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Happy New Year

6th Jan  2003

HOLIDAY SEASON DISRUPTION.
The holiday season has been and gone and left in its wake the normal disruption. Overall December has been a month of interruptions and other duties that have made it difficult to get on with the main task of development. However some work has been achieved and we start 2003 in a very confident mood.

FORUMS
A new year and a new approach. There has been a considerable amount of complaining going on in the forums recently and now would be a good time to try and do something about it. My better half, Susie, has agreed to extend her duties from running the online shop to include moderating the forum posts and responding to questions posted. She will also assist in the preparation of these newsletters and respond to the many emails we get. This should not only keep the complaints down but also free up a lot of my time to get on with all the fun stuff.

With Susie’s introduction will be a Forum Code of Conduct to try and reduce the amount of flaming and trolling that has been prevalent recently. Hopefully these measures will make the forums a much more enjoyable place to visit. The code of conduct as well as a response to some issues that have been raised recently will appear in the general forum sometime this week.

BHMS AWARD
2003 has started very well for Racing Legends. Blackhole Motorsports has awarded Racing Legends ‘The most promising simulation for 2003’. We are delighted to get this award and it is a great motivation to make sure that we continue doing our best to make Racing Legends everything that is expected of it. A big thank you to anyone who may have voted for us and a big thank you to bhmotorsports.com.

GAMEFACTION ARTICLE
I have been reminded to mention an article at gamefaction.com about Racing Legends. Credit for the article goes to Richard Towler.

SHOP
The online shop did quite a brisk trade since it went online and a big thank you to all of you who bought something. All the money raised will be used directly to help fund the development of Racing Legends. Orders have slowed as expected but we do still plan to introduce some new items in 2003.

AUTOSPORT SHOW
This week sees the 2003 Autosport show at the NEC in Birmingham. This is the UK’s premier motorsport show and we will be taking a day out to visit to gather reference material and attempt to make a few more contacts in the world of motor racing. These events are especially good for gathering textures for all those little bits and bobs found on racing cars, time for lots of funny looks from people as I take pictures of hoses and radiators :O)

DEVELOPMENT
So onto development. What has been done in the last month on Racing Legends itself.

TYRE MODEL
Work has moved onto the tyre model. It is a little early to comment too much on this at the moment as there is nothing to test as yet. More on this I expect in the next update.

VERTEX SHADERS
The current big task away from the physics is the work being done on the vertex shaders. The graphics engine is being tailored to make use of new graphic card technology. We are working with Matrox, Nvidia and ATI to get the best results we can.

GRAPHICS
This month has artwork has been directed mainly at the vertex shaders and what we want from them visually. I have been experimenting with effects to simulate different materials and the results are very exciting. Just by using basic techniques it is possible to get results that are remarkably similar to high end renders, and in some ways even surpass them.

The above image helps give some idea as to how close the new graphic card technology can come to high end rendering. This is not a particularly challenging object and it is a very basic shader but it does show the potential. The nice thing about the Racing Legends renders is that they use very basic lighting and so should convert to shader technology very well. The next update will include more comparison shots and hopefully the first in game shots. This next image shows some work in progress of converting the 312 from render to shader. The top image is as it will appear in Racing Legends and the lower image is the max render. Still some work to do here but its getting there.

The next update should include more comparison shots and hopefully the first proper in-game shots.

WHAT NEXT?
With the holiday season out of the way and the forum in the very capable hands of Susie there should be no interruptions for the rest of January which should mean we can make some real progress. We hope to have the basic shader system working and integrated allowing us to be able to display the cars properly in game for the first time. We are then going to work on the interaction with the car, making all the parts function and animate properly, although I expect that may take us into February. Work will also be continuing on the tyre model and I am sure some other physics dabbling will be going on.

On the graphics side I shall continue to convert my materials over to shaders whilst experimenting with different ideas. More work on modelling to hopefully complete the cars that are in progress and then onto some rigging to prepare these cars for integration into the sim. This will require some more work on our plug-in so this may have to wait for the shader code to be completed.

WEBCAM
As you are probably aware the webcam has been offline for some time. We updated our software but this update forced us to have the webcam based on one of their pages which is not acceptable for us. We are currently sourcing some new software which when found will mean the webcam will be back online. Correction the webcam is now back online.

