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Making a fictional track look real?

Discussion in 'Bob's Track Builder' started by R Soul, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. We don't all have the ability or time to make real tracks, so I think it's worth having a thread where we discuss things that can make a fictional track look real. Occasionally I see a new track which has extreme banking, or some other feature that we wouldn't see on a real track. Conversely they sometimes lack features that a real track would have.

    Here are my thoughts:
    Aerial photographs: Use Google Earth to look at race tracks from above. You can see the walls, service roads etc.

    Service roads: Every track should have these. They don't have to be fancy, just some terrain with a plain tarmac texture will suffice. Move/create terrain anchors to give it a suitable shape.

    Gaps in the barriers: Don't have a continuous wall all around the track. There needs to be gaps for marshals and vehicles to get through.See below.The arrow is the direction of the track. The curved part of the barrier is to prevent a sharp edge that cars could collide with.

    Fences: Where there are people (marshals or spectators) there should be fences to protect them from debris. Other places can do without them.

    Pits location: Usually the pits are inside the track.

    Bridges: If the pit complex is inside the track there will need to be some way to get to it. Some club circuits just let vehicles drive over the track itself (see Brands Hatch), but I think a bridge is more common. Make sure it's sturdy enough for trucks to get over.

    Corners and straights: Purpose built tracks usually have constant radius corners(http://simtrackipedia.wikidot.com/crc) and straight straights (http://simtrackipedia.wikidot.com/btb:perfect-straights). The same usually goes for modern public roads. Things may be more variable for country roads.

    I'll continue this later but feel free to add your own suggestions.
    • Like Like x 3
  2. There is a FIA handbook that's extremely useful, i'll post the link when i have time, i need to go ASAP.. In that handbook there are very detailed explanations of track gradients, escaperoads, tecpro/tirewall structures, fencing etc... I used that when i designed Cicada and the end result look like it could be built so IRL (there are some freedoms that i took just for the sake of simplicity..)
  3. Sorry but i have to correct you: here is your tunnel right under paddock hill bend :) http://maps.google.de/?ll=51.361038,0.263498&spn=0.001385,0.002307&t=h&z=19&vpsrc=6

    i like the idea having simple list of "do's and don'ts"! even if i add some of my thoughts now

    maybe we could add...
    run-off areas! Every track has some kind of run-off area. modern tracks often have the paved ones (please make them low grip roads, or everybody will use them as the actual track), "older" or not modernized tracks have the gravel traps... and if a corner really has no run off, the track should tell you why: hill in the way? or a forest? or a river, like zolder where there is a cannel near the track? Or when its a really old track like in the 60s, make the track look like it was from this time, maybe add the "catch-fencing" in other run-off areas then. (and no playseat or ipod advertising on a 60s track ;( ) Even temporary tracks (like im building most of the time) have run-offs. :)

    i know the pdf mentioned bei kennett, cant find it either. but it also has information about FIA track grades and how many cars of which category are allowed to race on tracks of specific length etc... interesting file, definitly.

    • Like Like x 1
  4. Erwin Greven

    Erwin Greven

    Also you can look for a possibility of having more than one layout. Like Silverstone. It has a club variant, north- and south circuits..
    I had made once a track which had 6 variants. The HZ-Motorsports Facility. A GP-Full circuit, a shorter GP circuit, a intermediate rallycross track, a full rallycross track and a National- and Club circuit. It has even 2 pitcomplexes. Nowadays i also have built 2 another layouts.... An outher track and a endurance version (which doesn't has a working AI yet)
  5. I think imperfections to the terrain and texturing are very important. Also applies to kerbs and walls. Adding small bumps and humps, hills and dips and make sure not walls are perfectly straight. Real life is not perfect. :) Also when placing adboards you want to think more like the person who wants to put an adsboard there and not like a track builder. The adsboards are there for the spectators, not for the drivers.

    I'd say one of the important parts of building tracks is to understand how the real tracks look like and why. Stuff like walls, forests and grass are not just stuff you place on terrain but you want to spend some time to learn what type of walls there are for example. For example on some tracks some of the walls there is landfill on the other side. Sometimes the catch fence is attached to the wall and sometimes the catch fence is behind the cement or guardrail wall. It is best to not have just one type of walls around the track but to have differerent type of walls on different places and so forth.

    Also when starting to make a track it is good to decide what era track it is. Is it 60s, 80s or a modern track? Is it a club circuit or international venue for top class motorsports? Is the track well maintained or is it about to fall apart? Or something in the middle. Once you have those decided you can go watch youtube race videos and race car photos about tracks that fulfill those same criteria. Things like shape of the kerbs, runoff areas, style of houses and structures and type of walls and other stuff like that makes the track look like it is supposed to instead of being a strange collection of random xpacks :)

    Of course it is important to remember that less is more. Not just for fps and performance but it is better to have just few spots of different tarmac around the track than have every corner plastered with 3 different tarmac textures. Not every corner requires memorable terrain to be good. Sometimes a good terrain is unnoticeable :).

