Today we’ve been blessed with a really great reader submission to kick off the weekend from Shane S., who shares his perspective on what it’s like to cross over from console driving games into hardcore PC racing simulations and not immediately have the talent to run at the front of the pack.
Like Ben’s submission about F1 2015, I do not contain the style of writing that PretendRaceCars possesses. I also wish to state that compared to other members of your audience I’m a decent bit younger, so there might be some grammar mistakes and I apologize for that in advance.
Now, I’m what you could call a noob when it comes to sim racing. I run automatic transmission because I use an old wheel (Speedlink’s DARKFIRE Racing Wheel) that has no gearbox and I’m too cheap to get a real one. I use the buttons on the wheel to accelerate and brake, I race using a laptop, while sitting on a rolling wheel chair, using a desk that is camouflaged with Pepsi and Mountain Dew cans, Oh, did i also mention that I race with my wheel on my lap because the wheel has lost it’s suction cups? I also use a lot of driver aids unless the track is so “grippy” to the point that I don’t need them, or if the track is easy enough to drive as it is with them off. Just to add on to that I use the racing line assist. Perhaps that doesn’t’ sound as bad as some others, but I think it gets the point across.
I play NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, as I already hold a subscription to World of Warcraft, so I’m not allowed to get iRacing – meaning this member of Mommy’s MasterCard Motorsports has never touched iRacing. Heck I’ve never even played GSCE, R3E, AC, or rFactor. Though I do own GTR2, but even then it’s assists galore when it comes to me playing that game.
I do enjoy NR2003, it’s outdated sure, but I’m not the type who cares about the in depth realism that most sim racers crave for nowadays. I race online every weekend in leagues, filled with people more experienced than me and more pro than I could ever be. I’ve been doing this for almost 2 years now, and…well, it’s been “something”. Ever since I’ve started I’ve never been a guy who contends for a win. I’ve always been back of the pack or mid-field depending on the people participating. I accepted a long time ago that I’ll be stuck in this rut forever unless the things I mentioned in the first paragraph are changed. Recently I went on a three month hiatus as I was tired and frustrated at being multiple seconds off the pace of the leader in almost every race, High school exam stress also didn’t help either as I’m not the best type of student, but anyways…I began to question whether or not I should continue or quit.
I started to wonder if me just being there with my noobish qualities was bad for the community as a whole, We always get trashed on, like how PC Elitists dump insane masses of fecal matter and anal filled pride on console peasants. I’m usually not a troublemaker, heck even some of the better racers said I was the best backmarker, I raced everyone as clean as I could, I’d do a good job following the backmarker rules of letting faster people go by in the correct areas. Needless to say if i had a Formula 1 career, I’d probably be one of the best backmarkers not to get on F1Rejects.
Another thought that came to my mind was whether or not I was having fun. I mean, why should I continue if I’m starting to think sucking balls wasn’t fun anymore, should I even fix it, or just call it quits and go back to only making offline league videos with my crap commentary? What was there for me to do other than play the part of being notified as the guy who is described as “He’s an alright dude, but is incredibly slow”?
Because I’m a sucker, a few friends of mine convinced me to race NR2003 again. I still am recollecting these thoughts every day, I’m not sure how long I’ll last until something blows my gasket and makes me quit like one of those unfunny and over-saturated COD rage videos on YouTube, I was wondering how ya’ll would feel in this situation? Is there a point where people like me should just give up and just go back and play Gran Turismo 6 or ModNation Racers on a PS3? Perhaps this isn’t what the website is looking for, but hey I wanted to get something off my chest.
In the mean time though, I’m going to enjoy my summer vacation (just passed Junior year) while i can, got some practice to do for tomorrow’s online race, let’s see if I can manage a Top 20 this time around.
This is probably the best submission we’ve received on PretendRaceCars.net since starting up in January and immediately establishing ourselves as amateur shit disturbers. Personally, there hasn’t been a time I’ve ever been bad at racing games; I’ve been doing this since the original Monster Truck Madness was launched and racing runs in my family so I’ve always had a natural set of skills behind the wheel.
In my opinion, Sim Racing is a lot of fun when you’re younger because it teaches some really fantastic computer skills. So many idiots think computers are simply expensive Facebook machines, and having to learn everything from Photoshop to file management just to get some of these games up and running the way you want them to helps in ways that you’d never expect. On the flipside, my High School French Classes let me easily navigate through the most popular add-on site for Richard Burns Rally, which for several years used Francais as it’s primary language. Competing online and making friends with older drivers through voice chat can also lead to some amazing conversations that have nothing to do with driving games, and sometimes those can be really helpful if you’re in a tough spot. Almost comparable to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs that some high school programs have, except you’re always paired up with diehard auto racing fans.
