The Last Garage Previews All-New Sim Racing Platform

The Last Garage Previews All-New Sim Racing Tech Platform RD.jpg
Images: The Last Garage
Former rFactor 2 stalwart, Marcel Offermans, has created a fresh sim racing physics platform. He and his company, The Last Garage, will showcase a playable build later this week at the Sim Formula Europe event and hope other developers use it for upcoming games and simulation titles.

If you created a wishlist of base-level technical specs that an ideal racing simulation platform could hit, then there’s a chance it may read something like this:
  • Custom physics engine running at 1000Hz
  • Support for laser-scanned circuits
  • Virtual reality and triple-screen compatibility
Marcel Offermans had a similar idea. In fact, this isn’t a wishlist at all, but instead the bullet point list of features in his new sim racing foundation.

Not only that, but most of those features are also functional right now and can be played by anyone who visits the Dutch university town of Maastricht this coming weekend. More specifically, at the Sim Formula Europe event.

From rFactor to The Last Garage​

Following work on rFactor 2 as Managing Director for nearly six years, and on various rFactor-related projects prior, Offermans left the Motorsport Games stewarded Studio 397 in 2022. He then founded a new business, The Last Garage. This new operation has worked as consultants on various projects alongside creating a brand new driving simulation platform.

“After leaving Studio 397 and Motorsport Games in spring 2022, I knew I wanted to continue to be part of the sim racing community,” explains the experienced director and software architect to RaceDepartment.

“It is a little-known fact that around Christmas 2015, before embarking on the adventure with Studio 397, I spent three weeks during my holiday developing a racing simulation.

“Obviously that was only going to be a limited effort, and I was mostly using off-the-shelf components, but I managed to get a car driving around a track in that timeframe. So, I have always been interested in developing a racing simulation, and I simply thought, it’s now or never!”

Unique 1000Hz Driving Physics Tech​

The new project isn’t a progeny of rFactor 2, however, but something completely different. The physics are said to be created from scratch by the fledgling outfit. It’s emphatically stressed that the technology has not been based upon, or licenced, from any existing technology.

The 1000Hz physics engine – comparing favourably on paper to titles such as Forza Motorsport (360Hz) and Assetto Corsa Competizione (400Hz) – has been created with a ‘modular’ approach. From the offset, vehicles with three, four and six wheels (we’re looking at you Tyrell!), are possible, or even vehicles with two engines.

While the physics are custom, the open-source graphics engine Godot 4 has been leveraged for the visuals. Its Vulkan-based Forward+ rendering should avoid the ungainly ‘ghosting’ visual effect sometimes seen in driving titles using different graphics systems.

The Last Garage modual car sim racing physics.jpg


Outside of the core driving experience, native DDU support should mean that the information shown “in platform” on the car’s dashboard and a rig-mounted display unit can align without the need for third-party software. In theory, a DDU could then also be used for a rear-view mirror.

VR support is in active development and is slated to arrive further down the development path, but triple screens are functional already.

Similarly, the day/night cycle includes support for air density, wind speed and direction and is working at present, with dynamic weather set to follow.


A New Foundation For Future Sim Titles​

It’s worth noting that this isn’t necessarily going to be a complete and shipped sim racing platform by The Last Garage, but rather a fresh game engine that can be used to create new titles by additional studios – as Offermans explains:

“My overall end goal, if there ever is such a thing, is to complete the foundation of a new engine that can then be used to create various new racing simulations, plus creating a sustainable business with a team of experts that enjoy this as much as I do.

“I don’t have a solid plan in terms of which simulation will come first. I’m exploring different options and talking to a few partners, but it’s way too early to announce anything today.”

With that in mind, don’t expect a complete sim ready for this year. For example, currently, there’s only one track, Bridgehampton.

But instead, imagine the possibilities. If The Last Garage can continue to build upon this testbed and create a platform that’s approachable for other developers, then (we hope) this becomes a viable alternative to some of the more venerable physics systems available.

One key question remains – how does it drive? The RaceDepartment and OverTake team will be at the Sim Formula Europe event this week to test it, and we’ll be reporting back with further details and our hands-on impressions… stay tuned!

Let us know your questions in the comments below, and we'll ask The Last Garage a selection of them soon.
About author
Thomas Harrison-Lord
A freelance sim racing, motorsport and automotive journalist. Credits include Autosport Magazine, Motorsport.com, RaceDepartment, OverTake, Traxion and TheSixthAxis.

