Happy end of July everyone – we’ve made it through the month, and now it’s that time once again to sit down, take stock and get excited about the future development of rFactor 2! The days have been long, the nights have been short, and we’ve even managed to find time to pull ourselves away from the sim rigs for a little while to do some more development work, as always marrying together our own internal roadmap plans with feedback from our ever loyal and expanding community here in rFactor 2 land.
Development has been very intense behind the scenes of late, and we’ve exhausted a lot of our resources in recent weeks on bringing together the latest big build update for rFactor 2, so much of what we have in the works for the next few weeks is perhaps a little too early in development to start discussing in this Development Roadmap post – however, we really can’t let July pass without giving you some bits to get excited about, so let’s have a look at what the very near future is likely to bring…
Helmet Updates – Coming Soon
The helmet model in rFactor 2 has been in use for… a while now. Let’s be honest about this, it really did need an upgrade in order to add some much-needed visual immersion to the excellent content produced both here at the studio and by our outstanding modding community that continue to work tirelessly to create great content for rFactor 2.
Whilst we have always harboured ambitions to revisit the helmets in game, allocating the artwork resource required for this task just hasn’t been possible until very recently – and to be quite frank with you, we think the efforts undertaken by our development team to upgrade the rFactor 2 helmet have paid off spectacularly – with a significant improvement having been achieved with this new update.
On the visuals front, the helmet now benefits from our PBR shader technology, which should really help to merge the visuals into the modern aesthetic of the simulation. We have added details to the normal map, and given the material a better feel. Additionally, we have also built a brand-new easy to use template, with user-friendly modular shapes and colours. This will allow us to quickly export dozens of different designs, with 15 of them already built and ready to use in future series as default skins. This new customizable template should allow creators to easily export skins and design their own styles – hopefully facilitating plenty of creative opportunities for our community!
New Safety Car!
At last! A new Safety Car is coming to rFactor 2 – we’ve done it, at long last, the previous generation safety car will be no more! With full working lights and PBR shaders, and keeping with the Corvette theme (because we really like Corvette here at Studio 397), the new C6 is here, and is something that we have been exceptionally keen to bring into the simulation for a long time now, but haven’t quite found the time to put the resources towards bringing this into fruition within the simulation. That has changed with this new car, and as soon as we get the base design liveried up and looking all official, we will be adding it into rFactor 2 for everyone to enjoy. Get ready to say your goodbyes to the old car, it’s been a long-standing member of the software for plenty of years now – but change is coming!
USF2000 PBR Update
USF2000 | Steam Workshop: CLICK HERE
Yes… we talked about this update ages ago… and yes, it’s taken far longer than we initially anticipated as other priorities and projects have come to the forefront of our development schedules. Despite those unintended delays, we remain huge fans of this car here at the Studio, and with such an incredible amount of love for the mighty little USF2000 we were never likely to let things slip too far into the future – a future that is now here! We’ve almost finished revisiting the car with some nice tweaks and the full PBR upgrade treatment, so expect this one to go into testing in August with a view to getting it out into the public towards the end of the month – hurray!
Tatuus in rFactor 2 | Steam Workshop: CLICK HERE
During July, we dropped a surprise new Tatuus car to the simulation, and that got us inspired to revisit the existing Tatuus models in rFactor 2 with a view to bringing about some additional tweaks and improvements to the cars, from bug fixing to further refinements that we hope and expect will make these cars even more enjoyable to drive within the sim.
We have a pretty comprehensive collection of the Tatuus cars already, so this wasn’t exactly a quick thing to revisit them all and add the changes we wanted to make, however with the various Tatuus cars all offering something different and unique to the rFactor 2 experience, we hope you agree with us that the effort was well worth the end result – they now look, sound and drive even better than ever before!
In terms of the updates, we’ve revised some audio files to better represent the types of engines in play with these models, and we’ve also spent some time looking at the physics and handling to ensure we have as close of a relationship to the behaviour of the real cars as possible. Although many of the changes are relatively minor in isolation, we firmly believe these changes, once deployed in early August, will help our drivers enjoy these great cars even more than ever before. Watch out for the update to drop early in the new month….
