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rFactor 2 | Taking Stock And What Comes Next

Studio 397 have given fans an interesting insight into the ongoing development of the simulation, as they continue to investigate and identify bugs and issues whilst expanding the core experience.
  • Bug tracking and fixing overview
  • Advice for driver swap workaround
  • Release documentation for modders

As many of you will be well aware, Studio 397 are the development team behind rFactor 2, and thanks to the changing world landscape brought about by the Covid-19 situation, recently found themselves thrust into the spotlight as the simulation of choice for the virtual Le Mans 24 Hours event held a couple of weeks ago.

rF2 Le Mans 2.jpg


Although the event was a huge success for the studio and sim racing itself, 24 hours of racing and 200 + drivers did bring up a few issues with endurance racing within the sim, and the team are actively looking to recreate and rectify these problems - with work having already started to yield some positive results:
"A few weeks ago, after the 24 hour race, we promised to give you regular updates of our efforts to track down and fix the issues that occurred during that race, and a few races before that. In fact, this effort is not something we started two weeks ago, it is an ongoing process. But before we look at the specific issues, let us first explain a bit more about software development and fixing bugs" said Marcel Offermans of Studio 397.​

For starters, let’s give you a bit of background on how we develop code, the processes we have in place to ensure that our code is correct as well as a brief introduction on what kind of bugs there are in code and how to fix them.
Every change we make to the codebase, either to fix a bug or to implement a new feature, is developed in isolation. As soon as the developer working on it is confident the change is correct, he or she will do two things. The first is to ask at least two colleagues to review the changes. By getting others to look at the code, we typically catch mistakes that the original author would miss. I’m sure you have had cases where you are blind to your own spelling mistakes when writing some text. For code it’s typically no different. The second is to create a build on Steam that can be tested by others. If the change passes both checks, it gets integrated into the next update. That goes to our group of beta testers who again test the change to ensure it works as designed. If that passes, you will find the change in the next public update.
So that’s how we deal with changes. What about the extensive codebase we already have? Here the process starts by identifying a bug and being able to find a series of steps to reproduce it. If we can reproduce it, we typically have no problem fixing the underlying issue.
There are two types of bugs in code. Bugs that come from mistakes in the logic of the code. Once identified they are typically easy to reproduce and fix. The second type is timing and threading related, also known as concurrency bugs, and in recent years these tend to happen more often as processors get more and more cores and a lot of things happen simultaneously. Reproducing this type of bug is usually a lot more tricky as the slightest change in the execution timing might cause it to appear or disappear. Finding them requires a combination of luck, lots of testing and in some cases rigorous code reviews. Given that the rFactor 2 codebase consists of millions of lines of code (to compare, a typical novel will be around 15.000 lines) you can probably figure out that going over it front to back is going to be a very time consuming process. And you might still glance over the actual issue (do you still remember what the name of the street was that the main protagonist was crossing on page 34?).
Now that we’ve explained the process, let’s go back to the 24 hour event. Directly after the race we started analyzing and categorizing all the different reports we got and pretty soon we were convinced that we were looking at one or more concurrency issues. Reproducing these was going to be tricky. We have a framework that we can use to setup fully automated tests, so our first step was to try and reproduce the exact conditions of this 24 hour race. Specifically we started designing test scenarios that resembled the reports. Two weeks later, we are now seeing the first results of those tests, with a reproducible scenario that we are investigating further. I expect us to be able to explain more in the next roadmap, but the good news is that we found something.
As a result of finding something, we also have some preliminary advice for those running endurance races. Contrary to what most series have been doing, making sure that the replacement driver joins shortly before the intended driver swap and then having the original driver disconnect soon after, it for now is probably better for all drivers to join the server before the race starts and stay on the server throughout the whole event. Our code in theory can handle up to 104 drivers and another 104 spectators, so if your races have less than that, try out this advice while we continue to track down these issues.

rF2 Le Mans.jpg


Of course rFactor 2 is very much a platform favoured by endurance drivers, and any improvements to the stability of the simulation in long distance racing and driver swapping situations is likely to be well received by the vast majority of the playerbase. However, another key aspect of rFactor 2 is the ability for community members to create and release mods for the software, and this is something that the Dutch studio have long since mentioned they want to improve and increase the levels of documentation and tools for established and aspirin modders alike.

