One Setup, Three Cars

RRRE 2015-12-22 16-47-51-52

Each time I write an article diving deep into the problems plaguing Sector 3’s RaceRoom Racing Experience, I’m always worried I won’t be able to access the hundreds of dollars worth of content available in the title when the following morning arrives. If you haven’t taken the not-so-subtle hints sprinkled throughout previous articles by now, Sector 3 appear to value PRC.net‘s opinion on the world of sim racing, and have kindly granted us Press Access to the game’s massive list of content. Personally, I enjoy the game for what it is, and have used the Press Pass to play the game on my own leisure time – much more than is ever required when covering a game – but if I find something big, I’m not going to hide it from our readers because that’s how we roll. I’m glad at least one developer has been a good sport about it.

Obviously, you’re all well aware that the game costs a fair bit, and that most sim racers are beginning to treat it as the spiritual successor to GTR 2 or Race 07. Personally, I really enjoy the title. It’s got a fairly large list of relevant vehicles and locations, I don’t have any major complaints in regards to the driving model, and the game looks phenomenal for being powered by the trusty engine Image Space Incorporated developed over a decade ago. If you can stomach the cost of the complete package, or carefully plan out the ludicrous journey through micro-transaction hell, a lot of people will be satisfied with their purchase.

But I do more than just race the AI by myself. I love competition. And to be successful at a high level, whether it’s in leagues or online leaderboards, you’re required to learn what everything does in the garage menu. Our boy Maple has taught me everything I know about car setups, and the basic steps to creating a decent road racing setup are as follows:

  • Drop the ride height as low as it can go.
  • Use the softest springs available.
  • Treat the front and rear anti-roll bar like the wedge adjustment in a Stock Car.
  • Raise the ride height if it bottoms out. Alternatively, stiffen the springs.

It’s that easy.

With the sheer number of sim racers participating in each Leaderboard Challenge, whether it’s an official competition with prizes or simply a fight for the bragging rights of holding a world record on a certain combination, I’ve spent a fair bit of time fiddling in the garage menu in the quest for an extra tenth of a second.

And I found a lot more than that. Most likely not intended to be discovered, there’s a single setup that works across every car in the game. Try it for yourself:

Baseline

As I’ve said, I like the driving model featured in R3E. It’s heavily based on the fundamental concepts of driving a race car: brake in a straight line, be smooth with your steering inputs, and unwind the wheel as you step on the throttle. There isn’t any bullshit like in other ISI sims where you can feather the throttle under braking to induce understeer – something that will hurt you if you try it in a real car. In competitive online races, there is never that one guy who’s exploiting something you won’t figure out for a couple of months – like Forza’s Handbrake glitch. The game rewards those who understand the process of driving a race car.

But, in my own experience, there’s gotta be something going on with the physics engine that’s heavily simplifying stuff behind the scenes. Every single car in R3E drives the exact same, to the point where three completely different cars can be driven to the top of their respective leaderboards with the setup above. Instead of an entire roster of dynamic vehicles that each require their own driving style, it feels like only the overall weight and engine power output change from car to car. This allows a setup built for a front-engine modern DTM car and a mid-engine GT3 sports car to be just as effective in a light weight open wheel speedster.

Which, obviously, shouldn’t be the case.

same

  • There is basically no penalty for running the minimum rear wing setting. In other games, your car would be a death trap. Here, you’re given so much straight line speed, you’re required to switch to an alternative final drive configuration so you aren’t bouncing off the limiter on the main straight. In the corners, the car sticks to the ground like glue.
  • While most play with the front and rear ARB settings constantly throughout a race weekend, a super soft minimum value allows for excessive body roll, yet the car never breaks traction. Like, ever. Even the Formula RR2 that was released today.
  • The suspension geometry, for whatever reason, works universally across all cars. As outlined in the guide above, you can run the softest springs and the smallest ride height, and the car will never scrape the ground. The biggest challenge of getting the ride height correct via a combination of sprint perches and the stiffness of the springs themselves is simply nowhere to be found.

Are these setups race proven? Of course they are. In the GT3 race at Zandvoort shown below, I was able to add another 0.4 seconds onto the gap between myself and Reinhard Berger each time we made the journey down the long front straight. The rear wing simply wasn’t necessary for stability, and had there been an option to remove all pieces of the car generating downforce, I would have. This doesn’t seem right on a flowing, high speed course where the back end should in theory be constantly stepping out with the use of a low – alright let’s go a bit furtherno downforce setup.

12370800_10204182642486774_8298242840152888038_o

Taking the exact same setup to the DTM Winter Cup competition at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, I’ve put the car into the Top 10, behind known cheaters and guys representing professional sim racing teams. The only reason I’m not higher, is because I haven’t sat down and figured out where I’m allowed to run wide in certain corners.

