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Papyrus / Sierra NASCAR Racing 2003
Papyrus Racing Games / Sierra Entertainment
presents
NASCAR Racing 2003 Season Review
nr2003 logo
DOWNLOAD THE (PC Version) DEMO HERE Is this Papyrus Last NASCAR Racing Game?
If Electronic Arts has their way, it will be their last good one
for sure.
We all hope that NASCAR Racing's Exclusive Rights
become available again for gaming companies very soon.
Rob Smolka drops the hammer on NASCAR Racing Simulation Gaming with NASCAR Racing 2003 Season.

Platform:  Windows
Game Type:  Racing Simulation
Developer:  Papyrus Racing Games
Publisher:  Sierra Entertainment
Release Date:  February 4, 2003
ESRB:  Everyone
NASCAR RACING 2003 SEASON




Papyrus Racing Games / Sierra Entertainment

A similar choice has been available to PC racing fans for years, with Papyrus' NASCAR series being the obvious selection over the competent-but-not-in-the-same-class competition provided by the likes of Electronic Arts and Hasbro. And, come the first week of February, you'll be able to experience the new magic the wizards of Papyrus have cast into the latest version of the top-selling, top-performing series when NASCAR Racing 2003 Season hits the shelves.

As expected with any new version, attention has been given to improving the graphics and adding bells and whistles that add to the realism of the experience. The NASCAR games have always been gorgeous, and that hasn't changed with the 2003 version; whether driving from the cockpit view or watching a replay from one of the TV angles, you'll be impressed with the visuals. Dirt and oil accumulate on the windshields, adding a gritty you-are-there edge to the racing. It never becomes a problem as far as obscuring your view, but it sure does make the races feel more dynamic.
The same effect is accomplished through the use of varying weather conditions during and between sessions. What this means is that you'll need to be prepared in case the clouds go away and the track heats up or if the rain starts to fall. As any experienced racer knows, you have to drive the track conditions as well as the car. Other small touches have been added, as well, including realistic flags so you can tell at a glance which way and how powerful the wind is blowing, animated objects, varying car models, animated drivers in replay mode, and opponent pit crews re-creating the confusion that can occur when multiple cars are coming into pit row at the same time.

The most important changes, however, are those that have been made to the computer-controlled AI cars. Papyrus has always allowed the player to adjust the AI settings to make for more competitive races, but in NASCAR Racing 2003, they've taken this to the next step, adding what they call "Adaptive AI" and "Auto Adjusting AI." Grant Reeve, the AI engineer for the game explains what these mean and how they'll come into play:
"The Automatic AI percentage is an estimation made by the game of about where it thinks your driving skill is for each track. After a race is complete the game compares the speeds of your laps to the speeds of the AI's laps, and makes an adjustment to the auto AI percentage. The aim is to try to come up with AI of fairly similar strengths within a couple of races.

 
Papyrus did their physics homework
The Adaptive Speed Control (ASC), however, actually varies the speed of the AI while out on the track. The player is compared to the leading AI of the race -- if the lead AI is too far ahead the whole field slows up a bit to let the player catch up. Conversely if the player is out ahead, the field will be sped up to catch up. The aim of the ASC is to keep the player up in the lead pack. The speed the AI drive once the player is actually in the lead pack is somewhat based on the current strength percent set for the weekend, so you still need to have their base strength setting in the right ballpark to have a good competitive race."
Papyrus hasn't been content to rest on its laurels in the physics department, either. Most PC racing aficionados would agree that the last NASCAR game was an amazing representation of how a real car performs. So what did Papyrus do? They went in and reworked almost every aspect of the physics model to bring it even closer to what a real driver would experience out on the racetrack. Steve Myers, one of the game's producers, explains and describes the changes:

"Quite a bit has actually changed in the physics model -- I would go as far as saying that everything in our physics model was tweaked or changed for "NR 2003." Manuel Daskalos and the guys at Jasper Motorsports gave us data to improve our aerodynamic modeling, engine power, suspension geometry, steering geometry, sway bar stiffness, and much more. Mike Stackpole and his team over at Goodyear gave us every piece of information they could on how a real-world Winston Cup tire works and we have implemented all of it into our sim.

