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This year, February gifted us 29 days to work on the roadmap, but look at us, we did it in 28! It was a busy month nonetheless and once again, we are happy to show what’s new in your favourite sim. As you probably all saw already, we released a patch with the new HAM feature for VR but it obviously isn’t the only “newcomer” to rFactor 2. In this months roadmap you will find something from basically every part of the game, overlays for the broadcast of your favourite league, updated textures for our content and also code improvements here and there. All packed for you in little stories to ensure that you can enjoy roadmap day. And don’t forget about our competitions, with the BMW Sim M2 CS Racing Cup 2020 already underway and the GT Series waiting for green light, there is much so look forward to.

Broadcast Overlays

Over the last couple of months we have been building, prototyping and testing various iterations of our broadcast overlays. We’ve involved various leagues in this process, collaborating with them, and now we’re getting to a point where we feel we have a solid base that we can publicly release as part of rFactor 2. There are still a few things to finish and test, so an actual release date will probably be announced next month, but we wanted to show you what we were up to anyway.

There will be a couple of different ways to use these overlays. The most straightforward way is directly in-game, where these overlays are available when you are spectating a race. This makes it easy for anybody to start broadcasting races, with no need for extra software except something to stream to your service of choice. The other way is to use them as a layer in your favorite broadcasting software like OBS or XSplit or any other tool that can integrate HTML based elements. In both cases we also provide a control panel that can be used to blend in and out the various elements of the overlay like the scoring tower or the battle box. This itself is also an HTML page, and you can use it in-game or in an external browser.

We’ve gone through a lot of effort to provide a solution that is easy to customize. Leagues can add their own logo, styling, sponsors and colors, all without having to program, and such customizations are easy to share and install, so everybody should be able to use these new broadcast overlays!


Development Update

Since our previous roadmap, we have done three more releases containing fixes and improvements to the code, as well as existing content. We’ve increased the release frequency because first of all you, the community, asked for more updates and fixes, but also because we want to keep the momentum going on the new user interface, addressing issues and providing you with quick updates so we can move towards our goal of making this new UI the default. We’re not done yet, we’re still working on some fixes for problems that were reported and features that went missing so you can expect us to keep up this pace in the weeks to come.

There are also still quite a few bigger things we are working on in the background. There’s not always much news to report on regarding these, but as a small recap we’ll go over some of them anyway. First of all our graphics team are still doing an extensive review of our rendering pipeline, evaluating the different stages of that pipeline against reference images generated by ray tracing algorithms as well as real photos. Then there are a lot of improvements that are building on that, as well as things that make the lives of content developers easier. A lot of these developments are getting closer to completion. Our core development team is obviously focusing a lot on the new UI at the moment, but as soon as that has reached maturity the focus will go back to finishing the competition system. We’ve used the last couple of months to look at a few long standing feature requests, such as “offline championships” so we are now looking at modelling those into this system as well.


In the content department, this month we have a couple of minor bug fixes to some classic rFactor 2 cars, some fine tuning of Le Mans and even another track to announce! Additionally our partner KartSim has a whole set of updates and some new content ready.

Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans 2018


  • Adjusted grass saturation.
  • Adjusted specular profile on roads to make rubber build up less blue.
  • Configured sky haze settings.

Historic Challenge Spark 1968


  • Fixed LOD in showroom.
  • Added new icons for the new UI.

Historic Challenge EVE 1968


  • Fixed missing cockpit in the F2.
  • Added new icons for the new UI.

McLaren MP4/8


  • Flipped wet texture treads so it ‘mirrors’.
  • Tyre damage texture fix.

McLaren MP4/13


  • Tyre smoothing.
  • Tyre damage texture fix.

Portland International Raceway

Announced a little while back, and now back by popular demand! We give you our latest development shots of Portland International Raceway. This original collaboration started with community member Alex Coutie’s scratch built track creation. We then built on it, with the intention to use it as a platform to showcase our new materials, and what can be achieved. In the future this track will serve as a basis for modders to learn all about our new materials system for tracks.  We’ll release more details on that after the track becomes available. Portland will be a free track for all owners of rFactor 2 and available in the Studio 397 Steam workshop.



