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Interview: Better racing coming up in Pro Cycling Manager 2013
Pro Cycling Manager 2013

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 won't exactly go over in the history as the game in the series with the best and most enjoyable AI.

Luckily, it sounds like Cyanide has indeed listened to the critism and been focused on changing it for the better in the upcoming game, Pro Cycling Manager 2013, that's set to be released in late June.

We interviewed the game's lead programmer, Xavier Wiart, who in detail told us about the changes to the mountain AI which allows more havoc, more dropped riders, different sorts of attack and more.

We were also told about the new energy and fitness system that won't allow you to go on 200 km Landis-like attacks without feeling the consequences the following day and the much-needed changes to the game's Armada mode.

You can read the full interview with Xavier Wiart below:

- First - looking back, do you have any regrets about PCM12?

Well, I had some doubts about the success on Armada, but when we look to the figures it was quite a success. The players play more often with better servers fiability, and even if there are some critics, it is better than the previous Gamecenter. The fact that some features on Armada were done very late in the season was a problem, though

Now about the other features, I don't have really big regrets about it. We did what we could with the time we had (and even extra hours). We always want the best version ever.

- Armada was one of the new features of PCM12, and I suppose it's still one of the features you spend a lot of energy on. What has changed since last edition?

First of all, the Gamecenter is now gone for good. Any multiplayer game is done on Armada, so that it now has three parts: Stage Races, Track and Stage.  For every mode, you can play it with your Armada cards that come with the ladder rankings as well as with your friends in friendly races.

In friendly races, you can play with any team you want and with any database you want.

Another small, but interesting addition is the possibility to save different rosters, you can import your PCM12 profile in PCM13 to get your collections back, there are new legendary cards and an updated database.

Last, but not least, there is a limitation depending on your level that prevents you from playing with 8 gold cards. It means that newbies are logically matched together on the match making, and they play with balanced teams.

- So just to be clear on the multiplayer friendly mode: Is it now possible to play any stage (or stage race) with any team of any database?

Yes, it is possible to play with a custom DB and official teams in a stage race in the same way as it was possible in the stage mode in PCM12.

- How about custom tours? Will it be possible to play e.g. just five stages of the Tour de France rather than all of them?

You can select the stages you want in a Tour, but I'm not 100% sure about whether you can mix different races.

- Changing the subject to the AI: Have there been any changes to the mountain AI this year?

There are a lot of improvements – some are shared with Tour de France (the console game).

First of all, the riders’ dropping rate has been improved a lot, and it is less depending on the human behavior. The AI teams are taking more responsibilities, and sometimes they work hard to make the selection.

AI leaders have better reactions when the human or some other AI attacks or accelerates. In the grand tours, when a rider is far in the rankings because of a bad first week or being out of shape, he tries to escape from far, hoping the peloton won't chase behind him. The early attackers have a real possibility to win a stage, including AIs, much more than before.

Another interesting addition is the fact that a rider like Purito Rodriguez is killing the bunch with the acceleration in his attacks while a rider like Ivan Basso seems to pull a trailer when he attacks. The difference is made by the acceleration stat. It won’t make much sense to use the same tactics for a diesel rider and a puncheur.

- So it sounds like you have actively looked into how you can create more 'havoc' in the mountains.

Yes, this is the part that has changed the most.

- Has work been done to improve the selectiveness of hill stages? The AI really struggles to get gaps on hill stages in PCM12, unlike in previous versions.

Yes, hill stages will be impacted too, even though with the new energy system you may want to use the hill stages to rest as much as you can for the next stages. But there will be a lot stage win chasers in these hilly stages.

- The new energy system… Can you explain what this is all about?

It’s linked to a new fitness system that’s completely different from previous versions. There is still a system of fitness planning over the season, combined with a cumulated fatigue, which mainly prevents you from being in good shape during the whole season, but allows you to make realistic seasons like classics+Tour de France or a Giro-Vuelta double.

In addition to this, there is a 'rhythm' parameter which is more or less replacing the former "race fitness'. You have to ride a few races before reaching 100% of your skills. If you don't ride for a few weeks, you'll lose your rhythm.

The last parameter is the 'freshness' that is a better version of the previous recuperation. When there are two classics in a weekend, like Kuurne & the Het Volk, you can't be in top shape in both classics because the first will drain your energy.

