History: 15 years of car painting

I’ve been car painting for almost 14 years now. I started with GP2, joined the active community with GP3 and met with CTDP along the way. In addition to the last post about the changing times in the Modding community, I’d like to visualize that in my field of car painting and take you on a small history trip through the years.

A little gloassar at the beginning. The surface of a car is not just defined by one graphic, but by multiple maps with different properties which – defined by the material – influence the look of the surface. The regular color texture is also called diffuse map. Height-differences are encoded in the normal-map (bumpmap, if the map is only greyscale). The Reflection map defines how reflective a surface is and the Specular map how much direct light is reflected. Occlusion maps can be described as the shadow applied to a car.
Continue reading History: 15 years of car painting

The times they are a-changin’

The truth

In every life, there is a point where you have to be honest to yourself and to everybody around you. This point has come now and we (CTDP) want to let you (our fans & followers) know, about our current status. The truth is, after CTDP 2006, a lot of the guys disappeared. In order to compensate the loss, we said CTDP2006 was maybe our most complete mod and will ever be. It was just perfect, it was something nobody has done before and maybe nobody will ever do again. The details and blood, sweat and tears we put into that mod was impressive. Not only to everybody who played the mod. Especially to everybody who was part of the develpment team. But with the release of the mod there was a turning point. Almost four years of develpment demanded its price – and it was very high. While right after the release motivation was high to start new projects, within months we lost many people which caused us to cancel the 2009 mod. Some members quit because they got offers from game developers, some just disappeared and never showed up again, most got job, girlfriend, life.

So what was the next goal to aim for? Our very much awaited 1994 mod should come back to life and should get released at some point. We started the project with our even more limited resources, did a very good research and even built up our own wiki for this season. We were ready to start over, but there is the point we struggled. We thought, it would be enough to give our “old” cars a smart overhaul to get them up to today’s standards, but after had our Wiki and about 5GB of photo material, we discovered, that lots of proportions are wrong and each car has a lot of visible mistakes. Our philosophy turns out as a “neckbraker”. We always wanted to achieve nothing else as the best we can do. And knowing about all the faults it wasn’t good enough for us anymore. So we started fixing the mistakes or even completly redid cars. So far we have 2 cars ready and 3-5 more on a good way. That makes 7 in total, but we’re far from coming even close to a release.

You may ask why?

To answer that question I have to explain what the motivation is the members in CTDP work for.

In a recent comment we were asked if it’s worth the extra time doing all the track specifiy upgrades, liveries etc. for CTDP 2006. That’s a tough question and I think that you can answer it with yes and no. No, because in hindsight it was a huge project that cost us so much time and yes because it’s shows the spirit of CTDP.

The spirit

We are always willing to improve ourself and keep pace with the professional developers in the industry. In case of CTDP 2006 we did something that even professional developers never did before and probably never will: recreate a complete F1 season with every upgrade that was raced during that season. We’ll probably never again create a mod to such an extent but we will always try new ways and technologies in creating our mods.[nbsp] In the end we’re not just modders that create the content, we’re also hackers and gamers. We have certain expectations on how a game/mod should look and feel – like everyone else out there and we work and fight to get the means to do it the way we want it.

Personally if I play a game like Forza, pCARS etc. I look at the graphics – especially the models and textures – and analyze them, to get inspired, to develop new techniques for myself. I wonder how they did this and that and then I try to do something similar to improve my work.

The consequences

The price of the high quality our mods comes in the time and sometimes money spent. Creating more detailed models and textures that look better ingame requires time and skill to create. And to get that skill you need to spend time to practise, improve and experience. To create more realistic physics you again have to invest time and also money to get your hands on books and/or magazines. Creating a mod is much more time consuming than 5 years ago; at least if you go with the time and exhaust all possibilities the engine offers you.

As I wrote above I often take a look at the techniques used in other games or even mods and try to recreate them or even improve them. It’s time that I could have spent in creating another model or whatever. But I think in the end it serves the mod more to create a better looking experience than to release the mod a few weeks earlier with models that look like they were already out of date two years ago.

The consequences – Part II

Our high standards have another negative side effect: it’s hard to find[nbsp] people that have the talent and more importantly the WILL to improve themselves. As every modding group knows members will come and go over time. That’s pretty normal and also understandable – quite often we loose members to the industry. So you’ll try to compensate your losses by recruiting new people. The best thing would be to get someone that[nbsp] already has the skills to work on your level so that you can continue your work without any transition.

As we’re already reached a pretty high quality standard it’s hard to find those people. It’s much more likely that you’ll find some less experienced modders that you’ll have to teach some of the advanced techniques.

I remember back in the days when I started modding with community 3D app that loads in GP2/GP3 models. In this app you can manipulate just the vertics a model had by clicking on it and entering x/y/z co-ordinates. That has tought me the real spirit of modding back in the days and I still remember these days with joy. As for textures, you had your common template and by today’s means you got create a mod within a few weeks.

