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Codemasters' biggest mistake in the F1 game series

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There are a lot of things I'd like to see differently in the next game (although I haven't played F1 2014 yet, but I expect nothing has changed much), but IMO there is one BIG, fundamental mistake Codemasters have made: It's the lack of options. CM has made a lot of choices for us that could have easily been implemented in the games as options.

e.g.: I remember that Codemasters stated in the past that they won't include mechanical failures for the player because there are players who wouldn't like it. Ok, that's completely understandable. But is it really that hard to give people an option to enable or disable mechanical failures? Even "prehistoric" F1 games like Grand Prix 2 (loved that game) had that as an option.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if CM pragrammed the safety car intentionally to almost never come out, because some players might find the SC annoying. Again, that's understandable, but again, it could be an option. There could even be an option to increase or decrease the chance for a SC.

Another example: career lasts 5 seasons max. Really, why? Why not make it unlimited and let people choose for themselves how many seasons they want to play. If someone wants to quit after 3 seasons, they can. If someone wants to quit after 5 seasons, they can. But if people want to do 10, 15 or even 20 seasons, just lt them do it! Besides, the careers of succesful Formula 1 drivers usually last a lot longer than 5 years. And isn't this game's career mode about becoming a succesful F1 driver?

Also, I'm in my first 2013 season with Marussia, and I'm getting realistic results thanks to the improved AI (wich is a plus for me). But now I'm afraid that I'll only be able to drive for a team like McLaren or Ferrari only in the last season. I mean, c'mon!

Or what about the free practice sessions? For my personal playing style I like doing only 1 practice session, but I know there are a lot of players that want to do all three practice sessions. If we can have an option to choose between realistic and shortb qualifying, why the heck can't we have the CHOICE to do either 1 free practice session or all three?

I could go on and on about this, but I think I have made my point clear. I guess it's too late for F1 2015 sice it will be released earlier this year, but I hope CM will really give us more freedom to choose the way we want to play their F1 games. Especially since CM claims they want to satisfy both casual gamers and hardcore simmers.

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Agreed. Options are definitely something that should be expanded upon. All of those you listed and perhaps some others such as formation laps, more sensitive damage, pit stop errors, random mechanical failures (that aren't controlled by the player) are all things that would help improve this game.

On a side note: It's refreshing to see a thread that actually involves helpful constructive criticism rather than the usual negative posts seen on this forum!

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mmpaw37 said:

Agreed.

To be honest, the boredom with this series initially started probably around when F1 2013 released, and although the classics was a welcome change, it just felt that they were clutching at straws just to make a game.

Of course the visual side of the series had been improved, but as for everything else, it just feels sort of 'tired', and seriously needs an injection of something to bring it to the next level, in which we aren't seeing.

Even though Codemasters have stated that the next-gen version will have the new physics engine, plus the availability of more 'resources', I honestly feel it will presented as nothing more than an 'upgrade' to its predecessors, and will be the usual generic F1 racer that we've been presented with since 2010.

F1 2010 in its day brought something different, a glimmer of hope of things to come, but have we had that...certainly not!.

F1 2015 will be just the same - minimal features, improved graphics and possibly the car physics..., the AI performance will remain to be seen, but I don't expect it to be leaps and bounds from the rest...

Maybe CM just got lazy? People buy their F1 games anyway, so why bother? The same goes for leaving out features.

And what you say about F1 2015 reminds me of Gran Turismo. GT6 was just an updated GT5, and even though GT7 is going to be next-gen, I just know it will be nothing more than an updated GT6.

Agreed. Options are definitely something that should be expanded upon. All of those you listed and perhaps some others such as formation laps, more sensitive damage, pit stop errors, random mechanical failures (that aren't controlled by the player) are all things that would help improve this game.

On a side note: It's refreshing to see a thread that actually involves helpful constructive criticism rather than the usual negative posts seen on this forum!

Thanks for the compliment ;)

And yeah, there are a ton of features that could be added as an option. Especially since the game is meant for a wide audience.

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I think Codemasters biggest mistake is not having dedicated servers for online play.  The P2P architecture, or at least their implementation of it, is atrocious.

