Every once in a while, there’s a nugget of info landing in our email that really shows off how crazy game development can be. In today’s case, we received a link to a design document for Project CARS, one that was shown to WMD members in the early stages of development. Most games obviously go through a large amount of cuts from the brainstorming process to the time the game actually arrives on store shelves, so this isn’t really a knock on the game, but rather a showcase of how radically different the title was when it was first pitched to investors back in late 2011 and early 2012.
The full design document is 30 pages long and can be read here, but due to budget constraints we’re only going to show you the five most prevalent features removed from Project CARS during the game’s development. According to the file name, the document was uploaded in February of 2012, and I personally remember flipping through this when I dropped $35 CDN to get the second lowest level of WMD membership. From what I remember, this is the document that really got the initial investors hyped for the road ahead, and it’s really amazing to see how none of the premier features made it into the game – instead we received a buggy, shiny version of Race 07 when all was said and done.
Project CARS was only recently cancelled for the Wii U, but as far back as 2012, really when the project initially took off, Slightly Mad Studios were committed to developing a title for what is now Nintendo’s flagship console. As the system requirements for the game proved too much for the aging hardware, the game was promptly cancelled for the Xbox 360 & Playstation 3 as well, with the dev team opting to move on to bigger and better consoles – most notably the Xbox One and Playstation 4. However, they remained fully committed to Nintendo’s console even though reports from absolutely fucking everywhere that the console wasn’t powerful enough to support a game like Project CARS. Given that the Wii U release was announced so early into the game’s development, again, all the way back in February of 2012, Nintendo users have every right to be pissed off that the game was inevitably cancelled for the system in mid 2015.
I don’t think anything from the slide above made it into the final game, aside from “getting scouted for a pro team”. There’s no car purchasing, there’s no creating your own team or liveries, there aren’t any track days, and there aren’t any sponsor endorsements as you’d see in a game like Race Driver GRID, where you have total control of the exact contingency decals you run. The full game shipped with a career mode where nothing needed to be unlocked or purchased, and you could start in whatever series you wanted. While you could indeed be recruited for different teams in different series, you couldn’t even pick your own car number and have it reflected on the car you’re driving. In short, Career Mode doesn’t look anything like the above pitch. And what happened to, Drift, Rally & IndyCar racing?
Online competitions were to be one of the strong selling points of Project CARS, allowing you to start your own virtual race team with your friends, all within the game. Nothing from the above capture made it into the game. You couldn’t create a team, third party livery support is sub-par compared to other racing sims, and obviously not being able to create a team means there’s no recruitment, stat tracking, sharing setups, or tournaments. In fact, all of these features are now “visions” for Project CARS 2:
It looks like Slightly Mad Studios were hoping to implement a marketplace to rival the storefront seen in the Forza series, with the added catch that everything you create would be sold for real money instead of contributing to the in-game economy. Again, this is nowhere to be found in the retail release of Project CARS, and it remains to be seen how the masses would have reacted to this.
The price of DLC got cut in half by the time the game landed on store shelves in the spring of 2015, but even in early 2012 when the title was just starting to get off the ground and people were messing around with the early builds, there were plans to nickel and dime the consumer far beyond other games already on the market – including plans for a virtual currency to go along with the marketplace mentioned above. We’re looking at a title that would have been sold for $60, and designed specifically in a way for the cost to double or even triple with in-game purchases. Thankfully, this approach was removed entirely, and although there are definitely a plethora of DLC packs already available for Project CARS, they are all priced to be affordable for the majority of users.
I think it’s crazy to flip through this PDF file and see all of the features that failed to make it into the game. Again, this is a document that really got people hyped for the title’s release, and caused some to spend several hundred dollars on toolkits to help the title achieve all relevant financial goals during the WMD phase. To see so little of the initial pitch make it in… Damn.