Jump to content

MurraysMic

Members
  • Content Count

    41
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

3 New Car Smell
  1. MurraysMic

    Your first F1 game

    F1 97 and still to this day hasn't been bettered in terms of atmosphere the sport generates. As much I'm for the first time since Codies took over the license from Sony enjoying this years game I still think 97 will be special to me. About 10 years ago I was fortunate enough to interview Martyn Chudley at Bizarre Creations (Before their demise 😞 ) to talk about their time developing the F1 games including some stories regarding F1 98's failure. Enjoy ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1. First of all can you introduce yourselves and what your job was on the F1 Series games? Martyn Chudley. I’m officially the Managing Director, although really I don’t do all the boring business stuff – I’m really in charge of the vision and design of the games. Back then I was doing what I’ve always done – lead coding and design on our titles. 2. Ten years since Formula One first came out….since then you’ve become one the most respected development studios in the business. Can you take us back to ten or Eleven years ago and how you got the gig with Formula One? I’ll go back a bit further first. I’d just finished Wiz ‘n’ Liz on the Megadrive. The PlayStation was the way forward, but you couldn’t develop a game on your own on that – you needed a team. So I sat down with Sarah (my partner, now my wife!) and we wrote lists of the pros and cons of taking on permanent staff as opposed to contractors. We were still young, so decided to go for it! We managed to hire 4 people who were willing to work for an unknown start-up team, and started work on a PlayStation title called ‘Slaughter’ – kind of Quake Arena style gameplay on hovering surfboards. Psygnosis (now Sony) were funding this, and we seemed to be doing OK. Then one lunchtime the head of their development came over and said ‘listen, we’ve just got the F1 licence, and you’re a big F1 fan – fancy doing us a game?’… it was as casual as that! We talked to the team and all agreed to give it a go. Then we started on a demo, and Psygnosis were happy with it, so it all got signed up. Although doing an entire game in 14 months with so many circuits – from scratch – on a new machine, whilst recruiting the rest of the team seems utter madness now! And all on a handshake! 3. Do you know if you were the only studio on the list or was it always going to Bizarre? It was back in the days when it was all done on relationships – sadly those days are long gone. Psygnosis believed we could do it, as did we, and so we went ahead and gave it our best shot. As far as we know, we were the first people they went to – no bidding wars or anything! 4. So you got the job to develop the Official Game of one of the most viewed sports in the world when did it sink in and it finally dawned on the studio that you had to impress a fan base of millions around the world? The scale came home to us when we realised it wasn’t as easy as just getting some maps. Each circuit owns their track and so we needed to get hold of data from each one individually. AND then model them! The scale soon meant that weekends and evenings were a thing of the past… 5. So how did the development of that first game go? Of course it was the first Playstation game that had 24 3D cars 20+ drivers 3d Accurate tracks it must have been a VERY stressful period, did you always know that this could be done was there a time that someone went I don’t think we can do this? Yes, it was a nightmare! Although the stress was huge, as a new team, it was actually sometimes fun, in a picking-at-a-sore-scab sort of way! It was a nightmare development process, made easier by some underhand data acquired from someone who used to work at one of the F1 teams. I think we doubted it until right near the end – we were perfectionists even back then! - but the momentum of the whole project kept us going. 6. So what research took place to get everything as accurate as possible? Did team members visit the tracks? Watch the TV broadcasts? You say Murray Walker helped out with contacts within the sport that must have been quite cool? We visited some tracks, but most of the data was on paper/telemetry. We had every F1 race on video since about 1993 as, for some psychic or kleptomaniac reason, I started taping them all back then! Murray Walker came up and saw the game before he recorded the commentary – a nicer ‘celeb’ you couldn’t meet. He did help out where he could, but it was mainly just a great honour to have him involved from the start. 