Courtesy of NetEase Games

Racing Master brings authentic racing action and best-in-class graphics to mobile and other platforms

The Racing Master team has assembled over a hundred professionals from various fields of the automotive industry, including car designers, modification designers, chassis engineers, professional racers and more. We are passionate car enthusiasts and racing enthusiasts, dedicated to creating a benchmark racing game. We hope that Racing Master can fulfill all our fantasies about racing games and provide players with the top-notch mobile racing experience.
The feeling of whipping around an exotic track, the rumble of a powerful engine beneath you; that's an experience that only a select few can enjoy. Racing Master wants to change that, bringing the authentic feeling of driving the world's best high-end vehicles to mobile and game simulator on PC. 
Courtesy of NetEase Games
A passionate team within NetEase Games is focused on crafting the most premium racing experience it can. That team has gathered real-world data from the high-end cars of Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, and more, and then recreated each of those rides in-game. This commitment to authenticity has seen Racing Master top the Apple App Store charts in Mainland China since its release, and the team hopes to repeat that success when the game releases worldwide.

Giving players the feeling of genuine racing on Android and iOS means a good deal of optimization for those platforms. The team has utilized Unreal Engine and the effort of its own technical experts to bring Racing Master's smooth, exciting cross-platform gameplay to game simulator on PC and mobile. We spoke to them about the inspiration behind Racing Master and the process of developing the game for multiple platforms. 

What is Racing Master about?

Zhang Bo, Producer: Racing Master is a high-quality racing game developed by a team within NetEase Games, in deep collaboration with the globally-renowned racing game developer Codemasters®. The game features authentic car models and tracks, providing a realistic driving experience based on a contemporary real-world setting. The game's high-quality, realistic art style highlights the mechanical authenticity and material details of the vehicles, allowing players to enjoy the pleasure of racing and customization. 

The development team is committed to delivering a top-notch gaming experience, with superior quality in visuals, audio, and controls, ensuring that players enjoy a truly top-class racing game. 

Can you tell us why the team decided to make a simulation racing game?

Zhang Bo: We were driven to embark on this project by our love for motorsport. Our development team is composed of hardcore petrolheads who share a passion for racing and firmly believe that, through meticulous design and refinement, players can experience the pure joy of realistically controlling a race car. While this approach demands a high technical threshold and increased development costs, we're confident that the thrill derived from authenticity holds a deeper and longer-lasting appeal for gamers and resonates more profoundly with genuine racing game enthusiasts.

Racing Master is a collaboration between NetEase Games and Codemasters®. What does each team bring to the development of the game?

Zhang Bo: In our collaboration, Codemasters® primarily provided support in terms of foundational physics technology. We've developed extensively upon their basic physics engine, customizing it to capture richer vehicular dynamics and control feedback. 

We've made specific adjustments for each platform while maintaining the authenticity. For instance, we simplified controls and developed driving assist features specifically for mobile platforms. This allows a broader range of players to easily get started while still retaining authentic feedback and providing room for nuanced mastery.

How does Racing Master aim to recreate the thrill of high-end car culture? 

Cui Lei, Art Director: We see cars as the ultimate fusion of art and technology, where every detail deserves the meticulous appreciation of automotive enthusiasts. Therefore every aspect—from the vehicles to the tracks and sound effects—has been carefully polished to recreate the sensation of speed and excitement.

To achieve this, we've established high-level data partnership agreements with various car manufacturers. Our cars are tuned based on real-world data. We further enhance this by conducting actual tests on various road surfaces using the real cars, collecting and comparing crucial data on handling and sound performance. This data is then faithfully recreated in the game, giving our virtual cars a genuinely lifelike feel. To collect this data, we've also established long-term collaborations with racetracks in various locations including Guangdong Zhuhai, Zhejiang Shaoxing, and Shanghai.
Courtesy of NetEase Games
When it comes to sound effects, we record them on actual race tracks using real cars, which makes us regulars at several domestic tracks. For instance, to capture engine sounds, we set up multiple professional microphones inside the engine compartment and run the cars through the entire rev range in each gear. After recording a comprehensive set of audio resources, we proceed with professional post-processing and align these sounds with the game's physical parameters. This ensures that players in Racing Master can enjoy the same guttural roars they would experience in real life.

