Posts Tagged ‘STUDIO 397’



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A lot has happened since our last roadmap update, with the release of the DX11 engine where we entered an “open beta” phase that saw frequent updates and a lot of feedback from our community. First of all, we would like to thank you all for that! We feel we are moving towards a stable release in a few more weeks, after which our focus will shift towards the completion of our new UI. We will also provide you with some updates soon on how to interact with the screen from plugin code in DX11.

On top of the significant code changes, we also decided to give our existing content an update. A lot of cars and tracks have already been released, with a few more still to come. Tiger Moth and the classic Belgium track are being finished as we speak for example. Some tracks are taking a bit longer as we need to fix a few of our older shaders.

Physics Updates

For our cars, we not only want to do updates to the graphics to make them look better under DX11 and DX9, but also update their physics. The biggest updates are related to our Contact Patch Model (CPM) which will give the F2 and Marussia F1 car new rubber. We are also looking at doing the same for the Civic and will probably do a few others.

Cars

In previous updates you’ve already seen some shots of the Radical in-game and we are currently working hard on completing the sound, physics and tyres for the car and get the package in the hands of our testers. Realistically we are looking at a release in June for this car.

In other news, we now go left with the USF2000 oval package upgrade. Recently we got our hands on some good hard data on the oval package run by the USF2000 series – the resulting upgrade package we’ve developed makes for a more challenging open wheel oval experience.  The added adjustments, being in line with the real world data add the proper baseline asymmetry needed, making the car better suited to the sustained wheel-to-wheel and ‘in the draft’ oval action. Additionally, the provided asymmetrical setup is a great starting point for those daunted by having to make an oval setup, it should be well balanced out of the box for a wide range of ovals – so don’t be afraid to just jump in start racing. You should see this update early next week.

Keep an eye out on our social media for a few other announcements on the car front!

Meet us in Zandvoort!

Over the weekend, we will be at the Jumbo Racing Days, driven by Max Verstappen, which is a spectacular event at Circuit Park Zandvoort. In a partnership with Red Bull, Fanatec, PlaySeat and Team Redline we have setup a large tent in the paddock area with a couple of rigs where you can test your skills against some of the Team Redline drivers on-site. We’ve heard that Max Verstappen will drop by himself to set a benchmark lap! He will of course also give a lot of demonstrations with his racing car on the real track throughout the whole weekend.

For us this is a great opportunity to share the first preview of our new Zandvoort track, which will be coming to rFactor 2. We’ve included a few early screenshots which show our progress with the track and we are very pleased that we can also announce that we’ve obtained an official license for it.

On that note we would like to wrap up this update and wish you a great month on behalf of the whole team here at Studio 397 and if you decide to go to Zandvoort we certainly hope to meet you there!

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“Our big DX11 beta release later today featuring VR, hope you guys enjoy it! Now here’s a little preview to keep you going”


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With about a week and a half left until May 1st, it’s time for our monthly update again. We’re sure everybody is looking forward to the new build, and we’re happy to announce that both the DX11 graphics engine and VR support will be released as promised.

DX11

Over the last couple of months, we’ve revealed several development screenshots of the DirectX 11 engine to share with you our enthusiasm for the possibilities it brings. The new engine is not only the basis for our VR implementation, but it also enabled a new, improved HDR tone mapper and a bunch of post effects that greatly enhance the overall atmosphere of the simulation. We tried to strike a balance between using these effects to render the real-world imperfections of cameras while retaining the “first person view” you have when racing. At the same time we kept two very important goals in mind: we needed to ensure that, with the same graphics settings, the DX11 engine is at least as fast as the DX9 engine, and that existing content is still compatible with the new engine, so all the content out there can still be fully enjoyed.

We are quite sure we succeeded in both, and we extensively tested the new graphics engine with our community of beta testers. That said, we want to make sure that everybody is able to run this new build without a hitch, which is why we are making the initial release available as an “open beta.” Starting May 1st, anybody can switch to this new build and try it out. It is fully multiplayer compatible with the DX9 build. If for some reason you run into any problems with the new build, you can easily revert to the previous engine with just one click.

