Following the somewhat cryptic Catalyst GTR3 reveal tweet recently, we sat down with the man behind the new title to have a little chat… The name GTR3 always evokes passionate opinion when you speak with the sim racing community, no doubt born of a strong and long held desire to see the GTR franchise reborn on modern gaming machinery, and needless to say that reveal tweet from SimBin partner Chrysalis Games certainly stirred plenty of discussion within the community - without really telling us much about what the plans and expectations for this upcoming new game really are. For those of you without a long sim racing memory, GTR3 has seemingly been in the pipeline since the end GTR 2 development over ten years ago, having in the following decade suffered through aborted attempts at rebooting the franchise, something that Chris Speed, SimBin UK and Sector3 Studios CEO is keen to ensure doesn’t happen again... “First impressions are crucial in this industry. GTR3 has had a long history with some failed starts for reasons I’ll not go into here, and for that reason we are being very coy about the new title. GTR3 is coming out, but you just have to peg back a little bit and make sure you have everything ready. I’m a good friend of the owner of Catalyst, and he’s helped us out on the production for GTR3, he’s been in the industry for 25 – 30 years and his speciality is getting things done and his knowledge of console development is pivotal to this project. When developing on Xbox One and PS4 you start to come up with a whole host of problems, mainly due to the hardware really. Because you are limited It’s tough, but we have got a PS4 version up and running. It’s always difficult trying to please everyone with the direction of GTR3. I’ve been reading some of the comments and its quite inevitable that there is a high expectation with GTR3, but also there is an expectation of what we know we can achieve given the amount of time we have left, regardless GTR3 is on its way!!!" Originally teasing development of GTR3 with a placeholder website and rather impressive audio sample from the game back in 2010, SimBin would eventually be forced to close its doors and reform with several of the original staff as the new Sector3 Studios team, still based in Sweden and partnering up with RaceRoom Entertainment to develop what would eventually be known as RaceRoom Racing Experience, concentrating on improving what has become a very established sim racing title and shelving plans to bring a third edition of the now legendary GTR franchise to our gaming machines. Since that ultimately doomed attempt to revive GTR3 almost ten years ago, sim racing as a genre has moved much more towards a desire to see increasing amounts of content focussing on closed top GT racing, leaving many to feel the time was right to bring the GTR name back into the limelight, something that evidently Speed agrees with, relaunching the SimBin Studios name and announcing right here on RaceDepartment the intention to finally bring a long awaited new GTR game into the world. One of the key messages from the new studio is that GTR3 will be a standalone title not associated with RaceRoom Racing Experience, despite the close association between SimBin and Sector3, and nor is the upcoming game intended as a rival to RaceRoom, but a cross platform racing game that has the ability to cater to a much wider audience, both those who enjoy the simulation aspects of software like RaceRoom and Assetto Corsa, whilst also providing enough depth and support to encourage fans interested in the world of motorsport - something SimBin feel they are well on the way to achieving with GTR3: “GTR3 will be a very good motorsport game is the words we use. We don’t want to paint ourselves in a corner with the game, it will cater for a wide variety of user tastes. Sitting in front of a PC it stands up, and also on console it does the same, although it isn’t quite there yet, and the reason is the limitation on hardware, nothing more than that really. We are having driving aids to help with the learning progression and accessibility, much like in GTR2. We know from our RaceRoom experience that people sometimes find it too hard to get into the simulation side of things. We want people to pick up the game, enjoy it and really have a good feeling about playing a racing game. That’s the sort of approach we’ve taken from day 1 really.” One of the key design principles for GTR3 has always been to have a much more focussed and in-depth career mode than has ever been seen before with a SimBin release, dramatically moving away from the principle of giving the gamer a car and track selection option without much real incentive to play through the career mode. New for this title will be a career progression pathway, encouraging the player to start their motorsport journey at the very foot of the racing ladder and earning the right to sign for bigger and better teams higher up in the virtual world, adding more off track life and activities to the game over and above those of just driving the car, something that Speed thinks will be important in attracting new players to sim racing: “We see GTR3 as kind of the gateway. If people play it and love it, the next step would be RaceRoom. R3E is a solid simulation product, that’s not what GTR3 is going to be perceived as. It might fit the bill for some people, but it’s not going to be perceived as a ‘simulation’ title. There is a high expectation from all the sim racers that GTR3 is going to be a simulation product that appeals to that type of player only, it will certainly be fun as a sim racer, just like I have fun with a variety of other racing games in the genre. The GTR3 name comes with baggage, that’s the hard part and the hard sell whoever you speak to. They always say GTR was a great racing sim, but times change and things move on. You have to look at