    I've been building my fictional track quite a while now and I have noticed that best terrain comes from randomness. The best parts of my track are those where I have changed the track layout many times and as a result the terrain is no longer flat or smooth but it has nice imperfections and defects. Those defects make it look more natural than what I was able to come up with using the tools to manually shape the terrain.
  6. My favourite tactic is to bring a something from RPG-world. Think a history to the track, what kind of sponsorships the owners have managed to find, is it a classic that has been rebuilt over time, did they have difficulties like finding financing...

    Alpine Hills 2.0 is based on that, the "owners" of the track had signed a contractor to do the modernization but he's company went under and it left it in a dismal condition, thus the classic layout with awful bumbs, poor surface and some runoff and curbs that are clearly not finished.. And in time they found enough money to repave it fully but not enough todo a complete foundation, they had to build in top of that old remake. Wait for few years to erosion, movement in the foundation and some other mistakes from the classic era appear again. So we got two layouts that has enough reason for every object to be where they are, why some bumbs are the same in classic and modern. It really helps imagination since you're actually building a story. It's much easier to create in a narrative world than in static passive snapshot. Too bad we don't got procedural vegetation that could be told how old they are...

    Random is in everything that allows it, no flat surfaces is the favourite option here too.. And follow terrain is one good option, you can "cover" those good shapes from terrain with other meshes, it blends in to the background naturally.
  7. Fair enough, but just to the left is a yellow hatched area which does lead to the track. Maybe the tunnel is too small for trucks, so they go across the track. When I made Pinevale I put in two bridges, and I decided that one would be for the trucks and one would be for the cars.

    Also consider Tamburello at Imola, where Senna died. A river prevented them increasing the runoff, so they put in a chicane. If a fictional track has a similar feature, a similar compromise may have to be made. No hatchet jobs like the end of the Spanish GP track please.

    A slight variation of that idea is to include old layouts that aren't used any more. When I started with Pinevale, it used the the perimeter road exactly, but I found that there were too few chances to overtake. I made a few modifications but left in the old parts. They use a different texture, no white lines, and a rougher material (rdax rather than roada).

    True, but something like F1 has a lot of onboard shots, so that perspective still needs to be catered for.

    A few more of my own thoughts:

    Cameras: Please don't put them right in the path of the cars. I've seen some tracks where the car effectively hits the camera. I think it's a nice touch to place camera man objects in the same location as the cameras themselves.

    Marshal posts: Use these.

    Tyre barriers: Drive your track very aggressively and identify the parts of the track where you are likely to hit a barrier. Put some tyres there if it could be a high speed impact.

    Kerbs: Another thing that depends on the type of circuit. Club tracks tend to have an apex kerb and an exit kerb, and they can be quite narrow. Grand Prix tracks tend to have much wider kerbs, including at the entry to the corner. Because of drivers cutting corners they also tend to use a concrete sausage.

    Road decals: BTB comes with a tyre marks wall decal. I pinched a couple from ISI too. These can be placed in braking zones where overtaking is likely, i.e. heavy braking areas. It helps if the tyre marks actually overshoot the turn in point to imply some drivers going in too deep. I found some smear texutres on cgtextures and used them to look like splats of oil from an engine failure. A grey decal that looks like cement dust would also look good, as would cracks or a small resurfaced patch.
  8. Correction, adsboards ARE for drivers also. Their positions are used for dialing brakedistances, locating apexes and exits. The correct positioning of adsboards require a compromise between the actual use (racing) and visibility on tv cams but if those two needs collide, drivers have the priority!! You can always reposition camera and when the noards are strategically positioned, they look good on camera also. They occur a lot on action shots, the best kind of shots for advertising since they can become iconic images = good & free publicity that lasts for years.

    For ex. a blind spoon corner over a crest, adboards can be invaluable tools for drivers and they also increase safety. If you drive around SimBin Zandvoort, you can almost always aim your direction in corners to some adboard in the distance... It's not a co-incidence that when learning a new track, you first seek distance signs, then adboards and rest of the scenery.

    Tiremarks, patches, cracks, they all increase auntheticity. Abnormal shader maps, for ex too bright specular road decreases it (it starts to look metallic).. Spending some time doing bumb spec maps rewards itself. Tarmac runoff areas in Race series have to be made by X/Y random small bumbs using a lot smaller tris. There is no possibility to reduce tarmac grip in Race series , there is only one tarmac surface and one rumble. One trick is to use them in strips alternating between a rumble and bumby tarmac.

