120% AI – A Visual Tour

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For the readers who have stuck around PRC.net for the long haul, the lot of you are well aware that I’m primarily an online racer. After I came to the realization that modern racing simulator developers probably won’t ever manage to nail the behavior of AI drivers on par with what was seen in old Papyrus simulators, I basically stopped playing offline altogether in favor of organized races in both private leagues, as well as online services such as Race2Play. It’s just a lot more fun and rewarding to drive against human opponents, rather than bots whom suffer from “that one corner” syndrome as Empty Box has so kindly dubbed it. But not every online race is satisfying. Aliens indeed exist, yet commands from their mothership prohibit them from participating in events around the clock, so it’s not uncommon to see certain races turn into rather lopsided affairs.

A few weekends ago, I showed up to a GT3 race in RaceRoom Racing Experience where only eight of the thirteen total registrants managed to make it to the grid, and after Reinhard Berger choked away the lead mere minutes into the race, I drove the final twenty six laps in solitude. An easy way to pad my statistics, yes, but as a competitor, races like that aren’t very enjoyable. Now I’ve heard that RaceRoom Racing Experience offers the best offline racing on the market, so in an effort to make up for that godawful online event from a while back, I put my faith in the sim racing community’s gossip and began my Single Player adventure.

I really shouldn’t have done that.

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For my night of offline racing bliss, and to give R3E’s single player component a proper shakedown, I kept the configuration settings uniform across every track. I’d be driving Kelvin van der Linde’s #1 Audi R8 as seen in the recently released 2015 ADAC GT Masters pack. The race length would be set to eight minutes, I’d be placed eighth on the grid, and I’d jack the AI difficulty all the way up to 120%. Yes, I can already hear some of you bitching at the monitor as you read this – it’s never a good idea to run an isiMotor sim at maximum AI strength because it fucks up all kinds of shit – but unfortunately, an AI level of 120 is literally what I need. In a practice session at a track I’m familiar with, such as Sears Point or Zandvoort, they’re a tenth of a second slower than myself. I’m not trying to brag here, I just need to point out that I’m not intentionally on a quest to break the game.

But that’s what happened anyways, because this is sim racing in 2016.

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We begin our journey at Sears Point, where the pack of AI cars would brake check each other with such a frequency, I was able to pass basically everybody (save for the front row) only a few hundred feet after the start/finish line. By comparison, I have gotten my ass handed to me on standing starts by the boys at Realish Racing every other weekend dating back to January. In the shot above, I’m a gear or two higher than the cars directly around me.

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The AI couldn’t handle Turn 10. I restarted the Sears Point race roughly three or four times to document all possible flaws once I realized this wouldn’t be a fun night, and this gentle right-hand corner absolutely perplexed them. Cars would violently whip from side to side on entry, spin out, and stack up the field, even if nobody was around them.

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Our AI brothers could jump rumble strips at an alarming frequency, with virtually no tangible effect on their cars’ performance. This sucks when you’re chasing someone down, as there are corners where it’s simply not possible to catch them.

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But of course, karma is not just reserved for human competitors, oh no. Our boy in the Callaway Corvette GT3 entry made a beeline for the immovable objects disguised as tire barriers in Turn 11, and got his ass stuck in the process.

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So I restart the race, and the AI cars go from curb hopping, to simply not caring about track limits. I know I catch a lot of shit for my liberal interpretations of racing surface boundaries, but there’s a difference between using up every last inch of tarmac, and driving on the fucking dead grass.

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I didn’t have to care much in the long run, as something like two seconds later, the BMW Z4 leading our little pack decided to plow into another set of immovable tire barriers, which destroyed basically the entire field.

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Well, to be fair, it was half the field. The other half, consisting mostly of backmarkers, were taken out in a Turn 1 wreck caused by simultaneous self-spins. Look, I enjoyed the random scripted crashes in the original Race Driver: Grid, but we’re looking at a situation where 30 seconds into the race, something like 80% of the cars are destroyed.

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So I guess it’s time to move on to a new track, a location where GT3 cars are known to race. It’s entirely possible that the AI line was not optimized for the GT3 cars at Sears Point in RaceRoom, so the logical fix to these woes would be to take them to a location such as Zandvoort.

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Again, the AI is driving on the fucking grass, and the simplified physics engine taking over allows them to continue pushing with no loss in traction. Honestly, this behavior is similar to what’s seen in Project CARS, where the AI cars go wherever they damn well please.

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But can they take a simple curb? Of course not, so it was on to the next track.