We didn’t just stop at updating the graphics engine, though. While we’re at it, we also updated some of our existing content to DX11, so you can expect the first of a series of Studio 397 updates as well. And you’ll be happy to know, these updates don’t just concern the graphics: in some cases we also made changes to and upgraded the physics. The new graphics engine really lets our content shine. It provides so much improvement that we have decided to postpone releasing any new shaders. To whet your appetite, take a look at these new screenshots showing off the new engine and some of the camera post effects in action:

Virtual Reality

If you have been following us on Facebook, you’ve already enjoyed some teaser shots of our VR implementation. We have since added some features such as support for our HUD, including virtual mirrors, as well as a way to browse the UI in VR mode. Mouse control is enabled for the UI, although we are definitely considering adding other options for controlling the VR interface.

User Interface

We know you are eagerly awaiting the new user interface, and we share your impatience. However, because we want to give you the full experience of the new UI and all its capabilities, we feel it is not quite ready for prime time just yet. Although that means we will ship the first open beta release with our existing UI, it will be upgraded to the new UI once that’s ready for release.

As we announced last month, we are now able to easily push updates, and we will use this ability to quickly release updates to the open beta in the upcoming weeks. Our goal is to ensure that we have a stable release for everybody, allowing us to begin phasing out the DX9 build altogether after a few months. In the meantime, our concern is to ensure that everybody has a fully functioning and compatible version of rFactor 2 to race with.

Content

Work on the Radical continues. With most of the graphics in place, our focus has now shifted to the physics and the sounds for this car. It’s not ready to be unveiled yet, but we can tease you with one of the other new cars that we have started working on soon! Watch our social media.

Modding

The modding community just recently gained access to an early DX11 build, and we released some guidelines for artists to work with the new rendering engine. Expect to see updates of third party content coming soon. In general, the new engine requires modders to make only minor changes. One area we are still working on concerns “plugins” that render directly to the screen. These plugins will not work properly in the first open beta. We are actively looking at improving our implementation of this functionality overall.


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Spring is in the air and we’re pleased with our progress over the past few months. We have a lot to share with you. We decided to take the time to really bring together all of the newly developed elements – UI, VR, and DX11. Although this puts us slightly behind our targeted “end of Q1” release date, we promise you it will be worth the wait. In addition, we wanted to make sure that modders and leagues have enough time to update their content so it shines in the new engine. With all of this in mind, we’re targeting a release date of May 1st.

DX11 Pipeline and Post FX

Over the course of the last month we have spent a lot of time to further optimise the HDR rendering pipeline. We also started adding post processing effects. This is a bit of a balancing act between ensuring we stay compatible with existing content and adding various improvements to the graphical output. Work on shaders, the shadow system, and on various other effects is also under way.

Working on the DX11 integration has allowed us to fix some things that were previously unaddressed or needed improvement. For example, we fixed an issue with stray coloured pixels in the distance, caused by MSAA artifacts. We also improved the way shadows are cast on the ground. Shadows now follow the normal maps of the materials, which means for example that the shadow on asphalt follows all the little bumps in the road. Our clouds are using much higher resolution textures, and we fine tuned ambient lighting in overcast conditions by adjusting both the color and intensity of the light.

Last month we already showed you improvements, some of which were very subtle. This month, we have a few new screenshots that will show we’re on the right track!

Shadows now follow all the small bumps in the road surface.

Our classic content looks great as the first rays of sunlight touch the banking.

The Camaro GT3 on a bright blue day at Mores.

Virtual Reality is operational

Great news! We are already driving in VR – seeing a virtual sun rise through the trees is an incredible experience!
Our VR implementation is based on OpenVR. We chose OpenVR for its support of both headsets – the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift – ensuring future compatibility. To complete the experience, we are integrating VR with the new UI and adjusting several other parts of the game, such as external cameras.

