Today’s Reader Submission comes from a very different perspective, as Walk Racing owner and my own virtual boss Mr. C. has written us a lengthy entry on his current thoughts regarding sim racing. Walk Racing participates in a number of different competitive online leagues across all major modern racing sims, and the team maintains a solid 30% win ratio – out of the twenty different seasons Walk Racing has entered, they’ve won six of them.
As Mr. C.’s native language isn’t English, this submission has been heavily modified from the original E-Mail, though every effort was made to preserve its accuracy:
Finally, I decided to participate in an online racing league myself, after three or four years of managing Walk Racing. At the current point in my life, having the time to commit to a league – especially on Saturday evenings – is extremely hard and frustrating, as there’s little time to practice. I’m a truck driver by trade, but I love auto racing, so I went for it. TouringProSeries is currently hosting a WTCC 2015 league in RaceRoom Racing Experience. It feels like Race 07 – familiar ground for me – and since I was decently fast when I used to be on Race 07 all the time, I was up to speed in the 2015 spec cars as well. But three races in, I’m fed up.
R3E doesn’t perform well when you crank up the graphics. I had three total game crashes while practicing, then another thirty minutes before the race, and after that I couldn’t enter the game at all. Re-installed R3E, restarted my PC, still nothing worked, and only after I searched the Steam forums did I find a quick fix by entering some extra command lines in the executable file. From the final spot on the grid, making it just in time for the third and final race of the event, I worked my way into the top ten, and got bumped down to fourteenth, which was really aggravating and a sign of things to come in future events.
During my second event, I was disconnected from the server while leading the final lap of the first race. For the second race, I had no Force Feedback effects coming through the wheel, and couldn’t reset my FFB as I didn’t map a button (it had never been a problem previously), so I dropped down to fourth. I managed to win the final race of the weekend, so I’m not making excuses to compensate for poor driving. The third event the following weekend was a lot more rocky. I was dealt the notorious start bug during the first two races, getting roasted on the grid while I couldn’t move my car (eventually salvaging third place), and during the final race of the weekend, the game once again lost connection on me while I was in second place.
At this point I said “Fuck You, I’m done with RaceRoom!” Other drivers on the grid were equally frustrated with the glitches they’d experienced, such as the virtual transponder glitch where certain drivers were able to achieve astronomically quick lap times because their lap times weren’t being scored correctly by the game, really messing up the leaderboard. Another driver, Ryan Callan, jumped from fifth place all the way back to eighth in an instant due to lag.
I’m very confused as to why a top league like TouringProSeries would choose a game this problematic. Both Stock Car Extreme and rFactor 2 are more than adequate for online league racing, and the URD Endurance Series payware mod has really renewed interest in competitive rFactor 2 racing. The only thing RaceRoom has on these two competitors is top of the line sound effects, and the fact that it’s fun to practice on when the game is working as it should. I should also mention that getting my T500 to work in RaceRoom was a pain in the ass.
Stock Car Extreme has a great lineup of content, ranging from the FWD Maracas cars, to the Mini spec series, as well as the Brazilian Touring Cars and upcoming unlicensed V8 Supercars update. rFactor 2 may not have as much content, but real-world drivers swear by the base engine’s accuracy, so why aren’t people accepting this? Some TouringProSeries champions say rFactor 2 is shit and that RaceRoom is the future, and I question what they’re smoking after how brutal the online races have been in terms of glitches.
Even crazier, most of the top online leagues that offer monetary rewards stick with a mix of rFactor and rFactor 2. GPVWC use the original rFactor for their races, and use rFactor 2 for two experimental but very popular series with the DW12 and URD GT payware mod. Next year they plan to switch completely to rFactor 2, even though you have so many people refusing to try rFactor 2. Despite RaceDepartment struggling with getting a handle on how to properly enforce penalties, they are coming back nicely with a great broadcast and another good league in Stock Car Extreme with the RDTCC. Lastly, the big guns at FSR are using rF2. What I’m trying to say is that every good online series is using rFactor, rFactor 2, or Stock Car Extreme to host competitive championships.
So I kindly ask you to go around and ask admins of other leagues why they’re choosing to host leagues in unfinished games like Assetto Corsa or RaceRoom?
What can I race now, just for fun? I want to race but nothing out there suits my circumstances. iRacing has the pick up and play format nailed down, but they lack a good front wheel drive touring car, and the Honda Civic they had in development seems to have vanished into thin air. I love rFacor 2, can’t join a league due to time constraints, and it’s no fun to race alone or with the AI. I also really liked rallying back in the day – I managed a top 20 leaderboard position on the old Codemasters Colin McRae Rally 3 global rankings, but can’t find a good setting or good felling with the recent DiRT Rally – the car stops really fast and it doesn’t feel right to me. I’ve been for several ride-alongs in a WRC Evo VII so I have an indication as to how these cars actually behave.
