Reader Submission #79 – I Migrated to Pretend Airplanes

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It’s happened again, guys. We here at PRC.net have received a Reader Submission from someone whose name we can’t post for obvious reasons. Today’s entry in our Reader Submission category comes from someone in the scene, who has ended up dropping sim racing altogether in favor of diving head first into hardcore civilian flight simulators. His reasons as to why? You might be surprised…


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Hello. Not bringing you any sort of controversial news, nor a conspiracy theory. Not going to beat any particular sim-racing game title with a mean critical stick (I would easily do it for all of the recent ones though). It’s just something that has been a subject of many private conversations with other fellow simmers, modders, and game developers in recent years that, maybe, could be a topic for an article of yours. Something to reflect about.

Before getting to the crux of the matter, allow me a “get it off my chest” moment of sorts.

My name is not important. I wish to remain anonymous. With that being said, I’m someone that has worked with a few of the prominent game developer teams in our little niche of commercial sim-racing. For game titles that you may have sim-raced, and others that never got to be finished/released. I’ve seen good and bad ethical principles and practice standards, and different levels of care to the content produced. I am also someone that devoted well over fifteen years to this hobby of sim-racing, and especially modding for it – that’s how I got involved with dev teams in the first place. 

Like many of us, I’ve seen good and bad people come and go from this “community”. Always passionate about the hobby, regardless. However, the disappointment in these last years had been exponentially increasing and I split with sim-racing altogether in 2014. Sim-racing peripherals into boxes, the games (and mods) uninstalled, and so on. The way I see it, the whole scene is going backwards (increasingly so) instead of evolving. No need to explain it. If one has been around long enough and look deep into it (the articles at PRC touch some of the relevant issues here and then) then one will get it, somehow, sooner or later.

I lost interest.

So, two years ago I changed my “hobby addictiveness” needs (tabula rasa) and decided instead to get positively into flight-sims, after more than a decade of hiatus. I’ve been loving it. And feel I should have done it much, much earlier. It wasn’t so overnight, but there have been so many “WOW” moments that it’s almost like a revelation.

I still look at sim-racing articles here and then, check out old forums and friends still in the scene, see “how are things”… that sort of stuff. And, of course, flight-sims are not without their own set of problems. Actually, some problems  seem common across genres (more on that further below). But it got to a point, now looking to this side after being on that other side, where it shows how bad (and frivolous?) the whole sim-racing scene has been, and is, now more than ever.

I get the impression that this whole thing may sound negative and bitter. Maybe it is. You see, one spends years of time and energy into a hobby and a craft that you love and believe in, only to see it all going to shit years after. That’s how it feels.

Here comes the part where –I think– could possibly inspire you for a simple article at PRC. Sometime ago, I came across this interesting article about symptoms/problems that have been noticed in flight-sims in more recent years:

http://www.hovercontrol.com/artman/publish/article_185.shtml

Airplanes

Where this relates to sim racing is, I think, immediately obvious once you read it. I believe this is very prevalent in the newer generations of simmers and gamers. Is it of interest? That’s up to you. By the way, while I certainly don’t think the articles in PRC are Pulitzer material, I do think someone needs to pinch where it really hurts. Keep at it. 


MXGP 2014-03-29 21-01-42-14

No, you’re right in drawing attention to this. A lot of people are buying the multitude of racing sims, but not actually playing them. Frequent readers of PRC.net will crucify me for beating a dead horse, but people threw over $100,000 at Reiza Studios during their crowdfunding campaign last summer, yet in the span of a month, two separate leagues at Race2Play.com for the Holden Commodore were outright cancelled due to lack of participation. iRacing is supposed to be this massive online racing community, but you’re running into the same handful of chumps each night: Lance Gomez Jr and Chris C. Miller are household names among the iRacing scene for a reason – the user base isn’t as large as the marketing campaign leads you to believe. Hell, more people have watched EmptyBox rant about InsideSimRacing on YouTube than have bought rFactor 2 on Steam. This is just weird. It’s like sim racers would rather sit around and fight over message board politics than actually race.

