Steam is a great tool for people who do not want to manage rFactor 2 themselves. Once you install the software, everything will automatically be kept up to date and if you add new content from the workshop, or buy new content from the item store, that too will be automatically installed and updated. Most people will enjoy not having to tinker with their installs, and if you're nodding "me too" now, you can stop reading!
For those who are wondering how they can best control their rFactor 2 installs themselves, the rest of this article looks at all the different options.
Before you get started, at the very least you should install the Steam client (as you need it to run the simulation) as well as a tool called SteamCMD (needed if you want to manually download and update the simulation and/or content).
How to download SteamCMD and further instructions on how to use it can be found on this page: https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/SteamCMD
INSTALLING AND MANAGING THE SIMULATION
In the days before Steam, there were two different downloads for rFactor 2 you could choose from. The "full install" and the "minimum install". The latter (also known as the "lite" version) would only contain the simulation, without any content installed, and this is literally the version you also get when installing rFactor 2 on Steam for the first time.
INSTALL USING STEAM
The easiest way to install the simulation is by using the Steam client. Select rFactor 2 from your library and hit the install button. Using this method will also ensure the simulation is kept up to date automatically. How this happens can be configured via the "updates" tab in the properties, where you can select when automatic updates happen and if you allow background updates while rFactor 2 is running (we don't recommend that). You can also choose if you want to enable Steam cloud synchronization, which ensures that any car setups you have are backed up (and replicated to other computers, should you have more than one with rFactor 2 installed). Further details on when and how to download updates can be configured in the Steam "Settings" window under "Downloads" and "Cloud".
INSTALL USING STEAMCMD
If you don't want Steam to install and update rFactor 2, you can use SteamCMD to do it manually. If you had previously installed rFactor 2 the normal way, and you are therefore already subscribed to various workshop items, log into the Steam website and "unsubscribe" from all of them if, and only if, you do not want any content to be downloaded automatically.
To install rFactor 2, open a Command Prompt and enter the following command:
Note that if steamcmd.exe is not in your path, you might have to prepend the full directory to where you installed it. Your
PASSWORD are what you use when logging into Steam. The
D:\rF2 is the full path to where you want the new installation to end up, and
365960 is the AppID of rFactor 2 (with other AppID values you can use the same method to install other games in your Steam library). The
+validate option at the very end ensures that all files are validated, which helps ensure updates override any local changes you might have made to files.
Note that I would recommend you make a batch file with the command above, as you can use the exact same command whenever you want to update the simulation. If you run it again, and there is an update available, this batch file will update your install.
The first time, it might ask you for your Steam guard code (check your e-mail) and firewall permissions (allow).
Note that if you forgot to unsubscribe from all your workshop items, after the simulation finishes downloading, workshop items will also be downloaded. If you don't want this, you can hit Ctrl-C to abort the download.
INSTALLING AND MANAGING CONTENT
DOWNLOADING WORKSHOP ITEMS
Workshop items automatically download when you subscribe to them. Once you're subscribed, you will also automatically receive any updates to the item.
The alternative is to use SteamCMD to manually download such items. To do that, you need to know the ID of the workshop item you want to download. An easy way to discover that is to open your browser and go to the workshop, and select the item you want. Then look in the URL bar at the top, it should show something similar to this:
As you see, the ID is part of this URL, it's the long number. Use that in the following command below:
Note that the workshop item ID is the second number in that command line. The first is the AppID for rFactor 2. When you run the command, if all goes well, after a while it will respond with:
As you see, relative to the install directory you point it to, this command will generate a folder stucture that is identical to when it would automatically download the item. So you need to go there and look at the contents of the folder to see what you actually downloaded. As with rFactor 2 itself, you can run this command again and again to get updates for the item.
DOWNLOADING PAID CONTENT
Paid content, once purchased, ends up in your inventory. If you log into Steam, you can view that inventory, and if you select an item you've purchased, in the details for that item a button appears that states "View Workshop Item". Click on it and you will see the actual workshop item, which you can download and update as described above under "downloading workshop items".
Once you have downloaded all the content you want, I recommend copying all the rfcmp and rfmod files into the "Packages" folder of your rFactor 2 install as it makes working with the package manager in the Launcher a lot easier. The package manager allows you to install and uninstall individual packages. You are responsible for installing them in the right order, making sure that dependencies are satisfied.
RUNNING THE SIMULATION
Running the simulation can be done directly via Steam, when you hit the "play" button, or manually, when you run the launcher (from your rFactor 2 folder in Launcher\Launch rFactor.exe). If you choose the latter, I recommend making a shortcut so you can append command line arguments. If you do it via Steam, you can set the same arguments via the properties, using the "set launch options..." button in the "general" tab.
The following options are available:
offline-- Will force offline mode. This will skip any checks to download or update content.
+workshop-- Will (re)subscribe you to all workshop items from Studio 397 and will enable the automatic subscription to new workshop items from Studio 397 that are published from now on.
-workshop-- Will unsubscribe you from all workshop items from Studio 397 (but not items from others) and will disable the automatic subscription to new workshop items from Studio 397.