A Beginner's Guide To:
By: Phil Lee
|The year is 1967. Jack Brabham is Formula 1 World Champion and is partnered at his own team by Denny Hulme. Jim Clark is at the height of his racing powers and is partnered by former World Champion Graham Hill at Lotus. Future 3-times World Champion Jackie Stewart is racing for BRM. Another former champion, John Surtees, is driving for Honda. Bruce McLaren competes in his own car as does Dan Gurney in his All-American Racing Eagle. At Ferrari, Mike Parkes, Chris Amon and Lorenzo Bandini form another powerful lineup. Joachim Rindt, Jo Bonnier and Pedro Rodrigues all line up on the grid in Coopers. Now it is your chance to pit your racing skills against the true greats of Formula 1. Welcome to Grand Prix Legends.|
1. Patching GPL
So you've installed GPL on your PC and want to know what to do next. The first step is to download the latest version of GPL from the Papyrus website. The current version of GPL is 184.108.40.206 which can be downloaded here. The patch includes numerous enhancements over the original version including the addition of force feedback support. Make sure that you get the correct country specific version of the update.
There are several other updates available on the GPL download page which may be worthwhile downloading. The first applies if you have a non-3dfx graphics card such as the nVidia GeForce or ATi Radeon. If you are using one of these types of graphics card, download the GPL Direct3D Rasterizer. This will allow you to take advantage of the hardware acceleration provided by your graphics card and get better performance when running GPL. For full details, see the Papy readme file.
If you are intending to run GPL online it is worthwhile downloading the GPL Disconnect fix. This is an unsupported beta patch that should significantly reduce disconnects when running multiplayer races in GPL.
If you are trying to run GPL on a PC with a processor faster than 1.5 GHz you will need to download the fast processor patch to correct a timing problem in version 220.127.116.11 of GPL. Make sure you get the correct pactch for your version of GPL.
2. Configuring GPL
2.1 Preparing to run GPL
Before running GPL it is important to make sure that there are no other programs running in the background on your PC. GPL is a very powerful simulation and as such requires maximum resources to be available when running it. Programs such as the most common anti-virus software can cause GPL performance to drop if they are left running in the background.
First, close down all programs you can see running such as Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. Next, press the Ctrl, Alt and Delete keys at the same time. This will produce a "Close Program" window listing all the programs Windows is currently running. You may be surprised at how much goes on in the background when the PC is seemingly idle. Of the processes listed, only 2 are essential. The are Explorer and Systray. Everything else listed is hogging system resources and should be closed down. This can be done in two ways. The first is to highlight the entry on the "Close Program" window and click on the "End Task" button. This is a long winded way of closing down all the programs. I prefer to use the freeware program EndItAll which at the click of a button closes down all unnecessary programs. You can download EndItAll here.
2.2 Callibrating your controllers
The next step is to make sure that your controllers are set up correctly in Windows. To do this, click on Start | Settings | Control Panel and double on the "Game Controllers" icon. Once you have set up your controllers correctly, run GPL. When the program has loaded up, you will be asked to configure the controls you want to use. If you have a wheel or joystick follow the on-sceen instructions to callibrate the device.
2.3 Setting up a force feedback wheel
GPL version 18.104.22.168 supports force feedback when using a suitably equipped wheel. To enable force feedback, you first need to locate the file core.ini. This is found in the directory where GPL was installed (by default C:\Sierra\GPL). When you have found this file using Windows Explorer, double click on it to edit it. Add the following information to the file to enable force feedback:
[ Joy ]
The numbers shown above are the ones I use for my Act Labs Force RS. They are very much a personal setting and require a lot of experimentation to get right. GTX_SlotCar includes an explanation on setting these numbers here.
2.4 Setting up the graphics options
GPL includes a large number of graphics options which need to be set up to suit your PC. To get to the Graphics options page, click on the Options menu on the main GPL screen and use the left/right arrows at the bottom of the page to switch between the 3 options pages.