lel1

But let’s go even further. The Sim Racing subreddit has something like 10,000 subscribers, so despite my own personal grievances with the community over there, you can’t deny that it’s an active hub for discussing sim racing on the internet So let’s take a look at what they’re talking about:
leddit

One kid made a video of him and his buddies playing rFactor online together. Hell yeah brother, kudos for getting your ass out on the track! Another post is advertising open spots for Season 5 of the Assetto Corsa Reddit League. Yeah, it may not be a game I’d personally run a league race in, but at least they want to get people’s asses out on the track! Meanwhile, the rest of the posts are either advertisements or discussions regarding things they can buy for sim racing – mostly hardware, but there’s talk of mods and 4K monitors in there somewhere.

So what am I getting at?

For a video game genre designed to replicate competitive auto racing, there’s an almost complete lack of discussion regarding the racing aspect. Instead, it’s essentially a collection of gear snobs – comparable to walking into a Guitar Store and seeing middle-aged men masturbate over expensive guitars and pretend like they understand the technology behind it, but could barely stumble through Basket Case if you plugged them in.

I guess maybe it’s time to take Dave Grohl’s legendary quote, and apply it to sim racing.

dave grohl
Don’t just sit around jerking off over expensive sim setups, virtual reality goggles, and high definition videos that might as well be viral marketing. Hit the track, and just suck. Get your friends to join the server, and they’ll suck too. And then they’ll start turning laps and have the best time they’ve ever had in a racing sim and then all of a sudden they’re competing for the win.
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27 thoughts on “Reader Submission #79 – I Migrated to Pretend Airplanes

  1. I would bet that I have more hours into the Gran Turismo and Forza series than an actual sim just for the simple fact that they had fully working online gameplay and career modes. The same is sort of true on the flight simulation side, I probably have more flying hours in BF2/BF3/BF4 than any flight simulator.

    Like

  2. Maybe American Idol can open a sim racing room at guitar center, video tape it and sell it at walmart.
    This country has turned to shit.

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  3. You know something? I was looking at the screenshot of /r/simracing and it got me thinking.

    Part of the problem is, what the fuck am I really supposed to be talking about, really?

    Like, I get it. You want to play online. Frankly, far as I can tell (and others have commented similar, if more aggressive, ideas) you’d rather be playing iRacing, except that you’d rather iRacing didn’t have all the problems it has, and you’d rather that you weren’t banned.

    That’s fine.

    But I mean, what I got into sim racing wanting was Gran Turismo 3, but better. Project Cars graphics, rFactor physics, and Gran Turismo 3 career mode. It’s why the first game I bought was Assetto Corsa, and I’ll tell you, I was fuckin’ disappointed.

    Well, a lot of people feel similarly. I enjoyed your article the other day about Race 07 and the next morning, started a custom 9-round championship in the Formula BMWs. Damn, lot of fun. For some reason the AI can’t lap around Monza Junior worth a goddamn, so even though I accidentally didn’t qualify I ended up winning a 15-lap race by well over 5 seconds, but it was damned fun. So definitely thanks for that recommendation.

    But to put things into perspective, I’m an author, and you want to know what the #1 trick to writing is? You can’t sell books with it so I don’t have to feel bad about giving it away for free:

    FUCKIN’ SIT DOWN AT YOUR WORD PROCESSOR AND TYPE WORDS. Make them into sentences, make the sentences either an action or a reaction, an event or an emotional recoil. Do that for fifty or sixty thousand words, and you’ve got a novel.

    Sim racing feels the same to me. When I’m really having fun, I don’t need some advice from some asshole on Reddit. I don’t need to compare and contrast Formula BMWs vs WTCCs. I read the review, saw the words “Amateur open-wheeled” and suddenly realized I had a reason to play Race07 after buying it in a humble bundle for like $1.

    When you’re actually racing regularly, you’re in a league, you’re in iRacing, you’re playing single-player jerk-off-at-home against AI… what’s there to talk about really, aside from maybe new/WIP mods coming out?