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I took my group of virtual lab rats to the chicane layout of Mid-Ohio. To be fair, we actually made it through the first lap relatively clean, and it was looking to be a decent race until we approached the chicane for the second time. The BMW Z4 in second place, as well as the Audi R8 rounding out the top three, spun in sync and destroyed the pack behind them – which was all of us. Next.

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This is lap one, turn one, of the first race at Laguna Seca. The AI driver in the black & gold Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 cut across the sand in the manner displayed by countless bots above, and spun in front of the pack, essentially taking the bottom half of the field out of contention less than fifteen seconds into the race.

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And lastly, this magnificent trio of self-spins by AI cars occurred at what the 2002 FIA GT Championship program dubs as Turn Four on the Oschersleben circuit. These spins were so violent and so sudden, that I drove into the orange Audi R8 at full speed moments after this shot was taken.

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I’m not sure where I fucked up. All I tried to do was take the community’s advice and run a few offline races in RaceRoom Racing Experience to make up for a lack of any decent online action over the past little bit. For my efforts, I received nothing but pain and suffering. The exact artificial intelligence sim racers claim is the best in the genre will literally drive straight into solid fucking tire barriers, spin in the gentlest of corners, brake check each other when accelerating away from the grid, and drive on the grass with no penalty to their performance. Is my shit broken, or is this another case of delusional sim racers pretending massive artificial intelligence issues are nothing to worry about?


41 thoughts on “120% AI – A Visual Tour

  1. The AI was tempered with when we introduced bigger grids. We are working on bringing it back to the state where it was indeed the best AI in the business. Right now it has tge flaws you pointed at, and even more that you didn’t find.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hey, would you please be so kind to “casually” leak the IMSA GTO and Group 5 models so that we can convert them to ther games?

      If you do that, we forgive you for the ai problems and will buy in bulk all the content in R3E.


    2. Please fix especially the Nordschleife. Driving with DTM 2015 on the VLN track and they made lap times about 7:15, what´s not possible at all and with other classes as well.
      And why on earth it´s not possible to change the AI-level between championships like in all other titles? The AI was never balanced enough and it´s okay if i can tweak them in after a practice session, but to do championships with the AI all over the pace is not an option.

      For me the pCars AI is the best in business because it´s good balanced (much depending on each class, more even in the same class and not so good over 90). They don´t give me much space when dialed in (subtle rubberband?), try to avoid contact even by going off track but making crazy good overtakes when i left the space. I know Raceroom could do this maybe even better, but to often was unlucky with my car/track/AI-strength setup and would appreciate to set the AI-strength like in rF2 and with the possibility to restart an event inside the race-menu. And as long as the AI hits me off track i even would appreciate an optional rewind function. I do mistakes, the AI isn´t close to perfect in any title and a rewind function encourage me more to go with long races.


  2. “it’s never a good idea to run an isiMotor sim at maximum AI strength because it fucks up all kinds of shit”

    Yet, the fanboys will ignore the fact that it’s an option within the game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Yet, the fanboys will ignore the fact that it’s an option within the game.”

      Having AI is a option in AC, yet they are fucked, even a pleb like me can beat them on a hundred per cent on the very very rare occasion they dont fuck everything up,dont even think about putting them on a green track or multi grid, in other words fucking useless, worst than 10-15 year old rf1 AI, should kunos just disable the AI option all together then?

      Shame about your AI experience James,for 80 percent of the time the RRE AI is very good in my plays (100-110), I wouldn’t call modded rf1 ai the best, but its certainly not far behind rf2’s, and Im certain youve just had a bad run coupled with issues on larger grids, but all in all the RRE AI is nothing to scoff at,and Ive noticed Sector3 are always tweaking AI for diff cars and fine tuning AIWs which I really a appreciate

      TBH any current AI is not gonna fill the needs for guys in your league,its a double barreled shotty for you, not only AI becomes inadequate, but the already small MP community gets even smaller, I can count on one hand the amount of racers I know at your pace, and half that number for decent race craft ontop of the speed.


      1. Raceroom 30 seconds into the race, something like 80% of the cars are destroyed experience..


  3. Perhaps I’m just shit, but I set them to around 112 and race the historics (using a clutch +shifter and right foot braking) and find that they work well at this level and it’s a good fight.

    Not delusional, just having fun. Shame it seems to break down at higher levels in the gt3s, but s3 are making lots of changes


  4. I tried playing with them at 100 (’cause I’m slow) a few days ago and they drove OK. Let’s hope this gets fixed soon and a big thumbs up for S3 handling criticism so professionaly 😀 .