7. What was the most difficult process you went through during the development? The biggest single issue was the game engine. Never before had a game of this scale been attempted – huge 3+ mile racing circuits, most of which doubled-back on themselves allowing you to see the entire circuit from many places, all to run at a consistent framerate. Oh, and all to fit into the ‘massive’ memory - and all our first game on the first of a new generation of hardware, heralding the 3D age. There were other huge issues such as the AI, the multiplayer linkup and the fundamental magnitude of building that many real locations, but getting all to fit in and run was the single biggest headache! 8. Even for 1996 were you pushing the power of the Playstation? Yes, but then again, you always do. We laugh when people say ‘we’re using X% of the machine’s power’ – as it’s always your aim to use 100% of the power that you know how to use at that time. As you get more experience, you use 100% of the power that experience has brought – which is always more and more as the console progresses. But we were really proud of what we did achieve given the short time we had. 9. Murray Walker the legend that he is how much work did he put in with the commentary script? Was it pre-written did he ad-lib? What was he like to work with? Most of it was scripted, but he made the scripts his own. We studied his style so hopefully he was saying stuff that he would have said normally – he’d adapt it where it felt unnatural. He was a real pro in the recording studio – even stripped his top off as he was putting in so much air-punching effort that he was getting hot! And he even recorded some of his famous Murrayisms for us, which was great! 10. How “intelligent” were the AI and did it take long to program 24 cars going around the track trying to overtake. Erm, given the machine and number of cars, not very! They did tend to do their own thing when forced, but stuck to the racing line for the rest of the time, as there wasn’t power left to do anything else. AI has come a long way since the PlayStation. We called it ‘Action Intelligence’ not because of any innate abilities, but because the coder looked like an Action Man when he came into work in his balaclava in the winter!!! The long and the short of it was though, my Dad was convinced that we’d captured Jean Alesi’s personality perfectly! Job done! 11. How long did it take to model and build an F1 Track for that first game? Freehand (as we build our cities now, and as Monaco was modelled) it was about 4-6 months per track. We did the maths and realised there was no time, so we took the plunge and coded a track editor that took the telemetry data from the track and output a set-width track to those proportions. Then rumble strips, run offs, grass banks and gravel traps could quickly be added via this tool, and adjustments made to the track width where necessary – all in fully textured polygons. This was then exported into SoftImage and the pits, stands, trees and all the detail added. The editor speeded it up to probably about 2 months per track total. The track editor allowed us to complete the circuits both accurately and quickly – without it we would have been stuffed! 12. What freedoms were you given? Were you told this can’t be in the game that can’t be in the game were FOM (Formula One Management) a help or a hindrance or both? The first game was pre-FOM – it was when the rights were owned by Fuji TV. So there was hardly any input, approvals or anything! They had one guy in London take a look when it was nearly done and that was it! The 2nd game was a nightmare – not in development, but because the licence wasn’t signed up by the time the game was released. This meant it was on the shelves for a week then an injunction taken out by the FIA. Thankfully it was all resolved and went back on sale without them asking for any adjustments. 13. So how long was the process from the first meetings to the final copy being burned off did it take to plan and develop the first game? The development was 14 months, and the meeting maybe a week before that! We don’t want to do that tight a schedule again! And all with a team that started with around 5 people! 😉 14. Were you aware at the time that the first game was going to sell the amount of copies that it did and is STILL talked about today? We knew it was going down well with the press and buyers after its first presentation in London – there were gasps, and that was great to hear. So we thought it might do OK. We had no idea it would beat the previous ‘fastest selling’ record in Europe or go on to be number 1 and in the chart for so long! That’s the thing that everyone in the games industry dreams about – to have their ‘Lemmings’ as we say! 15. Did you know that you were going to develop F197 before the game was announced? Or was there always going to be an F1 97 with Bizarres’ name on it? I think we might have signed up for the two games together? It was always planned that there would be a sequel if it did well. But when we found out that they’d pencilled in another 5 versions after F1 97, we decided that was enough. With a game that’s just a copy of real life, there’s only so far you can go – and it was best to let another team have their take on it afterwards. 