If you have been around the sim racing community for at least ten years, you are most likely familiar with Ratbag Games, an Australian company that released several dirt track racing simulations and games for the PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox.
Ratbag Games, initially known as Emergent Games, was founded in Adelaide, Australia in 1993. Their first title, released in 1996, was a futuristic arcade racing game called Powerslide. They utilized their own highly advanced rendering system (for its time) called the Difference Engine, that allowed up to 300,000 polygons on the screen at once.
Before Ratbag was acquired by Midway Games, the company released a total of nine racing games, and became type cast as a racing game and simulation developer. The games released were:
- Powerslide – Windows
- Dirt Track Racing – Windows
- Dirt Track Racing: Sprint Cars – Windows
- Dirt Track Racing 2 – Windows
- Leadfoot – Windows
- Holden Dirt Track Racing Australia – Windows
- World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars 2002 – PS2
- Saturday Night Speedway – PS2, Windows
- The Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee – PS2, Xbox
Midway games acquired Ratbag in August of 2005, then promptly closed the Ratbag operation in December, putting about 75 people out of work with little notice. Krome Studios hired many of the Ratbag Games staff and established Krome Studios Adelaide. Krome Studios never attempted to create any type of racing game or simulation. Ratbag was dead.
Dirt Track Racing 2 continued to be used in online multiplayer league racing despite its quirky bugs and ten player limit until at least 2014, however the community is tiny. It seems ten slots is about all that’s needed, as that is about how many were still playing the game at that time. Gamespy drove the final nail in the Dirt Track Racing 2 coffin May 31, 2014 when they took their multiplayer matchmaking/browser server offline. DTR2 was dead.
I’ve played Dirt Track Racing 2 as recently as 2014. While it was a great dirt racing simulation for its time, it did have some bugs that never got patched despite the fact that Ratbag remained in operation for two years after its release.
The Difference Engine was considered great at that time, and maybe it was, but NASCAR Racing 2003 Season came out during the same year and had better physics and better graphics. The graphics never looked very realistic in the Ratbag titles, and the physics felt like you were driving on asphalt. There was no power sliding, even in the Late Models. You lost too much momentum. It was pretty much an asphalt driving experience.
Fast forward to today. Big Ant Studios with Ratbag’s Mark Bracken as Executive Vice President is looking to fund a new Dirt Track Racing game using a Kickstarter campaign. The project will only be funded if they raise at least $266,000. As of this writing, half of the time has elapsed and the pledges stand at only $52,278.
But hold on just a minute. First of all, Mark Bracken was a marketing guy at Ratbag, not a game developer. His official title was Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, which is a fancy name for a salesman.
Then we see TeamVLR listed as a consultant. Seriously? Is this supposed to impress me? TeamVLR is a guy who ran a Dirt Track Racing 2 league for a few years. There’s nothing wrong with that, but he has no game development experience. It’s starting to sound a lot like name dropping. Ratbag. TeamVLR. DirtWorks Designs.
Okay hold on just another minute. DirtWorks Designs does get my attention. That’s a name I recognize as the leading developer of mods for various dirt racing simulations, primarily rFactor. I really liked the DWD Stocks and Super Stocks. This is a plus.
As you read the details of the project, the $266,000 only covers a base package that does not include any other chassis, and, most importantly, will not support online multiplayer racing. To get the good stuff, Bracken is looking to raise $830,000. I thought $266,000 was ambitious for a 30 day campaign, but $830,000 is nothing short of ridiculous. Anybody can look at the numbers and see that. They’ve raised 50k in 15 days. There is no way in hell they’re going to raise almost 800k in 15 days.
Now that I’ve said that and it’s settled, I will say this: If Big Ant Studios somehow gets close to the $830,000 mark, I’ll contribute enough to make it happen. But it’s just not going to happen. This Kickstarter campaign is DOA.
This is a bad article. People still play dtr2 online. Just because the browser went down doesn’t mean the servers went down. Nobody used the browser hardly anyway the last few years. Just because you quit a game doesn’t mean it’s dead. There have been so many people quit dtr2 over the years and promptly declare the game as dead but yet it’s still going strong with 20+ cars at the bigger league races each week. Not bad for a 15 year old game.
And VLR is not involved in game development, nor is DirtWorks Designs. If you read closely you would see that VLR is on board for multiplayer and general game advice to make this game a success. We wouldn’t have a league for over 12 years in an old as hell game if we didn’t know what it takes to be successful and promote the game as well as releasing new tracks and cars over time. After all, we must be doing something right since you posted on our site regarding the iRacing Dirt situation (which I am definitely interested in and we will probably switch over to that at some point since rFactor never did anything for me). There is a large number of people on the VLR site each day for a place that is 99.9% focused on DTR2 only.
