How We Broke Assetto Corsa: A Visual Tour

If you’ve been frequenting PRC.net over the past few months, you’ll have noticed that our Assetto Corsa articles are complimented by numerous high resolution screenshots of the AI having what can only be described as temporary mental breakdowns. When the AI troubles were first brought to light by controversial forum users earlier this year, many Assetto Corsa owners believed this small group had modified the game’s vital configuration files and posted the results online in an effort to damage Assetto Corsa’s reputation among the sim racing community.

As I had experienced the exact same AI issues, and was upset over the rabid Assetto Corsa fans’ attempts to downplay a broken component that renders 50% of the title completely useless, I mocked the fanboys in ways only possible with PRC. With each new article would come a new batch of pictures depicting the AI embarrassing itself, all while the fanboys claimed “huge improvements have been made” on the official forums. This shit must have been a total mindfuck for sim racers caught in the crossfire.

And I I was able to provide our readers with a steady stream of glitch pictures, because I discovered the two biggest problems with Assetto Corsa’s AI. Both of which are issues nobody appears to have brought up yet.

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When the Nordschleife DLC was released, some Assetto Corsa owners complained that the lap times they could achieve were unrealistic, and asked the developers which track grip setting they should use to replicate real world conditions. By default, track grip is set to optimal as a way to ease newcomers into the sim, and Kunos advised users to select Green or Fast track grip settings for authentic car performance. The default Optimal setting produces what drag racers call mineshaft conditions; an atmosphere that would never occur during real world events.

Settings

Immediately after I began running Quick Races under Green or Fast conditions instead of the default setting of Optimal, the AI problems rendered the entire single player component unplayable. The AI appears to have their driving style coded specifically for Optimal track surface grip, which the developers have came out on the forums and stated is not realistic. Their braking and steering inputs are only designed for situations where there is an abundance of grip. Take it away, and all hell breaks loose.

Myself and Sev put this theory to the test. We used the Nurburgring GP circuit as our trial facility, due to the extremely difficult first corner that virtually everyone fucks up – regardless of whether they’re human or a robot. Under optimal grip settings, the AI had no problems executing the corner, although they were a little on the slow side. On the Fast setting, recommended by Kunos, the entire field of AI cars made a beeline for the nearest wall. We were able to replicate this across several different vehicle classes.

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At Vallelunga, the AI could not execute the gentle right hander ten seconds into the race under anything other than Optimal conditions. Mixing off-track excursions with their well-documented lack of awareness, not once did I make it to the first braking zone with the remaining handful of cars who avoided the mess.

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The Historic version of Monza allowed for some incredible screenshots, as the lack of barriers sent cars flying off of natural ramps along the side of the track.

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But the Nurburgring Nordschleife proved to be the ultimate display of artificial intelligence ineptitude. A twelve mile roller-coaster through the Eifel Mountain region, the high speeds and massive elevation changes threw the AI drivers into barriers like children’s toys. The 1967 Lotus 49, an open-wheel legend that competed on this track during the 1967 Grand Prix season, could not last more than a minute into each lap. Starting with a grid of 20 cars, 15 would be listed as retirements only a minute into the race. As you increased the power by selecting faster vehicles, the crashes only became more violent.

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But there were multiple layers of AI insanity, and not everything was related to track grip levels. The AI in Assetto Corsa are not just programmed to follow a strict racing line, but they’ve also been made aware of trackside objects. They aren’t the greatest at avoiding them, but they indeed understand the concept of a wall, what kerbs are used for, and where exterior tarmac runoffs are located. They just suck at applying their extra element of knowledge compared to ISI’s AI in the appropriate situations.

Underneath the finish line banner at Zandvoort, between the racing surface and the pit wall, is a relatively useless patch of tarmac. This small piece of asphalt no bigger than your kitchen serves no purpose other than to be aesthetically pleasing. The AI drivers identify this as a runoff area, and computer opponents who start near the back of the grid where the patch is located will drive at full speed onto the tarmac. Depending on the speed of the car and the quality of the brake rotors, AI drivers will either plow into the wall or narrowly avoid it.

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This is a game that sells for $50, and already has 27 add-on cars split between three DLC bundles.

