Reader Submission #89 – The Real Problem with rFactor 2

A slow news day in the world of sim racing has yielded quite an interesting Reader Submission here on, as a prior anonymous contributor responsible for previous articles discussingthe sim racing modding scene has written to us again – this time about what he perceives to be rFactor 2’s biggest problem. It’s time to bust out your flame shields; this one will be messy.

rFactor2 2016-03-26 15-54-30-12.jpg

If you poke around the sim racing community for a bit, you’ll begin to see an interesting trend – many sim racers believe the biggest problem with rFactor 2 are the game’s dated graphics.

Personally, I don’t believe this is an issue.

Historically, the hardcore sim racers of yesteryear were not all that impressed with shiny graphics; they would instead value highly accurate physics above all else. The success of Live for Speed over a decade ago proves this observation of mine. Virtual drivers saw validity in the raw authenticity of the physics, so they could temporarily ignore the cartoonish look and boxy cars – opting to instead focus on the sheer driving aspect, which was phenomenal.

The biggest problem with rFactor 2, and the reason the game simply hasn’t caught on to the extent of the original, is that it’s notoriously difficult to mod. And without good mods seeing a public release on a monthly basis, players are left with little choices when it comes time to find something to drive within the sim. Now back in the days of the original rFactor, the ISI engine was really the only thing in town when it came to having some sort of open modding platform. So Image Space Incorporated, who didn’t make much of an effort to disclose how to build cars for their game, were overcome by the collective efforts of the community more or less reverse-engineering the game. Lengthy threads were written, free tools were created, and it became easy for any average modder to sit down and build something special.

The team over at ISI didn’t learn anything from the actions of the community, nor did they even acknowledge what was happening at all. This is partially ISI’s fault, and partially the community’s fault.

rFactor2 2016-02-14 21-42-44-36.jpg

ISI made the error of failing to understand that most people don’t have the time or inclination to sit down and reverse engineer their new game, when competing titles such as Assetto Corsa make the modding aspect extremely easy by default. They seem to be under the impression that most people just don’t do it because it’s time consuming to model and configure a car, a point proven by Tim Wheatley’s recent interview stating that he expects payware mods to help carry rFactor 2 into the future. Tim firmly believes, at least in my opinion, that if someone is driven by money, instead of just wasting their free time, they would actually do it. It’s true that rFactor 2 is probably the most complete platform, and arguably the one with the most complex physics from a customization point of view, but when it’s all said and done, most mods are driven by the modders desire of putting one particular car in a game. If they can achieve that so much faster in other games, they will ignore less competent physics just to do it – as seen even back in the old rFactor days.

But the community is also partially to blame, because as I said in the beginning, they only seem to cry about Direct X improvements and a lack of content. The community displays daily, on various message boards and in response to rFactor related articles, that their main concerns regard elements not related to developing a modding platform. And Tim seems to be upset even with that, as I detected some resentment in his interview when he said ISI merely created what the community asked for. Well, indeed, they sure have built a game that the community wanted, but they based that on the fact that people already knew how to create well-rounded mods for the original rFactor – complete with all sorts of fancy third party modding tools.

When rFactor 2 first launched, a portion of the dedicated community immediately pointed out that it was hard to create new content, and that tools would be welcome. To be fair, Image Space Incorporated made a bit of an effort to help, but not nearly enough to help breathe life into a brand new game. And this dedicated group was soon buried under all of the viral marketers and crowds comparing shader model levels in pointless YouTube videos.

If ISI wants quality mods coming out left and right for rFactor 2, they need to do what the sim racing community was forced to do a decade ago and create tools to help people get started.

And one last thing, drop the stupid subscription model. Please and thank you.

rFactor2 2016-03-26 15-55-36-48.jpg

As stated in previous entries, the modding side of sim racing is an area I’m not familiar with at all, but this summary of rFactor 2’s biggest issue makes a lot of sense on paper. The original rFactor was fueled by community members busting their ass to create new content for the game, and from what I remember about the original incarnation of RaceSimCentral, modders were hell-bent on making rFactor the be-all, end-all of PC racing simulators – there wasn’t much of a choice in the matter.

If that scene was aided by the creation of third party tools that obviously took a lot of time and effort to develop, of course nobody will want to do it all over again when titles such as Assetto Corsa exist – making things extremely easy compared to rFactor 2.


