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Tips on how to make a good fictional track for NR2003

Discussion in 'NR2003 General Discussion' started by Mystical, Nov 22, 2015.

  1. Mystical

    Mystical Always 110%

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    [​IMG]

    Preface


    This post isn't so much a tutorial on how to build good fictional tracks (like using tools) per say but my own methodology on how I make them and the pre-production cycle I go through before I even lay down a segment in sandbox. I figured instead of keeping it to myself I should post this in-case anyone else who is an up and coming track builder or a veteran is looking for a bit of inspiration or ideas on what to make next. At the very least if you are bored and looking for a good read on what goes on behind the scenes of a project for NR2003 you've come to the right place.

    Fictional tracks have their own challenges that a real existing track does not. I also believe this is a contributing factor to why we don't see many taking them on (which is unfortunate). The main one is you have to make something completely out of nothing. There are no reference photos, no stats on banking, turn radius, or ideas. Even the fictional tracks from EA (while still fictional and cool) give the user reference footage to recreate the layout and the idea is already there. If you are looking to make a track that is purely fictional you need to still draw from real life inspiration but at the same time give it a twist to make something unique, creative, and of course fun to race on. I personally believe NR2003 has yet to see the best fictional tracks the community has to offer (and I will keep saying it like a broken record). We see a lot of real tracks made or updates to existing sprint cup tracks but not too much in the realm of something fresh and new. While its been my goal for several years now to bring more to the table I can only build so many so fast on my own. So I figured why not write this all out so if anyone else is craving to make some fictional tracks themselves but doesn't know where to start they have something to go off of. For this demonstration I will break down my Armory Digital Superspeedway track as a baseline and give you the 'behind the scenes' if you will on how a concept became a reality. I didn't just say one day "ok I gunna just build ths track, I know it exactly how While this may not be the only approach it's certainly worked well for me and some others might find it useful.


    A simple idea ignites your road-map

    When you think of what to do first for making a track out of thin air it can be rather daunting to know where to even begin. What is the size of the track? Will it be a 3 wide superspeedway?, A short track with only passing on the straightaways?, or a road course perhaps that has minimal banking and treacherous straightaways? The possibilities are limitless but without a good idea a track can fall flat before you even get the simple layout done in sandbox. Making a fictional track is all good and well but in order to make one that is fun to race on and offers something unique you have to dive deeper than just 'making a track'. Your track needs history, fake history of course but nonetheless this history as I like to call it will be what defines everything about your track. From how the track looks, where its located, the weather, what type of racing style it exhibits, and even the 3do eye candy that will surround your track. If you combine all of this you have one great idea that makes your track feel real even though it isn't.

    For Armory Digital Superspeedway I wanted to make a superspeedway, but not just any superspeedway. But how did I get to this concept that eventually turned into a reality several months later? Where did I get the idea for the paint colors or the track buildings that have their futuristic vibe? That my friends is what I will be breaking down below. It is what I call a palette. This palette melted together with your history gives you the perfect ingredients of a road map on what to do for the rest of the track's production life cycle.


    Location is everything

    This is one of my favorite parts when making a fictional track. Before I open any tools or fire up sandbox to even lay down a segment. When you first decide to make a track after you know what type to make (short track, speedway, etc) giving your track a location is the first step. A location around this wonderful world can make all the difference on how your track will look and even how old it may be. I wanted to make it a brand new facility that would harbor races for the ages to come. It would be a state-of-the-art facility that would be surrounded by extravagant buildings. I chose Seattle (where I live) as the state ADSS (Armory Digital Superspeedway for short) resides in. With that in mind having evergreen trees, tall buildings, mountains, and rather unique racing surface colors would be perfect. A location can help decide the style your track is as well. Is it near mountains? Then perhaps the track will have lots of banking or winding turns? Or maybe in a desert where the option of flatter and more dry terrain is possible. You can even make a track that is dictated by the location. Did your track succumb to a natural disaster and now has areas patched or damaged which gives the track a unique racing feel? Maybe part of the track had to be reshaped (much like Darlington had one turn smaller due to a lake in the way). Or maybe this track has never been raced on and its a billion dollar project that resides near the beautiful Oceanside that has extravagant buildings, lush vegetation, and sunny days. The idea with a location and history combined are really limitless. Giving your track a tagline much like movie plots can be explained in a single sentence gives you a concrete and solid map your track will follow when being built and designed. I'm literally now going to, on the spot make up a couple 'taglines' for tracks. These are not current projects I am working on (for the record) but if people like these ideas maybe me or someone in the future will:

