Call for Collaboration: Museums

An important part for building mods is research and we spent a lot of time to collect pictures, technical manuals and other resources to simulate the Mods as realistic as possible.
When we embarked on the 1994 mod, we knew, we wouldn’t have the same access to high-resolution material as we did for 2006, but over the years we collected over 3GB of photo material from the season. Still, every now and then we wondered what happened to the old cars from 1994 and where they ended up. Our research found some of them in Museums around the world, but for many cars we did not find any information. This brought us the idea to crowdsource this search.
We’d like to know which museums around the world have any Formula One cars. I’m sure this is very useful information for other Modders as well, which is why we invite anyone to join in on the research and help to collect a complete list of museums and their exhibited cars.

For this purpose we set up an Etherpad and started to collect and discuss car models and museums.

List of Formula-One models in museums

Etherpad is a javascript-based collaborative tool for parallel writing. Once you enter, you can change your name in the top-right corner, or you can write anonymously. You see anyones writing in a different color and you can just come in and help writing. Every change is saved automatically, so vandalism can be traced.

Once we feel we have a complete list, we may republish this here on the devblog, so everyone benefits from the research.

In a second step, we are also looking for people who’d like to go to a few museums and take pictures of selected cars. If you have a museum near you and would like to help out, contact us.

Getting started to … Model

Every now and then we get a request of people to join CTDP with the aim to learn X. Be it modeling, textures or any other skills related to Modding. Today we’d like to give a few hints where to get started with the endeavor to learn 3D-modeling.

How do I start?

It’s a rather long way before you can start to model a complex shape like a F1 car. So the first steps would be to learn how to set up blueprints for a car. There are a lot of tutorials available that deal with these topics. They guide you through the whole process from setting up the blueprints over the modeling and basic techniques used till you have finished your first car. These tutorials focus on cars with pretty simple shapes as it doesn’t make sense to learn modeling by recreating a pre-2009 Formula One car with its complex shape and all that winglets.

These are some Tutorials we can recommend to start off.

What’s next?

After you finished your first model try another car. Try some harder shapes but still use accurate blueprints which are a good aid in the beginning. Focus on getting a smooth shape and try to find your own modeling style. Don’t copy other people that created these tutorials. That won’t help you if you try to model a Formula One car or some other car where you don’t have any blueprints and of course tutorials.

Speaking of modeling Formula One cars (or other racing cars). The most important step before starting a racing car without a blueprint is research. As you don’t have any blueprints – and if you have you can’t be sure how accurate they are – you have to get the proportions right. So take a look at the technical regulations. The tell you a let about the cars measurement. They can tell you the size of a cockpit opening or the position and size of the rear wing. Also try to find good sideview pictures of your car to use that as a ‘blueprint’.

By looking at these tutorials you’ll find that some start with a simple polygon (quad) and others start with a box. Don’t hang on that too much. That’s more a personal preference which suits your style. In the end you’ll be working with polygons. And always aim to use quads. If you have to use triangles but never let a face have more than four vertices.

There are also some techniques that use spline-modeling or maybe patch-modeling. But in our opinion that are more advanced modeling techniques and not suited for beginners. If you’re pretty secure with the polymodeling and you found your own style you can start to experiment with these techniques. I find them very useful – especially the patches – if you want to recreate complex forms without spending much time. Through the splines you have a rather easy but still a very accurate way to control the form of your patch.

Which 3D modeling tool?

There are many 3d modeling tools out there. Maybe some of you know “the big 3”, Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3d Studio Max & Autodesk XSI (former Softimage XSI). But there are a lot of cheaper (Maxon Cinema 4D & Luxology Modo) and some open source (for example Blender) softwares available.

