Soundbyte 387 – Riders on the Storm


Saturday evening, the wind is howling through the trees, as I return from my evening walk with our dog Penny. Earlier that day, Erica and Penny did a massive 18 km trail across the beaches and dunes of the beautiful island of Ameland. Right now, with wind force seven sandblasting everything that dares to stick their head out the door, people are staying in, enjoying the calmth of their homes. Except for the dogs, who are riding the storm with their owners.

While considering several topics for this soundbyte, my mind wandered back to one of the first keynotes I attended at a conference. The speaker, whose name I have long forgotten, had a message that stuck with me for all these years. During his talk, where many young engineers were present, he emphasized how lucky we all were. No matter how badly we would mess up in our professional lives, nothing we could do would actually mean we would starve to death, or otherwise struggle to stay alive. And this, he concluded, meant that our careers and everything that happened during that time could be seen as a game, nothing more, nothing less. Now don’t take this the wrong way, he was in no way telling us our careers would be irrelevant or that we should not care about them. He was encouraging us to take risks, learn from mistakes, and enjoy the ride.

Almost three years ago, I took that advice to heart again, when talks started about taking over the development and exploitation of rFactor 2. At the time, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and even though it meant leaving my position at Luminis Technologies, it felt like the right thing to do. We started this monumental task with a small but very knowledgeable and passionate group of people. Our goal was to build the best racing simulation, and one by one we started rewriting and improving parts of the code.

Fast forward to today and we have a brand new DirectX 11 “physically based rendering” graphics engine that is optimized for racing simulations, a new user interface that is based on modern web technologies and we added a “competition system” that leverages several components developed within Luminis, such as the Cloud RTI and Information Grid. We also added a lot of licensed content in the form of cars and tracks and this new system will allow drivers to compete on-line and be ranked based on past performances.

In the meantime we took another piece of advice to heart and made sure we were prepared for pleasant surprises. No doubt the biggest one was our collaboration with Amazon Games in building The Grand Tour Game, but we’ve also collaborated with McLaren several times in creating their esports competitions and worked with various professional racing teams. The core product we have is what facilitates all these opportunities and there are many more I could talk about here to illustrate my point.

Today, Studio 397 has grown to over 30 people, and we are looking at various very exciting opportunities for the second half of 2019. Our goal is unchanged, we want to keep evolving the best racing simulation on the market. And as the wind howls around the corners of our small apartment it starts raining. I write the last sentence and prepare for bed, wishing everybody a great week!