This week feels like it has gone by in a flash, with a lot of things going on behind the scenes. We’ve been working mostly on some enhancements for GT Challenge as we already outlined last week. This work is still ongoing, whilst we are also discussing some other session related changes with some of the other developers within Studio, but those things are probably better addressed in the upcoming roadmap.
We have just finished deploying a couple of new series that will be starting shortly after we publish this blog. Hopefully you will enjoy the combinations we’ve picked! That said, let’s look at a few of the questions that have been asked earlier this week.
Will we be able to spectate CS anytime soon?Bartchelin
It is still somewhere on our list, but not very near the top yet. Hard to estimate when this will make it in. We first would need to create a UI that shows all running splits of a session that is currently live, and then a sensible way to choose the one you want to spectate. What is your intention? Do you want to follow the race of a friend?
Just because I like interesting facts, I thought I read that more resources were being put on the UI development itself again (correct me if I am wrong). How much % of all work currently is bound to the competition system, compared to the rest of the sim?Remco Majoor
I’d estimate we have roughly 30% of our development resources working on competition system features. The other 70% are working on UI, some core features and some graphics improvements. These things do change over time though.
As an idea, what could be great is a pop-up that appears if you are in solo practice to say that the CS you are registered start in 5 minutes.Alpha User
That is already in our designs. At the top right of the screen, there is this “message” icon. Right now that mostly just shows chat messages when you are in a server. When everything is implemented, that will also feature notifications (and those will make that icon flash) while you are in other parts of rFactor 2. Possibly even when you are driving.
In terms of the early life of the Competition System, would you consider yourself pleased with how development is progressing from a technical point of view?Paul Jeffrey
In terms of stability we are at a point where we are happy that the basic features are working well. Both for users and from a “management” point of view. This is also why we thought it was time to start adding features, like running GT Challenge, in the system. As a side effect of that we will add a lot of flexibility in terms of chaining a couple of sessions which means we can also start running qualification sessions in front of races to set the grid for a split, and many other things.
What would you consider to have been the largest technical challenge in developing the Competition System so far?Paul Jeffrey
When we launched at Christmas we hit a little speedbump, quite literally as there was a performance bottleneck we had not identified during internal testing. After that, I don’t think we hit any further technical challenges. A lot of time before that had gone into preparing for this, overhauling the whole UI to be web based and in general spending a lot of time in front of virtual whiteboards to flesh out designs. Going forward our challenge will certainly be to add a ton of features whilst keeping the system simple to maintain. We feel strongly about creating a very diverse offering, and to keep things fresh not just by adding new content, but also by adding new formats.
If you could roll back time to the beginning of this process, what would you change in terms of development up to this point?Paul Jeffrey
I’m very much a believer of taking an incremental and iterative approach to developing such systems. Between the time we launched an early prototype for the first World’s Fastest Gamer competition and now, it’s probably fair to say we tried out quite a few different ideas. Some worked well, others were rejected and one thing we learned along the way was that we needed to make sure that our administrators could quickly create and modify competitions. In some early prototypes, making certain changes was problematic, so that is something we had to change and if I had to do it all again, I would emphasize this more from the start.
As a sim racer yourself, what part of the Competition System, either in its present form or a future shape are you most excited about?Paul Jeffrey
I like how quickly you can now jump into a session and join the action. Once you’re signed up, all the content is there, and it’s really super easy to get involved. In recent weeks I’ve really been much too busy to jump in a lot, but earlier in the year you could regularly see me competing. What I’m also looking forward to is a feature that we are still fleshing out. I’ll call it “social matchmaking” for now and its focus is on allowing you to race with your friends (and possibly make new ones) instead of purely matchmaking based on skills. I think we are (one of the) first to feature that, and I think it’s really important. The social aspect of our community is important and whilst we are also all here to compete, many of us will not ever be world-class drivers. And that is fine. We should make sure competition is fun at all levels and this is one of the features that I think will help with that. If you and your friends want to jump into a race together, you should be able to for example.
We’ve seen the GT Challenge Series has been migrated to the Competition System now, how has that been from an implementation point of view, and has the move to bring GTC opened up the possibility for new and different feature developments to trickle into the main Competition System platform?Paul Jeffrey
You should really ask Marian, one of our core developers on the competition system, how this experience was for him as he did most of the heavy lifting here. I think once we aligned on the exact format we wanted to have with Jimmi, our initial designs for this worked rather well. I think the biggest side effect is something I briefly touched on earlier, being able to sequence specific sessions within a split. That will have many more uses in future competitions for sure. Another thing we’ve been working on in this context is the integration of our broadcast features and overlays with the competition system. That will take a bit more time before we can make it available to anyone, but the first steps there look very promising.
