Andy Tudor, creative director on Project Cars, explains how the game is more than just a graphical showcase…
How important have you found the uprising of Twitch and streaming in the success and direction of Project Cars ?

Part of the Driver Network is your highlight reel. These are some of the prettiest pictures you’ve taken, your proudest moments, cool gameplay laps, things like that you've done, there’s a myriad of ways to share that stuff via technology. Go to our YouTube channel, we're collating the best gameplay clips from each week. Every screenshot and trailer you’ve seen of the game so far during development has been from the player’s point of view. Our Driver Network is our way of continuing to show that support for the community. We’ve put in a special achievement to do a 24 hour real-time race of the Le Mans 24-hour and we encourage you to Twitch stream it especially with the number of charity events that happen throughout the year.

How is Driver Network different from AutoLog ?

When we did Shift 2 we kind of came up with the idea that it’d be nice if players could compete with each other. If you got a notification saying ‘I beat your time’ and stuff like that. Then we looked at what Criterion were doing and they looked back at us and we realised ‘God, we’re doing the same thing aren’t we?’. So we butted heads together and amalgamated both concepts into what eventually became Autolog.

They came out first with Hot Pursuit with Autolog version 1 and in Shift 2 we did Autolog version 2. For all intents and purposes, the implementation of it in Project Cars… I wouldn't say version 3 it's a separate thing but it enhances upon the things that we’ve learned on those previous games. How we’ve found players to compete and share, and taken advantage of the new technology, new console hardware, and stuff like that. You can connect with your friends, compare your driver profiles with each other and see who’s best, areas you might want to improve upon. Things you love playing but are terrible at. Like, you keep persevering at karting for example but you never win, so you compare my profile with yours and might love that and do really well.

We always say that Project Cars is the ultimate driver journey. What that means is that when you compare the stats and all the other things it tells a different story there of what you love doing, what you’re good at.

That ties into the mentality of sandbox gameplay. Everything is unlocked to begin with, but that’s the incentive to push players through all the game has to offer.

We’re all racing fans. We’ve been making racing games for many years, and god forbid the next racing game comes out and I have to start in a really slow car, grind for cash to upgrade it to be fun and grind even further to the car I actually want. I’m done with that. Time is precious, we all have busy lives and I think gamers have become more mature as well. Growing up playing those games, they're looking for something a bit more fresh. By doing the simple thing of taking out the unnatural lock mechanics that stop you playing the things you want and taking all the currency out of the game, it puts the focus back onto the driving. Second to second you’re thinking ‘I want to nail that gear change. I want to get closer to that guy in front of me. I want to get faster.’ You’re also thinking ‘If I win this race I’ll get more points in my championship, and if I win this championship I earn an accolade. If I earn this accolade then maybe other teams are going to start scouting me to go drive for them.’ You start thinking like a driver. You start think in terms of your career. And that’s something that has been happening in sports franchises like Maddenand FIFA for years but hasn’t really been done in a racing game before.

How do you plan to improve pad handing ?

You saw me playing on gamepad. That’s going to be my personal choice. We support a ton of wheels. With the gamepad we do a whole lot of things most of which too geeky to talk about but stuff like steering input and predictive input. The game also works on keyboard. The keyboard is very much an on/off situation as well, so people are asking how the triggers on the Wii U version will work well, we have to do it anyway for the keyboard so it’ll work very well.

We've changed a lot of the input filtering. Dial a lot of the stuff individually, exposing that to the players as well. You can change between different gamepad settings currently. That might not make it into the final game but we're gauging which is the one most people are happy with. Personally, I find myself as competitive with the gamepad as others are with steering wheels. We’ve been running these community events that I’ve been competing in myself, I do well compared to other people that are in hardcore steering wheel mode.

With a game made through crowd sourcing there’s always a sense of ownership from the community. In that regard, how are you approaching post launch support ?

We’ve been making the game with the community since day one. It’s our own IP and our own franchise and there might be people under the impression that it’s a one shot deal, we release the game and then move onto something else or go back to licensed games. We plan on being around for a very long time. That plan is there because there’s things we haven't announced that we will be doing. We want to support the community long after the game comes out the Driver Network is part of that but there will be other things too.

Also, the game is a living, breathing thing. We have the community giving feedback throughout development. That same community tells you‘I want this in there’ and when you put this feature in the game, you talk to them about how you can potentially expand it. And when you think about that concept that’s exactly the same as how MMOs operate and that is very much a next gen way of treating your game and players. The fire and forget mentality release your game, drop some DLC, buy the season pass and then move on it’s something that can work, and games are still doing that, but as it’s our own IP, our own franchise and we’ve made it in our own way, we want to do something more groundbreaking.