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|Developer(s)||Image Space Incorporated|
Studio 397 (from 2016)
|Publisher(s)||Image Space Incorporated|
|Designer(s)||Image Space Incorporated|
rFactor 2 is a computer racing simulator developed by the American independent software firm Image Space Incorporated and released for Windows in 2013. Like its predecessor, rFactor, it is designed to be modified and is used by professional racing teams for driver training and race car development. Much of its source code is derived from rFactor Pro which is also used by professional racers and most of the Formula One teams and NASCAR manufacturers.
rFactor 2 is designed to simulate any type of multi-wheeled vehicle of any era including four-wheeled and six-wheeled vehicles with either two or four steered wheels. It features an advanced physics, suspension, and tire model.
After the initial success of Sports Car GT (1999), Image Space Incorporated used its self-developed software engine isiMotor1 for a number of racing titles, including the highly praised Formula One simulators F1 2002 and F1 Challenge '99-'02. isiMotor is an umbrella term that covers every component of the software engine, for example the graphics engine gMotor, the physics engine pMotor and so on.
After the release of F1 Challenge '99-'02, isiMotor was licensed to another company for the first time, SimBin, who went on to produce popular retail sim racing titles based on Image Space Incorporated’s engine, including GTR and GTR 2.
Image Space Incorporated then decided to make a racing simulator with an open architecture and provided tools for the modding community to create third party content. This title became rFactor which was the first ISI release using the software engine referred to as isiMotor2. rFactor went on to become the preferred racing simulation platform for nearly a decade, with a plethora of community created content. rFactor 2 is also being used to train the drivers who win the Gran Turismo Academy competition.
isiMotor2 was further licensed to companies such as Slightly Mad Studios, Reiza Studios and 2Pez Games. isiMotor2 also laid the foundation for rFactor Pro, a software simulation engine used by real life racing teams and car manufacturers including most of the current Formula One grid and NASCAR manufacturers. Image Space Incorporated took the experience from isiMotor2 and rFactor Pro and began the development of rFactor 2. From this point on, the software engine would be referred to as isiMotor2.5.
The editor from the sim racing site VirtualR stated: "It took me some time to see it but I do recognise rF2 as the best racing sim out there for the serious players".
rFactor 2 and its precursor have received much praise for its highly advanced and accurate simulation of vehicle dynamics and is the preferred simulator for most real life professional racing teams, car engineers and simulation centers.
Race Engineer Andrea Quintarelli stated: "It is also no surprise for me that most of these professional simulators (or centers) are using rFactor. As I had the chance to prove myself (and probably to somebody reading here), when you know how to properly build your models, rFactor is producing very accurate results, at a very low cost".
Petros Mak, founder of the professional modding company Mak Corp, stated: "All our race team clients and even our series clients, they don't only use rFactor for track familiarization. They also use it to test setup data before they go to an event, they use it to test potential new part data, by developing new brakes or new engine performances and testing it in the game before they actually commit to building it in real life. rF1 and rF2 provide far higher accuracy for those things than any other simulation on the market. [...] rFactor 2's physics engine is by far the most simulation based physics engine using real life aero and physical data that no other title has come close to".
The interaction and collaboration between Image Space Incorporated and professional racing teams and their engineers using the ISI developed rFactor Pro platform has benefited the new tire model used in rFactor 2. This has resulted in the ISI TGM Tyre Tool, a tool that is also available to third party modders.
rFactor 2 is the first consumer simulation featuring a thermomechanical physically-based tire model, based on first principles, simulating the entire carcass, thread and contact patch, with proper heat transfer, accurate tire wear, flatspots and visual deformation. It is also the first to feature truly dynamic track conditions.
Most people new to rFactor 2 including experienced simracers are not used to having to manage their tires like in reality, therefore they tend to overdrive the car with too much steering input (something you can get away with in other driving simulations), resulting in overheating tires and excessive tire wear.
rFactor 2 also includes a new constraint system that allows for advanced physics simulation such as chassis flex, which removes the typical infinite rigidity of a virtual vehicle and incorporates unique chassis characteristics into the handling and performance of the car as well as highly accurate suspension geometry and wheel rates.
The simulator can be played with a wheel, joystick, gamepad, or a keyboard. It includes various controller presets and the possibility of creating a custom controller maps. Driving aids such as traction control, stability control, brake anti-lock and steering help as well as automatic gear shifting and automatic clutch are available.
In a detailed menu, the player chooses various options regarding which car to drive (included a tuning menu to choose different specs of that car), which track to race on, how many AI opponents to race against and how fast and aggressive they should be. The menu also gives access to different race session options, such as number of laps/amount of time, time acceleration, Real Road options including rate and presets, flag rules and weather.
When the player loads the track, the chosen car spawns in the garage, with the garage interface available. The player can leave the track and return to the garage at any time during a session by pressing "escape" (ESC). The garage interface features various settings and options. It also features a live race monitor which allows the player to watch the action out on the track.
The car setup interface allows the player to adjust and fine-tune every adjustable part of the car. It also gives out tire temperature and hot pressure readings after a stint has ended.
