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Updating a Track to RFE Weather Plugin – “How to” advices The intention of this tutorial

Updating a Track to RFE Weather Plugin “How to” advices

The intention of this tutorial is giving practical basic advices to quickly update any track to the RFE Weather Plugin and it can be followed like a quick guide to perform better results.

It is highly probable this “basic” tutorial will be updated several times in the near future due to the variations and new features that will be available in developing RFE Plugin Series; take in mind that RFE Plugin Series is an evolving project!

To be able to follow the changes, please review the version of this tutorial on the document’s footer section and/or the specific session of the RFE forum.

It is also very important understanding that making the following changes will not damage in any case the track; it can be used with confidence running rFactor without the RFE Weather Plugin as well as with the Plugin, enhancing rFactor itself.

Here we do not go into highly technical details but we show step by step how to update a track.

First important point is: we can (basic) update any track to RFE Weather Plugin for rFactor (version 1 – 1255f the last one) without the need to manage gmt(s) and dds(s) files that are parts of the track. This means that anyone can update a track (to have the authorization by the author is a legal aspect, not a technical one and here we cannot speak about it).

First notice: sometime textures of the asphalt are only “diffuse” shader type and not “diffuse & specular” nor “diffuse, specular & bump”, depending from original author's choice. The missed “specular” texture removes shine and reflections to the track, that with variable weather conditions can lower its quality.

NOTE:

1. We are hardly working on enhancing how RFE Weather Plugin will render the scenes, using appropriate reflection maps for rain. ACCORDLINGLY, THIS TUTORIAL DOESN'T COVER CHANGES TO BE MADE FOR ENABLING REFLECTIONS. 2. Due to a deep bug into BTB beta version 0.8.9.1 related to the wrong exportation of any material with alpha channel, we strongly recommend to avoid updating tracks made by the BTB beta version, also if bugs appear only enabling reflections.

Which files must we replace?

If the track has been built by Bob's Track Builder, for a faster updating we must

replace the original “sky.mas” and “.TDF” files with the new “RFE_SKY_BASIC.mas” and “NAMEOFTRACKRFE.TDF” files that are available into download area of SYMRacing.net forums. On the contrary, performing the Step Two shown below, if track haven't its own separate mas file for the sky, we can compare both .mas files (the original one(s) and the “RFE_SKY_BASIC.mas”) adding few files extracted by “RFE_SKY_BASIC.mas” into the original mas file(s) of the track. Sometime also the .TDF file has been modified by the author: in this case we can compare both .TDF files to add or modify few lines.

Which files must we edit and renamed?

  • .AIW file

  • .GDB file

  • .SCN file

  • .TDF file

Which files / folders must we only rename?

  • .CAM file

  • any .TGA and .JPG file that is present into the track subfolder

  • the original .MAS file(s)

  • the track subfolder

  • the track folder

Which files must we add into the track subfolder?

  • RFESKIDWET.TGA (available into download area of SYMRacing.net forums)

  • RAINDROP.DDS (available into download area of SYMRacing.net forums)

  • RFEwetgrooveNAMEOFTRACK.TGA (available into download area of SYMRacing.net forums)

Please note: we can also use the RFEwetgroove_TEMPLATE.psd for a better visual effect, as explained later.

Step One: renaming all files and folders

We start renaming all files and folders to avoid any misunderstanding ... The advice is to use a the original names of the track, adding the “RFE” word, so

we will see:

  • originalname.AIW into originalnameRFE.AIW

  • originalname.CAM into originalnameRFE.CAM

  • originalname.GDB into originalnameRFE.GDB

  • originalname.SCN into originalnameRFE.SCN

  • originalname_loading.JPG into originalnameRFE_loading.JPG

  • originalnameThmb.TGA into originalnameRFEThmb.TGA

  • originalnamemini.TGA into originalnameRFEmini.TGA

  • originalname subfolder into originalnameRFE subfolder

  • originalname(s).MAS into originalname(s)RFE.MAS

  • originalname folder into originalnameRFE folder

Note we do not rename the .TDF file and the “sky.mas” that will be replaced.