User Interface

The UI is really taking shape. The initial release will be functionally equivalent to the current user interface, but with some advanced features. Each month, features and functionality of the user interface will be improved. For example, the ability to create your own championships and easier ways to create your own hosted environments.

Radical Content

We can’t wait to announce some very, very cool content news soon, for both cars and tracks. As you know, our ambition is to streamline content, aligning cars and tracks. In the meantime, the Radical SR3 is coming along nicely. We have extensive technical data from Radical and are creating the most realistic version that has ever been produced.

Modding

We are very happy that many modding teams have already applied to join our special forum. We have already started to share information there about upgrading custom shaders. Over the next couple of weeks we will proceed with guidelines on materials and textures as well as provide early beta builds for you to check your work. These guides will be part of a new documentation that we will publish and maintain going forward. So, if you are working on new or existing mods for rFactor 2 and have not done so yet, contact Christopher and Marcel to join the dedicated DX11 forum.

That wraps up another monthly roadmap update. We hope you are as excited as we are about what the future will bring!

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We have a lot of exciting news in this month’s update as we edge closer to our release at the end of Q1. The team is working very hard in all areas and we’re thrilled to share some of the recent developments with you.

VR Update

With DX11 implementation complete, we are now in our first development stage for VR. Our initial focus is the in-car driver experience with both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. The second development stage will delve deeper into the environmental capabilities of the VR experience, which we will share over the next couple of months.

DX11 Content Peek

Last month we shared with you our first comparison shots for DX11. In the last couple of weeks we’ve focused on ensuring compatibility with existing content as well as further improvements to the way we render our HDR output. We’ll let the new screenshots speak for themselves.

Competition Update

Development of the competition infrastructure is going well and is on track to be released this summer. Drivers and teams will be able to record their stats, achievements and results, which then can be accessed through any device and shared with friends. Competitions will feature selected existing content and new content. Details will be announced in the coming months. Our main focus is to create feature rich mechanics that provide a challenge for new drivers and seasoned sim racing veterans alike.

UI Update

We are super excited about our new user interface, which is currently under development. The new UI not only provides a more intuitive and user-friendly experience, it also offers improved flexibility and the ability to add new elements and modules.

NOLA Motorsports Park

Whether you choose to race a kart, open wheeler, or tintop, the large variety of configurations makes NOLA a very versatile and challenging track to master. NOLA Motorsports Park will be released on February 28th!

Radio Communication

Most racing series use radio communication to let drivers talk to their team and pit crew. Some series also have race control broadcasting instructions. For example, oval racing series such as Stock Car typically also have spotters that keep an eye on what’s happening to keep you out of trouble.

We are working on expanding our current system, which is centered on the spotter’s role, into a system that allows different people to talk to you on the radio. In addition, we intend to make the communication more interactive by giving you the ability to ask for information or instructions.

Modding

We’re excited to invite modding teams to join our private forum. We are looking to work with those of you in the modding community to explain the necessary steps that ensure your content continues to work flawlessly with the new DX11 engine. Modders joining our forum will also get access to pre-release builds of the DX11 graphics engine (still in alpha). Our goal is to ensure that your content is ready to go when we do the first public release of the new engine.

If your modding team is interested, please register on our forum and start a conversation with Christopher and Marcel, stating:

  1. Your modding team name and all the names and forum names of members that need access.
  2. A list of mods you have released for rFactor 2 (either links to the workshop, or some other reference).
  3. Any other interesting information about your team such as mods you are still working on.

That wraps up this roadmap update. We are looking forward to the coming month of development so we can continue to share with you our progress on the new innovative elements planned over the next few months!

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2017 is well underway! We hope you all made a great start to the new year once the lights went out 😉 Here at Studio 397 we’ve jump-started our new year full of ambition. In with the new, out with the old: don’t forget our migrate to Steam for free offer will end on January 31st, 2017.

