Of course the racing model is pure NASCAR. The cars are all fully configurable as you would expect, quick race, championship races, and seasons are all present and integrated seamlessly into the game. The game adds a ton of new driver info, as well as 30 new drivers to compete against, all taken from the 1997 Grand Nationals. Tracks include the Texas Motor Speedway, California Speedway, and the Gateway International Raceway to name a few. The fantasy tracks included are the Bull Run Raceway and Red Rock Raceway, and boy are they fun to take on. High banks, twists and turns, these are a ton of fun. New drivers include Steve Park, Todd Bodine, Randy LaJoie and a ton of others. Once installed, you enter the game as you would normally, only you'll have a few more options on the race calendar and entry list screens. You may still play the 1996 season, the 1997 Grand National, or play them all. The same goes for the driver configuration.
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Fortunately, the standard-setting Papyrus racing concept is not as dead as some might think. In fact, as of this writing, founder and driving force David Kaemmer had just emerged from discussions with VU wherein he successfully recovered the rights to Papyrus' venerated racing simulation technology. If all goes as it should, that technology will resurface in the not- so-distant future within a different framework and under a different name. This is great news for fans of the ultra-authentic Papyrus style, and certainly worthy of the closer examination that we'll give it later in the article. In the interim, let's explore just what it was about this Massachusetts studio that propelled it from its relatively humble beginnings into arguably the most respected computer racing game designer in the world. Buckle up.
Much to its credit, NASCAR Racing also tapped deeply into the art of drafting. In real racing, drivers often attempt to position their cars directly behind the car in front of them, just inches off the rear bumper. Here in this small pocket of dead air, they can actually back off the accelerator a wee bit yet keep pace as the car in front essentially "drags" them along. Accordingly, they're able to conserve fuel and place less stress on mechanical parts. But there's one other great benefit to drafting. If you time it just right, you can accelerate full bore into that dead air pocket, then swing out at the last possible moment for a pass. If everything goes as it should, you'll carry a few extra miles per hour--enough to complete a successful pass. In NASCAR, where both the vehicles and the dead air pockets behind them are so large, drafting plays a very important role indeed. For that very reason, you'll usually see long "trains" of cars pulling each other around the track. If a driver makes the mistake of falling out of that train, there's a very good chance he won't be able to slot back in until he has dropped to the end of it. In NASCAR Racing, Papyrus expertly modeled the element of drafting, and in the process really added something to the sport's virtual representation.
IndyCar Racing II landed at a time when computer speeds were escalating at a sharp pace and just as the term "3D graphic acceleration" was beginning to infiltrate the market. The 3D add-on cards were in those final months and years of complete confusion before gaining acceptance and finding uniform standards. In the end, Papyrus elected to support its publisher's own Rendition 3D standard, knowing that few of its customers even owned the necessary equipment to take advantage of it, but fully unaware that the standard would be as short lived as it was. Moreover, the initial retail release of IndyCar II sported no graphic acceleration support at all; that support would come through a downloadable patch. Looking back, it's easy to see why many of the Papyrus faithful were befuddled at the situation, as they didn't really know whether or not they should spring for a 3D card.
Even Microsoft jumped into the competition with 1997's overly ambitious CART Precision Racing, a flawed and buggy, but promising title that in some ways wasn't in the same league as the genre's heavy hitters; however, it sported some likable elements and it did go to show how quickly the field was opening up. As it turned out, CPR needed CPR and was ultimately a one-shot deal. Not to be outdone, Ubisoft let loose with a volley of its own in 1998's F1 Racing Simulation, a game that didn't get nearly the attention that it deserved on this side of the Atlantic. One of the very first racing sims to fully support 3D graphic accelerator cards, F1 Racing Simulation visually toyed with everything that had come before. The environmental effects were particularly impressive, especially the variable weather, animated clouds, and mesmerizing depiction of lens flare. The car models were both accurate and responsive, and the AI was plausibly reactive to given situations. Even by today's standards, the game looked great and drove magnificently.
Kaemmer explains, "We focused on the Rendition and 3Dfx chips for Grand Prix Legends because they were the best at the time, along with a software renderer, and shipped GPL at the absolute worst time possible for 3D hardware support. All the drivers were buggy and our software renderer was fairly slow, since we had moved to 16-bit color to best exploit the graphics hardware. I'm pretty sure that no one who bought GPL was able to see the hardware-accelerated version without first having to find and download new video drivers. Maybe we were the first racing game producer to fall off the 3D bandwagon and break a leg."
