EGX 2017 – Interview with COO of Slightly Mad Studios Rod Chong

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So whilst at EGX I got the opportunity to ask Rod Chong the Chief Operating Officer a few questions about Project Cars 2. So here for your reading pleasure is the transcript of that interview.

Stu: This game feels a bit more raw, its different, its definitely more realistic. I play with a Fanatec wheel and its ridiculous.

Rod: The philosophy behind the tyres in particular has changed, it was a couple of months after project cars 1 was out and we sat down with a couple of Bentley racing drivers (Guy Smith), put them in their cars and they were going around Bathurst and going up the hill and the back end stepped out, he corrected as you would a real car and spun. He looked at us, “that’s not real, i would have been able to catch it” and then we stuck David Brabban in the simulator, same thing. Lost the back end, said “i should be able to get it back” “there is something weird with the tyre model” and we investigated it further and another thing you could notice with project cars 1, you couldn’t drift. if you got a road car like a mustang pull the handbrake and put the back end out and it wouldn’t do it. the thing that we started looking at was what is happening to a tyre when its over the limit. When you either lost it or you are having a bad moment and the car is sliding. or you deliberately putting the back end out or lock the brakes up.

We knew that we wanted to do rally cross, rally cross you spend most of the time with the car sideways, well over what would be normal slip angle of the tyre and so what we did was wrote two new areas of code with the tyre model. One is called Rip Grip, and that is looking at a molecular level what happens when the tyre is sliding, its scrubbing like sandpaper. Its pulling the rubber off the tyre. And we didn’t have any simulation for that in the tyre model. we are very happy with what we achieved with the tyre model from project cars 1 but we had to add in these areas, so there is new code that looks specifically at the tyre when you are over the limit. when you are sliding. there is also new code for, we are calling it bite. That’s when you shock the tyre with lateral force, this happens on high downforce cars like an LMP in a high speed corner. or if you look at F1 and look at any footage of a driver going through a high speed corner, and the car just snaps and changes direction very quickly.

If you look at a lot of “so called” realistic games, often even project cars had this where you turn, the car understeers a little bit you wait for a little bit and crank in some more angle, the back end starts sliding and you start oscillating between understeer, oversteer, understeer, oversteer and you end up doing this, which isn’t how cars handle. if you try and fight understeer by jacking up front end grip then the cars get twitchy at the back end so its not the solution either. so we had to come up with new code which we called bite. You can really feel that when you drive a high downforce car in Project Cars 2, you can feel the car getting really tight at the aero load builds up and then if you snap the car will just change direction. That’s totally new, the handling is a new philosophy which we think is a new innovation.

Stu: Its a night and day difference between having cold and fully warm tyres.

Rod: Its fun when you do the lap, before you have to warm your tyres up before.

Stu: That’s half the fun, you know you are warmed your car up to be in the optimum position for the lap.

Rod: It was Nicolas Hamilton that was really pushing that, all racing drivers have to think about the tyres a lot, are they warm, are they overheating. Making sure your tyres are up to pressure.

Stu: The car list is fantastic, with Lamborghini and Ferrari and Nissan etc, the sounds are exactly the same on the game and so much fun. How did you manage to get Ferrari and Lamborghini?

Rod: That was something I did. well if you look at Pcars 1 it was well received so i think as a result of that, the positive reputation being established made it easier to have those dialogues with the established companies. They like our commitment to simulation and realism, we tell them we are respecting their brands and want to replicate their cars as much as possible. It wasn’t that hard to get it. One thing i should say that one thing that we focused on was moving away from a problem with the car list in project cars 1 was what we called “orphans” where there will be a famous racing car, but there will be one. it can race with itself. We didn’t like that so you will notice that we have rectified that for the most part that any one car in any category has many friends now. so we tried to replicate many iconic eras of racing. and then obviously with the newer cars there is big groups of cars put together.

We have a brief chat about the cars in the GT3 category

Rod: If you look at the GT3 cars that exist, we have 99% of them already.

Stu: What made you guys so early on the Pcars 1 lifespan decide to start Pcars 2?

Rod: Its fairly common in the game industry, where you will have most of the time finishing and break off a skeleton team to start visualising and designing and things like that.

Stu: you guys were confident when pcars 1 came out that you were just going to be carrying it on.

Rod: I used to work at EA on Need for Speed for a long time and its very normal that you would have one production and you would break a little team to start thinking about pre production.

Stu: PSVR, Is there a slight chance it might come to PSVR?

Rod: Same as previously announced, (No plans) We like the hardware but have other priorities. We are watching it closely, but right now there is no announcement.

Stu: Online factor of the game, how are you going to combat the bad drivers?

Rod: Wreckers! Or people who aren’t in the lead by the first corner they leave. There is a system that tracks everything you do and also if you are organising multiplayer races you can also designate which type of drivers, level they are, safety rating. we have really looked at the closely and its very important. We put a lot of effort behind the system to track how you drive so we can match you up with like minded drivers. You can chose to have it open so anyone can come in, or you can chose who you are going to race against or what kind of person you are going to race against.

Stu: So it is deep in that way.

Then a final chat about season pass, but no further details could be garnered from Rod 

So there we have it, a little chat that I managed to have with Rod Chong from Slightly Mad Studios, and he was a great person to chat with. There were a few things that we had a chat about after the recording had stopped, one of which was his love for multi-class races on Project Cars 2. So thanks for reading, and if you want to go and check out our review of Project Cars 2 here you go.

For more articles from Stuart, click here

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