Finally, a couple of my friends and I have been hoping that sim racing would progress to being an E-Sport and viewed on the same terms as something like League of Legends or Counter-Strike, but with how things are going with all these unfinished games and fanboys defending them, I doubt it will happen. Sustaining Walk is not enjoyable anymore, when I find less and less people caring about the passion than the graphic design and other crap…. Less and less people that keep their word on the forums… etc… If this is how it’s going to be, I’ll look to change my hobby to house cleaning or something.
I’ve had my own gremlins with RaceRoom Racing Experience since the most recent mega update that came in the middle of the summer. We here at PretendRaceCars.net have press access to R3E – we’ve been graciously given keys to try everything the game has to offer for free (as is industry standard) in order to cover the game in an efficient manner, but even after I’ve done articles detailing what’s contained in each of the game’s bigger updates, I find myself continuing to play the game on my own time. It’s got a really nice selection of content, and the online netcode is surprisingly solid given the archaic engine the whole thing is based on.
That all changed a few months ago. The game used to run phenomenally with everything except motion blur on Full, and now the game is incredibly choppy on the exact same settings, hovering around the 40 FPS mark with noticeable drops. With the introduction of user-created servers, netcode within the online portion of the sim has taken a steep, embarassing dive, almost bordering on unplayable with large grids due to people ping-ponging off of each other. I’ve also seen the virtual transponder bug in action, as some guys were running unattainable lap times at the Norrisring – two or three seconds faster than what I could achieve – with the 1990’s DTM cars, only to get smoked by the field when it came time to actually race. I’ve also experienced a glitch where upon joining a room with the Get Real driving model enabled, I’m for some reason given the Amateur driving model, and this results in me going absolutely beast mode on the rest of the field in a car that drives like it’s on rails.
It’s unfortunate, as prior to the most recent big update, R3E was fucking awesome and felt like someone tried to recreate how Assetto Corsa felt within the gMotor engine. EDIT: From what I understand, one by one, the bugs are being squashed, and a quick race tonight definitely showed major improvements, but I’ve indeed experienced more bugs in the past month or two than I have the rest of the year combined.
So why are leagues refusing to move to more established platforms for online leagues? Stupidity. Guys will drop $2,000 on a Direct Drive Wheel, $800+ to own all the content in iRacing, yet scoff at the $12 needed to play rFactor 2 online. The cognitive dissonance in the forums can be pretty wild at times and that right there is the best example I can give. As for Stock Car Extreme, I won’t tell you where, but there’s a working crack and auto-updater tool out there for it that allows you to play online with paying members. If a league really wanted to use SCX as a platform for their next season, there’d be nothing stopping them from going this route as long as they kept links to certain legitimately illegal files behind password-protected forums and away from the general public. Guys used to do this when we ran NHRA: Quarter-Mile Showdown online in the old DragSim days – one of the dudes ripped the ISO for the game and handed it out privately to people who couldn’t find the game in stores.
Why they don’t? Driver skill. I’ve heard some say that titles like Assetto Corsa and RaceRoom are slightly easier than their ISI-powered counterparts. I forget who said it, but RaceRoom has monster corner entry grip, and Assetto Corsa has been slammed by a bunch of different people for being a mix of Forza and rFactor. It took me a long, long time to experience it, but Assetto Corsa does feel a bit too forgiving in some spots, whereas rFactor 2 and Stock Car Extreme definitely punish you when you’ve fucked up as a driver. It’s a complete feel thing, but for drivers who aren’t at the top of their game and able to jump from sim to sim without any problems, this feel effect is magnified.
What can you race for fun? Do what I did and find a GameCube emulator, otherwise you’ll be playing the waiting game in the forums with fanboys and trolls. You go on the iRacing forums, it’s waiting for the next tire model or surface model. On the Assetto Corsa forums, it’s waiting for AI fixes or additional multiplayer functionality. Venturing to the Project CARS forums, it’s waiting for Slightly Mad Studios to fix the parts where your car shoots into the fucking air. If you’re into DiRT Rally, it’s waiting for them to add more tracks or fix the FPS issues a lot of people are having. I guess rFactor 2 and RaceRoom are also out of the question, as I’m personally waiting for Sector 3 to revert the game to how it played and performed in June, and Americans are waiting for the Stock Cars to be released for rFactor 2.
Will Sim Racing ever become an E-Sport? The 2015 MAV TV 500, the greatest Verizon IndyCar Series race of all time, with a record 83 lead changes, had approximately 5,000 people in the stands according to Tony Kanaan. People won’t even go to auto races with real cars on the track, yet the League of Legends Championship Series at Madison Square Garden is SOLD OUT.
That right there kills any hope of Sim Racing becoming an E-Sport. As a last ditch effort, you could always buy a bunch of used G27’s and send ’em to all the Twitch streamers who whip their tits out while playing League of Legends, but the influx of horny teenagers with an internet connection jumping on Assetto Corsa and Game Stock Car Extreme would make public lobbies a much bigger nightmare than they already are.