By Mike Saunders
1 January 1999
So far, some of game's circuits have been modified using a hex editor, i.e. looking at the track data file and changing parts of it by hand, but it's very laborious and results are often not as intended. The problem lies in the structure of the files - they contain just a mass of numbers, and there's no documentation to describe their composition. I've managed to modify Phoenix, Hockenheim and Monza, but the changes are mainly trivial. For example, wall heights and their distances from the track have been altered, but changing the strength of a bend or the incline of a straight is much harder - attempts at modifying these usually result in the game suffering glitches or crashing.
There were efforts to produce a track editor in the early days of F1GP. Legend has it that someone managed to transform Mexico into an oval, and someone else enhanced the Phoenix circuit on the Amiga version. Amiga F1GP doesn't share the same track files as the PC game, but they may have a similar structure. Sadly, when GP2 was released a few years back, most of those who knew the inner-workings of F1GP turned their attention to its sequel.
Fortunately, there has recently been an increase in the number of people who are willing to assist in the development of an F1GP track editor. This site has a forum for those interested in helping, together with suggestions from players around the world. But before we can get started, we've got to find out the structure of the track data files. Developer Rob Auzner was working on a track editing program, but this has been suspended. Along with others, I'm continuing to hack at the track files and will post enhanced courses on the web. See http://www.aster.fsnet.co.uk/gped.htm for some modified circuits to download, plus some track file information I've found. Anyone is welcome to get involved - just contact firstname.lastname@example.org and say how you'd like to help.
But don't hold your breath for a full track editor program. Plenty of work needs to be done - parts of the track data files remain a mystery. Hand-editing the circuit data is tiresome and frustrating, but the results are generally worth the effort. And new developments are slowly being made all the time, so we're hopeful. Now, if only I had Geoff Crammond's phone number...