In the past, I’ve talked about the importance of people like myself and EmptyBox participating in competitive online leagues to increase our credibility as mouthpieces in the greater driving game community. Far too often, sites like InsideSimRacing, VVV Automotive, and VirtualR are run by guys who aren’t all that good at the games they’re covering, and it becomes hard to trust what they have to say about a certain game – you never know if that ten second difference on track changes a game from feeling great to absymal because the fast guys found out all the little tricks that push the physics engine to its limit. The same thing happens in yearly EA Sports games; often avid sports gamers can find glitch goals or money plays that your average review site like Gamespot and IGN miss out on.
I’ve been driving in Season 3 of RaceDepartment’s Virtual Stock Car Championship for Walk Racing. The five round season takes place in Reiza Studio’s Game Stock Car Extreme, and save for the Brazilian league that sees many real-world drivers competing, this is basically the top Stock Car V8 online league you can join.
Today, we went to Taruma for the second round of the season.
Taruma is one of the easiest layouts in GSCX to memorize, but one of the hardest to build a setup for. Despite the simple, flowing corners, the track desperately needs a repave; there are bumps everywhere that unsettle the car and generally make trying to turn fast laps a nightmare. Teammate Risto Kappet grabbed the pole with a 61.3, and I took fifth on the grid with a 61.5. Everyone on Walk Racing underperformed during qualifying, as Risto managed to pull off a 61.1, and even I had broke into the 61.4’s. The top ten spots on the grid were covered by one second.
We spent nearly all week developing a setup – I think I ran close to 200 practice laps. We all found something comfortable an hour before the race – Taruma is that difficult.
I expected a crash-filled race, as there were numerous spin-outs in practice and the hairpin in sector two is notoriously difficult, but the field quickly spread out within mere seconds of the race starting. It was very tough to pass, as the several bumps throughout the track make doing anything but sticking to the racing line virtually impossible. To make matters worse, I began having FPS issues almost immediately. The constant smoke from people locking up their brakes, plus the amount of times someone put a tire or two in the grass, meant the track was full of dust clouds that constantly caused dreadful microstutters. With passing someone already tricky under perfect circumstances, simply running behind someone would cause the game to stutter at random intervals if they locked up the brakes.
This issue came to light about ten minutes into the race, as a innocent battle with the 39 of Migel Lopez almost ended my race permanently – the game stuttered under braking and I nudged into the back of him in the circuit’s lone right-handed corner. Lopez was unaffected, and while I kept the car pointed straight, losing five seconds from contact is a big deal when everyone else on the grid is at the top of their game.
Recovering from this mistake, I opted for a no-tire strategy in the pits. I hoped this would net me a few spots on-track, but drivers who did take tires, such as the 61 of Jake Cooper, quickly eradicated the advantage I’d gained in the pits after only a few laps of driving on fresh tires.
At some point, I saw the text Fabio Assucano has left the game appear in the chat box. This was huge for me, as Fabio was ahead of me in points, and if I could finish in an acceptable position, I’d move up one spot in the points standings to fourth place. Running seventh at the time, I made it my goal to catch and pass Miguel Lopez. A pretty fierce battle followed, but I was able to get around the 39 car without being affected by microstuttering in unfortunate places, and drove the car home to a sixth place finish, bumping me up to fourth place in the overall standings behind Neto Nascimento, Guus Verver, and Jake Cooper.
The setup Walk Racing developed throughout the week took on many different evolutions, and unfortunately is a mix between oh god don’t touch the gas pedal and it feels kinda okay I guess. Here’s what I personally ran for the race, small adjustments and all, although it may not suit everybody’s needs.