    My first track was Botnia that has 5 layouts. It was laboriuos project where terrain dictated the shape of the track. It's uch more work since it's easier to do terrain to track than in opposite order but the result is a naturally flowing track. With Cicada i modeled the layout using a metal wire loop. Adjusting one corner changed the adjacent corners too and the result is good natural rhythm and flow.
  9. Long post so i split it... One method i've tried is this:

    Do a short 1km track that has driveable layout with smooth curves and quite a lot elevation. Copy and Scale that track from 1km to 10km. Copy and Scale that to 100m. Adjust both in and outside rings slightly, raise/lower nodes, twist control arms etc Use long panel lengths and use crazy high random values. Generate terrain to all three rings. Delete all tracks and connect the terrain. Use 2 panels in autogenerate terrain and out "reduce" on both panels (less track anchors). Use large 2nd panel values for ex 100m wide. Deleting tracks deletes terrain adjacent to tracks so you'll left with one panel and less merging.

    You need to use merge anchors with lasso, that's averages the merged anchor point height. With top view drag&merge, the point that's been manipulated is the only one that changes it's height creating more stepped terrain. Use large areas of lasso to merge multiple points at once, the end result is going to be lo poly. If you see a good detail, like a great looking long valley, use smaller lasso areas around that.

    If there occur too much concentric valleys and hills, all pointing to a middle point, use track rotate and mess with the nodes more.. You can first take a copy of all the rings to create new terrain. This whole method is to create controlled randomization in terrain. I've ended with canyons, hills that require tunneling between two valleys, some very organic forms and some totally useless too but the method actually is pretty fast. You can use drafts and merge huge areas at once to see the basic shapes. There will be a lot of deleting, autogenerating, click&drag generation after track node changes etc. After you decided the terrain, rmember to split and rename them all at this point. This is the first phase of FPS optimization agfter al..

    Scaling the track, scales their elevation too so the outer ring has higher elevation changes than the inner ring. Split some terrain to it's own group (make new tris from edge of terrain until you can delete the connecting anchor points to be separate area). Make a huge flat plane as big as the terrain is, you need only two tris to form it. Moving that plane in Y-Axis reveals the track shape. It's the same tactic if you want to make lakes in your track, BTW ;)

    EDIT: Draw walls to mark the route to that temporary plane, use a cross-section that's mimics the track (TIP: Use CK-Tools GP cross-section..) Delete the plane and check that all walls drop to terrain. Use long panel lengths and draw long sections at once (you can edit panel length while drawing, it reduces cpu load). The you can see those walls in top-view. Use those to guide you thru the actual track drawing process. With the wall tool, you can see where the track can be built since it follows the terrain shape. And it reveals where terrain needs shaping too.
  10. And last tip: i often use those planes and keep one tucked away somewhere (marked as "render=no"). It can reveall jagged edges in the terrain and since terrain editing is not related to that plane, it's quick (BTB doesn't need re-calculate anything..)
  11. Excuse me, but... there are exactly 6 different tarmac, 2 grass, 2 graveltrap and 2 rumplestrip/drain terrain settings which you can use in race07. some of them are "hard-coded" (if you change them you get online missmatches), but some have variables that can be specified in the gdb, like the griplevel and bumpiness. If you use the rumblestrips in your runoff areas, you will have this strange noise when running over it, nothing i would want to hear if i ran wide ;)
    but still, thats nothing against rfactor where you can make your own material settings, thanks to the working tdf files... :(
  12. Tell me how to access those unused lines in TDF file? I've yet to met a track that uses more than 1 regular tarmac: roada. Try to rename it anything else but rmbl, grass or gravel results that surface cannot be HAT target and thus can not be used. There are lines in the TDF file for excactly the names that are available in BTB but not one of those extras actually work. Prove me wrong, oh please prove me wrong since i REALLY would like to use dusty road!!!
  13. What material names do you use? I have tested every surface name that appears on the TDF file and in BTB and none of them worked. Also, how can you get your track to work without TDF file? I can honestly remember that it was tested here a while a go and the result was: it isn't needed but without it track wouldn't load. So, i can not get any further without an explanation of how to get them work, it's useless for me to look at your track, i can't learn anything from that...

    I'm working as i type on a track that really could use different tarmac surfaces, then i wouldn't need to use trickery, so please, tell us how?