Modding is constantly evolving and games like rFactor2 will provide us with new[nbsp] features that we want to and should take advantage of. Complexity and difficulty have become harder and where more possibilities were created, the amount of people who is actually able to use them diminishes.

The consequences – Part III

So if you haven’t stopped reading you now know how CTDP ticks, how we define our spirit and what consequences that spirit is asking for.

While we still have talented guys in our rows, it’s not enough. The amount of work for 24 cars is just too much. The IFM mod was a good way to see if we can effort single car mods with just one model and it was a good testing ground for us to get known to rF2 and its new techniques and limitations. So what are our learnings from IFM, if we reduced it to the team work and not to the technical part of the job.

The part of the team that is left, did a great job and we covered almost 80% of our todo’s.

Who is actually part of CTDP right NOW?

  • Stefan Triefellner (3D artist, Physics artist, 2D artist)
  • James Bendy (2D artist)
  • Dennis Schmidt (2D artist) – inactive atm
  • Andreas Neidhardt (3D artist)
  • Daniel Senff (2D artist, Website) – inactive atm

Volunteers who help us on occasion:

  • Michael Borda (ISI)
  • Luc Van Camp (ISI)
  • Tuttle (3D artist, 2D artist, Physics artist)
  • Ben (2D artist)
  • radu teo (3D artist)
  • AndreasT (Research)

Friends long gone or M.I.A:

  • afborro
  • Codan
  • Gonzo
  • Raulungo
  • Shaun Stroud
  • Paulo
  • Ennisfargis
  • Roberto Yermo
  • Eugenio Faria

What does that mean?

Maybe we have luck and 20 new, talented and well experienced members will join right after that post. But that would be something quite unrealistic to expect and actually not easy to handle as well ;). So for now, we will focus on IFM and then we will decide IF, HOW & WHEN we continue work on CTDP 1994.

It’s also possible, that IFM is CTDP’s last mod ever released. If CTDP will be gone, we want to see it go in glory and on a highnote, but we will let you know, as soon as we know. It will not be a decision easily made.

Thanks for your attention, patience and your support.

Your CTDP Team (everybody who was & is still part of the team).

Written by
Andreas ‘Neidryder’ Neidhardt

Signed by
Daniel ‘Dahie’ Senff
James ‘Juluka’ Bendy
Pier ‘tuttle’ Murru
Stefan ‘erale’ Triefellner

TGMutils library published

With rFactor2 comes a new and complicated tire model. While it supports many new features it’s also a lot more complicated than in rFactor1. Together with erale, we had the idea of creating a tool to edit the tire definitions (TGM-files) more easily. We started a prototype, got many new ideas and the proof-of-concept worked, but due to my time constraints I didn’t continue development. However, since this is a topic where smart utilities to help modders can be developed and are welcomed, I decided to give you a head-start by releasing parts of my prototype.

I published the TGMutils to CTDP’s GitHub. This small library is a TGM parser to read the rFactor2 tgm files and store the data in a Java class. This library can be integrated in your software to import TGM files. This only covers TGM import, TGM export is not implemented. The parser is fully tested using jUnit. At this point this library could be interesting for Java-developers, but not users. I licensed it under at MIT License. So you can use it in your projects, fork it, extend it and make something of it. I’d be very happy. 🙂

Getting started to … package a rFactor2-Mod

Next in our series of tutorials for Modding is the topic of packaging for rFactor2. The Packaging is a new feature of rFactor enabling modders to deliver Mods as complete closed packages, that enforce untempered multiplayer racing. The packaging topic is still very much debated in Modding circles and we figured the available tutorials are not a good point to start. So Stefan Triefellner sat down to summarize his experience.
This tutorial is a how-to mainly aimed for car mods! It does not cover the topics of updating an existing mod. We will write another tutorial on this topic later.

This tutorial was written for rFactor2 build 60-90, newer builds may behave different and have different processes. Continue reading Getting started to … package a rFactor2-Mod

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.

IFM 2009 : More liveries

While Andy and erale continue their detail modelling work on the car: such as rims and lods, our painters are busy working on liveries. Due to the normals issue, this work has been on hold for a little while and is back on track now. Dennis ‘mediocre’ Schmidt is working on JD Motorsport.
Meanwhile, we welcome our new member Patrik ‘AtomAmeise’ Bartnik, who also worked on the LMT DTM mods. His first textures for CTDP are the various liveries of Cram Competition and Trident Racing.

First IFM 2009 ingame shots

You’ve waited long enough, today we’ll show you the first ingame pictures of the IFM 2009 in rFactor 2. The car was already in the game for some time but as we mentioned in the “Mirror, Mirror” post we had to deal with some normal issues first. In the last few days we brought our new tire textures by erale ingame and also replaced the bolts that were previously painted on the liveries with texture planes. The advantage of this solution is a much more detailed texture.

The livery on the car is one of the Jenzer Motorsport cars driven by Pal Varhaug and was painted by juluka.

There is still much work to do but we’re on track. Stay tuned for more ingame pictures in the near future and some making-of tutorials.