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Exclusive interview: Managing Director at Studio 397 Marcel Offermans - Part 2

We are continuing our chat with the managing director of Studio 397, Marcel Offermans. In part 2 we got to some of the flaws of rFactor 2 and how they are solving those. We also got around their plan for current and future content.

rFactor 2 is known for its great physics. However, bugs have been a known issue for some time. Some might think it can’t take years to fix those issues. How are you sorting these out and how complicated is it?

That is a very broad question, as there are a lot of bigger and smaller bugs and wishes that have been brought up by the community. I agree there are issues that have been around for many years. Most of them we “inherited” with the original codebase. Typically how we work is that we are focused on a specific area or topic as a development team and try to make a big improvement there.

We’ve done so for graphics, writing our own DirectX 11 based engine and adding VR support, and during that process, we fixed a lot of long standing bugs. Just to pick one, when we started out, alt-tabbing back to the desktop did not work too well and would often freeze or crash the game completely. In terms of wishes our community has, we know we still need to work on improved cockpits and possibly a brand new HUD concept.

We are still working on the UI, which, admittedly, took us a lot longer than we anticipated, but this is the basis for a lot of future extensions and improvements, as well as our competition system. One area where we still need to go in and make big improvements is our physics engine. We did make a bunch of smaller improvements, but there is still a long list of things to do here, from improvements to our AI to a more extensive drive train model.

How will the new UI improve the experience of rFactor 2? What can people expect in the final version?

Probably the most important point to make is that the new UI should not be seen as an end goal but as a new beginning. We are fundamentally changing a big part of the codebase to future proof it and allow us to add innovations more easily. As you know it is fully based on HTML, which means it’s much easier to extend and integrate with online services.
Soon we will make the switch to the new UI and will start this process of improvement. The first thing we want to do is to improve the way to set up rFactor 2 after installation. We will also start our journey of the integration of the competition system. Smaller things we will tweak are the opponent selection system as well as finding and filtering online servers.

You have released a lot of content focused on endurance racing. Is that something you plan on continuing, or are you aiming for a wider range of motorsport disciplines in the future and what’s in the pipeline in terms of cars and tracks?

Our focus is certainly broader than just endurance racing, even though that shows off a lot of strengths of our engine, like the dynamic weather and track, and the 24 hour cycle. We want to offer a broad spectrum of racing cars, so really anything on 4 wheels that drives on asphalt is in scope. Track wise I think we needed to catch up a bit on our iconic tracks, but now that we have the full “triple crown” in as well as other unique experiences like the Nordschleife, we are looking to broaden the spectrum there, adding tracks across the different continents that cater to the wide range of cars we have planned.

Our pipeline currently includes another iconic European track, and we’re also discussing a few other tracks that are related to future esports events. Long overdue is a new “sample track” for the modding community that will come with extensive documentation on how to leverage our new shaders to make tracks that look awesome and are future proof as we continue to evolve the engine.
On the car front expect more cars to fill in gaps we still have in our portfolio. We are also still working with our stock car community to bring a huge update that will also see some improvements in our stock car rules plugins.

This is the end of part two in this article series. The third and last part will be about the increasing interest for rFactor 2 in esport and how the new UI will improve that side on the platform.

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