FormulaProc: Italy, United States

Work continues in FormulaProc in anticipation of the 2022 Formula One Championship starting.

This update is divided into two parts: The improvements in the simulator, and the details of the events we ran.

Simulated Events

I set up and ran the events for the Italian and United States Grand Prixes, and their qualifier sessions; this time, instead of having news articles written into the blog, I narrated these and edited the videos. This was… exhausting and not being a native speaker yielded results with a lower quality than I want, but on the other hand, it really breathes life into the events. I keep looking for voice artists that want to contribute and experiment along, as I also improve the simulation to make live narration easier (or even possible?)

Simernio created a cool poster for the United States GP, and we are still devising better ways to bring people into the show in conjunction with Valnyr, trying to improve our reach in social media with things such as Instagram reels. We’ll see how that goes. For now, the channel with the biggest traffic seems to be TikTok, as the YouTube channel still lags under 100 subs.

I also ran a couple of special events (which required the creation of the “war mode” setting in the simulator), the first one was a test event for friend Nookrium with a whopping number of 255 drivers at the track, (a deathmatch for his supporters). It was chaotic and fun, although it didn’t spark a lot of discussions. I briefly talked about FormulaProc with Nookrium too, and I think at some point I’ll release the sim so people can play around with it and create their own tracks and races.

The next one, just for fun (and hoping to attract some Formula One fans too, and failing at it?), was putting together all of the 34 Formula One champions into a race in the Circuit of the Americas to see who would win.

Simulator Improvements

For the visuals, we are still keeping the overhead view as the main display, although I have been discussing alternatives and even creating some experiments for more “cinematic” experiences; these will take some time to materialize due to the production work required but we are definitively heading this direction so that watching a race will be more similar to watching an anime short than seeing an automated videogame running.

Also, as you can see above, a big change I introduced was replacing the drivers’ appearance: I’m no longer using Unreal MetaHuman to try to create photorealistic characters; instead, I’m portraying them as manga/anime characters. I have the feeling that, for our target audience, it going to be easier to connect with these characters and engage with the emergent story we are creating, and it will give us more room to introduce fantasy elements.

For now, I’m using the amazing CHARAT BLANC to create the portraits, but eventually, we are going to need an artist on board to make more unique designs and poses.

The maps themselves have been improved with the addition of “points of interest” labels, which are funnily similar to the “corner names” we had in the first versions of the sim; these serve the purpose of being anchors for the commentary and history, as well as points of reference inside the tracks which sometimes might be a bit featureless. I’m also now upscaling them using an “oilify” GIMP filter, to make them look a bit more like a painted illustration.

As mentioned in the events above, I also added support for “war mode”, that is, massive and often chaotic races of over 30 cars. The data for the drivers is read from a flat text file, and they are assigned random stats and cars. Right now it’s more of a fancy thing to watch than an interesting or detailed simulation for each driver, but the Internet is built over fancy things to watch so this might end up serving as a tool for more people to run into us.

Another minor change introduced was displaying the cars as “ghosts” in the qualifiers sessions (well, except for the leading car). I keep trying to make more clear what’s going on there (all cars are not racing at the same time, instead it’s a replay of their best lap)

There was also some important work in the “intro” sequence; before the race begins we now display some information about the track, and then we are displaying the starting grid; QuietGecko sent an amazing track for the background of this sequence.

And finally, as part of the tests for the cinematics, I’m also experimenting with adding “emotions” to the drivers based on the events happening in track; this is still evolving and will likely become more elaborate with time.

And that’s it for today’s update! make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss the races!

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