OMGN: Online Movies & Games Network

Grand Prix Racing Online Interview

Feature; Aug. 16, 2010; Channels: Video Games; By Charles Rector
Subtypes: Interview

The following is an exclusive OMGN interview with Vladimir Alexandrov of Grand Prix Online at http://www.gpro.se

Grand Prix Online Interview Screenshots

OMGN: Let's start with a self-introduction of yourself, the person behind the Game Master.

Vladimir Alexandrov:  Hello, my name is Vladimir Alexandrov from Bulgaria. I am the president and one of the administrators / developers of the game Grand Prix Racing Online (GPRO).

OMGN: Were you a race car driver before Grand Prix Racing Online? If so, what experiences would you like to share with us?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  No, I didn't even have a driver's license before I started working on GPRO. However, I do have a big interest for Formula 1 and motorsport in general.

OMGN: What was your experience as a gamer before Grand Prix Racing Online?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  I’ve always been a big fan of web-based Formula 1 management games and dedicated a number of years to a couple of games in that genre as a player. From playing these games, I was able to gather a deep understanding of the games from the players' perspective. I knew both their good and bad sides, which was very beneficial when the development of GPRO was started.

OMGN: Are you the creator of Grand Prix Racing Online? If so, what was your inspiration/motivation for creating the game?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  Yes, I was the one who started the project and had the main responsibility for the development since the start. At the time we started creating GPRO, there was a gap in the genre with a few of the other games having fallen apart, and we (a group of dedicated players from the previous games) had a wish to create a new racing management game to fill this gap which the other games had left empty. Our inspiration and the main concept behind GPRO came from the games we had played in the past mixed with some new and fresh ideas which made the game unique in its nature.

OMGN: Is Grand Prix Racing Online based/inspired on any BBS games? If so, which game(s)?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  Yes, the main inspiration came from a game called F1REM, which I played for around four years together with a few other people from our crew. Unfortunately, it was later sold, declined in quality and most players left. The original game master behind F1REM actually gave us some valuable advice in the beginning and was one of the first beta testers in GPRO.

OMGN: Why was Grand Prix Racing Online created as a browser-based game instead of, say, a downloadable program game?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  We decided to make GPRO browser-based mainly because of the social aspect (GPRO has a very active and lively community) and the benefits of widespread and easy accessibility. Web based games such as GPRO do not require anything besides a normal web browser to play, which makes the game playable from the oldest of computers, to the latest mobile phones. This is important, as not all players can have access to a single computer at all times, and allows GPRO to be played even if on the move.

OMGN: What was the situation regarding online sports car racing games before Grand Prix Racing Online was created?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  There were three or four notable games in this genre before GPRO. The pioneer of them was F1Live, which was online from 1997 to 2001. My interest for such games was ignited around 2001 though, so I had no direct experience of F1live as a player. However, the vice president of GPRO, Stefan Voggenreither, was a dedicated F1live player, as well as in F1REM which was its successor. With F1REM falling apart by 2004-2005 and losing most of its player base due to bad management of the new owner, GPRO was primed to be its natural successor. I think we can be proud of what we have achieved so far, as since the official launch of GPRO in 2006, no other F1 management game has been anywhere near as popular.

OMGN: In what ways has running a game enhanced your gaming enjoyment?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  Running a game is not that different from playing a game - at least it feels that way to me. You are just on the other side, developing the game, watching it grow and becoming better every day. The big enjoyment comes when you look back in retrospect to where you started, and what you have achieved today.

OMGN: Running a game is often a labor of love as opposed to being a money maker. How active is Grand Prix Racing Online's community in helping to promote the game, creating fansites for the game, making good suggestions for new features and ways to operate the game or other help with the game?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  The community is certainly very active in many ways. Most of the new features that we develop almost on a daily basis are the result of good suggestions made by our players. In fact, two of our four administrators/developers were previously very dedicated players who we considered as good additions to our crew, and they have certainly proved they were not picked by accident. We have also chosen some of the most active players in the community as forum moderators, which is not an easy job when bearing in mind the high activity levels of the forum and the international nature of it.

OMGN: How much influence has Grand Prix Racing Online had on other games?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  That is a bit hard for us to know for sure. We know of a couple of games which have attempted to copy some aspects of GPRO, but thankfully they were not very successful in doing it.

OMGN: What kind of relationship does Grand Prix Racing Online have with the official Formula 1 scene?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  There hasn't been any official relationship so far, but this is something that we can work on in the near future. We've already had some people employed by the Formula 1 teams showing some interest towards the game, and even giving us directions on how to develop the game further. It is worth noting however, that GPRO does not have a goal to be an official F1 management simulator and mimic F1 completely. The official regulations of F1 change almost every season - sometimes even during the season. If we attempted to keep up with the F1 regulation changes, then it would require a massive and constant programming effort from us just to keep the game up-to-date, and we fear the game would then lack any kind of stability. We believe most of our players like having a game with stable rules, where they can do long term plans a few seasons ahead in time.

