CTDP On Their Past, Present & Future

Team CTDP has published a detailed and honest blog posting, outlining the team’s past, present & future as the team faces the struggles of a changing community.

CTDP has been active in the sim racing community for more than 10 years now, starting out in Microprose’s Grand Prix and moving onto rFactor & rFactor 2. The team released their most complex mod for rFactor as F1 2006 aimed to recreate a complete Formula One season including all shape & livery changes on every single car, something that has never been done before in simulation racing.

The new blog post explains the philosophy behind this approach and gives some insight on the team’s future. With simulations becoming more complex, it becomes harder for Teams like CTDP to take advantage of all the possibilities, especially as the team size is actually shrinking. It will come as no surprise that a talented bunch like CTDP will raise interest from professional developers, leading some members to leave the team to turn their hobby into a career.

Due to that and other causes, the team is currently down to just five members, slowing down progress on future projects. Due to that, the team’s International Formula Master mod for rFactor 2 might turn out to be their last ever project as the team will decide afterwards whether to move on with F1 1994 for rFactor 2.

For more info on all this, I can only stress that everyone should check out their detailed posting here.

Whatever happens to the team in the future, CTDP has left sim racing a legacy of the finest content created by a group of hobbyists, making them quite possibly the only mod team whose logo has been tattooed onto a fellow supporter.

GTOmegaRacing.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1711429307 Chris Wright

    I think the reality is that the increasing complexity of the sims we are now starting to use, such as PCars and rF2, probably represent a sea change in our hobby. We can all think of long-anticipated modding projects that have never seen the light of day. That’s because unlike flight simulation, for example, sim race modding has continued to be a hobby, rather than a way of making a living as a pro developer. It will indeed be sad if we end up with an awesome new sim like rF2 but no community members that feel able to rise to the challenge of producing mods of the quality that we have all seen and enjoyed by the likes of CTDP.

    It is very disappointing to read their blog and recognize that times have indeed changed. However, it is quite understandable and, if we are being honest with ourselves, absolutely inevitable.

    Maybe we will see a new wave of pro developers with payware mods. In some ways GSC and ARCA have been ahead of the curve in that respect. It is inevitable, I believe, that this will be our sim racing future.

    And before anyone says that money and mods don’t mix, I for one would happily part with cash to see the fruition of a project like Virtua LM’s Group C project.

    This is a business model that has served the flight sim community for a long time. Perhaps the only surprise is that sim racing has last this long with hardly any payware mods.

    • Anonymous

      I believe payware mods is the way to go with free licensed content. There’s always a car maker or a track out there somewhere that is willing to license their content for free and maybe get a return on the number of purchases made. At least this way modders can get payed for their time spent making the track or car.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Considine/1530677670 Chris Considine

        Yeah I think you are correct.  Payware would be a great avenue for these modders.  
        I think that the developers themselves need to create a system that would allow them to sell their work and protect it from piracy.  A sort of app store for simulations.  At app store style, micro purchase prices, I bet the market would even accept the shift from freeway to payware.

        Imagine this scenario:

        The developer creates an app store built right into the game.  They have a team that verifies that the mod has no errors, viruses, and no copywrited material (no trade names or logos).  They also provide a simple payment method.  This store could auto update content as new releases come available and even support a user and editorial review system.  All of this could be wrapped in a simple and easy to use UI.  For this, they get a commission for every sale.  

        The modder creates the content and uploads it to ISI for approval.  They are incentiveized to keep the content current and bug free to encourage more sales.  For this, they get to set the price and earn revenue on every sale.

        The user gets a simple system to locate and install mods at a reasonable price.  

        Everybody wins!

        I’ve worked with a lot of content developers.  It’s a lot work to create these masterpieces.  Most do it for the love of it, but there is no reason why they should not be rewarded for their hard work.

      • Koen Calleyl

         Well, speaking a a modder myself, payware always has been an
        interesting idea. But I have to say that I’m dedicated to F1 carmodeling
        more than anything else. Other type of racing cars mostly hardly
        interest me, not to mention fictional cars. And that’s where the
        ‘copyrighted material’ comes in.

        I believe for all modders the aim of accuracy and perfectionism in their
        virtual copy of the real cars is their ultimate goal, rather than
        creating some fantasy car.