The laughs don’t stop there. The Vallelunga circuit features an access road shortly after the finish line that is used as the first corner of the Club Circuit layout. Simply driving a few feet away from an AI car while approacing the access road, the AI driver will panic and swerve off the track, taking turn one of the club circuit before stopping the car and retiring from the race. If you timed it right, you could theoretically use this exploit to destroy all AI cars in the race without even making contact; a new frontier for trolling. Getting the timing right would be the hard part. It’s as simple as going side-by-side on a certain part of the track.

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The sad reality is that I could boot up a fully-priced retail game with several pieces of premium DLC, and within minutes have a FRAPS folder full of screenshots depicting blatant AI issues that would have been outright unacceptable only a handful of years ago. To make matters worse, voicing these very legitimate concerns in the wrong parts of the sim community would cause others to brand you a troll with a vendetta against Kunos Simulazioni, simply for pointing out their game didn’t work as advertised. 

I think it’s crazy that the AI is so broken, merely adjusting a slider Kunos themselves told us to adjust, or driving beside another computer opponent, is enough to bring the game to its knees. I think it also speaks miles about the people playing this game to begin with. As the AI bugs are exposed on a widespread scale only when track grip is adjusted, those who haven’t come across these bugs have essentially admitted to playing the game on the easiest of settings. This is pretty hilarious given how sim racers use titles like Assetto Corsa as a badge of honor, believing it makes them “above” the dedicated Forza guys.

 

 

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57 thoughts on “How We Broke Assetto Corsa: A Visual Tour

    1. Forza beats racing experience against all pc sim racing games? And Gran Turismo beats Forza? Or maybe the upcoming GT Sport, we will see.

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      1. Everything goes as long as is better than AC?

        I realize that AC’s haters don’t actually like/love other sims or racing games, they are happier with hating AC than happier playing their “loved” games.

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    2. Calm down little man, AC is still in ya library, it ain’t going no where, this article doesnt change your enjoyment does it? step away, hit the ritalin and have a merry merry.

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  1. I spent just shy of $3000 building a new PC for basically witcher 3, star citizen and pc sim racers. I have a nice leather pro evolution 3 driving seat with full FFB wheel, shifter and pedal setup that has some custom modifications to improve the experience. I also do track days in real life so I think its fairly safe to say I’m pretty into sim racing and racing in general despite my total lack of enthusiasm for watching it on tv unless its rally.

    So I’ve run through every modern PC sim and I’ve come away fairly unhappy. I had mainly stepped out of PC gaming in favor of consoles for the entire 360/ps3 generation. I was quite saddened by the quality of modern PC sim racing although its to be expected since these games are being made by smaller studios. I often find myself going back to forza because while it doesn’t gave things like flags or qualifying it does have very satisfying racing and good community. It also is basically as bug free as it gets and their ai system is actually quite impressive and only gets better as time goes on especially if your field is populated by people who play the game frequently to teach their drivatars properly.

    I wish they would add some of the more hardcore aspects at least as options…well what I really wish is a for a PC port.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love console sim/simcades for their progression. I love some PC sims for their driving (rFactor 2, etc). If I want satisfying racing, iRacing is my only option since I have a hard time dedicating time to leagues.

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    2. same here, since you can argue about some aspects of Forza 6, I have been racing it exclusively for the past 2 months and find it more satisfying than any PC sim. I can overlook the fact that some things are not uber realistic but that just doesn’t matter if you like to drive and race. The car selection, the track selection, the community and I got all of that for $30(if you don’t count the csw xbox one adapter and xbox itself). And I have yet to see AI in Forza to do something really stupid.

      Also I think that AI is not getting worse than it was 10 years ago, seeing as the companies strive for more realistic physics – it just can’t keep up. 10 years ago the AI had only so many parameters that could affect handling, now they have increased drastically and the logic behind AI gets way more complicated. I believe that is why Forza or GT can have their AI up to standard since they do not introduce all these variables that make AI perform like someone who is just starting to understand what a grip is.

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      1. Have you raced on Unbeatable difficulty? As anything below that would ask for the AI to be a bit unexpected, just as you would see from inexperienced/occasional race drivers. I do agree that the right racing line should be used by all levels, but then again – it would be more disastrous if a slow AI tried to get back on racing line at all costs. Maybe it is just a way of trying to block or pass you unreasonably. Since I race almost exclusively on Unbeatable, I haven’t noticed such issues.

