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Grand Prix Legends Interview

SGN: 6. You've come out strongly against today's force-feedback, even mentioning it in the manual. What would you like to see for useful force-feedback, and how far in the future do you think it will be before that level of sophistication is achieved?

Matt: Well, first you have to understand that we're only interested in implementing force feedback in a way that mimics what you feel in a real car. We're not the least bit interested in simple table-based effects that jolt the wheel when you hit a wall, or jiggle it around when driving over grass. For us to consider it worthwhile, we have to model the steering forces that occur in a real car. This is not a great deal of work for us since GPL's physics model is already calculating most of those forces.

The problem on the hardware side is latency. Just go into the cockpit of GPL and move your joystick or steering wheel quickly from one side to the other. Notice how the on-screen wheel lags behind your actual physical movements. This is a bad enough situation without force feedback. When you make a control movement, it takes several hundredths of a second before that movement is actually realized in the game. With force feedback, it's the other way around - a force is generated in the game, and it then takes some time before you feel it through the device. This is very disconcerting and can be detrimental rather than helpful in a high-fidelity physics simulation.

That said, I wouldn't say that we've "come out strongly against today's force-feedback" technology. We're experimenting with it and may release an update to GPL if we come up with something that satisfies us. USB devices promise to reduce the latency considerably, so we remain hopeful.

SGN: 7. Any chances of getting GameSpy functionality or similar in a patch? It's awfully hard to find people to race against, although Alison Hine and John O'Keefe have begun an ambitious project with VROC.

Matt: It's a possibility but we're not making any promises yet.

SGN: 8. Other than the welcome substitution of the course for the French Grand Prix, are there any other changes you had to make which are not historically acurate? How do you feel about those - is it a compromise that you regret?

Matt: Actually, no. That was the only intentional deviation from a design standpoint. There certainly were desired features which had to be cut, but that's always the case.

SGN: 9. Racers in 1967: brave or crazy?

Matt: Both. :-) But for them, back then, it probably seemed almost as normal as modern racing does to us. Sure, it was dangerous, but racing is still dangerous today. It's just a matter of degrees. We think it was insane because we know how safe it *can* be. Back then, it was just the price of admission.

SGN: 10. Papyrus has now mastered Indy Car/CART Racing, Nascar and 1967 Grand Prix. What would you like to do as a follow-up? A former Papyrus employee, Rich Garcia, and the crew at MGI seem on the way to doing fantastic things with the Dodge Viper. Have you considered totally modeling just one vehicle like that?

Matt: We've considered it, but right now we're more focused on simulating the real sport of motor racing in its various forms.

Click here for more from Matt Sentell...

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