Step Two: replacing files

To be sure files can be safety removed, we need to check if they are the original

ones that come with Bob's Track Builders. If we are the authors of the track, we must know if something has been edited into the .TDF file (some value and /or some line). In case, these alterations will be then apply to the new .TDF file. If we are not, we have to double check the file, to see if something has been changed to apply these alterations later.

Assuming nothing has been changed from the original files, we have only to delete the originalname.TDF and copy&paste the NAMEOFTRACKRFE.TDF file into the subfolder, renaming it according to the new name of the track.

If

we

noticed the .TDF

file

has

been altered, we

have

to compare

it

with the

NAMEOFTRACKRFE.TDF to see what lines we must add and/or modify.

Finally we must do the same procedure for the “sky.mas” file, replacing it with the new “RFE_SKY_BASIC.mas”. Also here, if we are sure the “sky.mas” is the original one, simply replace it with the new “RFE_SKY_BASIC.mas” file. Otherwise we can follow few different ways and the advice is to extract all files of the “skyRFE.mas” file (using the ISI “MAS.exe” 2.03 utility) simply add all new files into the existing .mas file that contains the skydome and horizon landscape.

Step Three: editing the .AIW file Very easy step: we only replace few lines in the [Waypoint] (copy&paste):

IntermediateFogPlanes=(0.0,775.0) // Fog planes at intermediate wetness RainyFogPlanes=(0.0,250.0) // Fog planes at full monsoon IntermediateFogColor=(161.3,161.3,161.3) // Fog color at intermediate wetness (RGB, 0-255 each) RainyFogColor=(127.5,127.5,127.5) // Fog color at full monsoon (RGB, 0-255 each) FogDensity=(0.01,0.10) // Fog density only works on some video cards (intermediate, monsoon)

Step Four: editing the .GDB file

Here we have to perform few simple steps, taking care to avoid spelling errors!

  • Rename the first line according to the new name of the file ( RFE) ...

  • Rename “TrackName =” usually adding “RFE” at the end of the original name

  • Rename “EventName =” like above

  • Rename “GrandPrixName =” like above

  • Rename “VenueName =” according to the new name of the track folder

  • Rename “TerrainDataFile =” according to the new name of the .TDF file

  • Rename “SettingsCopy =” adding “RFE” to the .svm file name (if present)

  • Rename “SettingsAI” = adding “RFE” to the .svm file name (if present)

  • Overwrite few original lines to have a better fog effect with the following ones (of course, we can experiment with different values that could better match our environment) – copy&paste:

DayAmbientRGB = (110,115,125) DayDirectionalRGB = (255,240,230) DayFogRGB = (128,128,128)

SunsetAmbientRGB = (130,130,120) SunsetDirectionalRGB = (255,248,198) SunsetFogRGB = (94,94,94)

  • Save the file

Step Five: editing the .SCN file

This time we have to make few more changes, but not complex at all.

  • The “SearchPath=” must be renamed according to the new name(s) of the folder and subfolder of the track

  • The “MASfile=” area must be renamed according to the new names for the .MAS files. Here the scenario could be almost different due to the job

made by the author

usually we have to rename the “sky.mas” into

... “RFE_SKY_BASIC.mas” and other .mas file(s) we find

  • The following lines (we can choose between 2 variants) must be inserted in place of the original ones, starting from “GroupMethod=” and ending at the end of the “Instance=skyboxi” that appears like a “}” (brace) :

First variant that shows a mountain landscape (copy&paste):

GroupMethod=Dynamic AmbientColor=(126, 126, 126)

FogMode=LINEAR FogIn=(0.00) FogOut=(5000.00) FogDensity=(0.002) FogColor=(190, 198, 213)

