Reader Submission #38 – The Quick and Easy way to Start Racing Online

Once in a while, I’m reminded that PRC.net is read by many different types of sim racers, from the inexperienced, all the way to the elite – and a few developers, to boot! Today’s Reader Submission is designed to appeal to the guys who are just getting into racing sims, such as Joel A, who are completely new to these types of games and want to race online, but have no idea where to begin.


RRRE 2015-08-27 15-53-17-55Hello PRC.net, hope all is well with you.

I’ve been racing offline only for the past few months in GT Legends and GTR 2, after I bought a Logitech Driving Force GT wheel. However, I’d really like to try online racing in the near future. The thing is, even if I get all my stuff configured for online racing, where would I play? From what I’ve read on PRC.net, as well as what I’ve watched from YouTubers like EmptyBox and heard from friends, the only way to play racing sims online is through online leagues. But what leagues? I’m a noob when it comes to online gaming, but would really like to start racing online.

I was wondering if PRC.net could explain to me the basics of getting a racing sim configured for online play, what games I should play, what sites are active for online racing, and how the big sim teams operate?


RRRE 2015-08-27 15-54-48-12We haven’t actually done a post regarding this, so I’m happy to help.

Before you venture online, head to the Options Menu in whatever game you’re playing, as there are three specific options you need to configure that ensure you’ll have a smooth experience online. In the visual settings menu (this will be uniform across 90% of racing sims due to a majority of them running on the same engine), turn Shadows to Medium, Special Effects to Off, and Visible Vehicles to 20.

Untitled-1Even if you have a modern PC, any game on the gMotor engine (GTR 2, GT Legends, rFactor, Stock Car Extreme, R3E, ARCA Sim Racing, Race 07 + Expansions) have  tendencies to drop FPS during on-track incidents, as well as during random points when the garage area is in view. Tweaking the Special Effects, Shadows, and Visible Vehicles settings to what you see above prevent huge FPS drops without any noticeable decrease in visual quality. Turning special effects off also removes smoke from your game, which is a huge advantage when driving through wrecks.

The next step is actually getting online, and most games have a huge button that says MULTIPLAYER or RACE ONLINE. These are not difficult to understand; anything without a padlock next to it is what you’ll see referred to as a Public Lobby, and usually there’s a button to sort the populated servers at the top. If you’re just starting out, these are what you’ll want to join. Even if the server has an official looking name like RACE-BRASIL.BR 1, it doesn’t mean it’s part of a league, it’s just the name of the group hosting the server.

u2Do not fear joining public lobbies. This is definitely my ego talking, but the vast majority of people you run into in these public lobbies can’t drive worth a shit. Sim Racing titles are notorious for their difficulty, but ultimately this means everyone is fighting the same uphill battle you are. There is no shame in entering a public server after practicing offline for a few weeks, as chances are there’ll be a few guys even slower than you. Events online are structured the same way offline events are in GTR 2 or GT Legends, with a practice, qualify, and race session, so you’ll be very familiar with how things go if you’ve put in laps offline. The biggest warning I can give is that sometimes the practice sessions are extremely long and despite being open to the public, the server is on a set schedule for whatever community is hosting it.

RRRE 2015-08-27 15-56-41-24Unfortunately, public lobbies do get tiring after a while. Very few modern racing sims give people any incentive to drive cleanly, as iRacing is the only sim out of the current crop of games people play to offer an insanely detailed ranking system – Assetto Corsa’s ranking system is a third party mod that very few have adopted as of this writing. This results in race after race being filled with guys who are – to put it bluntly – fucking garbage. Although you may end up with the occasional good race, you’re definitely going to get wrecked a lot, and your vocabulary will see a strange expansion in the number of racial slurs and profanity-laced insults from across the globe. My personal favorite is favela, which seems to anger the South American crowd.

This is where Leagues, as well as iRacing, come into play.

RRRE 2015-08-27 15-57-57-40EmptyBox spends a lot of time on iRacing, where the entire sim is designed to be one giant online career mode. iRacing doesn’t feature any Single Player races against the AI, but instead has a very detailed progression system and scheduled start times hosted by the game itself, guaranteeing you’re always in a huge field of equally skilled racers.

Myself and others personally knock iRacing due to the driving physics being lackluster, but many people put up with it because of the organization that’s second to none within the genre. Even though functionality for both private leagues and public lobbies are included, a good 80% of iRacing users have never touched either option. Most EmptyBox videos are filmed during a standard iRacing.com online session – all of which count towards your online ranking. It can be stressful for those not accustomed to always having to be on their best behavior (I know of a guy who got nervous just entering practice sessions), but if there’s anything iRacing taught me, it’s how to drive in a pack of cars safely.

