Stephen-Viljoen-Andy-TudorSlightly Mad Studios been making racing games for the past 10 years, and they raised over $3 million dollars in crowd-funding to produce their own racing game called Project CARS. It’s a AAA racing simulation game that was first released in May 2015, and they recently added VR support to be one of the 30 Oculus Rift launch titles. I had a chance to catch up with creative director Andy Tudor and game director Stephen Viljoen at the Oculus Game Days to learn more about the extent that they’ve modeled the cars, tracks, physics, and dynamic weather systems in their goal towards creating the most authentic racing simulation.

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The VR support allows you to be fully immersed within a variety of different types of cars ranging from Indy cars, open wheel cars, track day cars, road cars, and karts. With VR you have full situational awareness in that you can see cars in your mirrors, you really get to feel the size and perspective of your car, and you can feel the full ambiance of each of the 35 unique locations and 110 different track layouts.

Stephen and Andy emphasized the extent to which they’ve gone in order to model how the grip of the tires change as they wear down, incorporating realistic sound field recordings, recreating actual tracks, creating physics simulations that take into account the atmospheric temperature and weight of the cars, and even factoring in a fully dynamic weather system and how the light changes throughout the day.

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They claim that their simulation is accurate enough that there are actual race car drivers who use Project CARS to practice on different tracks, and here’s a video of Carmen Jorda using Project CARS in a racing simulator using three different 4K monitors.

The comfort rating for Project CARS is rated as intense, and I did experience some motion sickness from the brief time that I played the game. I am really sensitive to simulator sickness and there are some things in Project CARS that trigger it for me such as tilting the horizon line when going on a banked curve, suddenly stopping when crashing, or going up or down hills. All of these produce a disconnect between my visual and vestibular systems, and start to make me feel a little nauseous.

They do use a cockpit which helps to reduce vection, but the dense textures on the tracks still produce enough optical flow to potentially be another trigger for some people. This would be a difficult VR experience for me personally to play for an extended length of time, and so just be aware if you know that you’re susceptible to simulator sickness from VR locomotion. But if you’re not, then this is bound to be an intense racing experience — especially with the multiplayer mode.

There are also a lot of motion platform integrations that Project CARS has available, and so I imagine that incorporating more of the 4D haptic feedback and movements could actually make this an even more immersive and potentially more comfortable experience. I expect to see a lot of digital out of home entertainment arcades playing this game with a steering wheel, pedals, and a fully integrated motion platform.

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Project CARS is being released on March 28th, and sells for $49.99

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  • ZenInsight

    I just want to say, like all motion games, if I can’t move my head forward or back slightly as it does in real like…puke city. Any game that doesn’t recognize that forward backward motion to me is a recipe for nausea.

    • Stephen Marshall

      Since it’s the Rift, you shouldn’t have a problem then as it has positional tracking.

      • moodybyname

        I think its more whether the developers have incorporated that into the game.

        • Raphael

          So you’re saying project cars doesn’t incorporate leaning forward?

          • moodybyname

            no, sorry, I didn’t mean to confuse. Just meant the developers would actively have to incorporate forward and backward motion in the cockpit matching to positional tracking of the HMD – just thought thats what ZenInsight meant…

          • Raphael

            Well that 6 dof is expected in any professional title. Thus zenlnsight statement is redundant.

          • moodybyname

            pretty sure for a driving game they will only allow 4 dof (forwards backwards left and right) – why would they let you stand up and crouch down in the cockpit of your car???

          • Raphael

            Ummm, why do you think 6 dof means stand up and crouch? As with live for speed or a flight sim like fsx or dcs world it means you can lean forward or back and tilt your head as well. Has nothing to do with getting up and walking around.

          • moodybyname

            I thought in gaming, 6 dof meant forward/back, up/down, left/right, pitch, yaw, roll – just looked up wikipedia, it says the same. So the up down bit would equate to stand up and crouch – at least for a HMD with positional tracking…

          • Raphael

            That describes the axis of movement. Not the extent along the axis. The only games in VR I’ve seen without 6 dof are non VR games injected with vr like vorpx or some really basic demos. You should be able to lean forward or back, tilt your head, lean in any decent game.

          • Raphael

            I have given you the definition and it mentions nothing about jump and crouch. The simulations I mentioned are described as having 6 dof and you can go to track ir website and see more flight and driving sims with 6 dof listed.

            The definition I quoted says nothing about the extent of motion. Only movement in those axis. That should therefore be clear that you don’t have to jump or crouch for it to be 6 dof.

            So basically you are arguing with me and arguing with the definition on Wikipedia. If you saw dof defined as jumping and crouching then that definition was written by an idiot.

          • moodybyname

            Dunno why you are being so tense, I’m only asking questions. Can’t you see the bit I don’t understand is in a racing game why do you need the up down bit of 6dof? Yes lean forward backward yes tilt head left right yes look around in 3 dimensions but why the up down bit you insist on. When I’m in a real car is hard to go up or down cos my torso doesn’t extend our compress very well. In a seated experience in a car sim is it necessary. Am I missing something cos you keep repeating yourself but not really clarifying what the up down bit in a car sim is. In a flight sim you don’t go up down, the vehicle does. Can you at least understand my confusion?

          • Raphael

            I’m repeating myself because you’re unable to grasp something very simple and here we are a day later and you are still wrong and still unable to grasp it.

            You’re not really asking either… Someone who asks questions is open to learning. That’s not what you’re doing.