//-------------------------------------------------------

Light=Direct00

{

 

Type=Directional Color=(220, 220, 220) Dir=(0.5, -0.9, 0.5)

}

//-------------------------------------------------------

//-- Thanks to Neil Faichney (Krunch) for the following -

//-- Skybox structure and textures!! --------------------

//-------------------------------------------------------

Light=NightLight00 // used only to activate horizon town light effect {

Type=Omni Pos=(-223.159912, 11.439373, 12.055908) Range=(0.000000, 1.000000) Active=True }

Instance=skyboxi

{

 

Moveable=True MeshFile=skyboxim.gmt CollTarget=False HATTarget=False ShadowReceiver=False

Pos=(0.0,0.0,0.0)

Instance=NightLight00Glow

{

Moveable=True MeshFile=horizonlights.gmt CollTarget=False HATTarget=False

}

Instance=Sky { Moveable=True MeshFile=Sky.gmt CollTarget=False HATTarget=False ShadowReceiver=False

Pos=(0.0,-10.0,0.0)

}

Instance=CLOUDRNY

{

Moveable=True MeshFile=rsky.gmt CollTarget=False HATTarget=False ShadowReceiver=False

Pos=(0.0,0.0,0.0)

}

Instance=CLOUDSNY

{

Moveable=True MeshFile=ssky.gmt CollTarget=False HATTarget=False ShadowReceiver=False

Pos=(0.0,0.0,0.0)

}

}

Second variant that shows the original landscape (copy&paste):

GroupMethod=Dynamic AmbientColor=(126, 126, 126)

FogMode=LINEAR FogIn=(0.00) FogOut=(5000.00) FogDensity=(0.002) FogColor=(190, 198, 213)

//-------------------------------------------------------

Light=Direct00

{

 

Type=Directional Color=(220, 220, 220) Dir=(0.5, -0.9, 0.5)

}

//-------------------------------------------------------

//-- Thanks to Neil Faichney (Krunch) for the following -

//-- Skybox structure and textures!! --------------------

//-------------------------------------------------------

Light=NightLight00 // used only to activate horizon town light effect {

Type=Omni Pos=(-223.159912, 11.439373, 12.055908) Range=(0.000000, 1.000000) Active=True }

Instance=skyboxi

{

Moveable=True MeshFile=skyboxi.gmt CollTarget=False HATTarget=False ShadowReceiver=False Pos=(0.0,-10.0,0.0) Orient=(0.0,0.0,0.0) // move and rotate whole skybox if required

Instance=CLOUDS { Moveable=True MeshFile=horizon.gmt CollTarget=False HATTarget=False ShadowReceiver=False }

Instance=NightLight00Glow

{

Moveable=True

MeshFile=horizonlights.gmt

CollTarget=False

HATTarget=False

ShadowReceiver=False

}

Instance=Sky

{

Moveable=True MeshFile=Sky.gmt CollTarget=False HATTarget=False ShadowReceiver=False

}

Instance=CLOUDRNY { Moveable=True MeshFile=rsky.gmt CollTarget=False HATTarget=False ShadowReceiver=False

Pos=(0.0,0.0,0.0)

}

Instance=CLOUDSNY { Moveable=True MeshFile=ssky.gmt CollTarget=False HATTarget=False ShadowReceiver=False

Pos=(0.0,0.0,0.0)

}

}

Important note: the key values are into this line:

  • FogMode=LINEAR FogIn=(0.00) FogOut=(5000.00) FogDensity=(0.002)

FogColor=(190, 198, 213) in bold are the ones with which we can play to have different environments related to the rain, as well as the FogColor can give us very different visual aspects.

At the end we must remember to save the file.

We do not like to underestimate how much the fog plays his important role driving into the better visual environment and sometimes we could prefer to set a more appropriate value to better match the characteristic of a track.

In fact, all the job we are doing is important to update a track to RFE Weather Plugin, but at the same time to preserve the use also without the plugin installed!

