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Automobilista 2: The Big Interview (Part 2)

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief
AMS 2 Interview 6.jpg

The second part of our big interview with Reiza Studios is now live! Read on here...

When the AMS 2 announcement dropped the community lit up with reaction and comments, plenty of which posed more questions that we had answers to at that point. In a bid to try and gather as much information on the upcoming sim as possible, we opened up the opportunity to put together questions for Renato from our community members - and you responded in fine style!

AMS 2 Interview - Part One HERE.

In Part 2 of our big Reiza interview, we throw down pretty much most of the community generated questions, and you can find the answers from the man in charge below...

RD: (question from @numbersevenhull) - AMS multiplayer had problems gaining traction other than for league use. How do you plan to address this... what are the plans for multiplayer (structured or lobby system), do they intend to integrate the PC2 safety and skill ratings, or expand upon them. Will the game offer any kind of stat tracking?

RS: I think multiplayer health fundamentally depends on having a large enough player base, as the online community is always going to be a percentage of that total. Our immediate focus is getting what we got right in AMS1, combining that with licensed content of broader appeal, and packing it with a more competitive presentation – that will boost the player base and multiplayer participation as a consequence. Once we have that we can focus on adding more multiplayer-specific features, although we do have some already planned and a few legacy systems we can also explore.

RD: (question from @numbersevenhull) - What areas of the game engine have you targeted resources towards improving and where do you feel they have been effective. Have you expanded the Reiza team and in what areas if any have you brought in new skills?

RS: We are about twice as big as we were at the end of AMS1 development and looking to hire more, as we intend AMS2 is a project that goes much further beyond v1.0.

We´ve hired a number of new artists as not only we have to produce new content at a quicker rate than before, we also have a lot of assets from AMS1 to bring over and upgrade for the new engine.

On the coding side we´ve been focusing on the low hanging fruits, ie mostly small adjustments that add good value, and making a few changes to bring some of the mechanics more towards what we had in AMS1, and soon we´ll start doing some work on the AI. We want to have a stable baseline with all these important things first before dabbing into more elaborate tasks, as that also gives us more time to get a better grasp on the engine.

RD: (question from @Gasper Zupan) – Do you plan to include the option to use old/used tires like in Automobilista 1? And limit the tire sets?

RS: Yes and yes.

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RD: (Question from @Will Mazeo) – Will the new game have rejoin and full course yellows?

RS: It´s on our list, although we haven´t done any work on that front yet. So this probably lands on longer term features, ie post v1.0 release.

RD: (Question from @RobertR1) – We know MADNESS supports Oculus and HTC Vive natively, but what are your thoughts around the new Pixmax VR, and potentially other VR players entering or in the VR headset space?

RS: I think it´s great that a new generation of VR hardware is coming up, the 1st already offered a new level of immersion but still lacked the resolution to be really the game-changer it can be. We´re keeping an eye on what´s going on, but haven´t actually tried the new kits yet.

RD: (Question from @R1Joel) – Do you plan on supporting modding within the sim?

RS: We will try to give best support for users to share their customizations such as car skins, setups and custom championships.

For car and track mods you will be able to do as much as you can with PCars2, which is probably not a lot. It definitely won´t be a dedicated modding platform. There are several reasons why that is, the most obvious being the very architecture of the Madness engine does not lend itself to it.

That same architecture is actually important for us to protect our own content. Modding is fun, but seeing the car or track we poured our heart and soul into creating along with a considerable amount of our limited finances ported over to whatever the popular modding platform of choice is on the day, not so much.

Don´t get me wrong - modding platforms are great for sim racing, we were born from the modding scene as were many others of today’s elite developers. But we´re content creators first and foremost, and we need to protect that value. Besides, dedicating resources to creating a modding platform almost inevitably detracts from making and then keeping a well-rounded, consistent product which is what we aim to do.

Moreover, and because we´re content creators first and foremost, if there´s one thing we stand out on is the rate at which we can output good, consistent content at a fair enough fee. We also tend to keep a finger on the pulse of our user base so we know what most people want – if there´s enough interest in something we can try to deliver it ourselves over the shelf life of the sim.

With that said, there isn´t any measure being taken to prevent modding -if people manage to find their way around it to whatever extent, then by all means mod away.

RD: (Question from @Miguel Batista) - Will you be adopting the (MADNESS) SETA tyre model or develop your own?

RS: Yes we are using SETA.

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RD: Regarding tyre model and physics, does the MADNESS engine deal include PCARS 2 physics, or is it a graphics only type of arrangement?

RS: We´re using the complete engine, which is not to say we can´t port some of the things we did in the old engine.

RD: Due to the sharing of engines, are we likely to see similarities to how PCARS behaves, or do you have the scope / appetite / freedom to develop something entirely in house within the staff and skills available at Reiza?

RS: We do have all the freedom to do with it whatever we want, so that´s not an issue. It´s a matter of what needs to be done. I can say that from the get-go it´s going to be a lot more similar to AMS1 than people are expecting. And to my perception, and also from some friends who have already tried it is that some of the cars already drive better than they did in AMS1.

