Greetings everyone! We hope you all are doing well and staying safe as we continue to go through what hopefully will turn out to be the final months of this terrible ordeal that has been the COVID pandemic. As with most people, the pandemic by now has hit close to home, with two of our lead devs having struggled through it in recent weeks (luckily with no serious consequences). This obviously has had an impact and slowed some of our progress, but not stopped it - on the contrary in fact as we continue to gear up to our biggest release yet. It has however contributed to a small change of plans as we are still working on the final details of this update, which is now scheduled to be deployed on Friday June 4th along with Part 1 of the Racin USA Expansion Pack - a few extra days then to ensure we have all elements of a truly massive update firing on all cylinders from the get-go! Often in these dev updates I´ll refer to the fact that as much we might want to break the progress of the game into tidy even monthly updates, development often doesn´t work that way - sometimes things don´t work out on schedule and we end up with a somewhat meagre step; in others, everything comes together and fall into place even beyond our plans, and you end up with a minor revolution. Luckily, the upcoming V1.2 is on the latter bracket, bringing truly substantive improvements to every front of the game along with major new features - some of which never seen in race sim before. We are very excited about it, and hope you all agree on the significance of this milestone once you come to try it! Since we still have a few more days to go, let´s take the opportunity to go over some of the highlights of the update. Racin´ USA Pt1 & BMW M4 GT4 Starting with the much anticipated content - Automobilista 2 V1.2 marks our entry into the North American territory in grand style, with the Racin´ USA Expansion Pack Pt1 featuring three premium race tracks (Daytona, Long Beach & Laguna Seca) and three GTE cars (BMW M8, Corvette C8.R and Porsche 911 RSR) - the new content currently in Beta has been nicely previewed by @SimRacing604 here: Also featuring in the pack but missing from the video is the Cadillac DPi.V.R, which arrives as (for now) the sole contender in the DPi class: The new content is not all about the Expansion Pack - AMS2 v1.2 also features a neat free surprise in the form the BMW M4, which arrives to boost the GT4 class with a fresh contender! Real Weather, Customizable Date & LiveTrack Presets One of the highlights of the new update is a first in sim racing - the ultra-advanced weather system of the Madness engine along with LiveTrack technology used in Automobilista 2 is now hooked up with a live weather forecast system, providing accurate weather conditions for all tracks in the game - for today, tomorrow and any given day over the last 40 years, allowing users to travel back in time and even peek into future conditions for any given location in Automobilista 2. As of this version, Real Weather will still have some limitations - the system sets the conditions based on weather data in 1h slots, which means localized showers may not happen exactly as it does or did in certain places, or not at the exact time. Other simplifications include not yet offering the option of snow on the track itself, and environment temperatures, wind and humidity are still being picked up from internal seasonal data for each region & season rather than from the real external data. The data is also not universally accurate, with some locations having some discrepancies specially when going decades back. Further developments and fine-tuning of the system will continue beyond this release, and the database will be amended as we gather more information about any discrepancy, eventually resulting in far more accurate results. Real Weather however already works exceptionally well specially for recent dates, and the implications of the system to the driving & racing experience is significant - not only can the weather be set to evolve in a much more dynamic and unpredictable manner, the range of conditions provided by setting races in different seasons can provide a wide range of evolving track states from session to session, ensuring no setup is always universally good, tire choices become much more relevant and the driver might need to adapt his style as the race progresses - cold environment temperatures for example may make keeping tire and brake temps in their optimal range harder, at the same time give the engine a bit more oomph - a combination that can be far more tricky than the same setup on warmer weather. At the other end of the scale, a very hot summer day may mean that softer tire compound you´ve been driving all weekend isn´t really suitable for the race, and drivers may need to open up their radiator and brake ducts to ensure the cars can make the distance. Naturally, users who might prefer to rely on more stable conditions and less setup fiddling can stick to running their sessions as they have so far, using specific weather with the default date for the track, which are usually set to a summer day in the chosen location. Along with Real Weather, users will now be able configure LiveTrack presets for each session - you can set the track to start wet, damp, and any range of dry states ranging from a green track to a heavily rubbered one. If running Real Weather, the preset will be influenced by the weather in the preceding hours of the day and hour the