    EDIT: Every addon tracks except yours and SPA 2004 has TDF file in them.. Is that the secret, not using it and then all those surfaces become driveable?
  14. Please, share the knowledge. Nothing is less usefull than to say "i know how it's done" and then not telling.
  15. hold your horses, i dont have time to write posts everytime im on the forum. ;)
    i never had problems removing one of my tracks tdf file. It seems that (my) race07 just ignores it, you can edit what you want in it, it had no effect. so i dont think that this is a key with the technic. race07 has a file called specialfx.tec in its archives in the locations folder where all materials are specified, which grip they have, bumps etc.
    if you had opened the tracks with 3dSimed, you would have seen that its all about material names. the btb materials are not adapted to race07, so only very few of them work (the start/finish lights etc. arent either as you probably know, also because of the lack of adaption). but you can write your one materials in the field, so its quite easy if you know the material names.

    first in the specialfx.tec base values are specified, which you easily can overwrite with your gdb file in every track by writing a different value after the variable, which are (with the base values behind):

    so we come to material names:
    road : the most known one ;) uses entirely the "road..." variables.
    lgroad: drygrip 0.95, wet 0.74, bump amplitude 0.020, wavelength 1.0
    b1road: grip from roadvariables, amplitude 0.020, length 5.0, small bumps, has like a washboard effect
    b2road: grip from roadvariables, 0.024, length 14.0, bigger and wider apart
    b3road: grip from roadvariables, 0.030, length 18.0, much bigger, much wider apart

    cutprevention when having paved run offs? just use...
    marbles: drygrip 0.5, wet 0.48, small bumps. you already have problem starting without spinning, as the grip is damn low. try for example la source runoff in spa and try getting away after you braked to late ;) also has some resistance, so its harder gaining speed, or better your losing speed if driving just over it.

    thats it with the tarmacs, so the next are rumblestrips and drains.
    rmbl: well known, nothing really new here, except that it uses the rumblevariables from above
    drain: same as rumblestrips, but griplevel is way lower: 0.80 dry and 0.60 wet

    and lastly, the terrain ones:
    gbrm: grassy berms or "flat lowgrip grass", has only griplevels 0.40/0.30, but lesser bumps than the normal grass. also has some resistance which makes you slower, similar to the marbles
    gras: grip 0.60/0.40, think i dont have to say much about it, you should know it ;) has btw a bit higher resistance than gbrm
    grv: graveltrap, 0.70/0.70, about 3 times the resistance of grass, should be known also
    bsand: 0.80/0.80, same resistance as graveltrap, but damn thats bumpy, bumpamp 10cm every meter. when i first tested it on a fast built track and ran into it i was shocked and shaken. you also have more problems getting out of it than in the normal graveltrap, despite the more grip.
    twall for tirewalls, cwal for cementwalls, grdr for guardrails...

    also in this file specified are the other effects like sparks when bottoming out, smoke form tires etc, raineffects, sprayscreen and dirtscreen, stonechips, everything which land on your windscreen ;)

    what i just... hate? with this specialfx.tec is... you cant edit it. every track acesses this file, and it is checked everytime you race online, so you will always have online mismatches, as far is i tested it. i tried once to build a snowy racetrack like the trophee andros ones, as a wintersurprise. but its nowhere satisfactory having black rubber lines on a snow texture, or green ones from the grass terrain if your using this one, having no clouds of snow behind the car (or brown ones....). all of that could be done with rfactor tracks, because it supports the tdf files, which is track specific.

    so... hopefully this a satisfactory answer for your waiting time... :p

    • Like Like x 2
  16. Thank a thousand! This info has been missing from BTB community for ages... There is a possibility to rename materials to what you want in BTB, just didn't know what those names were.. As i don't have 3DSimed, there was few possibilities to research that info with out help.

    I'll add this info to SimTrackipedia with credits of course.

    I knew that you can do a "custom" specialfx.tec but it really works only offline, which is a shame as TDF is totally useless..

    Edit: Tested and it works!! I can't possibly show enough gratitude as this has buggered me from the first ever track i've built.. No there are a lot of tutorials to rewrite...
  17. ebrich


    I have used a type of grvl in GT Legends which is very drivable,gives off dust, sounds like gravel and has a smaller amount less grip than road. This was done by changing the grvl specs in the specialfx.tec in GTL\locations, and using grvl as material name in Xpacker for the track.
    So I searched high and low for the same in file, months ago, in Race 07. Couldn't find it! So after the revelations of Neteye I plonked a specialfx.tec file into Race from GTL. Didn't change a thing!
    Will have to try again.
  18. I just finished redefining materials in Cicada and boy, does it make a difference.. Those materials were designed to be on that track, only one that i didn't need to use was b2road.. so... :) I'm a happy fellow now..

    This question has been asked so many times and since no one knew this stuff, we thought that it's unsolvable... All those times that i decided to post "Race has on 4 materials" to multitude of threads...) do i feel stupid now.