  5. I don’t know if it’s the case in R3E but going over 100% in rf, especially as high as 120% does screw things up! From my experience, what the extra % does is, well, cheat! The Ai does not become better than 100%, it just gives more grip the more the % is over 100% which in turn makes the Ai faster (conditions apply of course) ! I remember testing this in original rfactor in Mills Metropark where after about 115% the Ai would have so much grip that they would tip over at certain turns! IMO the Ai is/was designed for 100%! At the moment, you can use a few Ais over 100% and it works fine in Time Attack conditions, but in race that doesn’t work very well especially in the first lap and moreover the more Ai the worse it becomes!


    1. As a rF1 modder with 9 years of experience, I can say that the best ai setting is beteeen 103% and 107% if you want a competitive race without too many problems. Ai still cheats, but it’s not impossible to keep up with them as it’s at 110%/120%.

      As soon as you push above 110% not only it gains so much extra grip that you could feed Associat0r for years, but they also gain so much extra speed that no matter your setup, on the straights their speed is always 10/20/30km/h faster than yours which makes chasing an ai car (Or being chased by it) simply impossible.

      There are ways to mod the ai to make it less cheaty, but it’s also related to what mod you play with because each mod has specific ai settings in the .hdv files so if modders don’t edit those parameters properly, no matter how much you mod the ai in the .plr file, it will always be shit if the mod is shit.


  6. pfffff, now people complain because 120% AI skill equal to Sebastian Loeb´s driving genes and style, that ofcourse is gonna be some solid dirt, muddy off track riding 🙂


  7. James.

    We all know you are good at unearthing problems with sims, but how about looking into possible work arounds whilst carrying out your tests. Maybe experiment with smaller starting grids or perhaps using less potent cars against the AI to provide a challenge without pushing it beyond it’s limitations. This is something I’m sure the community could really make use of while waiting for improvements in the AI from the Devs.

    My own personal limit with this particular title is around 100% and consequently I find it provides plenty of challenge and enjoyment for me with very little frustration.

    I make no secret of the fact that I like this title a lot. It provides the best possible balance between graphics, sound, AI and variety for me at my skill level and, I suspect, for many others too.

    So come on, throw in some helpful stuff too from time to time, eh? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is why I like being a “good” driver rather than an alien. I can set the AI to around 100-103% and the AI can stay on track while still being relatively fast compared to me. When set right (and without being an absolute alien) you can have some great racing. R3E is definitely one of the best for AI compared to ACs road blocks and Project Cars over aggressiveness. Haven’t tried rF2 in a long time though because there’s pretty much nothing to drive.


  9. This is the very reason I don’t understand why people do any sim-racing in single player. Especially the exclusive single player nubs who know it all on the forums! Give me a break, this happens in every sim out there, bots are programmed and even if they’re not making stupid mistakes like running off, they are always slower then you at X corner and faster then you over Y curb!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. when do we get the secrets to drive against AI @120% or is that another 6.99?

    ya they do crazy things like that in r3. so deal with it – that is what makes you a better racer.


  11. I have been a lurker here on PRC for a long time, I usually don’t post anywhere but curiosity got the best of me.

    “(…)After I came to the realization that modern racing simulator developers probably won’t ever manage to nail the behavior of AI drivers on par with what was seen in old Papyrus simulators(…)”

    James, what do you mean by this? Explain yourself, sir!


    1. He means that old Nascar racing titles, or grand prix microprose titles, if i can say so myself, had far better AI than the current crop of sims.


  12. People are so busy jerking each other off over “which AI is better than AC’s” (hint: none of the rf1 based sims are, at this point) that they’ll praise a complete turd.


        1. Very hard to get anything other than green in NZ, in scotland where I grew up I had never seen green in my life it was all hash.


  13. I’m not good enough run AI at 120% – not even close – but it’s fair to say the AI has taken a substantial backward step with the latest updates. It’s been much better in the past.

    That said, I’m not getting problems to the same degree as James, but these issues certainly exist on lower difficulty levels. Probably a benefit of running at a more ‘human’ AI level. It’s good to be a shit driver sometimes!


  14. I’m too scrubby for maximum AI percentage, but I am of opinion that AI cars should be allowed to make mistakes. Online and real-life racers – and you – make mistake, so why the AI can’t? Isn’t that more realistic?


  15. R3E AI does fluctuate.
    Its been great but ive seen it dip after physics and other updates.
    Then it seems to need some tweaking and patches to bring it back.
    I would still say they are too aggressive and rf2s is better but overall r3e is just plain more fun.
    And i play single player 90% of the time.
    Not sure where your magic online racing happens but i usually qualify at the front then get rammed by a bunch of fucktards in t1 then quit to sp.


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