16. With the experience of F1 you took the game even further and produced what many still regard as the best F1 game on console to date that must be pretty humbling that the game is still held in such high regard nearly a decade later. Yes, it’s nice that people still know about it after so long. It’s the pride any parent feels when their ‘child’ does well! 😉 17. So how did the process of Formula One 97 compare to the process of developing Formula One? Probably a little less stressful as we had overcome a lot of the teething problems in the first one, but there was a completely different stress involved. I cannot remember the decision to do it within a year of the first game, and also to make it the current years stats and circuits - I think, foolishly, that we may even have suggested it! Some circuits, like the A1 Ring we completely new to modern F1, so we were seeing them for the first time as a F1 circuit at the end of September, with the game due to be released in October! 18. You went for “High-Res” graphics looking back do you regret that decision or stand by it? In retrospect, perhaps sticking with the standard lo-res would have been the easier option, but at Bizarre we always try to push new things, and would never have wanted F197 to have been seen a cheep ‘cash-in’ a year after the first game – much of the reason for us to abandon the series after F197. We really wanted to continue pushing the boat out with the game technically, and Hi-res seemed like a good idea at the time! 19. The AI in F1 97 was phenomenal they tried to block you they crashed into each other they spun on their own. How difficult was it to program the AI to do such things? To tell the truth, I have no recollection of the creation of the AI for F197 – there was so much going on at Bizarre, and having taken on a new lead coder I had pretty much taken a back seat on the technicalities. I’m pretty sure that we just added to the Action AI, rather than start from scratch, and added more parameters and ‘personality’ settings to the individual cars. Making them spin at random was easy! 20. Sound wise in 97 you had both Murray and Martin back for commentary duties and you developed a system which I’ve yet to see improved upon were you had literally hundred and hundreds of sound clips which produced a flowing dual commentary (Although a slight too much on the “You’re right there Murray” from Martin). You commented on positions further down the track the overhead conditions which got worse or better and synced the commentary to suit. It must have been hard work to get the game to do it and do it well. Ahh, but Murray was always right! 😉 It was something that the sound programmer started working on almost before the original was finished – things that he wanted to do, but didn’t have time to code or include. So the sound system was worked on all through the 2nd game to get it how we wanted. We were really happy with how it turned out, especially given that it was a pretty novel feature in a racing game. 21. How long did take you to get record all the commentary? Again, this was all a bit of a haze – I think it was pretty much a days studio time per commentary team. 22. There was a LOT of commentary that was recorded but never made it into the final game was this intentional or did you run out of time to put the “triggers” such as the list of retirements? Some of it was timing, some of it disc space and some of it was feature cuts due to running out of time. It’s a pity, but it’s better to record more than you need and have to scrap some than not record enough and have it being too repetitive. 23. At one point or another we’ve seen the red flag usually caused by us ripping the wheel off the car and ending our game, do you remember if the red flag was going to be integral to game as whole? In the initial designs, we were going to have a ‘serious’ option where the race could be red flagged, or you could be disqualified. And we thought of having realistic damage where something like a flat or a damaged wing could be made to be ‘race over’ as with sometimes in real life. But this is a game, and you want to play it, not sit and get annoyed because you’re out of action. So we had to make it so that only the very worst incidents would affect your progress, and anything more minor would just affect handling until you made it to the pits. That way you can still enjoy the game! 24. There was a screenshot of an early version of the game with all the tobacco logos on the cars we all know that they did not make it into the final game but was it the intention to run the game with the full logos? We started by copying reality, but we realised that it wasn’t going to be possible in the long term – but