Second would be the lack of Quality Assurance in their product, and third would be not catering to the sim crowd.

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I agree up to a point.

The trouble is, options are great for sims because it’s what sim racers want and expect, but they’re not so great for simcade and arcade titles, especially on consoles where menus are hard enough to navigate at the best of times.  Inevitably you either end up with tons of options on a single page, or you end up with multiple pages of options, neither of which is great from a usability perspective. However you do the UI, it soon becomes harder for the average punter to remember where they saw the option that did X, or exactly what set of options they had configured this time last week that they liked better. And that’s just not much fun, so sooner or later they’ll go and play something else that is.

And from Codemasters’ perspective, every option they add is a gamble as it costs money up front. It costs money for a programmer to implement the option and the UI to tune that option, of course. But each option also massively increases the amount of code path and configuration testing, automated or otherwise, that’s required. (As a very simple example, add a third checkbox on a settings page where you used to have two, and now you have 8 configurations you need to test instead of 4. Add a fourth, and now you have 16. And that’s just for simple checkbox options.)

Sooner or later, with enough options you also need to start publishing a proper user guide, online or otherwise. Much as we’d all like that, that’s more cost to hire a decent docs writer, and more cost to either print a copy to go in every box, or to keep it live and updated on a website somewhere.

Of course there is always a subset of people who will enjoy tinkering with a plethora of options, but too often they're just an excuse to avoid making good design decisions.

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I think people have enough brain cells to handle a few extra options. esp if you leave most of the "sim" options off by default.

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CM's have always indicated that more options mean more test scenario's during beta stage and more chances for bugs. Therefor they can't simply make everything an option. And being someone who is involved in software developent and testing, I can certainly get that.

For us as gamers the more options the better, realistic fuel consumption, tyre degradation, safety car likelyhood, manuel pitlane controll, formation lap, reconnaissance lap, cooldown lap, etc you'd all want to configure per player in offline gameplay. This also enables players to get rid of parts of the game they don't like (You don't want to watch fuel consumption in a race, then turn it off, etc).

Personally I hope F1 2015 will blow us away in this regard, but after the disappointment of 2013 and 2014 (on top of the bugs that have been in every installment of the game) I have to admit to being pessimistic.

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I agree up to a point.

The trouble is, options are great for sims because it’s what sim racers want and expect, but they’re not so great for simcade and arcade titles, especially on consoles where menus are hard enough to navigate at the best of times.  Inevitably you either end up with tons of options on a single page, or you end up with multiple pages of options, neither of which is great from a usability perspective. However you do the UI, it soon becomes harder for the average punter to remember where they saw the option that did X, or exactly what set of options they had configured this time last week that they liked better. And that’s just not much fun, so sooner or later they’ll go and play something else that is.

And from Codemasters’ perspective, every option they add is a gamble as it costs money up front. It costs money for a programmer to implement the option and the UI to tune that option, of course. But each option also massively increases the amount of code path and configuration testing, automated or otherwise, that’s required. (As a very simple example, add a third checkbox on a settings page where you used to have two, and now you have 8 configurations you need to test instead of 4. Add a fourth, and now you have 16. And that’s just for simple checkbox options.)

Sooner or later, with enough options you also need to start publishing a proper user guide, online or otherwise. Much as we’d all like that, that’s more cost to hire a decent docs writer, and more cost to either print a copy to go in every box, or to keep it live and updated on a website somewhere.

Of course there is always a subset of people who will enjoy tinkering with a plethora of options, but too often they're just an excuse to avoid making good design decisions.
blahblah Spare us the lecture. The problem here was the very engine, which was obviously totally arcade oriented. This simply means It should be normal that If you try using it on something complex like a F1 race, where lots of variables, configurations, weather, etc etc need to happen, then such a BAD engine like EGO, which is totally oriented to the graphics will collapse immidiately.

That's why this game was always full of bugs and problems. It all wasn't because of Steve Hood's incompetence and the scrubs at coding under his command. The very engine was the first and biggest problem from the beginning.