Big Ant is not the only company to reach out to us regarding a dirt game. They see what we’ve done to keep a game ALIVE for this long and simply consulted us about how we can help them to make their game the best possible from a longevity and content standpoint. So to recap, DirtWorks was on board to help with modding and such things, and VLR was on-board to help with content and modding aspects as well, but mostly to consult with them about what the game MUST have to be successful. We don’t have to be professional game developers to be involved with Big Ant, that’s their job. But the fact that they reached out to the community to make a game everything it needed to be says a lot. And FYI, they are still making the game, it is in production right now. However, they are hoping to find outside funding at some point or it still won’t be released. I always thought you were a good guy, but it feels like you were taking useless jabs at VLR without understanding the role we having in this game. This link is where a lot of Big Ant’s ideas came from and these were only just the beginning: http://pastebin.com/kBMR8987
Jeff Kendrick says
You are entitled to your opinion regarding the quality and accuracy of this article. Regardless, stating my opinion about Dirt Track Racing 2 doesn’t make the article bad. I know twenty people still play DTR2 online. That’s the problem. Only twenty people still play DTR2 online. The demise of the browser isn’t the only thing that killed DTR2, that was just the final nail in the coffin.
“There have been so many people quit DTR2 over the years…” I couldn’t have said it better myself. 😀
Twenty cars at the bigger league races? LOL give it up. It’s dead brother. You’re beating a dead horse. In our last league race we had 28 pit stalls available. They filled up during the first minutes of practice and more people wanted to get in, but I have to cut it off somewhere.
I posted the information about iRacing dirt on your site so people over there, clinging to that old dead game, would finally have a viable alternative. I was thrilled when I heard the big news and finally learned that it was for real, and I thought that many of the people who used to play DTR2 would be very happy that something else has finally come along. Big Ant might find the means to make a dirt racing game, but now they will have real competition in the PC market. It won’t be easy. They might just decide they’d be better off sticking with arcade racing games for consoles.
I am a good guy. I always thought you were a good guy too. It’s nothing personal, but I still don’t see how a DTR2 League can make any worthwhile contribution to a dirt game or simulation. I wasn’t making jabs at VLR, I was making jabs at Big Ant Studios for their complete failure. I wrote this article well before the crowdfunding campaign ended because I could see failure written all over it. It was DOA and I knew it.
Just to add to this, I’d like to make a point. I’ve bought some racing simulations in the recent past. All of them seem to have their bugs and their problems. iRacing is not perfect, but it has fewer issues than the other simulations I have tried recently. iRacing also provides a mountain of useful stats on the website. I’m no iRacing fanboy, but I am a realist.
iRacing is adding dirt ovals, rally racing, and rallycross in the near future. So iRacing will have paved ovals and road courses, dirt ovals, dirt rally, and rallycross. Gravel and snow/ice won’t be far behind as they continue with rally racing. iRacing is updated every 3 months. iRacing is the only viable asphalt oval simulation. Soon, it will be the only viable dirt oval simulation. There really is nothing else on the horizon for oval racing sims. I really think it’s time you and those nineteen other guys let go. No offense intended, but it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. I loved DTR2 fourteen years ago. I even loved DTR1 before it, but at some point you have to say goodbye.
Dan van voorst says
Why kill a great game. Dtr2 is a great dirt racing game. Better than paying high iracing fees. They charge you for every thing. Not worth it.
Jeff Kendrick says
Nobody (that I know of) wanted to kill DTR2. Old games naturally die off, and DTR2 did that around 2007. Before you say I think it died because I quit, let me point out that I quit in late 2004. I came back in early 2013 because I love DTR2, but the game was dead for a long time. Let’s be realistic. The game was great in it’s time but it’s time has come and gone. It’s over 15 years old.
One of the reasons it is dead is because that type of business model doesn’t work for a racing simulation/game. If you want a racing simulation with frequent updates, complete statistics, excellent multiplayer, and so much more, you’re going to have to pay a subscription. As always, you get what you pay for. For what you get, iRacing is very reasonably priced.
It just sounds like a very biased and opinion of someone who is upset that people still play old ass DTR2. There are NOT twenty people that still play dtr2, but 20 people on average at league races. We have had 50 something guys race our league this season so far and it is still going.