        I did a few commercial projects in the past, which were all related to
        existing open wheeler cars; I’d reject the first offer to model a
        fictional car honestly…

        But also I feel, that the times I started with Ralph Hummerich on F1
        Challenge 99-02 are totally different as it’s now, there is a constant
        grow of pressure on modteams to perform…sad enough :(

      • http://twitter.com/Dahie Daniel S.

        Not in the current legal situation. I played with the idea in my head for over 3 years and when it comes down to it, you can only do it in safely with fantasy mods. Licenses will always be in the way as long as we don’t change policies and laws.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Considine/1530677670 Chris Considine

        I’m pretty sure you can create a car or track that has a striking resemblance to a real one, but with out logos or proper names, they are free from license.

        In fact, don’t many game companies already do this?

        Personally, I would love to have a really well made Porsche race car, but could care less if they called it a Porsche and had the logos on it.

      • http://twitter.com/eralerf Stefan T.

         This isn’t about getting paid for our work. After all there was always the option to donate something to the team to help with paying server bills etc. but that never happend. We all know that the majority in this community just want to grab something for free. Again: this isn’t about the money.

        It’s about the lack of time which is somewhat a result of us modders getting older. When most of us started we went to school or university. We were younger and we’ve had much more time. When you’re getting older you get a job, house, family that eats up a lot of your spare time. Don’t want to say that we haven’t time or aren’t interested in modding any more. But the time left to modding isn’t that much as it was some years ago.

        Also a lot of people left the group because of various reasons which you can look up in the article. So the people that are left already have not that much spare time to mod and on the other hand should compensate the loss of these people.

        For me the problem lies with the upcoming modders. There aren’t that many new guys that are willing to spend the time needed to create a scratch made mod and learn something new to improve your work. Today it’s just ripping game X and putting it into game Y.

        CTDP would need new people but what do you wan’t with those untalented guys that just can convert a model with 3dsimed or whatever? There aren’t that many talented people in our community that are willing to spend the time needed and stay on the ball for more than a few weeks.

      • Anonymous


         This isn’t about getting paid for our work.” 

        “It’s about the lack of time which is somewhat a result of us modders getting older”

        “When you’re getting older you get a job, house, family that eats up a lot of your spare time.” 

        You contradicted your first assertion that it’s not about getting paid for your work ,  I think you are still correct though that obviously family and other things do take away from time and time is an affect to everything. But if you were getting paid a decent wage for mod work you would then not need a job which would then give you the time. 

        I myself am a software developer and would personally make content for driving simulators if It would pay me for the work that goes into’it .

         I’m not sure if people realise the scale of the work that goes into making a track.

         For example a professional quality mid size Rf2 or Pcars style track has about the same amount of 3d asset and texture work interims of man hours as a budget wii game would have.

        For the same amount of time it would take to make a mid to large professional RF2 track An artist could produce a couple of architectural renderings worth 1,500$ – 5000$ each maybe more.

        For the same amount of time it takes to make one track you could produce all the art work for a high quality I phone game .

        The reality is from a commercial stand point if sum one has the talent to make high quality tracks deal with all the specific technical and work flow issues that games present then they should be getting paid for that work.

         I understand people wanting to do things as a hobby and its grate that people do things for free for there personal enjoyment and for the betterment of the community and the art. But at the same time whether or not  people like it we live in a capitalist society and from that we have to make sure when large chunks of our time are taken up we can still have enough money to live on.

         Its also the case that for all the work the mod teams put out companies that produce the original game benefit financially from that so surely the people making the content should see some of that. 

        In the end If people want high quality mods then they will have to start paying for it and in some ways they already have , In that mod teams that don’t split up tend to go the route of licencing an engine and making there own game.

        Though this route can work I think its needlessly complex and excludes the potential for an individual artist /coder to produce content and licence it , As soon as you have a company to manage a good 20-35% of your time is taken up with management and separate concerns to the production of content. 

        Driving Sims need something like Valve’s Steam works but unfortunately driving simulators are quite a niche sector with most Sim developers operating on I assume quite small margins , it would be quite a distraction for them to implement such a thing.

        Add to that the reality that large publishers are going to be attracted to consoles and the fact that DLC produced by hiring and training small teams of people would be far more profitable and efficient its unlikely we will see such a thing for sim games. I would like WMD and SMS to prove me wrong mind you :)

      • http://twitter.com/eralerf Stefan T.