DX11

As we have already revealed last month, DX11 development is ahead of schedule. We have migrated much of the engine, and although there are certainly still quite a few things to do and it’s far from a straight port, we’re taking advantage of this opportunity to fix some long-standing issues. We are updating the overall look of the graphics. Lighting improvements include a new HDR tonemapper to achieve better color balance and more saturated colors, which interacts nicely with our dynamic sky model (adding contrast to our clouds). We are also updating the entire shadow system (faster and better looking shadows) and adding some ambient occlusion techniques that provide more dynamic shadows in areas such as engine bays, the underside of tyres, and parts of the inside of the marshal hut. Here are some sneak-peek shots of our work in progress. They do not, of course, reflect the finished product, but we wanted to show you where we are right now.

 

 

These upcoming graphics improvements should be a big step up for everyone in the modding community, giving you a stronger and richer visual base to build from. We will provide a set of  guidelines on how elements should look to ensure as much consistency as possible without impacting on your creative freedom.

Next month we are starting a new beta program exclusively for modders to facilitate a smooth transition to DX11. So far it looks like we’ve been able to port all existing shaders, which means existing content should continue to work. Some mods that rely on custom shaders as well as plugins that request to render to the screen (such as some overlay plugins) currently expect a DX9 graphics context and will require an update to work with DX11. In both cases, we will actively help any modders whose work is affected.

UI

We’ve spent this month building the technical foundations for the new user interface, which allows us to link the game logic directly to an HTML5 front-end that we can embed into the simulation. At the same time, we’re putting the finishing touches on our interaction and graphical design, which means we can start building, user testing and refining the actual screens now. The new user interface offers far more flexibility, which gives us the freedom to create additional functionality down the line such as incorporating single player championships and results.

Here’s a look at the new home screen with simple sliding panels to reveal deeper options.

 

 

As part of the new user interface we are developing the in-game competition structure.  We all know that competition is at the heart of all racing sims, and rFactor 2 has a long-standing relationship with some of the greatest leagues in simracing covering multiple racing disciplines.  Building on this strong foundation, our new competition mechanics intend to encourage frequent racing and greater accessibility, offering a rich career progression coupled with new aligned content.

We are focused on building competition mechanics that are unique and embrace leagues and competitions.

Content

Our content team is still working hard on the Radical and starting work on the Corvette C7.R. Last month we gave you a little Christmas present with the Nissan GT500, and we were overwhelmed with the positive responses to the car. At the same time we also got a lot of feedback from the community about little things we could improve. We’ve tried to fix all of them and our goal is to release an update before the end of this month. This update will also include a paint template. The following shots show many of these improvements.

 

NOLA Motorsports Park will likely be released around the end of February. A lot of work was put into showcasing the aesthetic possibilities, and we spared no effort to bring you those 10 different layouts of the track and kart track, giving you plenty of variation and suitable configurations for all classes of cars. As more and more trackside objects are being added, we can now share some high resolution (4k) shots that show you different areas of the track. We chose to give you the full experience and modeled the whole garage area, so it’s actually a little bit of a drive to get to the actual track from there. Don’t worry though, we’ve put up some signs to guide you!

  

That’s all for our first monthly update of 2017. We wish you all the best and hope you will enjoy the many updates that we will bring this year.

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Introduction

Finally, it’s time for the first Studio 397 release of rFactor 2!

It’s been a few months since the last build was released, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to give you an update on what the team has been busy working on. After taking over development, our first order of business was optimizing and automating the entire build process and setting up a new internal bug tracking system – two improvements that will help speed up public releases of fixes and features. We brought new members into our team to move the project forward in terms of graphics, user interface, infrastructure, content and overall optimizations, which you will start to see in the first quarter of 2017 and beyond. For this first release our focus was on fixing bigger issues such as video driver crashes, optimizing and fixing elements of the workshop and starting work on improving the stock car and oval experience.

We have invested a considerable amount of time in developing and testing stock car, specifically stock car rules, since the last public release. With the help of a dedicated group of stock car league admins and stock car specialists on our test team, we identified some of the crucial issues that need to be addressed. We continually seek to improve our stock car and oval experience. For this first release of several upcoming changes we focused on sorting issues under caution and adding more flexible options for server admins. We’ve also taken a close look at oval behaviour optimizations of the AI in single player, especially (but not exclusively) for short ovals.