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  4. Wake me up when I heard of someone who decides to stop playing pretend race cars and switched to lewd weeb games.

    By the way, why did you pull the VirtualR hosting unauthorized conversion article?

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  5. Seriously FUCK REDDIT. I refuse to go there, it is infested with cancer, kind of like the newfags on 4chan.

    My internet browsing days are so much better without REDDIT and that imager site.

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  6. Give me a Formula Vee league and I’ll race. Or a Kart Racing Pro league at a reasonable european time. All the formative leagues are in horrible time zones (seems like europeans only cares about historical, GT and F1), so I just keep learning the craft offline. It’s funny, you always hear about people wanting career mode in sims, but then you go online and only iRacing has a career system–but who does start racing with an Mx-5??? Give me an entry level formula for starter!

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    1. Lots of people start racing with MX-5s. Spec Miata is like. THE entry-level SCCA racing. It’s got an even lower barrier to entry than Formula Ford, and Formula Vee as far as I can tell isn’t as popular in the US as Spec Miata or FF… Probably about the same expense as Miatas though, if it were.

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    2. In the US, Spec Miata is huge. Granted, it’s not the third gen car (which is/was the SCCA pro/semi pro MX5 “cup” series), but the first and second gen cars instead. It’s a huge class recognized by both major Amateur sanction bodies in the US SCCA and NASA, and sees consistent 35+ car fields at a local level, and 60+ at national level events. For sedan based racing, it really is the most popular setup and practically *the* entry level series in the US.

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      1. Sorry minor correction, the mx5 is no sedan,its very much a roadster, and is very different to sedan racing, a good example of amatuer “sedan” racing would be the Australian Saloon Car Series, or in the states one of the many amatuer oval series.

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    3. The Skip Barber formula car is available to race as soon as you’re out of rookies, which can be accomplished in a few hours, maybe less (if you run time trials).

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      1. You gotta sell sim racers on the dream that they would be allowed to drive a Formula 3 though, nobody likes to be told “you’re good enough to drive a 20 year old hairdresser car I guess”

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  7. So now I have to play these shitty “simulators” which are even shittier games? No thanks. Although I could go back to rF1, Race07 or NR2003.

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  8. Reading this article is interresting stuff.
    Reader Submission #79 – I Migrated to Pretend Airplanes
    But there is not much conclusion or some kind of explanation of why simracers are more interested in discussing SW and HW than actually driving the racing game/sim against others.
    Personally I think it has something to do with the general fear of being revealed as more unskilled driving the virtuel cars than people want to admit TO THEMSELVES.
    Its the backside of the competing coin. That its easy to see yourself as a looser (LOOSER!) if you cannot fight for the win in most races.
    And people then chose to stay away when the race starts than being confronted with the outcome of their actual skills!

    I have described some of this in my thread about a Brazilian Le Mans event where more than 40-50 participated in the discussions and hype up to the race – but…
    GTP race 2.4H Le Mans June 2015 – invite
    http://www.nogripracing.com/forum/showthread.php?t=347877

    Quote: I have seen this strange thing again and again in such kind of fun races.
    People are sooo interrested – as long as we just talk about it.
    But then on actual race day you have to hear a lot of silly excuses (afterwards) because people dont turn up.
    It was (partly) the same in this Brazil event.
    Because of the about 40 qualified only 21 actually turned up.
    BrunoB

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  9. This is the real simulation game we should all be playing.

    And at min 27+ he talks about realism. Mentions games like gran turismo, forza, assetto corsa, project cars, they are fantasy games. They are things you won’t get in real life. But this game, my summer car, is all about realism of real life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This seems to be an over complication – we want to race after all, not doing garage work.

      Also, the game uses Unity and the narrator sounds like an less enthusiastic version of VJ Emmie (Who Killed Captain Alex).