By your posts, I would dare to say that dirt racing in rFactor is dead as well, since nearly all of the leagues over there struggle to get 10-15 cars each race. With your standards, iRacing is the only racing game that ISN’T dead. And many of us care nothing about asphalt racing so we’d rather play a game with dirt, even if that game is not the most sim experience. We will definitely check out iRacing when the dirt comes out, but why should we “give it up, or move on” when the only other game for the genre we’re interested in is rFactor (which is asphalt based), and we simply do not care for that game?
Big Ant did have flaws in the way they went about raising funds for the game. The price is actually very small for a brand new game, but the promotion could’ve been much better rather than jumping straight in with the Kickstarter after nearly a year of complete silence.
“No offense intended” but yet your entire post belittles the game that we still play and enjoy (which is updated more than every three months due to modding). I understand iRacing can’t realistically allow modding due to the way everything is set up for realism.
I just don’t see how you can say a game is dead if there are people still actively playing it with league races every night. Once again, you come off as narcissistic like the many others who have declared the game dead for 10+ years just because they felt their own importance to the game was “the nail in the coffin.” If you had raced much when the browser went down you would realize that nobody had really played much in the browser for a couple of years anyway and that most of the racing was done in league events.
You do seem like an iRacing fanboy since you are belittling a game made for DIRT originally, while hyping up iRacing as the the best racing simulation, which it probably is. However, there’s no need to bash a game that you don’t play, and have only played sparingly since you first quit 10-12 years ago.
I have every intention of getting iRacing as more dirt news comes out and it gets closer. With rFactor I was never interested. However, opinions like yours on the game that some of us enjoy do not do anything to get me excited about playing iRacing. I already told our team that we would likely switch over to iRacing once all of this happens and that is without seeing anything yet and just based on their reputation alone, but when people are assholes for no reason and feel like they are better than people who play an “old dead game” it’s just a turn off if those attitudes are prevalent in iRacing.
Thanks for posting the info on VLR, but I think most of us already knew about it and were interested and plan to keep up with it as development continues. Like I said, though, you don’t have to come off as an asshole about it all. If that’s your natural personality than I’m sorry for saying it, but it just rubbed me the wrong way in your article and follow up response.
We will play whatever game we want to play and as long as there are people playing with us, we’re happy. I am interested in giving iRacing a shot when it does have dirt racing, as are many others in DTR2. rFactor just doesn’t do it for us, just like DTR2 does nothing for you. Everyone has their own opinions and preferences.
Jeff Kendrick says
It is an opinion. I’m not upset that a few people still play DTR2. Why would I be? Twenty, fifty, it’s a small handful. What befuddles me is how you take personal offense because I say the game is dead. It’s a game. Why are you so offended? The article mentions the demise of DTR2 in passing. You’re focusing in on something that is an aside. The article was written about the failed project helmed by Mark Bracken and Big Ant Studios.
Dirt racing in rFactor is pretty much dead. When it comes to oval racing, iRacing is the only game/sim that is not dead. In my opinion, you’d be better off to move to rFactor and run DWD mods (until iRacing gets it in gear) if you want to run dirt. I understand that you don’t like rFactor, but it is a better sim and platform than DTR2.
You may add a track or two and update a car, and call it an “update.” iRacing updates many aspects of the simulation in their updates, and also adds new laser scanned tracks and cars. I think you’re comparing apples and oranges.
The fact that you take offense when I state that DTR2 is dead puzzles me. It’s just a game. You come off as emotionally disturbed when you take offense at someone who is criticizing a game.
I know most of the racing was done in league events. Ten cars per race. I was well aware of that. I ran some league races. Ten cars. LOL
I don’t think DTR2 died because I left the game. It died long before I left.
Trust me, I’m no iRacing fan boy. You can ask any of my league members who race regularly and hang out in our voice chat server. I’ve written some scathing articles on iRacing, and when they have a problem I am the first to complain. Having said all that, even you say it’s probably the best racing sim.
I never said I was better than anyone who plays DTR2. That’s something that you inferred.
By all means, play whatever game you want. I’ll continue to post what I want on my blog. I write my opinion and I pull no punches. You shouldn’t take criticism of a video game as a personal insult. LOL
Well I was in middle of writing a response and my computer screwed up.
I am not offended that you imply DTR2 is dead (though I would argue otherwise and say that it is just your opinion) because I know how active our website is (which is 99.9% about DTR2) and the fact that we still have enough people racing to have a good time.
I have played and still do play rFactor from time to time, but only when I’m extremely bored. I get tired of trying to race on there when in the browser it seems impossible for people to make it through two corners without having a caution. Pretty much for that reason alone I have never got interested enough to pursue league racing.
