Deciphering the past: Simtek 1994

As you know, we are currently busy with the IFM project. However, that doesn’t mean F1 94 is out of our heads.

The F1 1994 project involves a lot of investigation and research, mainly on sponsors because high quality photos are rare to non-existent. A lot of guesswork is needed and often a little luck. During our research, we often stumble upon little anecdotes we like to share with you guys. For example, we talked about the various small logos on the Minardi that were quite hard to find.

One particular sponsor on the Simtek has been following us for over two years now. It’s been on the rear wing endplates only at the Pacific Grand Prix; we had numerous photos but none of them were good enough to decipher the company behind the logo. We contacted the former driver David Brabham about it and he couldn’t help us in this case. We even mentioned it in a devblog article and posted it on numerous forums but no one was able to help us.

Until last week.

The guys at F1 Rejects love everything that is bad, funny, mysterious or embarassing in the world of Formula One and one of the members contacted a Japanese friend of his about the matter – two years after we posted the request! And he came up with an incredible result: what we thought could be Eastside Roccs, Sastiana Pocos, Mastana Pocos etc. turned out to be Marutama Foods. And even better, we were provided with a good photo of the logo.

Well, it’s only a very small part of the mod that none of you guys would even pay attention to – I guess., but for us (especially for me as I’m painting the Simtek), it’s the story we will remember for a long long time I think. 🙂

On this day in May…

… in May 2011, we have been working on the new Ferrari model for the 1994 mod. The first of a series of new models to bring the mod into the modern age.

… on May 1st 2010, we released the first version of rfDynHUD, a plugin for rFactor that allowed to display and customize your own on screen widgets. Today rfDynHUD is open source and can be extended by everyone. Later that month, we also released the first iteration of our DDS Utilities.

… in May 2009 we were in heavy discussions and lay some foundations about a new project, that was going to be the Superleague Formula Game 2009. The hot phase of development was August to October and it was released in late November.

… on May 1st 2009 we released the beta of Bahrain V2 for rFactor. Debs surprised us with this new version a few weeks earlier and gave us his legacy. We released this track as beta, but it was surprisingly bugfree and amazing to drive, so we never released a follow-up. Today we are looking for talents who help to convert the track to rFactor2.

… in May 2008 we were at full speed to finish the F1-2006 mod. All cars were finished, Safety-Car was just being done and a long ordeal of testing and improving was about to begin. The mod was released in December that year. May was the last month in discussions about a proposed GP2 2007 mod, that never saw the light of day.

… in May 2007, we were working on cars such as RedBull and BMW for the F1-2006 mod. We discussed a Formula Nippon mod, but decided against it.

…on May 1st 2006, with Bahrain V1 for rFactor CTDP released their first featured track and the first CTDP release for rFactor. Meanwhile, first models for the F1-2006 mod were created and the rFactor conversion of the F1-2005 mod was being prepared. This would be the first major F1 mod for rFactor featuring multiple cars, physics in a state-of-the-art quality.

… in May 2005, the F1-2005 mod for F1Challenge was already at full steam. The mod would be released later that year in November 2005 and to this day would be the last F1 season mod to be finished within the same year.

… in May 2004 we have been working on the F1-2004 mod and F1-1998 mod for F1Challenge. Both would be released later that year. Gee, modding was a lot simpler back then.

…in May 2003, after several single car releases, somebody got the idea of creating a full-scale mod of F1-season 2003 for F1-2002, to be released later that year. The modding group TDG folded and members joined us, bringing with them the idea of the F1-1994 mod.

… in May 2002, preperations were done to create and release selected single cars and a 1995 mod for GrandPrix4.

…in May 2001 – CTDP was founded by some German modders with too much time on their hands, who liked F1 cars and decided to release some updates for games such as F1-2002 and GrandPrix4.
While many people came and went, some members in the core have been with the team for all this time and we are grateful to everyone who helped us in our endeavors and who enjoyed our work.

… on May 1st 2012, we present you some new screenshots of the upcoming International Formula Master 2009 mod for rFactor2.

Auri sacra fames.

