Before it released the most played and maybe even best rally simulation ever, the Warthog studio already had quite an experience with rally games. For example their Rally Championship Xtreme was probably the first rally simulation with realistic model of damage. It was even possible to tear of a wheel!
With the release of Richard Burns Rally, the studio set off a huge avalanche of mods, tracks, new physics models, sounds and anything other you can imagine. It’s been 14 years since the Richard Burns Rally came to the market in 2004, and people still play it. There are even online tournaments still running for the players who want to compare their skills with other virtual drivers. The game was never meant to offer this, but the will and skills of fandom can move mountains, of which it is a prime example.
Richard Burns Rally was developed as a hardcore simulation for the most discerning players. In the original version, you could drive on gravel roads of Britain, Australia, Japan and USA. Snowy scenarios were represented by Finland and for tarmac stages, you could head to France. And all the tracks were very true to reality. If you look up the names of special stages and put them in Google, you’ll find out yourselves. Lush vegetation, realistic elevation and true simulation of every pothole. That was Richard Burns Rally. A game that kept you interested for whole months because it was truly demanding.
It was a true simulation in all areas. Wide possibilities to set everything that can be set in a rally car. The stiffness and length of the springs, various settings of shock absorbers, brakes and proportioning their effect. Just anything you can think of. Add to that the difficulty of tracks that cannot be tackled without listening to the navigator, and you will get endless evening in front of the screen, just to get that one track right.
After several months of playing, you will get to the place where you have the stages almost completely memorized. You don’t need the navigator, you know every rut and pothole and you are able to drive them much faster than the computer opponent. And then, you find out that there’s a plugin that will allow you to play the game online, against real players. And at the same time, you can download huge amount of new cars to replace the original, sloppy and unlicensed models, enjoying instead the real cars that drive on real stages.
It was a new era for Richard Burns Rally. After a few years, new tracks were added. Once again, it was a huge change that was a precursor of further development. From that time, sheer number of realistic stages, truthfully following the real ones, was created. Today, it is possible to drive almost any rally stage in the world – including the long, 50 kilometre ones. But you would be mistaken to think that was the end of the development.
Over time, many players grew dissatisfied with the original game physics. Weird car behaviour and grip on tarmac, unrealistic vehicle settings, engine power and torque curves and other aspects that urged some fans to create their own physics models. They used data from real-world rally teams to model the cars’ behaviour with the maximum possible precision.
Incredible amount of work brought its benefits and thus came the last wave of transformation of Richard Burns Rally. New mods, transforming the behaviour of rally cars and the tracks themselves, were created, and it all lead to the development of NGP, or Next Generation Physics. This mod, which is still in constant development, surpasses all the previously introduced models of physics, especially those from the original game. And the developers even managed to remove the part of the original code that prevented the use of rear wheel drive cars. Is there anything left? Maybe a new graphics engine, as the game is quite close to 15thanniversary of its release.
Richard Burns Rally is a great example that if the players are given a great substance, they can build something that will be greater than the original game. And in case of Richard Burns Rally, they really did an awesome job!