The only reason I haven’t invested in iRacing is because I have little interest in paying a monthly/yearly fee to race an asphalt game. I understand to some that racing is racing, but I get bored with asphalt racing in sim games fairly quickly. If I do race asphalt, it is ARCA Sim Racing on occasion when I am bored. I actually find it much more fun than trying to race dirt on rFactor believe it or not.
I am very excited about iRacing adding dirt and have already begun looking into a triple monitor setup and cockpit simulator because I have high hopes and expectations since it is iRacing. I don’t have anything at all against iRacing and if it were anyone else with this announcement I wouldn’t be as keen on keeping up with the progress and updates.
I plan to purchase iRacing in the coming months as I hear more information regarding the dirt side of things just to get acquainted with the interface and setup. That way, if the dirt is even semi decent, we can begin a transition to that sim over time and finally “bury” DTR2, since it’s already in a zombie state right now apparently. The announcement came at a good time (though the sooner the better), and if it really is released in 2016 then I will be surprised, happy, and ready to get dirty in a vibrant community of serious racers with hopefully most of Team VLR and other DTR2 series making the transition.
Rather than saying your article is “bad,” I should say it is just misinformed. It’s a good read, just misguided. VLR is not a “barely breathing” league either, we have an active community to this day and should we expand to iRacing and get accustomed to how things work over there it will only get better. For a community that is barely breathing, I have had multiple game developers reach out to us (Big Ant obviously included) about consulting our community for suggestions and assistance with making a new dirt track racing game. We’ve had a series running and growing consistently for twelve years in a dead game, so in that time surely we’ve done something right to still be here. The game may be barely breathing, but our website and series are going fine, and would thrive in a new game like iRacing if/when we make the switch.
Jeff Kendrick says
Well, in the interest of compromise, you do have some people still racing DTR2 as you have said. Could we agree that the game is on life support and in need of a blood transfusion (speaking metaphorically)?
I know you have a good community there. I’m not sure that very many people in the community still race DTR2, but your site seems busy.
There is a learning curve to iRacing as I’m sure you know. The realism simply makes it more difficult. Similar to other sims, the setups aren’t much like the real world, at least so far on the asphalt oval side.
Naturally I would love to see some of the friends I made in DTR2 come to iRacing, as three or four already have. I haven’t seen Ice in a while, but Impact is pretty active sometimes.
I’ll admit I’m definitely no Jamie Hoofman, but one thing I did pick up from those days is a willingness to help people who are new. I have some information on the site, and I’m often in the OSR Voice chat server. I’d be glad to help in any way I can if and when you do make the transition. I have a lot of asphalt setups, and most of the serious guys in our group (setup builders) will also make the transition to dirt, at least in large part, so we can provide some decent baselines and something to work and experiment with as far as setups go.
I always thought that one of the nicest things about iRacing (other than the racing) is the stats that are logged for anything and everything. The only thing you won’t see is stats from your closed test sessions. Speaking of test sessions, they just added a way to test offline while they’re doing the major quarterly updates, and the test servers do run the new build. It’s a good time to test and tune setups for the new build.
Yep, it can be expensive if you buy a lot of content. If you are really interested in iRacing, sign up on a coupon code then buy a longer subscription. In November and December they always have a deal for current members. It’s the Black Friday deal and it’s $49 for a full year, basically $4 a month. If you participate in official iRacing races enough to meet the requirements, you can get iRacing credits up to $10 a season, so the subscription comes to $9 a year under those conditions. 2.5 cents a day. Depending on what you want to run, you can pick up some content here and there and it’s not too bad. The basic package includes quite a bit of content to get you started.
I don’t look at DTR2 as being on life support, but I do feel like it’s time that we have a new game out (such as iRacing) in order to begin transitioning to because with every new release of Windows we seem to have more issues with people getting the game to run online, especially in Windows 10. So this announcement comes at a good time, and plus it’s just good to have a new dirt game in general. That’s why I plan to buy iRacing once I see a little more dirt info, that way I can get used to everything on the asphalt side to make our likely transition a smoother one. The thought of having a very realistic racing experience and racing against real world dirt drivers is pretty enticing to me.
I didn’t know you really knew Ice or Impact, but Ice just moved into a new place and can only get satellite internet right now. He raced the 9th Annual DTR2 Spring Fling last week at his dad’s house, though, which was the first dtr2 race he’s ran in a couple years I’d say. He actually just said this morning that they are planning to run cable internet to his new place during the summer and that he would be back in DTR2 (or iRacing dirt :O).
I am going to buy it after I see the next dirt update. I am a big stats guy so that is something that will keep me entertained and trying to get better.
How well are the dynamic tracks working out? Hopefully good.