Which one is the right one for your first modeling attempt?
Well let me tell you one thing: it’s just a matter of taste. If you know how to model in one application you can adapt all your skills pretty fast to another one. Sure you have special features in some of these tools but the basics are all the same.
Most modders start with 3D Studio Max because it’s quite popular within the game industry. Maya is also a good choice to start. Nevertheless is the learning curve with the node based User Interface and the Hotbox pretty tough. Softimage XSI looks weird if you start it the first time but it’s very handy for organic and “freestyle” modeling. Cinema 4D is most used in the architectural industry but still some of the modders (for example spoony from LMT) are using it to model F1 cars. Modo is a very cool tool, too. It has a great performance in modeling and useful tools but it’s not that popular and therefore you won’t find many tutorials for it. Blender will be adressed by msater at a later time.

You see, each application has its advantage, but 80% of the tutorials out there are covering 3D Studio Max. That’s why you should start with this application (if available). After your first few cars you can try to do parts or the whole car of your next project in a different program to get an overview. Most of the 3D modelers in game or CG industry have basic knowledge in more than three 3D applications. The get a specialist you need to know the basics of each program and pick the one which fits best to your expertise and personal taste.

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

Thanks to TwoOneOne for some of the tutorials links.

Going social

There are a few trends that are hard to avoid and you have have to embrace them at one point. CTDP comes into the social networks… to take over the world.
We have established beachheads in Facebook and Twitter and are preparing our invasion.

CTDP on Facebook
CTDP at Twitter

We will be posting more frequent small updates. WIP shots will be found there first.
To be the first to get all information, we suggest to follow us there and subscribe our devblog via RSS.
On average you will be notified about 3-4 days before the news hit VirtualR and another day before any other news blogs pick it up. 😀

Despite the new ways, we are still available on the established ways.
Use the forum to ask questions and get help support for our Mods. We suggest to post any technical questions there, so the google can find it and anybody else can find the answer to the question.
If you have questions of more private nature please use our contact form.

For informal contact check out our members lists in facebook and twitter.

Had you already subscribed us in the social world, you would have seen this Jordan WIP shot already 4 days ago:

Next generation Bahrain track

For the past year, we had Eric ‘ennisfargis’ Tozer working on the next version of the Bahrain International Circuit. This would include the 2010 layout and some major improvements on the tracks elevations and ultimately it would convert the track for rFactor2 once that is available. This work proved to be rather tedious as it is very hard to get hands on proper elevation data. Consumer GPS data is not exact enough and so we compiled height data from many different sources and are in the process of updating the track accordingly.

Fortunately for Eric, unfortunately for us, he got the foot in the door with Reiza Studios and won’t be able to continue his work on the track. This leaves the track in a work in progress state with nobody in the team to pick it up.

We are therefore looking for interested track modelers to get in touch with us to work on this track and help convert it to rFactor2. The track was a big success and it would be a shame not to bring it to the new platform. A lot of work has been done and we will provide help to step into the existing project as good as possible. Still you will need to know the basics of track editing, FFD modifiers and track exporting.

As with our other projects. CTDP is a dynamic team with people coming and going. With the death of rFactor and the continued waiting for rFactor2 we had more people disinterested in modding lately and therefore encourage everyone who has dome some modding and would like to continue and work in an organized, collaborative and enjoyable atmosphere to get in touch with us and see how you can help on the continued development of Bahrain Circuit and 1994.

The easiest way is to register and post in our forum, or to send an email in our contact form.

Thank you, Eric, for you contributions and wish you good luck at Reiza!

CTDP Drinkup in Munich

In March I met with Raül, one of our painters and since them I’ve been trying to arrange trips to other members in the team. This has been quite hard with all our schedules and I’m very happy that at least my trip to Munich is rock-solid now, to meet Andy, Marco and David.
Now, we had an idea. Just because it’s been quiet in the blog, doesn’t mean we have nothing to talk about and we thought this would be a nice chance to get in contact with some racing fans from Munich and the area. We would arrange a location and have a nice evening with some beers. Talking about Modding, SimRacing, Life, the Universe and Everything.

If you are interested get in contact with us at dahie (at) ctdpworld.org
The time will be Saturday, September 25th in the evening.  We have not ordered any table yet, so I’d like to get feedback till thursday evening to make the arrangements and to give out the details later.

