Under The Hood: Bringing Real Life Tracks Into Real Racing 3

Go behind the scenes of the EA Firemonkeys Studio and see how the team brings real life tracks into the game.

EA PLAY 2016

Real Racing 3

Real Racing is all about an authentic experience, with real cars, real tracks, and real people.

Go behind the scenes of the EA Firemonkeys Studio and see how the team brings real life tracks into the game.


When the Real Racing team adds a new track to the game, artists like Jesse West and Nick Mead spring into action.

One of the first steps for the team is research. They get in touch with the track licensor and gather as much reference material as possible.

“This can range from on-board video, photos, satellite imagery, CAD models, elevation data, and more recently, laser scanned point cloud,” says Jesse. 

It’s also important to get some time on the ground. When the team first built out the 8.47 mile long track for Le Mans, also known as Circuit des 24 Heures, a Real Racing team member was fortunate enough to be able to visit the location and took a lap of the course.

By capturing this on-board footage and recording commentary detailing key landmarks and track features, the team added unique characteristics and small details that could have been missed in a photo. 

Over 550 props and 7000 trees were placed in the Le Mans world, making it the longest and most populated track ever created for Real Racing 3.

For any track, the team builds an asset list based on their research. Assets are then broken down into genres such as architectural structure, props, track surfaces, and terrains.

“We prioritize based on the importance of a feature, its location, how close it is to the track, and how often it will be seen,” says Nick.

The first stage of building a track is to get a playable demo, which includes basic drivable surface with placeholder objects, such as key landmarks and pit buildings.

“This allows the team to get a feel for the track,” says Jesse. “Designers can begin to test play and think about even placement.”

The UI and marketing teams also start to review the tracks at this point and begin to rough out images for screenshots.

“It’s important that we get to this stage as soon as possible; visual quality isn’t critical at this point,” says Jesse. 

Next, the team starts refining the detail, paying special attention to how the track feels in regards to track width, elevation, banking, and corners. Representative geometry is used for distant objects.

And in this case, since Le Mans is a 24-hour race, various times of day need to be represented.

“We studied video references of previous Le Mans 24 hour races to give an authentic feel to the art,” says Jesse.

“But at the same time, we’re constantly aware of our deadline that ties in with the real world race,” adds Nick. “We had a date that we had to get the track made, bug tested, and approved by, so that the update could come out with the real 2014, 24 hours of Le Mans”.

To implement a night scene for the first time, the team built upon their in-house game engine, Mint3D, adding features that were unique to night racing.

The technology allows for projected headlights from cars, glowing brake discs, and the use of spherical harmonics for track lights to realistically light up cars.

When reviewing the track for accuracy, the art team works closely with the QA team. They compare the game to the real track, looking for areas where detail could be added or refined. Over 250 unique buildings were made for this track, surrounding the course to give racers a familiar look and feel.

“Le Mans was the beginning of a new era in Real Racing, combining the excitement of real world race events with our game,” says Nick. “It was an exhilarating challenge that allowed us to expand what Real Racing was in accuracy and visuals. We hope the players continue to enjoy racing around Circuit des 24 Heures in 2016.”


Download Real Racing 3* and let us know what you think on Twitter.

Stay in the conversation of all things EA: Read our blog, follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.


*Network fees may apply. Includes in-app purchases. 

You might also like:

Why I make games: Aspen Forster

Learn More

Why I Make Games: Jordan Phang

Learn More