        PS – Unbeatable does require to spend some time to tune your car correctly to compete for a win. If you just drop upgrades on the car without finetuning them – unbeatable will be, well unbeatable.

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    1. Haha, James you would of sent the wee man into melt down mode, although I love your unmoderated comments section, congrats on getting rid of spam, thats a deliberate attempt to bury any meaningful conversion(or any conversion lol) by shifting focus on his silly trolling.

      For some one like me self, just confirms exactly what I see and play and have been saying for long time, thought I seemed to get worst results than others because unlucky, but I never use optimal (unless options in AC again reset em selfs ), the sooner AC more “dedicated” fans start actually asking,nay demanding, a working AI, I dont see Kunos spending much meaningful time sorting it.

      If it wasn’t for DRM mod coming,I probably would of given up me self on this, but Im guessing Im just gonna be disappointed even if mod is the best, as still gotta deal with AI.

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      1. Kunos talked about AI recently:

        “very good analysis myimac, your list is so similar to mine it’s spooky. The latest changes I’ve made for 1.4 are giving good results for now.
        The biggest new challenge for next version is to have them driving closer to the ideal line when engaged instead of ending up at the far sides of the race track.. this will also have the effect of them being faster when side to side with the player (because they don’t try to get too far from the line) thus giving a better fight.

        Once this is sorted I should be able to try to give them some defending strategies, and, eventually, more variations in the way they act.”

        http://www.assettocorsa.net/forum/index.php?threads/commend-the-ai-lets.29283/page-3#post-604883

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      2. When your whole beta testing crew is comprised of skype buddies and owners of other sim websites who want the tag just to say they have it where will your objective beta testing come from?

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Glad to be an idiot then.
        Also: with the recent discounts around the release of each dlc-pack, you will notice that the bundle of everything-at-once ends up being a bang-on €60 asking price. So essentially: those who join now and take the whole sale: they already get everything for what is widely considered “full price” these days.

        Why I am o.k. with that? Because of the quality of the driving. Does Forza offer this? Does G-T offer this? You see why people may still want to support this game?

        Your AI-critique is valid. Nothing wrong with that. Also: entry to Eau-Rouge… …not a good place to be in a three wide with AI. And I do believe making capable AI that adhers to the same rule-set and physics as the human player is exponentially more difficult than with those titles that abstract and simplify the driving-experience beyond recognition.

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  2. Found a funny on DP3 launch day. If you hop in a Lotus 72 and have a race with other Lotus 72s, you can pick the AI’s rear tires off the ground with your nose. Keep it up there long enough and no matter what speed you’re both doing, he’ll disappear into thin air and retire. Shit punched me right in the giggledick

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To put it briefly, how do I get GSC’s AI good? First race I tried, 9/10 of the AI had garbage starts leaving them over a second behind me and #2 (and I did a healthy bit of throttle lift so I wouldn’t pass that guy until turn 1, not sure what the game’s rules are for rolling starts). Then 3 corners later #2 dove to my inside at the last second and spun me. This is with them qualifying at similar pace to me, so if I turn up difficulty they’re just gonna smoke me on lap times. I’d figured I would put in some practice against AI for the PRC championship but there’s not much point putting them on the track if that’s how they drive.

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    1. SCE’s AI is basically just rF1 AI with very minor tweaks, so that’s why it isn’t very good.
      The AI’s spatial awareness is next to none and it’s a pain to race against. Don’t bother.

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  4. Very interesting findings; seems Kunos think their game is still an early access release.

    Because the AI is so stupid, I find myself hot lapping in AC and not much else so I’ve never driven on track with the AI with a green track which is what I use for hot laps. It is laughable that the AI can’t drive in the conditions Kunos suggest are the most realistic. It is sad that pc sim racing lags so far behind the console games and a zillion simcade or sim-light games in polish and overall user experience.

    The fact is rF2, R3E and SCE have decent AI (rF2 being the best) however none are flawless.

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  5. I put the claims from the article to the test and had surprisingly great races with Lotus 49 on Old Monza and Norschleife. Good racing on Nurburgring GP in MP4-12C.
    I only managed to recreate problems with AI with GT3 version of McLaren on Nurburgring GP T1.
    So as always on PRC.net exaggeration is the key 🙂

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      1. All I know all this crazy stuff doesn’t really happen when I play the game, and if it does it’s not all the time. It’s not as broken as you’re portraying that. Like I said, tried to recreate some of this stuff and and had good fun most of the time rather than a broken experience. And btw, I do agree AI in Assetto Corsa has major issues.

