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Posted: Dec 13, 2000 @ 12:00 pm GMT-0600
Updated: Feb 16, 2023 @ 03:04 pm GMT-0600
Sorting Tags: Article Interview, Article Software, Articles, NASCAR Racing 4,

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On par with the rest of the gaming industry, the racing sim world has grown exponentially in the last few years. Whether it’s NASCAR, Rally or Formula, there’s a game out there that will satisfy every racing fan. In the realm of racing, Papyrus is the Michael Jordan of NASCAR sims. From the first NASCAR Racing to last year’s NASCAR Racing 3, gamers have been continually blown away by the realism and fun that Papyrus is able to incorporate into its games.

Although they are currently getting the latest installment in the NASCAR series (aptly titled NASCAR Racing 4) ready for the masses, Producer Scott Stutsman was gracious enough to take a pit stop and give us the goods on Papyrus’ next big thing. And don’t forget to take a look below at the exclusive screenshots Sierra sent us.

NASCAR 3 was certainly one of the best racing sims we’ve ever seen, but there was still room for improvement. What improvements have been made for NASCAR 4?

Just about the entire game engine has been improved. The new 32-bit graphics system supports Direct 3D as well as OpenGL. The new 3D physics engine allows the cars to catch air and even flip, but more importantly it gives the driver a much better feel for what the car is doing. Multiplayer has been totally reworked in order to perform better in a Windows environment, and the AI also has been improved.

What are the differences between the old physics model and the new one employed in NASCAR 4?

The old physics model was a basic 2D model that allowed the car to rotate just on a single plane, parallel to the track. In the new 3D physics model, all four wheels are modeled individually based on the forces applied at each corner of the car. The car pitches and rolls based on both braking and acceleration and the centrifugal forces that are applied during high-speed cornering. As mentioned in the last question, the car can catch air and even flip if the right situation presents itself.

Does the development team feel added pressure after the previous successes of NASCAR 3 and NASCAR Legends, especially considering that there is some heavy competition now?

Not at all. In fact we are very excited about this title. NASCAR Racing 4 is going to be more than anyone expected and is going to be the benchmark for all other racing simulations. People that see this for the first time are simply amazed that we aren’t ready to release it now. It looks and drives that well.

What kind of research went into the game? Anybody get to sit behind the wheel and drive a stock car?

NASCAR Racing 4, when you really think about it, is the culmination of eight years of research. We have footage from every race dating back several years. We have visited and taken pictures at every track, and we have taken measurements and looked at track blueprints. We have driven around and videotaped many of the tracks several times in order to get a true driver’s perspective of the tracks. Last fall, Dave Kaemmer got the opportunity to drive a Busch North car, and he also participates in the North Eastern Skip Barber Dodge Series. Randy Cassidy, another of our Senior Engineers, also runs a few races in the series. Half of our testing department participated in the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Bristol and also did some short track laps in a Modified car up in New Hampshire. We have several NASCAR drivers beta testing and providing feedback regarding the realism of the car physics and the accuracy of the tracks. So, as you can see, there is a ton of research and experience that goes into making Papyrus simulations.

Did you use input from real NASCAR drivers during development? What were their opinions of the game?

Yes we have, and we will continue to do so. They are amazed at the accuracy of the physics and the modeling of the tracks. The ones that we have beta testing the product claim that it has helped them prepare for upcoming races and really do believe that it has improved their finishing positions. If that’s not the ultimate product testimonial, I don’t know what is!

NASCAR has become quite a mainstream phenomenon. To what do you guys attribute its popularity?

There is something about speed and cars racing inches apart at 180-190 mph that generates a real sense of excitement. On top of that, there is a tremendous amount of brand loyalty on the part of the fans toward the companies that sponsor their favorite drivers. The sponsors are well aware of this, and as a result they market their products at the retail level in such a way that people easily recognize which driver is associated with which product. I think the fans also feel good about the fact that unlike the star players in the other major sports, NASCAR’s drivers are much more “fan friendly” and readily make themselves accessible to the fans through public appearances and autograph signings.

How do you go about finding a happy medium so that the game will be enjoyable for gearheads as well as people who don’t know a gasket from a gascap?

We’ve included two modes in NASCAR Racing 4. One is designed to give you the most realistic driving experience possible, and the other is a more casual mode designed for people who just want to get into the car and drive without having to worry about fine-tuning the car and their driving technique in order to be successful. In order to provide an enjoyable experience to players of every skill level, both modes will include optional driving aids like automatic shifting, traction control, anti-lock brakes and steering assistance. These aids will make learning to drive this revolutionary simulation an enjoyable experience rather than a frustrating one. On top of that, the car setup screen will be mode-specific so that the people that don’t want to get too “greasy” will have a smaller list of choices to select from.

Obviously excessive speed is a big part of the game. What’s the secret for giving gamers that awesome sense of speed you’ve done so well in the past?

Our new 32-bit 3D graphics engine provides such clarity and detail it almost makes you feel that you are really at the track. The attention that our Art Director Dave Flamburis and his crew of artists pay to scale and placement of objects really is the key to giving you that sense of speed. The trackside objects need to scale properly, the asphalt, grass, wall and fence textures all have to have very detailed textures, and the driver’s field of view has to be just right in order to give you that sense of speed.

In your opinion, what’s the most important feature of a good racing simulation? Physics? Speed? Authentic visuals? Garage options?

They are all equally important to making a complete simulation. All of those ingredients need to be tweaked and balanced in order to come up with the winning formula. We feel that we are providing the best simulation by seeing to it that we take into consideration the people that just want to get into the car and race, while also providing the challenges and customization that the hardcore crowd desires.

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