The final rFactor 2 Development Roadmap of 2020 is here! With the festive season in full swing amidst the yearly tradition of afternoon drinking, over eating and slouching around the sales in search of items at prices we can’t resist, it feels like a fine of a time as any to tell you all about the rFactor 2 goodies during this holiday season, before we lay virtual pen and paper to rest for a much-needed break.
Of course this month is a little more dramatic than usual, punctuated with a visit from a fat man in a red suit clambering down the chimney at the dead of night to deliver those socks you always wanted, but that doesn’t mean we’ve taken our foot off the gas here at Studio 397, far from it in fact, as we’ve once again had a bumper month of new stuff for rFactor 2, with plenty more cooking away nicely in the background ready to kick into gear for 2021.
rFactor 2 | Winter Sale: Click Here.
Sale time! Yes, a sale is as synonymous with Christmas as cheap socks and cheaper wine, and not wanting to break from the tradition of low prices on awesome content, the rFactor 2 Steam Winter Sale is in full swing – with massive discounts across loads of items within the simulation. If you’ve been holding off on that bit of something you fancy but haven’t gotten around to purchasing just yet, then fear not, now is very much the time to treat yourself to a gift or two during the holiday season.
Our biggest sale of the year, we have fantastic discounts on plenty of great content within rFactor 2. From a 60% reduction of the Formula E Bundle, to half price happiness with our GT3 Pack, even KartSim and the Reiza DLC packages get in on the action too – so head over to the rFactor 2 Steam Store page and pick up a bargain for yourself!
Endurance Bundle 2 DLC Release
Endurance Bundle 2 | Steam Store: Click Here.
With endurance racing very much one of our key pillars here at Studio 397, we are delighted that just ahead of Christmas we were able to release our Endurance Bundle 2 DLC, adding three very special endurance racing machines to the sim. The Endurance Bundle 2 DLC has been a labour of love for a number of months here at rFactor 2 HQ, and we’ve been absolutely delighted to see the positive initial reaction from the community towards these three new cars. With so many exceptional racing series and categories that exist in the world today, it is always a really difficult decision to look through everything and decide what type of car we want to bring to life within rFactor 2, adding variety to the simulation but at the same time also keeping a keen eye on fleshing out some of the categories that are already held dear to the heart of our sim racing community.
With the Endurance Bundle 2 DLC, we’ve looked to further strengthen both the LMP2 and GTE classes within the sim, whilst also bringing a top level IMSA specification DPi racer to the rF2 for the first time. In regard to this new prototype, the Cadillac DPi-V.R, we have enjoyed an unprecedented level of support and access from JDC-Miller MotorSport during the development phase of the car, and as such we are pretty confident this is one of the most realistic releases we’ve managed to put together during the whole lifespan of rFactor 2… needless to say, we really like driving this beast out on the virtual circuits.
It is also with significant pleasure that another firm favourite brand of the studio is represented now in rFactor 2 with their latest challenger, as the eighth generation Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTE makes its debut in the simulation, further expanding our already impressive collection of GTE cars within the title, and bringing the latest and greatest in terms of engineering technology from the famous American manufacturer. Significantly different to its ultra-successful predecessors, the C8.R is notable not only for its mid-engine concept, but also for the quite dramatic styling changes over the beloved lines of the original Corvette. Initial scepticism from fans of the brand about this dramatic change in direction were quickly overcome however, as the new car has proven itself to be a mighty impressive piece of hardware this season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – wrapping up driver and team titles in its first year of competitive action.
RCCO eX ZERO 2021 Release
RCCO eX ZERO 2021 | Steam Store: Click Here.
Endurance Bundle 2 aside, this month the content development team have also been hard at work putting together quite a few new toys to enjoy within rFactor 2. At the beginning of December we kicked things off with a release of the very interesting new RCCO eX ZERO 2021 electric car – a first for rFactor 2 in that it was designed by former DTM champion Mike Rockenfeller and his team, exclusively to be brought to life within our simulator. Loads of power and massive grunt courtesy of the 1000 hp electric power unit, the car will primarily be used for future esports competitions, and could well prove to be an early look at the not too distant future of real world motorsport in the years ahead.
Content Updates… lots of updates.
rFactor 2 Track Updates | More Details: Click Here.