41 thoughts on “Reader Submission #89 – The Real Problem with rFactor 2

  1. AC is so easy to mod because it is so much simpler regarding physics. It has less variables and requires less depth of understanding about each variable. Simple as that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And that doesn’t make it have any less simulation fidelity. Doesn’t matter if your sim has 100 parameters for a car, if only 80 are needed to simulate it.


      1. Bullshit. AC is not about fidelity. Just give that Cobra a spin, then try it in rF2, preferably on a laser scanned track. The Kunos Cobra feels like a toy, like a crude approximation. The rF2 one? Now that’s a car I can believe in.


      2. Are you serious? The cobra 427 in AC and rf2 have different specs. The AC one is semi-competition (S/C), and the one in rf2 is the normal one, I think road version, which has more power and speed than the S/C, which you find in Assetto Corsa.


      3. The rF2 Cobra is also S/C. The name of the package states so quite clearly: ISI_AC_427SC_1967-v103.rfcmp
        It has both street and competition tyres included.

        Regardless of that, any car in AC feels like a toy. Maybe it can rival Forza… Not sure about that. But definitely not rF2. You are being too naive thinking that simplifying a mathematical model yields the same result. Furthermore, isiMotor 2.5 seem to be not complex enough. Well, at least it’s the only more or less decent sim out there.


      4. Associat0r’s main objective could very well be discrediting rFactor 2 and its community. If a wacko appears to be promoting a certain product, that doesn’t say a thing about the product itself. And you should be an idiot to take him seriously.


  2. rF2 problem is: complex modding, graphics, lack of licensed content. They all together make the problem, can’t say one is more than the other IMO.
    I used to open rF or GTR2 folder and adjust stuff I wanted even knowing nothing about modding, I just had to open the files and start reading it I could find all I wanted.
    When I first opened rF2 folder I had no idea what to do, don’t know why ISI made this. Sometimes it really look like they made a sim with focus on other companies licensing it rather than for the modding community.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These are rF2’s problems: severe lack of official content. Modding is too complicated, also resulting in a lack of content from 3rd parties. Dated graphics. Very poor optimization.

    I’m not saying it’s a bad sim but no one will care about the amazing physics if the content isn’t appealing. The graphics are a big problem too, especially because the game runs so badly; there’s no reason for that. I don’t see rF2’s audience getting a whole lot bigger without big changes in ISI’s philosophy regarding this game.


  4. I love it, runs great with triples, looks great and the physics and forcefeedback are second to none. As long as they build it I’ll drive it.


    1. AC runs greater with just 2 when in rf2 it look boring stretch..rf2 onboard settings is old school compared to AC. My popular wheel work better in AC then rf2 random miss shift.bleh


  5. SINNERS REPENT! How dare you talk down on the most glorious and realistic racing game of all time! rFactor 2 is proven to have MUCH MORE Simulation Value than Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, AMS, and iRacing, and you all still defy the prophet Tim Wheatley and ISI of their amazing creation! Father Ass0ciator and Father Hex will show you sinners that all other sims have no Simulation Value, and that rFactor 2 is the only true racing simulator.


  6. Easy will bring people in… And AC is arcade easy… Sure the workflow is similar to rF1, but when you don’t have to test for brake fade or engine wear or engine heating a lot of time is taken out of it… And when you compare the dev apps vs dev mode it’s night and day in terms of information on what the car is doing…

    Then there’s the track elements, which is basically the same as rF1, even down to the fake driving lines, try and create you own lines all you want, in AC the grip is where the modder put it, you are better off opening up the track to learn where the modder put the racing line, than spending time on track learning the track…

    ISI is stupid to rely on payware mods, with the precedent being set with the AMS case, it’s very likely the whole idea of “We’ll make someone pay for someone else’s intellectual property and just rebrand and/or rename it” will be illegal… Reiza’s base product is a game where as payware mods base products are other peoples intellectual property..

    It’s time for ISI to rethink that strategy… Because modding teams seem happy modding for an arcade platform rather than a simulation platform… What was once a great tyre simulation has now turned into a predictable arcade experience in AC with block letter FFB… The fears of the sim racers have been confirmed… AC’s move to consoles has corrupted it’s once noble path…


    1. Please explain to me how the sim on the left is arcade. Mind it, it was made 2 years ago. But I challenge you to do such comparison with gran turismo or forza vs rfactor2 and assetto corsa, then we will see which games belong in which category.


