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- This is about a NASCAR computer game. For the series, see NASCAR. For the EA Sports game, see EA Sports NASCAR Racing.
|Developer(s)||Papyrus Design Group|
|Publisher(s)||Papyrus Design Group, Sierra|
|Designer(s)||Adam Levesque, John Wheeler, David Kaemmer|
|Platform(s)||DOS, Macintosh, PlayStation|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, Multiplayer using modem|
The NASCAR Racing series of video games, developed by Papyrus, started in 1994 and ended with the release of NASCAR Racing 2003 Season in 2003. Later NASCAR games were released by Electronic Arts who, through their EA Sports brand, took over the official NASCAR license. This article deals with the original series release, NASCAR Racing.
NASCAR Racing was released in the fall of 1994 for DOS personal computers. It featured more than 25 of the 40 regular drivers in the 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup season. Notable absences included Dale Earnhardt (who would go on to win the Winston Cup that year), Bill Elliott, Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty and Darrell Waltrip, although the latter's brother, Michael, was included.
The game let the player race with up to 38 other cars (32 on shorter tracks like Bristol and Martinsville) and it also offered multiplayer action via direct links (one computer connected to another via a LAN) and also through an online system owned by Papyrus called Hawaii.
The CD-ROM version of the game also offered a SVGA graphics mode which was accessible through the command prompt (by entering "nascar -h"), but it was too demanding for many of the computers of its age, mostly 486 and early Pentium PCs. hardware accelerated versions were later created and bundled with the Matrox Millennium and Diamond Edge 3D.
Papyrus did produce a Daytona track only for use exclusively at a fan simulation game at the Daytona USA museum.
The following table gives an overview on the titles in the series:
|NASCAR Racing||1994||DOS||Macintosh||N/A||Papyrus Publishing||N/A|
|NASCAR: Track Pack||1995||DOS||N/A||N/A||Papyrus Publishing|
|NASCAR Racing||1996||N/A||N/A||PlayStation||Sierra On-Line|
|NASCAR Racing 2||1996||DOS||N/A||N/A||Sierra On-Line|
|NASCAR: Grand National Series Expansion Pack||1997||DOS||N/A||N/A||Sierra On-Line|
|NASCAR Racing 3||1999||Windows||N/A||N/A||Sierra On-Line|
|NASCAR Racing: 1999 Edition||1999||Windows||N/A||N/A||Sierra On-Line|
|NASCAR Legends||1999||Windows||N/A||N/A||Sierra On-Line|
|NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Racing||1999||Windows||N/A||N/A||Sierra On-Line|
|NASCAR Racing 3 Craftsman Truck Series Expansion Pack||2000||Windows||N/A||N/A||Sierra On-Line|
|NASCAR Racing 4||2001||Windows||N/A||N/A||Sierra On-Line|
|NASCAR Racing 2002 Season||2002||Windows||Macintosh||N/A||Aspyr Media|
|NASCAR Racing 2003 Season||2003||Windows||Macintosh||N/A||Sierra Entertainment|
Damage is realistically modeled, but can be turned off to make the player's car indestructible. The effect of crashes varies depending on severity. Very minor impacts have no effect. Heavier impacts can cause sheet metal damage, which hurts aerodynamics and may cause engine overheating. A crumpled hood can also make it difficult for the player to see the track. Heavy impacts will damage a wheel or even blow the engine. Damage can be repaired in the pit stop, except for blown engines which are not repairable. Damaged sheet metal is removed, making for an imperfect repair with impaired aerodynamics.
The vehicle's sensitivity to crash impacts was increased in a patch to the game. In the readme file attached to this patch, Papyrus explained that the primary motivation for this change was multiplayer mode, where violent players had previously been able to achieve faster lap times by deliberately hitting walls.
Repairs require a considerable amount of time (generally 1 minute or longer) to complete. This combined with the impaired performance means that damaged vehicles will not contend for a high finish, but can still race for points which accumulate in the season standings. This game uses a scoring system similar to what NASCAR was using at the time, where all finishing positions earn a varying number of points.
The engine will fail if over-revved, and it can also fail from overheating (but such a scenario is rare).
Yellow flags can also be turned off and players can run any race distances of their choosing. The speed of computer opponents is also adjustable, providing a competitive race for players of varying skill levels.
The game contains many real-life drivers. The game is the first stock car racing simulator to include real sponsors on their respective cars. Alcohol and tobacco sponsors were removed, but alternate carsets from fans restored many of these.
NASCAR Racing also gives players the ability to set up their car in a realistic manner by adjusting the airdam height, rear spoiler angle, gear ratios, shocks, tire pressures, cambers and more.