The development team here at Studio 397 have also taken the opportunity this month to push live a number of developments to some of our existing content within rFactor 2. As is always the case with a continually evolving piece of software, as we move the base rFactor 2 platform forward on a number of levels we have to find a balance between current and future releases, and ensuring our older content meets the standards enjoyed by newer items. As such, December has seen a number of tweaks and improvements to several of our existing tracks within the simulation, with special attention paid to the Nurburgring Nordschleife and its missing curbs, and a few improvements to the Portland International Raceway, Spa-Francorchamps, Hong Kong E-Prix and the Botniaring Circuit. Fear not dear sim racers, further track and vehicle updates will be coming on a reasonably regular basis next year, as we continue to work hard to bring all the content within rFactor 2 up to the quality levels deserving of this racing simulation.
The New Competition System
Back in the November Development Roadmap posting (here), we spoke about our desire to use the December update as a first pass of our new Competition System within rFactor 2. Now while this first release by no means represents the finished article in terms of how the competition system will look going forward, it does present us with an initial starting point to base development and expansion of the features and functionality based on what the end user would like to see and experience within the system. This first release should offer players the opportunity to engage in regular and scheduled online racing events in rFactor 2, which will be expanded with further offerings and more feature rich functionality in the coming months. For the initial launch phase of the system we have put on a selection of popular car and track combinations for players to enjoy, however expect to see this change up on a regular basis with more frequent events added as the system begins to populate with regular users.
To get you started, we’ve embedded a little guide which will be expanded upon in 2021.
The competition system is integrated into the brand-new UI. Whilst we won’t attempt to explain everything regarding the new interface, we do want to start here by pointing out where to find the new system. From the main menu, right at the top of the screen, click the “Race” option to go to the race screen. Here you will see different panels for accessing single player, multiplayer and competition shortcuts, as well as buttons to further configure each. Click “sign up” on the competition panel to get started.
Signing Up for the System
The first time, you need to sign up for the competition system. This involves accepting the terms and conditions, as well as creating an account using your real name and e-mail address. Once that is done, you are ready to start looking for competitions that spark your interest. Note that, as the system suggests, it is important to sign up with the identical name you are using in rFactor 2 (by default it will already fill that in for you).
The “Competitions” screen uses the familiar interface with tabs at the bottom that allow you to browse all the competitions that are currently active in the system. Click on each one for an overview, and if you want to learn more about them, click the “more” button to “drill down”. The “back” button or the path menu at the top allow you to quickly go up that same hierarchy again.
Trying the Series
At this point you might see a competition that you are interested in. In some cases, you might want to first try out the content that is associated with the competition, so at this point we allow you to do just that: subscribe to the content and try it out in single player mode. You can hit the subscribe button at which point you will automatically be subscribed to all the content you need. But what if that includes paid content? We will check if you already own it, and if not, we go and look for the best possible deal for you in our store. We will put all those items in your basket for you to checkout, if you so choose. The end result after downloading and installing all content will be that you get a new “series” that you can use in single player as well that features all the cars and tracks used in that competition. Find the car you like best, practice the tracks you need to drive, tweak setups and in general make sure you come prepared.
Signing Up for a Competition
You’ve now come to a point where you decide to sign up for the competition. The sign-up process for a competition involves the creation of your “entry”. Right now we only support entries with a single driver, but future versions will include endurance races with driver swaps, race engineers, and various other roles. What you do need to do now is pick the actual car you want to race with, as well as any upgrades for it. Once that is done, you are ready to register for your first session!
Registering for a Session
Registering for a session is something you can currently do at the latest 15 minutes ahead of the actual start of the session. By registering, you are telling the system you will be in that session, and pressing the button will redirect you to a briefing screen. You will see some information about the session, as well as a countdown that will automatically join the server that got prepared for you.
As the briefing will have told you, when you enter the server, you will be in a 5-minute session ahead of the “real” session. For example if you joined a race, there will be a 5-minute warmup. This is to allow everybody to join the server ahead of time. You can use this session to drive. As always, be mindful of other drivers that are joining as well. At some point the session will then start, and you can drive. Good luck! When the session ends, you can either leave the server yourself, or wait until it shuts down. If you leave before it ended, you will see a screen that indicates that the session is still in progress, and you can even try rejoining. If the session has ended, you will end up in a post session report screen, and from there you can navigate back to the competition screen and look at the standings or register for the next session.