until that was confirmed, we just followed real life. Thankfully all the substitute logos that the tobacco companies use are very similar to their real logos, so it was a quick job to make the required texture changes… 25. How difficult was it to implement the Tag Heur timing systems? Did you work with the guys at the company or did you just get permission from them to use the logos and you did the rest yourself. The timing was already in the game in order to record splits, laps, pit stops, etc. So it was just a case of checking out everything they did in the TV footage and replicating it. It was a long time ago, but I think we had to get it approved by them (or maybe by the FIA?), and they were obviously happy that we were accurately measuring the timing and portraying their systems correctly, as it made it into the game. 26. There was a bit of a furore on the launch of the game in which it was taken off the shelves after a dispute with the FIA, can you tell us what was the issue and how it was resolved? That was for F1 ’97. The licence for the first game (’95) came via Fuji TV, but this had reverted back to the FIA for the second game. It’s the publishers who need to arrange for the licence, and we carried on developing, unaware that this was still under negotiation. The game was mastered, approved, and we were ready to ship – all still assuming that the licence was signed, as it had been the first time. Nothing was said to us, and the game was released. We were actually tipped off by another publisher, who was also pursuing the licence, that they’d found out that the lawyers hadn’t finished agreeing it, and that the game was on the shelves illegally. They told us the FIA was seeking an injunction, and we were pretty incredulous, thinking there must have been some mistake. But they were right – the injunction was soon granted and the FIA had the game pulled from the shelves, just a few days after release! This was pretty much the final nail in the coffin as to whether we would continue with the series or not. Obviously, negotiations carried on, and within a matter of weeks, the licence had been signed up (for many years) and the game was re-released, albeit after losing out on a key selling period before Christmas. But without this licence furore, you wouldn’t have had the amazingly tasteful Melinda Messenger advertising campaign, with her holding a copy of the game next to her cleavage, sporting the ‘graffitify me now’ strapline of ‘It’s Out!’ 😉 27. By using some PlayStation audio tools you can hear a whole stack of unused Arcade mode commentary for F1 97's arcade mode. This, along with early screenshots and game play footage (A technical demo from February 1997) which showed wet weather and car damage suggests that F1 97's Arcade mode was very different from the final version at one point. My question is: Why was it changed so much? Err – Everything changes a great deal during development, usually quite rapidly, and I’m not really sure which demo you are referring to. It could have been technical issues, timing, performance or even licensing issues… sorry I can’t be of more help! 28. Again was there a time in the games development that you thought WOW we are onto another winner here. We did a demo of Monaco which we sent over to Psygnosis, and the reaction was ‘WOW’! This was using our old slow engine, but still the effect seemed to impress. So as we improved all down the line, it really started to feel good. But the real time where we realised people were going to see this as something new was at the first press/retailer conference at ECTS, just before release. There were gasps when the game was showed, and that made us extremely proud 29. How long did again did the game take to develop? 14 months from first ‘do you want to do an F1 game?’ to release, so about 12 months in full development. That’s mad! 30. Do you think you could have made the game even better than it was? Not really, given the small team and little time we had, and the ridiculous hours we all worked. Even with some mad pressure for console launch titles since then, we’ve never worked as hard as we did on Formula 1. It really was mad 16+ hour days, 7 days a week… So other than a miracle, I don’t think we could have done any more! 31. Why do you think that F1 97 is considered one of if not the best Formula 1 game on console to date? It’s nice if it is considered as such! Perhaps because it was a passionate team, building on an already successful core game, and getting in everything we wanted to put in the first one but didn’t have the time. And maybe because it was back in the days where games did take just hundreds of thousands of pounds to make, rather than the millions of today, so the developers and publishers could both be more relaxed about how the games were developed, what content to put in and taking a few more risks than they can today…? Some off beat questions now. 32. In F1 97 you had the beginnings of an engine failure with the famous “are you ok?” commentary byte, was it intentional that we had to come into the pits which fixed the problem, as if you stayed out the engine failed anyways. Were the failures random (I think the fuel line failure one was) such as the engine failure? Sorry – the reasons have long since faded! 