Renato Simioni Administrator Staff Member
Greetings everyone! I´m happy to be back with a new edition of our Development Update, after a small hiatus last month.
Regular readers of these articles may have grown a bit anxious by the fact we skipped our traditional catch-up last month - unfortunately a lot of the things we were working on in recent months had a few detours and took a bit longer to come together, while other things were shifted up the queue in order to advance some other priorities, leaving me short of news and of time to give you any sort of valuable insight in the last month.
The good news is that a lot of these exciting developments are coming to a head in the very near future, so we have a lot of exciting material to share with you this month - let´s dive into what we have been working on and the long, substantial list of developments we have delivered and will be delivering in the coming weeks.
This month’s highlight on the content side of things has been the addition of the Formula Retro Generation 2 series, featuring two of the most iconic cars of the late 70s ground effect era with the Lotus 79 and the Brabham BT46B
Sim racing old-timers may recall the rFactor GP79 mod released way back in 2006-2007 - the mod was one of the first comprehensive projects for good old rF1, featuring both cars and tracks from the 1979 season which proved quite a popular release back in the day. It was also my first big modding project in sim racing as part of the Grand Prix Classics modding team, and the one that effectively launched my career as a professional developer.
It was thus an interesting experience to revisit this era of motorsports almost 15 years on, look back on reference material collected and stored since then “just in case”, to ultimately realize how strong the Dunning-Kruger effect can be when you are starting a new activity! At the time, we thought we were rocking with this:
This is where we are 15 years later:
Technology in sim racing and in general has certainly come along way, and the fact that devs and users alike are always pushing for things to be better is a big factor in driving that progress. Still it´s worth sometimes to look back and realize just how far things have come in these 15 years, and how somehow we still managed to enjoy what we had back then - evidence perhaps that the secret to satisfaction lies to an extent in appreciating the good things one already has, instead of always looking for what may still be missing.
From a personal perspective, the most valuable thing in this trip down memory lane was in realizing what a privilege it is to still be doing the work I enjoy so much 15 year later - I can only be thankful to the sim racing community for continuing to grant me that privilege, as I don´t see myself being as happy doing anything else!
With that little reflection out of the way, let’s get technical and look into how the game has actually improved in recent weeks:
Driver customization: it’s been a long time coming but after finally working out some exporting woes we are expanding on the customization of driver characters in AMS2 - out goes the generic driver and suits with the same generic group of drivers and personalities, in comes the customized grid per series, with period accurate suits and helmets with a series specific grid of drivers.
The customization will go beyond the cosmetic, as AI opponents will soon have a larger spread of personalities, including additional variables determining their skill in wet weather, managing tire wear. The work is still ongoing but we hope that by the late May update all series will have their own selection of drivers.
We are aware that many users would love the option to customize driver liveries, names and personalities themselves - while that is a bigger, complex project, in a longer timeframe we hope to deliver on at least some of those requests.
We have also finally concluded some significant physics revisions, with April´s updates delivering a substantial reduction of friction levels in the driveline models, which in turn results in a much improved power delivery and differential performance, especially in cars featuring a limited-slip differential. Further fine-tuning is surely always ongoing, but the thick of the work has been concluded. Since the revisions for the most part actually resulted in faster cars, we have opted to preserve the Time Trial leaderboards and not wiping the slate clean as we expected at the time of the last Dev Update.
Lastly, the track team has been conducting an extensive revision of tracks, specifically exports from early on the AMS2 development cycle for a Performance Optimization pass, with some good improvements gathered.
With recent releases including more cars and adding to the ever-expanding vehicle class roster in Automobilista 2, some users have expressed the preference for future new cars to be added to existing classes, instead of expanding into additional classes with relatively few cars - first off we´d like to assure this will happen, with more official cars, generic ones or both still to arrive to beef up some of the existing classes.
For some perspective on what our approach is, and the kind of hurdles one needs to navigate in a project of this size - there´s naturally an unspecific limit as to how far we can go with licensing cars and tracks to represent a given series when the game is not licensed for it, but what we can do is to sample a number of interesting series - modern and historical - with a selection of the more appealing cars and tracks to a very compelling (if not quite complete) degree, so that´s what we tend to go for, as offering a diversity of motorsports experience essentially is what AMS2 is about.
Users of course will have their own ideas on how many models in each class are enough to make up a compelling selection - generally we find 4-5 cars in a class make up a very meaty grid so that´s typically our target in series where diversity of models are of significance (little value in doing several models in spec series when cars are fundamentally the same underneath).
Then it´s important to consider that while we may have the goal to reach licensing deals with A, B, C, D brands covering several models spread through various classes, these don´t always materialize at the same time - whether because one deal takes longer to come together or because we can´t quite cope with the financial requirements of licensing all 4 at once. In that case, once we have A, B in the bag, paid for and modelled, there´s little reason not to begin with those and add C and D later if and when those deals materialize.