Finally let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy, and fast, New Year.

 

Shop is open.

25th Nov  2002

The West Racing Online shop is at last open for business. Its been a while coming as I have tried to create it without too much impact on my main jobs. To access the shop please click on the Online Shop button at the top of this page.

I have used PayPal for the shopping cart which unfortunately means that although the prices may appear in Euros or Pounds Sterling the actual totals will be in Dollars. I hope this will not be too much of a problem.

Please remember only buy something because you want to not because you feel you have to.
 

Latest News

25th Nov  2002

Physics
The physics are progressing really nicely. The transmission systems seem to be all but complete and there is now the starts of a constraints system, courtesy of the invaluable Gregor. The constraint system allows us to assign a value to every link in the cars hierarchy so in the event of collisions parts of the car can become distorted, broken and separated. It is a very nice system and appears to be working extremely well straight out of the box.

The next big job on the physics side of things is the tyre model. The current version has a fairly basic model but already has a really nice feel to it. It feels totally controllable and predictable and this bodes well for when the full system is integrated.

Other Programming
A lot of work has also been done on the track management, i.e. file format, rendering systems etc. We have a nice new system for managing the track data which makes them quick to process and speedy to render. It also allows tracks to be easily imported from Max using our plug-ins.

Graphics
On the graphics side of things I have being working on the Type 49 car. The DFV engine is practically complete as is the rear suspension. This leaves me with some work to do on the front suspension and mechanicals, the cockpit (which I am currently working on) and then finally the body work and fuel system as well as the various optional extras that will come with the car.

What's next?
The nest few weeks should see, on the graphics side of things, the Type 49 complete, some more work on the 312 and hopefully a return to Westlake, whilst on the programming side more work on the tyre model and constraints systems and the completion of the track management code. With all this done we can move from test bed cars and tracks and start to work in game with proper artwork.
 

Another Update

12th October  2002

A little more info about the progress on Racing Legends.

I was able last weekend to get back to a spot of modelling. As some of you may have seen on the webcam I was busying myself with a V8 engine for use in one of the cars. The engine is practically finished and next will come the suspension set-ups for the same car followed by the cockpit.

The images this time continue from the last update. This time we have the space frame chassis and a nearly completed engine and rear suspension set. As ever these are work in progress. Some people expressed some concern over the level of detail on these images. Whilst it is true that these are quite complex models compared to some sims they are all real-time models and it is more to do with the textures and bump mapping that is applied that make them appear more complex. It is also worth remembering that a lot of the detail shown is included for specific situations and will not necessarily be visible at all times, the chassis for example will only really be fully visible during a close examination of the car and similarly for a lot of the engine components.

 

Introducing Dr. Gregor Veble

1st Oct 2002

It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to Dr. Gregor Veble. Gregor will be working with Chris fine tuning the physics for Racing Legends and using his extraordinary talents to help develop new features.

Gregor has a University degree in mathematical physics and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics which makes him more than qualified for the job. You can throw anything at Gregor and he will find a way to solve it. Having Gregor as part of the team will save Chris the many months, which, during the development of previous simulations, were spent developing ideas and formulas. Combining Gregors knowledge with Chris's experience and the past years work on Racing Legends will ensure that everything within the simulation is physically and dynamically accurate. 

Gregor is also one of the nicest gentlemen you are ever likely to meet, it is a pleasure to work with him.

 

What's New?

1st Oct  2002

What have we been up to since the last update? 

 

The test track work was put on hold whilst my attention was focused on business matters and the creation of the online shop. It is very frustrating not being able to dedicate all my time to my favourite jobs i.e. car and track creation, however with the shop all but done and most of the other duties put to bed I am hoping to devote a lot more time over the next month to these activities. 

 

I took delivery of a new PC yesterday which is just great and is going to make my life an awful lot easier.

 

For your visual pleasure I have this time included some work in progress shots of one of the cars currently in development. This, I hope, starts to give you a feeling for the level of detail involved in our cars. I will be doing a much more in depth look at our cars, including larger images and how they are created, at a later date. You will be seeing how this car develops over future updates.