         You’re somewhat right on the money thing. If modding was a job where you could earn good money things would probably look different. But there are many things to consider. Even if our community would pay for mods (which they wouldn’t and we all know that) there are other things to consider. Most importantly: licenses!

        Modding is just a hobby. So if someone thinks he should be paid for the car/track he just modeled he shouldn’t waste his time with modding.

      • Anonymous

        Yah I agree , this is why i think you need something like steam works or something only a huge publisher could deliver in that they might own the licnces for content and alow the comunty to develop on that , but then it comes to that other piont that in that case the publish might as well just make it themselfs and sell it as DLC + i dobt many licences would want any joe blogs “tarnishing” there brand. 

        In many ways this whole issue is a reflection of how slow cultures can be to catch up with technologies, car manufacturers and licence holders only just got to grip with TV licencing that took what 40 years , asking them to understand the internet , mass development , and things that only came about in the last 7-10 years is to much lol. 

        Oh and its another good argument for how some laws can stifle art and creativity instead of protecting artists the laws often support the finical exploiters.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=626905826 Timothy Wheatley

      Well to me it doesn’t sound like ‘times changes’ as much as their lives did. Everyone grows up, gets a family, etc. The spare time does lessen…

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Renato-Simioni/1556380242 Renato Simioni

        One important thing to observe is that as games / modding platforms evolve, the goalposts for modding development effectively grow wider. The amount of manpower / man-hours involved to produce a good mod for rF2 is more than it was in rF, which in turn was more than it was in F1C. There´s a lot more scope for development the more advanced the platform is. This does tend to make quality modding inviable as a part-time hobby – and sure, real life and adulthood tends to get in the way too :)

        The paradox here is that as these platforms evolve with more and more cool features, the harder it gets to find people with combined talent, know-how, passion and availability to explore it. The tendency in the modding landscape is for real quality projects to become rarer than they already are.

        EDIT – just noticed I basically repeated what Chris had said above :)

  • http://twitter.com/Loose89 Louis W

    As soon as you introduce payware though there will be certain companies and certain championships that will want the modders to pay for licenses which so far freeware modders havent needed as they weren’t making money off the product. Also introducing payware mods can also complicate how other mods and expansions work, with some free ware mods requiring certain payware elements to work which then leads to users being turned off the product as they don’t want to pay x amount of money for a track, car or series.

    It’s an interesting idea but it won’t improve the standard of modding or significantly increase the amount of modders IMO 

    • http://twitter.com/Dahie Daniel S.

      Money is neither an issue nor a solution. New settings new incentives in the community and reducing the complexity of Modding would be my bets. Both not easy to do and certainly not from within the system.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry to hear a great team having difficulties. CTDP has been a big name in the scene. 

    That said, i see the Modding/Payware  discussion open again.  In my opinion, Modding and money dont mix. It would mean the end of modding for various reasons.

    • http://twitter.com/eralerf Stefan T.

       This isn’t about payware and I hope everyone that read the article can see that. But maybe people will realize that the modders that were in the scene for many years won’t be there forever and the community will need new talented people that are able to produce great content.

      If those people aren’t coming up – which is what I’m afraid could happen – someday there will be mostly crappy mods left to play.

  • Anonymous

    Paid mods to the extent that a modder or modding group could live off them are a long ways off. Stefan and Daniel mentioned licenses that add to the cost. With a pay-model side-sourcing textures or models would be less likely, further increasing the time and effort needed. With payment introduced you’d also need much better quality control than most mod teams or modders currently use.

    And then there is that elephant in the room: When modding becomes a job, it’s not a hobby anymore. It’s more than just a change in how you feel about it. When it’s a job, it means spending 8-10 hours a day. When you’re nearing release it means slaving over small stuff and at best secondary issues like uploading/hosting/PR. What might be fun at 4-5 hours a day whenever you feel like it could quickly become just another job that gets you down.
    You’d also have to “advance” your time and effort as you’ll only be paid
    on completion. Who could afford spending 6-9 months without incoming
    money, and who would run the associated risk of not coming out at least
    even from that project? That constitutes a humongous step up from just
    doing it on the side.

