Another chapter has been added to the saga of Slightly Mad Studios and Project CARS, and this time, it has serious implications.
The journey began all the way back in 2011 with a “cunning plan” stemming from within the NoGripRacing forums, but the untimely end is now bound to be marked by a few gamers of the casual variety merely questioning when they’d get to see a bit more of World of Speed. Before that question could be answered, attention was shifted back towards Project CARS, as the title received three distinct delays; the final product appearing to lack any sort of meaningful quality assurance testing. That was just a tad frightening – something wasn’t quite right about this operation, but the rabid apologists were always quick to shut you down. Welcome to the world of Slightly Mad Studios.
Immediately after the first community-funded title landed upon store shelves, plagued by bugs, glitches, and other irregularities, developer Slightly Mad Studios requested sim racers to hand over even more of their money to help make a sequel. A Red Bull Air Racing game appeared out of thin air, yet the sole evidence of the game’s existence was restricted to a lone trailer – on e the team loved to regurgitate time and time again. World of Speed was still being neglected, as was Biker Bash. Snide comments circulated regarding the tentative schedule Slightly Mad Studios seemingly operated on. These posts remained exactly that – cheeky remarks and nothing more.
But then word got out that preliminary alpha tests for World of Speed had been completed, yet it was a random forum user – not a community manager – that arrived to proclaim the good news. It was odd, for a company dedicated to placing prominent staff members within the forums on a daily basis, to leak the news through some random message board citizen. Red Bull published a lengthy preview piece on the upcoming Free to Play Air Racing title, but remarked at how “empty” the studio’s headquarters felt – uncommon to see in PR fluff intended to promote the game. Little red flags, too small to be of any value in isolation, began to pile up. Information concerning Project CARS 2 indicates the team is currently hard at work on the sequel to the 2015 racing sim – all hands on deck, if you will – but there’s just one small problem which combined with the empty office and lack of completed projects, is a major cause for concern.
Ian Bell, head of Slightly Mad Studios, has abruptly left the United Kingdom altogether and now resides in Singapore. A pasty white guy who’s based out of the greater London area who should instead be keenly watching over the development of the upcoming Project CARS 2, has spontaneously relocated to the other side of the planet. This move comes around the same time a Red Bull journalist mentioned that he once arrived to a barren and “empty” Slightly Mad Studios headquarters, though we’ve just been tipped off about this piece of information today. While the developer team does include a portion of the staff members working primarily from home, Bell was THE key figure at studio headquarters in London, England, and is always present in promotional material shot on location. For him to up and leave the entire continent at such an inopportune time – when Project CARS 2 is said to be at full production – all but confirms a serious problem is occurring.
You make the call as to what’s going on behind closed doors. Unlike Stefano Casillo of Kunos Simulazioni, who has openly talked about his adventures to the Philippines and eventually the Netherlands, Ian Bell moving as far as humanly possible away from the team’s headquarters in London has not been mentioned anywhere. VirtualR hasn’t said a word about it, opting to draw attention to a short film regarding Nicolas Hamilton. Nobody has brought it up on RaceDepartment, though the crowd over there is admittedly focused upon other racing simulators first and foremost. And even in the official forums built specifically for Project CARS, fans still speculate about upcoming pieces of DLC rather than wish Mr. Bell the best of luck on his new life in Singapore.
Something is up.