CTDP is discussing its financial future at the moment, as we described in an earlier post, I’d like to sum up a few points of the discussions with people in and outside of the team, that may also concern the community and may be of general interest. As I do sometimes, I speak here from my perspective alone and not as team CTDP. Money is not an easy topic in this community, but I think it’s worth talking about.

CTDP has been very stable for the past few years, but even modding has costs, although they may not be as visible as for example running a league or a website. CTDP is not out here for profit, but since modding is increasingly more difficult, so are the expenses. This is an hobby for us, hobby usually are not cost-neutral, but since we take an active part in this community, have our share of impact and truely believe to do a good job in providing you with the means of good simracing entertainment, we’d like to believe our work is worth something to the community – to you.

We frequently discuss this and often the conversation revolves about same basic arguments and facts, I’d like to sum up here. Continue reading Auri sacra fames.

Alii sementem faciunt, alii metent

Today we want to talk about money. A topic, which is currently also discussed in rFactor2’s forums. We spent a lot of money in all these years developing our mods and providing our website, devblog and forums. So far we handled all expenses ourselves, but to continue funding the required infrastructure for our future developments we’re looking into a few possible solutions to cover our expenses.

Where do we invest the money?

Let’s start with our current situation: at the moment we have a webserver which runs the website, the devblog and our forums. This server accounts for around 120€ a year. Also we have a server running Subversion-Server which is provided by one of our members.
As we had some technical problems with the SVN server lately and maintenance is all in done in our spare time, we decided to look for a different solution.

One idea was to rent a root server and to run the webservices and SVN together on one server only. Given the server is powerful enough another idea was to run a rF2 dedicated server on that root too. This solution would be pretty expensive with costs of about 660€ a year.

Another idea was to keep our current hosting package for 120€ a year and use a dropbox account as a SVN replacement. A suitable dropbox account for our needs would cost us about 10€/month. So that would account to at least 240€ a year and about 420€ cheaper than the root server idea.

We are currently evaluating further options. And are happy to get input in services and solutions we may have overlooked.

So far, we didn’t mention additional investments such as buying books about physics, F1 season overviews, technical analysis or magazines which help us in developing and improving our mods. Also we have subscriptions on websites to get access to high resolution pictures of the cars. That all did cost a lot of money and in the end everyone playing our mods profits from these investments. For example AndreasT bought all old Autosimsport magazines on e-bay to give the team a good base to start with F1 1994.

So you see that modding and providing forums/blogs/websites for our mods comes at a price. In our second article we evaluate our financing ideas and hope to get some feedback from you.

Getting started to … Texture

Number two in our series of Tutorials to get you started into Modding. Today our topic is textures.

How do I start?

Compared to modeling, creating textures is rather simple and all good modding teams provide templates to get you started painting car designs. This is a rather autodidact approach, but a valuable nonetheless.

Turns out there are very few dedicated tutorials for car painting. They all require some basic understanding of Photoshop.

What’s next?

Get cracking and get experienced.
Be flexible in your approach to painting.
Before I repeat more platitudes, let’s get to some special skills that have a lot of potential and aren’t used very widely so far.

Using vectors

Textures are pixel-based with discrete width and heights, however Photoshop offers neat vector functionality. Instead of drawing lines, you can set up vector paths, that describe the areas and lines of the car design. Those lines are as smooth as can be and it’s very easy to change lines. With painted pixels scaling and distortion becomes very tedious and you lose a lot of quality. Instead, you can change the path and the affected area updates automatically.

One of the difficulties of painting are the edges between mapping surfaces. These seems can become tedious, especially if you have a logo that goes right across such a seam. This seperates the skilled painter from the lazy one. The latter tries to work around those bits and rather puts the logo someplace else instead of positioning it correctly. The same can be applied on design lines. Using vectors helps tremendously as you can work more exact – and again, change lines without quality loss.

Working with Vectors can be a bit messy in Photoshop and it takes some time to get used to it, admittedly. However, the benefits outweigh this by far.


Imagine the situation the 2D artists had with the 2006 mod. Each car had 3 textures, each had roughly 50 layers with all designs and logos for 10 track variants on average. The effort of saving each texture variant, each shader maps was quite large and it quickly becomes a boring, repetitious and error-prone process. For the 1994 mod, we will do it differently using a method we should have looked into a long time ago.

