rFactor 2: The Big Interview (Part 4)

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The final instalment of the Studio 397 / rFactor 2 interview with Marcel Offermans is now live.

The fourth and final instalment of our big rFactor 2 interview is now live! Enjoy...

RD: (question from @azqa) – Will the reflections be smooth in the future? They are currently at a low framerate.

MO: Yes, we intend to offer higher fidelity reflection options up to the point where those reflections will be refreshed at the same frame rate as the main graphics. That will obviously affect the overall framerate a bit, so we’ll keep it as a configurable parameter.

RD: (question from @krusti) - Are some features about rules going to be expanded and polished? For example, the ability to set how many cut warnings after a penalty, the ability to set which penalty for track limits abuses, a rework of the rolling start in order to make it bug-free, same with the safety car and so add new features like virtual safety car, slow zones (used in Le Mans and Nordschleife) code 60-80, double yellow flags, an automatic check about overtakes during a yellow flag and so on.

MO: We do intend to work on most of the features you mention and at the same time educate admins and modders on how to properly set up some of these features for their tracks.

RD: (question from @krusti) - Is an in-game vocal chat possible and planned with the new UI based on HTML? Even only for a 'Race Director', so we can finally get rid of TeamSpeak and its whisper feature?

MO: We are not planning to add a voice chat system. There are many good ones out there that integrate nicely, TeamSpeak being one of them. We are going to extend the commands that race control can trigger, which means they can probably rely less on voice. That said, even in real races there is such a radio so I don’t think it will ever go away completely.

RD: (question from @krusti) - Is the driver swap feature going to be reworked as stated some time ago? And also, as it is now, in order to do a driver swap we have to join as a spectator ~5 minutes before the swap, in order to not saturate the server bandwidth, is this going to be improved? So we can stay in the server for the entire race and spotting while waiting for the driver swap.

MO: We are working on simplifying the driver swaps, requiring less steps for drivers. Regarding the bandwidth and spectators not being allowed to stay on the server, there is no fundamental issue with that but a lot of leagues over time have figured out it’s probably “safer” to not have too many extra spectators on a server. That said, the internet has become a lot more powerful over the years so honestly I don’t think that’s as big an issue as it was when we all started doing endurance races.

RD: (question from @numbersevenhull) - The new UI is probably the most highly anticipated area of improvement. What are your hopes for it and do you believe it will fundamentally change people's interaction with the game, and if so in what ways?

MO: I believe the UI is a long term investment for us that allows the simulation to evolve in years to come. It won’t fundamentally change how you interact with the game because we still hope you’ll spend most of your time in the car, but it will help us make your interactions with the game and competition system easier and translate the UI in more languages. It will help us internally as it’s much easier to find people who can design and implement web interfaces than it is to find them for the current UI technology.

RD: (question from @numbersevenhull) - Multiplayer, despite ISI initially charging for it, has always felt like an afterthought rather than being properly game integrated. Personally I have endures a horror show attempting to host a session online, being forced to read scores of forum threads, fight a war of trial and error with a router, changing port numbers in ini files, content errors and making mod files to email when wanting to do something as simple as host a game for a friend (it took over a week of serious research, utter frustration and head scratching!! That will be the end user experience for many). In what way, if any does the new UI resolve some of these common issues and will it finally be possible just to click a button in game a host a race?

MO: Unfortunately, no. Part of what makes hosting a race hard is the way you have to reconfigure your home network (the ports and router configurations you refer to) and those are outside of our reach when it comes to configuring them. Also there are many different types of routers, which further complicates matters. The part we can make easier is the actual hosting of sessions, starting from the (creation and) selection of a so called “rfmod” up to setting up all other session parameters. In part we are covering that with the new UI, in part we are also anticipating a lot of users simply joining our competitions (and leaving the ugly details of server setup to us). That said, if there’s a market for hosted servers, we might explore those options too, where you can rent those per unit of time.

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RD: (question from @numbersevenhull) - Does the new UI permit online championships (with AI if required), and if so does it track points and allow save and return for longer championships?

MO: The competition system will allow for “championships” where you compete against other humans. Offline championships are planned for a later update. In both cases, online and offline, it will keep track of standings, rankings, etc.

RD: (question from @numbersevenhull) - Will you be introducing tooltips into the new UI, for game parameters, equipment use or car set up?

MO: Not literally tooltips but we want to use the flexibility that HTML offers us to add a lot of extra information in the UI. The reason we’re not fond of tooltips is that they are very much “mouse oriented” and going forward we want to make sure people can navigate the UI in different ways too (such as VR).