Of course, iRacing is the only racing sim to offer this kind of service. To run competitive races in an organized fashion, you’ll need to look to a site like RaceDepartment or Race2Play. I personally use RaceDepartment, but Race2Play works in a similar fashion. Beware though that some sites do require you to sign up for a Premium Account – usually the cost isn’t much – but it’s enough to put some people off.

Either way, both sites host daily online races at a scheduled start time in a variety of different sims. If you’re to choose a modern sim to race online with, I’d suggest Stock Car Extreme first, followed by RaceRoom Racing Experience if you’ve got a bit of disposable income. Both games mentioned above have a huge list of content, have menus with a similar GUI compared to what you’re used to from GTR 2 and GTL, and there’s minimal downloading of mods needed to race in these scheduled events. If you need to download something, the thread relating to the event will tell you how.

rdBoth sites operate in largely the same fashion. There’s a huge event list detailing everything happening throughout the week, clicking on the name of one brings you to a forum thread where you can let them know you’ll be participating and read the rules for the event, and about 30 minutes before the event is scheduled to start, you can join the room in the server browser with the password that’s normally provided to you in the sign-up details. These races are much cleaner than your standard public lobby and the driving standard will be of a higher quality, and usually this is enough for most people.

iRacingSim 2012-08-29 19-22-49-43Online Leagues are the next step up from organized races, and operate in an identical fashion, the only difference is that points are tallied after each race. Online Leagues come in all shapes and sizes, with most being open to the public – the only requirement is that you register on the specific forum and fill out the required info. It’s incredibly easy to find a league to participate in, either by lurking in one of the various subreddits dedicated to the game you’re playing, or simply asking what’s available in RaceDepartment’s numerous forums. Personally, most of the leagues I’ve participated in have been due to getting invited to them – if you run well enough, it’s not uncommon for someone to say “hey, you’re good in these cars, you should check out this league.” Provided you’re a friendly fellow on public servers along with being fast, someone might even ask you to be their teammate.

iRacingSim64 2013-05-25 15-32-54-46I’ll receive a lot of flak for this, but online racing teams are essentially the virtual race track equivalent of high school cliques. A good 95% of the time, even the biggest, most successful online teams are just a bunch of guys who all hang out on the same Teamspeak channel. In highly competitive stuff, like the iRacing Peak Anti-Freeze Series, or official RaceDepartment leagues, you’ll have a guy who primarily builds car setups, or a guy who does the car liveries for everybody, but the organization and dedication pales in comparison to the guys playing League of Legends for a living. It’s really just an evolution of Xbox Live parties from the Call of Duty days, except everyone shares the common love of auto racing and spending long hours on extremely complicated racing games.

The one big warning I have to give out – and again there will be people who shit on me for this – but when making friends with someone online, be careful. Online Racing Teams are high school cliques on a virtual race track, and high school cliques often result in high school drama. For every overseas or transcontinental friend you make, there are an equal number of people who can and most certainly will demonstrate what all of those weird lectures about online privacy in high school meant. 

Myself, Sev, Maple, and a couple of my Walk Racing teammates are gearing up for 4Chan’s upcoming GT3 season in Stock Car Extreme, so prepare for a whole new round of race recaps and setups beginning in September.

GSC 2015-08-18 16-53-59-20

If, after all this, you find your driving skills to be lacking, read this for encouragement.

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39 thoughts on “Reader Submission #38 – The Quick and Easy way to Start Racing Online

  1. James the sims that you have mentioned in this article are the same sim’s You’ve trashed.
    Then telling them they aren’t.

    Make up your damn mind.
    Funny how the one Game that doesn’t really have a tag is “Game Stock Car”

    PRC The proprietor of this “High School Drama”.
    That Unpopular kid who is trying to be popular.
    (PRC In a nutshell)

    Like

    1. Fuck you babbling on about cunt, can ppl not point out things that need addressed in products we enjoy? also do you not see the positive articles? that have far more meaning on a site that is actually willing to point out issues.

      “James the sims that you have mentioned in this article are the same sim’s You’ve trashed.
      Then telling them they aren’t.”

      Doesn’t even bloody make sense laddy, you clearly a butt hurt clown, the articles about getting ppl started in MP racing in the sim titles available ya silly cunt.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. >Assetto Corsa’s ranking system is a third party mod that very few have adopted as of this writing.

    Just wanted to say that Minorating has caught on very quickly and I would that the majority of public servers are now running it. You can check the list of servers running it on here for yourself:
    http://www.minorating.com/Stats

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    1. Took this about five minutes ago during North American primetime. These are the only populated servers in Assetto Corsa at the moment, and as you can see by the T5 room I’ve got a bit of add-on stuff so that selection is technically inflated.

