This is a good time to be a fan of Formula 1 games. Just when it looks like the series might be approaching a glass ceiling, the next title comes along and smashes through it.
This week the latest example is released, and F1 2017 is far more than a repackaged version of its predecessor with a fresh lick of paint. The standout additions to F1 2016 have been built upon, with new cars, features and game modes thrown into the mix.
In the words of principal game designer Lee Mather, the series is "snowballing" now and it has an upward momentum that shows no signs of relenting any time soon.
"With anything of this ilk, if you're a known quantity, people are more confident to give you investment, confident to give you more leeway, and they know that you know what you're doing," he adds.
"If you look at where we've gone from where we first started in 2010 to where we are now, we've been a strong partner with this [F1] licence. I like to think we are doing real justice to Formula 1 at the moment."
So, what is there to get excited about this year? It's hard to know where to start.
F1 2016 was defined by the reintroduction of career mode, and the addition of a development race between the teams was a gamechanger for an area where the main limitation placed on it is the inability of drivers to switch between teams.
While driver transfers are arguably the most-requested feature for the career mode, that lies outside of Codemasters' hands, so until F1's bosses, and the teams themselves, see sense and loosen those shackles, the focus must be placed elsewhere to make the career mode as immersive as possible.
The car development aspect has been expanded to be more than four times bigger than it was in 2016, with 115 upgrades possible now and the introduction of a development 'tree' design borrowed from role-playing games.
"The biggest thing we've done this year is expand the R&D system," Mather adds. "Last year it was a fairly linear system where the player would work through components in order, and those developments were 'funded' by earning credits from taking part in the free practice programmes.
"This year we've expanded on the practice programmes with two new ones; one being a lift-and-coast fuel saving test and one allowing you to determine your race strategy separately from the tyre wear test.
"To mix the R&D up this year we've gone with an RPG skills tree system, so there are multiple routes to achieving the ultimate components. You might find that as you are developing the car, some parts fail, so you can take a different route to avoid that part, or redevelop that part to get it on the car."
On top of the primary areas of chassis, aerodynamics and powertrain to work on, the player now also must consider durability and competencies, with the latter offering opportunities to speed up development, work on multiple parts at once, and even improve the performance of the pit crew.
Durability is particularly important now that a key element from the real world of F1 has been introduced: engine and gearbox wear, including the potential for grid penalties when things go wrong.
"Each of the elements of a Formula 1 power unit wear independently of each other, and there's so much consideration you have to give to how you manage these elements over the course of a season," says Mather.
"You can choose to take penalties or try to hang on and hope it all stays together - it's taken exactly from the real world and adds another level of depth to the career so the player has to consider more than just the on-track experience."
Codemasters is able to spread its wings to offer more variety but its focus remains on elements from the real world. The changes in this area are more than cosmetic: the cars drive differently as well
If all of that sounds a bit much, your engineers are on hand to recommend developments and how to arrange the use of your engine parts to keep it simple.
How you track your development progress against your rivals has been improved as well, so rather than just a simple overall performance indicator for each team, as was the case in F1 2016, it can be broken down by area of the car, to see who is leading the way or lagging on chassis, aero and powertrain. Mather is not wrong when he says "you can drill down in great detail".
The career mode includes a major addition to the overall game this year, with classic cars returning for the first time since 2013. And while that original attempt was a one-off, the expectation is that now they are here to stay, with more cars being added in future games. Rather than just being a standalone feature for novelty racing, the fleet of 11 (or 12 if you pre-order the special edition with the 1988 McLaren MP4/4) cars from Williams, Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and McLaren feature in the two main game modes.
In the career, the player can take part in invitational events in the classic machinery, while they also feature heavily in the new 'championships' mode, which has almost gone under the radar as career mode expansion and the return of old cars hog the spotlight.
The championships section offers mini-series, sometimes using 2017 cars and sometimes the classics, which break up the gameplay offering from only being a full-season real world recreation of F1.
As well as shorter championships, there are new race formats (double headers and reversed grids are particular highlights), plus different points systems, or series where every race takes place in the rain, or focuses on a particular continent.
For those not willing to commit the time required to the career mode, or just looking for a break from the deepest form of gameplay, the stream of different championship types - with more unlocked as you progress through the mode - are an excellent addition that add genuine variety to the way the game can be played.
It creates an enticing prospect for the career mode in the future as well, as now these new race formats exist, why not have them available as rule changes through the career to keep things fresh? Mather's response to the idea - "It's not out of the question" - suggests that hasn't been seriously considered yet, but adding these formats to the online side of the game is already on the radar.
