Is iRacing’s New Surface Model already in trouble?

Earlier this year, iRacing introduced dynamic weather into the popular online-only racing sim, with predictably disastrous results given their shaky consistency when delivering game-changing updates. While in theory the new weather effects would be a welcome addition within the sim and take another step towards unprecedented accuracy, iRacing is still trying to fix an issue that popped up on launch day where every user registered for the session is given a completely unique set of weather conditions – completely skewing the playing field. Have they found workarounds? Yes. Has it been outright fixed? No.

11651050_931407934342_1940509637_niRacing’s New Surface Model drops tomorrow, which is said to implement a living track surface an entire step up from what is offered in rFactor 2. Not only will a dynamic racing groove appear on the track based on where people are actually positioning their cars in the session, but shadows, air temperature, position of the sun, and tire temperature will play much more pronounced roles when hunting for grip during a long race.

iRacing also said they would offer a thermal vision camera in order to adequately show those sitting in the pits how the racing surface had evolved throughout the session.

Yet, anonymous iRacing member iRacerUK believes the last-minute removal of the thermal vision camera, a feature that has been demonstrated at length in the numerous preview videos, is iRacing’s way of preventing people from finding out that there are flaws with the new surface model. The user has created two threads on Reddit to voice his concerns, and I’ve pieced together what he’s said both in the original post, and in the comments, below in italics.

rdtSome may recall that during the second week of Season 3 2015, there was something of a fiasco with the weather, where different drivers in the same session received different weather, yielding potential advantages of two seconds per lap. A pretty big fuck-up. iRacing didn’t figure out what was happening until a user investigated it and flagged it up. This means iRacing is not logging information to ensure that performance-sensitive data is matched between client and server. Just let that sink in for a moment.

Someone flagged up the potential for this cheat and got a permanent ban from the service, later reduced to a six month forum ban. Now, the ban is clearly over the top as the information given was totally insufficient to do any actual cheating, as someone would have to figure out how to decrypt the content and modify it on the fly. This isn’t something one can just Google. Interestingly, people mentioning lag switches don’t get banned and that’s pretty easy to Google. If data is transmitted it can be intercepted and changed. The issue is that iRacing are not logging the state at the client end for comparison between multiple clients, so if someone is hacking the weather, iRacing have no way to know it. iRacing seem to be really fucking jittery over this.

The bit where it gets interesting is that the exact same thing applies with the new surface model. Performance-sensitive data is being sent to the client. However,  during the unique weather mess, it was possible for the community to investigate when things seemed off, because they could see the weather conditions in-game at the top of the screen. When it didn’t match up, hey, there’s a problem!

On announcement of the New Surface Model, in a single post in the middle of a lengthy thread, Tony Gardner posted that they would not be putting the thermal vision camera out for this build, meaning we have no way to check this stuff. So iRacing aren’t checking that the conditions are the same for each client, and we can’t do it either. A cynic might argue that iRacing doesn’t necessarily care whether people cheat, just that no such perception exists. This move would give ammunition to someone holding that view.

The banned user has tried to get in touch with developers about the issue, and they were happy to talk about how the new EAC anti-cheat system from Valve prevents RAM hacking, but as soon as the subject of a proxy, and logging states to ensure consistency was brought into question, suddenly they clammed up. All very odd.

So, in short, it looks like iRacing know there is a problem and just want to cover it up rather than properly deal with it. Had the community not found the weather problem, iRacing wouldn’t have had to deal with the public embarrassment. One could argue that this is why they are preventing the community from discovering the problem this time around – they’re ensuring they don’t have the tools to point out a competitive balance issue.

Let me make it clear that I 100% want to be wrong on this stuff. I want iRacing to be 100% fair. I’m not the quickest but I do OK, somewhere in the top 15% most of the time, definitely not at the pointy end, but for me to enjoy the battles I have, I have to know that I am competing on a level playing field. My goal is simply to wake iRacing up from the complacent slumber they’ve gotten into lately, and to get them to properly clarify this.

y5lKvbNIt’s definitely a valid concern, and there’s enough circumstantial evidence to back everything up. However, as is the norm with sim racing communities, a witch hunt began. Hell, despite the guy being from the UK and creating the initial post on Reddit while I was in a lengthy V8 Supercar race, people believed I’d been the one who’d posted it…

whSo a guy with upwards of $1000 sunk into the game points out iRacing might be covering up flaws in the new surface model by removing the thermal vision camera at the eleventh hour so people can’t detect issues with it, presents enough circumstantial evidence to back it up, and gets told by iRacing fanboys that you just have personal grievances against iRacing as if he’s some deranged stalker.

And his defense is basically:

throwawayHe’s not wrong; we’ve been IP Banned for pointing out that the Street Stock Camaro kind of sucked and rookie races are full of idiots, and iRacing has tried to sue modders for using the mod tools they themselves gave out years earlier. Of course this dude is going to use a temporary account and purposely withhold incriminating screenshots!

Hopefully they get all the issues with the New Surface Model ironed out, considering iRacing hosts two ultra-competitive leagues that give out a collective  $20,000 in prize money for first place and this kind of stuff is amateur hour.


45 thoughts on “Is iRacing’s New Surface Model already in trouble?

  1. Top Kek as always. More made up drama and speculation with no facts. In real life do they have thermal cameras for the whole circuit? No teams grab a pit road temp reading as their track temp reading. That’s all they can do considering how going on the race track with moving cars isn’t an option.

    Get a girlfriend and a life. Go play gsc with the other 3 people who do since it’s so perfect.

    Learn what circumstantial evidence is and how it relates to facts.


      1. lol best rek seen in a while, some arsehole blabbing on about using facts to back ya shit up , then clearly doesnt follow his own advice,spewing shit he clearly hasnt got a clue about, priceless.


