Autosport +

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Autosport +

Post  Matt Lewis on Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:39 pm

Anyone here subscribe to Autosport + ?

They have an article on their about BTCC in sim racing which may be an interesting read if anyone has access.

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Re: Autosport +

Post  Rob Mason on Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:27 am


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Re: Autosport +

Post  Matt Lewis on Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:42 am

Yes mate

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Re: Autosport +

Post  Rob Mason on Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:04 am

When the BTCC was king of the racing games

As part of our touring car celebration, GLENN FREEMAN looks at the great TOCA racing games of the 1990s and asks why there are no modern equivalents

By Glenn Freeman
AUTOSPORT news editor




The boom of touring car racing during the 1990s extended beyond TV ratings and big-budget manufacturer entries. While Super Touring was king of the tin-top world, the British Touring Car Championship grabbed a significant chunk of the burgeoning gaming market with its 'TOCA Touring Cars' series.

For reasons that we'll go into later, the BTCC hasn't been officially featured in a computer game for more than a decade, but if anything that rarity has added to the mystique and appeal of the games released towards the end of the 20th century.

After Codemasters approached the BTCC with the idea for the game, the first two releases of the 'TOCA' series covered the 1997 and '98 seasons. Every works team was represented (of course, there were some of us who wished the independents were in there too), and every track on the calendar was reproduced.

At the time, when the only other car-racing series to have its own fully licensed game was Formula 1, the fact that British racing circuits ranging from Silverstone and Brands Hatch to Croft and Knockhill took centre stage on a mainstream computer game was something to be treasured.

Looking at the game now, its graphics don't survive the test of time particularly well. But at the time, the second release in the series in particular was a product for the BTCC and Codemasters to be proud of.

The first, 1997-based game had brought the British championship to the masses and proved that there was a demand for more serious racing games away from F1. The second took the series on in several areas, to the point where the brand was a worthy rival to the Gran Turismo series that was launched around the same time.

TOCA was first released in 1997

The BTCC games featured several aspects of racing that even titles in the modern era fail to grasp. Ruthless opponents gave the racing a true feeling and look that replicated the TV pictures of paint-swapping action that were beamed across the nation on the BBC.

You knew, for instance, that if you pussy-footed your way into the first corner after the start, there was a fair chance that John Cleland, Jason Plato or Anthony Reid were going to fire you into the gravel at Donington's Redgate or Croft's Clervaux corners.

Was it annoying? At first, perhaps. But like many a young hotshot who was drafted into the BTCC during its heyday, you were being taught a lesson. And with a bit of perseverance and the outstretching of a few elbows you would learn to belong.

Even with the somewhat primitive controllers of that era, Codemasters managed to achieve something that was getting close to a feeling of driving on the edge. The easiest way to spin a car, on corner entry, was incredibly realistic for a front-wheel-drive machine. It meant there was a degree of skill required to fully master the game on the tougher difficulty settings, which made it rewarding for the racing purist as well as those who'd signed up primarily for the door-banging.

But the games were not just a novelty item. Series chief Alan Gow was in charge during the Super Touring era (he stepped away from 2000-03), and is convinced that the games had a positive impact on the overall appeal of the BTCC.

"We worked together very well with Codemasters," he says, "making the TOCA games one of the most successful worldwide.
"It's difficult to quantify [the impact of the games] but it certainly introduced a lot of non-motorsport followers to the BTCC and, just as importantly, put the BTCC into the mainstream of sports and media."

The official BTCC licence disappeared from the next title in the series, TOCA World Touring Cars, but the championship was represented again - with its thin-on-the-ground 2001 grid and a handful of tracks - when the first of the 'TOCA Race Driver' games was launched in '02. That, though, was the end of the road for British Touring Cars in the computer game world.

When Gow returned to the BTCC in 2003 he had a new deal in place to get the series back into the gaming market. But it never happened, as the Octagon Motorsport group that had taken over the championship in 2000 had entered into a deal of its own that inadvertently killed the chances of any more BTCC games being made.

Alan Gow
Gow had a new game deal ready © LAT

AUTOSPORT has learned that Octagon entered into a long-term exclusive deal with a games publisher, but - according to a TOCA source - the deal "completely ignored the fundamental contractual requirement that the publisher should actually produce a game".

In essence, it appears that Octagon was duped by a rival of the Codemasters/TOCA series that wanted to protect its own games by removing an opponent as popular as the BTCC. The source adds that "Gow couldn't believe his eyes" when he saw the contract on his return to the helm.
Given the progress that was made between the first and second efforts of the original BTCC games, the thought of where touring car gaming could be now is both mouthwatering and frustrating.

So, what about the future of tin-top racers? Gow, savvy as ever, is aware that the gaming market - much like the touring car regulations - has changed significantly since the BTCC's heyday of the late 1990s.

All-encompassing racers such as Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport, and even the 'Grid' series that has its roots in the original TOCA games, are the order of the day, offering players a wide variety of cars and tracks that are rarely based on real-world championships.

"In the '90s it was different because the 'generic' racing game genre hadn't really taken off and there wasn't the choice you have now," he says. "Titled games [based around a specific series] are seen as being too restrictive to the player."

In recent years, one touring car series has taken a punt on launching its own game, but it was done with little fanfare and hardly troubled any of the gaming charts. The emerging Italian-based Superstars Series released two games in 2009 and '10 with developer Milestone, which is probably best known for its World Superbike and MotoGP games.

Superstars V8 Next Challenge comes closer to recreating  

The second of those titles - Superstars V8 Next Challenge (rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?) - is as close as any game has come to recreating the feel of the original TOCA games. The cars are fun to drive, but difficult to take to the limit, and the computer-controlled opposition produces arguably the best wheel-to-wheel action ever seen in a racing game.

If there were a low-budget way to essentially 'skin' the Superstars game with BTCC cars and tracks, racing fans would have a stunning little game to get their hands on.
Unfortunately, Gow's assessment that a game like this would be too "restrictive" in the modern age is almost certainly correct, meaning that it would be very hard for the series or the publisher to get any value out of it. A repeat of the chart-topping performances of the early games (the original spent the best part of a year as one of the UK's best-sellers) would be highly unlikely.

So, unless one of the all-encompassing gaming behemoths gets to include a pack of BTCC cars among its wider variety, those without access to highly customisable PC games will have to make do with the memory of the early TOCA games from the 1990s.

In Gow's eyes, "the BTCC game[s] was of its time", but to many who played them, the early TOCA racers will always be timeless. If you've got the game and an old console buried somewhere, dig them out and give it a go. We did, and even after all these years it didn't disappoint.

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Re: Autosport +

Post  Andreas Starke on Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:39 pm

Man, my childhood just flashes by Sad
Anybody knows if there are tracks like loch rannoch or new york for rfactor?
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Re: Autosport +

Post  Matthew Allington on Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:52 pm

I have the Loch for rFactor Very Happy

...can't remember where I got it from - probably rFactor Central Razz

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Re: Autosport +

Post  Michael Pitschmann on Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:10 am

Its available for rf2 by ISI  Cool 

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