session is starting - say that you set your race to start at 14h local time on a given location, at a time the weather was clear, but following a morning of heavy rain - appropriately, the track will still be wet at the time you chose for the start of your race. Pretty cool isn´t it? One final relevant note here is that Real Weather with accurate track presets will not yet be available in Multiplayer as of v1.2 - this should happen in time for the next update. Making Beautiful Dynamics Beautiful With the ever-expanding set of locations, regional climates, eras, different landscapes and vegetation as well as weather conditions, Automobilista 2 is a massively challenging project from an artistic POV. Fortunately, it is made viable by a truly exceptional, versatile and optimized graphics engine, and a team of artists that simply doesn´t grasp the meaning of "good enough". Led by our man @ilya, the team has continued to go above and beyond the call of duty, simultaneously producing new tracks at the exceptional rate our plans demand, and continuing to raise the artistic standards and updating older content as they go. Many of these efforts have come to a head in v1.2 - various lighting & HDR adjustments go a long way to delivering more realistic representations of various climates, and better integrate cars into environment; we have also made some initial progress on shadow cascading, leading to much improved shadows specially at longer distances; and various texture improvements going a long way in capturing the wear & tear of real race tracks. The results are truly sights to behold - come rain or sunshine, night or day, whether revving it up through the hills of Virginia in the fall, navigating the Ardennes forest in the bitter winter, enjoying a typical foggy British morning in Spring or kicking up dust in the arid lands of Monterey California in the summer, the stunning & detailed visuals will place you there, producing a range of different atmospheres with an unprecedented level of realism in a race sim. Cars have also received a lot of love, with various fixes, material updates and a whole set of new driver outfits ranging from the 60´s to the 90´s all the way to modern drivers. Dirt build-up glitches have been fixed, with cars now presenting very realistic levels of dirt accumulation over a session. Please note that while all tracks will feature some level of foliage customization per season, the more in-depth art work so far has been concentrated on the Premium tracks - other locations will receive similar treatment in future updates, to the extent they are needed - obviously far less foliage variation seen on Brazilian tracks for example where we basically only have two seasons, rainy hot for 8 months and mild chilly dry for 4! Physics Development All of the awesome developments above would naturally be worth little in a racing sim if the driving experience wasn´t up to par - thankfully, v1.2 also packs another substantial physics revamp across the board following recent discoveries made on the physics engine, and feedback from beta testers so far seem to bare out their significance. Physics development has obviously been constant since initial release and specially in recent months, in a process that may have appeared never-ending and a bit confusing for users, as physics for certain cars have changed substantially from month to month. Despite our best efforts towards concentrating these physics revisions and reaching a stable state ASAP, the reality is that as much as we may plan, expect and hope to hit certain milestones within a given timeframe, sometimes there´s no speeding up a learning curve - it takes time to get a grasp on a new physics engine, learning its peculiarities and getting the best out of it. Even after well over a decade working on the ISI PMotor engine, we were still learning new things about it, and how to model our understanding of vehicle dynamics (itself a constant learning curve) in it. While some of that work and learning has carried over into AMS2, the new and highly sophisticated tire and driveline models in the Madness engine presented its own challenges. While we don´t expect this will be the last step in that learning curve - it never is for anyone who is serious about developing a racing simulator - we believe the physics have reached a stage of maturity with v1.2 that are truly representative, and which will allow things to evolve at a more gradual pace from now on. AI Evolution An extensive calibration pass to even out the playing field following all the physics developments in recent updates along with an expanded range of driver personalities should result in higher quality, more consistent challenge from AI in single player races. Audio - Hear That Progress Just as important as the visuals and physics is the sonic experience, and V1.2 packs some great improvements in the area too, with @Domagoj Lovric and @SHR Modding truly beginning to flex the muscles of the FMOD engine further. The main development on the audio front is a new surface sound model, delivering more realistic and informative tire sound effects which are very useful in giving better audio cues to the driver as to what the car is doing, when wheels are about to lock up or the rear beginning to slide. As important as the improved feedback is the fact that new system is much better optimized, lessening chances of CPU bottlenecks that could create problems and even cause reliability issues in Multiplayer sessions. The