Looking at the Standings
If you go to the screen for the competition you were just in, the standings tab at the bottom allows you to view the current standings. Each competition can have one or more of them, depending on how it is set up, but typically you will find at least some points based standing and something that will tell you your position in qualification, which determines your grid position relative to others.
Wrapping it up
So that wraps up our short introduction. There is a lively community on our Discord server that can definitely help you if you’re stuck or simply have questions about the system. And with that out of the way, it’s time to remind you about what’s coming. We posted a mini development roadmap for the competition system last month. Below is a brief outline of some key areas of focus around the competition system in the immediate future. Note that this is our current order of priority, but as we move forward and get more feedback from our community, priorities might shift and new ideas added. We will definitely report on such changes going forward.
Ratings — are probably one of the most anticipated features, and one of the reasons for not having them active right from the start is that we want to test our algorithms on real-world data before publishing anything. Our current philosophy is to have a single rating system that encapsulates both your skill and safety record. Internally we already use ratings to evaluate the results if various races in an event, and to give you points based on how well you did in that event.
Protests and decisions — are also high on our roadmap list as we will no doubt have situations where an incident will need to be reported and evaluated by our stewards. Our goal here is definitely to let the in-game systems do a lot of the (easy) work here, monitoring when you cut the track or commit other offenses and directly handing out penalties. At the same time we are aware that not everything can be decided by robots.
More competition formats — are things we will probably gradually introduce but as a feature they certainly need to be mentioned on any roadmap. We intend to run our GT championship, various hot lap styles, some completely new formats as well as more “league style” competitions in the system. The intention here is to keep things fresh, so expect us to introduce several new ideas over the course of next year.
Roles and team based driving — will be added to allow multiple drivers to share an “entry”, or car, in a competition. Roles can be defined so teams can also have a manager or race engineer. Other roles are stewards, race control, and cameramen to facilitate broadcasts.
Broadcast integration — is probably another feature that will be gradually introduced, but obviously when broadcasting sessions that belong to a competition, we want to make sure that overlays showing standings, points, participants and calendars accurately reflect the competition they’re a part of.
Offline Championships — will be added once the online part is running smoothly. We will leverage the features we use online to also facilitate offline championships, where you can race against our AI.
December Build Update
In order to be ready for the competition system launch, we deployed a new build update for rFactor 2 on Tuesday 22nd December. The new build, as detailed in previous roadmap postings, now ensures our latest generation UI is the default way rFactor 2 launches for all users. The current UI technology is essential for the continued progression of the simulation and the integration of the competition system, and continuing to focus development attention on two separate branches of the simulation (old and new UI) isn’t practical for the studio moving forward.
That said, we acknowledge that some users may find initial technical limitation issues with the new UI, and some Simulation Centres also require access to the original UI in order to run their businesses, as such, we have retained a depreciated version of the simulation running on the original UI. This version can be accessed via the Beta tab on the Steam interface.
It is worth noting however, use of the previous UI version will not be compatible with the new competition system, nor will it be in receipt of future updates.
A Look Back At 2020
We are of course incredibly excited about the new competition system and the continual development and improvements that are being brought to the new UI in rFactor 2, but it is important to remember some of the other achievements we have made during the course of what has been a pretty crazy year for everyone in 2020. With the world of motorsport closed down without much warning thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of the year, the opportunity for bigger and more ambitious than ever esport events has opened up the opportunity for us to put on some incredible displays of esport racing activities this last 12 months. From holding the official Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual action in rFactor 2 to seeing all the real world Formula E drivers taking to the simulation in the Formula E Race at Home Challenge, with plenty of quality racing in events like our GT Pro and GT Challenge seasons, the BMW M2 CS Racing Cup, Sim Formula Europe 2021. An incredible journey so far, and we are still at the very beginning with plenty more to come!