WC

I mean, R3E drives good and it certainly looks good, but given that I can run the exact same setup across three very different automobiles, there’s definitely some sorcery being done under the hood in regards to the game’s physics. As mentioned earlier, it’s as if each car is a generic brick, with only the weight and power output adjusted to produce realistic lap times. It’s a throwback to games like Grid Autosport, where the McLaren has a speed of 6 and a weight of 7, and the BMW DTM entry has a speed of 7 and a weight of 6. It would be unfortunate if this were the case, as RaceRoom Racing Experience is fairly costly for newcomers with the excessive micro-transactions. Many would be disappointed to find out they are paying for a Grid Autosport-like title with realistic tire grip levels, especially when racing sims are traditionally held to a higher standard.

As the files themselves are encrypted, and very few talented drivers own enough content in R3E to back up the claims made in this post, we’ll probably never have a definitive answer.

RRRE 2015-12-22 16-49-54-79

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32 thoughts on “One Setup, Three Cars

  1. Agree 100% with what is written here. I bought everything of R3E up until a couple of months ago – but always felt every car is exactly the same in term of physics with only power dialed up for the different cars and of course car sounds giving the perception that they are different.
    Initially it all seems fine until you start doing an hour or so with different cars and then it becomes pretty obvious that it is one physics for all scenario.
    Still fun to drive and occasionally do leader-boards and stuff but really its a glorified arcade game where PC meets console – surprised they don’t have a console version….

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  2. RRE is sim-lite done right, the fact the setup screen is fairly limited in options should tell ya straight away, sector 3 dont pretend to have the most cutting edge sim, just a solid sim with some awesome content, with decent AI, just shame about pricing structure, and like every sim, lack of MP players.

    Been enjoying new cars, certainly easy as to drive but fun none ze less, imagine if FIA gave F1 license to these guys, would be a solid F1 sim for the masses.

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  3. Come on,James.You cant really run a 1-1 wing setup through a race unless you are able to catch every braking and accelerating instability which is virtually impossible through a 30 min race.Ok,for leaderboards you could get away with it but no chance in a race.Secondly running too low ride height will make curb use an automatic spin.Lastly,cars feel different.Try the DTM92 BMW,then a WTCC Citroen,a GT3 Mclaren,the Audi Cup car and a modern DTM and there is no way you couldnt see the difference in behaviour.

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  4. Anyway, some important parameters for a decent setup are not present: tire pressures can’t be modified, and that’s of course one of the first influences for tire temps.
    I’ve never been able to detect the weight balance (F/R) for any car, again quite basic stuff for a proper spring setup.

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  5. I’m not saying that there isn’t something wrong with the car setups in R3E, but I just quickly tested the FR2 and wing settings and at least to me, the car was terrible without wings and in Shanghai I was about 3.5 seconds slower with minimum wings compared to default 10/10 setting. Top speed went up as expected, but turns were just awful to drive. I just changed the wings, nothing else and I will test some more later.

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    1. That is exactly what is supposed happen if you put wings to min. value, car becomes downright undrivable on fast speed corners.

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      1. Yes. I just tested the wings as James apparently can drive wings minimum without a penalty. I definitely can’, although I didn’t test how other settings such as the mentioned springs and ground clearance affect on grip on turns. Wings only adjustment seemed to work for me like it should and doesn’t seem to be broken.

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      2. It wasn’t just the instability, as a matter of fact car was behaving quite (too?) nicely when wings were at minimum. Car simply didn’t have enough lateral grip to handle turns as fast as with wings on default. Turns were thus slower and I had to brake a bit earlier to slow down enough and that was the 3.5 sec I lost. But I will test the spring settings when I have time.

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  6. maybe those cars but for newb me all wtcc 14 need dif setups and feel dif on driving same for dtm92 and historic pack with nissan, bmw 6, volvo etc…very dif .On wtcc14 i atended a very high talented league and both honda and citroen where top notch with dif setups and od checy in top 10 too

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  7. I think that if S3 update some of their older content the same way they did with the GT3s (more tech data, feedback from drivers that drove those specific cars etc) we wouldn’t have this “generic” feel for all the cars.

    I really don’t know about the downforce stuff though. In GTR2, Race series and lots of rF1 mods you could use fairly absurd setups as well so…I don’t know, maybe the other new sims improved a lot in this aspect.

    The cars that I drive in R3E (WTCC, DTM 92, GT2, GT3, Group 5) feel different enough to me so that this isn’t a big issue.

    I will reiterate one thing though: the devs really are receptive of constructive criticism, have actually made great strides in improving the overall sim and I feel this helps at least accept the flawed pricing model and other business decisions. Kinda like even the devs know that these things are wrong and because of it are doing everything they can to minimize the negative views a number of their customers have on those aspects.