different aspects like financials and the market, and how it weighs up. It’s not just about creating a racing game for one particular player, nowadays you have to cater for a wider audience. The cars and tracks new to the game we have is partly in prep for a potential WEC deal, but also for our intention to create a broad endurance racing game. If it has the name FIA WEC fantastic, but if it doesn’t then no biggie, I’d much rather the first than the latter, but if not we will still adhere to GT endurance racing. Even if we get the WEC licence we will still have multiple classes of car and content, the WEC licence alone isn’t big enough to survive, people may get bored of that pretty quickly. At the end of the day, if the licence goes ahead and they say we need to rip that content out, then we sit down with them and the publisher and we have to work on a plan for what’s best for the product. I can tell you now, if we have to rip out content, I’d rather not go with them. As a DLC later, perfect... looking at our DLC plan for GTR3 we will be focussing on different categories and features that’s best for the product and franchise. Prototypes are a bit iffy at the minute, mainly due to the lack of them! We are speaking to the likes of Ginetta, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini etc, so we’ll see what happens..." At this current stage of development GTR3 has a range of interesting car and track content already produced and in-game, including cars and tracks that don’t exist in RaceRoom, and the developers are continuing further discussions with additional manufacturers to give the title a depth of content suitable to keep the gamer engaged over the long term, which on further reflection is a very clever way to keep the title focussed to dedicated series and classes of car, whist still proving enough depth to ensure the realistic lifespan of the game can extend beyond just a few months, as would potentially be the case if GTR3 was to focus on just a single category of racing. “GT3 cars already in, GT4 have a couple of cars already in. We are looking at the likes of Ginetta... the Ginetta cup for example as a starter for people who just want to jump in at an entry level and work the way up the career ladder. We have career mode that starts off as you as a racing driver, starting off at the bottom of the ladder, you are not being strapped in right at the very top in LMP1 or GT3 / GTE cars, the likelihood is you will start at the bottom and work your way up in a tiered career mode. It will work just like it works in real life, you will get offers from teams for example, things like that. The career mode, and the focus on the game, is for people to try and feel that they are part of the game, to somewhat experience what real life in the world of motorsport is all about. You won’t be able to customise your cars, but maybe 3 races in you are driving a Porsche and Porsche come and say try this new part for example to give you that extra edge". So what about the WEC licence then? Well to be fair it looks like the tweet from Chrysalis Games was a little premature in the sending - the SimBin Studios partner having let the cat out of the bag a little bit earlier than would be ideal, as Chris explains below: “Regarding the tweet, it went out for two reasons really – one is we are attending GamesCom and it was nice to get something out there, second was a little bit of publisher interest. As you know we are being fully funded by ourselves at the minute, it’s an expensive project and we are hoping from GamesCom to sit down with a number of publishers, we’ve got seven or eight meetings booked already... there was a huge amount of interest from the tweet alone, not only from the community but also from the publisher aspect. We weren’t getting that much interest in GTR3, the reason being because of the failed GTR 3 projects previously, so the likes of big publishers just thought it was just another one of those where the game wasn’t going to come out. When they saw the tweet we got three or four emails saying “do you want to meet at Gamescom?”. "The tweet was something of a leak, the FIA WEC licence is premature. We’ve been in discussions since 2016, we first sat down together at Le Mans in 2016 and although it went well, I said I really can’t afford to wait and need to start the project, so I started the project back then. It is heavily focussed as it stands today around endurance GT racing. Have we got the WEC licence? Not yet, and there are a couple of reasons for that. One is because the FIA have to approve it, and second of all the WEC have a partnership in place for e-sports events and various other competitions, so we’ve got work to do. We still are talking to them, we speak regularly, but worse comes to worse, we have a very solid structure in place, and this is why GamesCom is important to us, to show partners that this is happening. If we get a publisher on board that says “right ok, GTR3 should be an FIA WEC game”, then we’d have the means to cut that deal with them. I’m not saying it’s not going to be in, and I’m not saying it is, we’ve just got to continue to work with them and see what happens". The idea of GTR3 is one of a desire to remain true to the roots of the original franchise, but at the same time review and refresh the aims of the title to best fit a modern marketplace. With categories such as WEC short on both tracks and cars for a realistic prospect of a long term and viable product, SimBin have instead gone down the route of developing a career pathway, allowing for considerable offline career mode gameplay, focussing the game into a dedicated and sensible selection of cars, yet still leaving the door wide open to either add full real world series into the mix from the start, or bring them into the title at a later date by way of DLC. Which if I’m honest, is actually a very smart move