One of the key highlights for us this year just has to be securing a licence to bring the legendary Ferrari brand to rFactor 2 for the very first time. For years, having a licence agreement with the famous Prancing Horse has felt so far out of reach for us, but with quite some determination and a push for bigger and better licenced content within the sim, it was an unbelievable feeling to finally be able to bring the best of Maranello into our vehicle roster here in rFactor 2. Already the fruits of these labours have been seen with the addition of the 488 GT3 EVO and GTE, and expect more to follow in 2021…
rFactor 2 | Ferrari GT3 EVO Steam Store: Click Here.
rFactor 2 | Ferrari GT3 Steam Store: Click Here.
Another key highlight over the last 12 months has to be the addition of probably one of the best race tracks in the whole world (well, in my humble opinion anyway), yes, after many, many, many requests from the sim racing community, earlier this year we were finally able to recreate the legend that is the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in all of its laserscanned glory in rFactor 2 – and honestly, we think it is spectacular with the cars within our simulation. It has certainly been a long time coming to rFactor 2, but as we double down on our desire to be the best option for sim racers looking to recreate a number of different endurance style racing events, we just had to have a collection of the finest endurance racing venues in the world, and with Spa now joining Le Mans, Sebring and Silverstone within the sim, we think we are getting very close to achieving that goal… with yet more goodies to follow next year too…
rFactor 2 | Spa-Francorchaps Steam Store: Click Here.
Zandvoort 2020 Edition
Although most certainly not an endurance racing track, and sadly due to the world health situation not even a Formula One track yet, we also very much enjoyed giving our virtual racers the opportunity to sample the newly reprofiled Zandvoort Grand Prix Circuit ahead of the real world drivers trying out the Dutch venue earlier this year. Unfortunately, circumstances would prevent the much anticipated return of the Dutch Grand Prix until 2021 at the earliest, but that hasn’t stopped us bringing the challenging new layout to the simulation for rFactor 2 players to enjoy. From the sweeping banked last corner to many other profile changes aimed to help improve the racing spectacle, here at Studio 397 we are big fans of the new changes, and we can’t wait to see how Formula One get on at the track when the Dutch Grand Prix finally returns after a 36 year wait!
rFactor 2 | Circuit Zandvoort 2020 Steam Workshop: Click Here
The New Bentley
Another new car we found ourselves very excited to release earlier in the year was the 2020 update to the astounding Bentley Continental GT3. Having proven that racing cars don’t particularly need to be small in order to be blisteringly fast on the world circuits, the new update of the powerful British car has proven to be a step up in almost every way from its now aging predecessor, and having the opportunity to bring it into rFactor 2 and help keep our collection of GT3 machines up-to-date with their real world counterparts, was an opportunity we just couldn’t let pass.
Of course, having already released the earlier specification Bentley as paid DLC, we also took great pleasure from being in a position to add this to the already existing store item, meaning players who own the car already get a new version for free, and anyone looking to pick the car up for the first time gets both the old and new version together, for the same price.
The 2020 Bentley is very much a different beast that its older sibling, both in terms of style and also the way it behaves on track, as such, both cars very much have something unique to offer the player, and our continued collaboration with the great British brand we feel is again testament to the strides forward we continue to make with rFactor 2 in recent years.
rFactor 2 | Bentley Continental GT3 Steam Store: Click Here
The Return of Radical
Small, lightweight, powerful. Sounds like a combination of factors that would lead to a good time behind the wheel, either in real life or on the virtual tarmac, and in the new Radical SR3 XX that is exactly what drivers get – producing one of the most interesting and engaging driving experiences in any car within rFactor 2 at present. Having worked with Radical for the release of the original SR3-RSX car all the way back in 2017 a return of that collaboration this year was a source of great pleasure and pride for the studio, especially as it led to the release of this incredible new car from the British marque.
Acting as its own standalone class within rFactor 2, the Radical quickly became prominent within the community for its deceptively challenging driving behaviour, marking it out firmly as a car that is easy to drive, but difficult to tame. We’ve loved bringing this sort of vehicle to rFactor 2 this year, and hopefully you all enjoy driving it too!
rFactor 2 | Radical SR3 XX Steam Store: Click Here.