RD: (question from @numbersevenhull) - Why has Studio 397 never run 24/7 official servers in the game? I've often thought that might give new players a clear and welcoming place to introduce them to the multiplayer. Will this change? And if so will your servers be focused on both racing and time trials?

MO: We have and do run such servers, and typically when we release new content they are quite popular. Sometimes we do shut them down again if they are not used anymore. Part of the new competition system will be us running servers for that, and that will feature racing and time trials, and possibly other types of racing too, so there is always “something to do” when you launch rF2.

RD: (question from @numbersevenhull) - Obviously rF2 is an ongoing project, but have you set a timeline/date for when you think you might be at Studio 397 v1.0, (what objectives remain before that), and have you considered any marketing options for relaunching the game when you achieve your primary goals, such as including premium content? How do you intend to increase the user base beyond your loyal fans?

MO: That’s a few good questions rolled into one! Let me start by saying that I don’t consider rF2 a project that is working towards “v1.0” and then stop working on it. Version number wise, we’ve long passed 1.0 but conceptually we look at this as an evolving project. I’ll be honest, we at one point did consider a relaunch or rebrand, but currently we are not considering that anymore. I think the key to growing our user base is to make the game more accessible. An improved interface will help, as will an integrated competition system. We are also working on ensuring it becomes easier to find missing content. As an example of that, when you participate in a competition in the new system, we will check if you already have the content needed for that. If not, a button will light up inviting you to “install content”. We believe features like that will help new users enjoy rF2. We don’t intend to change the way we make available content (free and paid). I think we have enough options to create premium packages going forward and I personally believe it’s a good thing to offer a broad selection of content and leave it up to the user what he or she buys and installs. We don’t all love the same tracks or cars after all, right?

RD: (question from @boxer) - Are there any plans to implement virtual mirrors, or is it too late in the development cycle for rf2?

MO: It’s not too late. I’m assuming that you mean mirrors that really reflect what you should see based on the position of your head as opposed to the more static ones we have now? There is no fundamental limitation why we could not do this. We decided on the current system for performance reasons. Currently we render a single view that looks backwards and we cut out parts of that to display in the various mirrors. That way we only have to render one extra view each frame. A virtual mirror system would mean we have to render a view per mirror, so typically two or three instead of the one we have now. That would certainly impact frame rates but as graphics hardware becomes more powerful that might be less of an issue.

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RD: (question from @boxer) - I assume that when the Nordschleife was announced S397 already had licensed Le Mans, was it hard to keep tight lipped when we voiced our disappointment it wasn't Le Mans?

MO: Your assumption is correct in both cases. As a sim racer I wanted to share the news then and there. Our original timeline was to release Nordschleife before Le Mans, but due to some setbacks in planning I explained elsewhere we had to switch the two tracks, which meant we had a nice surprise for our community. Of course some people will always be disappointed when you release any track or car as they were hoping for another one, but I guess that is normal as tastes differ, and that’s a good thing!

RD: (question from @boxer) - Will the new GUI have the ability to filter content based on authors or other tags?

MO: Right now the new UI has a dynamic text search feature. As you start typing, it starts filtering based on what you enter. The system takes into account various pieces of information about content that can include author and other tags. We are still fine tuning this right now but from personal experience I can already tell you that by typing just a few keys I usually quickly find what I’m searching for.

RD: (question from @boxer) - Any plans to add more McLarens, like the (MP4/6) and an up-to-date F1 Car?

MO: McLaren have announced our participation in the second Shadow competition so naturally we are already working on a surprise new car. It’s not either of the two cars you mentioned though, but that’s all I can say right now.

RD: (question from @boxer) - Have you thought of development the next gen SIM or are you still committed to the continuing development of rF2?

MO: Our focus is on rF2. Obviously at some point in the future, we will look ahead at a new title, but we anticipate to keep supporting rF2 for years to come.

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RD: (question from @boxer) - Is licensing a full series like “WeatherTech” a possibility?

MO: Most series don’t have what is called “pass through rights” which means that if you make a licensing deal with a series, you still need to approach all car manufacturers in that series and all tracks and get those licensed. For that reason, we started licensing (classes of) cars and tracks first, and engaging with series as soon as our competition system is finished, so we can link series to esports competitions. That said, such a system also allows us to get different sponsors to start our own series. We’re not ruling anything out.

RD: (question from @Jasje) - Speaking about UI in VR: In Kartkraft you have a mouse pointer that points at where you look with your headset. When you map "right click" to a button on your wheel, it allows you to navigate through the whole game without touching your mouse or keyboard. It's super simple but brilliant at the same time and it's one of the best ways to navigate in VR. Would this be hard to implement? It's fantastic when you don't need to take off your hands off the wheel the whole time.