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      1. No, YOU want to race. Other people enjoy the drive or enjoy every aspect of car culture. I try not to use the words sim racing, rather use sim driving because this is the much better description of what most people who enjoy sims but can’t invest enough laptime to be competitive in a proper league do. Pub racing is rarely the answer, it’s a nice distraction though to do a half hour race where you get taken out on T1 and then are playing catch up.
        That Unity engine game has more sim value than half the simulators out there, starting with the fact that it makes cars more than just the sum of their parts. It makes you think about cars on a component level, making it the purest form of automotive enthusiasm you can find in the virtual world.
        I’d take a unity game made with passion and love over hype and shill fueled shiny triple A funded bugfest any time.

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    2. Well last I checked you can’t get access without dev approval (beta).

      I like how your valves go out of adjustment and the carb actually functions. Lots of nice details.

      Seems more like a 1-2 player game, though.

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  10. I guess we are all after different things.

    Some like online racing, while others prefer off line racing.

    Personally, regardless of what I do, I really like the feeling of progression. Sure the number one priory is a sim that’s as realistic as possible so you can improve your driving skills, but I want to progress against set benchmarks.

    The game that comes to mind is Forza 2. The physics were decent and a challenge, and the career mode started you at the bottom and became progressively harder. The career mode didn’t let you jump in any car and do any race whenever you wanted. You had to work through one series to unlock the next, and each series was a unique kind of challenge. Each category had different restrictions like car class or horsepower, there was a sense of progression and reward as things became harder.

    Forza 3, Forza 4, Gran Turismo… they just feel like random race after random race in whatever car you like. If a race is too hard, pick a faster car, or just skip it. Some people may like that, but for me it removes the sense of reward.

    Moving to modern PC sims, and career modes are non existent or uninspiring. Project Cars career mode was simply frustrating, no structure or sense of progression. AC career mode is hampered by terrible AI, and the drift challenges are completely out of reach for all but the most dedicated drifters.

    rF2 and GSCE don’t really have a career mode or any kind of bench marks you can aspire to. It’s just practicing your driving skills and setting your own challenges. That gets old after a while.

    Iracing is great for a number of reasons, but the cost of progressing your career is not affordable, and you get bored of the mx-5 after a while.

    Great sims, but not great games. That’s my reason for losing interest at times.

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  11. In terms of the amount of racing titles and content across all platforms racers have never had it so good.The main problem that many younger players do not recognize is that to make these games all the developers need more money (and time) and more talented programmers.Big budget titles like Forza and Gran Turismo manage to make stable useable products but to do that they have to generate massive sales by making the games arcadey.

    All racing games should follow the Project Cars route.Assetto Corsa and GSC should all develop their games as sims but with the option to have a console title to generate the sales to pay for the proper development that the sim racing community demands.At the moment they all seem to be trying to build a Rolls Royce from the parts bin of a 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

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  12. FS4 is when I started messing with sims. Flight sims have always provided a more immersive experience for me.

    People still get too wound up. There’s no perfect flight sim. il2 1946 has obviously broken aspects of vehicle performance, clod has its own issues (though very worthwhile underneath), BOS/BOM is expensive and has issues (though I think it’s worth the money overall, they have put in years of consistent effort and at least partially reversed some silly prior decisions. There’s a good bit of complexity behind the physics). ROF is aged on the same engine and has fudged performance metrics for balance.

    You get excellent FFB from the classic msffb2 joystick in all of these games and only the rof/bos/bom is expensive.

    x-plane/fsx/p3d… Each has their own issues again. I consider these titles more useful for license training.

    In my opinion, they are not comparable in flight model to the more specific military titles mentioned above. Flying an aircraft on the limit and learning CEM is a different experience altogether in the other titles.

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  13. Last year, after watching few videos from ralfidude playing DCS World, I bought a joystick, a peripheral I haven’t had since 98 I guess.

    Since DCS World is kinda hard to get the hang of, I mostly used my joystick to play Elite: Dangerous. But now my joystick is on my desk every day, changing places with my mouse, while my wheel is back in the box. Can’t stop playing DCS and Falcon BMS. Also had to buy a TrackIR 5 and I’m loving it.

    Like

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