Why Codemasters Hasn’t Changed Game Engine For F1 24

F1 24 01.jpg

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  • Yes, Unreal

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F1 24 uses the Ego technology platform for a 16th consecutive instalment – the game’s lead, Lee Mather, explains to OverTake how it has evolved and why it didn’t jump to a different game engine.

Images: EA

“New this, new that, but same game engine,” reads a comment on an OverTake social media post about this year’s upcoming official Formula 1 game.

EA SPORTS F1 24 is being created by a team predominately based in the UK city of Birmingham, and the same is true of its predecessors, dating back to the revelatory F1 2010.

That opening salvo and each subsequent yearly release all use the same underlying game technology, which Codemasters dubs ‘Ego’.

It has now powered 18 F1 games (including F1 Race Stars, F1 2009 on the Wii by Sumo Digital and this year’s latest), alongside other projects such as the Dirt series and numerous Grid variations.

For some, based on comments sections and subreddits, Ego seems to be the racing game industry’s malaise, while others are blissfully unaware.

The last public version change was ‘Ego Engine 4.0’ first seen in F1 2015, but according to the development team, the number belies updates and changes that have been made over the following releases.

F1 24 05.jpg


“It changes significantly every year, and we have an ongoing internal joke that maybe we should increment the version number because it is so drastically different,” Lee Mather, Senior Creative Director on F1 24, tells OverTake.

“This year, for example, we have added dynamic diffuse global illumination (DDGI) for the lighting. We have up to 120fps on consoles plus all the different settings for PC that allow you to play in different ways.

“These are features that you can get in all the cutting-edge engines and think there's nothing that we don't have that other engines include or have coming.”

The Lone Survivor​


What was once a game engine to be used across multiple projects – even Operation Flashpoint military simulations – is now exclusively used by the F1 development team.

Under the stewardship of Electronic Arts, there have been several changes to the Codemasters’ organisational structure.

The former Codemasters Cheshire team responsible for DIRT 5 (which used OnRush as its progenitor, not Ego) was subsumed by Criterion Games to work on Need for Speed – a franchise that currently uses EA’s proprietary Frostbite basis.

Meanwhile, the long-standing Southam studio move away from Ego to Unreal Engine for EA SPORTS WRC, integrating DiRT Rally’s physics systems. The future of the Grid name is unclear.

F1 24 03.jpg


Consequently, Ego is now used purely for single-seater race cars – something that Mather touts as an advantage:

“The team know every nut and bolt of it because it's something that they've created themselves.

“It's bespoke for the game, and we have total flexibility to do what we want with it. I don’t think we would be able to make huge changes to the physics so easily if it wasn't our tech.”

Perhaps, then, it is the sense of familiarity that leads to such reticence. Arguably there has never been a sudden step change in graphical fidelity between each instalment.

Instead, it's more akin to iPhone releases. The yearly updates seem minimal at the time but compare the current version with one from five years ago and the changes can be more noticeable.

It also perhaps doesn’t help when, in the past two seasons especially, there seems to have been a surfeit of bugs in the immediacy post-launch. This was something shared, as it happens, with EA SPORTS WRC, but in that instance running on Epic Games’ tech.

Unreal Off The Table​


When asked if the F1 team would consider following the rally team onto Unreal Engine, Mather was quick to respond:

“We share information across all the [EA] teams. There is no requirement or need for us to make that move. There's no significant gain that we need on F1.

“There were obvious reasons [for them to switch], like being able to generate large rally stages, but that's something that our tech isn't required to do. We don't create a stage that's 30 miles long, we create a beautiful representation of a real-world Formula 1 circuit.”

F1 24 04.jpg


While specifics about the inevitable F1 25 are understandably off-limits, it seems, for now, Ego is here to stay.

“We're going to be continuing to build and grow it,” Mather highlights.

“I think if you look back to where we moved over to this engine in 2015, you'll see that we've added a significant number of features and functionality to it, and we will continue to do so.”

If F1 24’s handling changes are truly as noticeable as what is being claimed and the game runs smoothly come its 31st May release, that would go some way to justify evolution instead of revolution.

If not, I suspect the same old comments may crop up in about 12 months from now...

What do you think? Vote in our poll up top and leave a comment below. Is it time for a game engine change for the F1 games, and if so, to what? Or would you like it to continue its current path?
About author
Thomas Harrison-Lord
A freelance sim racing, motorsport and automotive journalist. Credits include Autosport Magazine, Motorsport.com, RaceDepartment, OverTake, Traxion and TheSixthAxis.

Comments

Premium
Would be keen to hear if they have improved VR @thomasharrison-lord

All previous entries have been below par and as per usual, the articles published for F1 dont ask the questions needed.
There will be more details unveiled over the coming days/weeks, so I would stay tuned - hopefully, we can test this ahead of launch.
 
So the Ego engine obviously has its limitations. And seeing as Codemasters are part of the EA flag, don’t they have direct access to the madness engine that is now used by Reiza studios for AMS2. Who I might add did a better job with it than its creators.
Also triple screen and VR are already implemented into the engine.
Sounds like a no brainer to me.
 
