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Tracks Thomson Road Grand Prix - Singapore

Discussion in 'Assetto Corsa Modding Discussions' started by Fat-Alfie, Oct 26, 2016.

  1. Well, I thought it was probably time I started a thread about this track. I started work on it about 3 weeks ago. I was looking at times from the 1967 Grand Prix championship, for the Lotus 49, when I saw the name Thomson Road in Singapore. I had never heard of it so Googled it, and so my journey began :)

    It turns out it was a street circuit, half of it a twisty old road through the jungle, and the other half a newer, straighter section. It was used between 1961 and 1973, when it was cancelled due to financial and safety issues. It was badged as the Orient Year Grand Prix, the Malaysian Grand Prix and finally the Singapore Grand Prix once Singapore gained its independence. It measured just over 3 miles in length, or 4.865km, and featured sections such as The Murder Mile (the main straight which had a hump halfway along its length which caused the cars to take off at high speed), The Snakes (a series of twists and turns as the track climbed up through the jungle) and Devil's Bend (the most dangerous corner on the circuit). Seven lives were lost in the circuit's 11 year history. There were no run-off areas, most of the fast bends were surrounded by trees and the added 'feature' of 2 feet deep monsoon drains either side of the track didn't help either :O_o:
    [​IMG]
    Video footage is almost non-existant and DEM info for the area seemed to be limited to SMRT3 (90m), so only really of any use for the surrounding terrain.

    1966 video


    1970 video


    The more digging I did the more info I uncovered. I found GPS data from people who had jogged around the circuit and uploaded the data to MapMyRun. I found a YouTube video of a cycle ride where the guy showed the elevation readout from his GPS bike computer, but both of these seemed wildly inaccurate compared to the on-board videos I found online :(

    I decided to try a very quick test just to see if the circuit was worth pursuing in terms of a project for AC. I found the area on Google Earth, took a few screenshots to get the layout of the roads (which are still there and used as public roads). I downloaded the terrain of the area using this great site http://jthatch.com/Terrain2STL/ which enables you to download a 3D mesh of an area selected on the map. I imported this into 3ds max, subdivided it to smooth it out, and then simply draped my road over the terrain surface. I thought "this will give me a good enough idea of how the circuit drives - if it seems fun then I'll take it on as a project. If it's dull and flat then I won't waste any more time". I got it in-game, tried it out and immediately thought "Yep, this could be great!"

    I started collating as much information as I could, photos, written articles, POV videos on YouTube, maps, everything I could find. The more I found, the more excited I got :cool:
    [​IMG]
    I fell in love with the circuit's charm and innocence. Chicanes made from sandbags, spectators allowed to stand anywhere (and everywhere) they wanted, temporary pits and grandstands that were rebuilt and then demolished each year.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    After a couple of weeks I ended up with a pretty good track in AC. I was fairly sure it was nowhere near being accurate (in terms of elevation changes) but the shape was correct (from the Google Earth images), the camber seemed right (from the YouTube POV videos) and more importantly to me, it felt great :thumbsup:

    I carried on working on it, making sure that cars took off going over The Hump (I was using the KTM X-Bow, which was lifting a few inches off the ground taking the hump at about 220kmh), even the lap record was comparable to my times in the Lotus 49. I carried on my research, finding a few more photos here and there, a few more articles written about the track, and then I hit the jackpot! I stumbled across the Singapore National Archive online, which had about 3000 photos taken all around the circuit, and more importantly, I found the official topographical maps from the 1960s, showing the ground height in 10 foot increments. There were even spot height marked on the roads in a few places! Bingo!
    [​IMG]
    This meant that I had to effectively start again :thumbsdown: I couldn't carry on with my track using approximated elevation changes when I had all this new info. I decided to digitise the topographical maps, tracing every contour line in Illustrator (about 500 for the area I needed), imported these into 3ds max, ran them through a free plugin called Populate:Terrain which was able to convert these contour lines into a single 3D mesh
    [​IMG]
    I did the same process again, draping my road over this new terrain (which now had 3m spacing, rather than my original 90m spacing), compared the new road to my original road, and to my amazement (and slight annoyance!) the two versions were remarkably similar. There were a couple of sections I had wrong, but on the whole I had been pretty close :thumbsup: I quickly got this new circuit in-game to test out the new, 'correct' layout, and it felt great! I love this circuit so much :geek: I really feels like a mini Nordschleife in places, twisting and turning through the forest/jungle, mad hairpin turns, lovely elevation changes, and when all those turns get too much for your concentration, a nice long straight to recover. It even has its own Flugplatz! :D