While Codemasters is gradually being able to spread its wings to offer more variety, its focus remains on elements from the real world that it can incorporate, and this year that means unleashing the new breed of faster 2017-spec cars on the virtual world. The good news is that the changes in this area are more than cosmetic: the cars drive differently as well.
"We've completely revamped how the aero and tyre grip works," says Mather. "We've also revised how the player is in touch with the car through the controller or the steering wheel. We've enhanced the feeling of understeer, which is traditionally very hard to feel in a racing game compared to when the back of the car steps out on you. Understeer is very subtle, and we want to put the player in better contact with the car, to make it more immersive and more realistic."
The result is a different feeling of car handling compared to the recent F1 games. While there has been focus on the sensation of understeer, which has been improved so it feels like the car is sliding at the front end rather than simply not turning enough, the way the rear of the car rotates has also changed.
It's now possible to free up the rear in the corner entry phase, which brings with it a risk of over-rotation (particularly if downshifts are mistimed) and a heightened chance of a full-on spin, but it also enables the player to hustle the car and almost flick it around in sequences of multiple corners in quick succession with an air of flamboyance. Much like in real life, if you've got the talent, you can make the car come alive underneath you and reap the laptime rewards.
Any fears F1 2016 was as good as it was going to get have been comfortably taken care of. Codemasters is brimming with confidence and building momentum every year
Mather points out that these characteristics differ from car to car - we experienced the loose rear on corner entry most in a Force India while trying the game - with factors such as wheelbase playing a part in the feel, and the switch to bigger tyres for 2017 is credited as the main factor behind the improved handling.
"Because the cars have more mechanical grip at lower speed this year, you're able to take liberties more," he says. "You're able to rotate the car using the throttle without overwhelming the tyres to the point where you're going to spin. I'm playing with the car a bit more, sometimes deliberately trying to get some extra rotation without being so nervous about the car spinning out.
"You can get into the zone more. In a time trial, you can just nail it lap after lap, but in a race, you have other elements to worry about."
One of those is your computerised opponents - the AI, which had a comprehensive overhaul for the 2015 game. Despite the AI already being excellent, Codemasters hasn't rested on its laurels. Pre-set difficulty levels have been done away with, replaced with a 0-110% slider that should allow every player to find a suitable level of opposition.
"We wanted to include a more granular difficulty setting," says Mather. "When you've got as we had last year seven difficulty settings, people would sometimes fall in between them and it meant they weren't getting the experience they wanted. People were either punching above their weight or too far down the order based on the car they were driving."
The difficulty slider doesn't just affect the speed of the AI cars, either.
"Something we haven't really spoken about is that as you increase the difficulty level, the closer the proximity of the racing is between the cars," Mather adds, highlighting a tweak that has made overtaking more difficult in this year's game. "If you turn the difficulty level right up, the AI will have no problem rubbing wheels with you.
"But if you're playing on a lower level, they're a little more cautious and they give you a wider berth, as less experienced players might be more erratic and need more space to race cleanly. But the AI are very racy, and the wheel to wheel stuff, corner to corner, is amazing. It gets very, very close."
Any fears that F1 2016 was as good as it was going to get for the official game series have been comfortably taken care of with the 2017 edition. But what's next? Does Codemasters have more tricks up its sleeve for future iterations? The response is emphatic, and reflects a studio that is brimming with confidence and building momentum with every year that passes.
"We've always got plenty on the table," Mather says. "No matter what you are working on you will always try to do more than you can in the time available to you. The nature of the beast is that as creative people you've always got ideas, you always want to do more, and at some point, there must be a cut-off.
"This year we've achieved a huge amount again, as we did in '16. We've not only added content, but so much meaningful gameplay around that content, which is the most important thing."
Suggest that the number of new features added to the last two games means the rate of additions to future titles will slow down, and the response is to expect "absolutely the opposite".
"There's a roadmap for what we think is going to be a really good direction for the title, and so far, it's going really well. We're hitting the things that gel with the player."
Codemasters had "a reasonable idea" of many of the ideas that stand out from F1 2017 this time last year, and there's no reason to believe that's not the case again 12 months on. The recent success of the series is making doors easier to open in terms of creative freedom granted by F1 itself, although insiders at Codemasters also stress that the blockages and restrictions put in place contractually are "not as bad as you think", even if driver swaps being allowed remains off the table for now.
But for the second year running, Codemasters has done so much with its F1 licence that the spotlight on what it can't do is dimmer than it once was. Expect another glass ceiling to be smashed this time next year.