By now, KartSim is a well known name in the karting industry, known for high quality professional karts and tracks. They will be releasing a big update to all of their content. For consumers the next release will include updates to most of the existing karts and tracks with improvements to shaders, models, AI and more. Professional customers can look forward to even more updates as well as some brand new tracks like “Le Mans” and a few others. More details will be revealed when this update is released next week.


BMW Sim M2 CS Racing Cup

We all know that cup racing is a rough and exciting form of battling it out on the track. Everyone in the same car and it all comes down to the driver. The first 30 that qualified for round 1 showed that they are tough, and up for this challenge. Lots of overtaking kept Rene, Aidan and Lewis, our commentary team, on their toes during the entire broadcast, with more action on every corner than even 3 pairs of eyes could track. In the end it was Michal Smidl who reigned supreme in this first round and with that, grabbed his ticket to the BMW event later this year. But we all know, moving pictures can show you way more of what happened than any lyrical masterpiece we could come up with in text, so watch this:

Want some more BMW action? Round 2 qualifiers have started at the Nordschleife, join now!

rFactor 2 GT Series

Hundreds of drivers have kicked off the qualification for our inaugural GT Series, leading to one of the tightest competitions we have seen in simracing so far. The first race in this series is imminent now, so make sure you tune in to the first GT Pro Series this Monday evening!


Spotter Guide



Formula SimRacing

On the 8th of March, Formula SimRacing is going into its 20th season of open-wheeler competition with races held across ten different official tracks and FSR’s own scratch made formula car. There is a place for drivers with all skill levels in FSR, thanks to the driver licence system. Creating three different divisions with similar skill levels across each. The highest level, the World Championship, features a prize pool of at least €3000! Head on over to the FSR forum to learn more on how to sign-up for the races and follow Formula SimRacing on social media to not miss any of the broadcasts and updates.

That’s all from us in this shortest month of the year. We wish you a great weekend and hope to see you soon somewhere on a virtual track!

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Roadmap Update March 2020

This is probably one of the tougher roadmap intros to write. On the one hand we would love to go on and on about the growth we are seeing in simracing. How amazing it feels to see simracing on TV and being talked about everywhere. On the other hand we all know where the growth is coming from, the absence of our beloved motorsport, and why this is. So let us start with saying that we hope everyone out there stays safe and healthy. It’s important in these days to keep calm and try everything to help the world to get through this. For us here at Studio 397, the impact on our jobs was probably not as big as it was for others. While we also feel the changes in our everyday life due to lockdowns and the general situation, we are lucky that the home office was always the way to go in our Studio, means we could just carry on like before.

Speaking about carrying on, there was a lot of rFactor 2 to be seen this month, and that won’t change in the upcoming ones. We will continue to be flat out when it comes to events and are more than happy to see that our GT Pro and Challenger Series, besides “The Race’s All-Star Esports Battle” and other projects, are gaining interest and deliver amazing and entertaining racing. Which is also down to our lovely racing community, so thanks for that! There is also news on the development side of rFactor 2, so let’s get into the actual roadmap!


Development Update

Last month we did a series of weekly updates. Those have slowed down a bit as we fixed a lot of the issues that were reported and at the same time spent time to implement a few new features. We are working towards a public release of the new UI. Expect a release candidate towards the end of this month.

In that build we implemented some smaller missing features, fixes, and a significant update to the way we handle controllers in rFactor 2. In short, we have fixed the issue that if you plug controllers into different ports, the input mappings would get lost. We will get into more detail on all of these when that build is released.

Another thing that will be part of the upcoming release candidate are the new overlays. We’re sure you have seen them being used in our current broadcasts, and we are looking forward to everybody starting to use them!

There are multiple fronts of graphics development progressing at present. We have the core lighting review developments we discussed last month which have been continued in March. We are starting to see some solid improvements in the output. In addition we are reviewing the PostFX setup and making sure that everything is correctly configured there. The two of these combined will make a nice step up to our visual output. Some initial previews from those developments can be seen in the Portland images in this article.