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Premium
So the Ego engine obviously has its limitations. And seeing as Codemasters are part of the EA flag, don’t they have direct access to the madness engine that is now used by Reiza studios for AMS2. Who I might add did a better job with it than its creators.
Also triple screen and VR are already implemented into the engine.
Sounds like a no brainer to me.
This is a great point - and also a little sticky following the cancellation of 'Project CARS 4' and the disbanding of that team. Would love to do some more digging about this.
 
Personally, I feel like they are missing the point by not switching to another game engine. EGO2015, while worked on constantly, still suffers from many bugs (some new, plenty of old) and some fundamental design flaws, the graphics, even on highest settings, just don't look as good as on some other games, the sound design is decent but every year it makes you want more from it, AI is getting better but there are games with slightly better AI overall. Multiplayer keeps being unstable and full reliance on P2P just keeps breaking lobbies if host disconnects or loses connection due to various circumstances. Options are decent, but we are missing some options to make things more flexible and/or more fun. Heck, we STILL don't have Mouse in the game!
By just purely switching to another game engine (UE4/UE5 or Frostbite or something else) they could start fresh and potentially earn back the players' trust, because a lot of people just don't want to come back mostly because it just looks the same as it looked like back a few years ago, and not to mention some of the bugs that seem to keep carrying over from previous games.

"We don't create a stage that's 30 miles long, we create a beautiful representation of a real-world Formula 1 circuit."
..except the circuits usually feel lifeless. Even Codies' WRC game managed to make the stages feel more alive.
 
I'm shocked that most people so far have voted for Unreal. The performance and graphical downgrade from DR2.0 to WRC is clear as day, yet people yearn for more Unreal slop.
Ego is a good engine, but I feel like it's a bit far too gone now. It doesn't look that good anymore, nor does it run well, but still way better than Unreal...

As for physics, people put too much blame on game engines. Maybe some engines may have trouble with processing precise data consistently and/or efficiently, but it's mostly down to the math used and I believe modern game engines are pretty good at that.
 
Simple answer is that it's going to take many flops to get to a good yearly F1 title if any team changes engine after working on one engine for as many years as Codies have on this one...

It's not like changing a pair of shoes, or even like many other game genres...

So many teams have changed engines or started the new journey on an engine and taken years, some even decades in sim racing, to get it right... The F1 series doesn't have the time with it's yearly iterations... As bad as it has been since EA took over it's still a lot better than it would of been on Unreal or the Madness... Even if they started work on 2026 in those now it would still be a subpar game compared to what F1 22 and 23 have been...

It's better for a team like Codies to improve on what they know, let WRC be a trek down another engines issues and see what can be done with another engine for a different racing title... An Indycar or BTCC game for example...
 
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Would be keen to hear if they have improved VR @thomasharrison-lord

All previous entries have been below par and as per usual, the articles published for F1 dont ask the questions needed.
I would love to have good VR support seeming as my PC does meet recommended specs + this is my first time playing an F1 game on PC. Although, after seeing the first beta weekend, I don't think I'll be playing for long... I guess I'll just wait
 
It is fine with the ego engine for what it is supposed to achieve. The perspective of using the Madness engine is interesting, but even though the madness engine is a superior engine, it also seems tricky to implement. Although implementing it on a single car series should make it easier.
As long as F1 XX is reaching its goal, why should they change anything?
 
I'm baffled that so many people voted for Unreal.

The Ego engine may be getting a bit old but it's definitely not insulting to the eye, and more importantly it's highly performant (the bugs in F1 are as a result of the code surrounding the engine, and not the engine itself)

Unreal on the other hand is the video game equivalent of slapping some lipstick on a three-legged pig.
 
It’s really disappointing when things aren't transparent. The transition to the new engine hasn’t happened yet, likely because of the big changes expected in 2025. For now, it looks like the new F1 24 will be much the same as last year’s. While it’s understandable that they don't want to disrupt their current work schedule, it feels like the effort could be stronger. Those who already have F1 2023 might not see the value in upgrading to the 2024 version. Hopefully, Liberty Media will recognize the need for a change and consider partnering with a more dynamic and innovative team than EA Codemaster for future developments.
 
They should built a new engine for themselves, it would make their lives and the follow games better.
 
It is a fact that this whole story that the engine change is not relevant is a lie, as soon as sales start to fall, the change will come.
They have no reason to change, the game still sells well, they would have to start work almost from scratch, they would have to invest more money, time, and technical knowledge.
Some here say that the problem is not the game engine, this is very relative, it depends a lot on your experience in other games, games with other technologies, realistic transitions with more realistic physics, tire physics, collisions, track rubber , of dirt, look at a great example of the disregard for its consumers, now in 2024 they will be able to run in an updated Spa, the copy and paste thing is constant in this game, much more than evolutions, they are more concerned about perfumeries than profound changes, but The answer to change has to come through revenue, just don't sell for 2 years, and all this talk above will go down the drain.
I confess that I have all the Formula 1 titles from 2009 until today, but until there is a profound change in this F1 game, I will no longer have my money, or only when it is on very cheap promotion on Steam.
Here in Brazil 359.00 for the standard version is a steal for an updated game, when the price drops to 99.00 I'll buy it, because that's what this game is worth to me.
 

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