OMGN: What has the response to Grand Prix Racing Online been like?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  The GPRO community is always very vocal, and, thankfully, the majority of all feedback received is largely positive! I also tend to believe that the community almost see GPRO as “their” game, as they regularly comment on how refreshing it is for the players to be able to post suggestions, and enjoy exchanges in dialogue with the Game administrators on a regular basis. This has lead to the whole community pushing the game forwards to new levels, with many players very willing to be involved in the evolution of GPRO and help wherever they can.

OMGN: Some say that Grand Prix Racing Online is just another browser-based game. How do you respond?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  Of course, it is just another browser based game, but it is unique in its kind. I dare to say that no other racing management game of this kind has ever been as successful as GPRO, so I would recommend for people who think it is “just another browser-based game” to come and give it a try to see where we are different.

OMGN: There are some who believe that innovation has disappeared from online gaming. In what ways does Grand Prix Racing Online break the mold?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  I actually don’t believe innovation ever disappears from online gaming - as new games with new ideas, new perspectives, and new challenges appear every day. In relation to GPRO, although the core game engine may remain stable for many seasons, we are always innovating by adding more and more features and challenges to the game - which succeed in making the game fresh for experienced players, as well as keeping things simple enough enough for players preparing for their very first race.

OMGN: How many play Grand Prix Racing Online?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  GPRO has grown exponentially over the last couple of years, even requiring an expansion of the league structure in order to allow more players. Currently, we have around 8,000 players who participate in both of the two races each week, and we hope to see that figure climb even further.

OMGN: How many different languages does Grand Prix Racing Online accommodate?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  Until now, the main game interface has only been available in English - although the official game guides have been translated to various other languages by our players, which has allowed a large number of non-English speaking players to also get involved. However, we do understand and accept the importance of having the full game translated into other languages to aid future growth. This is something we have been working hard to achieve during the last few months, and the plan is to launch the game in eight further languages by the end of August, with more languages following shortly after.

OMGN: What do you think that the future holds for browser-based games?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  Personally I can only see the browser-based games market growing larger and larger. As more people become Internet-capable, this expands the potential audience, not just in numbers, but also farther across the globe. Modern mobile phones have also contributed a substantial amount to the browser-game market in the last few years - as with modern browsers coming pre-installed as standard, this now brings browser games right to their pockets. People can now play in a more casual way, allowing them to participate whenever they like - whether they are commuting to work or school, halfway up a mountain, or even on the moon (if you have a powerful enough transmitter of course)!

OMGN: If you could go back in time and start all over, what would you do differently?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  To be honest, I probably wouldn’t change that much from game development point of view. I would probably assemble a bigger development team a bit faster, rather than building the core of the game alone - and would probably do a few things differently when it comes to the game marketing.

OMGN: Where do you see Grand Prix Racing Online a year from now?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  Once we have launched the game in other languages, our player base will hopefully grow even further. Some of the nations who have the most popular F1 drivers, and thereby interest in Formula 1 (e.g. Germany or Spain) have until now unfortunately been unable to play the game unless they understand English. Once the game in available their native languages, this will hopefully unlock GPRO to these potential players, and should certainly help the game grow further. In a year from now, I would probably set a conservative expectation that we will have broken through the 10,000 active players ceiling, with the GPRO player base enjoying the further game improvements we aim to implement in the near future!

OMGN: Finally, would you like to add anything?

Vladimir Alexandrov:  I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed in any way to what GPRO is today. I would of course also like to invite any gamers who have an interest in Formula 1, cars, motorsport, or racing to come and give GPRO a try – I promise you won’t regret it! If you have any follow up questions feel free to let me know.

Comments

joanpa - Sep. 3, 2010 at 4:08:22pm

Vlad forgot tell that GPRO is a copy of F1rem in www.f1portal.net

He copy all code and only modified this or add some new graphics. He insult and make a campaign against F1rem, and still use. Can check that use same things that F1portal, format and in ASP.

Include can see that have the same mistakes or bugs that original game in F1portal. Vlad was the big cheater in F1rem and was banned. Only Vlad have the reason, F1rem to Vlad is all bad.

He forgot time that for example comment in F1portal about freedom in game, and about soemebody can post free with respect, and start to insult the admin of F1portal and the best word was dictator to admin of F1portal.

No he dont admit any word of "F1REM" or "F1PortalĀ· inthe forums of GPRO or inside game.

He and other people, cheaters and others, that only like that managers of F1rem abandon the game to enter in GPRO.

Vlad is a soecial hacker, i use hacker to describe something, that only use the code of F1portal to make his own game, and win money.

The true is it, but F1rem is a best game with 10 years of history and the reference in game. I know they still spy F1rem everyday to copy his news.

Make an interview to admin of F1portal, and can see another point of view.

Hope this site maintance my post, is my opinion and the real true.

Thanks

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