      1. that video is pointless, the driver isnt driving anywhere near the limit, not even close to it, under those circumstances you can make the same comparison with any other sim and they will all look similar


    2. “A great tyre simulation”? Pffft… AC was a wonky mess before, now it’s just an oversimplified model of how it should actually be. Once it’s done being mysterious, we can clearly see that AC is just a simcade. A simcade that is properly done now, at least when it comes to the cars behavior.
      It’s nothing out of ordinary when so called “modders” decide to make cars for such a platform. The cars will look nice, you don’t need to be an engineer to come up with the numbers to make it roll. Perfect, right? Every teenager can make a mod that way. And make mod they do… Better yet, some even charge you money for the half-baked crap. Gotta love Assetto Corsa.


      1. please show me evidence of simcade.

        So you say modding in sims other than rf2 is just a job for teenagers and too simple. But not even Neils from GSCE wanted to mod with rf2’s system or tyres.


      2. You give him more publicity than he deserves. Associat0r is basically nobody. Stefano Casillo, on the other hand, is the AC dev. And is a better “hero card” material at the same time. Lord Kunos, heh. No wonder AC is in this state coming from someone like him.


      3. Niels Heusinkveld is not a god or something. He knows pre-2.5 isiMotor well enough, but he is either lazy or not talented enough to make a proper mod for rF2. Or maybe he just doesn’t want to help ISI beat Reiza. What he did for AMS is a stellar job, yet the engine still feels dated (not talking about graphics here). Now, if he would make some proper mods for rF2, who’d want isiMotor 2.0 stuff? Reiza would be in more trouble than they already are. But only if Niels can make such a mod. It can so happen it’s too much even for him. Yet there are people who can make proper rF2 mods. Even if those people work for ISI themselves. And that’s the only real rF2’s problem: it lacks content, and only a handful of people can create more content worth mentioning.


  7. The above is a nice video, don’t remember seeing it before.

    We all have our own theories about success and failure but I don’t believe it is just one aspect. Initially, sure, though my modding is just of graphics, I know a reasonable amount of talented folks who were part of groups and even pros. Some guys were truly put off not just by the difficulty, though, but also by some disappointment. Mind you, they had abandoned rF2 before 2014. Collectively, in a time period spanning 2011-2013, from people with early access to free licenses.

    Anyway. We still read of issues with building something that seems fine, may be fine in Dev mode but broken in the game. Or other difficulties with this or that. Or complaints of incomplete or outdated documentation. From some aspects being desired to be available built-in instead of a third-party developing a plug-in or something. And on top of that, we have the fabled tire model.

    No one questions the complexity of it, although I find it silly how some love to dismiss iRacing or Assetto Corsa. I remember even pCARS had a complex model, but they never figured out a format that fit globally and ultimately nearly nothing felt right there. Well, in rF2 we still have ISI-made content with tires that are compromises, and we still have camber, pressure and heating faults. Probably the worst offender is still the extremely low tire pressures that would never be acceptable in real life. It is so complex that ISI hasn’t been able to figure it out, and build a tire library of different eras and cars for modders to borrow from. But can you imagine how awesome it would be if people working on mods could select tire bases to work from, from different categories? 80’s slick GT options. 1960’s bias ply (only with actual horizontal grip). 1990’s open wheeler options. 2000’s GT, etc. Awesome help!

    There is so much more that can be said and expanded on this topic. rF2 is still built like rF1 with a lot of playground features in place, but with still a bit missing. The advantage of rF1 is much better stock content, even if all over the place and with their issues. But you can’t argue against better accuracy on real life tracks, cars like the DW12 or a couple of others vs rF1’s Kodi and friends. But you can’t rely on the community to develop your game anymore, especially when no single game is the complete package. Then add the bit of disheartening reality hit, from the nice WIP images in 2010 to what the actual product has been from 2013 to now. The crawling pace. The loss of VERY KEY staff without replacement, only redistribution of work. Some do go on about lack of marketing, but marketing can only do so much. Some people will not look to license rF2 because it still requires too much work.

    So for those who did make it through the posts here and read this, thanks. And a summary: I believe the reader who submitted this focused too much on dated topics or at least didn’t focus on specific areas.


  8. Agreed hardly anyone races rF2 and to be honest years ago when they launched rF2 I was unimpressed. Over the years it has improved greatly and these days (despite owning every racing sim available) rF2 is my go to sim on a daily basis.