- How does this work in stage races?

I'd say it works better than before. If you aim the overall ranking you can't aim for stage wins everyday as well because you have to keep a good 'freshness' for the key stages. In previous games you could sometimes feel that your efforts didn't really matter for your recovery. Now they do.

- Cobbles have previously been mentioned as an area that you’ve worked on. Can you explain what’s been changed?

Cobble sections are now assigned with a difficulty from one to five stars. For example, in Paris Roubaix there is now a difference between the five stars "Tranchée d'Arenberg" and the 1 star last cobble section of the race.

You can really feel the difference between the sections. Having played some cobble classics, I can say I enjoyed it a lot. The scenarios are always entertaining and never the same. As for mountain stages, there is more 'life' during the cobble races with riders attacking early and decisions to make for the player.

- Have any other aspects of cobble races been altered?

It is always hard to balance, because too many punctures, too many crashes would be game killing, so we have to balance it with caution. Five star cobble sections have an increased risk of problems, but we prefer "too few" than "too many".

- It’s been indicated that new hidden traits will impact races - Fatigue/Tiredness, Will and Regularity. Now I've heard that this information is incorrect- that there's no such thing in PCM13. What's up and down?

I don't know how this feature appeared publicly as it has never been planned at all. Tiredness is indeed part of the fitness, but there is no such thing as will or regularity.

Besides that, there is a 'rider satisfaction' parameter that appeared in the game. Riders are sensible to the races they participate in, evaluating the popularity of the race, the race type and the quantity of race days. For example, Contador can show some anger if you subscribe him on a 1.1 cobble classic that doesn't match at all his qualities

- What are the consequences of this?

It replaces the moral value, but the impact is minimal. The riders won't renew if they are not satisfied by your management, but this won't be too hard.

- On to the subject of editing. Have you made any changes to the stage editor?

The stage editor has been improved. Not a big feature, but a lot of good improvements. New borders, new isolated buildings and some improvements for the stage makers.

One important point is the inclusion of Corsican assets, which is a particular region where the tour will start. The 100th anniversary of the Tour comes with great stages and some good places will be in PCM13. The Champs-Élysées stage, played on sunset is very beautiful – you have never played a stage like that in any PCM!

- Yes, you recreated the stage, as far as I can see. Did you also include the tunnel?

Yes, this is not the exact route but you can recognize the tunnel, the Champs Elysées, The tour Eiffel. I hope we will release some screenshots and trailers to show it.

- At PCM.daily, we have received a lot of questions concerning bugs in PCM12. Weird transfers, peloton stopping close to a sprint and the solid rider model that’s preventing riders from moving up during a climb etc. Is this something you have been aware of and have fixed?

We fix bugs when they are reported – we do our best. The solid model is still there with a few fixes, but it’s basically the same. On the other hand there is a new animation system that is much more realistic.

- On a longer term, what are your plans with PCM? What's the objective for the next few years?

We have ideas for at least the three next versions, but it is not exactly sorted out. We listen to the communities as much as we can, and the future of Tour de France on console plays a role too.

There are still a lot of things to improve. For example, we are currently thinking to revamp the quick simulation which is clearly not satisfying enough

- But are there any major changes in the plans? For example, cyclocross which have been rumoured since 2001, or Be a Pro etc.?

These macro features are very hard to foresee, because it is a big bet, and it would take many people for one risky mode.

Cyclo cross would almost be another game to do, because we don't want a cheap and fake cyclocross based on tweaks from track or road races.

On the 'be a pro' topic, we never came to a satisfying design that could be great. We don't want to blindly copy 'Fifa'.

Both of these features cost too much compared to the benefits it would give.

#31 | lennybernstein on 20. May 2013 13:19
Thanks for setting up the interview, very interesting.

It's a shame once again that it seems there will be no major advancements on the management aspect of the game. None are hinted at for future additions either. This is shame from my point of view. Maybe one day I'll have my hopes fulfilled that an in-depth, playable cycling management game will be produced, but for the time-being I guess I need to keep on dreaming.
#32 | Avin Wargunnson on 20. May 2013 13:39
Just rename it to Pro cycling simulator and it will make much more sense. Smile
#33 | Alakagom on 20. May 2013 14:34
Since no questions I could see have been asked about career part, I can't see your reasons for saying it doesn't have additions Wink It always had and it does this year too.
#34 | lennybernstein on 20. May 2013 14:51
#32 I agree, the title is misleading. The game is 80% simulation and 20% management.

