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RaceRoom Update Notes: New Tracks, New Cars and New Features

Paul Jeffrey

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RaceRoom Developer Diary .jpg

Sector3 Studios have taken to the internet today to share some interesting insights into the near future of RaceRoom Racing Experience...


Yes folks, it's time for another roadmap from a sim racing development team... this time the turn falls to Sector3 Studios and their RaceRoom Racing Experience title.

In the September 2019 'Developer Notes' thread, Sector3 have shared plenty of interesting updates about the title... read on to find out what they have to say...

This is a follow-up to the May 2019 thread.

Summer is short in Sweden, so we try and make the best out of it, and that means quite a lot of vacation days have been taken, and therefore a significant slowdown in development for a few weeks.

But here we are, back at it, skin maybe still peeling off from sunburns. I hope everyone had or might still be having a nice time out! I for one visited family and friends back in Belgium.
Is this relevant for these development notes? Well, sort of, as I landed in Belgium the very week of the Spa 24H. I went there on the practice days, 23rd and 24th in order to collect references for no less than 7 or 8 cars.

S3 RaceRoom Development Notes 1.jpg


After those refs were taken, it was time to go up and pay a visit to Aris (Kunos), Paul Jeffrey (RaceDepartment) and Chris Haye (yey, thanks for the mention JF, was awesome to finally meet face-to-face - Paul).

S3 RaceRoom Development Notes 2.jpg

I did queue to qualify for the ACC event, but suddenly had other opportunities to seize.

Anyway... Here is a quick rundown of the items listed in the notes from May, and where we stand for each:

Cars
: The WTCR 2019 car class that we were working on is out and the esport season has started ( Check out the first race stream ).
We had a couple small updates since the release, and also WTCR 2018 car class received their physics update to match and be raced alongside the 2019 cars. What we still have not shipped is the BMW M1 Group 4, which is awaiting liveries, and the updated Volkswagen ID.R, remade according to actual telemetry for which I also need liveries. Discussions are to resume soon with Volkswagen Motorsport regarding livery designs and final sign-off of the new physics. As you may have seen, Romain Dumas and the VW crew have been busy breaking records in China as well!

Tracks
: Two of the tracks we've been working on are now finished and being prepared for public use, so expect announcements and previews in the coming weeks. Our artists will immediately move on to new projects as we have reached agreements for four more in the meantime.

Force Feedback updates
: Static friction and pneumatic trail effects have been in testing for a while now and I have to hold them back for now as we have to wait for a gap between two competitions before we push changes that affect handling and performance of the cars. Those effects are physics based and the pneumatic trail effect has an impact on the car handling, especially coming out of corners. The next period between esport competitions is December 2019.

Moving / resizing HUD elements :
Issues reported on ultrawide monitors are considered fixed. Let us know if you still have any.

So, what's new?

Thomas Jansen has been recruited to help in the physics and AI department. After proving his worth as a betatester and delivering flawlessness™ in BOP, Thomas is now a consultant, working hand in hand with @Alex Hodgkinson . He is tasked with things ranging from damper tuning to critical AI physics improvements, such as preventing AI of recent cars from losing the rear so often.

Renato Lipi
has been recruited as our new web backend developer. Renato will have a lot on his table with very big tasks awaiting him, such as a migration to AWS, development, along with the rest of the team, of the scheduled multiplayer / rating / career features, improvements to competitions, menus, and so on. I'm confident that his skills, in combination with a true passion and excitement for the projects, will help bring RaceRoom much further.

Anthony Monteil and @Robert Holm
are cooking up some nice updates to the tyre sounds. A completely new set of recordings from Anthony, along with some code changes in the engine from Robert (allowing tweaks per car but also more randomness in the samples) should bring you a lot more information regarding grip levels while you are driving. I tried to demonstrate the progression in this video :
AI improvements: We acknowledge that the more demanding physics we have been delivering are likely too much for the AI to handle properly. There are plenty of places where AI now easily gets in trouble, so we're addressing this issue from an AI physics point of view.
What we need to avoid is for this job to put us in a spot where AI cars differ quite a lot from the player's car, making racing feel unfair as AI appear to have much better cornering grip, braking or power.

To prevent this but also improve AI in general, @Robert Holm has experimented and came up an interesting self-learning AI. The way it works is that we take a car and we throw it on a track, then we tell the AI to drive and run tests to autotune itself. It all happens in a few seconds and the following measures happen:
  • DECELERATION / BRAKING
    Performs brake tests and compares measurement with what AI thought would happen. Useful for preventing AI from hitting you in the back.
  • ACCELERATION|
    Performs acceleration tests and compares measure against prediction, this will for example improve the calculation of slowdown penalties or the decision of when to issue a stop-and-go penalty after cutting the track.
  • LAP
    AI performs a timed lap and logs it for developers to gauge the effects of their changes (for example, matching real world laptimes)
  • CORNERING
    Keeps track of how far off the line the AI went and the amount of understeer. Used to prevent AI from cornering too early or too late.
  • RADIUS
    A complex set of tests for grip levels per corner radius, allowing AI to be fine-tuned so they are not dead slow in hairpins or lightning fast in medium radius corners.

    I'm very much looking forward to seeing what the team achieves with this new tool.
    Watch it in action here:

Physics
- Current projects are:
  • GT3 overhaul (Release December 2019)
  • DTM 92 / Touring Classics (Release TBA)
  • VW ID.R modifications for an eventual release in store (Release TBA)
  • Working on new cars as well that I can't disclose.
Art - Always complicated to talk about what our talented artists are working on as they're always the ones with the top secret stuff in their hands... Just know that we have 7 or 8 cars in the pipeline at the moment, along with official liveries of the 2019 season of three racing series (for cars that we already released). As touched above, two tracks are in their final development phase. Two more are lined up afterwards, currently receiving art polish and tweaks.