New Formula E Tracks
From old tracks like Zandvoort getting a modern update to absolutely brand new venues coming to rFactor 2. Formula E remains one of the most modern and advanced forms of motorsport in the world, and we are absolutely delighted to continue strengthening our relationship with this impressive championship series. As Formula E takes on World Championship status in 2021, we continue to work hard with the series organisers to bring new and exciting content and innovations around the category to the simulation, and next year should see at least a couple of new tracks coming to the title, the addition of the innovative ‘attack zone’ mode on our existing tracks and one or two very exciting esport activations within rFactor 2, so stay tuned for more information about the various things we have cooking as the new year kicks into swing over the next few months…
rFactor 2 | Formula E Bundle: Click Here
Racing Legends in rFactor 2
The topic of esport activations moves us quite nicely onto the subject of some pretty high profile activities we have been involved with this year. If you would have asked anyone at Studio 397 at the end of 2019 if they would have seen Mario Andretti, Emmerson Fittipaldi, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Andy Priaulx all racing together in the same event using our software we would have thought you mad… however, with the world health pandemic throwing a bright light on the world of virtual racing – that is exactly what happened, with The Race All Star and Legends events bringing together some of the biggest names in motorsport to race on the rFactor 2 platform – an incredible showcase of our simulation, and the wider sport of sim racing. Hopefully we can get more of this type of action together in 2021, and continue spreading the joy of legendary race drivers taking to the virtual circuits.
rFactor 2 | The Race All Star Challenge: Watch Again Here
Considering much attention this year has been on esports racing in general, and rFactor 2 broadcasts in particular, we took the decision early in the year to spend quite a bit of time and resources updating and improving our broadcast overlay system for our users, alongside our recent improvements that have been made with both the new UI and the overall look and feel of the graphics engine within the title. Our broadcast overlay system has been developed to bring a level of professionalism and quality to both custom organized esport events and races and championships run at home by our sim racing community. We understand that communities within the sim racing world are looking to take their own broadcasts to the next level of visual quality, and the reception we have received from many series running our overlay system has been fantastic to see – it really has made broadcasting race events within rFactor 2 so much more professional looking, and added a fantastic array of customisation options for users to explore and enjoy within the title. It is something we are very proud of indeed, and we look forward to further expanding and improving upon this system in the weeks and months ahead.
rFactor 2 | Broadcast Overlays User Documentation: Click Here.
Another important aspect of our simulation, and something that appears to be increasingly rare in modern racing sims, is our desire to offer community modding teams a platform in which to show off their fantastic creations. The rFactor franchise has long been regarded as the platform of choice for modern day sim racing modding, and although the art of creating mods has of course become much more complex with the release of rFactor 2, and with it the ever more demanding requirements that modders must achieve in order to realise their creations within the sim, we’ve worked hard this year to help clarify and support these fantastic individuals with more detailed documentation and support materials to help with their projects. Of course, this is something of a moving feast as rFactor 2 continues to develop, and we still very much have a desire to continue supporting the community in this regard – so expect these documents to continue to grow and expand over time… you can never have enough information!
rFactor 2 | Modding Development Tools and Documentation: Click Here.
Endurance Racing Bugs
We’ve also spent a lot of time this year trying to understand and rectify a few of the long standing bugs within the simulation. We are aware that plenty of work still remains in order to eradicate all of the issues that exist within rFactor 2, and of course we very much wish we could wave a magic development wand and make them all go away in a single update, but sadly the reality of the situation when it comes to software development of this nature means that things inevitably take longer than one initially expects, changes don’t always have the desired effect and new additions to the software often bring with them unforeseen outcomes with the many interdependent variables that exist within the code behind the scenes. Sadly, the upshot of this means we will inevitably take longer to work our way through the list of fixes and improvements we have on our radar, but rest assured we are working night and day to address as many areas of the title as we possibly can.
One of the areas that we have paid particular attention to in recent months has been the endurance racing aspects of rFactor 2. We spoke about the various testing measures we put in place back at the studio to study the cause and effects of these issues back in the June Development Roadmap, and it has been gratifying to see that the fruits of these labours have resulted in plenty of very effective fixes, something that we are keen to continue into other aspects of rFactor 2 in the weeks, months and years ahead. rFactor 2 is so technically complex and wide in scope that these developments will forever remain a work in progress piece of work, and we look forward to rolling out more quality of life improvements into the new year.