Stock Car

  • The safety car is now set to ‘non-collidable’ by default – testing has shown this can help avoid certain oval-related caution situations in which the safety car has trouble weaving its way to the front of the field. The value can be set to ‘collidable’ in the player.JSON file by editing the following values: "Safety Car Collidable": true. After this update, we recommend server admins backup and remove player.json and multiplayer.json, so that new ones are generated containing all new options and defaults.
  • Several minor adjustments and tweaks to help optimize scoring.
  • Further improvements to the track order of cars leaving the pits under caution.
  • Fixed a bookkeeping error under caution with one lap until restart.
  • Changed AI behaviour to prevent pitting on the last lap of a caution. This helps to avoid messy and disorderly restarts and it makes the AI look a bit smarter too.
  • Added an extra message to the Low Speed Information pop up: “Please pass the safety car.” This should help you be more aware of where you are with respect to the safety car under a full course caution and should improve sorting overall as drivers no longer have to guess whether to pass the safety car.
  • Changed pit exit behaviour to allow cars to be placed in a large gap rather than behind the whole field, which might be nearly a full track length behind the car exiting on some of the smaller ovals.
  • Fixed pit behaviour: A car entering the pit lane after a race resumes from a caution will no longer be able to continuously lap the field during the next caution.
  • Fixed a possible scoring mix-up when a full course caution was called while the race leader was in the pits.
  • Fixed a bug in which cars starting late from the garage area (those that did not press the Race button in time), after the field had gone ahead, were sometimes wrongly scored at race start. Cars starting late from the garage area now have to wait for the entire field to pass the pit-exit line to be able to join the race and go on track.
  • Added a new single player feature "AI Formation by Position" that when set to “true” in the player.json attempts to line up the AI during yellow flag/formation laps according to your position behind the pace car instead of relative to surrounding cars. This seems to work better on short ovals, whereas the old (default) way might still work better for road courses.
  • Added new options for configuring an oval server, which can be found in the CustomPluginsVariables.json:
    • Added two types of double file which can be configured by editing the value "DoubleFileType" where “0” is off (or single file), “1” will ignore lapped and pitted distinctions, and “2” (the default) is standard double file.
    • Wave-arounds can now be set to on or off for more flexibility by editing the following value: "WaveArounds" “0” is off, “1” is on.
    • Added the ability to configure number of caution laps by editing the following value: "YellowLapsMinimum"
    • Added the ability to configure random number of caution laps editing the following value: "YellowLapsRandom"

AI

  • Fixed AI behaviour to prevent them from taking off immediately after what should be their pit stop following their final qualifying lap, which would get them disqualified.
  • Fixed AI behaviour to prevent AI from getting disqualified during qualifying on certain tracks where it is difficult to pit immediately after completing n-1 laps.

Physics

  • Added a new TGM display. While driving, it was possible to pull up a graph showing the contact patch for each tyre that showed the temperature of the tyre at that point of the contact patch (ALT =). The second display now shows the tyre load.
  • Changed TTool filename. TTool, a tool that is used to generate tyres for cars, used to output a file named “QSA” when you ran a real-time batch test. That filename has now been corrected to “realtime”.
  • Fixed an issue where camber angles for tyres reported as zero in real-time telemetry instead of their real angle. Also, this now allows plugins to see the correct angles.

Driver Swaps

  • Fixed occasional crash when a wheel gets reattached/repaired during a pit stop at the same time as a driver swap.

Graphics

  • Fixed the multiview gizmo that allows you to enter your triple screen configuration. It now saves and remembers asymmetrical monitor configuration parameters.
  • Fixed sporadic nVidia driver crash on certain tracks. The fix, which is only needed if you were experiencing driver crashes and restarts, can be activated by changing the value WorkaroundFlags=1 in the Config.ini with a text editor. Please make sure to delete your shader cache manually (the files in UserData\Log\Shaders) when making this change.
  • Removed the option to disable HDR.