Finally we are currently also experimenting with a technology called Screen Space Reflections, evaluating if it helps us to improve the way wet road reflections are rendered. In theory this will allow us to have more objects reflected, and a more visually correct wet experience, overcoming many shortcomings of the previous technology.


Content Update
Our content team has spent a significant amount of time supporting our graphics development but we have been working on a few extra things too. However the big announcement from last time, Portland is now very close to being done, and we will probably release that soon after our new build is public.

Additionally, we will be releasing a new layout of the Nürburgring – even more variety to an already full list of Nords layouts! Called the ’24H Support’ layout, it’s another short version of the GP – essentially it bypasses the Arena section and the final chicane.

Finally work is on going on a renovation at Silverstone! We are working on updating the track both in terms of visuals and overall accuracy, bringing it up to our current standards.



Even though the new competition system is still being worked on, as we shifted our focus on getting the new UI out first, we’ve started ramping up our competitions. We’ve never had this many competitions running, and we are happy to see you all competing in them. In the BMW M2 2020 online Cup, the All-star Esports Battle and our very own GT Series, we are seeing superb racing being guided by our race control team that ensures penalties get handed out where needed and ongoing Balance Of Performance adjustments are being applied. This should actually benefit everyone, as we intend to bring such updates to the public as well.

In a good mix of both simulation and fast and furious esports battles, we’ve seen real-life legends such as Jan Magnussen, Juan Pablo Montoya, David Brabham and Emerson Fittipaldi race in our sim. This makes us proud. We’re not stopping here, the continuation of our GT series, more All-Star Esports Battles and more racing is coming up!


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Dev-Talk: User Experience


Μου φαίνεται λένε οτι θα κάνουν καινούριο UI. :surrender2:

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Roadmap Update April 2020

This evening, after another extremely busy and exciting day at the virtual office, I had dinner, walked my dog, and finally sat down behind my desk. I put on some music to start writing the roadmap update for this month.

My mind started to wander. Four years ago this month I was in the middle of writing some code to extend the Steam integration of rFactor 2 when all of a sudden Gjon popped up on Skype to start a discussion that quickly transformed into an opportunity I simply had to take. Many interesting discussions followed as we worked towards founding a new company to continue the development of a racing simulation that I spent many hours driving, racing strangers that became close friends. One of the probably less important tasks on my checklist back then was to come up with a name for this new company. If you’ve ever gone through such a process, you probably know it’s not easy to find a name that is still available as a domain. We finally settled on the somewhat cryptic Studio 397, a hint at our desire to one day bring the iconic track of Le Mans to the simulation. For those of you not aware of the meaning of the number, it is the record number of laps driven during the 24 hour race.

Speeding along the virtual Mulsanne Straight, my mind wanders again as I think about the many stories that are attached to each of the tracks we’ve built over the years. Sunset bend, where we fielded a sister car with Robin Frijns and Dries van den Elzen, who wanted to experience first hand what it would be like to drive a 12 hour endurance race in a professional simulator. An old tool called Ring trainer for Grand Prix Legends introduced me to many unique spots of which Karussel is probably one of the best known. One weekend we drove a 24 hour race there only to learn at the finish that due to some technical issue we had to drive the whole race again the next weekend. Tarzan corner and its dunes where the place where I first met two people whom I now have the pleasure to work with. At the time they were both working on other projects, but our common love for simracing brought us together there. Over sixteen years ago, with some friends we founded Simracing for Holland, taking the iconic livery from Jan Lammers’ Racing for Holland. We are still racing today and the many people that raced with us over the years are on our blocked livery as a tribute.

As you’ve by now no doubt figured out, this roadmap is a bit different from the ones we regularly bring you at the end of the month. So are the current times obviously, where we should all stay in touch with our friends and loved ones, and support them wherever that is needed. With the whole motorsport world sitting at home, it is great to see all this attention on simracing. It pleasantly messes with our plans, and we are all grateful about that. You’ve seen us in the All-Star battles, where many current drivers and legends from the past enjoy themselves racing each other on equal terms. I personally thoroughly enjoyed watching for example Jan Magnussen and Jenson Button racing each other hard and fairly. I was also impressed by the Formula E drivers getting together and showing their skills on the narrow streets of Hong Kong. But apart from these global events, we also did a race on a regional dutch channel, racing a fictional track through the streets of Maastricht, broadcast by a local TV station that did an awesome job to draw in a large and diverse audience on TV and internet. And judging from the talks we are having now, we will create many more great stories in the weeks to come.