    1. In real life do they have cameras that can fly across the circuit, through cars and buildings? No, but they do have thermal cameras for the whole circuit, as James pointed out


      1. >muh real life
        you shouldn’t be fucking playing iceRacing at all if you are all about real life because it’s physics and handling are absolutely unrealistic and shit


    1. Any time, James getting blown out is always a lovely laugh. He thinks a meme camera that Fox used in a race once is me getting blown out. This guy is fucking nuts and needs to get laid.


    1. Would you say the same if his opinion was that its gonna be flawless?

      No body wants bad sims, but what if everyone was a echo chamber and just went with it, there would be zero pressure to produce a decent product, especially when dealing with existing clients with potential thousands to lose if dont like it, they could continue milking current Iracers ignoring issues because they have too much tied up in it, so why not blow some fire up their a*se’s, they have made MASSIVE claims about this feature,(much like their bizarre handling “Tire model”) aint asking much for em to back it up, especially when money involved is far beyond average games.


      1. Of course, it would sound just as stupid as the current blog does.

        We must have different opinions on people who play iRacing. From where I stand it’s anything but an echo chamber and the members are the loudest to complain about the issues.

        Also, where are these massive claims? Have they not stated what it involves?


      2. Well just the overall tech that they talk should be a massive step forward, RF2 have got it down pretty darn well but Iracing claiming a hella lot more features to it than rf2’s, so they are big claims, not saying they dont mean it or is a con just you can start out and claim anything but delivering is different (Pcars anyone?), anyway main point ive taken from this article is they have removed the tech to see how it works (or if it works) as intended, with rf2 for example its easy to see because of its open nature for modding etc not so with Iracing.

        I hope I does come through good as might re subscribe after stopping before blowing a ton of molah as im still unhappy about tire behaviour in extreme conditions (on the edge).


  2. “an entire step up from what is offered in rFactor 2. Not only will a dynamic racing groove appear on the track based on where people are actually positioning their cars in the session, but shadows, air temperature, position of the sun, and tire temperature will play much more pronounced roles when hunting for grip during a long race”
    I don’t understand this paragraph, especially the second sentence. It implies only I racing will have a groove where you drive, sorry but rF2 does this, plus marbles off the groove, along with everything else and nothing of it is canned.


    1. Yeah was my thoughts too, Im guessing weather, shadows or in direct sunlight effect temp of a particular area of track, but yeah wonder if they are gonna do marbling as it is a big factor in racing and a cool feature for sim.


    2. “not only will a dynamic racing groove appear on the track based on where people are actually positioning their cars in the session”

      That part is where he’s making the comparison to rF2. In rF2, they already have dynamic track conditions based on the racing line in play, but in addition to that (“not only…”) they have several other features that are emphasized by the iRacing model to achieve even more realism–or so the paragraph says. I don’t know much about it, since I haven’t obviously tested it out myself vs a real track (or at all, for that matter) and I haven’t kept a close watch on iRacing since I embarrassed myself my first couple of races.


    3. iRacing’s version does seem to be alot more indepth at least from what has been realesed from both companies to the the public. We will see if it works as well as it does in theory. rFactor obviously hasn’t released detailed information on how they do there dynamic but to me rFactor 2 has always had a little to much of a differnece between rubbered and clean parts of the track


    4. Steve, your reading comprehension isn’t great; you’re reading into things more than you should.

      I’ll try to explain with an example, maybe that will help.

      If I’m running a maid service, and in addition to clean-up, my maids cook and wash dishes, and another maid service comes along with maids who can cook and wash dishes like mine, AND they can also clean windows and change the oil in your car for the same price I’m asking, that second maid service is “an entire step up” from mine.

      That doesn’t mean that I actually have the maids just go to McDonald’s and get your food for you and call it cooking, dude. They’re really cooking, it’s just that the other maid service offers MORE STUFF.

      In the same way, rFactor 2 offers a very real feature, namely dynamic track conditions based on driver locations. However, iRacing will offer dynamic track conditions (with marbling maybe? Article is unclear) based on driver location ***AND*** several other factors.

      It’s not that rFactor 2 offers a bad product, or makes illegitimate claims, it just means that there is room for improvement.

      Which, and this is a running theme on, all sims out there have an insane amount of room for improvement.

      Modern sims aren’t feature complete, older sims only offer specific experiences, some sims don’t offer mod support, they’re all buggy as all get out…

      rFactor 2 is great. It’s my favorite sim, personally (though Game Stock Car is really close). But that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect, dude.


  3. The only one reason why they hide thermal cam is that your alive spotter can use it to take advantage to you, while you drive. Especially on endurance races. What else they can do, while they are in contracts with Blancpain, Peak, etc – the first step to open real-world-like leagues? They dont want to fuck-up with that. So its the only one reason why thermocam are hide. And i dont know why noone realise it. And yes – weather system now work from one instance – server collect data and send it to clients, nothing can go wrong its a classical system + EAC anticheat.


    1. If they have a legitimate reason to change their minds, they could just say what it is. People are enough used to “actually it’s not ready yet” from iRacing that it wouldn’t raise eyebrows. Them not saying anything really does lead to speculations that it’s something wrong they don’t want people to know is wrong, but they don’t think anyone will be able to tell purely by driving the course.


    2. That is actually a really good point. Oval spotters in real life can only relay where the groove is going based on watching other cars. They cannot access a wizards camera instantly that Fox used only once 4 years ago.


      1. Of course not numbnuts, but they are positioned at almost every track in a way that they can see everything, something you cant do unless you had 5 monitors to create the proper fov and scaling.


  4. Remember any feature that iRacing doesn’t have is unrealistic until they do have it at which time any game without it is arcade shit.


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