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Posted: Jul 28, 2023 @ 08:16 am GMT-0600
Updated: Jul 28, 2023 @ 09:06 am GMT-0600
Sorting Tags: iRacing, News - All, News - Software,

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Greg Hill, now Executive Producer at iRacing, posted a development update a couple of days ago that highlights the impressive work going on at iRacing behind the scenes. The images below were included in the post, and I have extracted the nuggets of information and listed them below if you don’t want to read the entire thing. The nicest thing, for me at least, is that they appear to be doing some serious work on the underlying engine now that is perhaps their biggest depature from the original codebase since it first morphed from NASCAR Racing 2003 Season to iRacing back in 2004. They also posted more screenshots showing rain effects in an indication that, perhaps, we’re getting closer to its release.

Lastly, there is mention of “career mode”. While at iRacing I did write a design for a proper team management system where you would hire and fire real sim racers driving for your team and have a virtual budget that would be eaten into by repairs and such. I wonder how in-depth they’re going to go with this…

– Tracks in-production: Wheatland/Lucas Oil Road, Slinger Speedway, Winchester Speedway, Kern County Raceway Park, Algarve (Portimão), Misano, Mugello, Pukekohe, Lédenon, and Zandvoort.
– Track just scanned: Navarra.
– Tracks mentioned: More tracks in UK and Asia.
– Kern will feature both the dirt and asphalt ovals for $11.95.
– Updated Zandvoort will be free to owners of current Zandvoort (and vice-versa).
– Art team updating Brands Hatch, Okayama, Oulton Park, older NASCAR and oval tracks.
– 3D kerbs are a thing again and combined with some refinements to the rubbering in of the track surface, rain, and a drying line coming in the future it should really affect where you place the car.
– Car/Track teams have recently doubled in size, bringing in people from a “European sim developer” that I’m assuming was Slightly Mad Studios.
– Tire/Physics engine teams recently tripled. Bearing in-mind that this could be a change of 1 to 3 people, impressive non-the-less.
– Engine overhaul happening right now likely the most significant since the iRacing engine was Papyrus’ NASCAR Racing 2003 Season.
– Major oval racing tweaks coming, similar to the recent “dirt refresh”.
– New UI and tweaks still being worked on.
– Career mode coming…

Full text:

Hello iRacers.

It’s been a few months since we last provided an update regarding our current and future sim development plans. Our team is in midseason development mode right now with the real busy push to deliver Season 4 about to kick into gear soon, but right now is a great opportunity to sit down to reflect and share.

To begin, we have a lot of exciting track projects in the works, and for sure have enjoyed working on the diverse set of tracks we released these past two builds. The following tracks have already been announced and are in various states of planning, pre-production, and full production: Algarve (Portimão), Misano, Mugello, Pukekohe, Lédenon, and Zandvoort. Have we mentioned Navarra? Our crew just returned from that trip. What great timing for these projects given the several developers across Europe and across the world who joined us this past year who have already been a big help taking photos, flying drones, and capturing scans.

iRacing is a platform representing a vast array of motorsports categories and niches. Short oval racing will see additions in the future with Slinger Speedway and Winchester Speedway already in production, Kern on pace for September, and planning for additional short oval cars underway. We have multiple dirt oval tracks and a dirt car in the works, as well as a return to dirt road with Wheatland/Lucas Oil Road. We will be revisiting the UK with the addition of multiple new circuits. We are expanding into new areas of Asia where we don’t yet have a presence. Lots of exciting projects both announced and unannounced.

While much of the above is longer term, we did want to explain how we will handle two of our most imminent projects that are coming in September: Circuit Zandvoort and Kern County.

First, Kern. Kern County Raceway is a unique facility where we are building both the dirt track and the short asphalt track together. This leads to the question: how will this be packaged for sale? We have decided to include the pavement oval and dirt oval together in one package. If you purchase Kern you get them both and it will cost $11.95 total — a great value for pavement oval fans to also try out dirt racing, and vice versa.

Now for Zandvoort, one of the very first European tracks released in iRacing. The historic version of Zandvoort and the current day version have significant differences and unique experiences. As such, we will be keeping the historic version of Zandvoort on the service and add the current-day track to the same package. This means that anyone who owns Zandvoort today will get new Zandvoort when we release it, and anyone who purchases Zandvoort in the future will get both versions.

Beyond new content, our art department is always doing their best to balance work on new and exciting cars and tracks, while also improving what we already have released. We routinely release upgrades to existing content to bring it up to current standards, for example Sebring which recently received a comprehensive artwork overhaul and Road Atlanta before it. This is an area where we’d like to have better throughput and we have focused on pipeline, tooling, and process improvements which will allow us to do this work at a more significant scale and with a quicker turnaround time.

