RaceDepartment.com has recently been lucky enough to have the opportunity to sit down and quiz the guys over at Sector3 Studios about their premium free to play title RaceRoom Racing Experience. Sector3 Studios are a Swedish video game developer founded in 2014 that develops racing simulators for Windows PC. Famous for racing classics such as GTR, GTR2, GT Legends and the Race series, the folks over at Sector3 are currently developing the beta build of RaceRoom Racing Experience, a simulation game currently featuring over 65 cars and 20 real world circuits. With constant enhancements to the base game bringing new content and features on a regular basis, RaceDepartment thought the time was right to have a chat with the people responsible for this sim and see what fans can expect to enjoy in the new year. Part 1 of this interview can be seen below where RaceDepartment and Sector3 Studios Chris Speed, Sonat Ozturk and J-F Chardon discuss cars, games, Simbin, Dev Streams, the Tilke collaboration, online player rankings and more! RD : Hey guys, first things first I suppose… why don’t you all introduce yourselves and say what it is you do here at Sector3? CS: My Name is Chris Speed and I’m the CEO of Sector3 Studios. SO: My name is Sonat Ozturk and I’m one of the Producers. I’m mainly responsible portal and backend systems, Quality Assurance, localization, deployment and releases along with the game based on features. JFC: My name is J-F Chardon and I’m a producer in charge of content. I deal with art production, sound production and sound features, physics development and A.I. On the side I deal with a side product called RaceRoom EVO, which is typically used at various shows and paddocks. RD : Thanks, so let’s start with a little something light. We all know R3E contains many exotic and desirable racing cars, but what do you guys drive on the road when you’re not tied to the office chair bringing us all these little gaming goodies? CS: A family wagon I’m afraid Being based in Sweden I guess it was only a matter of time before I was driving something Swedish so my chariot is a Volvo XC60 SO: Nothing at the moment. I either take the bus or try to get the front passenger seat in one of my colleagues’ cars. JFC: I drive a Suzuki Swift from 2008. Fun little car, but getting seriously small now as I have two kids. RD : Back to the digital world, could you share with us what your favorite racing / road car is to drive outside of R3E? CS: I would probably have to say the TVR Cerbera Speed 12 from PGR3. I was fortunate to work on that title and have some fond memories of MP races on the Nordschleife - Good Times! SO: I don’t really have a favourite but I really enjoyed Toyota Celica and Subaru Impreza WRC in older rally games, BMW M3 GTR and VW Scirocco in some others. JFC: As a teen I had a Playstation 1, and of course Gran Turismo. I ended up only driving a Skyline I had tuned, it felt great and left me a durable memory of that game. After that came simracing! If I have to mention a car outside of R3E that I enjoyed recently, it would be the Dallara in iRacing. But I currently don’t have an active account anymore. I did consider their black friday renewal offer though, but I just don’t have enough free time to spend on two sims. Especially when one of them has my full time attention already RD : Rumor has it that games not involving driving race cars exist in the real world… assuming this is in fact true, what do you like to play when the need for speed has (temporarily) worn off? CS : I’m probably gonna get killed for this but Championship Manager on the IPad Being a Liverpool lad and my love and interest in football there is nothing like taking charge of my boyhood club, Everton and cheating my way to the top. I say cheat because literally if I lose a game, I quit and start again! SO: I like all sorts of games in variety of genres so I can’t really pinpoint to anything specific. I recently finished The Witcher 3, now playing GTA 5 as I grabbed it recently on sale, and after that I’ll probably get Fallout 4. JFC: I am a typical casual gamer, I currently am most active in Rocket League and Battlefront. When I have some time by myself I dive into Elite: Dangerous or DCS. Other than that, back in the days my wife and I were involved in league tournaments using Battlefield: Vietnam (the original one, not the Bad Company 2 DLC). Good memories! RD : It came as a bit of a surprise to the sim racing community when Simbin closed its doors back in 2014 and Sector3 rose from the ashes. Obviously the team is now much more compact than in its previous guise, how many people do you have working on R3E nowadays compared to Simbin’s peak? CS: Simbin at it’s biggest was over 60 people, split between employees and consultants with many different departments and studio locations. Now at Sector3 we have 23 people, again made up of a mixture of employees and consultants but a much smaller team with much more focus and drive. RD : Community interaction has become one of S3’s main strengths these last 12 months, however we haven’t seen a Dev Stream for quite some time. Are you guys planning on bringing this back or have we seen the last of J-Fs valiant attempts at live show hosting? CS : Not entirely sure but perhaps JF can touch on that one. JFC: Recently, the only streams we did were related to physics developments as you saw, but I believe we will have to come back on that couch when the time comes to explain and unveil some of the stuff we’re working on. How about when we get closer to the Nordschleife release? Then we should make a special ;-) RD : With the recent news of collaboration with Tilke GmbH, can you tell us any more about what this means for Sector3 track creation going forwards and can we possible expect further releases of Tilke tracks in future? JFC: This collaboration is so fresh, it’s too early to tell, really. I expect each project we take together will be different from the previous one, I’m sure of that. Whether it is a completely new racing circuit or updates made to an existing one, whether it is top secret or can see the light in public, the conditions will always be different. RD : We know that R3E is still in development, however the community at large have a thirst for new features. Can you share with us anything that might be in the pipeline for release pretty soon™? SO: There are quite a few features we’re working on and more will come later. We are currently working on compact HUD, supporting multiple class races with bigger grids, additional