The sad reality of Sim Racing in 2016, is that even the titles regarded by some as the absolute best in the genre still suffer from game-breaking issues. With us here at PRC.net previously address the problems plauging both RaceRoom Racing Experience and iRacing, it’s now time to add a third title to the mix: our beloved Stock Car Extreme by Reiza Studios.
Growing into an organization much more than just a group of guys playing Forza together, the group at Realish Racing were set to kick off the Hyper Brazilian Touring Masters season this Sunday afternoon. A thirteen week online championship using the flagship cars of Stock Car Extreme, the series would be broadcast via tape delay on MotorsTV in the United Kingdom, and would be the first season contested by Realish Racing using the racing simulation developed by Reiza Studios.
Instead, the season was postponed after a mere 30 minutes of on-track action. This was not the fault of any administrators. The game simply didn’t work.
With 30 drivers participating in the first event of the season, problems began the moment the session had progressed to Qualifying. For some reason, the server began duplicating random drivers within the session, and the game was placing the genuine drivers into the spot the non-existent duplicated drivers were occupying. Essentially, drivers who’d registered a legitimate Qualifying time were sent to the back of the grid. Race organizers were forced to re-run the entire Qualifying session to rectify this, which caused some controversy as certain drivers produced drastically different laps in the two separate Super Pole qualifying attempts. Defending series champion James Price-Harper was able to use the extra qualifying session to improve his position by two grid spots, while I lost my original pole position to April Dillon in the second session.
And despite a thrilling race for the lead, with multiple battles for position and “oh shit” moments that would have made for a fantastic broadcast on MotorsTV, many participants began lagging out of the race as we closed in on the checkered flag. The running order with five laps to go barely resembled the unofficial results, as nearly a third of the grid had lost connection to the server in the closing minutes of the race.
Attempting to invert a portion of the grid for the second race of the evening proved to be too much for the server to handle, and not only were the results of the event immediately thrown out, the series was suspended until further notice.
Race organizer Björn Golda believes the issues faced during the first round of the Hyper Brazilian Touring Masters were primarily on the server side, but other Stock Car Extreme leagues are no stranger to the rather small number of participants allotted on each online server. Online racing hub Race Department have imposed a 26-car limit on all Race Department Touring Car Championship events, even going as far as holding a pre-season event to split drivers between Division 1 and Division 2 lobbies.
This is not the first time Race Department have used the split lobby format, as back in 2015, the Virtual Stock Car Championship also imposed a strict limit on cars for each server, implying they have full knowledge of what happens when you attempt to run large grids in Stock Car Extreme.
Why is this frustrating? The real world Stock Car Brasil series fields a total of 34 cars in each event. The fact that Stock Car Extreme completely shits itself when trying to host an online race with a realistic grid size means that league administrators are now complaining when sim racers show interest in their league, and are left with little options in how to deal with this absurd problem in manner that won’t piss people off. Recreational Soccer Leagues across the planet are consistently begging for more people to come out and join in on the fun, but 30 people show up for an online race – less than the amount of cars at the real event – and suddenly you’re wondering how to send people home so the game doesn’t implode on itself. Nobody wants this, but software limitations leave few ways to deal with the problem without hoping Reiza’s upcoming Automobilista rectifies the situation.