the videos, we’ve also had feedback from people who were around in the sport during the two eras which we feature. Luckily, the three teams are all still around today, as are many of their staff who worked in the 80s and 90s. Couple this with the input from motoring journalists who reported in these races back in the day and all this helped us enormously in getting our accuracy as close to the real thing as possible.

F1-2013-handling1

There’s a big difference in handling between the new and old cars but will players feel a difference between the 80s and 90s cars too?

Not only will the players experience the differences between the 80s and the 90s cars, but they’ll also experience the differences within those decades. During both eras changes in chassis, gearbox, engine and aerodynamics all change quite drastically. For example, during the 80s you’ll experience the 1.5 litre Turbo V6, Naturally Aspirated 3.5 V12 and V10s and 3.0 V10 units.

So does each classic car have unique handling characteristics?

Very much so, all of the cars are totally unique. While this increased the work load for the handling team fairly dramatically, the end result is a selection of cars which all feel and behave very differently to one another. Some cars are all about the sheer power that can be a real handful in the corners. Others have amazing cornering ability and stability which is where their strengths lie. Others are challenging to handle all round and need to be muscled around the track. I think we have such a great range of classics, that there will be a type of car to suit all F1 fans.

Out of all the classic cars in the game which one is your favourite to drive?

It’s tough to pick just one, but because of my age, and when I first started to really watch F1, it’s probably Mansell’s Williams FW14B. Even today it’s still one of the most advanced F1 cars ever built, before most of the toys were banned. It looks stunning, it’s low and very wide, and the 3.5 litre V10 power unit absolutely screams. On top of all that it’s such a capable and stable car to race.

We hope our first F1 2013 Paddock Pass has given you a good insight into F1 2013 and the game’s handling. Thanks to all those that submitted their questions and to our Experienced Games Designer, Lee Mather for answering them. Check back soon for our second blog post where we’ll be revealing even more on the game’s development.

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About Luke Spring

Community Manager at Codemasters, lover of all things Formula 1. Does not play acoustic guitar.

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