33. Were you always going to leave the F1 series after 1997? Did you have any pre concepts about the 1998 game and if so can you tell us what you were planning for 98 if you did not get the gig with Sega? We hadn’t decided, but when we realised we were pencilled in for another 5 versions, we decided it was time to bale out. We were already talking to SEGA, and decided that it was a good move to leave on a high point, and try something new and original on a new console. There’s only so much that you can do with copying real life anyway and we didn’t want to rip anybody off by delivering a ‘cash in’ game… 34. Did you ever play the 1998 game and how did you feel when it was as bad as it was? Yes, we did. They had the same time constraints as us, so from scratch they did pretty well in a year, but ultimately their technology let them down. They’d been given our engine and code, but decided that they’d use their own generic engine – and being primarily a conversion studio before they did this game, they had a more generic multi-platform code base. So using a generic engine, they never would have been able to achieve as must visually compared to us using our custom-written F1/PS specific engine. We’re maybe a bit to blame, as our technology and code was a difficult-to-decipher mess, but it was a mess that made good use of the PS technically, and that’s what made us be able to use such good graphics and have processor room for all the game code and effects on top… Also I don’t feel that the team had the same F1 passion as we did, which really went a long way for us. 35. How do you feel about the current batch of F1 games developed less than a mile or so from yourselves? We’re totally fine with it – it was us that decided to move away, not the other way around, anyway! 36. Sony have recently announced that the PSP will allow us to download original Playstation games to PSP, do you think we will see the day when we are playing F1 97 on the train? I’m sure they’ll have to do something to ensure backwards compatibility – we did some naughty things in both our games which meant they weren’t 100% compatible with the PS2. But that’d be cool – although the PSP’s F1 game is already pretty nice! 37. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can you answer this which has driven me nuts can you please now reveal the cheat I requested back in 1997 when your cheats for F1 97 were released, and I quote from your site “And there's one that everyone seems to have missed, but we'll leave you to try and figure it out. It doesn't involve typing in your name, or pressing any buttons on the joy pad. It isn't found by driving anywhere on a circuit and it's not the usual thing to do to find a cheat. Happy hunting!” Now saddo here actually emailed yourselves about this and you said you could not reveal as it “does not conform to Sony’s guidelines” any chance it can be revealed now? Well, I’ve asked the people who worked on it – would you believe that most of the original F1 team are still here?! The one we think it is was in there to test our loading system, and involved an ‘open of the lid’ which was a big no-no. We think these are the instructions, but you’d better try it out before releasing this info. And you didn’t get it from us, OK? 😉 You have to open the PSX lid during loading, in the transition between the front-end and the game – in either direction, so front-end going to game, or game back to front-end. As we remember it, timing is an issue – so whilst there is a big window of opportunity, trying it too soon or too late and it won’t work. Ideal is in the middle of loading, of course! Also it took a while to activate. It would activate if the loading system completely gave up trying to load data and we think the timeout was set as high as a couple of minutes. So try opening the lid in the middle of a game loading, wait a couple of minutes and then see if you can slide the image around with the joypad. How (not) worth the wait was that?!?!?! 😉 Oh, and we found this list for silly modes… VIRTUALLY VIRTUAL -- VR style graphics SWAP SHOP -- Background music and new sound effects LITTLE WHEELZ -- Over-inflated tires PI MAN -- Wipeout mode ZOOM LENSE -- Helicopter viewpoint BOX CHATTER -- Murray and Martin sprite commentators BILLY BONUS -- Four extra tracks CATS DOGS -- Rain frogs instead of water OEAN ALESI -- Round 16 in Championship TOO EASY -- Grants first place on all tracks in arcade mode allowing access to extra track.
  2. MurraysMic