RD: To get an even clearer and more direct answer…. !!! Is this new game going to be basically Automobilista physics and FFB but with more bells and whistles on and slight nuanced changes, are is it a case of using much of the PCARS model as a base, and moving forward your own way from that point?

RS: I think the previous answer already covers that.

RD: (Question from @Ghoults) - Will there be a career mode or is it more about online racing and single races against ai?

RS: There is one particular Expansion Pack within the AMS2 plan that should feature a career progression of sorts, so that´s one thing. We´ll certainly try to add more if we can make it more than a gimmick, but there´s no guarantee we´ll be able to for v1.0.

RD: (Question from @c172fccc) - Will the tire model interact with LiveTack 3.0 as it does in Project Cars 2? For example, will it interact with dirt on the track and the depth of the puddles?

RS: Yes.

RD: (Question from @GTSpeedster) - Will AMS2 have native triple screen support day one?

RS: Yes – basically for hardware support you can take for granted everything PCars 2 already offered.

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RD: (Question from @Jan Mikuž) - How detailed, extensive will physical (visual) damage be?

RS: To begin with at least, the system will be similar to what you see in PCars2, which is not to say configured the same way.

RD: (Question from @FS7) – Going back to mod support for a second, is there any plans for tools to convert mods from AMS1 to AMS2?

RS: No.

RD: (Question from @tpw) – The graphic quality of the game engine is without doubt, but sims such as RaceRoom continue to lead the way in the audio side of things. What sort of limitations are present in this engine regards audio, and do you feel Reiza can lift the new title to a level above what has previously been possible with this engine?

RS: We believe strongly that audio design is crucial for a good sim racing experience, and we´re consistently looking into ways of making It better. We are using FMOD now and that is more advanced than what we had before, and we´re pouring a lot more resources into audio capturing from real cars, so it will be better than AMS1 both in terms of audio capabilities as well as sampling.

We have for example just recently captured this beauty:

How it will stack up against the other leading devs on this front will be up for users to judge, but you can at least be confident that audio design in general – not just engine sounds - is towards the top of priorities.

RD: (Question from @Kurupt CDN) - Do you plan to incorporate and build on the rallyX/stadium trucks that were in AMS?

RS: Yes – Rally / Dirt not in V1.0 though, most likely a separate dedicated Expansion Pack. Stadium Super Trucks we´d like to and are working on it.

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RD: (Question from @Kurupt CDN) - Any plans on adding or renewing the live weather app license (that has apparently lapsed in PCARS 2)?

RS: Good question! I guess we´ll have to look into it. No plans but certainly open to consideration.

RD: (Question from @fernandodasilva) - Any possibility of having spotters in other languages than English?

RS: In Portuguese for sure, English yes. Others unlikely for v1.0 at least.

RD: (Question from @j_troc_71) - How will this game be different than Automobilista 1?

RS: Bigger, better and prettier with some key new features is a good way to sum it up, but the basic design is fundamentally similar.

RD: (Question from @Tar Heel) - Will the replay system be the same as it currently is in PC2 or will it be improved upon?

RS: We are working on it as we speak. We already considerably upgraded the LODding logic and sharpness settings from cameras so replays look much better.

RD: (Question from @Jason Mullin) - know this may be too early but... Considering the potential great graphics from madness and better physics from Reiza... do you know yet what might be the target PC requirements? For those of us with Mid-range PCs.

RS: If you run PCars2 well, you´ll probably find AMS2 running at least as well.

RD: (Question from @fireballr18) - Can Reiza use parts of their former modulations in AMS (e.g. turbo modellation)?

RS: Madness already has a turbo model that is at least as good as what we had, which was very functional but also very simple. We´re using the native model.

RD: (Question from @VernWozza) - As someone who craves realism I'm desperate for a sim so take damage seriously. Will they be implementing any kind of unique damage model?

RS: As before, it´s one area we´d like to offer more but there is a list of higher priorities things above it we need to focus on first.

AMS 2 Interview 1.jpg

RD: (Question from @mibrandt) - How much control do you have on the visual side of things? The weather looks very good in pc2 but honestly I think generally the visuals are kinda overdone - like too much bling. Are you aiming for a more photo realistic look if its in your control?

RS: We aim for realism in every front, but this tends to be a more subjective matter than it should be. Art wise our approach is the same, we do have full control of the rendering engine we have more and better artists now so the results should, and are already evidently better. As for the bling, I do believe you can switch off most it if it doesn´t please you.

RD: (Question from @ShredatorFIN) – antialiasing has come in for criticism in previous MADNESS based games – is this something on the ‘to-do’ list at Reiza for the new title?

RS: We´re looking into it.

RD: (Question from @peppepino) – Will Reiza be looking to make “AMS2 Release” a recognised reason to not attend work, and if so, can you supply signed doctors notes so we don’t get into trouble from our managers?