New PBR Track Update Coming Soon
August should also see the introduction of the latest track to receive our PBR update treatment. As well as bringing the visual aspect of this circuit right up to current standards, including new assets and full PBR shader updates, we’ve also taken the opportunity to revisit the circuit layout itself – adding a number of tweaks and changes to ensure it best reflects the current version in use today. Uplifting the visuals and circuit layout has been a pretty sizeable undertaking for our track team, and we have been very impressed with how much of an improvement this has made to the overall experience. Although we are pretty close to getting this into our testing process, we don’t quite feel ready to announce which track it is just yet, so we will save that one for a reveal post later this month…
We’ve briefly spoken about our desire to review the shadows process within rFactor 2 in previous roadmaps, and while we still have a lot of work in front of us before we can consider these improvements ready to share with the rFactor 2 community, early indications suggest the changes we are looking to make should bring about a nice visual uplift to the simulation. Our development team have spent time in recent weeks trying to understand how and where the main gains can be found with how rFactor 2 processes shadows in different light and environment conditions, and needless to say the development team remain hard at work back at base investigating different potential solutions. Now that we are well into development of our new SSR technology, we expect this to form the largest part of our upcoming development focus.
Competition System Developments
One of the next key development goals for our Competition System is the introduction of an area of the system that allows drivers the opportunity to view and interrogate data from past sessions and events in which they have taken part in. We want the driver journey within our Competition System to be a long term commitment from racers, where regular and exciting events are available to participate in on a daily basis, but also where players have the opportunity to review their performances and attendance in previous encounters. Of course, reviewing past events and competitions is only a very small portion of the data experience we intend to bring to the Competition System, as of course we’ve also targeted the introduction of driver ratings and other informative and useful statistics and markers – however, this type of process is very much taken in smaller steps, the first of which we hope to introduce over the course of the next four weeks. At present, we are looking at how best to present the information on previous participation, with several potentially strong design directions under consideration.
We continue to work hard on refining the user experience of our CS going forward, so make sure you get into the system early as we continue to build what we hope becomes the central place to take rFactor 2 online in a competitive environment.
In recent weeks we have acknowledged several reports from our community about a frustrating issue where rFactor 2 occasionally switches the number of sound effects to one – effectively ‘breaking’ the game audio and leaving players with a lot of confusion as to what went wrong, and how to fix it. Although the fix for this is fairly straight forward – set audio effects to 64 in the settings screen – we’ve noted that a follow-on deviation from expected behaviour has manifested itself in that players then have to restart their rFactor 2 install to ensure this setting change takes effect.
While this workaround is perfectly serviceable for the short term, we are of course disappointed to see it happen in the first place, and we are continuing to investigate both the cause of the issue in the first instance, and also how to ensure future setting changes are immediately rendered effective in the UI, without the need to restart the simulation. We have only just started our review of these issues, however early indications suggest we have a handle on what might be causing this, so expect a more permanent fix to be incorporated into the next Release Candidate build going forward.
Having the ability to facilitate professional and impressive race broadcasts is another aspect of the overall rFactor 2 experience that remains important to us. We know that many of our community enjoy live-streaming their racing activities on various platforms and channels, and we strongly believe that no matter how big, or how small your team and events are, you should have the opportunity to produce broadcasts that are both visually appealing, and informative to the viewers watching at home.
Over the last year or two we have worked hard to bring a robust and feature rich suit of broadcast tools to rFactor 2, and as we continue to push forward with our own various esport series, new and interesting opportunities to add further interesting insights into the race events present themselves.
In our next scheduled batch of improvements to the rFactor 2 broadcast overlay system, we have elected to extend the number of available fields to present data on screen, as well as applying several further refinements to both the functionality and robustness of the system. One of these is a new auto cycle feature. This allows you to select all the types of information you want to see in your overlay tower and let the overlay system do the rest. Determine the amount of time you want between each piece of data, and the overlay will automatically cycle between them.
We’re not just working on features. We have also been looking into new data from the backend, such as tyre compounds and DRS. These two made their debut on screen during the Formula Challenge broadcast last Friday. The compounds will be going public soon, while the DRS functionality is already live. By default, a simple text will be shown for DRS. For those who are into a more customized overlay, we have added CSS classes to various elements whenever DRS is active. This way you can add animations or graphics to those who have DRS active, like in our bespoke Formula Challenge version of the overlays:
A New Car Announcement
During August, we anticipate being in a position to reveal the identity of a brand-new car to be introduced to rFactor 2. While no one really wants to read about us teasing an announcement, and frankly we feel the same, such intricacies as licencing deals, release strategies and all the other types of things one has to consider when launching new content all come into play, meaning we aren’t quite in a position yet to tell you what it is and when it will be released – but we still wanted to let you know something is in the works, and should be in your virtual garages sooner rather than later.
