Track Creation 101 – Make a list
So you’d like to make a TORCS Speed Dreams track? You love the game (and lets be honest, who wouldn’t?) and you’d like to hurl a 1936 Alfa Milano 12c around your favourite race track, which for some strange reasons isn’t already part of the game. Perhaps you’d like to host your tracks on your own website for Speed Dreams enthusiasts to download, or even better, you envisage your creations becoming part of the game itself.
You just don’t know how to go about it. I mean, anyone can use the included track editor to define a circuit, but how do you include hills and valleys in the track? Most importantly, how do you transform the bland, character-less cookie-cutter tracks it creates into the work of art you envisage in your mind? How do you change trackside terrain, improve its textures, and include trackside objects? How do you add shadows for that extra touch of realism?
Over the last few years I’ve made a lot of tracks (street-1, wheel-2, ruudskogen, dirt-3, forza, brondehach, reworks of e-track-6, alpine-2 and corkscrew) for TORCS and now Speed Dreams, and thought it was time to share some of the hard-won knowledge I’ve gained during the process, hence this, the first in a series of tutorials on creating tracks for the game.
First, let me be blunt. Making Speed Dreams track is a ton of work. It usually takes me about 2 to 3 months from start to finish, spending about 10 hours a week before I finish a track. That’s 80 to 120 hours or so, not for the faint hearted. Usually once I complete a track I’m exhausted & unable to bear the thought of starting another one, which is why I only create one or two a year max.
So … you’re still here? Still want to give it a go? Ok then. The first thing you need to do is write a todo list. That way you have a plan of attack, and know what needs to be done to bring your idea to fruition. It also gives me a list of things to post about in this tutorial 🙂
It so happens that I’ve just started a major rework of the old TORCS track, e-track-4, for inclusion in Speed Dreams. Ok, its not a new from-scratch track, but as I’ve changed the layout somewhat its pretty close to being one. As I go through each step in the process I’ll use it as an example in this series of tutorials. So, here’s my todo list for this project – yours should look something similar.
- Design the circuit layout, including an idea of elevation changes and allowing at least 240m of a straight for pits (16 pits of 15 meters in length) with enough length for pit entry and exit.
- Create the circuit using the trackeditor tool.
- Define changes of elevation in the XML.
- Test drive until 100% satisfied with the track.
- Trackside terrain
- Trackside objects
- Naming of textures.
- Editing the 3D model..
- Editng textures.
- Materials and surface settings
- Creating a shadow map
- Applying the shadow map
- Adding a “raceline”.
My next post will look at steps 1 and 2. If you’re working on tracks yourself and have any questions or would like to share some of the tips and tricks you’ve discovered, please add a comment or two!