Earlier this month, the news that Stefano Casillo left Kunos to start a new adventure surprised a lot of people. It’s a bold move, but I believe he is following his passion and developing new software that soon might surprise a brand new audience. Or maybe we will all see him rock at Pinkpop next year?

So what’s cooking at our Studio? As I mentioned, a lot of our plans have been shuffled and re-arranged. Our track team finished Portland, but it won’t be released until we’ve finished our extensive lighting pass and released a new build. In the mean time they are working on two brand new tracks, as well as a few updates to our existing ones. Our car team completed a brand new car that we currently can’t release as its release was planned to coincide with the real car, and that has been delayed. Here too we moved on to the next car, which unfortunately we can’t announce just yet, but it’s a unique opportunity for our Studio. Our developers have been testing our new overlay system, making tweaks to ensure it can be properly customized. We also fixed a few long standing issues with our package management system, which delayed the pending update of the new UI. Development on the lighting system is now in a phase where artists and developers are iterating over many of the improvements to create the proper balance for each. We are also fixing some smaller bugs and discussing physics improvements. Our esports team is already looking ahead at future seasons for our GT series, planning the next race for BMW as well as streamlining our broadcast setups.

The hard thing right now is to predict what will happen next. Extrapolating based on the last weeks we can only say that we probably don’t know. As a good friend said to me, we need to be prepared for pleasant surprises, and on that note I wish everybody a healthy future, stay safe and look out for each other!



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Yes, it’s still a bit too early for our monthly roadmap, but it is about time to announce Build 1118, which comes around two and a half months after our previous update. Why did it take so long, you might ask? Because we needed to take some time to complete some bigger tasks, such as overhauling our package management system, deploying the first step of our graphics improvements and integrating our brand new broadcast overlays. All in all, this is a considerable update with a mix of improvements, fixes and new features. On top of that, we are also proud to release a brand new track, the Berlin E-Prix Track, which is on sale in our store right now.



Things that have not yet made it are the release of Portland International Raceway and an update to the Zandvoort 2020 track, but both will come soon!

In terms of feedback we would like to invite you all to provide feedback on a couple of things. First of all, the graphics updates and how they affect the content you use. Secondly, if you are doing broadcasts, we’d like to know what to bring next to the overlays. Finally, we encourage you to give the new UI another try. It’s not the default yet, but we intend to make that switch soon, initially leaving the old UI as an option in a beta branch but eventually phasing it out altogether. We will also phase out our 32 bits version as hardware surveys tell us it’s not being used anymore as users have all switched to 64 bits operating systems.

Broadcast Overlays

Broadcast overlays are now integrated into the simulation as part of this update. That means you can use them directly in-game or with a broadcasting tool like OBS or XSplit. The overlays come with a separate control panel that can be used to control cameras as well as enable specific broadcast elements. It is available as a web page, which means you can remotely control the connected client from another computer or tablet. The overlay itself is also available as a transparent web page for integration into broadcast tools as well as directly in-game when you watch in full-screen.


There is also a system to customize overlays for your own league, tweaking colors, adding your own logos and customizing the style through CSS (cascading style sheets). This customization also includes support for setting safe regions when broadcasting to linear TV and a way for a single control panel to control multiple clients, in case you need to stream the same cameras to different output formats in the highest quality, completely removing the need for expensive frame interpolation hardware.


Our future roadmap here includes a guide on how to customize overlays as well as to add support for distributing them via the workshop.

Graphics Development

This release sees numerous updates to the graphics engine of rFactor2. These updates will allow us to build higher quality content going forward, and shortly they will let you do the same with mods. As an overview we have addressed some teething issues we were having with our PBR implementation and equalized the lighting equations between PBR and non-PBR. We have also corrected a range of balance issues with the lighting, postfx and atmospherics setup. This will allow us to release content of a much higher quality going forward; however, it will mean that some mods will require some fixes to look their best. In testing we have found that some old content is not configured correctly, and the old lighting setup masked these issues.