Hopefully we should be able to share with you lots more details and images over the next month, so apologies for being a bit vague – hopefully it will be worth the wait!
Driver Swaps – Developments Ongoing
As a simulation that very much prides itself on our capacity to provide outstanding endurance racing experiences, one of the key aspects of any multiplayer long distance race events is the ability to swap drivers mid-race. Last year we spent considerable time refining and improving the usability and robustness of our driver swap feature within the simulation, and as we head into the middle of summer we are again looking at bringing further developments and fixes to this important aspect of the game. We have noted recent feedback from the community around a few reoccurring issues with drive swap functionality, and we remain committed to investigating and resolving these issues in the very near future.
Looking back on July
July has been a pretty strong month for the studio in terms of new updates, developments and content releases. Over the course of the last 4 weeks we have managed to deploy a new free car, a free double layout add-on to the paid Monza DLC and the brand new, and super exciting Formula Pro open wheel racer.
While content is of course important to keep the racing experience fresh, we’ve also been exceptionally pleased to finally deploy our sizeable July build update to the main branch of rFactor 2, adding a very satisfying mix of improvements and fixes, as well as our first pass at SSR (Screen Space Reflections), a new graphic feature that we believe truly lifts the overall visual experience of rFactor 2 another level forward – and with plenty more improvements still to come!
July has also been important as we continue to set the tone for the future development of rFactor 2. Here at Studio 397 we remain incredibly committed to bringing yet more features, fixes, improvements and exciting content to the simulation in the weeks, months and years ahead, and some of the things we have in our plans we think our awesome community will really enjoy – but more on those another day.
So, having already looked forward to a few things on the horizon in the very near future, lets take a look at a few of the key highlights from July:
July Major Build Update
rFactor 2 July Update | More Details: CLICK HERE
This was a big one. The development team here at rFactor 2 have worked tirelessly in recent months to continue diligently working on improving and expanding the rFactor 2 codebase to bring online the various fixes, tweaks, updates and new features we want and need for the simulation to continue progressing.
Early in the development cycle of rFactor 2, way back when Studio 397 formed and took over the software from previous custodians ISI, we spent time as a team looking at the various strengths and weaknesses of the simulation as we planned how we can best deploy our limited resources in taking rFactor 2 forward in the long term.
As part of those initial discussions, we identified that arguably the weakest area of the software was the graphics engine, with the visual aspect of rFactor 2 falling significantly behind that of its main rivals, and certainly not being as far advanced as other aspects of the software such as the physics and force feedback.
With that in mind, we elected to embark upon a journey to aggressively develop the graphical aspect of the simulation to bring it back into the ballpark of where a modern racing simulation should be, throwing new developments like VR and DX11 into the mix, as well as upgrading older and new content with the latest PBR shader technology employed in all our latest content.
The next step of this journey we realized in July with the release of our first SSR (Screen Space Reflections) build into the public release of the software. Adding SSR has opened the door for us to significantly improve how reflections are generated within the simulation, dramatically improving rain and wet surface visuals, as well as allowing more detailed and dynamic reflection behaviour.
The July build update was a first pass at this new feature, and already we are very pleased with the outcome even at this early stage, and we look forward to seeing further improvements in this area of the graphics engine in the weeks and months ahead.
The July build wasn’t only all about SSR, we also took the opportunity to develop further fixes and improvements across the board to the software, from more UI improvements to linked sessions in the Competition System – the build was huge, and we are now hard at work trying to top that in the next one!
Formula Pro Released
Formula Pro | Steam Store: CLICK HERE
The fastest car in rFactor 2 (for now). The Formula Pro open wheel racer joined our ever expanding collection of official Studio 397 content right at the very start of July, and we have been absolutely delighted with how well this new vehicle has been received by the community so far.
Developed in collaboration with tyre supplier Goodyear, the Formula Pro marks the first occasion we have put the new tyre data and learnings to use within the sim, producing what we believe to be a much more satisfactory behaviour with the tyres, as well as delivering what is an overall excellent driving experience with a car that we have put a lot of work into making as detailed as possible, despite the ‘fantasy’ nature of the machine.
As well as the car itself, complete with 26 team liveries, we also launched our new Formula Pro and Formula Challenge esports series with the new machine, and already the racing has proven it be exceptionally entertaining in both categories during the opening round – something we are delighted to see being enjoyed by the community so much even at this early stage. We’ve got big plans for this car in the immediate future, and we can’t wait to tell you more about them as the year progresses.