    I am not a modder and thus do not know the hardships of modding cars and tracks. But if rF2 is so difficult to mod for maybe it is not such a bad thing…

    Firstly it means only the very clever guys will do rF2 mods, this surely prevents the fly-by-night instant conversion from rF1 brigade from polluting the game with their stuff (rule of thumb do not run rF1 conversions on rF2 – some are okay bu the majority are shit)

    Thus by keeping away the instant modders rF2 inadvertently is a platform for quality modders to ply their trade.

    Personally I got sick and tired of downloading sub-standard mods for AC and GSCE where much garbage is churned out – perhaps because it is too easy to mod….

    Secondly of late (past year) there has been plenty action on the modding front in rF2 and some real juicy stuff coming soon:

    Recent track releases:

    Most of this stuff is very good quality. So perhaps we don’t get 10 mods a month of which most are garbage, we get 2-3 decent mods a month which is just fine.

    For me the REAL problem is that rF2 in user unfriendly. The whole Launcher with packages and crap is not plug & play. I have simmed for two decades and I still find the whole thing very cumbersome, archaic almost like it is made for developers and beta testers and hardly inspiring for new users who are accustomed to a sexy front end to their video games.

    A cool new easy to use interface would be good rF2 would do no harm in redesigning the entire way it works for end users. Ditch the Launcher and packages crap and come up with an easy to use double click and you are up and running sim.with all the action happening in a cool UI.

    Adding mods? Simple: Unzip downloaded mod drop into a folder and fire up your sim.

    Make these changes meaningful and noticeable – iit needs to become attractive not only to current users but anyone firing up the thing for the first time. It is crucial to grab the new user within a few minutes of the thing launching by immersing him/her into the sim by means of the user friendly and exciting user interface not a high impact video which has no relevance to the look and feel of the game as some sims do….

    With a great UI in game then relaunch the thing as rFactor3.

    Until something like this happens rF2 will remain a sim drivers graveyard – which is a shame as the sim is pretty awesome and gets better with each update and each release of content from ISI themselves or modders.


    1. The thing with UIs is they must be designed by artists, not programmers :p. I had made a few suggestion drafts for single player and multiplayer that kept the theme of the launcher but never looked into the dev mode myself. And eventually I never picked it up myself because of other factors.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. That bullshit modding system is what kept me away from it.

    Sadly, rF2 is the Satan of simracing for modders. Stay away from it. Don’t ever try to mod rF2. Just play it or leave others go insane over the modding.


    1. Maybe you one of the shit ones that best stay away from rF2.
      You are not really needed to be honest because there are some very good modders churning high quality rF2 stuff as mentioned on a regular basis and the list of good content is growing…


    1. Surprise! Not a single mod or a piece of official content is realistic, AKA behaving exactly as its real world counterpart. Not in a single sim.
      It all boils down to designing cars in ‘virtuality’. The cars that are not copies of real cars, but rather are their own things. Yet people prefer the rip-offs, even though there is no complex enough simulation out there and no established process to translate a real car into the virtual world.

      What would make more sense is for automotive companies to task a fraction of their engineers and designers with creating virtual cars under the same brand. They might either use an already established platform (like rF2), or rather create a new sim, preferably shared among the companies while being open source. The modules they create would be extensively protected and encrypted, however.

      Either way, even if rF2 mods don’t behave as what they are trying to represent, and no sim’s mods do, the rF2’s physics and FFB are still the most fleshed out ones out there. Cars do behave like cars. Even if like some other cars. Yet the properly made ones are much more enjoyable to drive than anything in any other sim. Automobilista comes very close, though.


      1. “Either way, even if rF2 mods don’t behave as what they are trying to represent, and no sim’s mods do, the rF2’s physics and FFB are still the most fleshed out ones out there. Cars do behave like cars. Even if like some other cars. Yet the properly made ones are much more enjoyable to drive than anything in any other sim. Automobilista comes very close, though.”

        I guess will have to take your word for it.


    1. “Bashing” is something Assetto Corsa fanboys do in regard to other titles.
      No need to bash something that is so obviously youth- and casual gamer oriented. If there is a market for Need For Speed, then it’s just natural for people to grow up and want a bit more challenge. Hence GT, Forza and Assetto Corsa. It beats me why anybody wants a more canned and artificial experience, however. Probably because rF2 is almost there, but the tire model is still a bit more slippery than it should be.
      A more natural feeling or a more robust grip? To me the answer is clear. Your mileage may vary, of course.


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