Driving physics are realistically modeled in the game. The adjustable variables have a significant effect on handling, and the tires themselves will grip differently depending on wear and temperature.
Tires are modeled in much detail. The game keeps track of 3 temperatures for each tire, reflecting temperatures at the center, inner, and outer edges. Numerous variables can influence tire temperatures. For example, an underinflated tire will tend to heat more at the edges rather than the center. An incorrect camber setting can cause one edge to heat more than the other. Temperatures are also influenced by many other factors such as weight distribution, toe-in, driver behavior, and the cornering characteristics of the race track. Tires in the game perform optimally at elevated temperatures, but if they heat excessively this effect is lost. The player can view current tire temperatures using an in-game keyboard command.
Dedicated players can spend a great deal of time optimizing the car's setup to perform at its best on a particular race track. This testing process is normally performed using the game's Practice or Testing modes. The player's setup can be saved to disk for future recall, and the game also provides a few prefabricated setups for each track.
Vehicles cannot lift into the air. The graphics system always renders them with all 4 wheels on the ground, although the physics system may attribute wheels with varying amounts of downforce (potentially resulting in no traction).
The Doppler effect is simulated. Vehicles approaching at high relative speed will emit a higher frequency engine sound, which will shift to a lower frequency as they pass.
A separate program called the Paintkit was included with NASCAR Racing, which allowed users to design their own race cars and import them into the game. As well as this, players could change the car type (Chevrolet Lumina, Ford Thunderbird or Pontiac Grand Prix) and the brand of tires used (Goodyear or Hoosier).
Former racer-turned-broadcaster, Ned Jarrett loaned his voice to the game's title sequence, saying, "I'm Ned Jarrett. From Papyrus, this is NASCAR Racing." These were the only spoken words heard in the game as there was no in-race commentary or communication from the crew chief. Music for the game was provided by members of Skid Row, including bass player Rachel Bolan who also appeared in the game as a driver of a green-and-purple No. 00 car with the letters "RB" on the hood.
Several mods were made available through various websites, including updated NASCAR seasons and car shapes, the 24 Hours of Daytona cars (with three car shapes), classic NASCAR seasons, touring cars and more. Users created versions of Daytona International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway – edited from versions produced by Papyrus for later NASCAR Racing releases such as NASCAR 3 – for use in NASCAR 2. Numerous utilities were developed for NASCAR Racing too, including AI editors, season editors and track editors.
NASCAR Racing was a major commercial success. Its sales reached 350,000 units by December 1995, following its October 1994 release, and rose to 400,000 copies by February 1996. In the United States, NASCAR Racing (bundled with its Track Pack add-on) was the 24th best-selling computer game of 1998, with another 225,737 units sold. Its revenue for that year was estimated at $2.28 million. NASCAR Racing and its sequel shipped above 2 million copies globally by March 1998.
Declaring it "the best racing game ever created", the editors of PC Gamer US presented NASCAR Racing with their 1994 "Best Sports Game" award, and nominated it in their "Best Simulation" category. NASCAR also won Computer Gaming World's 1994 "Simulation Game of the Year" award, tying with Aces of the Deep, and was a nominee for the magazine's overall "Game of the Year" prize. The editors opined that its "incredible graphics, sound and overall experience appeal to simulation enthusiasts and casual sports fans alike."
The PlayStation port divided reviewers. A Next Generation stated that "NASCAR Racing is for the die-hard stock car racing fan who loves NASCAR so much they don't care what kind of package it comes in." He cited dull visuals, the lack of a multiplayer mode, and inadequate attempts at realism. In contrast, Jeff Kitts of GameSpot hailed it as "stock car racing at its most realistic", praising the authentic recreation of real life tracks, abundant options, realistic controls, and the accuracy of the PlayStation conversion. The two sports reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly held more of a middle ground position, with Dindo Perez saying that the PC version was a great title but had been surpassed in the years it took the game to reach the PlayStation, and Todd Mowatt remarking that "this game won't win the checkered flag this time around, but it won't run out of gas on you either." Both commented that the frame rate and general excitement of the game were lacking. GamePro's Dr. Zombie noted the realistic touches to the game and the merely adequate graphics, controls, and sounds, and concluded that "this game will appeal more to diehard racing aficionados than to the casual gamer cruising for speed and action."
- Gordon Goble (February 1995). "Computer Gaming World - Issue 127" (PDF) (127): 154. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
We Look To The Digital Circuits And NASCAR RACING Is All We Can See
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