Thankfully, it looks like Studio 397 are on the road towards developing some much needed further documentation around these very subject, as Marcel continues:

"With all the recent updates to the game visuals, we are now preparing to release documentation to help modders take full advantage of these updates. For now this will focus on track content, with car updates coming at a later date. We have been working hard to upgrade our tools and documentation to help make that possible. Tools will be made available including 3ds Max 2021 plugins and an independent Material Editor, and full documentation will be released for the shaders, as well as some guides and tips for getting setup. This will represent a significant step forward in the way content can be created and the options available to modders, with all the latest features, including improving night-time effects, tree shading and road and terrain blending options. To support this, we will release an updated Loch Drummond that will be included in ModDev by default. This track is a small fantasy circuit that has been updated to make full use of the various options from our work on recent tracks.
In recent updates, we made adjustments to old content to help it be compatible with lighting updates. We will add a few options here to help modders, including the ability to disable these changes on a per-material basis if required. Also with this update, we will allow modders to customize the atmospherics in tracks again. This will now be in the form of scalars to adjust the density of haze in different conditions and also to set the amount of air pollution. This should result in an easier to use system and help us keep effects consistent across the game.
This information will all be made available on our Developers Guide: https://docs.studio-397.com/developers-guide/

rf2 portland.jpg


So that's the immediate future of rFactor 2 covered, just left to remind you that the studio recently deployed a new update to the simulation that includes the liveries of the Le Mans 24 Hours for those who own the cars, the recent free Portland track, various BOP improvements, announced the Ferrari 488 GT3 and a further, as yet unannounced GT3 car alongside a nice update coming the way of the existing models, Silverstone updates and plenty more besides.

A good time to be a sim racer and rFactor 2 fan it seems....

Original Source: Studio 397

rFactor 2 is available exclusively on PC.

Want to know how to get the best from the sim? Start a thread in the rFactor 2 sub forum and let our community offer you the benefit of their massive combined experience.

rF2 Footer.jpg
 
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RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief, occasional YouTuber, commentator and broadcaster, with a passion for motorsport on both the real and virtual racetrack.

Navigator

50RPM
Feb 28, 2012
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Yeah, well.......how long can you hide behind "ongoing development"?

Truth is; a lot of bugs from the beginning are still in there, some even from rF1.
They changed the attraction from rF; all kinds of mods were there, even if you wanted to drive a toilet.
That's why people loved it.

Now; it's pretty much all closed up. Some things they share, but the newer things are all in locked .tgm, .hdv and such files.
They just make a game and you have to buy all components for it; what's that different to any other racing game? (AND it has bugs/ still isn't finished)
 

Oldzeb

250RPM
May 26, 2018
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Yeah, well.......how long can you hide behind "ongoing development"?

Truth is; a lot of bugs from the beginning are still in there, some even from rF1.
They changed the attraction from rF; all kinds of mods were there, even if you wanted to drive a toilet.
That's why people loved it.

Now; it's pretty much all closed up. Some things they share, but the newer things are all in locked .tgm, .hdv and such files.
They just make a game and you have to buy all components for it; what's that different to any other racing game? (AND it has bugs/ still isn't finished)
It's a conspiracy!
never satisfied people...:rolleyes:
 

mantasisg

2000RPM
Apr 4, 2015
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@Navigator With the ambition and overall simulation, flexibility and capabilities rF2 has a perfectly legal fair right to be slightly unfinished. Everyone wants it to improve further, it just can't happen magically.

rF2 is always improving consistently, and and recently more improvements become available to us, users

So I don't get what is there "to hide behind ongoing development", it is just thing what developers, does - they develop. What are you asking for ? Not to develop ?

I am sure one day you'll be able to drive a toilet, or a sink, or a table or any object in rF2 while eating yogurt in mulsanne straight at 350 km/h, you'll have the possibility to utilise rF2 in your own best way.
 

