Grid 2 executive producer Clive Moody has told Eurogamer today that the decision not to include an in-car view in Codemasters Racing's new game was not taken lightly.
Moody said that telemetry data for previous games revealed that only five per cent of players used the in-car view in any Codemasters Racing game. When the developers weighed that against the amount of system resources that the in-car view used up, they decided it was better for the majority of players if they cut it.
"First of all, it's important to say that every design decision we make is done with a lot of careful consideration and not taken lightly," Moody said in an email. "We're acutely aware of the love there is for Grid in our community and we want to deliver the best possible experience for everyone.
"There seems to be some confusion about where we get our data from to help us make these decisions. While we do use research and focus groups, the most important data source for us is the enormous amount of telemetry data we can obtain from our servers that tells us exactly how and what our players are doing across all our games. So it's not a case of just a sample of people we've spoken to in research, it's a fact that only five per cent of Codemasters Racing game players ever used the in-car view.
"Remember we still have bonnet cam and bumper cam, which many people with racing wheels use." - Clive Moody
"While we certainly don't want to alienate any of our fans, we want to deliver truly exciting features that 100 per cent of our players will enjoy. Video game development is always about trade-offs and in this case taking the hard decision to lose the in-car views for five per cent of our players (and remember we still have bonnet cam and bumper cam, which many people with racing wheels use) is something we felt was more beneficial to everyone. They are expensive to run due to the requirement for high-resolution interior textures which are seen close-up and require a considerable amount of in-game memory (to store) and processing (to render).
"What this means in practice is that the benefit to our vehicle models, environment models and the hundreds of other things in the environment sapping memory is huge. By making this educated call, we can use the extra available memory to make the on-track racing a truly mind-blowingly immersive experience.
"For example, we can author and run higher-resolution vehicle models with more detailed geometry. We can feature higher-resolution external vehicle textures and work further detail into our environment textures. We can dedicate more processing power to our improved physics systems, integral to the Grid 2 experience, and push other systems to the next level, such as particles and real-time lighting. And there are many more benefits.
"One final point to make is that we're at the tail-end of the current console generation. We're now incredibly familiar with the current hardware and have reached the point that we're getting EVERYTHING possible from it. We're dedicated to pushing Grid 2 to the next level, making it the definitive racing game on this generation of hardware. Dropping a lesser-used feature such as interior cam frees up the memory and processing power to push the more prominent systems to the next level is a tough decision but it's one we felt had to be made, for the benefit of the majority of players.
"If you're still not convinced, all I ask is that you wait and see what we've got to show you. We've only scratched the surface of what we've got to show you on Grid 2 - there's lots more to coming in the months to follow and I genuinely think that you'll really enjoy it. Come and see for yourself at Eurogamer Expo."
If you've checked out Oli's Grid 2 preview, you'll already know that one of the most interesting things about the game is also an omission - the absence of difficulty levels of driver assists. Codies is attempting to make a game with great handling depth that people can still pick up and play.
As Moody said, you can also play it for the first time in the world at the Eurogamer Expo in September, where Moody will also be heading up a developer session (3pm Saturday 29th) to explain more about the game. We expect that session to end in a Q&A (time permitting) and developers will be lurking around the show, so you can also tackle them in person if you have more questions.