    Antec International Speedway - Tagline: This Speedway located in the city of Singapore is a brand new high tech facility that offers up to 3 wide racing on a 1.5 mile course. In depth description: Elaborate buildings of the skyline and colorful design on the track surface embellish the asphalt of this billion dollar track. Make no mistake for it's beauty the racing is just as extravagant as the pit road is split in two and placed on both sides of the straightaway and high 25 degree banking that for its turn that go left and right give a lot of room for passing.

    Diamond Sands Circuit - Tagline: This 3 mile minimal banking road course has seen its wear and tear by both the sands of Eygpt and of the past conflicts of the middle east. Description: While the track is still in racing condition and repaired where needed it still shows its wear and tear. With it lots of bumps and opportunities to overtake competitors exists. The long stretch on the track used to be a runway strip and still shows signs from the paint lines that still exist. The most noticeable feature however on the track is coming to the start finish line the right side of the racing surface is slower due to bigger dips in the surface so being caught on the outside created dramatic finishes.

    San Isabel Raceway - Tagline: Just outside the borders of the San Isabel National Park in Colorado lies a small short track surrounded by mountains and trees. Description: This small .750 mile short track is moderately worn which creates worn tires. However the kicker is turn 1 and 2 only have about 10 degrees of banking and is very short while in turn 3 and 4 it is longer and has roughly 20 degrees of baking. If that is not enough to make a racer crazy right after the start finish line the frontstretch is only wide enough for about 1 car before it becomes wider in turn 2 so you have to know ahead of time when to attack or lay off.

    Kivvon Range Superspeedway - Tagline: If the name itself doesn't strike fear into a driver this 3 mile long Battlefield-esque and narrow Superspeedway located in the middle of Russia will. Description: Brightly painted red walls and asphalt dark as the dirt with areas of multiple patches on the surface creates a bumpy high speed run for victory. The gritty surface tears tires up faster than an average superspeedway due to the extreme climate in the winter. Snow can be seen in the distance just behind the sea of trees and gravel. The track has one section of long grandstands, that is because the fans can see the entire track due to the fact half of it is lower in elevation. That is right, you'll be driving up and down in a pack of 43 cars while trying to make passes that barely support 3 wide racing in most areas.

    Okinawa Hyperplex Circuit - Tagline: Near the shores of the island its not hard to see what makes it unique: Its raced around and sometimes even in the rocks of the shore. Description: Named after the Island in Japan this road course winds around and sometimes inside the rock formation of the coast. It is a high banked road course that is fairly maintained but can still prove difficult due to storms in the past that sometimes wear the surface down with sea water and rain. Oh, that isn't what makes it unique though, it is the fact its world's only track to have part of it built over the shoreline with a grandstand that is shaped like a giant arc that gives spectators a constant 360 degree view while as the race goes on. How do they get a 360 degree view you say? It rotates above the road course on a giant rail system like a train on tracks would.

    I timed myself how long it came to think of all those ideas and it was roughly 40 mins from the time I opened google maps and started brainstorming. All I used was my imagination, google maps, and google images to get a reference of what the location looks like. So in that amount of time brainstorming starting with a location and adding a touch of history I've essentially given myself 1-2 years of track building work hypothetically lol. It is really that easy anyone can do it. All you need is google maps at your fingertips, think where you want a track at, and boom you've got something to go off of. Once you have the idea you can begin to form it in reality using sandbox and other tools.