Now let’s take a closer look at what we have done and the implications of those changes. After an in-depth look into verifying the results of our PBR lighting pipeline against ray tracing solutions, we found that we had to make some adjustments to correct various issues with diffuse and specular output. This will make it much easier for artists to author content as things start to just behave naturally. Previously, in order for our new content to fit with the old content, we had to run a very constrained version of the shaders. This was one of the reasons we did not support modding with them yet. These changes will allow us to run at the full output now. The first track to be fully developed with this in mind is the just released Berlin Formula E track. However as a result of these changes you may find the lighting balance not quite right at Le Mans or other tracks recently updated to PBR. We will update these shortly.


We have also ported those lighting calculations over to the old shaders. However, the pre-PBR shaders required much darker albedo maps than is normal. As a result we have had to apply an automated correction to these textures. The intention is that these corrections will, on the shader side, push the albedo maps into the correct ball park for real-life albedo values, which the PBR shaders take as a rough input guideline. This change may take a bit of iteration, so please be patient and give us feedback if required. The main change resulting from all this is that the ambient lighting will be brighter on content using non-PBR shaders. It is important that ambient probes are set correctly. In our tests we found that mod tracks with poorly setup ambient probes resulted in bad lighting. Examples of this include them being in areas of strong colour cast (such as over a lot of very green grass), or underneath the terrain (resulting in the bottom of the ambient probe being brighter than the sky), or really high up in the sky (so the ambient probe receives much more sky contribution than you would expect, making it very blue in general). On content that had good ambient probes, we found that there was minimal difference, other than a slightly blue shift, due to the increased ambient lighting.


Some custom Showrooms may require updating, depending on how they have been authored. If they are suddenly very dark then this is why, as we could not apply this auto correction to the built in ones, and we need to review the way old content is being rendered in them.

We also took an in-depth look into our PostFX setup, and have iterated our configuration there further. The first area of interest was reviewing the exposure and the tone mapping. With the changes made to the output of the shader lighting equations, this was vital to ensure a naturally balanced scene. We have enabled auto exposure in limited situations for now, such as external cameras, and attached cameras not in the cockpit. This will allow us to test these changes further before enabling in the cockpit. We have spent a lot of time taming the glare settings so that we can use the full range of specular during the daytime, although trackside nightlights are still partial to glare quite a bit – we do intend to address this though. We also experimented with some more advanced effects that we may introduce at a later date. We will most likely tone this down in the content. In the future, we look forward to key framing different conditions in order to bring this to life even further.


The atmospherics and sky has had a pass to try to link everything together better. We have reviewed the sky configuration to improve its balance in general. We paid quite a bit of attention to the visuals as the sun starts to go down and to make sure that we are keeping appropriate amounts of light in the sky as it progresses into night. There are clear gains there but there’s still more work to be done. We have done some basic adjustments to the cloud rendering to ensure they are rendered with more natural colours and linked them up to the horizon haze to try and ensure a more natural horizon under various conditions. Finally, we have also changed how fog is applied on the entire scene. There is a lot of content in rFactor2 that suffers from a significant issue concerning the amount of fog applied and the overly blue colour it presents in many conditions. We have therefore decided to apply fog to the scene from an authoring perspective in a different way. We will expose variables to configure this shortly. We now have a base level of fog which is applied over the scene on a clear day. The default value is set to a realistic value for a scene with an accurately modelled vista, such as Le Mans or Nordschliefe, where you can see far into the distance. We then have extra fog or atmospherics that are applied as the conditions change, such as the sun going down, or as it becomes more cloudy or starts raining. This may present some issues at tracks where a static horizon has been placed unrealistically close to the foreground though, and it would be better to change this mesh so it is at a more realistic distance. These settings now also apply to the sky, so we no longer have really bright blue sky on the horizon on a completely cloudy day.