 

What you see here is, obviously, a rim and tyre and the front suspension set-up

 

Chris, free of all distractions (the lucky blighter), has been very busy. The last few weeks have seen him integrate as many useful  3ds Max features as  he can find.  This should make it very easy for anyone with Max knowledge  to create content for Racing Legends.  He has nearly completed work on all the animation and skinning features, there is still some work to do but it is certainly getting there.

 

He has also moved onto vertex shaders. It is early days for these but we are busy exploring the possibilities offered for these by Direct X9 and we think it gives the possibility of some very interesting effects. More on this when we know more about it.

 

Test Track Update.

27th Aug 2002

Work is progressing very nicely on the test track, although not without its share of interruptions.

 

This time the image is from work I am doing on the pit lane. It is fairly obvious that there is still a lot to do here but it should give you an idea. It is currently little more than a test bed of ideas, with various objects simply placed in the scene to check continuity.

As you can see I have opted for an older style of pit to be in keeping with the nature of the track. You can also see that we have a name in mind for the test track, Westlake! Comments in writing to...

 

We received a visit during the week from 3 well known characters in the GPL community, Marc Mercer, Martijn Taffer and Fred Nornemark,  and we discussed at length what, in their minds, makes a good track and, along with the suggestions on the forum, I think the track should be great fun to drive when finished. I don't think there is a chance that it will be perfect first time but we can work on it. (You might like to know that I am making notes as I create this track to be used later in a track creating tutorial.)

 

 

I have, at present, moved on to trackside objects and texture creation, which I just love, and when I have boosted my library of these I shall return to the track itself. Above you can see one of these objects taking shape. This is going to be the roof of a temporary grandstand. I plan on making this library available to everyone eventually to help make it easier to design tracks for Racing Legends, especially for those of you who are not of an artistic nature. They will also be useful for the more experienced track creators to get an idea for 'polycount' and the detail involved, it should, at the very least, make prototyping tracks a lot quicker.

Please keep the comments and suggestions coming.

Please note. Any company names or logos that may appear in these images are temporary and are used as fillers until such time as we receive permission to use them. There inclusion should not be interpreted as an endorsement by these companies of Racing Legends.

Progress Report

8th Aug  2002

Time for an update on the progress of Racing Legends. About time I hear you all shout.

 

In between all the mundane jobs involved with running a small development house work has been progressing very nicely. Incidentally the times when the web-cam is not active is when I am either not at my desk or am doing work not directly related to the graphic development of Racing Legends.

 

The test track is coming together, as you can see from the attached image. I have pretty much settled on the setting, style and location of the track and am currently refining the layout. Designing a fantasy track has its advantages and disadvantages. You do not have to worry about whether the track is accurate, which makes life a little easier, but you do have to create a track that is convincing, interesting and fun to drive as well as offering a challenge, which makes life an awful lot harder. The track is set in the country with an expected length of around 4km. I am trying to include as many different corners and features as possible without becoming unrealistic. I want it to be a very flowing track with a good mixture of fast sweeping bends and slow technical corners. I am including a number of elevation changes to keep it interesting and fun.

 

When I have finalised the circuit layout I shall upload a track map.

 

I have chosen to give the track a look of the late 1960's and early 1970's. I would like to do a modern version of the same track (new textures, more modern layout and trackside objects) to give the driver a choice.

 

The above image is an early grab and still requires a fair bit of work until it is finished but I hope it gives an idea. This particular section of the track shows the approach to a fast left-hander after which the track swings back to the right (just visible in the distance) around a lake that will go in on the right (sounds just like making a model railway :O) As this section is around a lake it is therefore quite flat and fast. The start of some of the elevated sections of the track can be seen on the left. I want to have the track run back along its self as I think it adds interest and will give the driver the opportunity to check on the progress of some of the other cars.

 

If you have any comments or suggestions concerning the test track please fell free to post them in the forum and I will see what I can do.

 

On the programming side of the office progress is just as promising. Chris is currently adding more features to the 3D engine and working on the some of the tools that we use to help create the tracks and cars. 

 

The work on the 3D engine is in anticipation of a new machine and graphics card, and before everyone starts worrying about the minimum spec of the machines required to run Racing Legends the old machines are being kept to continue to test on. A point to make here is that to get the best out of Racing Legends you will require a good graphic card and obviously the faster the machine the better. The 3D engine is being developed with older machines in mind so it will run but you will obviously lose some of the quality of the visuals.