The Last Garage Previews All-New Sim Racing Tech Platform 02
Image: The Last Garage/OverTake

The Last Garage Previews All-New Sim Racing Platform

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.

The Last Garage Sim Racing Tech, 2024 January

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 OverTake.

“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!”

The Last Garage Previews All-New Sim Racing Tech Platform Day Night Cycle

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 modular car sim racing physics

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.”

The Last Garage sim racing preview, Sim Formula Europe

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? OverTake 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, or on X @OverTake_GG, and we’ll ask The Last Garage a selection of them soon.