Le Mans 24 Hour Virtual
Arguably the biggest thing that happened in the world of rFactor 2 in 2020 would be a world first for sim racing. Due to the global closure of live sporting events following the Covid-19 pandemic, we worked very closely with the ACO, WEC, FIA, Motorsport Games and Alkamel to stage a virtual recreation of the world famous Le Mans 24 Hours, holding the yearly round the clock classic entirely within rFactor 2, rather than on the tarmac of the famous French venue.
Not only did this prove to be the largest sim racing event in history, as witnessed by an incredible 23.9 million people across 57 different countries throughout the world, but it also allowed us the opportunity to welcome a outstanding collection of real world racing teams and drivers into the rFactor 2 family – providing them with a platform on which to thrill racing fans who would otherwise have been sat in front of the box watching the real event in different, non-pandemic times.
Frighteningly large in scale, both in terms of the work required to ready ourselves for the event and the broad distribution of the footage, being a part of the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans brought to the fore a number of useful learnings for us at the studio, the outcomes of which we continue to work hard to filter into the development of the simulation even to this day. Surely a massive highlight for the team, and a great showcase not only of rFactor 2 as a platform, but also the world of sim racing to both the sport, and the wider racing public.
rFactor 2 | Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual: Event Highlights: Click Here.
Of course the above only lightly touches on the entire body of work that is undertaken here at Studio 397 every day of the week (and weekends too), it would be near impossible to list every single thing the studio have worked on over the last 12 months, some of which are yet to see the light of day, some have changed beyond all recognition since the original concept first formed, some have merged into other aspects of the sim and others are just starting to take their very first tentative steps into the wider team. We will just have to ask you to trust us on this one, each and every member of Studio 397 has a burning passion to ensure the simulation grows and improves as much as possible, as soon as possible, and together we are exceptionally confident that 2021 will be another great year for both sim racing in general, and rFactor 2 in particular.
Seeing as we are right into the very final throws of this strange and unique year, how about some fun facts and stats about rFactor 2… maybe a few little nuggets here you didn’t already know?
4 – Number of free tracks released in 2020: Zandvoort 2020, Portland, Loch Drummond, Formula E test track
3 – Number of DLC tracks released in 2020: Berlin FE, New York FE, Spa-Francorchamps
1 – Number of free cars released in 2020: Stock Car 2018
6 – Number of updated tracks in 2020: Monaco FE, Le Mans, Silverstone, Nurburgring, Hong Kong, Botniaring
8 – Number of DLC cars released in 2020: Ferrari 488 GTE, Ferrari 488 GT3 EVO 2020, Bentley Continental GT3 2020 (free add-on), Radical SR3 XX, RCCO eX ZERO, Cadillac DPi, Corvette C8.R and Ligier JSP218 LMP2
10 – Number of Formula One World Championships held by drivers who officially raced in rF2 Esport events in 2020: Sebastian Vettel (4) Fernando Alonso (2) Emerson Fittipaldi (2) Mario Andretti (1), Jenson Button (1)
3 – Total number of new car licences added to rFactor 2: Ferrari, Cadillac, Ligier
6 – Major build updates for rFactor 2: 1117, 1118, 1119, 1120, 1121 and 1122
11 – Number of official rFactor 2 Esport categories held during 2020: Sim Formula Europe 2020 / Le Mans 24h Virtual / BMW Sim M2 Racing Cup / GT PRO Season 1 / GT Challenge Season 1 / GT PRO Season 2 / GT Challenge Season 2 / Sim Formula Europe 2021 / Formula E Race at Home / The Race Legends Trophy / The Race All Stars Series
It would be fair to say that 2020 has been a rather exciting / stressful / rewarding / intense / dramatic / satisfying year of development and progress for Studio 397 and rFactor 2. With the difficult world health situation throwing the lives of many people into varying levels of disruption and chaos around the world, it is easy to get too wrapped up in the ups and downs of game development and take your eye off the bigger picture, as such, we wanted to take this opportunity to send our best wishes to everyone in these trying times, to thank you for your continued support and encouragement as we all strive towards our goal of making rFactor 2 the very best it can be. A thank you also to our various staff around the world here at Studio 397, who continue to put in unprecedented hours behind the scenes pulling everything together in our efforts to continually grow the simulation we all love.
With Christmas already over and the New Year right around the corner, all that is left to say is, from all at Studio 397, wishing you all the very best as we head into (hopefully) better times in 2021. Stay safe, and see you out on the track!