Whoops. This was definitely not an intended result of rFactor 2’s experimental mod managing system.
Let me start this article by saying I’m not a fan of payware mods, and though I really like rFactor 2, it desperately needs a more expansive selection of cars & tracks. I didn’t have an agenda when creating this article; I just wanted to play rFactor 2, and accidentally stumbled upon a way to download an exceptionally well-built payware mod for free while using features and functionality that ship with the game. Some people are obviously going to get mad, and to that, I say “blame ISI.”
So what was I doing looking for a payware mod in the first place?
The current list of vanilla content for ISI’s flagship racing sim is extremely stale: a huge array of open wheel cars headline a rather patchy supporting cast, with a completely random selection of street, GT, and historic cars thrown in for good measure. The track list does not fare much better, as there are only a handful of tracks suitable for each of the different car classes available in the game. Want to race IndyCars on ovals? Your choices are Charlotte or Indianapolis. Want to race 1960’s Grand Prix cars? You can go to Monaco, Spa, or Monza. Fancy a run in a Rotax Kart? You’re deciding between Quebec and Atlanta.
As rFactor 2 hasn’t caught on nearly as much as rival racing sim Assetto Corsa, this has left the game in a really interesting state of disarray. The majority of mods are hastily converted from the original game and simply cannot match the ultra high quality of the vanilla content – the few mods that can are payware. To demonstrate how bad some of the conversions are, even reputable sites and racing leagues like the Virtual 24 Hours of Nordschleife are using GT3 cars that simply aren’t done:
UnitedRacingDesigns offers two different Payware mods for rFactor 2 that are considered finished, both unlicensed knockoffs of the 2013 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters and 2013 American Le Mans Series.
It may be tempting to whip out the wallet, and for those with cash to burn, I’ll just say it outright – both mods are extremely well done, but that’s not the point of this article. The Endurance GT mod is a genuinely good addition to the lackluster lineup of cars in rF2, as of the three GT cars included by default, two of them are outdated, and the third isn’t very competitive in modern GT3 racing.
Installing third party mods, whether they’re freeware or payware, can be done in a few ways. First, you can download the massive mod file from the location it’s being hosted at, and use rFactor 2’s external mod manager to install it into your game. This is what most people do.
The other option is something that’s been implemented in classic first person shooter games like CounterStrike. Whenever you join a room in the online server browser, the game automatically downloads and installs every car and track the server is running. Obviously, the download times are extremely long, but the days of running around the internet to find a specific mod and track are over. It’s pretty awesome when it works, but beware that these are BIG files to begin with, and there are typically A LOT of them.
If the server is using a payware mod, such as the example above with URD’s totally not 2013 DTM Series package, the server simply refuses to transfer the files to your PC. While I’m not sure whether this has to be configured by either URD when encrypting the files, or the person running the server, essentially it’s an anti-piracy measure. From what I understand, the server admin can require you to already have the files installed on your own before joining the server, and obviously you can’t do that unless you’ve bought them from their site.
But there is a way to be a cheeky bastard and circumvent this, whether you just want to play with Payware stuff for free, OR host a server with a very good mod without making the members of your racing league pay for it.
As a server owner, take your RFCMP files you’ve just bought. Open the MAS File Utility from the rFactor 2 launcher. Create a Multiple Component Package, one which includes all of the payware stuff you just bought. From there, start an online server using that specific package of payware car files, so others can download it when they try and enter your room.
In short, someone with payware cars and tracks can combine everything into a freeware mod package using tools found in the launcher, and re-upload it right into the game.
These are what some Australian kids did for the URD Endurance GT Payware mod, and within a matter of minutes, I was able to download a highly reputable payware mod without busting out my credit card – and it worked. Does it cause mismatches when you attempt to join other online rooms? Yes, because you’re technically installing a completely different mod when it comes down to the 1’s and 0’s making up the file, but given how few people play rFactor 2 online, this isn’t actually a big deal if you just want to make laps or race against the AI.
How can ISI fix this? I’m not sure. It would basically require them to remove all of their fancy new mod installing and mod managing tools, because they are the exact tools and functionalities that allow this to happen. I’m old school and prefer the drag-and-drop method, so in my eyes that would be a welcome reversion, but you can’t deny how much easier and how much less of a headache this format is on the userbase.
It just sucks for the mod teams who make the effort to release payware stuff, as people don’t even need to open Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome and type in URD Torrent to rip them off; the game is actively working against them in this case.