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      2. Maybe you took the screenshots from older versions. Not saying old, as in one year ago, but old enough that newer versions are better and fixed some problems. Though I think the Nurburgring GP T1 is still unstable for some cars, and either can go off road or some cars will bump into each other.

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      1. Now are you gonna call PRC shills for not posting as many rf2 articles? Guess what, bsimracing and virtualr have more rf2 articles than of AC. They shillin for rf2. elol

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  6. Funny thing is, Dude will moan on and on about this shit, but has he brought it up over at the official forums in an effort to help get them addressed ?, like what he did with the PCARS2 beta ?

    I haven’t seen it.

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  7. James goes to great lengths to explain AC’s AI flaws, which are glaring to say the least. When the dev itself says that in v1.4 of a RACING sim that they’re thinking of giving the AI some racing line awareness then that in itself is an admission of failure.

    Retorts along the lines of “LOL it doesn’t happen to me so you’re lying” are neither constructive nor true as the screenies show, and the version used is literally irrelevant if it’s past the 1.0 release. Why release a game as out of early access at all if SP gameplay is totally broken for a good portion of people? Follow the money, as ever.

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  8. “Retorts along the lines of “LOL it doesn’t happen to me so you’re lying” are neither constructive nor true as the screenies show”

    Neither saying that how James has AI is true for always. You can indeed have good AI performance, but doesn’t mean will always work. And when it doesn’t work, neither means that always doesn’t work.

    Is like when PRC put some screens or videos of Pcars AI bugs or general game bugs, and call it unplayable and shit game. That thing doesn’t happen on a regular basis. Just because a bunch of AIs went off at Monza chicane, doesn’t mean another guy in another pc won’t have a good Monza race without AI faults.

    “and the version used is literally irrelevant if it’s past the 1.0 release.”

    No is not irrelevant. Even if the game was officially released at 1.0, everyone knew the game would still be in development. If you don’t want, I don’t understand how you are playing in the sim racing genre, if all you want is immaculate and fully complete sims at 1.0. Cause then you blame the devs when in reality you’re fooling yourself.

    AC devs knew and the general community knew that AC 1.0 or even several updates after weren’t going to make it into a perfectly functioning game. But instead of abandoning the devs, we stay and we give them feedback and suggestions, and with time they improve it.

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    1. I am not fooling myself by expecting a competent product when I buy something tagged as “ready for retail”, as AC v1.0 was. If anything, making apologies for the people taking your money in return for something fundamentally shit in a few different ways smacks of a serious lack of both judgement and standards. I don’t care for apologist attitudes regarding these sort of issues and neither should you.

      When you buy a game, you should expect a game. Being treated as (at best) a tester is unacceptable.

      >Neither saying that how James has AI is true for always. You can indeed have good AI performance, but doesn’t mean will always work. And when it doesn’t work, neither means that always doesn’t work.

      I don’t buy a car so it MIGHT work some of the time
      I don’t buy a fridge so it MIGHT work sometimes
      I don’t buy a DVD if it MIGHT work sometimes
      I wouldn’t buy a console game if it MIGHT work sometimes
      I won’t be buying a PC game on the basis that it MIGHT work sometimes again

      My AI issues in AC exactly mirror those James has repeatedly shown with different builds of the game. So what if it sometimes works for some people? When the fuck did this become an acceptable attitude?

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      1. It was ready for retail. Just because sometimes the AI goes against your car or in some instances they go off road doesn’t mean the game is shit and I want my money back. In fact, we could pull a technicality here and say that in real life racing you also find car accidents or racers fail to stay on the road in some corners, etc.
        But I know maybe isn’t satisfactory for a game, so that’s why the devs kept working on it throughout the months.

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      2. The AI is broken. If it’s broken for me and James alone in the entire userbase, then the devs have still failed. Any obvious retorts suggesting I’m entitled, or indeed that anyone who finds flaws in AC is entitled somehow don’t understand that by buying a game you do in fact become entitled to play an actual working game, which AC unfortunately isn’t.

        Like

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