Longer term, does Studio 397 have any intention of implementing some kind of streaming features within the Competition System, to allow either centralized or even potentially community powered streaming of races?Paul Jeffrey
We would certainly like to facilitate streaming, and not just in the competition system. Integrating the broadcast overlays into the game was a first step. We are still debating on what future steps would really help people stream races. So maybe a question to the community here: what would you like us to develop to make streaming easier?
Do you have any data on the popularity of the different car classes in terms of participation? I’d be curious to know which of the car / track combinations offered so far in the system have proven to be most popular with the rFactor 2 community.Paul Jeffrey
We do have all of these statistics internally. We’ve seen some interesting things in this data. Let me share some highlights. First, in terms of “most popular series” I think both the Tatuus and the Alpine rank very high. Both are what we would call “entry level cars” which is not in any way dismissive. In fact, I personally enjoy both of those cars a lot and enjoy the close racing they bring. Another insight is that we don’t really see much difference in terms of popularity if you compare free and paid content. We have always maintained that we will continue to provide both. This shows that, so far, seems to be a good choice. Going forward I think we can prepare a little presentation and share some more of this data, maybe in a few months.
In the future, will there be license classes to where you can’t drive certain cars without reaching a certain level of license? For example the faster cars like the Dallaria or DPI?Kaashif Iftikhar
This is planned as a feature that we can configure for certain competitions. We can set “entry criteria” and those can include a specific minimum rating or license. When building a pyramid of racing, it makes sense to leverage this feature to create some form of “pro” series (or drivers). At the same time we recognize that if you just bought the latest DPI car, you also want an opportunity to race it online, even when you are just starting out, so there might be another competition featuring the car with no such limitation.
Could you in the future add competitive servers like RaceRoom did? I thought it was a cool idea, and it has attracted a lot of people to run every day in the simulator.Luis Pereira
Yes, that and other ideas that attract enough people to be worthwhile are definitely on our radar.
What would good look like to you for the Competition System in 6, 12, 18 and 24 months time?Paul Jeffrey
I think the high level roadmap we shared at the start of the year is pretty much still the order in which we would like to do things. I think in a few months from now we will sit down, look at that roadmap again and try to align it again with the things that are happening. High on my list right now is to make sure the system is safe and fair for everyone. I’m pretty happy with the overall driving standards, but obviously we’ve also seen cases that need to be penalized.
Do you have plans to implement such things as different start types (rolling, standing etc) and also maybe a full formation lap ahead of the green flag?Paul Jeffrey
We certainly do. In fact, I believe we had a brief discussion about exactly this topic earlier today.
I think it could be quite cool to showcase some of the best performers on a regular basis within the CS system – do you have any plans to highlight to the community drivers who have achieved particularly good results / performances in a given month – say via the roadmap, or social messages for example?Paul Jeffrey
I had not thought about this exact idea, but I like it a lot.
Is it intended that the number of participants in the split will also influence the points? If the split has only 3 participants, I will be the last to finish third and receive many points. In a split with 20 participants, third place is logically worth more, but I currently receive the same number of points.Christian Wolter
You don’t get points for where you finish in a split (in most of our competitions). We look at your results from every session within the event, and rank you accordingly. Based on that ranking you get points.
Do you have a plan for a big series (or collaboration) of 3 to 6 months like VEC (Virtual Endurance Championship) or GTR24h? If it is realized, please consider the time difference with Asia / Oceania. I think the number of entries from those region will increase.I_Bellett
Obviously with VEC being run by Jimmi (and a bunch of other hard working volunteers) we get a lot of feedback from him about what we would still need to do before this becomes a possibility. Same for GTR24h, who are also in close contact with us and no doubt following these developments with a similar interest. We would be stupid to cater only for the European (and/or American) time zones. That is not our plan, we want to give everybody such opportunities. The same would be true for “big series”, whichever those end up being.
Do you have any plans to create a page that visualizes race results and rating fluctuations?I_Bellett
Yes. No time frame yet, but results and a lot of statistics are definitely planned.