Monza New Layouts Released
Autodromo Nazionale Monza | Steam Store: CLICK HERE
I’m sure it is pretty clear to everyone that we have been on a mission here at Studio 397 to recreate the very biggest and best racetracks from around the world, and they don’t get much bigger or better than the hallowed tarmac of Monza.
Initially releasing back in late June, we wanted to revisit the track again after the initial hype died down to see if we could squeeze in another couple of interesting layouts, ones that would appeal to different types of cars aside from the usual high-powered machinery associated with the Italian temple of speed.
Having been on site scanning the track and taking reference images ourselves, we couldn’t resist putting together another couple of layout versions to the track, and with the Junior configuration in particular, we think these updates have really opened up the possibilities for many types of car to be tested to their limits.
Sadly both licence agreements and physical access to the tarmac have prevented us from being able to recreate the original banked configuration of the circuit, for now at least, but with these three configurations we’ve certainly got plenty of racing to get on with in the months ahead.
New Tatuus MSV F3-020
Tatuus MSV F3-020 | Steam Workshop: CLICK HERE
Free is great. Open wheel racers are great. Low powered cars are great. The Tatuus MSV F3-020 is great! Yes, a new car is always a welcome addition to rFactor 2, and one that has been built to as closely resemble the real world equivalent as the Tatuus MSV F3-020 is even better again, so we couldn’t have been more happy to introduce this new and free piece of content to the simulation earlier this week. Already we’ve heard voices from the our Discord users wanting to see this new car introduced into the next season of Competition System events – so stay tuned to see what happens with that next week!
KartSim Major Build Update
KartSim | Steam Store: CLICK HERE
PBR refresh updates are the exclusive domain of just our tracks in rFactor 2, far from it. Last month we had the opportunity to release a significant update to the vast KartSim content collection within the software, bringing full PBR shader updates to all the tracks and karts within the various KartSim packages – as well as adding plenty of new and exciting content to try out. Two new karts, including the first shifter model of the pack, and four new tracks headlined the recent update, and to help our players ensure they have the most economically beneficial options for purchasing all the content, we’ve also revised the various packs for this content within the Steam Store – make sure to check them out and see if you can pick up any bits that you need to complete your collection.
Our Competition System continues to be developed and expanded as we review how users are engaging with the system, and the latest changes to be deployed to the system came earlier this month in the form of linked sessions – a feature that many of you have been asking for in recent weeks, and one that we are exceptionally pleased to finally be able to roll out into the public build of the CS.
Competition System | Linked Sessions Details: CLICK HERE
We are pleased to see this introduction, and further integration of our major esports series like the BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup, Formula Challenge and GT Challenge are all working well within the Competition System at present, and we are very much looking forward to getting into the next stage of development for this feature. That said, we are planning to take the next few weeks to monitor how things progress within the Competition System, as ensuring a reliable and robust platform has to remain our main priority no matter what new updates are brought forward, so it will be a little while longer until you see the next batch of major changes brought forward into the public domain.
While you wait for the next build update, we continue to release our regular Competition System Blog postings on the Studio 397 website, although we’ve missed a week this month due to annual leave arrangements – be sure to catch up on all the latest answers, and of course feel free to submit questions of your own for the next blog in August!
Competition System Blog | Week 18: CLICK HERE
Recommended Viewing – rFactor 2 Esports Competitions
August is going to be a massive month for esport racing in rFactor 2. We’ve got a collection of outstanding home developed series for you to enjoy, from high-powered open wheel formula cars to tin top GTE’s, plus of course our incredible community continue to produce some exceptional racing series of their own – ensuring you’ve always got something to watch when not out on the racetrack for yourself!
As usual in these roadmap posts, please find below a brief list of some highlight events for the month ahead:
8th August | 20:45 CEST | Formula SimRacing Round 11 – Malaysia | FSR YouTube
22nd August | 20:45 CEST | Formula SimRacing Round 12 – Brazil | FSR YouTube
26th August | 20:00 CEST | RCCO World eX Championship Round 7 – Spa | Motorsport.TV
28th August | 15:00 CEST | GTR24H of Spa-Francorchamps | GTR24h YouTube
That’s it for another month – summer keeps on getting cooler, work keeps on getting more intense, and the excuses I use for why I’m not faster than other drivers continue to run out at an alarming rate. While I dig deep to find a great reason for my lack of pace during August, we hope you all have a safe, enjoyable and exciting month ahead – until next time – see you on track!