from SimBin, as it caters for both those of us wanting full series and at the same time giving the title enough depth of content and variety to ensure a mix of different types of vehicles are represented across the endurance racing landscape. Also revealed in the tweet by Chrysalis on Sunday would be the developer’s presence at GamesCom later this month, however although GTR3 will be present in Germany, the public won’t yet be getting a chance to lay their hands on the title in the flesh - GTR3 will only be available behind closed doors for distributors to view, something that Speed thinks is important as the studio wish to only present the title to the gaming public once more work and refinement of the already rather impressive visuals have been carried out: “GTR3 at Gamescom will not be shown to the public, it’s behind closed doors just with business partners. The tweet went out without the information that it was in fact only going to be shown to partners and publishers, but things are moving forward". Of course SimBin have long maintained the game will be made available on both the leading platform of PC, with a port to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 intended to help the game reach its widest market as possible, and these plans are already well under way. On PC the bulk of the development has already been completed, and the studio, with the help of partner Chrysalis, even have a playable on PS4 at their offices in England: "We’ve got a playable at base with a lot of content in the game already. We have a heap of cars and tracks already in, it’s very much the focus on career mode, feature set, physics and sound which is the focus right now. We have something that’s worth showing to publishers, but we don’t have something I would say that’s worth showing to the public at this stage. The content we’ve got in is built for UE4. It’s not like we can just plug RaceRoom stuff in. We’ve taken what we possibly can from RaceRoom, but everything has to be done for UE4. We have new content in the build, new manufacturers that are going in, new tracks that aren’t in RaceRoom. I was very clear from the start when we first spoke, GTR3, the technology behind GTR3, will eventually be coming to RaceRoom". So what does this all mean in relation to when we will be seeing the game ourselves, and hearing more about the development news? Well according to Chris, a communications strategy from the team has already been devised for the weeks ahead, so we can expect to be finding out much more on the run up to the Christmas holidays: "Social media wise you’ll start seeing some more from SimBin going forward. Silence is hurting us, but we haven’t really got anything to tell. Everything has only really come together in the last 3-4 months, and as I say first impressions count. Any game out there. Look at the Assetto Corsa using UE4 too, it came out and everyone said “hey, that looks nice”, and we want to be at the same point or better when we start communicating too. With Game development in general, it’s not like you can come out every month with an image. First impressions are crucial which is why we are taking our time. We have plenty of new staff at the company now and also working with other partners to ensure that the development is moving forward. The team right now is probably not what I would consider a full strength team, I look at some of the teams that have 40 – 50 – 60+ people, we are not that yet, we are at around 30 in all including our partners, so things do take more time, but again when we are ready, we are ready. Now we feel much more confident, and we are starting to see little glimpse of the engine and content, we’ll reveal another track picture soon and we are pushing as hard as we can to get things finished". As for release date, that is very much dependant on the distribution partners SimBin are currently negotiating with both now and at GamesCom later this month, although Speed did confirm that the title will be finished by SimBin Studios, both for PC and console, by Q2 2019. Ideally Chris would expect a public release in that window. Caution must be applied here however, with the studio currently self-funding the development, and a distribution partner role still under negotiation, commercial considerations might mean a slight revision in the exact release window, something that SimBin hope will not slip further than Q3 2019: “Q2 2019 release is definitely the aim, but we’ll be in the hands of the publisher. If they say that window is littered with good game releases, then we might need to move it to Q3 2019. So let’s see.” We spoke for quite a while together earlier this week, and you’ll be hearing more from our conversation of the next few days, plus a more substantial Q&A style interview in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to RaceDepartment for all the latest news and discussions about GTR3 and SimBin Studios as and when it becomes available… Stay tuned to RD in the coming days for more exciting news around SimBin UK's plans for UE4 and racing game IP's going forward... Editor Comment 1: Please note this interview was undertaken and written up prior to GamesCom, and as such some of the information references the event as upcoming, rather than having just passed. Apologies for the delay. Editor Comment 2: Please note the image used here is the "placeholder" image from the UE4 test build, and not from the current GTR3 build. For the latest news, exclusive interviews and all the background discussion around GTR3 and SimBin Studios, check out the GTR3 Sub Forum here at RaceDepartment and keep on top of the news and stay in touch with the sim racing community. Like what you see here at RaceDepartment? Don't forget to like, subscribe and follow us on social media! Instagram Twitter Facebook Youtube Twitch Ok I suppose no one needs commenting encouragement... go, go, go!