    I am fairly confident in my track layout now. The shape is as correct as I can make it, the camber changes feel good, the elevation changes feel great, creating a few blind crests which are so much fun. I am still driving on the 16k poly visual mesh but now the layout changes all appear to be done I think it's time I start work on a high-resolution physical mesh, and give this track some 'feel'. If people are interested to try it out I would be more than happy to send links via PM, or I could simply upload my latest beta to my Dropbox and add a link here. I doubt I would be overwhelmed with requests and breach my bandwidth limit :laugh:

    Now I have my first WIP thread I will try to remember to upload images of my progress. I don't think it will take too long to complete, especially with the knowledge and experience I have gained through making Bilster Berg and the Deutschlandring, and the fact that half the circuit runs through the jungle, and that things like the grandstands and timing buildings were made from wooden planks and bamboo :D

    (thanks for reading, and let me know if you want a copy to try)
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
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  2. The effort, you put in this track is awesome, keep going!

    Would love to try it out, your Bilster Berg is one of my favorite tracks in AC (sadly "only" the beta version :( ).
     
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  3. hey! a few months ago i "found" this circuit, i had same feelings about it,i wish to drove some old cars around here in a few months :)
     
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  4. mantasisg

    mantasisg
    Premium Member

    YES ! Historic tracks goes on ! :) I'm very happy :) And you bet I'd like to test it as soon as you feel that you would like to know what people thinks about the progress.
     
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  5. Thanks for the comments and interest guys :)

    I guess I should have added this video too, showing how the KTM takes The Hump at 220kph.

    I haven't researched how fast the cars they drove in the 1960s would have been going at that point (they raced everything from 50cc motorbikes to Austin Minis to F2 Lotus cars) but since I'm mostly making this track so that I can enjoy driving around it, and I enjoy driving the KTM, I wanted to make sure it could handle this hump almost flat out, but still challenged you to take the correct line or back off a bit if you are on the outside of another driver.

    I made a start on the physics mesh today, too. I have split the whole track into 30 sections of around 1600 tris each. As these are public roads I noticed from a few photos and videos that there is a noticeable crown to the road, making for some very interesting and challenging camber changes :devilish:
    Anyway, to make my roads I start with a spline and then create a second spline for the cross-section. The main spline for this circuit has around 80 verts - enough to allow me to change elevation accurately, but not too many at this point to enable me to get the track smooth.
    [​IMG]
    Once I am happy with the overall layout I then subdivide the spline by using the Normalise Spline modifier to add a vert every 4m. This allows me to add some gentle random noise to the track surface by only selecting certain verts along the spline, which can appear very natural. I only add a deviation of +/- 20mm - just enough to get the suspension working at higher speeds.
    [​IMG]
    Once this longitudinal noise has been added to the road's spline I then take the lofted road (made up of the road spline and cross-section spline), make any camber and width changes I need to and convert it to an editable poly. As I said earlier, each of the 30 sections has around 1600 tris, and while it gently undulates, it still feels very smooth to drive on - too smooth.

    I take each section, subdivide the polys down to 20cm spacing, increasing the poly count up to around 130,000. I then add some random XY movement to the verts (so they are no longer lined up in rows), and then add two levels of vertical noise in the Z axis. The first is a larger-scale noise for lumps in the road, and the second is much smaller, to add the impression of tarmac feel to the road. Each of these processes only add a variation of +/- 10mm, but it's enough to add some feel (in my opinion). Once this random variation is added, I then just optimise each section, aiming to get the poly count back down to around 30,000 - 40,000 per section. I'm sure all track makers have their own methods of doing things, but this works for me, and I am happy with the results.
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Every bit of that sounds awesome. Yes sir, I would love a copy to try. :D
     
  7. First of all thanks for your work! Seems like a really interesting track
    Aaand yes, I would definitely like to try a beta version ;)
     
  8. Fabian Biehne

    Fabian Biehne
    Premium Member

    Really interested in a beta! Your Bilster Berg is a great track and i'm curious what your next project will be like.
     