Damage - As you know from previous notes, we have suspension damage and flatspots in beta, and the only thing that was holding it back was the need for a modification of how damage options are handled. Right now, you have two settings to set for damage: visual and mechanical. That will go away and in the future you'll only have one damage setting with three choices: "Off" - "Minimal" and "Full". If you want suspension damage and flatspots, you'll have to go on "Full", while "Minimal" will give you damage like you currently have it. That modification is now done and we only have to wait until a gap in esport to push these game-changing updates. The next gap is in December. So that is when we'll push those.

Dedicated Server
- The following doesn't require a gap in esport competitions and therefore will hit your server machines very soon.

Chat box
- The server admin can now read and send chat messages. Messages from the server admin will be shown as originating from 'SERVER', like in this example:

In the server interface:

RaceRoom Dev Notes 3.png

And in-game:
RaceRoom Dev Notes 4.png


MOTD - The server can now be set with a Message Of The Day, a text-only short message that will be shown to players joining the server (in practice and standing start qualifying). Communities can now use this to show server rules or their website / Discord URL, etc.
There is some basic html formatting available

Will result in this aspect:
RaceRoom Dev Notes 5.png


Weight Manager - We're adding an example of what can be done using the Dedicated Server's API with this tool. Feed it with a results file from a previous race and in a matter of a few clicks, you can set success ballast for the next championship round, saving you the trouble of manually going through their ID's and usernames.
We're adding a field to input a formula allowing for quick automated weights attribution. Example here with this RRVLN race result where we give ballast based on the finish position in class, with a maximum of 50kg:

RaceRoom Dev Notes 6.png

Here's a list of the helpers currently in testing, allowing for creativity in the formula:
RaceRoom Dev Notes 7.png


Pre-determined starting grid
- As I write these lines, I'm not sure yet if it works as we added it this week and we haven't managed to organize a race with the betatesters yet. The goal of this feature is that you should be able to set the starting grid of your MP race and skip qualifying altogether. Either set the grid manually, or point the tool to a leaderboard with your league's team name and it will fetch all the players with that team name on that leaderboard and automatically generate the starting grid. Hopefully it passes QA swiftly.

RaceRoom Dev Notes 8.png
An example import with a WTCR championship round from https://www.racingfr.net of how the starting grid can be imported from a leaderboard and then edited manually with a couple of clicks.

So that's it folks - plenty of interesting an exciting stuff on the horizon for RaceRoom Racing Experience - looking forward to it all dropping the coming months..

The RaceRoom Racing Experience sub forum here at RaceDepartment is the place to go for news and discussion about this excellent racing title. In the forum you can chat with fellow fans and take part in our excellent RaceRoom Racing Experience Racing Club - a great way to race in a clean, fair and fun online environment.

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Raceroom AI is definitely stupid and crazy af nowadays and i remembered them A LOT BETTER in 2015 when i started playing RR. Not all combination were working, actually many not at all, but it was at least working with the GT Masters and DTM Experience, that disappeared some time ago for whatever reason. Have they at least made AI-settings changes between custom championship races possible so far? I guess not. Changing AI-difficulty without going back to the main menu is not a problem in AMS and rF2, so why non of it in Raceroom? The only thing that Raceroom does really well and make me launch it up here and than is the leaderboard hotlapping, but it seems that setup exploits are needed to get some extra seconds with too many combinations.
 
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My only beef with the Ai is that their braking distance is much shorter than yours, so you just smash into the back of them if you're following close and brake at the same point. On the other hand it allows for easy dive bomb passes, but where's the fun in that?
Yeah I have noticed that too...the AI brake early before the corner. But I once read that that is a speed secret...'slow in fast out'. By braking early a driver can start to accelerate earlier therefore have a faster speed down a long straight. Because the guy that brakes late is going to come out slower hence the saying...'fast in slow out'. So maybe that's why the AI brakes so early?
 

Sil

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Raceroom AI is definitely stupid and crazy af nowadays and i remembered them A LOT BETTER in 2015 when i started playing RR. Not all combination were working, actually many not at all, but it was at least working with the GT Masters and DTM Experience, that disappeared some time ago for whatever reason. Have they at least made AI-settings changes between custom championship races possible so far? I guess not. Changing AI-difficulty without going back to the main menu is not a problem in AMS and rF2, so why non of it in Raceroom? The only thing that Raceroom does really well and make me launch it up here and than is the leaderboard hotlapping, but it seems that setup exploits are needed to get some extra seconds with too many combinations.

In AMS you cant change AI strengh without going out of track, you need to do it at the main page before loading the track.
 
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Just for the sake of objectivity - while I do not think releasing tracks is some kind of contest, if I'm counting correctly, Sector 3 have released 3 tracks for Raceroom in 2018 and 1 so far in 2019, with 2 more now confirmed to be coming soon and four more licensed in the meantime.

Meanwhile, S397 have released two tracks in that same time period, with a third one nearing release, and one semi-released (as it was an update for a track that was available for quite some time already).

Personally, I wouldn't say either of the developers have been particularly slacking (or noticeably more productive) in this aspect or "twiddling their thumbs", with similar amount of work being done and released by both, but that's just me I guess.

Think you left out one release for S397... I'd go with 1 update, 3 releases, and one imminent for S397. Otherwise, total agreement about production rates.

S397 track releases

July 2018 - Sebring
October 2018 - Botniaring (update of third party track to official status)
April 2019 - Lester Special Edition Formula E (update of third party track to official status)
May 2019 - Monaco e-Prix
May 2019 - Zaandvoort update to final
June 2019 - LeMans
September 2019 - Nürburgring (likely)
 
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