    Everything is shaping up

    With the tagline I made for ADSS back in early 2013 I had a plan of what I wanted for my track. With that info I set the simple shape out. As you can see below the idea of having a small straightaway in-between turn 1 and 2 was what made the track different:

    [​IMG]

    Once the groundwork was laid it was time to color the surface and get a theme for the track. A lot of people think of grey asphalt, white walls, and yellow paint lines. That is awfully uninspiring and boring to me personally. This is what ADSS looked like in early alpha stages for example before any real decals were placed on the surface:

    [​IMG]

    If you are gunna make a fictional track you should live a little and make even the colors for your track unique. It can be something as simple as having the wall a different color or a certain decal paint line that goes around the bottom of the track surface. Whatever you feel makes the track have a cool vibe to it that is fresh will go a long way. The slightest design can make all the difference in the way a track presents itself. It can always create some good racing makers to use as well if not for anything else. As seen below I started with making the paint lines teal. I really like the color teal and always wanted to see that track color used before so for the theme colors of the track it was a must-have:

    [​IMG]

    I then took it a step further and made the walls the same color as well the match the surface paint colors. I guess you can say that was the signature thing most mention about this track is "those damn teal walls":

    [​IMG]

    So after you got your track shape, AI are working, and the color theme is done you've got the basis finished. The next step is to make 3do's, but not just any 3do's. Ones that will compliment your track and make it feel like it really is the idea you set out to create.


    3do's are more than grandstands

    For me at least this is a huge reason I build fictional tracks: making custom 3do's. Nothing is more exciting than creating something in 3d space and being able to see it in NR2003 as you race around. It's really cool to see what you've built as part of a track the same way Monaco is known for its buildings near the racing surface or the grandstands of Bristol make it like a coliseum. On ADSS I knew I wanted rather unique expensive looking buildings so I started doing research on hotel and skyscraper designs. I found a lot of amazing architecture that I don't think many realize even exists. I watched documentaries about skyscrapers and hotels of Dubai, Shanghai, and Singapore to name a few. Obviously this was just research I did for the buildings that would fit my type of track. Depending on your track you might get reference photos of different types of buildings or natural rock and trees formations that create your tracks surrounding with a more realistic tone. As one example the hotel in turn 1 I wanted it to look strangely shaped and futuristic. Everything on the track as an angular vibe to it so it made sense to shape the hotel the same way as example:

    [​IMG]

    Another example would be the pit road suites that run along the entire length of pit road:

    [​IMG]

    While they are completely ficticous designs they still give off the feel they could be real buildings on a track. Using real world architecture or nature could bring you to some very creative 3do's that can be used to cover your track or in some cases those 3do's are what the track must race around (like a cliff, giant rock, or hole).

    As far as textures go on these objects I gathered lots of images (or took pictures myself) of various metals, concrete, glass, and mechanic pieces. Making a 3d fictional building is all good and well but if you don't have believable textures on the object it won't look or feel like a building if its just some flat shaded objects with no shading or surface applied to it. Having a good texture library goes a long way. I have been collecting hundreds of images of every type of surface this real world has to offer. All you need is a camera that can take decent photo quality and you can start gathering your own images to use for NR2003 3do objects. Even if you can't get them yourself great places like CG textures offers free high resolution images that are perfect for NR2003 racing surfaces and architecture. It may seem trivial but a track without believable and high quality textures is useless if you can't distinguish between the road and a building. Of the few fictional tracks I've seen in the past most users just used textures that were in the shared folder of NR2003 for wall and racing surface textures. You don't need to do that, you can make your own which not only gives your track a unique look but will allow higher quality visuals and will generate that 'pop' that really makes it stand out as unique. While it can be tedious to take time to make tiling textures it's well worth the work especially since you'll be seeing those textures lap in and lap out.