All left to see now is whether or not they've really used a new engine built from the scratch for the next iteration. If the new engine ends up being some upgrade from the same old shit, then this franchise is done.

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I think people have enough brain cells to handle a few extra options. esp if you leave most of the "sim" options off by default.
You'd think so. Though at this point I've spent half my life designing and usability testing all sorts of user interfaces from mobile apps to air traffic control systems, and it never ceases to amaze how what people actually do differs from what you think they're going to do :smile: 

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Codemasters’ biggest mistake is a lack of strategic direction.  When F1 2010 was launched there should have been a clear strategy about how they wanted to progress the series and what features they would implement each year to realise that strategy.  Instead, features were added then dropped the following years (live-the-life, classics).  It’s such a waste of time to development something that won’t progress with the series.  Their lack of direction suggests they don’t have a clear view of the type of game they want to produce.

With a clear strategy from the beginning there’s little doubt all the features and options we all want would have been implemented by now.  To do it all for F1 2015 would be a mammoth undertaking.  Time will tell.

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The lack of clear strategy also showed with the safety car being implemented after a lot of discussion and pressure from the fans. I agree the use of the ego engine was a problem from the off. This led to fundamental flaws in the code for the series which cannot be fixed. One fix creates another problem and it spirals into more problems. 

The cost of creating a brand new engine for a specific game like F1 would out scale the benefits, especially to a direct audience. 

I do do fear this an evolution rather than a revolution and it could cost CM, as patients is already wearing thin with quite a few. 


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I agree up to a point.

The trouble is, options are great for sims because it’s what sim racers want and expect, but they’re not so great for simcade and arcade titles, especially on consoles where menus are hard enough to navigate at the best of times.  Inevitably you either end up with tons of options on a single page, or you end up with multiple pages of options, neither of which is great from a usability perspective. However you do the UI, it soon becomes harder for the average punter to remember where they saw the option that did X, or exactly what set of options they had configured this time last week that they liked better. And that’s just not much fun, so sooner or later they’ll go and play something else that is.

And from Codemasters’ perspective, every option they add is a gamble as it costs money up front. It costs money for a programmer to implement the option and the UI to tune that option, of course. But each option also massively increases the amount of code path and configuration testing, automated or otherwise, that’s required. (As a very simple example, add a third checkbox on a settings page where you used to have two, and now you have 8 configurations you need to test instead of 4. Add a fourth, and now you have 16. And that’s just for simple checkbox options.)

Sooner or later, with enough options you also need to start publishing a proper user guide, online or otherwise. Much as we’d all like that, that’s more cost to hire a decent docs writer, and more cost to either print a copy to go in every box, or to keep it live and updated on a website somewhere.

Of course there is always a subset of people who will enjoy tinkering with a plethora of options, but too often they're just an excuse to avoid making good design decisions.
I personally think that it wouldn't be a problem for casual players as long as it's only about basic Formula 1 option (because IMO that's the case with options for mechanical failures and formation laps).

But when you talk about the amount of work CM would have to put into it; isn't that their job? People pay good money for games (ok, I very rarely buy games on release, that's why I just started with F1 2013 lately, so I'm an exception), and thus deserve a little extra effort than only the new cars/drivers and circuits. Even if CM would implement one new feature/option each game it would be something. It's also the mentality of "we decide what's best for you" that bothers me. Like with the max number of seasons in career mode, wich wouldn't even have to be an option if they set the max to 10 or 15 seasons, or even unlimited.

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CM probably shouldn't have taken the F1 series on in the first place if they wanted to continue both the GRID and DIRT series of the games due to the size of their company and it is pretty obvious all 3 have suffered in terms of quality for that very reason.

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Andi said:
CM probably shouldn't have taken the F1 series on in the first place if they wanted to continue both the GRID and DIRT series of the games due to the size of their company and it is pretty obvious all 3 have suffered in terms of quality for that very reason.
Not to mention that their engine was designed specifically for raw arcade games like those, dirt and grid; not for some complex thing like a F1 race, which resulted in the obvious bug fest/lame physics the series has always been known for from the beginning

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