We have also iterated our shaders further. There are various fixes and improvements to allow us to make improvements in various places on the new IBL shaders. We added a new Car Tyre shader, which will be used in the near future, as well as an IBL Terrain Legacy shader to allow for easier porting of old content to the new setup. The one major thing missing from this release that we have spoken about before is the Screen Space Reflections development. This is well advanced, yet needs further performance testing before it is released. We have, however, ported over some of the basic developments from this to the new release which make wet weather conditions look even better on PBR tracks.

With regards to full modding support, this is something we envisage that we can start offering after we have completed the Le Mans race next month. Our team has a huge amount of documents ready to port over for modder support once things become a little less busy!

New UI

Improvements to our new UI are ongoing, and we have already tackled the following things:

  • We’ve now included options to select a custom showroom and HUD.
  • Tuning info for the selected car is now correctly displayed.
  • Setups now allow you to view and edit notes again.
  • Enabled resume from replay.
  • Added options to create custom skins and teams in the showroom.
  • Properly detect if we’re offline and adapt the UI to that situation.
  • Disabled options in the setup screen are now more clearly marked as such.
  • Notification icon changes when there are new, unread messages.
  • Ensured that parc ferme settings are always respected by the UI.

Improvements and Fixes

Apart from the bigger features above, we have done quite a few “smaller” improvements and fixes that should improve the overall experience:

  • Fixed a graphics freeze that could occur on some systems after driving for roughly half an hour, at which point it could freeze for over a second, which was sometimes causing mild framerate stutters at other times.
  • Improved the speed of real-road synchronization when a client logs into a server. As we developed more laser scanned tracks with significantly higher polygon counts for the road surfaces, this synchronization was taking more time. This has now been addressed, and you get a message when joining to indicate this process is ongoing. In general, you will want to wait for it, but you don’t have to. During the process, your frame rate might be slightly lower.
  • We’ve reviewed the package management system and fixed several bugs related to packages and their dependencies that could cause scenarios where content would not correctly install and, worse, allowed you to join a server without having all content installed. The whole system is now made much more robust, and we also managed to speed it up.
  • Our real-time logging has also been improved as we keep trying to track down further issues.
  • Fixed the wrong track loading sometimes when loading a saved replay.
  • Fixed newly saved replays not immediately showing up.
  • Made a few small improvements to controller rearrangements, making sure we detect a controller regardless of what USB port it plugs into.
  • Especially for long races, we have now implemented a way to resume a race on the same or a different server in case of networking problems. At the end of every lap, the current standings and order are backed up and these script files can be run on a new server to resume the race after all drivers have rejoined. We’ll explain this system in more detail in the upcoming weeks.


Formula E Berlin E-Prix 2020 Released

The Big City life – Berlin may not be the capital city of Germany, but it’s one of the few places that has been visited by the Formula E circuit each year since 2015. The former airport Tempelhof makes for a great event venue for this “electric spectacle” and has become one of the most anticipated races for many Formula E drivers, not just German drivers.


The Berlin ePrix features vast concrete planes rather than smooth city street asphalt, turning it into a unique challenge for everyone who wants to be on the top spot of the podium. The layout itself mixes high-speed straights with very technical sectors, forcing teams to setup a car that can shine on both. With 2.3 kilometers of track, Berlin offers plenty of chances to make a move and climb up the ranking. The very long turn 1, which leads into a chicane-like sector, is a real highlight not just for the drivers, but also for the crowd, as the grandstands create arguably some of the best views you can have when visiting an ePrix.


The long straights open up to create a real fight for slipstream, giving an advantage to drivers who can use the full capabilities of their brakes. This leads into the long turns that also allow for alternative entry and exit lines, giving defenders many possibilities to cut back in front or strike back on the exit. Rhythm is absolutely everything on this track that feels, because these are no roads, like an airfield. More like a classic circuit track rather than a typical Formula E street race, 10 corners have to be tackled before a lap time can be posted on the board. This track demands a smooth driver for consistently quick lap times. 

It’s your time now to prove that you are this complete driver, smooth but aggressive enough to go deep under braking, and precise on every single exit to maximize speed on the straights!


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