Breaking down the Rental Kart in Game Stock Car Extreme

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A couple of weeks ago I posted a rather lengthy editorial about my experiences illegally rallying a Go-Kart around the numerous pedestrian trails and local neighborhood roads. Throughout the post I mentioned several times how messing around on rFactor beforehand helped myself and my friends keep from hurting ourselves doing something incredibly stupid fun.

As I mentioned in Episode 3 of 8:10, our GT3 league migrated to Game Stock Car Extreme, which is available on Steam for $30. After a few days straight of doing nothing but lapping in the BR stock cars developing a baseline setup for when the series starts in a few weeks, I was reminded that the game also had a huge roster of other cars – including rental karts – something I’d had a fair bit of experience driving in real life.

These are my impressions.

GSC 2015-03-28 20-25-34-14It’s important to set your wheel up properly when driving these. Karts DO NOT have 540 degrees of steering rotation, it’s more like anywhere from 180 to 270 that you’ll find something that feels right. In my own testing with this kart, I used 270, but even then it didn’t feel perfect – wasn’t sensitive enough. I think I could knock it down to 240 degrees. In my experience, the wheel itself didn’t even turn all 180 degrees, a quick guess would be around 165, but the front tires would be almost sideways, to the point where the car would slightly lift up if you went full lock sitting still. So to replicate that in the sim, sometimes you gotta use numbers that aren’t right, but feel right. To get realistic feeling cornering and steering sensitivity in GSCX, 240 degrees is probably accurate.

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When it comes to force feedback, you won’t manage to get something that feels like a Kart out of GSCX. In real life, every single surface change and every slight little bump wanted to knock the wheel from your hands, for obvious reasons. It was like riding a bike, where if you get stuck in some sort of rut in the dirt or whatever, the handlebars wanted to do their own thing. Our kart was the same way. Transitioning from the road to the sidewalk, or going from pavement to dirt (and back again), you really needed to get the line right and prepare for the steering wheel to get knocked around in your hands. Even stuff like drifting over grass, you really needed to calculate your lines properly before you tried anything retarded. However, in GSCX, this doesn’t really occur at all. In my time spent with the rental kart, I could hammer kerbs, bumps, and rumble strips with little regard for the car’s stability, because the wheel was never going to be knocked around in my hands.

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Sounds are one thing Reiza nailed. A PC sound system will never be able to replicate the thunder of even a small lawnmower engine (it’s not loud, but you can feel it in your chest), but especially in the higher rev range, Reiza nailed the sounds. The slight whine of the engine as you approach 75+ km/h and above is spot on. One thing Reiza didn’t nail, was the default cockpit view. It’s too high and too far back by default – even adjusting the seat wasn’t enough and I had to mess with some of the INI files to get a cockpit view I liked.

And your setup options, as predicted, aren’t much. Three different final drive settings are available, and tire pressure settings are within realistic ranges.

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But the real question is how does it drive, and to that, I gotta say it’s a mixed bag. The real kart, we did pretty much everything possible to try and kill ourselves in, and I spun out a grand total of twice in about six months worth of driving. Just think about that – news articles popped up everywhere saying how it was dangerous as fuck to drive karts on the street and that people were dying and shit – and I spun twice. Once, I was retarded and touched the grass doing just above idle speed (there was dew on the grass), and another time, I was doing about 20km/h on the snow and I purposely threw it sideways to be a retard in front of my buddy… and just sort of skidded to a stop.

This was on racing slicks. We spent entire days, evenings, and nights running laps in an empty parking lot, or going on marathon journeys around the neighborhood in a variety of less-than-stellar conditions, basically going weeks without spinning even once. It was that easy. It made us all wonder how people were getting hurt doing this.

Even on dirt, it felt like I was playing DiRT 3 with all the assists on. It seemed like no matter what you did, it was damn near impossible to loop the kart. Like having magnets for tires. It never suffered from understeer, and it didn’t have enough power for the rear end to step out unless you did like I mentioned above and threw it sideways intentionally. I can’t stress this enough – slicks on dirt – still felt like we were on easy mode.

This isn’t replicated on Game Stock Car Extreme at all.