It helps if you see the game as a sticker book, with several blank spots still to be filled. As always, it´s important to keep in mind we still have a long road ahead - with some patience, you may expect things to continue to fall into place bit by bit.
Coming up Next
As alluded earlier, some of the developments we have been working on for a few months now expected to be wrapped within the next update or two. Here are some of the highlights:
On the Audio front, we working on the implementation of a less CPU intensive & more informative surface audio model, as well as additional sound effects producing an overall richer sonic experience.
The art team is doing some further work car and track Graphics, tuning shaders and climate variables to go along with the new seasonal foliage options in order to boost the visuals even further for the next update, some early results already partially demonstrated in the screenies below. We have also began taking some early dabs at the code side of things, currently experimenting with boosting shadow quality settings where some incremental improvements may be expected soon.
The long awaited Custom Championship feature will finally arrive in the late May update, allowing users to customize their own championship season with classes, calendar and rules of their choice - it´s been a long wait but hopefully for good reason, as the tool will be a lot more resourceful than we had originally planned.
We have picked up many requests for improvements to Gamepad Support so that will also be receiving some love in time for the next update.
Community Plans - We are looking into setting up some regular activities to boost community´s interaction with AMS2 - the good old Time Trial of the Week or TTofW from AMS1, in which a given car/track combo is selected as the week´s leaderboard of choice will make a comeback, and we are also looking to set up an infrastructure for regular, open and (to begin with at least) strictly for-fun Multiplayer races - no fixed timeline for these yet but they should both be a matter of weeks rather than months.
The much-anticipated Multiplayer Rating System remains on the backburner for now as we work through these priority tasks, but it´s soon to be back in the agenda for a Q3 or Q4 release.
Weather is About to Get Real
One of the main upcoming features we have been working on is the addition of Real Weather, integrating Automobilista 2 with live weather forecast systems to provide accurate weather conditions for any location featured in the game. Beyond that, users will have the option of customizing the date / season for your event, with AMS2 to feature a database of weather conditions for each circuit in the game going back 40 years, and also factoring weather forecasts into the following day.
With the reintroduction of the option to customize session date, the track team has been busy producing some variations in track art to represent the different seasons through the very different regions featured in the game.
One caveat is that at least for now we will not feature the option to race on snow, so some creative licensing is being taken ensure tracks in heavy snowy winter locations have been cleaned off before the session (snow may still be present in trackside foliage).
Also worth taking note that the new seasonal foliage will eventually add substantial texture load to all tracks, so you may want to plan ahead for a big update and potentially 15-20 extra GB of disk space in time for the Late May update.
Racin´ USA Expansion Pack
As the US racing season kicks into high gear, we are thrilled to announce our venture into the amazing North American motorsports scene with the upcoming release of the Racin’ USA Expansion Pack Part One.
The Pack - originally planned as a single, massive expansion pack - has been split it into three standalone parts, each including a number of tracks and cars - the first centered around the US thriving sports car scene; the second on its single-seater heritage and the third on the world of oval racing, with some overlap between them adding up to a cohesive whole. We expect to release all three parts before the end of the year.
On the car front, Part One will offer the GTE class, initially featuring the Porsche 911 RSR, BMW M8 and Corvette C8R, along with the Cadillac DPI-R prototype; on the track front, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the street circuit of Long Beach and the iconic Daytona International Speedway make up for a fantastic initial lineup to kick off our North American adventure.
Part One of the Racin’ USA Expansion Pack will be arriving in late May along with our next major update, selling for US$ 12.99 / 9.99€, with parts Two & Three expected to be priced similarly. Worth reminding that owners of the AMS2 2020-2022 Season Pass as well as AMS2 early backers already have all parts of this and other forthcoming DLCs secured.
Weekend DLC Sale
Heads-up for those still looking for the DLC tracks or who may have their interest picked by the upcoming release of the Racin´ USA pack - we currently have a Steam sale featuring discounts for all AMS2 DLC items and packages - don´t miss out, the promo runs out tomorrow!
Automobilista 2 Developer Q&A on Facebook
We have noticed discussions ongoing in the community about Automobilista 2, with seemingly some confusion about the sim and the direction it is going in. I have recently done a bit of Q&A in a closed Facebook group of AMS2 users, and it seemed like it was a productive way to cover some of the common questions for users who may not be keeping track of our regular interactions here, so we thought it would be a good idea to do another one with the community at large in our main Automobilista 2 Facebook page.
We will launch a post next weekend (May 8-9) on our AMS2 Facebook Page to start collecting questions about anything related to AMS2 development, and I´ll do my best to reply them as clearly as possible on the 10th - the questions and their answers will then be compiled into an article to be posted in our forum and the AMS2 Steam store page.
That covers it for this month! We hope this makes up for our absence last month, and look forward to catching up again after our next big update later in May.
Last edited: Yesterday at 4:44 PM