Such upgrades already in the works include some of our most highly used content such as Brands Hatch, Okayama, and Oulton Park, as well as our older NASCAR and oval tracks. After many delays we have brought the 3D curb project back online and it is progressing well (along with longer-term tire modeling and physics engine enhancements to better enjoy those curbs! More on that in the future…. ;). You will be amazed by how significantly this addition will affect your racing line.

Speaking of a racing line, such significant progress has been made these past weeks on our rain project. Track polish and rubbering systems will dramatically affect your line around the track depending on the conditions and the state of several dynamic physically-based systems. As iRacers we will have to approach these tracks that we are so familiar with in completely different ways, and with the mindset of a real world racer facing the adversity of real world dynamics. Our rain tire model will accurately disperse significant amounts of water on the track providing impressive grip up to a limit, but hydroplaning will be possible past that limit. It is possible to slide the car to a degree and there is some forgiveness, but you very much have to respect the limits. As the tire slides and rolls through the water, any that isn’t picked up by or displaced by the tire can be boiled off the surface through frictional energy. Expect a more technical deep dive when we are closer to release of this ongoing project; I am only scratching the surface here.

A few more interesting tidbits before I wrap this all up. Note that this is a broad update and not focused on the upcoming S4 build…

Recent investments into art hiring have led to our car/track dev team doubling in size. The results are discussed to a degree above, but beyond these details it’s just been so amazing to merge two veteran industry-leading racing game art teams together (iRacing’s longstanding crew and the crew from the European sim developer) in what has been a seamless process.

Our technical management team has added wonderful industry veterans who will (and already have started to) take us to the next level.

Our animation team has also doubled and we have great momentum on projects that really convey the sheer physicality of the racecar to your screens/headsets, as well as additional shifting and emotive systems, and support for more pitstops (GT3 pit stops have received significant research of late….).

Our tire/physics engine team has tripled and are working with a determined focus on the future of our great tire model and the evolution needed to keep delivering the most authentic experience possible. Tire deformation models, tire carcass torsional deflection, contact patch, finite element model, physics rate, heat buildup and gradient, tread profile, the team is energized and these terms (and tests) are flying about daily; we’ll have to do a feature with the experts on this when the time is right…

These many sim systems can only be pushed so far without also seeing to our foundational sim engine itself. A team has invested the better part of the last year (and the next year for sure as well) working through the very core of our codebase, overhauling and modernizing the architecture and preparing our many systems to better leverage multithreading and tasking. You have seen a glimpse of the great results these efforts will yield with the dramatic load time improvements last season. You will see more this coming season as the car count (unique cars, not field size) is increased substantially.. And they are only scratching the surface, wait until you see (hear) what we have in store for audio.

This was mentioned in a previous blog and it’s worth bringing up again — Oval racing is going through a similar process to what we just released with Dirt racing. Oval Refresh has a full team of testers, vehicle dynamics engineers, tire developers, and dynamic track developers collaborating with one another to evaluate the model, find opportunities for improvement, and ultimately create a more realistic and enjoyable experience.

Our Road Racing licensing system will see a significant addition in the near future as we look to improve the experience of racing in cars with dramatically different characteristics and the pitfalls that can be experienced when trying something less familiar. More info to follow and even more significant system changes are being explored for the future, but one step at a time here.

Our Sim UI is being replaced by a modern and designer-friendly UI framework that will transform the in-sim experience. Unlike our current UI which uses rasterized art, the new UI will be vector-based and highly flexible. The user experience will also benefit from this effort, with a user-focused redesign of complex pages like the options screen.

Our web team is as busy as ever working on many improvements and new features, such as purchasing and transactions being added to the UI, a Results page with far more history and a search function, and work to streamline the updater.

While our unparalleled multiplayer, competition, and community systems have always been cornerstones of the iRacing experience, we have long planned to deliver more value and a more expansive product experience to our customers. Expect deep new sim systems and ways to engage with the product, with an initial focus on a realistic and engaging Career Mode that is being built true to the authentic nature of what iRacing (and real world racing) is all about. With a team composed of devs who ran racing teams at the highest level of real world racing, along with the experience of an excellent veteran sim/gaming design director and our existing design bench strength, the design function at iRacing is stronger than it has ever been.

There’s never been a more exciting time to be working on (and racing in) iRacing. We love what we do here, and I hope that has shown in our releases each and every 3 months, without fail for the past 15 years straight. How amazing is that… it sure is something to reflect on more significantly some day. Looking forward to the next 15+ years with you all as well! But for now, onwards and upwards – that Season 4 build is looming.

Since I’m here, why not share some cool screenshots at the same time. Enjoy, and see you on the track.

Cheers,

Greg

Executive Producer

iRacing

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