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There isn’t enough torque, and that may be due to us using a gear from Princess Auto that was designed for acceleration, I guess you could say we had a final drive ratio that isn’t available in GSCX. We topped out at 77km/h, whereas the shortest gearing in GSCX lets you top out at 82km/h. But at the same time, when you’d lift off the throttle and get back on for whatever reason, the power would still be there. The revs fall too quickly in GSCX. Lifting off the throttle in GSCX also scrubs off too much speed – during some of our more dangerous adventures we could literally coast just to settle ourselves down and retain pretty much the same speed, give or take a few clicks. Can’t do that in GSCX.

Handling is all over the place. As I said, in real life, even on dirt with racing slicks, it was like having magnets for tires. Easy mode, DiRT 3 with all the assists on. Like a grip hack for NR2003. Made you wonder how people died doing what we were doing. GSCX’s rental kart is a strange beast. Sometimes it understeers, sometimes it oversteers. Saving slides takes no skill in real life, and I demonstrate that in one of my videos. In GSCX’s rental kart, there’s a 50/50 chance that a simple correction will send the car wildly spinning in the other direction. Totally unpredictable unless you drive it way under the limit. Almost iRacing-like in the way that a simple correction for a slide can suddenly bite hard and send you directly into the grass. Saving a slide is guesswork.

I think the main problem is this: Go-Karts rely on chassis flex to corner. They don’t have a proper suspension, which is why they’re hard to get right in a racing sim designed for cars with a stiff chassis and suspension. They pretty much need an entirely different physics model.

A fun diversion? Yes. Entirely accurate? No.

Milestone’s RIDE appears to be a broken, buggy mess at launch

Milestone, best known for their work on the WRC and MotoGP series over the past four or five years, appear to have put out a clunker. Early adopters of RIDE, a spiritual successor to Polyphony Digital’s Tourist Trophy, are incredibly upset with the game’s state upon its release a few days ago.


The fact that the negative reviews mention obvious third party marketing tactics to improve the reception of the game points to RIDE being something avid motorcycle fans should avoid.

SteamCharts displays the lopsided Sim Racing userbase

SteamCharts, An ongoing analysis of Steam’s player numbers, occasionally can show some pretty interesting data.One of the reasons I believe there’s such an outbreak of fanboyism in racing games is that there are only enough pretend race car drivers to populate one game – this isn’t like Call of Duty versus Battlefield where each franchise has a userbase in the hundreds of thousands. The fanboyism occurs because everyone wants the pack of users to flock to their favorite game so they have a huge group of people to race against, because there is usually one game that is insanely populated, versus many that are ghost towns.

No better is this theory of mine demonstrated than in this graph taken from SteamCharts. It’s important to note that the iRacing count is taken from players actually inside the software running the race, as the iRacing site itself has a regular hit count of around 1,500 to 2,000.steamcharts

8:10 Podcast Episode 3 – March 27th, 2015

Chris and James of discuss Fanatec’s customer support issues, their first impressions of Game Stock Car Extreme, respond to fan mail, and talk about how they feel regarding F1 2015’s in-depth reveal.

The “Fast and Furious” Expansion Pack for Forza Horizon 2 has only 30 minutes of racing

Xbox One user “The Shrekkening” recently posted a photo of his completed results screen for the new “Fast and Furious” Expansion for Forza Horizon 2. The game’s free expansion pack, released today, featured “less than 30 minutes of racing”, and collecting all of the expansion’s achievements took less than two hours of playtime.1427441312329

While not exactly a big deal for a free expansion pack, this has been pretty hyped for the last month or so, as the Fast & Furious franchise has always lacked a relevant video game tie-in. Previously, F&F games were usually considered shovelware, so the franchise partnering with Forza was seen as a huge move in the right direction and users rightfully expected something a little more than this.

This is also not the first time an expansion pack for the Forza Horizon series has been woefully underwhelming. 2012’s Horizon promised a huge map expansion somewhere during the game’s run of post-release DLC, although by the time this expansion came out, it had been priced at $19.99, was little more than tarmac sections of the existing map covered in dirt, and could be completed in about an hour. What eventually became known as the Horizon Rally Expansion also introduced game-breaking upgrades such as the off-road tires that made every car overpowered as fuck on dirt.