Dedicated Server

  • Changed the logic so that the dedicated server properly moves on to the next track in all cases regardless of which sessions are active.

User Interface/Launcher

  • Added an Engine Mixture setting to garage so it can be saved as part of a car setup.
  • Updated Launcher icons.
  • Added new user interface background image and splash screen.
  • Fixed Launcher to work correctly in Steam’s offline mode. It will no longer hang while attempting to download pending workshop items in this mode.
  • Updated French language dictionary.

Additional Changes

  • We’ve made racing online free for every user of rFactor 2.
  • Fixed results file when VehFile uses escape characters.
  • Removed DRS enabled/disabled messages for tracks without DRS zones.
  • Added +skipmonitor as a command line option, which lets you enter from and exit a race directly to the main menu.

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On Tuesday, December 20th, we will release build 1108. This is our first Steam-only release, and we would like to remind you of our offer to migrate to Steam for free, which will be extended until January 31st, 2017.

To reiterate where we are, we are making really good progress with a new development team coupled with a new vision. As long time sim racers, we understand the need for a strong platform with great content, physics and visuals as well as competition, both online and offline.

A detailed changelog will be posted alongside the actual release, but some of the highlights of this build include a huge update to our Stock Car rules, better support for running Steam in offline mode – which can be very useful in LAN situations and a fix for the nVidia driver bug that has been plaguing some users of certain series of nVidia cards.

Good news! We’re ahead of our DX11 development schedule and are internally testing the first builds now. There is still a lot to do in terms of adding new features such as depth of field and motion blur effects on external cameras as well as overall improvements such as the shadow system. Needless to say, the results so far are looking good. We are really excited about the capability we have already and where it’s going. Our goal to keep the engine backward compatible seems achievable, and in the upcoming months we will start engaging the modding community providing information on the improved engine and how best to utilise it.

As we’ve announced last month, we are completely revamping the user interface of rFactor 2 to make it easier to use, nicer to look at and ready for VR. We’re leveraging modern web technology and are currently in the middle of the design phase. To give you a first impression, we’ve added a screenshot of a WIP car selection screen.

Concerning content, we are very excited with the direction we are headed, certainly in the way plan to match cars and tracks. We will start to develop this approach over the next few months.

We have a number of car developments underway. With our current focus on the Radical, we are adding the finishing touches to the 3D model right now while we wait for some additional data to complete the physics model.

More great news! We have just signed a license with General Motors for the 2016 model of the Corvette C7.R. Development of the model and physics will start early next year. The 2016 model has significant aerodynamic improvements with a new, larger splitter and a large diffuser to generate more downforce. The car is the weapon of choice for Corvette Racing in their 2017 IMSA campaign as well as their effort to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As an added bonus, this car will also contribute to improving car physics overall.

 

In terms of tracks, we’ve already shown you previews of NOLA Motorsports Park in earlier updates, and we’re now in the final stages of development. The track will feature 5 different road course layouts and 5 different karting layouts, and we’re currently placing track side objects, such as grand stands, trees and a ferris wheel and are working on AI paths. It’s looking good for release early next year.

Now let’s talk about online. Since the release of rFactor 2 the pricing consisted of a one time payment and an online subscription, with the option of buying a lifetime version of that subscription. Over the years we have received a lot of questions about charging extra for online access, and what people were getting for this in return.

We understand that online racing is key to the future of the platform. As online racers ourselves, we have decided to provide online access for everybody with the Steam version for free – simplifying the pricing model and encouraging everybody to race online. Steam will take care of automated updates. We recognise that some of you have made this purchase over the past few months, and it was a difficult decision. However, we’re positive that you’ll agree we’ve made the right decision for the future of the platform.

With the Steam Winter Sale approaching what better way for you to relax and driver rFactor 2. Look out for an exclusive offer for the holiday period!

That’s all for our last monthly update of 2016. Happy Simracing and have a great holiday. We hope to see you all in the new year!