Jeff Kendrick says
I never really knew Impact or Ice in DTR2, actually. I did race with Ice a little when I was running in 2013. I remember that he was much faster than I was. When I first bought the iRacing Late Model car, Ice sent me his entire folder of Late Model setups. Really nice. Impact told me he was around way back in the early days, but I don’t know what name he might have been using. He and I each belong to the other’s league and have raced together many times in league, hosted and official races. I’ve also raced with Rainman some on iRacing, but I think he’s moved on to the Sprint Cup car and I’m a short track guy so I don’t see him much any more. Orso is around, running the IndyCar Series and doing pretty well. Again, don’t see him much.
It’s really pointless to speculate on when iRacing will actually release dirt. The latest news and information is that they have been working on dirt for several months. Dirt racing will have a separate license, Safety Rating, and iRating system. I don’t know if that means much to you but you’ll see the significance. They will also be throwing clay on some of the asphalt short tracks for the dirt guys to race on while they get more dirt tracks going. South Boston and Lanier have been mentioned. They are asking for suggestions for dirt tracks that they can scan. They prefer tracks that have space in the infield for a pit road and stalls. They would like good contact information for the actual decision maker at each track, if possible. All of this comes straight from Tony Gardner, the president of iRacing. Tony is a great guy. Seeing what he does for iRacing and the members really is encouraging. There were times I was ready to quit, but Tony’s actions encouraged me to stay.
Impact raced DTR2 for years and years, and before he left, he was actually VLR_Impact.
Rainman has been racing more dtr2 lately but he plays iRacing too, so he’ll have an advantage over the rest of us lol. I didn’t know Orso was still playing but he was actually the point leader at VLR until a couple weeks ago lol.
I was just going off the video since it said the dirt will be in 2016, but I’m not sure how much of that was real and how much wasn’t. Adding dirt is all it takes to get me interested in iRacing, since I never cared for the dirt side of things in rFactor. I like the separate ratings and licenses that way everyone starts off on the same footing. If rFactor had similar provisions maybe there wouldn’t be as many wacko’s racing lol.
Also, by the next dirt update, I meant just something visual that shows that they are within a few months of something more tangible coming. Reason is I don’t have a wheel currently so there’s no sense in buying it without having a wheel first.
Do you know if the dirt will be 1-d at first? As in just dirt basically painted over asphalt? I’m hoping they can create something with visual ruts etc that dynamically appear, but not sure they’d have any of that at first, especially if they are putting dirt on some of the asphalt tracks.
Jeff Kendrick says
I don’t know, but if I had to guess I’d say it will look exactly like a dirt track and the physics should be decent.
Jeff Kendrick says
You had asked something about the dynamic surfaces earlier and I forgot to comment. At first they didn’t seem to work that well, but then I was running shorter races with fewer cars. After some time and another build, they are truly amazing. The tracks build rubber and you can see the dark areas where the cars always run in the asphalt groove after a while. Usually the track tightens up a little but it’s pretty subtle. I’m told that day racing in warmer weather makes the groove get slick and you can sometimes get a little out of it and run faster. The changes are pretty subtle but you can feel it. I think the iRacing NASCAR Series races that see a lot of cars and longer races see more profound changes. I only run short track cars on short tracks.
You also get things like marbelized rubber all up on the top of the track by the wall, and bits of rubber flying off of tires.
Cool! I am hoping they make it more extreme with dirt cars but I’m sure they just didn’t want to go too much at first without knowing how it would effect everything exactly.
Ran across these post and wanted to add some thoughts. Dtr2 had so many peeps note padding sets and other cheats that I would really hope iracing has made the playing field fair and that it has put safe guards in place to not let the cheaters win all the time.
Jeff Kendrick says
By it’s nature, iRacing is not really a place for cheaters. First of all, you can’t notepad the setups. They are not plain text files. Even if you could figure out a way to alter the code in the setups, they are checked by iRacing each and every time they are loaded. If something is out of spec, you fail tech and you can’t use the setup. Second, iRacing runs anti-cheat software. Additionally, when you race on iRacing, they know your name, your IP address, your email address, etc. With iRacing you have some investment in cars and tracks. If you get caught cheating, you’re banned for life. You lose the money and the time that you invested in the simulation and you don’t get to play any more. It’s not worth it.
There are some very fast guys on iRacing and I’ve raced against a couple of them. I don’t believe any of them are cheating. Many of the DTR2 guys have come over to iRacing since the introduction of dynamic dirt surfaces in iRacing. It’s a completely different world from DTR2, which was a great game in it’s time, but it’s time was 15 years ago.