Step Six (optional): personalizing the TDF file for “onpathwetness”?

We can call it the “fast line” or “drying line” where we usually see the groove. But when track is drying out after rain and more on line where lot of cars run, we should see a drier path of a “color” similar to the dry asphalt: the plugin takes

care of this

if we like to see a better visual aspect we have only to replace the

... right asphalt to the RFEwetgrooveNAMEOFTRACK.TGA

To do that, we must edit the RFEwetgroove_TEMPLATE.psd replacing the texture of this file with the texture of the asphalt used into the track we are updating and then saving it as “TGA” with alpha channel. Usually to find the right texture of the asphalt we must extract it from one of the .MAS file of the track.

Important note: the key values are into this line:  FogMode=LINEAR FogIn=(0.00) FogOut=(5000.00) FogDensity=(0.002) FogColor=(190, 198,

Step Seven: did we remember to add files?

  • RFESKIDWET.TGA

  • RAINDROP.DDS

  • RFEwetgrooveNAMEOFTRACK.TGA

They must be added into the track subfolder.

  • Remember to rename the “NAMEOFTRACK” word according to the name of the track!

  • Then edit the [LOOSE] section at the bottom of the TDF file (that you already replaced at step 2 with the RFE template and renamed it), line:

Reaction=wetgroove Tex=RFEwetgrooveNAMEOFTRACK.tga… replacing the word “NAMEOFTRACK”, matching the name of the track!

Step Eight (optional): adding RFE Logo to the track loading file

RFE Plugin Series is a very complex job still in development that will bring rFactor to a new level. To see many tracks updated to the RFE Weather Plugin is one of

our goals. Into the download area of SYMRacing.net forum you are free to download the logo to be added into the “originalnameRFE_loading.jpg file of the track using a simple photo-editing software. It is available in .PNG format, in light and dark tones.

Step Eight (optional): adding RFE Logo to the track loading file RFE Plugin Series is a

Here is the sample in dark tone to match a light background.

Step Nine (optional): adding the link of the track

You are invited, to add the link to the track “updated to RFE Weather Plugin” into the specific area of SYMRacing.net forum.

Final Steps are ...

to enjoy the new track driving with variable weather conditions in one of our

dedicated servers or creating your own dedicated server running RFE Weather Server Plugin (available soon) ...

And to be ready to enjoy the full optimized and enhanced features of RFE Plugin Series in the next future in one of the new Climate dedicated server for rFactor!

SOME USEFUL TIPS:

  • Following the tutorial the first question that probably several times left us confused was: “But, how can I test the track and the job I'm doing?”. And the answer is: using the “RFEModelersAidTool”. But probably you have already downloaded, installed and tested it

As you have seen (or you will see

... using it) we can change live the most relevant coefficients for Ambient and

Track

we can also play with the Time Control to have a wider perception

... of what we are doing.

  • .AIW: check the line “GrooveWidthWet=” into the waypoint section. Sometime the author set the value to zero and the drying line cannot work. So, if value is = 0, set it to 4.0

  • .AIW: check the line “IntermediateFogLevel=” into the waypoint section. Sometime the author set this value to a strange one and in this case RFE doesn't work nice. If, testing the track, we notice too much fog on track set the value to its default (0.1250)

  • .AIW: check the line “RainyDarkness=” into the waypoint section. Sometime the author set these values to strange ones and in this case RFE doesn't work nice. Set the default values (0.50000,0.00000). At least we can test these alternate values: (0.920000,0.850000)

  • .MAS files: Sky*.dds. In case we are updating a track that doesn't follow the BTB criteria, we must take special care to the possibility that there are other texture files of the sky into another .MAS file. Usually they are duplicates of those we have already replaced with the RFE new ones, but if more than one .MAS file is located into the same folder and still contains those duplicates, we'll see unwanted effects testing the track. Delete them to avoid any duplicate!