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Bandai Namco discusses new IP 'Project CARS'

Project CARS
Project CARS
Bandai Namco

Examiner chats with Director of Marketing at Bandai Namco Games America Brian Hong about the publisher's new racing simulation game Project CARS, the first ever crowd-sourced racing game arriving on next-generation platforms as well as PC later this year.

Examiner: Tell us about [Project CARS].

Brian Hong: This game is a real racing simulator. It’s on par with games like Forza, Gran Turismo, it’s very authentic, very real. It’s made by a studio called Slightly Mad Studios, out of England. This development studio is known for having made the racing game Need for Speed Shift, that whole series. The game will start out with, right now we’re at 70 cars on 80 tracks in 30 locations. It’s very robust and definitely on par with all the AAA racing games.

If you look at something unique for this game, it is the first crowd-sourced racing game ever made. The studio partnered with the World of Mass Development [WMD] organization. About 80,000 people joined the community. They raised over $6 million to contribute to the development of the game. That’s allowed a lot of these community members to access the game and play it in its various iterations and give feedback, what they thought they liked, what they didn’t like, and a lot of the feedback is going back into the development of the game. That’s really exciting, it’s an unprecedented level of transparency and involvement.

In addition to that. The game has a feature that will work with virtual reality, so people who know of Oculus Rift, or the in-development Project Morpheus, definitely the development studio is intending that this game works with those technologies.

Ex: So you could have the steering wheel and the Oculus on?

BH: Absolutely.

They’ve also paid a ton of attention to the sound design. So if you talk about the engines of the various cars, those are all authentic engine revving sounds. All the gear shifting and everything is extremely authentic. It’s taken advantage of the power of the engines for PS4 and Xbox One, so you could see that the graphics are crazy good. You know, it’s gonna be, resolution wise, on 1080p, we’re going for 60 fps as well. It’s going to be the most advanced racing game that has ever been made, and that’s what the studio is going on record saying. And so, we’re pretty excited to bring that game out to the market.

You could see a lot of the DNA of the community feedback that’s been put into the development. Even a lot of the cars that are being modeled have been used off of reference images that are provided by actual people in the community. So it’s not just kind of lip service. It really is an impressive level of involvement that the community has been able to have with the game.

Beyond that, you know, all of the typical things that you look for in a game: the Career Mode, being able to get into the Hall of Fame. That’s all pretty standard in racing games that we’ve seen over the last few years, and it’s no different here. But one wrinkle with this game is that, most racing simulators you have to race, race, race in order to unlock new cars. This will actually let you access all of the cars right out of the box, which is good for a casual person.

To have it be accessible to someone who’s not a super hardcore racing game person, that was one of the intents with this game. Yes, you can set up the settings and do the multiplayer if you’re a super hardcore person, but if you just want to go in and match up with somebody who has only put in four hours in the game, you will find that person, they will match with you. And so that’s really good because it doesn’t demoralize folks from getting in and having a good time and playing with other people, which, of course, is something that is very popular in gaming.

Ex: And how is the online, are there going to be any cool features that we can expect?

BH: [The developer has] tried to go up to, they’ve tested up to I think 30 players online at once, but right now we’re going on record saying 16 to 20, which is pretty cool. You could create your own lobby, which is pretty cool. If you just have your own group of friends and you guys just want to get in and race with each other you could create a closed circle to do that. And if you want to get out and just race with anybody out there, like I said, it’ll totally matchmake you, as well.

It’s kind of running the gamut for customization. You could race the way you want to race, and I think that’s kind of the biggest tenant of the feedback they’ve gotten from the community on all this development. And really, if you want to think about a game that is for everyone of all ilks, but really to be able to deliver something that’s kind of here on the casual end of the spectrum, all the way to the super advanced, that’s kind of what this game does. That’s something that hasn’t been done before.

Ex: This is going to turn into a franchise, correct? We're going to have a Project CARS 2?

BH: [Chuckles] Well I think right now, the studio and us, we’re not thinking that far ahead. What we want to do right now is make this game the best game we could possibly make, and make this experience as fantastic as possible. But yes, sure, if everything goes well, then yeah, that would definitely be the next natural thought progression. It’s, ‘yeah, should we see if we could build on this and do better?’ But right now the focus is strictly on making sure Project CARS is going to be awesome.

Ex: But as a long term goal. Would you like to see this franchise turn annualized, or would you like a little more time with your development cycle?

BH: Well, you know, I don’t push from a business side and say, ‘hey, we got to push to make a game every year.’ You don’t want to cheat the fans, when you come out with a game you want it to be something that you poured your heart and soul into, you put everything you can into it, and that you’re really proud of the product that gets out into the market, right? So, I think if you think of it in those terms, if you can accomplish those goals and put out a game every year that still feels fresh, that the market wants, then good. But if you can’t, then you don’t want to force it.

Ex: Could you tell us a little bit more about the cars that we can expect to see?

BH: I can’t rattle off the whole list of cars, but from what I’ve seen, they’ve got a whole range of cars, because the disciplines range from GT, touring, street racing, endurance racing, as well as open wheel. You’ll see a whole range of cars in the game from classic cars like the old Ford Mustangs to prototype cars that are touring cars.

Ex: And this is only releasing on next-gen and PC?

BH: Project CARS will be available November 14 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam systems, and for Wii U in 2015.