cars themselves are also more alive, with new ignition cut-off developments boosting grunty limiter and traction control sounds. Some of the most significant progress in audio design is particularly evident on the new content, which can be nicely heard on this preview of V1.2 by @steelreserv: Those more attuned with the GTE class will pick up on some creative licensing with the sounds of the Porsche RSR, still featuring the glorious straight exhaust sounds from the previous generation model. Unfortunately the COVID situation hasn´t really presented us with an opportunity to record the latest model yet, but those who hear the car in-game hopefully will agree that this is a very acceptable placeholder! Championships - Create Your Own! AMS2 V1.2 also marks the introduction of another highly anticipated feature, as users will now be able to create their own championship seasons - choose the classes, select the tracks, customize the dates (with the option for Real Weather don´t forget, historical or current), pick a scoring system and get on with the racing! When combined with the range of content and options in AMS2, this is a truly powerful tool that will bring a whole new dimension to AMS2 single player racing. In testing this feature internally, I´m having a hard time stopping myself from just going one more round - somehow all the tracks I chose in my customized championship season seem appealing to me! And it will only get better as @Dave Stephenson who did an exceptional job putting this together in-game, for an UI and game structure not designed to support it continues to polish it further - the feature, while fully functional will still be considered Beta as of V1.2, with plans to expand options further and improve the UI presentation in subsequent updates. Important Notes Going into V1.2 Here are some more important considerations to take into account as you prepare for the release of AMS2 v1.2 and the Racin´ USA Pack: Settings reset - We strongly recommend users to delete the content of their Documents\Automobilista 2\savegame\tuningsetups , as some old settings may cause game breaking issues with the latest physics developments. Beware also that existing championship seasons will also be invalidaded with the championship mode updates. Disk Space - Users are advised to ensure they have 10-15GB worth of disk space in their AMS2 install to accommodate the addition of seasonal foliage sets for all tracks. Time Trial - While a more thorough evaluation will be made following release to verify its necessity, it´s almost certain that a new and hopefully definitive reset to existing Time Trial leaderboards may be required as the physics and LiveTrack updates will render times set with some cars as of v126.96.36.199 unnatainable, and older setups obsolete. Performance - The latest developments should generally result in improved shadow quality overall but also some side effects and a minor performance hit under the same settings - generally settings have been bumped a quality level so if you previously were running shadows on Ultra and experience a performance hit with v188.8.131.52, consider switching to High setting as it should still provide improvements relative to V184.108.40.206 Ultra - same if you were running High and switching to Medium in V220.127.116.11, and Medium to Low. DLC Purchase Options Users interested in picking up the Racin´ USA Pt1 Pack will have several options to pick from, with one of them hopefully fitting their purchases so far and plans for acquiring further DLC in the future. Essentially, there will be 4 ways of acquiring the contents of the pack: Buying the Racin´ USA Pt1 as standalone - self explanatory, buying Pt1 separately from any other DLC or Expansion available or to be released for AMS2 Buying the Racin´ USA Full Expansion Pack - This Pack includes Part 1 along with parts 2 and 3 to be released later in 2021 Buying the 2020-2022 Season Pass - if you buy this or already have it, you are all set in terms of AMS2 DLCs all the way to the end of 2022 Buying the Premium Expansion Packs - this will be a new option targetted for those who bought the Premium Track Pack, essentially expanding that purchase into a full 2020-2022 Season Pass. DLC Tracks to be Available for All in Multiplayer Living up to a promise made a few months ago, all DLC tracks will as of v1.2 be available for all users in a Multiplayer session, whether they own the track or not. The DLC cars in turn will remain available exclusively for owners, although you can still race against them as opponents if the race is set to allow a class which content you do own. Although all the developments mentioned previously in this update also contribute to boosting Multiplayer racing directly or indirectly, there will be more Multiplayer-centric features incoming in next few months to help increase Multiplayer action around AMS2. Facebook Q & A As proposed in last month´s Dev Update, I´ve recently conducted a Q&A session through the AMS2 Facebook page, and it´s filled with many questions and replies other users may find of releance - the full transcript of the Q&A will be posted here on the forum shortly. And as I glance to the bottom right of my desktop I can see that this is a wrap for the month of May, and so it is also for this Dev Update - we continue hard at work for this weekend´s update, and then straight on for the next milestones at the end of June - there´s no stopping when you are having fun! We´ll catch up again then!