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  8. Tell Maple that the idea of running the softest possible springs and ARBs is nonsense.

    No idea about in which sims that exploit works, but IRL that would destroy aero platform for any car reliant on downforce, make the car sluggish reacting to everything, and force you to run high ride height.

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    1. Yeah there’s not much real-world application behind a lot of these ‘rules’.

      These seem to be a mixture of oval racing ideas combined with ‘simulator’ exploits… Why does anyone need a sway bar explained as a wedge adjustment???

      If you’re leading for 25 laps with setups like that, either the game is broken or the other drivers aren’t very good.

      A bit of both I expect, as no wing should not go well in all the vehicles.

      Also, I don’t think anyone should be talking about setups in any sim if they tune each car on pre-conceived (and incorrect) assumptions. That’s the wrong way to approach things. Lowering the car is often a good idea (depending on the track), but as ‘low as possible without bottoming out too much’ is simply not going to work well in all cars at all… UNLESS your ‘sim’ is broken.

      Maple would run detached sway bar on everything if he could I guess, haha. If you’re getting too much shock jacking when actually using an arb as you should (most need some, some more than others..), then you need to look at your shock rebound settings…

      The softest springs idea is just stupid. Come on.

      I was wondering what the deal was with the heavily limited tuning options, I had been thinking maybe it was only the cars I owned (~5?) that didn’t have the options.

      If they don’t offer fast and slow rebound nor dampening on cars with shocks that offer both in actuality, you’re off to a pretty bad start with the whole ‘sim’ idea.

      I mean, you guys are right. This is pretty broken. But your expectation of ‘right’ is still wrong. Go read about this shit, it’s not hard.

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  9. I think the point is, since R3E doesn’t model near-ground effects (like front splitters /diffusers stall when they get too low) you have height only affecting CoG (and thus load transfer) so lower’s always better until the car bottoms out to the point it loses traction. I know AC includes ride height effects in aero calculations, haven’t studied other games in as much detail. If RF2 doesn’t it’d be one hellof a blow against the shilling prince’s whole ‘superior physics’ stance, so it probably does.

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  10. I’ve said it many times and I almost always get insulted for doing so but these issues are generally a result of using a middleware physics engine and not a true simulation engine. This is pretty damning proof aside from you know…the obvious proof in the games credits.

    I’ll also say again that it doesn’t make a game bad of just means it isn’t actually a true sim. True sims are far and few between these days as the mantle of simulation racing has been picked up by small studios who just can’t afford the multi year effort of 50+ people working full time over a couple to build a true simulation and only the engine. You can’t build the simulation system and the game in that time it’s just not possible. The only solution is middleware for game 1 and hope it sells enough to fund what you actually need.

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    1. You could be right, but you are not, the “middleware” Sector 3 uses is ISI tech, which is 110 per cent race engine,its also what pcars is based on and GSCE a lot closer to original code, so yes middleware but one specifically designed for motorsport simulation, you are thinking of things like Physx used in Pcars for some odd reason takes care of physics when car leaves the ground and does indeed lead to issues,but PCars is one of only example can think off, ISI’s race sim engines is middleware.

      The new Need for speed game is based on the frostbite engine, and a lot closer to what you mean I think,(and ironically a console based game) not most of these PC sims you mention, that are based on the solid ISI engines, but even so doesnt stop ppl like SMS totally fucking it up.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISImotor

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      1. Too bad the citation is dead, it’d be interesting to hear directly what they said, instead of relying on the wikipedia article (which last time I looked was about 50% ass/hex garbage cites to prc)

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  11. But if rFactor’s engine is exploitable (and all games based off it I guess), R3E has issues, AC has issues, rF2 is priced like it is, iRacing is expensive and has issues… what game does it right?

    I guess it just boils down to what Kunos said in an interview: they’re all trying to achieve pretty much the same thing, just in different ways. Then again GP4 tried blending realism and playability and I see it is still praised for its weather and AI. Don’t get me wrong though. I don’t own pCARS, AC and rF2 (only tried the demo a little), so I cannot say anything about these games. I absolutely love GTR2, R07, rF, R3E, netKar Pro and Richard Burns Rally, but I’m confused as to what is actually happening to the simulation part.

    I guess I’ll just have to go with whatever works for me, GAME-wise. With little time to play and not much time to practice, R3E works great for a quick adrenaline rush. Competition-wise, I like their online time trials, because my schedule does not allow me to run in leagues easily.

    Still, if I want to learn how to drive a race car, what game would teach me the most and reward proper driving?

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      1. Thanks, so it’s not a general flaw, but something that can be fixed within the mod. Is it like bunny hopping in FPS shooters, one bug that was exploited and could be removed with proper modding (they removed it in Counter-Strike for instance)?

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