    Personally I figure I could produce a proper Virtua_LM level track from scratch in 6-8 months of full-time work. For that to pay me a competitive wage I’d need upwards of 20.000€, excluding taxes, license fees  and any overhead. Fuji v1.0 has been downloaded 6790 times so far. Sounds easy enough, right? 3€ a pop and we’d be there. Problem is, people don’t pay. Daniel has said it already, donations are non-existent. How many are actually willing to pay? A tenth? Then we’d be up to 30€ per person. Yeah, I don’t see that happening just yet. Either prices need to go up a lot or we need a lot more people in total and/or a bigger percentage willing to pay. Again, a huge financial risk.
    I sincerely hope GSC and other similar projects were sufficiently successful to bring food onto the table of those involved.

    However: There are plenty of ways to improve the current state of modding without going full-out (and full-risk) by turning it into a for-profit arena:
    - providing indirect modding support through offering download mirrors, modding coverage, league support, management support, creative new plugins or services (like rF2rank) or even just giving constructive feedback where applicable. We have no modding and files nexus anymore after the rFc debacle. We have no broad-range forum anymore after RSC’s demise. All  we have are the ISI forums where some remnants of a modding community try to keep it alive. I set up a track modding “aggregating” site at trackcreation.net as a side-project that can simply never be as effective and all-encompassing as VirtualR or rFc were in its best days but with so few people contributing, it’s among the best we have due to pure lack of alternatives. Get involved!
    - help people get better at modding. A track creation school was suggested on the ISI forums and I love the idea. I do think we are currently too few people to build and sustain it but it would be lovely to get it started. Until then I do my best to answer even basic questions on forums. Help out!
    - and finally but most importantly: Being appreciative of modding efforts. I’m sick to death of working my ass off and then getting disrespected or insulted for it. Payment isn’t necessary but at least let us off without adding insult to our “injury” of invested time and effort. The next time you see someone being less than appreciative of modding content being provided for free, feel free to speak up and tell them off. This goes beyond the personal level of a modder not being happy – every modder who doesn’t release or leaves modding altogether is an immense loss to the community. Someone who isn’t here anymore can’t help out others. Someone who isn’t here anymore can not produce material to inspire others.
    “Low” quality mods are perfectly fine! They don’t hurt anyone and they are a necessary first step to someone becoming a better modder! Nobody released stuff as good as Virtua_LM or CTDP when they first started. When you discourage those just beginning their journey, nobody will stay on long enough to reach the “heights” of modding. Be kind and appreciative!

    • http://www.entropyxel.com/ Tuttle

      Very nice post mate…:)

  • MrNone

    i don’t understanding ISI.. why not hire this guys (and VLM, WSGT…) ?

    rfactor 1 & 2 has the worst cars/tracks presentation. Graphic outdated… 3D models are rubbish, ugly  textures. 

    If mods saves the rf content, why not give the deserved money to this guys ?

    • http://twitter.com/Dahie Daniel S.

      Again and again, this is not an issue about money!
      We don’t want to be hired. Everyone of us, who is active at CTDP at the moment had a number of opportunities to “rise up” into the industry and start a career from this. The point is, we decided against it, because we are already building a career outside of simracing and Modding is our relief, hobby and is not supposed to become anything else! Many years ago we decided not go professional with CTDP and it was a good decision, because we have all the freedom we could want and are not bound to any commercial interest you’d otherwise have to deal with. CTDP is our hobby, a time consuming hobby and with less available people and with more stuff to do per available time, it becomes very very difficult to continue with this hobby. This is what it is all about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/1KennyJay Kenny Jay

    What I see is that we still use the modding tools from 1998 in many segments, but the requirement is much higher. New automatisms, especially when it comes to 3d would be appreciated. Also the connection between 2D and 3D (Viewers and Editors)….

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, this is my own post from F1C months ago:
      “You can either convert something from professional game, spend 3 hours on it and become famous on sites like this or spend 150 hours on something made from scratch and become infamous for making pixelated boxes.
       And it will become worse and worse in future because as technology progresses, it is possible for graphics to look better and better but it’s NOT easier to make it.”
      Sure I exaggerate a bit, its not pixelated boxes, but it becomes harder and harder to keep up with standards for those who do it for free.

      • Eric Zehnder

        Hmm, not sure if I follow. The community of racing sims will eventually evolve with CPUs taking care of everything in the physics and ever escalating levels of graphics made easier by pre-made graphics engines (CryEngine 3?) where things are mostly drop in and play.