      Servers marked in green are running the MR plugin, according to the list you provided.

      Like

    2. MR needs to be pitched to more server hosts in the AC community, from different part of the worlds. I don’t know which is the best place to talk to people from South American, some Europeans, North America and Asia, to update their servers with MR.
      There are still a good portion of open public servers that could benefit from MR.

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      1. After making the screencap above I hopped on one of the MR enabled servers, GT2 cars at Spa.

        We had to restart twice. First time the field wrecked in Eau Rouge. Second time the field wrecked 100ft off the grid. Field wrecked for a third time in turn 5 but we kept going. By a lap and a half in, nobody could see each other due to damage and slowing to avoid the spinning cars.

        It was, uh, interesting.

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      2. To be fair, the field wrecks in a pretty noticeable number of starts on iR too, it just doesn’t offer the option to restart.

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      3. yep and takes a while until people are put in their classes according to how well they can race cleanly. And since that ALOOG server you raced on at Spa with GT2 accepts A+B and C or N, which means C is rookie and N is for new people to the MR system. Theoretically with A and B you’ll get clean racing but some car contacts have to be expected but these are (theoretically) more experienced drivers than C and N. http://www.minorating.com/Grades

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      4. James, you just joined the server at a bad time. Almost all decent drivers were gone asleep (see, this is a European-centric sim and most simracers here are from across the pond), so the grid was half-filled by people who couldn’t even do 2:20 time in the qualification. You cannot expect drivers that bad to be able to handle the car well enough. It was the same Noob-rated guy who caused both wrecks and he then disconnected in the middle of the race which is what these people typically do.
        Try to join the server when it’s full (usually before 4-5pm MST) and you can see top guys running 2:16-2:17 laptimes. That’s gonna be a completely different experience.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “completely new to these types of games”
    “want to race online, but have no idea where to begin.”

    Hmm, maybe before potentially ruining ppls MP racing, should maybe start with the AI, it wont wreck you as much as (inexperienced\noobs) humans either, young fellers seem to think they have a “right” to play MP even if they are completely inept at doing what’s needed to keep a clean race,MP is not meant for learning (arma 3 chopper ride anyone).

    Like

    1. >the “right” to play MP

      If they pay (or find the right crack for the likes of GSC) for the game then they have the same rights you have. Even though racing sims are a fairly serious genre, nothing gives you the right to position yourself as the arbiter of righteousness in this situation.

      Furthermore, with the awful state of pretty much all the recent big name releases’ AI racing against them is anything but a helpful learning experience. If you want to get good right now you’re far better off starting with some hotlapping until you have a semblance of speed and an awareness of the right lines to take, before jumping directly into public lobbies and trying your hand against some fellow learners, and the occasional OK tier driver.

      >MP is not a learning experience

      Yes it is. It is THE learning experience from the very bottom to the very top levels. Do you really think people develop their racecraft against AC or PCars or whatnot AI? I think you’ll find not.

      The fact of the matter is that online play is very easily monetised now so it’s fairly obvious that devs will ignore or do a half assed job on AI that can’t be profited from and often takes an awful long time to code properly. It’s no coincidence that NR2003 and GTR2 are still held as AI benchmarks, seeing as they come from an era where online play wasn’t nearly prevalent.

      Like

    2. I understand your concern.

      Although i’m completely new to this types of games, i know i have to be good offline before even thinking going online, so i set a list of goals i have to achieve first:

      In GTL i can win against Pro difficulty with solid streaks so far. I also compare my hotlaps to the ones in NoGripRacing (don’t know if they are a good comparison point) and i’m often in the top 10.

      Online must be a whole different world, but i don’t want to be a wrecker, don’t worry 🙂

      Like

  4. Hey cunt lovely day we having you fucking cunt? I heard that people from your region love to insert cunt’s everywhere; sometimes bloody fucking cunts.

    So aren’t you the one being the cunt? Do to your continued use of the word cunt in a bloddy offensive cuntish manner you damn foolish cunt.
    Oh I think I left out the word cunt.

    Like

    1. AC is a great hotlapping sim but outside of the very decent (if forgiving at times) physics it feels unfinished, and is full of little UI niggles. RF2 seems a bit overpriced for another unfinished product but has probably

      Like

      1. Well, fucked that up. Anyway, rf2 has physics many real life racers swear by but is an overpriced beta product.

        PCars is just unbelievably shit to drive so I’d discount it right off the bat. Every single corner yields the same car behaviour wherein the car will randomly slide sideways a foot or two before suddenly magicking grip and then just as suddenly drop it. Driving model aside, the deep cynicism of the developers would be enough to put me off.