I’m curious about how many take on the offer, to meet some of us in person. 🙂

take care,
Dahie

And again in German: Continue reading CTDP Drinkup in Munich

Enough already :)

Seriously, we never got so much feedback on a call-for-help. We had 8 people contacting us and we are currently welcoming everyone to the team, introduce them to our infrastructure and hand out the work. We were really surprised by this number and have to work to give everyone their work packages. This will be a new wave and hopefully we have a lot to show you in the next couple of months.

At the same time as I’d like to say thanks to those who responded to our call, I’d like to quit the call-for-help now. CTDP is always looking for new members, even when we don’t say it out loud. Having so many new faces at once is very nice, but also a challenge. I don’t want to discourage anyone from contacting us, but we can’t handle more people right now. Instead I’d like to say, contact us in a couple of weeks when the dust has settled and we can say where we are at again.

Thank you for the responses,

PS: I wonder if such a call also works for track texture artists…

Ultimate release of ultimate patches

We are happy to announce a big release day. We have new versions for F1-2006, rfDynHUD and the DDS-Utils. Checkout the full news on our website.

As you will see the Mod is available only via torrents for the moment. In a few days once the big load decreases, we will add traditional HTTP-mirrors.
Speaking of mirrors. We need new mirrors and if you want to support us by hosting our mods you are welcomed. Contact us for details and we will link to you from our site. Please note, that our download volume is pretty high due to the big file sizes, so be aware, that we produce alot of traffic.

Thank you all and have fun with the Mod and the tools!

User-Manual for F1 2006

Back in 2008, when we were preparing for the release of the F1-2006 mod, I hit a dry-spot when working on the user manual. After posting here in the Blog, 658 send this awesome montage, so I went back to work. Working on the manual was always a pain and today I’d like to introduce you to a new idea.

I mentioned beta-testing for the F1-2006 version 1.2 patch is commencing and it will contain two new features.
This is not one of them!

For the 2005 and the 2006 mod we created a full user manual, which was even translated in 4 languages. It was designed to be printed out and it was quite an effort by Michael and Arioch explaining the basic physics, basic setup options and new features on the mod. The writing was good, but even though I designed the book and the layout, I found it highly unpractical. It is hard to use and even harder to maintain.

I really liked the idea of a manual, because the mod as it is is complicated and giving some guidance on how to use would pay of when we don’t have to explain everything over and over again. So I went out 2 weeks ago to find a suitable replacement, which I found with the website generator webgen. Basically I moved all contents from the old PDF into single pages, which generate a full-styled website. This is multilingual, static and can easily be packed with the mod or uploaded on our website.

Here you can see the working prototype/beta of the user manual.
The english version is nearly done, but translations and illustrations are missing.

So much for the theory. In practice I have to ask, who is interested in this?
Right now we have 3 translations for the manual, which can be finished nearly immediately. The only constraint I have is my time, which is always limited and even more for tasks, like formatting manual pages. However I see potential in this.

So my idea is this:
I uploaded the sources of the new Manual to a public git-repository. They can be browsed online, downloaded, forked, then edited, extended, translated, updated, improved and last of all, all changes you do can be reintegrated in the website. Especially if you know how to use git (not necessary, but nice) this procedure is rather simple and wouldn’t take a lot of effort. Of course everybody who contributes to the manual will get credited and together we could actually build a user manual for the community by the community. It’s Open Source/Creative Commons.

This is the theory, in practice, working with the manual requires some technologies. For effective use I suggest git as version-control system, it’s free, it may take some getting used to, but I love it. Secondly, for building the website on your system you need webgen and for this a ruby-installation. No problem on Mac or Linux, but you don’t have it native on Windows. The last thing you need is to learn the markup I used in the source-pages: Textile. This is strong and flexible and allows to do everything we need. git or webgen are not necessary for working on the manual, they are optional. Textile is not, but learning it is as simple as your everyday bb-forum-markup.

The timing may make it hard to include this manual in the next version of the mod. However, making the manual a separate website will make it independent from the mod
This depends greatly on the response I get. So if you like the idea comment here or in our forum or write me by email: dahie _at_ ctdpworld.org

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