        Eventually I see powerful enough processors able to realistically calculate all the forces at work and air moving over the body to produce realism through brute calculations. Computational Fluid Dynamics, I believe it’s called, was once something only a super computer could do, then something all car manufacturers use, to something that should be doable by a sim racers’ rig in a game within a few years or more.

        Look at that game Automation! Crazy stuff coming to end users’ finger tips!

      • http://twitter.com/Dahie Daniel S.

        Still, you need somebody creating the tracks, models, textures and with with the rising effort to get those accurate and with modern technologies for materials, shaders, and HDR, the air gets thin at the top.

        We figured, we reach a point, where it’s great to have the options and possibilities in our modding platforms, but we lack the people to exploit the potential. Without sensible defaults, good conventions and easer accessibility we will get many more mediocre Mods, that don’t try to use the potential that’s there. And if the source material is not good enough for the engine, the engine can only do so much to save it.

      • Anonymous

        It doesnt matter how fast processors we have. The simulators have no idea what they are doing, they are just computing faster than 10years ago. Modders still have to put all the numbers, parameters of the cars just like they always had. With newer sims there will be more params, you can’t automate that. So everything becomes more and more time consuming, not the other way round. 

        To fully utilise all options of rf2 physics engine is much more difficult than say GPL.

  • Eric Zehnder

    Normal situation: Working a job to make money so you can afford to have hobbies that you normally don’t have enough time for.

    Dream situation: Being paid to work on your hobby.

    I certainly don’t know enough about any of these (or other) modding members’ personal lives but it does sound like being picked up by ISI, SMS, Kunos, or SimBin would be a dream job for someone in that situation. :/

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000228634387 Andreas Neidhardt

      Well that could be the case. I can only speak for myself. I’m working in the 3D industry and even in the automotive 3D industry. So 3D is an essential part of my work life. And to be honest, I love the modding because it’s something different. It’s something I can work on as long until I’m happy with the result. It’s something were I can try everything I can’t try at work and that’s the difference. Having time pressure to deliver, having the need to put as much work as possible into a project within a given timeframe etc., I have all that at work and I don’t need that in my private life,too. As soon as I make my hobby (in this case modding) to my job, it’s not fun anymore. That’s why we clearly decided not to go professional. Everybody within the team decided for his own reasons and I still think that was a good decision. Of course we helped out ISI with SLF and we’re pretty proud. But that was just a “nice to have”, no “must have”. Same with the presence on the games convention when we showed a video of our mod at the booth of “qantm” college. So we were part of a game production, we were at the games convention and our mods were featured in german pc gaming magazines,too. So there are no “big goals” for us left, even if they’re – as I said – nice to have. And going professional is at the moment at least for me not an option. Dennis (Ethone) pointed out pretty good, why. So what’s left? Yes my only motivation is the pure joy of modding atm. And if I’m not happy with modding anymore, I will certainly stopp doing it. Simple as that. That moment has not come yet, but I don’t know how long that will last……

  • Anonymous

    Hi guys, 

    I find it really sad reding your article. But in my opinion it is not only the new complexity of the sims which makes it harder to create quality content. It is also a changing community. I would like to take the example of the VLM release of their latest LeMans track. This track has been heavily criticized, not beeing up to VLM standards…… bla bla. For me this is one of the reasons why modding doesn’t seem to work anymore like it used to do before. On the one hand  everybody wants free tracks and cars in different variations without paying a penny, one the other hand the work released is criticized like if we had payed a fortune for it. I have nothing against suggestions how to make even better content, but I hate to read through forums were good modders get insulted for their work. 

    CTDP, I wish you all the best. Thanx for hours of great fun with your work. If there will be a paying model for mods one day, I will be happy to pay for your work.   

    A+
    Dan

    • http://twitter.com/eralerf Stefan T.

      As a modder you also have to evolve. People play games like Forza, GT, pCARS etc. see the current quality standard in the industry. Then they’re coming back to rF/rF2 and see what modders produce. It’s pretty hard to get to the industry standards and it takes time.

      That shouldn’t be an excuse for low quality mods as I think a lot of modders could improve their work if they’re willing to spend the time and try to think outside of our little modding box.

      I can understand both sides: modders and gamers. In the end every modder is also a gamer. At least I am. And I wouldn’t cheer about a mod that looks like it was made 7 years ago. On the other hand high quality takes it’s time (if you’re willing to spend it). And if nobody is willing to join the modding scene and help we all should accept that releasing mods will take a LOT of time.

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