Spend any substantial amount of time on your preferred sim racing message board, and you’ll slowly notice a rise in the number of sim racers switching to triple screen setups. Claiming the popular monitor configuration brings increased visibility, greater depth perception, and a heightened overall sense of speed, those with a triple screen setup constantly push the idea that purchasing two extra monitors is a wise investment for any serious sim racer. However, for some, the move to a triple monitor setup simply won’t be on the horizon any time soon. Not everybody has the disposable income to purchase additional computer screens, nor does everyone have the desk space to accommodate such a setup, and some outright don’t believe three monitors will yield any tangible benefits. As a result, a large group of virtual motorsports enthusiasts still use the classic single screen configuration.
But as a single monitor user myself, there are indeed a few negative aspects that occasionally cause problems. The various field-of-view calculators do little to rectify the feeling of driving through a pair of binoculars. There is virtually no sense of speed, and racing in a pack, it’s necessary to bind Look Left and Look Right buttons to your wheel – otherwise your blind spot is large enough to warrant its own currency. Lastly, some cars, such as modern DTM entries, pin you so far back in the cockpit that 75% of your monitor is wasted on displaying the cockpit. As you’re already lacking visibility, you don’t need to stare at the dash.
Thankfully, there are ways to eliminate most, if not all of these problems.
You can start by jacking up the field of view value to anywhere between 60 and 75 degrees. This is done primarily to increase the sense of speed, the equivalent of the hyperspeed cheat code in Guitar Hero. Yes, you’ll feel as if you’ve got tunnel vision. Don’t worry, we’re not done quite yet.
It’s time to bust open some INI files, and thankfully they will not cause mismatches when racing online. Now while most modern sims allow you to adjust the position of your in-car seat to move the cockpit camera to your liking, the extent of which you’re allowed to do so is severely limited. Even moving the seat as far forward as possible, with a high field of view, it still feels as if you’ve hit warp speed from the back of the Millennium Falcon.
The task at hand is to dig into the GameData/Vehicles folder of your preferred sim, and open up the specific INI containing the viewpoint elements of the car you’re intending to drive. In rFactor or Stock Car Extreme, you’re searching for a text file with the suffix “cockpitinfo”, while in Race 07, you’re searching for the file extension dubbed “inccar.” You’re looking for a line called “Eyepoint“, which contains three values resembling the X, Y, and Z axis of the cockpit view. The final number is the Z axis value, dictating how far forward the default cockpit eyepoint is placed. Add anywhere from -0.2 to -0.4 onto the default value listed. If the default value is something like 0.38, try 0.18 or 0.08. I understand adding negative integers is difficult, so here is a tutorial to help you get started.
The end result will be a dashboard view resembling late 90’s arcade racer Daytona USA, or the recent PS4 game DriveClub. The increased sense of speed and visibility should result in a very tangible improvement on your driving, giving you the main benefits of a triple monitor setup without actually having one. In particular, you can see more of the road ahead, and it feels faster, allowing you to judge distances better.
But we’re not done yet. An entirely different file dictates the cockpit camera pitch, and this is something you’ll want to change on virtually every single mod. Taking a page out of the Codemasters playbook of racing game development, a substantial portion of cars in isiMotor racing sims have the default cockpit camera view pointing down towards the dash and steering wheel. Now unless you’re the type of mongoloid who drives while staring directly at the nose of the car, you’ll probably want to change this. Residing inside the INI file with the cam file extention or cameras suffix (depending on the sim), is the orientation offset setting. Changing this value to absolute zero returns the camera pitch to focus directly on the road ahead. Again, some mods will need it more than others. Race 07 suffers from the camera pitch problem the most, and in order to rectify this on the official SimBin content, you’ll need to decrypt it first. rFactor and Stock Car Extreme content rarely require this additional adjustment.
To make the same adjustments listed above in Codemasters’ DiRT Rally, you’ll need the XML Editor to decrypt the cameras.xml file found within each vehicle folder before you can begin adjusting it. However, you’ll be making the exact same basic adjustments you’d made above in the isiMotor sims, and they’re pretty easy to spot. There’s an option for a custom field of view setting for each specific camera, an option to change the tilt (by default it’s some crazy value like -3.57), and the ability to change Y axis and Z axis coordinates – camera height and camera closeness. I personally edit the dash cam as DiRT Rally’s numbers are much more sensitive to small changes and I’d like to be in the ballpark by default, but you can also edit the default cockpit view if you’d like to fine-tune with the seat adjustment buttons.
To their credit, Kunos Simulazioni have allowed for far greater adjustment of the in-car cockpit view using a specific “Driver Eyes” app included with the vanilla PC version of Assetto Corsa, meaning there is absolutely no INI fuckery required to get a decent single monitor setup cockpit view. It’s available right out of the box. Kudos to Kunos on this one. Less time spent fucking with INI files, more time spent playing the game. This is how it’s done.
Lastly, we reach the almighty iRacing, where EmptyBox has put together a camera editing tutorial, one which can be used to achieve the desired results discussed in this article. This is actually the exact tutorial I followed, and although it takes a few keyboard shortcuts some people aren’t aware of, it works as intended.
As I’ve said at the top of the article, sim racers praise triple screen setups for the increased sense of speed, depth perception, and overall visibility that comes with the investment into two additional monitors. However, this investment isn’t always feasible for everyone. I myself don’t have the desk space to purchase a full set of monitors, and the majority of people will hit a wall when it comes to the cost of upgrading their setup – you’re multiplying the cost of a lone monitor purchase by three. So by cranking up the FOV into warp speed factor, and compensating for the tunnel vision effect by moving the cockpit viewpoint into a Daytona USA-like position, the tunnel vision is cancelled out by moving forward in 3D space, and you’re left with a single screen setup that mimics the benefits of a much larger triple screen configuration. It’s not perfect, and for some the hyperspeed effect might be disorienting, but it’s what I use, and it’s the adjustments that keep me satisfied with a single monitor setup.