MO: Probably not super hard to implement, and I like the suggestion. Did you know that you can already map the mouse to a directional pad (or any 4 buttons really) on your wheel to move it around like that. Arguably not as nice as what you’re suggesting, but at least you can keep your hands on the wheel.

RD: (question from @frankis) - Would it be possible to make that once that you've set your seat position, mirrors and ffb settings for one skin in particular the same configuration apply for the rest of skins?

MO: I am guessing here that when you say “skin” you are talking about “vehicle” and would like to be able to apply the configuration for, for example, the #3 Corvette to the #4 Corvette? That data is currently stored in the “all_vehicles.ini” in your player folder. It’s a text file and you can (once you understand the meaning of the file) copy the configuration from one car to the next. I guess that if there is enough interest in this, we could also expose this in the UI, but for now, that text file is your best bet!

RD: (question from @Magus) - Are there any plans for R3E style leaderboards for combinations of official S397 content?

MO: Leaderboards are an integral part of the new competition system, so I would say “yes”. The more extensive, technical answer is that we have a plugable system where for each competition we can have one or more “standings” components that each present a specific type of “leaderboard”. Examples are “drivers’ points” and “team points” but we can also do things like “nations cup” or even “drivers’ ranking”. Going forward you will see us adding more of them.

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RD: (question from @Magus) - With the new UI expected within the next few weeks, how much faster will we start seeing progress in other areas of the game's core engine (eg. gearbox, AI, etc)?

MO: Once that is released we will focus the attention of part of the team onto other areas, that’s for sure. I deliberately say “part of” here as we are quite sure that the community will have plenty of great suggestions for the new UI as soon as they get their hands on it and it’s our intention to keep evolving it (a main motivation for a new UI was the ability to more easily make changes). At this moment we have not decided exactly what part we will address next. So far we tend to add physics features as we require them for the cars we are building (as you know we added a bunch of stuff to support electric engines for our Formula E cars). For other features we typically group them into themes and work on one theme at a time.

RD: (question from @Fineraft) - Because like me, you guys are Dutch, our Racing Team Netherlands shouldn't have gone unnoticed. Do you guys have any desire to make the Dallara P217 and the beautiful Racing Team Netherlands car for rFactor 2?

MO: We’ve noticed them! In fact, you might know that I personally am part of Simracing for Holland, which has “borrowed” its livery and name from Racing for Holland, with their permission. Now I know they are switching to the Oreca next year, but in general we are looking at our options for licensing more LMP2 and LMP3 cars, so I’m not ruling out that Dallara.

RD: (question from @TheRock64) - Overall a new Safety Car with adjustable features would be nice.

MO: That’s not so much a question as a feature request, so let me try to understand this a bit better. What “adjustable features” would you be looking for in a new safety car?

RD: (question from @Peddlebanger) - Although the graphics have improved with DX11, they still lack that umph that other sims have, do you have any plans to change the graphic engine for top range visual appeal?

MO: Right now I would say there are three serious candidates when you look at “off the shelf” graphics engines: Unity, Unreal and Lumberyard. As you know we’ve worked with Amazon Game Studios on The Grand Tour Game, which was based on Lumberyard. We also have several people on our team that have worked with Unreal in the past and, to a lesser extent, Unity. None of these engines was designed and optimized for racing simulations. If I had to categorize them I would say they were all intended to be used for “first person shooters” and a lot of design decisions they made clearly reflect that. An example is the lack of support for triple screens, a feature that we clearly do not want to drop for rFactor 2 or any future title. When we started out three years ago and looked at our options, we also had to ensure backward compatibility with all existing content, which was another reason for us to develop a custom DX11 engine. To be honest, we are pretty happy with that choice and we are convinced that our continued development of that engine will match and surpass the quality of these other engines for our genre, whilst not having to compromise on things like triple screen and VR support. Now there’s obviously a lot more that could be said on this topic, but let me just summarize that we’ve come a long way already and fully intend to keep up the development in this area.

RD: (question from @azaralamouri) - Have the sim reached its limitation in terms of graphics?

MO: No. Since we have developed our own DX11 engine, we can keep adding features to it that are finetuned towards the needs of racing simulations. If you look at where we started and where we are now, you can see a significant difference already and we have more developments in the works.

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RD: (question from @Denis Betty) - Is there a genuine aim to go through the sim and address the long standing bugs and problems which give detractors of rF2/S397 so much ammunition to pour scorn on my favourite sim? At what point can we expect to see a concerted effort in this regard?