#33 You're right. But I think any substantial additions to the management aspect would have been mentioned by now.

The main 'skill' of the game will remain the player's ability to control his riders during the race.

The management aspect - sponsorship, training, rider development, interaction with riders, contract negotiation, press relations, scouting, finances, and so on - doesn't require much skill at presents, and needs a thorough overhaul in my opinion.

I know PCM will never have the resources thrown it that something like football manager does, but I think a lot more could be down to improve these aspects and provide the player a much more immersive management experience.
#35 | MacC on 20. May 2013 15:47
Any word on if sponsor goals will have any real effect?
#36 | Jesleyh on 20. May 2013 15:49
#35 You should've asked it Wink
#37 | Selwink on 20. May 2013 18:22
Still wondering about the season mode. Interview looks promising, and I will probably buy it as soon as I have a new computer
#38 | Vioselos on 20. May 2013 18:45
im gonna keep playing PCM 2011 untill we get "Be a Pro"
#39 | Denny on 20. May 2013 18:49
Yeah a 'Be a Pro' mode would be such a great addition to the game.
#40 | Jeremy on 20. May 2013 19:12
Isn't "Be a Pro" kinda like TDF? Does that mode make any sense in PCM? I don't see how it could be done with the current gameplay in PCM.
#41 | Miguel98 on 20. May 2013 20:14
Wanna play be a Be a Pro in PCM? Put a rider in one team and you got it. Pfft
#42 | Ian Butler on 20. May 2013 21:10
Indeed. Look at all the one-rider stories. That's be a pro. With the help of editors you can even change teams every year Wink
#43 | superider2010 on 21. May 2013 12:56
won't happen soon(maybe never) because they have project tdf beside pcm

pray at least that the tdf game to be extended,richer in races
i dream that the console game to have the classic races(at least 8 races)and the grand tours
#44 | Ian Butler on 22. May 2013 13:15
I must admit, I was rather excited reading this. But then I read some articles about the uocoming GTA V. Quite a difference Pfft
#45 | Aleakez on 22. May 2013 13:31
this sounds allot more strategic in the big tours so i cant wait, best news i could get, but most likely too good to be true Smile

I see you in June Arnaud Démare Smile
#46 | Aleakez on 22. May 2013 13:36
#44 at least you can pretend to cycle tour of California if you get tired of beating up prostitutes Smile
#47 | zachbastian on 23. May 2013 07:15
#21 and #22: I agree.
#48 | xXMajesticoXxx on 23. May 2013 23:59
If u make another interview i would really appreciate it, if u ask him
some questions about the Track Mode.

The Track mode is really popular as a multiplayer game , have they got an idea of improving this mode?

Most Importanz question:
My friends and the whole community is playing thos
mode since years. Is it really possible to beat the 10seconds mark
in the 200m TimeTrial. It would be nice if they could
give us more clues of how to do it.

Thank you very much already Smile
#49 | fenian_1234 on 27. May 2013 00:52
- At PCM.daily, we have received a lot of questions concerning bugs in PCM12. Weird transfers, peloton stopping close to a sprint and the solid rider model that’s preventing riders from moving up during a climb etc. Is this something you have been aware of and have fixed?

We fix bugs when they are reported – we do our best. The solid model is still there with a few fixes, but it’s basically the same. On the other hand there is a new animation system that is much more realistic.

Shame you didn't ask my question why support for the game now stops the end of August. We've not had a satisfyingly complete version of the game for years now.
#50 | MichealWarne on 18. June 2014 11:28
I love bycling and this tournament would more fun. I will never missed it even i will pay someone to write my assignment by visiting https://www.doneas...gnment.php but i will definitely watch it
#51 | AliceVictoria on 19. June 2014 10:36
bycling is my desire, but for last week i realized about my weak skills while cycling so i start taking coursework help by visiting https://www.course...riters.php
and now i am improving it
#52 | ChrisGreenwalt on 07. October 2017 00:17
May be this happens in real time. However, in my opinion, a small piece of time will be required to turn it happen true. https://www.theac...ces-uk.php
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