RS: We can try make It so good that you may develop some RSI from racing too much, although I wouldn´t recommend it!

RD: (Question from @Keith Windsor) Can we have some idea of any 'new' race options that are intended. i.e. I'm really hoping for one or two features that have been left out of most sims in the past - For example: options for ballast, ability to match player and AI tyre wear, designate pit windows for player and AI, mid-race saves for those with real life commitments, decent oval behaviour as well as road.

RS: Ballast is already supported, as is mandatory pitstops with pit windows. Matching AI and player tyre wear is impossible, unless you mean dynamically adjusting it to be the same wear of the player… Mid-race saves certainly on the good-to-have list. Oval racing not planned at this stage.

RD: Have you any plans to look at Laserscanning for future tracks, despite the obviously high quality of the circuits already released for AMS1?

RS: We will if we can and when it makes sense – we have already used laser scan data for some tracks in AMS1, but we´re not adopting it as development criteria. For one thing we do a lot of historical tracks, and there is no way to scan those; for another we have good modellers capable of creating highly accurate models even without laser scan data.

We find the sims that do adopt that criteria tend to only have the more accurate tracks for a limited period if at all, not least because race tracks are alive things often going through constant reforms and laser scan is just a snapshot of it at a certain time. As an example I´d cite Imola, of which there are 2 laser scanned versions in other sims but ours is overall more accurate because it´s constantly brought up to the latest modifications.

Which is not to say laser scan data isn´t an invaluable accuracy resource, and it´s perfectly possible for us to combine that with our current modelling philosophy – in the cases we can do just that we certainly will continue to.

RD: Wheel support… do you plan on offering pre-set controller profiles like is the case with rFactor 2 for example? Also on the same topic, less broadly used wheels like older models or the new direct drive range – will special attention be paid to these in order to get the maximum benefit from these peripherals within the sim?

RS: We already do that with AMS1, although it could be improved and expanded. PC2 has a lot of legacy profiles which we´ll go through in time.

RD: (Question from @Tormentor) – Do you plan on having a pit out lap to the starting grid? Can we start from pitlane? Can we have tow trucks in FCY and marshals waving flags around the tracks? Can we have red flags because of crashes, with race interruption or premature end of race? Can we have change in strategy arranged by the chief engineer because of changes in weather or strategy changes of other teams?

RS: A dynamic race engineer is an interesting idea. Flag marshals we´d like to have, not in yet. The others I think are all demand more than they offer in return.

RD: (Question from @Constantin Grimminger) - How many people are currently working at Reiza and how will the guys that work on the Donington/Snetterton DLC contribute to the AMS2 work flow? Any chance to give concrete numbers on how many content creators (3D, 2D), physics guys and PR people are currently at Reiza?

RS: Without getting into specifics, Reiza currently has 18 devs working on AMS2. There is no one handling PR beyond myself though – we probably should get someone better suited for it!

On the track front we currently have one team focused on bringing and updating the existing AMS1 tracks to the new engine and another creating new tracks – the latter is handling Donington and Snetterton also in AMS1.

Generally we´ve always been a pretty lean operation and our limited budget has always demanded we put absolute focus on the essentials of creating the product. If AMS2 delivers the way we expect, some fronts will probably demand more dedicated resources and we wil then look into expanding further as needed.

RD: (Question from @o Tiger Feet o) - Are there any plans to implement a form of neural AI?

RS: We haven´t got our sights set that way yet.

RD: (Question from @bgil66) - Will you have a manual in pdf format explaining all aspects of the sim?

RS: We already did that in AMS1, although limited. Will certainly push to have something more in-depth if we can find the time.

RD: (Question from @Stefan Mizzi) - What kind of Telemetry API (or APIs) shall we expect?

RS: For the time being, same as PCars2.

RD: (Question from @Stefan Mizzi) – WIll developers have access to beta versions (or some documentation/information) to integrate with their applications?

RS: There will most likely be a short open beta period for users and app devs alike.

RD: Well, that’s probably taken you an age to read and respond to everything, so once again a sincere thank you from the sim racing community for taking the time to discuss this with us today. One last thing, in the usual RD interview style, do you have anything extra you can add to this interview that you’ve not shared before – an RD exclusive to end the marathon of questions?

RS: Thank you RD for always being there for us and for sim racing in general, you guys provide an invaluable service for our little corner of the virtual world and it´s most appreciated.

We´re pretty excited about Automobilista 2 – this is really the endgame we´ve been working towards for several years now so there´s a special energy now that this is really it. I´m glad to share that with the guys who have stuck with us through thick and this over the years, and also all who have enjoyed what we do and now have something exciting too look forward to. Rest assured we´ll do our best to keep you all posted of our progress over the coming months.

For the latest Automobilista 2 news and discussions, head over to the AMS 2 sub forum here at RaceDepartment and get yourself involved in the conversation today!

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No mods in 2019 is the norm, sadly :(

Support those devs who keep an open modding platform if you want modding to stick around.