Can you elaborate on the challenges bringing a full simulation racing game to mobile platforms?

Zhou Qian, Technical Director: One of our most significant technical challenges has always been to smoothly present intricate and realistic artistry on the limited performance capabilities of mobile devices. To achieve uncompromised visual fidelity, we assembled a specialized technical team solely dedicated to custom development at the foundational level of Unreal Engine 4. We've also partnered with several mobile manufacturers for hardware-level development. Through our concerted efforts, we successfully achieved console-grade lighting and shadow effects on mobile devices, akin to those of next-generation consoles.

Our technical team consisted of top-tier experts in NetEase. Throughout the project, extensive foundational development was carried out on UE4, with some technical highlights stemming from collaborations with Epic Games.

To showcase the highly realistic lighting, shading, and textures of vehicles and tracks, we employed some of the most advanced rendering techniques available on consoles, such as Screen Space Reflections (SSR), Variable Rate Shading (VRS), FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), and Global Illumination. We also developed numerous customized rendering pipelines.

It's widely known that superior visual quality requires more processing power. During our initial public tests, some players' devices couldn't even last through two races. In response, we formed a team of technical experts dedicated to maximizing optimization efforts, addressing rendering, physics, and even UE4 itself. We meticulously refined every detail, pushing performance to its limits, and eventually ensured smooth gameplay even on smartphones that are six years old.

Can you tell us more about the process of recreating real-world supercars within Racing Master?

Luo Zhongyuan, Vehicle Team Leader: We go to extremes to realistically reproduce assets such as vehicles and tracks, committing ourselves to faithfully reflect the details of the vehicles, from the exterior design to the interior. The whole process spans six to seven months, involves over 30 steps, and requires nearly 10 rounds of quality checks, from getting licenses from car manufacturers, production, polishing, to presenting the car in-game for players. 
Courtesy of NetEase Games
Zhang Bo: Besides the enormous cost, the significant performance consumption required to carry out the full simulation on mobile devices in the mid-term of the project—where our vehicle physics are simulated in real-time using actual models of power, suspension, tires, and body—was another major bottleneck we encountered. 

Additionally, we faced significant challenges in achieving a realistic representation of the vehicles' appearance and interiors, resulting in a long development cycle. Despite these difficulties, our commitment to our original intent remained steadfast. Our team overcame numerous obstacles through continuous research and optimization of our processes and tools, ultimately presenting our game to the players.

Racing Master also features real-world tracks. Can you talk about the process of bringing those exotic locales into the game?

Sun Xiaojun, Lead Designer
: In our track design, we've established a tripartite design principle based on visibility, usability, and perceptibility. This ensures that even players experiencing the track for the first time can intuitively identify the racing route, immersing themselves in a regional ambiance. Players who have tried our game will notice that Racing Master requires minimal memorization of the track. Essentially, all routes can be naturally recognized.
Courtesy of NetEase Games
We prioritize realism and replication in our tracks. Our dedicated team conducts on-site inspections and uses state-of-the-art equipment like drones, laser scanners, and photometers for real-time data collection. From major landmarks to the smallest details of the asphalt granules, we gather authentic data to aid the art production of our tracks. Through Racing Master, players can explore beautiful landscapes from around the world without ever leaving their homes.

Racing Master is promising an extensive modding and customization system. Can you explain how the system is going to work?

Luo Zhongyuan: Just like every racing enthusiast, we dream of crafting a unique vehicle that truly belongs to us. Whether it's the driving experience or the vehicle's appearance, we all desire it to be unparalleled and distinct.

In Racing Master, we've introduced an extensive customization system for vehicle appearances. Not only can players equip a series of specialized modification parts designed by professional designers—like front splitters, rear wings, and exhaust systems—they can also use the basic elements provided in-game to DIY their own personalized vehicle decals.