Photoshop supports scripting. You can use Javascript to write linear workflows to create a build script for your texture.
This script switches defined layers on and off and specified states to files. The script is rather simple, the execution is still slow, but it far beets the manual work.
In case of our Ligier, the result are 16 texture files in TGA format. Saving right to DDS does not work, as the nvidia plugins can not be used in the script. To convert all TGA files to DDS you can use Dropps, part of my DDS-Utils. This will convert all files in one batch based on the predefined settings.

Scripting has been one major improvement of our workflow at CTDP.


At last, some no-gos we suggest you never do.

A difficult part about skinning a car is finding the right logos. And even more difficult: finding them in a suitable size and format. We have this problem very often working on F1 1994, especially with the smaller teams like Larrousse or Pacific. They had many sponsors, for which it is impossible to find proper logos on the internet. However, you should never ever resize a small logo to make it bigger. It will hurt the quality and leave you to ridicule.

Something else to be concerned about are the alpha channels. Alpha layers determine the amount of reflection on a certain part of the texture. Generally, the alpha layer has the same mapping as the texture. Alpha channels are greyscale only and do not support colors. The general rule is: the darker an area on the alpha layer is, the less light does it reflect. So, black will cause no reflection at all; white will mean the biggest possible reflection and is in most cases completely useless. The more reflection you have, the less you will see ingame of your actual car livery. See also this tutorial teaching what’s up with alpha channels in rFactor.

We take questions! If you are stuck with a problem or have questions related to modeling or textures ask them and we will adress them in a future post here on the blog.


What was going on in March…

The past weeks have been very quiet here in the blog. This had several reasons.

As a matter of fact one was not a lack of progress. At the moment we are working on two fronts.
Andy, AndreasT and myself are reviewing the 1994-cars which have the furthest progress.
We found several huge issues on Pacific and Ligier, which we are correcting right now. At the same time we work hard to avoid the mistakes on future cars and be more thorough. Actually this is worth a lot more to talk about, but not now.

In other news, every now and then we get the question when CTDP F1-2006 version 1.2 will be released. The ultimate patch for the mod was announced a year ago fixing some remaining issues and improving tire physics. During the SLF-Game work on the patch was on hold, which caused the long postponement. Michael ‘Speed12’ Borda, and our betatesters are currently testing the patch to find the last issues.
While the patch itself is mostly maintenance and bugfixes, there will be two new exciting features, we will announce another day. 🙂

And the last reason for the lack of activity here: I took a week off, flew to Valencia and visited Raül ‘raulongo’ Gullón, fellow painter here at CTDP. This marks the 4th person from the team I met in person. It was a great little vacation. 🙂

More to come soon…

First steps on a Modding Database

Several months ago, when SimRaceway was just announced, many Modders, including CTDP withdrew their support of the platform due to a lack of communication from SRW. It’s predecessor rFactorCentral was dying a slow death and something new was required. However with SRW knocking themselves out of the picture, the question arose, what kind of replacement could possibly come up. This was before rF-Planet or any other ideas were begun.

At that time, early august, I was discussing with many people about such a new Mod Database. I elaborated on some of the ideas we pitched in my post the other day. We weren’t sure if somebody in the community would step up and deliver such a system. Often I felt the community kind of worships the guy working out a community homepage, rightfully as far as he had a great idea to start with. But sometimes the community acts as a gatekeeper, locking out people with other ideas. A homepage is not a big deal and a system like rFactorCentral is quite simple with some planing .
So my base theories were, that such a system could be implemented fast, using the right tools, that it could be easy to maintain.
I kinda felt motivated to proof the point, that such a website is nothing to be in awe about. It’s an application the important thing is the quality and the planing that goes into it.
Continue reading First steps on a Modding Database

Philosophy of an Alternative Mod Database

The other day we talked about some technical solutions to implement an Alternative Mod Database similar to the late rFactorCentral. While the technology is important and makes or breaks a projects, there are other aspects, which to have be kept in mind when considering such a project. I’d call it the philosophy or the spirit behind the project. Continue reading Philosophy of an Alternative Mod Database