When you get to the Graphics page, the first thing to do is set up the graphics mode you want to use to run GPL. By default these are 3 modes, Software, 3dfx and Rendition. If you have downloaded the D3D patch mentioned in section 1, there will also be a D3D option. The mode you choose depends on the type of graphics card you have installed. Here is a summary of common cards and the best mode to use:
3dfx: Voodoo5 5500, Voodoo4 4500, Voodoo3 3500, 3000 and 2000, Voodoo2
After selecting the appropriate graphics card type, click on the green button at the bottom right hand corner of the screen and close down and restart GPL for the change to take effect.
When GPL restarts, load up a track in training mode. Jump into the car and then press the Alt and F keys at the same time. You will see at the bottom right hand corner of the screen the is a number. This is a framerate indicator which shows how well GPL is running on your PC. The maximum possible value is 36 frames per second. It is important to set up the GPL graphics options to keep the framerate counter at 36 fps at all times except for the first few seconds of a race.
Leave the pits and note how the framerate counter varies. If it is locked at a steady 36fps, you may be able to increase the graphics detail. If it is below 36fps you are going to have to switch off some options.
Through experience this is the best order to switch off detail in the graphics options page to
achieve a solid 36fps:
Depending on your PC, you should be able to get a solid 36fps at a resolution of 1024x768 or 800x600 with a minimum amount of detail switched off, provided you have a 3d graphics card. You may also have to reduce the graphics detail when racing against a full grid of cars and when racing online.
2.5 Setting up the Sound options
The number of sounds you have playing at any one time also has an effect on framerate. Depending on the quality of your sound card you may find that reducing the number of sounds heard will improve the graphical performance. Set the number of sounds to 8 initially. You may find that you can increase this number if you have a high end PC and aren't suffering any framerate problems.
3. Downloading new tracks
GPL shipped with 11 tracks, 10 of which were used in the 1967 World Championship. The 11th, Rouen, hosted the French Grand Prix in 1968 and replaced the Le Mans Bugatti circuit which Papy decided not to model. Since the release of GPL a small number of people have been wrestling with the track format used by Papy and have been able to produce several add-on tracks for the sim as well as convert tracks from the other Papy sims.
Here is a list of some of the add-on tracks and where they can be downloaded from:
There are other tracks currently being developed including Hockenheim, AVUS, Lime Rock Park, Riverside and Wigram Airfield.
David Noonan has written two utilities to convert tracks from other Papy sims for use with GPL. A demonstration version of the program can be downloaded from The US Pits. The full version of the program can be purchased from here. These utilities will convert the tracks from IndyCar Racing 2, Nascar 2, Nascar 3 and Nascar Legends so that they can be used with GPL.
4. Graphical updates to tracks
Some of the original graphcs supplied with GPL were a little bland and in some cases
inaccurate. There are a wide variety of graphical updates available to improve the look of many of
the original Papy tracks and the converted tracks as well. Here are some websites where these
updates can be downloaded:
5. Graphical updates to cars
The original graphics supplied for the cars in GPL were probably the least impressive part of
the sim. The cockpits and dashboards in particular leave a lot to be desired and are nothing like
their real life counterparts. But fear not, help is at hand in the form of a number of websites
offering graphical enhancements to your chosen stead. Here are some websites where these updates
can be downloaded:
6. On-line racing
GPL supports a thriving on-line racing community. This was primarily brought about due to the development of the Virtual Racers' Online Connection (VROC) and the program WinVROC. WinVROC provides a gateway into the online racing world. When you log on, you will be greeted with a list of online races, some of which are open to the public (green icon) and some of which are password protected (blue icon). To find out more about VROC, click here. You can download WinVROC here.
7. Other sites of interest
There is a thriving GPL community online with many websites covering all aspects of the sim.
Some of the most useful websites are listed here:
last updated June 2, 2001