            “in a flight sim you don’t go up or down, the vehicle does” – if you want to learn instead of keeping hold of your current idea… When you sit in a virtual cockpit in any flight sim with vr… It tracks your body movements… That has nothing to do with the aircraft or car movement. Oculus and vive track your body movement and that is mirrored in the game. When you lean forward in dcs world you can take a close up look at the instruments. When you lean to the side that is also mirrored in the virtual cockpit. If I raise my head height in real life that also happens in the virtual cockpit. That is 6 dof.

            Stephen Marshall tried to explain to you that your body position is tracked via the sdk. Any racing or flight sim with full VR support will track your body position in 6 dof. It has nothing to do with a car going vertically. It is your body position in the virtual seat we are taking about.

          • moodybyname

            Hey, you don’t need to be angry with me – I’m only asking questions cos I didn’t get what you meant – to be honest this is the problem with internet discussions – I’m sure we would have cleared up any of my misunderstandings of your explanations in a 30 second conversation in real life, but hey ho, thats the internet for you… Now I think you mean in a racing game in VR it is still necessary to allow the head to move up and down even if its only a few millimeters otherwise it would feel weird (and the 3 big HMDs force it through SDKs anyway). Am I right? Anyway, thanks for your help and (slightly strained) patience. I get you now (and if I’m still wrong, well, lets just give up now) :-)

          • Raphael

            Yes, you understand it now and sorry for getting annoyed. Yes, that movement even though only relatively small is still 6 dof. If that tracking isn’t done in a VR game then it feels crappy and can cause motion sickness with some people.

            With elite dangerous you can get up and walk around the cockpit although I haven’t done so myself. I will try it sometime.

            It’s very unusual to find a VR game without the 6 dof now but non native VR such as games through vorpx dont give you 6 dof which makes it quite an odd experience.

          • Pre Seznik

            It does mean that.

          • Raphael

            “Six degrees of freedom (6DoF) refers to the freedom of movement of a rigid body in three-dimensional space. Specifically, the body is free to change position as forward/backward (surge), up/down (heave), left/right (sway) translation in three perpendicular axes, combined with changes in orientation through rotation about three perpendicular axes, often termed pitch, yaw, and roll.”

            As I said… Nothing about standing or crouching. It refers to movement in various axis. It does not specify extent of motion. I wonder if some of you are pretending to be stupid or if it’s genuine?

            6 dof in a racing game means you can move in all of the above planes but the extent of the movement is limited.

            Dcs world gives you 6dof with its fully 3d cockpits as does elite dangerous and fsx with flyinside.

          • moodybyname

            Okay dunno which bit you are confused about. A racing game in a car is fixed to 2D plane (the ground) so does not have the up down part of 6dof. Of course a flight sim does because it traverses in 3 dimensions but we were talking about a car game.

          • Raphael

            Do you actually think I’m taking about the car moving vertically like an aircraft?

            I’m just wondering why you’re having trouble grasping that in a VR enabled sim like project cars your head and upper body position is tracked. If I move my head position up or down in reality that is reflected in the game. If I tilt my head in reality that is reflected in the game. If I lean forward in reality that is reflected in the game. That is 6dof and it has nothing to do with standing or crouching which clearly isn’t relevant in a flight or driving sim. Now it can’t be explained in any simpler terms than that so if you’re still unable to grasp this then you need an education.

            I get three feeling you have no actual experience of vr otherwise this stuff wouldn’t be so difficult for you to grasp.

          • BlackMage

            To answer the question the Project CARS implementation since the DK2 is 6dof. If you were so inclined you can stand up, walk through the door of your car, stand beside your car and drive it like that while you look at your headless body through the window. It is 1:1 with whatever your head is doing.

          • Stephen Marshall

            Yea, every title automatically supports leaning (positional tracking).

          • Stephen Marshall

            Not true…see my previous answer. Every title will support positional tracking.

          • moodybyname

            if you convert a non-vr game to a vr game you do still have to code forwards and backwards if it was not there in the original desktop game. of course they would be pretty dumb to not do so, but anyway I think you are misunderstanding the point of my original comment – I was only saying I think ZenInsight was meaning he hoped they would incorporate it.

          • Stephen Marshall

            I’m not misunderstanding….I’m only saying that EVERY game made for the rift will support positional tracking.

            The developers don’t have to program in leaning….its Part of the SDK. It’s automatically going to happen. The game engine automatically allows the view (camera) to shift for positional tracking.

            The main thing that delvs need to do is make sure polygons that are close to the users head aren’t being clipped when moving.

          • moodybyname

            Oh interesting, I wasn’t aware it was forced via the sdk. Thanks for the info. In that case yeah I guess they just have to worry about clipping. Maybe 2nd gen will have some sort of haptic feedback in the hmd to help with collisions (I mean of the meshes in all games, not car collisions)

        • Stephen Marshall

          Not true. I have DK 1 and DK2. Every game for DK2 has positional tracking as its part of the SDK.

          It’s the same with the consumer version…every single title will support positional tracking.

    • Raphael

      Are you saying project cars doesn’t allow you to lean forward?

  • yag

    Nice graphics but Project Cars has always been behind concerning the physics and the force feedback.

    • eck

      Behind of what?

  • Mateusz

    That strange moment when Dev tells Kent how it would be to have “a conversation again with someone who has passed away already”… hmm… strange coincidence. Made me feel a bit uneasy.

  • Sam Illingworth

    Is it coming to SteamVR too?