So, what do all these changes do to the game? You should notice a difference in your first few laps. There is so much more down force and power that you really will need to forget everything you learned from previous versions of our physics model. The updated tire model has added more grip along with helping you "feel" what the car is doing more than ever before. I am confident that the end result of all these changes is the closest thing you will find to driving a real race car on the PC."

As a veteran of the series, my first hour spent with the game was somewhat frustrating as I struggled to deal with the new dynamics of the physics model. Tricks and techniques that worked in the past had to be not so much relearned, but rethought. Once I became comfortable with the new feel, though, I was impressed at how intuitive things were.

1 of 23 tracks with NASCAR Racing 2003 Season
Anyone with an interest in racing games should be looking forward to this latest release, especially since this is the last NASCAR game that Papyrus plans on making -- EA has acquired the exclusive rights to the NASCAR license for the foreseeable future. The time spent with the demo has this longtime fan excited to get his hands on the full release, which will contain all the teams, drivers, sponsors, and tracks that will make up the 2003 season, including the new renovations of the Infineon and New Hampshire circuits. It's a crying shame that NASCAR has effectively shut out Papyrus from making future versions, but at least we'll have NR2003 to remember them by. RacelineCentral Bids a farewell to a couple of the finest game making companies to appear in the community. Papyrus and Sierra, Now hit the history books as their doors close for good. The gaming community hopes that history will only help to improve the future of gaming and not to repeat itself with the loss of gaming icons we grew up with and enjoyed for years. We will miss you both...
NR2003
Papyrus did their physics homework
The Adaptive Speed Control (ASC), however, actually varies the speed of the AI while out on the track. The player is compared to the leading AI of the race -- if the lead AI is too far ahead the whole field slows up a bit to let the player catch up. Conversely if the player is out ahead, the field will be sped up to catch up. The aim of the ASC is to keep the player up in the lead pack. The speed the AI drive once the player is actually in the lead pack is somewhat based on the current strength percent set for the weekend, so you still need to have their base strength setting in the right ballpark to have a good competitive race." Papyrus hasn't been content to rest on its laurels in the physics department, either. Most PC racing aficionados would agree that the last NASCAR game was an amazing representation of how a real car performs. So what did Papyrus do? They went in and reworked almost every aspect of the physics model to bring it even closer to what a real driver would experience out on the racetrack. Steve Myers, one of the game's producers, explains and describes the changes:

"Quite a bit has actually changed in the physics model -- I would go as far as saying that everything in our physics model was tweaked or changed for "NR 2003." Manuel Daskalos and the guys at Jasper Motorsports gave us data to improve our aerodynamic modeling, engine power, suspension geometry, steering geometry, sway bar stiffness, and much more. Mike Stackpole and his team over at Goodyear gave us every piece of information they could on how a real-world Winston Cup tire works and we have implemented all of it into our sim.

So, what do all these changes do to the game? You should notice a difference in your first few laps. There is so much more down force and power that you really will need to forget everything you learned from previous versions of our physics model. The updated tire model has added more grip along with helping you "feel" what the car is doing more than ever before. I am confident that the end result of all these changes is the closest thing you will find to driving a real race car on the PC."

As a veteran of the series, my first hour spent with the game was somewhat frustrating as I struggled to deal with the new dynamics of the physics model. Tricks and techniques that worked in the past had to be not so much relearned, but rethought. Once I became comfortable with the new feel, though, I was impressed at how intuitive things were.
NR2003
Anyone with an interest in racing games should be looking forward to this latest release, especially since this is the last NASCAR game that Papyrus plans on making -- EA has acquired the exclusive rights to the NASCAR license for the foreseeable future. The time spent with the demo has this longtime fan excited to get his hands on the full release, which will contain all the teams, drivers, sponsors, and tracks that will make up the 2003 season, including the new renovations of the Infineon and New Hampshire circuits. It's a crying shame that NASCAR has effectively shut out Papyrus from making future versions, but at least we'll have NR2003 to remember them by. RacelineCentral Bids a farewell to a couple of the finest game making companies to appear in the community. Papyrus and Sierra, Now hit the history books as their doors close for good. The gaming community hopes that history will only help to improve the future of gaming and not to repeat itself with the loss of gaming icons we grew up with and enjoyed for years. We will miss you both...
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