I had to Google what a Darkfire Racing Wheel was, so I understand your pain. When it comes to driving games on the PC, you’re honestly best dialing in either an Xbox 360 Controller, or getting some sort of used Logitech Wheel. While I was in high school I used my 360 controller for everything under the sun for comforts sake, so I could seamlessly swap between games and use an almost uniform control scheme whenever I’d jump from the 360 to the PC and back again. iRacing isn’t very good with a controller (I tried when my G27 crapped out on me), but I know any ISI-powered sim (GSCX, GTR2, rFactor, Race) have a ton of different control rates and settings you can fuck with. At one point, near the end of my 360 controller days, I was able to get rFactor to feel somewhat like Forza did, and click off laps comfortably.
Since you’ve got a PS3 controller, there are ways to make it work on the PC as well. Right now it’s what I use for my PSX emulator, and there are ways to make it work perfectly on the PC using Xbox 360 controller drivers. Since you’re a console kid and comfortable with a gamepad, this might be a better alternative than using a shoddy plastic wheel.
Getting your drivers license also helps, since raw seat time in a real car will show you the basics of judging braking distance and how weight transfer works. After that, save up some money and go go-karting to one of those proper indoor facilities. I remember after my first time at one of these places, my skill level skyrocketed, and it was pretty high already. A couple things suddenly clicked and I understood how tires behave a lot more. The more I went, the faster I got, both in sims and in real life. Also made me really dislike iRacing and how their tire model behaves, but that’s a story for another time.
When it comes to competing online, receiving complements such as “the best backmarker” is a huge deal and something you should be sort of proud of.
Public Lobby Racing is a lot like High School Gym Class. It’s a goddamn free-for-all with basically no rules and someone calling you a faggot at any given time, but after the dust settles, the experienced guys still pulled off the victory. Organized League Racing is a bit different – comparable to recreation league soccer. Tons of different options, tons of different skill levels, but the main thing is that everyone wants to be there and puts in the time and effort to make it into an event that resembles a legit competition. You wouldn’t practice foul shots all week just to reign supreme in High School Gym Class Basketball, and you wouldn’t sign up for a Tier 1 Men’s Soccer League just to trip people and shout racial slurs at the opposing teams goalkeeper. Same goes in online racing.
Offensive liveries are fun though.
And like all recreation leagues, there are always going to be the one or two stereotypical fat kids who have the mobility of a city bus. We know them in online racing as backmarkers. However, if you’ve ever played rec league soccer with people who aren’t in shape, some of these kids are incredibly good at playing their position because they want to be there. They may not contribute to the team as much as Chad Thunderfoot might, but they are doing their part to keep the game competitive. And you can’t ask for anything more.
And this is why shitty backmarkers stick out like sore thumbs in online leagues – they are the metaphorical fat kid who doesn’t want to be there of High School Gym Class Soccer. And this is why idiotic backmarkers are the subject of many angry voice chat rants on iRacing – you know they’re just there to cause shit. For me personally, when I come up on a backmarker that does what he’s supposed to do and doesn’t cause any problems, they get that same level of subtle respect from me as thunderthighs making a killer defensive play in rec league soccer.
So to answer your question “does me simply being there as a noob cause problems” – hell no son! We’re happy that you’re out there and not being a shithead because you’re setting a damn fine example! Sportsmanship and shit!
Is there a point where sucking isn’t fun anymore and you should just go back to console games? Maybe. Online racing in hardcore racing sims is always going to be difficult, because by default the people who play these games are avid auto racing fans to begin with, and the level of competition, even in the shittiest of leagues, will be beyond what you’ll see in public Forza lobbies.
Personally, I’d stick with NASCAR, but not venture out to anything else for a while. Oval racing teaches you how to respect your fellow competitors and get comfortable driving in close quarters among people who all have their own different strategies and agendas for the race. NASCAR taught me to tolerate contact and egos, both of which when applied to other forms of motorsport eliminated the stress levels entirely because it’s just so commonplace in American oval racing. You are at a disadvantage if you don’t learn how to be a cunt. Sometimes this can get you into trouble if the other guy isn’t ready for it or is rooted in road racing ettiquitte, but if the car has fenders, learn how to use them. Even better, learn how to defend against it. When the speed finally comes and you start running up front, races won’t be stressful anymore.
On the flipside, GTR 2 and other ISI-based road racing sims will probably frustrate you. Road racing isn’t something you can learn in a day.
This new generation of consoles seems to have absolutely nothing in terms of racing games, but the Xbox 360/Playstation 3 generation – and older – have some fantastic titles that could bridge the gap and help bring your skills up. On the PS3, DiRT 3, BAJA Edge of Control, Gran Turismo 6, and Formula One Championship Edition are some of the best Half-&-Half games out there.
Being a backmarker is fine because if you put in the effort, the speed will come, and you already seem to have the sportsmanship part down which is something a lot of people lack. Hook up your PS3 controller, go out and wheel your mom’s sedan for a bit, and you’ll see the lap times drop.