In terms of performance, we grant the freedom to modify the vehicle's powertrain, chassis, tires, and electronic control system. By pairing different types of tires, varying chassis heights, and engines with different output settings, players can create a vehicle with a truly unique driving feel.
Courtesy of NetEase Games
Why was Unreal Engine the right choice for Racing Master?

Zhou Qian: We opted for Unreal Engine as the development tool for Racing Master for several reasons:
  1. Cross-Platform Support: Unreal Engine offers excellent cross-platform support and efficient asset hierarchy management. It makes it exceptionally convenient for us to develop games for iOS, Android, and game simulator on PC platforms using the same set of assets.
  2. High Graphical Fidelity: Unreal Engine provides a comprehensive graphic rendering pipeline, delivering exceptional visual performance. Even for mobile game development, many of its graphics rendering pipelines and algorithms are highly instructive, such as the implementation of clear coatings for car paints.
  3. User-Friendly Toolchain: Unreal Engine comes with a robust suite of tools, including the Material Editor, scene editors, and special effects editors. It's also fairly convenient for us to extend these tools, facilitating industrial game production.
  4. Community Support: Unreal Engine boasts a vast and active community, invaluable for complex projects like Racing Master. This community offers numerous resources such as tutorials, forums, and plugins. It also allows us to engage and share development techniques with other developers and simplifies the recruitment process when we're looking to bring on board new talents.

Racing Master has been in Beta on Android and iOS, but is planned for other platforms, including game simulator on PC. Can you talk about using Unreal Engine to develop a simulator/mobile cross-platform game?

Zhou Qian
: In the process of developing a cross-platform game with Unreal Engine, it's paramount to ensure compatibility and performance across various device models. We've harnessed the latest features of the next-generation graphics APIs—Metal for iOS and Vulkan for Android. This has allowed us to maximize the capabilities of mobile devices, achieving optimal results.

Moreover, we've categorized graphic quality levels according to different device models. This ensures that even lower-end devices can smoothly run the game at 30 frames per second. For higher-end models, we've strived to tap into their full potential. We've also incorporated technologies like FSR and VRS to reduce performance overhead and heat generation without compromising the visual quality.

Of course, this journey entailed extensive exploration and validation. We frequently conducted comprehensive compatibility and performance tests, which enabled us to continually refine our optimization strategies.

Throughout the development, we realized that efficient tools are crucial for supporting cross-platform development. We dedicated significant resources to tool development, including tools for scene creation, vehicle blueprinting, resource specification management, performance monitoring, and version control, etc. These tools substantially enhanced our production efficiency and team collaboration. The plugin capability of Unreal Engine ensures we can expand conveniently.

Were there any other Unreal Engine tools that have helped during the development of Racing Master?

Zhou Qian
: The shader complexity view in Unreal Engine allows our artists to quickly identify hotspot materials in scenes and address issues related to material overconsumption. Editor Utility Blueprints enable us to create asset-related tools, such as texture conversion and resource checking, without modifying the engine. The Unreal Insights tool provides an intuitive way to pinpoint and verify areas that are time-consuming or causing lags. Additionally, adding custom tags is also very convenient.

What tips do you have for other developers using Unreal Engine for mobile and cross-platform development?

Zhou Qian: Our recommendations are:
  1. During the early stages of R&D, developers should utilize tools like Blueprints for quick preliminary gameplay validation instead of investing manpower in Unreal Engine modifications to minimize development costs.
  2. Throughout the development process, avoid making extensive modifications to the engine and rendering pipeline. Instead, use the plugin method for development. This approach helps to prevent the suffering of upgrading the engine later on. Only make these changes if the Unreal Engine's rendering process doesn't meet your requirements. If significant modifications are made, try not to follow the official engine upgrades.
  3. Throughout development, create tools to address specific pain points and enhance R&D efficiency, especially before large-scale resource production.

Thank you for your time, where can people learn more about Racing Master?

Please follow the official social media accounts below to get first-hand information!

    Get Unreal Engine today!

    Get the world’s most open and advanced creation tool.
    With every feature and full source code access included, Unreal Engine comes fully loaded out of the box.