F1

F1 2020: Codemasters’ Lee Mather on how they developed a game during a pandemic

The game has had an incredible launch… despite recording podium animations in a back garden!

by Talal Musa
f1 2020 racing point

Creating a game is hard enough, let alone trying to put one out during the worst pandemic the world has ever seen.

But Codemasters did exactly that – putting out what many believe is the finest Formula 1 game of recent years.

But it was not without it’s challenges. 

At the front

A lack of real-world races took away a vital resource from the development team – which had a knock-on effect to the development of the game.

“Setting up the vehicles and season performance proved challenging, having not had the opportunity to see any races take place before launch,” Lee Mather – F1 Franchise Game Director told RealSport.

f1 2020 cover xbox
NECK-AND-NECK – F1 2020 launched just a few days after the 2020 season commenced

“We took a look at the end of the 2019 season performance data, the pre-season test times and consulted the technical team at Formula 1.

“This enabled us to balance the team performance, but as is sometimes the case, you never know if a team has made major progress over the winter break.”

New circuits, but no Grand Pris

It wasn’t just the lack of performance data that Codemasters had to – adding new circuits in Hanoi and Zandvoort brought with them their own set of unique challenges.

“With Hanoi being entirely new, and not existing when we started is a challenge we’ve faced on a number of tracks over the years, so that was something we were used to. 

Hanoi screenshot F1 2020
VIRTUAL REALITY – F1 2020 is the only place you can race the Hanoi Street Circuit

“Zandvoort had a different challenge, which was that we were able to create the circuit accurately, but had to wait for certain corners to be changed in real life before we could create them in-game.

“Finally we had the move to everyone working from home.

READ MORE: F1 2020 British Grand Prix track guide

“We did a lot of early preparation, but even then it happened a little quicker than expected.

“The team did an amazing job of finishing the game, and Codemasters IT department has made working from home, and the transition absolutely seamless.”

Remote resource

Having to migrate the entire team from an office to home working during development wasn’t ideal – but Codies had to get particularly creative when it came to Podium animations.

“F1 2020 has some very cool podium animations which the player can unlock via the Podium Pass or purchase in the store. 

F1 2020 Podium Pass Pose 1
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS – Was this “legendary pose” imagined in a designer’s garden?

“I’m not going to name names here, but in order to help the animation team have an idea of what sorts of things we wanted, and to get people excited by the concept, one of the designers recorded a selection of them in his back garden.

“You can imagine the reaction from his neighbours. The videos had us all in stitches, and we still have them!”

Keeping it fresh… and an eye on the future

The good news for F1 fans is that Codies also confirmed a number of new updates arriving throughout the season.

“This year we’ll be updating the real driver AI performance statistics based on their real-life performances.

f1 2020 update 1 06 black mercedes
UP-TO-DATE – We’ve already seen a few patches for F1 2020

“We’ll also be continuing to add exciting new content to the Podium Pass and in-game shop, keeping the game fresh for players.”

With Xbox Series X and PS5 around the corner, we asked Codies if they could shed light on what the new generation of F1 games could look like.

“It’s too early for us to be talking about any potential Next Gen plans,” he said. “but we’re really pleased to be able to offer F1 2020 on Google Stadia this year for the first time.”

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about F1 2020

Talal Musa

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