  9. Looking forward to this :)

    Did Bilster Berg ever get finished ? and if so where cani find it please ?
     
  10. Bilster Berg did get finished, yes, but not released to the public - sorry.
     
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  11. Finally decided on a final layout for Thomson Road.

    Now it's time to start on the tough stuff :)

     
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  12. Damn, what a great choice! This is a super unique track--it goes through the jungle ffs! :D

    Can't wait for this :) Keep up the great work. Love all the details.

    Cheers
     
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  13. On-board footage :). Note: I have not added the pre-1970 sandbag chicanes to the approach of the Circus hairpin, as I find it scarier without them, and the AI are stupid :rolleyes:

     
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  14. Dude, that just looks awesome. Seriously loving the air you're catching over that hump. Nothing quite like going over a blind crest with no wheels touching the ground. Good times. :thumbsup:

    Looks like the only thing that track is missing is a download link. :D
     
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  15. Yeah, The Hump is great fun, as long as you remember to limit your speed to around 230kph. Any faster than that and you crash off the left hand side of the track, as the road curves round to the right slightly :O_o:

    I can throw up a download link tomorrow if you don't mind ugly too much :D

    I'm just starting work on the jungle section, which is going to be a tough job. Physics mesh is in-place though, so it feels just fine :)
     
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  16. mantasisg

    mantasisg
    Premium Member

    Can't wait for that Jungle drive. For you it will be good practice before doing Deutschland forests :D Well, I think so.

    Really looking for that jump. Personally I feel lack of AIR time in AC in general haha jumps are so needed :)
     
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  17. I know I'll remember that tip once I'm tumbling through the jungle in the Audi :whistling: Do even high aero cars lift off?
     
  18. I haven't tested all the AC cars yet, but so far, everything except for the modern F1 cars take off over The Hump, some with more control and success than others :O_o:

    Praga is beautiful. It is doing about 230kph from the Hotlap start and just barely lifts off the ground, landing cleanly a few feet to the left :) The KTM, likewise. The Porsches hate it :cry: Anything with unbalanced aero (i.e. loads of rear d/f) just tries to kill you by attempting to backfip :confused:

    Once I've uploaded a link tomorrow, and a few more people have tried it out, maybe someone else can offer an opinion of this particular feature. I have to say, I mostly drive older / low downforce cars so the problems encountered by GT3 cars don't bother me that much, but we'll see what you guys think. If it just means that you have to drive with care, and not go too fast, I'm keeping it as it is :laugh:
     
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  19. Here's a link to v0.0.3

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/rlmnbvqtwd99opa/thomson_0.0.3.zip?dl=0

    The physics mesh is in place, but the visuals are mostly placeholders for now (so please excuse the aesthetics). There are 20 grid slots and the AI give a good race, although they are little slow navigating the hairpins. Track cams are also temporary.

    I would suggest slower cars or lower downforce cars (it was used from 1961 to 1973). The track is quite narrow at 9m (same as Nords) and as it was public roads the profile features a noticeable crown (presumably to aid drainage) which can give weird camber in places. The Hump is safe to take at 220-230kph, but with the right entry line and the right car you can get away with about 250kph.
     
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  20. mantasisg

    mantasisg
    Premium Member

    That jump at The Hump.... you can reach so much higher speed at that point than it is possible to go through :D At least with a car without downforce. I'd love to check if you can flip SandroX Mercedes there :D

    And it does not feel very empty, except that there is no jungle. But the layout is very good very challenging. The jungle part is really challenging, easy to spin-out there. I think the layout is very well made.

    I suppose that Jungle part will be so much more challenging with actual jungle forest, it will cut off a lot of view into upcoming curves. CRAZY

    I recommend this track, because it is awesome, and it is classic.
     
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