While in the car, the player has access to a variety of different cameras, both cockpit, hood camera and externally mounted cameras facing in multiple directions as well as external floating cameras tailing the car. The player can use the "free-look" function to move the point of view using the mouse. There are also multiple groups of TV trackside cameras as well as a spectator camera function that allows for a free roaming viewpoint all around the track.
The LCD is a part of the HUD. The LCD is divided into multiple sections that the player can toggle between and shows information about current standings, split gaps, sector times and pit stop options as well as the mechanical state of the car, such as tire, brake and oil temperatures. Sustained damage is also visually represented in the LCD.
Rules and flags are fully implemented as well. If an incident has occurred, yellow flags are shown in the HUD as well as marshals waving them along the track. A green flag is shown as soon as the player leaves the sector in which the incident has occurred. Blue flags are used to signal that a faster car is about to lap another car. Both drive-through and stop/go penalties can be given to players who break the rules, for instance because of a false start. The player can be disqualified if the penalty is not served within the allotted time, which is typically three laps. Full course yellows are also featured in the simulator, with a safety car driving unto the track and collecting the field for a few laps. When the full course yellow is nearly over, the safety cars peels into the pits and releases the field.
The public first became aware that the development of rFactor 2 was underway when Gjon Camaj of Image Space Incorporated posted WIP in-game screenshots on Twitter in early March 2009. Later that month, he revealed more details about the upcoming simulator alongside additional in-game screenshots.
In October 2010, Camaj revealed in an extensive interview plans for including licensed content, a new reworked UI, inclusion of dynamic weather, new innovative dynamic racing surface technology, improvements to the AI logic and a new force feedback system with lower input lag and much faster and more direct steering rack forces, along the lines of the popular third party developed RealFeel plug-in for rFactor.
On January 10, 2012, the first open beta was released and it went out of beta since early 2013.
On September 16, 2016 at Simracing Expo, ISI announced a deal with Luminis, a software company based in the Netherlands that has already had experience with racing simulators having supported Reiza Studios in the development of Automobilista. This partnership brings the development of rFactor 2 in a new company called Studio 397. Studio 397 managing director Marcel Offermans stated that a lot of new features will be implemented in the game, including a more web-based UI, a DirectX 11 compatible graphics engine and the VR support for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Moreover, a new "paid-content system" would allow ISI to add more licensed content to the simulator.
In October, Studio 397 released information about the new content. The developers announced they have acquired the license of U.S. F2000 National Championship, Radical Sportscars and NOLA Motorsports Park. The new rFactor 2 version will be available only on Steam.
As with its predecessor, many default vehicles are available to download. The long list of cars includes Formula One cars, GT cars, touring cars, stock cars and vans. There are also quads and Formula RC cars available as experimental content.
A list of default tracks is available but not all of them are licensed. The range of racing venues includes permanent, oval, rally, and street circuits.
Real Road is one of the most prominent features of rFactor 2. Rubber is dynamically laid on the track surface in real time during a race session by the player and the AI. The rubber can carry over to the next sessions and this calls for the player to constantly having to adapt to the advancing track conditions during a race weekend which in a dry race weekend means more and more available grip throughout. The player can choose from various rubber presets to start with or just choose to start the weekend on a completely green track. Real Road can be accelerated, left at a normal rate, or be completely static. The feature also creates grip-affecting marbles outside of the normal racing line.
Real Road also works together with wet weather. When rain hits the track, the previously built-up rubber and marbles is washed away and the track will then need to be rubbered in again. The wet track surface dries dynamically similar to the aforementioned rubber build-up due to both cars on track as well as temperature, sun and wind. The Real Road system of rFactor 2 is unique because it is not scripted, but completely dynamic.
rFactor 2 also features realistic tire wear and damage. This punishes the player for locking up the brakes because a flatspot will occur with force feedback vibrations (tire suddenly has edges instead of being perfectly round) and a car imbalance (due to the lost weight of the burnt off tire). Until the tires are changed during a pit stop, the car will feel imbalanced and uncomfortable to drive. Using bad driving techniques will also punish the player with tires overheating and wearing unevenly. Tire punctures are also featured though not visually represented in-game.
The AI of rFactor 2 is highly advanced and much improved over the first rFactor. It has spatial awareness, adjustable strength and aggression sliders and has the ability to "learn" better racing lines around a track resulting in better lap times. The AI can also be allowed to take control over the player’s car. rFactor 2 is unique in that it is capable of races with over 100 AI opponents and you can also mix AI opponents with real drivers during online multiplayer races.
Also featured in rFactor 2 is a full day-to-night cycle with lighting transitions which can be set to real-time or accelerated. Fuel usage and visual as well as mechanical damage are also featured in the simulator, along with a "resume from replay" feature where any saved replay can be loaded and the player can then choose to resume driving at any point during that replay.
rFactor 2 is designed specifically to be modded. It is the first race sim with a dedicated mod packaging system and with the Steam release it will be the first with Steam Workshop integration.
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