But what about the money? Did Papyrus immediately strike it rich? Not exactly. According to Kaemmer, "The original Indy 500 was done on a budget of about $90,000--absurd by today's standards. EA gave us an advance against royalties, and we contributed some money of our own. I did Indy 500 by myself for about a year, then Rich Garcia, the first person we hired, worked with me for the last six months. The 2D game artwork was done at EA, by one guy, the sound effects and music were done by another guy at EA--and that was about it. EA wanted us to port the game to the Amiga (computer system), since sales were better in Europe on the Amiga, so I did that by myself in another eight months for another $30,000 or so. The Amiga sales helped get us to the break-even point."
Papyrus would not release another game until 1993, four years after Indy 500 first went to market. It was a generally prosperous but not an entirely thrilling period for the young company. They were busy performing contract programming and computer consulting work while piecing together the finances and personnel for its next big project, a game that would eventually be known as IndyCar Racing. It was also a time when Geoff Crammond made a notable reappearance, unveiling (in 1992) one of the great auto racing sims of the decade, the now-revered World Circuit: The Grand Prix Racing Simulation. The stunning World Circuit quickly proved Papyrus was not alone as a competent PC race sim builder. Keying on the rarified environment of Formula 1, the game authentically covered the world of open-wheeled racing as it was known throughout Europe and much of the world, and in virtually every aspect it surpassed the now-antiquated Indy 500.
Though the official governing body of Formula 1 racing frowned on the use of its name in something as trivial as a video game, World Circuit was clearly F1 all the way--from its 16 real-world tracks to its stunning vehicle power to weight ratios and its glorious scenery (particularly in locales such as the upscale seaside resort principality of Monaco). The game was much bigger, much more comprehensive, infinitely prettier and far more refined than Papyrus' only product to date.
Says Kaemmer, "I remember when we were working on IndyCar, and we were all proud of ourselves because we had real-time, perspective-correct texture mapping, and we saw a demo of World Circuit, Geoff Crammond's original F1 game, and got very worried. He was doing texturing on the road surface, which we were not--for frame rate purposes--and his game looked really good. So we went ahead and textured the road surface, too, and it turned out the frame rate hit wasn't as bad as we had thought."
The encore to Indy 500 arrived, finally, one year after the Crammond milestone. Still a DOS-based affair (Microsoft's Windows was now into version 3.0, but it remained unfriendly to high-end gaming), and once again rendered in what at the time was considered low resolution (blocky 320x200), IndyCar nevertheless showed that Papyrus was in this racing thing for keeps.
For starters, it was an officially licensed product. While Kaemmer is the first to admit that a license doesn't automatically make a good game great, he does acknowledge an IndyCar game without an IndyCar license would have been a far less effective and believable product. With the licensing in place, Papyrus was able to use real track names and designs. It strategically positioned authentic sponsor names and logos throughout the courses and on each authentically rendered automobile, thereby exponentially increasing the "wow" factor.
In IndyCar, published by Virgin rather than EA, Papyrus upped the stakes considerably from Indy 500, delivering such notable perks as multiple TV-type replays, a markedly enhanced garage and setup routine, and breakaway parts that flew hither and thither following serious instances of contact. Indeed, one of the "hidden" joys of any Papyrus game is reverse track driving, wherein the player attempts to create the most cataclysmic head-on multicar pileup. And certainly breakaway parts only added to the fun.
Nonetheless, Kaemmer remembers the potential victim count being quite a bit higher in Indy 500, where "The strategy was to lie in wait on the front straight, which was lined on both sides with a concrete barrier, and leave no place for the hapless opponents to go. We would quite often get everyone but four or five in one giant wreck. I may have gotten everyone once..."
The game shipped with eight tracks in total, and seven more in an add-on expansion pack. The final piece of the puzzle--Indianapolis itself--was added as a separate add-on pack after the proper licensing was secured. IndyCar Racing would ultimately sell in the neighborhood of 300,000 units worldwide, a definite step up from 1989's maiden effort and a real feather in the cap. Still, it wasn't the earth-shattering total for which Papyrus had wishfully longed. That pleasure would be reserved for the following year, 1994, when Papyrus trumped just about everyone.