Posted September 30, 2014 by Peter in EGX

EGX London: Interview with Andy Tudor (Project CARS)

Project CARS logo
Project CARS logo

Project CARS has been developed in co-operation with its players for several years now, and its release date is soon approaching. Games Fiends got a chance at EGX London to speak to creative director Andy Tudor of Slightly Mad Studios and find out more.

Tudor is very clear on why it was important to have players involved over the last three years of development. “With every game we release, and every racing game from the competition, we kept seeing [...] the same questions coming up – “why hasn’t it got this feature, why hasn’t it got that feature?” [Players] know exactly what they want, they keep asking for the same things every game, and they’re not being delivered. So we wanted to make sure the players were involved.”

Slightly Mad Studios’ solution was to create WMD Portal, a combined means of crowd-funding and gathering feedback, and this has resulted in a game with a wide range of gameplay customisation. Racing on one pod on the show floor with driving aids galore, first place was comfortably taken in a short race. However, accepting an invite from Bandai Namco to play a longer session at their London office the following day had me trying a Silverstone GT race without assistance – resulting in driving that would leave nobody in their right mind wanting to lend me their car.
Project CARS screen
I remembered my driving licence, I stopped to think how this would be done in reality rather than in an arcade game, and I tried again with marginally more success. These two different sessions seemed to reflect Tudor’s description of the overall experience.

“It is very firmly a simulation. ‘Simulation’ has a bit of a connotation that it’s rock hard, really difficult, but ‘simulation’ just means it’s simulating real life so it’s accurate and realistic,” he told me. “By default it will be challenging, but you can dial everything back to something a bit more casual, a bit more accessible. Whether that is onscreen guides, handling guides, opponent difficulty, driving assists, absolutely everything.”

Of course, there are some things that no simulation will ever be able to reproduce. Growing up, every driving game was met with a snort of derision by my dad, whose considered opinion was simply “driving is something you do through the seat of your pants” (a comment that gets a chuckle from Tudor). A simulation can still only try to be as close a it can – something development has aimed towards with the help of several professional drivers.
Project CARS screen
Early on the project got the involvement of Ben Collins – secretly the Stig on Top Gear for many years, as well as being an experienced driver across many different fields of motorsport. “We specifically contacted [him] because he hates driving games and so we wanted his complete honesty,” Tudor explained. “He was like “you don’t want me, I hate these things”, and we were [saying] “we do! Because you’re going to give us honest feedback”, and he did do for two and a half years.”

Support was also received from Nicolas Hamilton, an experienced karting and race car driver in his own right, although regularly also described in terms of being Lewis Hamilton’s brother. “He’s been driving virtual sim racing games for years, so he knows what that community already expects, what the benchmark is for us to reach and exceed. And he’s been giving us feedback on [...] what’s wrong, what needs fixing, what his aspirations are, where to go… he says it’s one of the best experiences he’s ever had in his life.”

And more recently the project has gained the support and experience of Ollie Webb. “He’s driven 75% of the tracks in the game, he can give us a huge amount of insight into the “whats” – what we’ve got right, what we’ve got wrong. We couldn’t have made the game without him.”
Project CARS screen
In terms of those tracks, details are being kept close to the developers’ chests right now. Sixteen tracks have been named so far, but I could find no hard number beyond “over 60″ for how many there may be (“Way more than 60″, I’m told, but the actual number is being kept secret for a while longer). The same goes for vehicles – only a handful have been identified, with more being drip-fed all the time. What is clearer are the manufacturers involved – including names such as McLaren Automotive, Renault and Mercedes-Benz, with vehicles ranging from 1950s models to current racers, and spanning categories from track day cars, supercars, Grand Touring vehicles, and Le Mans prototypes.

But when looking at how realistic the game might be… well, one thing caught my attention – if you feel up to it, you can run the full 24 hour Le Mans race, in real time.

Admittedly, this isn’t the first game that has allowed this, although it may possibly be the first to try accurately reproducing it. “[It has a] dynamic time of day system, a complete dynamic weather system as well,” Tudor explains. “You can set it to today’s date and it will try to download the weather data online to be accurate to that date. [...] You can have full endurance races, through the night into the dawn the next morning up until dusk all over again. Each track has a GPS location in the game, and we model the near solar system – so we model the sun, moon and constellations.”

“There was a German GT driver [checked after the interview – Rene Rast] driving our game using it as training for Le Mans 24 hours because he knew that [...] when he was turning certain corners the sun would be blinding him, so he knew that when he went to the real [event] the same thing was going to happen there as well.”
Project CARS screen
Of course, with marathon gaming sessions for charity becoming more popular, we also discuss the implications there too – whether players might feel attracted to a game mode running a full day, working in teams to take shifts driving and so on. Tudor explains that as well as an achievement for running the full 24 hour race, players would be encouraged if they wanted to stream this via Twitch or Youtube in raising money for charity – “earn an achievement, and also do some good in the world” as he summarises it.

I suspect this will be a matter of “when” rather than “if”. And I can’t lie, I am looking forward to seeing it when it does.

Project CARS is due for release on 21 November for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, with a Wii U release planned in 2015.


Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.