        R3e and iracing are simply too expensive for what they are and as mentioned many times on PRC iracing’s physics often leave a lot to be desired. If you’re paying over $100-150 on these games then you should probably get another hobby.

        All in all though GSC seems the most well resolved game out there and is great fun. “Good” sims should drive well and feel like a complete game, rather than some bunch of guys’ weekend project.

        Like

      2. Well you know that a finished game tends to be more boring and less popular than work in progress games. If it wouldn’t be for Reiza to want to evolve the gameplay and content, people wouldn’t have played or bought GSCE any more, in fact many are putting GSCE on hold until new updates and content (which gsce is said as a finished/complete game). Same with rfactor 2, assetto, raceroom.. a finished game means it becomes stagnant and activity drops much more than in a progressive game.

        Maybe you meant to say “complete” game, instead of “unfinished”. Since a complete game can still release updates and new content, but a finished game that some people seem to desire, means you just play it for a while, then abandon it for a new game. However, a work in progress game (be it complete or less complete), keeps renewing itself and tends to stagnate less than a finished game, so people will come back to it, will get excited with new released content.

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      3. @anonym I’d agree with you if it were a simple content issue, or there were huge breakthroughs in the physics etc. When I say that (in particular AC) feels unfinished, it’s mostly because of niggling UI issues, some unclear settings, the half-arsedness of the online side of things (though this is improving), and the largely silly AI which is still barely good enough to be a mere placeholder in a beta version, let alone a v1.2.x of a game. I’d agree with what you say if it were solely down to content cars, tracks etc), as yes, a developer saying “hey guys, we’re done with this one!” would certainly hurt profitability on steam etc, but that’s not the case for now.

        As for RF2, the constant shader changes and physics updates as well as the developer explicitly saying it’s a WIP largely puts it in the same boat as AC, albeit with (allegedly) more detailed physics generally.

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  5. Nice article, I would mention it to a friend who is not into SIM racing racing but shows interest and want to understand online racing.

    I am puzzled that so many people here cannot understand the difference between pointing up that a feature of a particular SIM needs improvement, does not equal that the all SIM is not good. It merely inform readers that a function or an aspect, according to this site, is not how it should be. PRC is pretty good at it and makes it interesting to read and follow

    PRC does it in flamboyant way, for many reasons, but at the end of the day it is just their opinion and their style, take it or leave it.

    Why would anyone feel that they have to write in the comments here that they hate this or they hate that is totally beyond me, do they think we care what they like or not, we do not know them, if we did, maybe we would, but we don’t!

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  6. Man. Where is this article going or trying to say? It’s a Joke around here. Article should have read. Iracing is the only place to race online. There is no easy way to start online racing otherwise.
    You guys beef with developers, and everyone else, makes it so you can’t write a cohesive article.
    Got it ass backwards. Your right about the clicky high school thing. I’m getting tired of this clicks nonsense. Can’t even get an article right or be subjective. You know there’s no place you could recommend. Iracing is it and they have NO COMPETITION.
    Didn’t even talk about how whacked shit like Vroom or any other website is just another large click like high school making the whole thing a lame experience. Leaving only IRACING. Take off your blinders and right what’s accurate. Regardless if you want to support the truth or not.
    I find my self coming back here less and less cause the beef is choking me and making everything tinged with lies.

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    1. “Dad”, this article is not about what’s the best place to play racing games online, but rather what are the best ways to start doing it. If someone is giving its first steps into online racing, it understandable that they don’t want to throw a lot of money right away into iRacing without trying other stuff free first.

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  7. Meh. I like your guys attitude. Sims need to be taken out back and stripped down for their BS now and then. And so do writers missing the mark. Just take the advice or don’t. I can see in comments that viewership is dropping. You got a spike from Ian bells canada meltdown. And I had fun for a minute. But the accuracy and content of your articles is all over the map, reads like fanboy stuffs. Not enough truth.
    That whole article provided me, a recent sign up at vroom, with no good ideas for online racing. Not even sure if it was recommending anything, besides two crappy PC online offerings no one should bother with. Skipped console players. Maybe that’s a permanent fixture here. Just like the targets of your wrath.
    Write better I don’t need a sickers. You guys need better ideas and a more cohesive direction.

    Like

  8. Many thanks for the graphics tips. Tried them earlier and now my rFactor/rFactor 2 and Stock Car Extreme run like they’re on a new computer. I don’t race online much, but these settings were very helpful in increasing fps noticeably, even for offline racing. I also changed the texture and track detail from full to high, which I’ve read makes a difference as well.

    Also, I love reading your site. You say its the worst site for sim-racing news at the top, but for me its the best. Need more honest sites like this instead of corporate fake shit with an agenda. Keep up the great work! 🙂

    Like

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