FFB settings that includes minimum force, ffb meter, and multipliers that can be set per car via car setup. We have a lot of stuff in the backlog but we can tease them later. JFC: In order of soonitude™ (or is it soonibility™ ?), you’ll be seeing A.I. code improvements, a first pass on Fuel management, Saving your car setup (finally!), Minimum force setting in FFB, HUD overhaul, longer race sessions, bigger grids, multiclass racing… Most of the time it’s done in C++ quite early and then waits for menu implementation which is our bottleneck these days. RD : Looking through the various forums online and at RD, desire for things such as weight penalties, reverse grid / alternative qualification types (1 shot quail / knockout al la F1 etc.) and the ability to adjust the number of practice sessions and session lengths are regularly discussed. Does S3 have any plans or desires to implement these in game, and if so how far away from these sorts of updates are we at the present stage of development? SO: I’d say we’re doing our best in trying to add things the community wants so the examples you gave might come in later. It takes time however as we are a relatively small team and we have a list of things we have to do. But so far I think we managed to have a nice balance between what’s required by e.g. the publisher and what the community has been asking for. JFC: Weight penalties is something we should allow in dedicated servers for sure. There’s some level of code for it inherited from RACE 07. Let’s dig it up and see what we can do. RD : I’ve just got to throw this one in… formation laps and extended race lengths… please! SO: Extended race lengths is in the backlog so that will definitely come in the near future. Formation laps is not but we keep seeing a lot of players asking for it so you never know. RD : We’ve heard talk of some early work towards a kind of player ranking system in R3E. What are the plans for this and what should we expect this to feel like in game? SO: We find it quite crucial to have a player ranking along with a division system. It will add so much to the game overall. Racing against players with similar skill level, progression, encouragement for good behavior on the track, divided leaderboards so we can e.g give some prizes to lower skilled players instead of the usual top players we currently have and much more. We want to get it right so we are taking our time to figure out the best system. JFC: Player ranking is one of those things that you wish you could have got in the game from day 1. I’m glad we’re able to push this forward now. We have a test algorithm running in the background of the public game, collecting data already from the multiplayer races happening on the dedicated servers we own. Now we need to fine tune it and most likely add some parameters. It’s an ELO system , and it proved its worth for decades now. You see it in various computer games but it’s mostly known for its use in chess. It pretty much takes two players and throws the odds that one will beat the other. Based on the predicted outcome versus the actual outcome, the ratings of the players are affected. With the ELO system, your output is just a number, and we need to split those in divisions. We want to give players a sense of progress and career. And on top of this simple ELO system, it would be nice to add more elements that affect it, things like being a race finisher and not a rage-quitter should I think be promoted. I see way too many races, even league races, where people drop from the server after a simple incident in turn 1... RD : While we are on the subject of online play, the Alpha online functionality is a little thin at the moment. Does the team have any plans to add further functionality and what would that be? SO: Absolutely. We have plans to add proper text chat, vote kick and vote next track. But you are probably wondering about gameplay functionalities which we also plan to add more of as we go forward. We want to look at having more on than just a black flag system, a working garage phase to name a few. JFC: A chat box with ability to talk while on garage menu and scroll up to read what was said, that’s all I wish for. And once we did that, then we can remove “alpha” from the menu button for multiplayer. *laughs* Seriously though, the other thing we used to have in previous titles (but somehow disappeared) that we will most likely have to take care of is to add AI drivers in multiplayer. That’s a thing requested for the events / locations version of the game that I know I’ll have to get done. So if it’s something players want in the public game, why not port it. RD : As a former club race organiser, one thing I would love to see is more flexibility with online session start times. Specifically the ability to set a session start and finish time rather than length. I.e. Quali to start at 18:00GMT and finish 18:30GMT. Would this be possible in game and would the team consider including this or something similar in future builds? SO: Something this specific was not in plans but it definitely sounds interesting. It’s definitely doable so it might be something we can include in between some bigger tasks we have. JFC: With the various official championships that we had, will have, or want to have in the future, this is pretty much a mandatory feature. We discussed this with RaceRoom Entertainment, this ability to schedule dedicated servers spawns. So far I’ve had to be around every time an official race started, to spawn the server at the right moment (and sometimes not the most convenient for a family guy) and hope players jump on it immediately so there’s no delay. But we can’t do that long term, and if there are multiple championships happening, imagine the mess. RD : Another biggie for organised online play and popular request amongst the community is custom skins in game. Obvious licensing issues aside, could you see this as being included sometime down the line? SO: This is something we definitely want to do but it’s quite a big challenge. Due to the way the game was built early on, there are a lot of technical complications that makes this very hard to do. It’s not in our backlog, but if it’s any consolation, it’s definitely on our wishlist. Stay tuned for part 2 of the Sector3 Studios Q&A where we discuss a range of topics from upcoming new content, development progress, the new 'Formula RaceRoom' classes, additions to the GTO Class and much, much more! Please leave your comments below, and check back tomorrow for Part 2!