Comments

I don't see it mentioned here but I just wanted to make it clear that Marcel reached out to me about using Bridgehampton for this promo. I have worked with him a bit to help get the track working in godot and have the shaders work in a similar manner of the original AC version. I have driven the sim and it's pretty damn cool. Brings me back to when I first started playing with AC in early access. I've gotten to know Marcel pretty well over the last few months and he is a great guy, and I'm super excited about this project and its potential.
 
Premium
I don't see it mentioned here
Thanks for the kind words and all your help with getting the track in game. It's a true masterpiece and certainly one of my favorites! I guess this is a good moment to thank you and a few others for their contributions. Mirza, Niels, Daniel, Mauricio, Radu and Rainer! You know who you are. And of course my partner Erica for having the faith in me to pull this off and not complaining when I worked crazy hours.
 
Certainly takes care of some of the annoying game-engine technology holes. However, nothing was mentioned/shown about tires or suspensions not based on double-wishbones. Graphic lighting appears a little old-school, but that's the least of my concerns.
 
OverTake
Premium
Certainly takes care of some of the annoying game-engine technology holes. However, nothing was mentioned/shown about tires or suspensions not based on double-wishbones. Graphic lighting appears a little old-school, but that's the least of my concerns.
We will follow up with more information and also more screenshots/videos.

Already had the chance to see it in action (seeing forces being applied etc.) as well as seeing some very promising graphical elements (for example road signs throwing 2 shadows, correctly with the 2 frontlights etc.)
 
I just hope the game engine has the infrastructure for programmers to create fully functioning immersive FCY events which is highly lacking in todays sims. They are all broken to various degrees and extremely immersion breaking and also creates boring races (if FCY's don't come out enough or at all) or unplayable messes (if they come out for every incident no matter the severity). To be fair, I don't know if this is a game engine fault or a programming fault.

Also, I hope it supports more than 32 cars. I honestly would rather have lower grade graphics, have it run on more systems and allow full grids even at Nürburgring. Built in (optional) ghosting in pit lane and automatic multiple cars in the same pitstall would greatly inhance mods. Even though rf1 could handle ~100 cars, the modded tracks were a nightmare catering to it and some modders didn't know or just didn't think about making it compatible with double pitstalls. If this is all just built in, it would be a great leap forward.
 
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Premium
Certainly takes care of some of the annoying game-engine technology holes. However, nothing was mentioned/shown about tires or suspensions not based on double-wishbones. Graphic lighting appears a little old-school, but that's the least of my concerns.
Those are great questions to answer when the people from RaceDepartment visit Sim Formula to try it for themselves. I am sure they will compile questions from this thread. If anything gets overlooked I will answer it here after the event.
 
@Marcel Offermans glad see you back to the sim industry!
Always appreciated your attitude and work!

To be honest I was sad when you leaved rF2 team but looks like it was a good move in the end.

Would be great if this could be a mix in-between a full sim and an open source project as we talked a lot in the past.
Modding community would appreciate it and would open it to new ideas and features in-game too.

Just to sort it now...
There will be multiplayer support too?
 
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Premium
Always exciting to see new real Sims coming to our PC's and best of luck with the development.....and hopefully it will have a fully functioning 'Photo Mode' with 'Time of Day' / 'Sun Direction' / 'Depth of Field' adjustments etc to maximise the success rate of every screenshot made:rolleyes::roflmao:....eventually anyway:D

Great to see you back Mr Offermans:)....'Crowd Funding' opportunity maybe;)
 
So exciting to see. Thank you Marcel and collaborators for this! :inlove: Can't wait to see what comes next.

Many excellent ideas here. In particular, I'm excited by the combination of modular high-refresh custom physics with an open source high-quality graphics engine (Godot)... even if not fully open-source, this seems like a great compromise to provide as open and high-quality a foundation as possible for other developers and the community to build upon.

We had a real heyday of sim racing titles in the 2000s when many games were built on common technology: isiMotor2. Plus we've learned the benefits of openness from both ISI and Kunos (with Assetto Corsa 1). I'm already dreaming of a future heyday where maybe, just maybe... this game engine from Marcel and co. might provide a similar foundation for the future.
 
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