    Make it personal

    The last bit of advice I can give for a fictional track is make it personal and don't feel constrained. Add a bit of 'you' in it. Don't think in the mindset of you can't build something that doesn't exist on a real life track either. There are no rules to what color the walls should be, what sponsors are on the billboards, or even the shape of the track. It's a fictional track for a reason so don't feel held back by anything except the palette you chose to go with for your track. For my track I did a lot of various things like the colors used, architecture, and even simple things like billboard ads:

    [​IMG]

    All the billboards and sponsors of the track had a lot to do with gaming. Seattle is after all the home to some of the most well known gaming companies so it would make sense they'd have ads on the track. I made it feel unique having those around rather than your typical auto store and sprint cup series sponsors always seen.

    So in closing

    If this post was not very useful to anyone perhaps it was at least educational on what goes on behind the scenes a project. I guarantee any track or mod maker for NR2003 who has made some exceptional creation for players to use has spent their fair share of time doing research on reference footage and gathering data. ADSS alone had a folder as large as 2 GB in resources from uncompressed files and project folders when all was said and done. This was all neatly packaged in a 50 MB track file but unused and unseen data that wasn't shown greatly outweighs what the end user sees in the game.

    Take strands from real life reference, mix it together with your fictional tracks history and palette and you've got a perfect combination for a fictional track NR2003 has yet to see. All you need is a simple idea and the will to see it through.
     
    fela, Rykia, nj9703 and 13 others like this.
  2. Tetronix

    Tetronix Winner of the Most Pepsi Consumed in a Year

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    Awesome tutorial! I am not a track builder, nor do I actually have the time and patience to do so, but I really enjoyed reading this. It is explained properly and the amount of detail is great. Thanks for taking the time to write up such a great read.
     
    nj9703, Highbank and Mystical like this.
  3. Highbank

    Highbank Trans Am Car Set Creator Banned

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    Great read and it really stirs the imagination.

    I'd really like to move into track making, this stuff pushes me to make the leap.

    Thanks
     
    nj9703, Tetronix and Mystical like this.
  4. GurtonBuster

    GurtonBuster I've never heard silence quite this loud

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    Thanks for this! Looks like we follow the same guideline. I had the idea of what track I wanted first, and now I'm scouting locations. I know how I want the track and where I want it. The only issue now is getting Sandbox working properly.
     
    Highbank likes this.
  5. David24

    David24 Paint Crew Paint Crew

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    This should be stickied. Great write up. Makes me want to make a fictional track!

    Oh and that little straightaway between T1 & T2....I HATE it! :p
     
  6. Highbank

    Highbank Trans Am Car Set Creator Banned

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    I second that sentiment...
     
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  7. crazyboy335

    crazyboy335 Bezier Jesus

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    Looks like I know what I'm making during Thanksgiving break.
     
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  8. pimmy

    pimmy Well-Known Member

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    I like that pit road suite building. It looks like something you'd see in Thunderbirds.
     
    Highbank likes this.
  9. Highbank

    Highbank Trans Am Car Set Creator Banned

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    F.A.B.
     
  10. Smoke14

    Smoke14 NR2003 Painter

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    Great tutorial/advice. The only problem I have when I make tracks is that the race line is always on the outside of the track and I can't figure out how to fix it. Does anyone know how to fix this?
     
  11. Mystical

    Mystical Always 110%

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    That would have to do with the LP lines you create to tell where the AI can race.
     
  12. Smoke14

    Smoke14 NR2003 Painter

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    How do I create LP lines? Do they come with the track when I create it?
     
  13. USSTalladega

    USSTalladega Cruising at Warp 9

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    Thats not how it works lol. You need to use reflap while in a testing session to put down all the various lines.
     
  14. Smoke14

    Smoke14 NR2003 Painter

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    Reflap? Okay. Not what I thought Reflap was for. I'll try it
     

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