MO: Our aim is certainly to fix existing bugs, and I think our track record shows that, so I don’t agree with the observation that we have not started fixing bugs. Are we there yet? Certainly not, there are still probably a handful of issues that our community keeps running into that need to be addressed. As an example of something we are working on right now I would like to mention the stutters and freezes that some are getting, but that are very hard to reproduce on demand. Over the last months we’ve instrumented our code with extensive logging and have been analyzing files sent by our users. That has led to various improvements on our side and also insight about some external causes. This resulted in a recent code update that seems to be very helpful, but we are still continuing our efforts there and will keep looking at incoming reports. Some topics, such as AI improvements, we moved ahead until after we finish the UI and competition development.

RD: (question from @Philip00) Will it possible in the future to edit AI pit window just like it was possible in rfactor with the gdb file?

MO: I believe that “PitWindow” variable is still there and so is the code to use it, so I’m thinking you’ve run into something specific that does not work as expected? Feel free to send us more information about this.

RD: Final one from me, and the usual way I end these Q&A sessions.. Any other topics we’ve not covered you wish to discuss? Also, can you share with us something new that we don’t already know? Some kind of exclusive for our readers?

MO: I don’t think we missed anything major in the questions above, to be honest. In terms of an “exclusive” let me give you a hint on three cars coming “soon” (this year). All three of them are from manufacturers that we already have in-game, and none of those are from the same class as the ones we already have. I would like to thank RaceDepartment and in particular Paul for setting up this interview and sifting through pages of questions, and of course our community for raising them. I hope this interview answers them in a satisfactory way.

All that is left for me to say is a big, massive, huge 'thank you' to Marcel for taking out a considerable amount of time to provide these answers, and to you the community for your excellent questions!

rFactor 2 is a PC exclusive racing sim from Studio 397 - Available now.

Check out the rFactor 2 sub forum here at RaceDepartment for the latest news and discussion regarding this excellent sim. Like your racing hard and fair? Join in with our rFactor 2 Racing Club for all your eSport racing fun! Oh, don't forget we like mods to, with our own rFactor 2 Modding Forum for you to enjoy!

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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.
Sep 11, 2017
“first person shooters” and a lot of design decisions they made clearly reflect that. An example is the lack of support for triple screens, a feature that we clearly do not want to drop for rFactor 2 or any future title. When we started out three years ago
This is what you should of learnt ACC :p


Apr 4, 2015
This is best part, nearly everything was 10/10 intertesting and awesome.


Jan 30, 2015
A pleasure to read and can't wait for what's coming next:inlove:
Great to know that online-leaderboards are coming and i suggest/hope that we might get hotstint-leaderboards as well, so better chances for me than the one-lucky-lap guys:whistling:


Nov 2, 2010
Thank you paul,

What will be the three cars that realeased this year, same manufacturer but new class


Jan 30, 2015
Thank you paul,

What will be the three cars that realeased this year, same manufacturer but new class
Nobody asked about road-cars and with the full Nürburgring coming there are more reasons to drive some. Maybe Marcel can confirm or deny this ...


Jun 17, 2011
Thank you Paul & Marcel for a thoroughly detailed 4 Section Interview, top work.


Mar 5, 2012
Thanks and I’m sure it wasn’t easy to answer to all these questions( over 100 questions).
rfactor2 :inlove:


Mar 30, 2009
Nice to hear that in-game text search is part the ui. It is amazingly efficient and quick way to filter, search and select content. That being said I hope the devs have the foresight to make this ui tag system be open for editing (both the file and through the ui) so users can simply add tags to any mod/official car or track straight from the ui (pls no text file editing and please no mas file packing and unpacking for sure!). Useful for older mod content especially.

As s397 doesn't have the rights to use the terms like gt3, imsa, wec or f1 for example this could mean those tags won't be seen in game either even if they are useful for finding content. With user editable tags users can simply add any tags themselves or download a good list made by someone else and just drop it into a tags folder for example and be done with it.
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Aug 31, 2012
Yes good interview and interesting insight. Personally would have loved to hear where rF2 sees itself in five years and how it would differentiate itself from its competitors. Understand commercial sensitivity, but broad areas would be good and fine.


Jun 26, 2011
As s397 doesn't have the rights to use the terms like gt3, imsa, wec or f1 for example this could mean those tags won't be seen in game either even if they are useful for finding content. With user editable tags users can simply add any tags themselves or download a good list made by someone else and just drop it into a tags folder for example and be done with it.
In the current car opponent selection there are terms like GT3 for cars in S397’s GT3 packs, so why wouldn’t they have the rights to use them in the new UI?


Nov 27, 2017
I'd like to know if S397 plan to add its own video recorder like iracing did, it wod allow us to more easily upload vids to YouTube and get more exposure for our beloved sim
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