Developer Codemasters isn’t new to change; the company’s titles range anywhere from hardcore racing simulations to cartoonish arcade games. Codemasters knows how to adapt.
With Grid 2, they’ve had to do just that to please fans that have been waiting for a sequel for five years.
Chief among Codemasters’ concerns is balance. While they want to please hardcore fans with characteristic vehicles and realistic physics in Grid 2, they also want casual players to pick up a controller and “feel like a hero within a couple of laps,” said Ross Gowing, senior game designer.
“Those guys who have hydraulic racing seats and [multiple screens], they’ll still find what they’re looking for,” Gowing said. “[But] accessibility is something we’ve had to have renewed focus on. We’re more about the on-track drama, the moment-to-moment connection.”
An instrumental tool in finding this balance is Truefeel, a process that retains the unique feel of each vehicle, but also makes the driving feel natural and approachable for newcomers.
The Truefeel process allows Codemasters’ handling team to accentuate the drivability of each car at a base level, while retaining the core handling characteristics and subtleties that define each car in the real world, according to the developer’s forums.
The balance between casual and hardcore isn’t an easy one to strike, Gowing said, but the market is demanding it now more than ever. With several other Triple-A titles releasing around the same time as Grid 2’s May 31 release, Codemasters has some competition, albeit outside of the racing genre.
“You have to show people a ‘Wow!’ product,” Gowing said. “We’re looking to fill that gap at the moment, a racing game with fresh ideas.”
Gowing said that, although there are definitely a few other games releasing soon that could compete with Grid 2, he’s not worried.
“We don’t want to just tack things onto the game,” he said. “We want to look to the future and see what we can do next.”
Grid 2 will feature a variety of different iconic locations, complete with changing environments as the game progresses. Gowing said that Codemasters wants to make you feel as if the game is changing alongside you, especially in the single player game. The “World Series Racing” focus of the single player is just one aspect that will set Grid 2 apart, Gowing said. The team also wants to create a compelling multiplayer wherein friends can compete against each other for experience and prizes.
Facilitating this multiplayer experience is RaceNet, a consistent stat-tracker that spans all of Codemasters’ games, beginning with DiRT Showdown.
“RaceNet powers the global challenge system,” Gowing said. “[You’ll} have weekly challenges in which you can compete against your friends.”
Grid 2 is also offering in-game Youtube sharing, allowing players to share videos with their friends in the interest of earning more experience, which will, in turn, give them access to new vehicles and customizations.
In an effort to keep players even more interested, Codemasters has implemented a system thank groups racers according to how cleanly they drive. This is based on feedback from fans that grew tired of cheap collisions in Codemasters games, citing the wrecks as the number one reason they stopped playing.
“”We’re keen to listen to what gamers want with a new game,” Gowing said. The system will group cheap players with cheap players, and clean players with clean players. This will reward players who drive fair with opponents that do the same, Gowing said.
When all is said and done, and Grid 2 is available to the public, Gowing said he wants to revel in it, despite the amount of work he's done on the title.
“It’s like building a summer house… with nails and a hammer,” he said. “When you’ve finished it, you still want to go out and enjoy it.”