Navigator

50RPM
Feb 28, 2012
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How long are they "still in development"? Thats the thing.
You know as well as I do, that bugs from rF1 are still in there and haven't been addressed.
You also know, the way they have closed it now, kept silent of new entries in the files and such; I will never drive a toilet bowl down Mulsanne straight :)

Sure, they should develop, but with every bug that is 10 years old, you can't use that line.
 

mantasisg

2000RPM
Apr 4, 2015
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You also know, the way they have closed it now, kept silent of new entries in the files and such
That honestly does not annoy me as they still have to release a car that would be really really interesting to me - some classic racer or a performance street car or some classic funky street car, but that will probably never happen, so I'll never be curious enough to care what is in there :D Mclaren M23 just isn't doing it for me. It would be interesting to see how Formula Vee and Puma is composed though, but thats it. Generally lots of stuff isn't necessary to see, it can be felt.

And yes the development takes painfully long. It is how it is, but it goes on, there is no question about it, and I'd guess it will get faster.
 

Navigator

50RPM
Feb 28, 2012
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Well, I did modding for a while, mostly for myself and a bit for mods that have been released by others, and I look at it from that part too a bit.
Some things got improved but isn't available anymore to "the public".

And don't get me wrong; development is a very good thing, but the point was; don't hide a lack of bug fixing behind it.
I mean; offline is dead as they don't seem to do anything about it. It's all online and selling their own mods; that is NOT what made rFactor big, I hope you agree.
 

TTM75

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Sep 29, 2010
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581
I'm quite sure that after finishing gfx side and new ui, there will be fixes to another areas. Those two things are most important ones atm if you compare rF2 to other modern racing games.
 
  • Like
Reactions: atomed
Oct 21, 2017
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Quoting from the 397 roadmap:

"There are a few topics we did not discuss this time round. The UI, improvements to our overlays, what’s happening with the competition system and a few other things we will not doubt revisit in the remaining summer months."

When is the UI finished? When will there be a competition system? My guesses "2022AD and 2025AD".
 

Lino Carreira

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May 6, 2014
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I just did for the first time a 24H Race in Le Mans in rF2, the amount of bugs that happened to us during that race and the fact the race had to restart twice makes me wonder about the so called success everyone is talking about regarding the Virtual Real one... what was the success ? the Top Notch never seen broadcast by a professional TV Network ? or the race itself ? We had all kinds of weirdness during our race, in any other simulator people would have lost the patience and hell would have broken loose....

Im a developer too and i know some of this things are quite hard to nail.... but, seems to me that more then a year to do it after last years fiasco should be more then enough ....

On the positive side, driving was quite nice, FFB was nice too, the revamped Silverstone and Nurburgring are for me personally the best versions of those tracks ive seen so far in terms of detail and general look .... even on a subpar graphical engine ...

Anyway just my 2 cents
 

Doug46

100RPM
Premium
May 24, 2013
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I Think its looking very good for us sim racers, quite allot of competition out their now to produce the best game/sim and it looks like three of them are working very hard to get the top spot, personally my top three Rf2 , Automobilista 2 and Asseto corsa competition these sims are really getting some work done .
 
Aug 28, 2017
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...and a further, as yet unannounced GT3 car
My bet is... (clue, they like having cars nearing the end of their racing life)

2019 Porsche 911 GT3 R
2020 Mercedes GT3 Evo
2018 Bentley Continental GT3

but then I would rather have these to seeing skins put onto an incorrection generation to add numbers

Would be nice to have these
Honda NSX
Lexus RC F GT3
Nissan GT-R
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (the least likely)

As for non-GT3s
Porsche 911 RSR-19 (the very least likely)
 

Cote Dazur

SIM Addict
May 21, 2013
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Just a thought, in light of what Reiza, a studio of similar size to S397, has been able to do with the SMS graphic engine, or Kunos with the Unreal Graphic engine.
Should S397 just ditch the ISI graphic engine and apply the physic code that makes RF2 such a pleasure to drive to more modern and robust graphic engine instead of trying to fix legacy issues that are plaguing RF2.
RF2 is a bitter sweet experience at best, despite a best in class physic and FFB driving feeling. After all those years, it might be time to ditch the old shell and as Kunos and Reiza have recently demonstrated possible, just start a new chapter.