In NASCAR 4, Papyrus utilized everything it had learned previously and injected it into a game focusing on North America's most popular racing genre. To say it clicked is an understatement. NASCAR 4 cars sported active four-way suspension that reacted both visually and practically to weight transfers. The game featured source-sensitive lighting, real-time shadows, and stunning collision effects that sometimes tossed vehicles into the air, end over end. And because it took full advantage of 3D acceleration, the pixeled appearance of prior NASCARs was gone and frame rate hassles were no longer the issue they once were.
In fact, Kaemmer had already left the Papyrus stable before the doors had officially closed, after it "became apparent that there would be nothing in our future other than NASCAR sims." Although he maintains the NASCAR series was not in itself a problem, he also says it represented a very small slice of the overall racing experience--which was a much bigger pie that he wanted to more fully explore.
Presenting rFactor, the racing simulation series from Image Space Incorporated and now Studio 397. After successfully creating over a dozen products in the previous ten years, including the Formula One and NASCAR franchise games for EA Sports, Image Space took the next logical step in creating a completely new technology base and development process. This new isiMotor 2.0 environment became the foundation on which many exciting products were built for years to come.
- Where can I purchase rFactor and rFactor 2?Both titles are available on Steam.- Where do I download/install rFactor and rFactor 2?Both titles are downloaded through the Steam client after you own them there. You need to install their software, select rFactor or rFactor 2 in your library and follow on-screen instructions to install it.- I already purchased rFactor or rFactor 2 from ISI, can I transfer to Steam?In most cases, yes. Please complete this form once for each product you need a key for. Your purchase will be manually verified and we'll either send you a key or ask for more information from you as needed.- I purchased an rFactor DVD, can I transfer to Steam?It's unlikely. Please email email@example.com and we will check what version you have.- I purchased an rFactor DVD and it says 'insert correct DVD'?Your DVD is being run on a version of Windows it was never designed for. Return it to the store.- Can I get a refund for my purchase on Steam?Refunds are handled by Steam, and in accordance with their policy.- Can the Steam version of rFactor be installed multiple times?rFactor 2 does not need this. With rFactor, the easiest way to avoid mod conflicts in doing this is to install rFactor to a new Steam library folder, and make a backup of that steamapps/common/rfactor folder. Install your mod(s) and then you can move rFactor folders in and out of that location to activate or deactivate them. However it should be noted that some mods do include unnecessary files that WILL break your installation entirely, forcing you to reinstall. Nothing we can do about that. If you can contact the mod creator and inform them, perhaps they can remove the problematic files.- I installed a mod and now rFactor says it needs to activate?The mod replaced Steam files with non-Steam files and broke your installation. You'll have to remove that mod. We no longer even have a non-Steam version.- How do I install mods?With rFactor 2, use the Steam workshop where possible and just click subscribe on the item. With rFactor, we use loose files and a manual process where you simply drop the correct files into the correct folder. Most mods have a readme.txt file to help you with that.- How do I create mods?With rFactor 2 download and see guides on the Studio 397 Web site. With rFactor, you can download some of the tools here: MAS Tool, AIWCAM Editor, 3DSMax Plugins, Older Tools. A 3D object creator is required along with a painting tool capable of DDS creation.- Can I paint my cars?Yes. We use DDS format, which requires the plugin for Photoshop from NVIDIA. Download templates.- rFactor doesn't detect my wheel?You may have to manually bind controls for a wheel where they are not detected. Click an action in the settings, do the action with your controller.- rFactor / rFactor 2 doesn't launch?Either you have a bad mod (usually rF1 issue only), bad plugin, bad UI (rF1), are out of RAM, or are missing runtimes our software requires in order to run.With rFactor 2, wherever you installed Steam look at the following paths for the files and install them all: steam/steamapps/common/rfactor 2/_CommonRedist/- Is the rFactor ISI matchmaker down?rFactor is now Steam-only. Server listings are available in the Steam client. Hosts need to be using the Steam version for it to show there. IP direct connection is always available, and most leagues use that.- How do I find the Steam server listings?Open the Steam software. Go to the VIEW menu, then servers. Filter by game: rFactor.- How do I launch the Steam dedicated server?Open the Steam software. Right-click rFactor in your games library list and you will see a dedicated server option.- Why are Studio 397 developing rFactor 2 instead of ISI?ISI were beginning to wind down development on rF2 to focus on other projects. Studio 397 was formed to specifically give it back that focus and push it forwards.- Can I use rFactor or rFactor 2 commercially?Not without permission or commercial licensing. Contact ISI or Studio 397 to make sure you're operating legally.- Is rFactor Pro available to retail customers?No. Never has been. Pro is a controlled product for auto manufacturers, race car engineers and racing teams.- Can I extract data (standings, telemetry, etc) from rFactor?Yes. Our Internals Plugin system does this. Download (version 3). Instructions PDF, Plugin example. 2b1af7f3a8