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Installing Tracks in rFactor

New to rFactor and not sure how to install tracks and cars? The good news it really is easy- it comes down to placing a small number of folders/files in the right place. If you've ever moved or copied stuff on your PC you're fully qualified to install rFactor goodies :)

rFactor track folder structure
Familiarize yourself with your rFactor installation folder structure. The default location for rFactor is:

    c:\Program Files\rFactor\

Take a look through all the folders and sub folders rFactor tracks reside in:

    \rFactor\GameData\Locations\

Locations - that makes sense!

Track installations generally follow the same pattern within the Locations folder. Let's take a look at ISI's Barcelona track as an example. It consists of:

  • Barcelona - the top level folder. It usually contains the .mas files which are a neat way of bundling all track assets, GMT's etc into one file. If a track uses a custom terrain (tdf) file it'll often be here too. The top level track folder usually contains subfolder(s) for each layout. Occasionally there may be other subfolders to help keep things tidy e.g. if a track has been patched, the patch may include new files in new subfolders.
  • Barcelona_GP - a subfolder containing the one layout for Barcelona. The layout subfolder(s) usually contain:
       .scn - includes properties of the .GMT files located in .MAS files
       .aiw - data related to racing line and AI
       .gdb - general track info including event name, track name, location
       .cam - track cameras
       .jpg and .tga. - track thumbs and loading screens
    These files are essential to the track working correctly in-game and some point to other files, both within the track and rFactor installations i.e. everything needs to be in the right place to work.

 

That's the general lay of the land when it comes to the structure of installed tracks in rFactor.

NOTE: The name under which a track appears in-game does not relate to the track folder and subfolder names. The track and event names are set in the .gdb file.

My track file is corrupt
You've downloaded a track and you're ready to go. But wait, you haven't even got started and there are errors being reported - the file is corrupt or incomplete. 99.9% of the time there is NO problem with the file supplied by the modder on the server. Chances are your download failed. Use a download manager to eliminate problems caused by incomplete downloads.

If there is a corrupt file in a track release you won't need to travel far to verify the problem as MANY people will have the same problem within a short time following the release. Usually in this situation the modder will release a fix asap, just be sure to wait for the file servers around the place to update with the new version.

Installing a track - exe installer
In theory exe installers files should make things easy. Exe installers also provide modders with a slick way to package their car or track release. But using an exe to install tracks involves risks including:

  • Unless you're monitoring the exe you don't know what else it is doing on your system
  • The exe often doesn't detect your rFactor install correctly and installs the track to the wrong location
  • The exe could overwrite important rFactor game files without warning
  • The exe could clutter your registry and Start menu etc unnecessarily
  • The exe may create an uninstaller that creates unexpected results when run later on.

Is an exe worth the risk? Installing a track is really only about copying a small number of folders/files to the correct location so personally I don't think so, but it's up to you to decide for yourself. When a track is supplied as an exe many people create a temp folder elsewhere on their computer and point the exe installer to that, rather than their rFactor install. After a quick check of the files, they then copy the necessary files across to their rFactor install.

Installing a track - compressed archive
Most tracks are released as a compressed archive e.g. rar, zip, 7z. Software like Winrar or 7 Zip (free) will unpack most formats. If you receive an error unpacking a file it's usually a good idea to verify the problem by attempting to unpack the file with another tool. Did you use a download manager? I hope so!

There is little consistency as to how compressed track archives are organized. It's a good idea to unpack the archive to temp location - not directly to your rFactor install. On unpacking the track archive you might find rFactor's folder structure mirrored making things easy for you. You might find the track folders and files you need are nested down within folders that don't relate to your rFactor installation. Initially this may be a hassle but if you're familiar with rFactor's folder structure it's really only a case of locating key folders and files and working back from there - it's usually all over in less than a minute or two.

Generally you are looking for the track folder that contains the track layout subfolder. Once located, drag the track folder and everything it contains - all the files and the layout subfolder(s) into rFactor/GameData/Locations/ and it's job done. Don't drag each and every file over one at a time or create track folders manually - that is asking for trouble.

It still doesn't work
There are always a few people who have trouble with each release - whether it's downloading, installing or using a track. If you use a PC regularly you'll know that at some point it will be your turn to have a problem. The first step is to chillout and enjoy the experience :)

If the track is not visible in-game:

  • Double check the track list in-game. The track may be listed under a name you don't expect. When ORSM released Bathurst many people complained about not being able to see the track in-game - because it was listed as 'Mount Panorama', not Bathurst. The name the track is listed as in-game is defined in the track's gdb file which you can open on Notepad to check.
  • If you have double checked and are positive the track is not listed under a different name, exit rFactor and double check you have installed it in the correct location, or that all of the files have been copied across.

The track is listed in-game but generates an error when it is loading

  • Be happy! At least rFactor knows the track exists. You are close, but not close enough.
  • Exit rFactor and check the folder structure of the track you've installed. Often track loading errors are caused by the folder structure - you may have included one level too many or one level too few, resulting in rFactor not being able to locate the required track files

So you've got to here and the track STILL doesn't work.

  • Visit the web site/forum the track was released on. If there is a genuine problem with a release it will effect many people shortly after release. It could be the modder will release an update to fix the problem and/or someone in the community will release a patch. Generally if people have installed the track and are using it ok the problem probably relates to how you've installed the track or....
  • Check your settings. Maybe the track loads okay but with weird problems. Maybe it reports certain files can't be located which could be texture/DX level related. Compare your settings to those people who are using the track without problems.

Worst case scenario - give up installing the track for now. Try another! :)