Posted 7 November
The art of F1 RACE STARS
F1 RACE STARS takes Formula 1 racing in a new direction. Our focus is unashamedly on fun. Four player split-screen lies at the game’s heart, extended through up to 12 player online racing (which can be combined with split-screen) and complimented by a wide range of competitions, modes and difficulty settings.
It’s been an exciting project, particularly from an art perspective, reimagining Formula 1. Our collective imagination saw us take things we love from the sport and combining them with features you’d never find in that world – jumps, shortcuts, power-ups, robo-sumos… You can sample some of what we’ve achieved in our demo.
It’s been a pleasure to see how the drivers, cars and circuits have evolved from their real-world counterparts and see people connect with them when they play.
That said, reworking Formula 1 to appeal beyond the traditional fanbase has been challenging. Could we bring in fans who may not know much about the sport? Can we go somewhere new and retain Formula 1 legitimacy? We were determined to not only deliver a great game, but a great Formula 1 game.
Where did we start?
Well, Formula 1 is visually rich and full of iconic imagery; the cars, drivers and glamorous locations. We assembled our artists and asked them to forget that we were making a videogame, and instead for them to imagine we were rebranding Formula 1, with the high-end, entertainment look set by leading animation studios.
We began pre-production in a similar way a film studio would, working with designers to storyboard races and creating a house style we could apply Formula 1 imagery to. This helped avoid cruelly caricaturing the drivers and instead guided us to create deservedly heroic, toy-like characterisations that could comfortably sit alongside your Buzz or Woody. They have universal appeal.
This high-end and toy-like ambition permeated through the menus and environments. I wanted locations to look like toy-sets from the same toy-factory… Everything should look like what’s going on in the imagination of a child who has set up their toys for the cars to race through.
That said, I didn’t want to make what the child had created (LittleBigPlanet does that so well) but what the imagination proudly saw as it looked upon its creation. It’s an important distinction.
I was keen to follow the “truth in the material” mantra set by John Lasseter of Pixar. This rule was held by our animators when it came to bringing drivers and cars to life and also guided the creation of the environments. I didn’t want skyscrapers and trees looking like they were made of the same strange jelly-like material, or indeed jelly at all.
Sure, they’re stylised, but if you bend the “truth in the material” rule too much it can look anachronistic, harking back to much earlier animations like Felix the Cat where everything bounces along to the same rhythm.
That style ruled until Lasseter and his followers changed the game. They brought a more tangible connection between subject and viewer that proved to bind a much stronger emotional bond. And that emotional bond is crucial. We see it when people play, and the feedback from the teams and drivers has been great. They experience things they love from Formula 1 in a new way… a charming one.
The racing worlds we’ve created pop with their own inviting style. It’s amazing to see the principles we established at the start of development transform into the game we have now, and you can’t beat that simple moment when people pick up the pad and smile when they’re with it.
We hope you enjoy it too.
The demo for F1 RACE STARS is available for download with today’s Store update. Check it out and let us know what you think!