    Announcing F1 2015

    Even if FOM restrictions are in place about what they can show, can the same restrictions apply to what the game includes/answering peoples questions or very simply pop on here and give an update as to why the community has again been ignored?  Why should people go and search Twitter on peoples accounts when the OFFICIAL forum of the game should contain any updates.  Why are people like Lee allowed (which I'm not against by the way) to update on the game but the same update and more cannot be posted on the forums.  Meanwhile the offical @formulaonegame twitter feed is posting guess the track questions.   Communication has got worse and worse and despite promises that it's going to change, it has reverted back to the days of the past few years, big announcement then silence.  Not a great way to build customer loyalty especially when there are so many currently undecided as to get the new game based on previous years editions/behavior by Codies regarding bugs and patches.   It really doesn't send the right message to the customer that they "care" about the community.  A lot of people have been patient with Codemasters over the years but as the years have gone on with less content in their games and even less interaction between developers and the community people its sad to see.   I remember being here when Codies announced they had the license, and being invited to London for the 2010 reveal, thinking Codies might take the series into the future, now its a case of whatever here's the game now give us your money, with games lacking features games 15 years and older had.
  3. MurraysMic

    Announcing F1 2015

    Isn't this setup a slap in the face of those folk who want the complete F1 experience yet DON'T want to use the Pro Season mode. For me I would want to have all three sessions to experience the game as per the sports rules, using the standard season mode just as games in the past have allowed us to do (Excluding some of  Codemasters games which omitted sessions)   Is there a reason you are bracketing players that do not want the full simulation as "less than worthy" for this feature just because we don't want to be locked into a different rule set.   I want to be able to take part in the full weekend experience without the need to be locked into a fixed view no hud and all the other gubbins the Pro Season mode has and enjoy the game, instead I'm treated as a player who thinks that the three sessions are too hard/boring/not needed. Nice to see that the bizarre design decisions have moved to the next generation.
  4. Will the updates the game has allow the game to tweak the performance of teams in a track by track basis.  What I mean if McLaren find some form and are in the top 10 or hovering around on tracks later in the season will the game reflect that?   So in Aus they will be at the back but will be further up in the later races or is performance locked to the team. F1 97 did this so the Arrows Yamaha was dreadful in the first half but at Silverstone and Hungary they where further up the field.
  5. MurraysMic

    New eurogamer Preview

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2015-04-16-f1-2015-injects-a-little-more-drama-into-codemasters-series
  6. MurraysMic

    Announcing F1 2015

    Will the new broadcast presentation take into account the tv decals fonts etc.  I would love it if you started each race with the FOM intro to build the excitement further.
  7. MurraysMic

    [VIDEO] F1 2014 Spa Hot Lap

    Agree completely what a few people are saying on this thread in regards to lack of atmosphere Codemasters have manged to remove from the series. Having been a massive fan of the Sony series inclusive of their issues one of the things you could not fault them with was the lack of atmosphere they generated, whether this was the way they implemented the TV replays/overlays or commentary it presented the FEEL of F1 and gave their games a bit of soul.   Whether it's EGO engine or by design what Codies have done with the license is strip away the atmosphere leaving us with a dull soulless product that as the years went by removed more F1 from an official F1 game. As others have mentioned there are features in 15 year old and older F1 games that Codies have not gotten right which is bizarre and strange on blaming tech.  Why not take a hit on the graphics if we could have better AI or other features I also think some of the decisions made by the F1 team such as the removal of practice sessions with the reason stated being that no one uses them and there is no gameplay value is a bit silly.  Isn't that up to the players to decide what's best and how we use the sessions?   It's as if they want to make the F1 game Codemasters want rather than what the populace want and have wanted for years.  Granted there are limitations and reasons why feature X cannot be implemented but I still think because they have no competition in respects of the F1 License they hold the cards as there is nowhere else that offers the official F1 License. I remember the days when the f1 games where announced that the forums would be full of new topics and discussions, now it seems these have dropped off over the years as we know what to expect, is this franchise fatigue or is it because we aren't being listened to therefore there is no point posting points of view anymore? The lack of hype from the studio comes accross as the F1 2014 game is very much a last minute decision or at least a late decision to remain on current Gen.  And the fact we are close to launch and we haven't had a dev on here giving us a preview or at least an insight into the development of F1 2014 comes across that it won't be the game we all want F1 to be.  
×