SimRacingSystem: The Mini-Review

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A few short days ago, I outright blasted the existence of SimRacingSystem, an organized online racing plugin created by the fellows over at SimRacingPortugal. I didn’t feel there was much of a need for another team to try their hand at producing an iRacing-like online experience for something that wasn’t iRacing, as Tim MacArthur had built a phenomenal service within Race2Play.com that worked even better than the massive entity it had been designed to compete against – sim racers just weren’t flocking to it for whatever reason. While I didn’t have a problem with SRP’s efforts to prove they could make their own program in the style of iRacing, I felt that it would have been more beneficial in the long run to just let Race2Play do its thing, and hope MacArthur and company would make a better effort to spread awareness about his domain – as two rival online racing organization applications essentially fragments an already minuscule userbase.

But with not a whole lot planned for a Friday night, there was no harm in checking out SimRacingSystem for myself. It was free, after all. And upon wrapping up an evening’s worth of events using SimRacingPortugal’s brand new application, my thoughts on the whole project are still a mixed bag. From a stability and functionality standpoint, SRS is phenomenal. No, I’m not bullshitting you on this one. Very rarely do programs in an early beta state work this well. However, the primary racing simulator SRS was intended to be used in conjunction with, leaves you with a very underwhelming experience when the checkered flag flies. Make no mistake, SimRacingSystem was built for Assetto Corsa, and Assetto Corsa is what ends up holding the application back.

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The official message boards for Assetto Corsa have seen Kunos Simulazioni bombarded with hundreds of complaints regarding the game’s clunky online interface and subsequent racing experience, leaving the door wide open for a third party modding team such as SimRacingPortugal to show up and unfuck the whole thing. Joining a server in the vanilla version of Assetto Corsa sucks. Finding a room that isn’t intended for casual lapping of the Nordschleife or drifting with shitty rFactor conversions is the sim racing equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. Signing up for a league isn’t something everyone has the time for, and with iRacing being that fucking popular, a server browser rooted in 2005 no longer serves the community’s needs in 2016. People want iRacing, even when they’re not playing iRacing. And I can’t really blame them, the format is awesome.

So SimRacingPortugal went out and more or less copied the exact format and style of iRacing’s online browser. The small download creates an additional option within the game’s main menu, where you can click a green Register button and sign up for an upcoming race. The GT2 races take place every two hours, while the lower classes are twice as frequent. Five minutes before the event is set to kick off, the page reloads and you’re allowed to join the session for a quick pair of practice laps until things flip over to Qualifying.

The whole process works flawlessly. If a shitload of people are signed up for event, you may have to wait an extra minute or two while the group of 45+ are split into two smaller packs, but on a functionality level, it’s as reliable as iRacing. The entire ritual of sitting on the iRacing member site waiting for the join button become available… It’s the exact same over here. Basically, if you’re an iRacing member, yet you prefer how Assetto Corsa drivers, this is 100% what you wanted.

SRS2

But then you’re hit with a swift reminder that you’re playing Assetto Corsa. I know the fanboys will groan at PRC.net making yet another unjustified swipe at their favorite racing simulator, but hear me out on this one:

The first time I was presented with the Select Car screen within the SRS app, I got genuinely excited. Here I am, sitting in front of my PC after close to two decades of virtual racing experience, and a fucking car select screen has me jacked up. Kunos Simulazioni gave plenty of excuses as to why they couldn’t implement this into the online portion of Assetto Corsa, but a few random sim racers from Portugal had that shit figured out in no time – and they even let you pick your livery! It makes you wonder what’s going on in Vallelunga, especially with the recent console version delay. Should they just outsource the entire goddamn game to random third party modders at this point? Because after years of Kunos crying “we can’t implement X” and proceeding to ban anyone who dared to question what was going on with the direction of the game, modders just sort of appeared and found a way to implement X, Y, and Z.

My only disappointment with the overall interface and functionality of SRS, would be the interesting selection of advertisements that display on the right hand side of the screen. I can’t say I’m too fond of the Asian Singles ads, as I tend to prefer nutty polish girls.

Asian Girl

Is the racing an obvious step up in quality from public lobbies? Absolutely. The only people who are downloading this application, are Assetto Corsa owners who willingly want to be a part of close, competitive online racing. Yes, there were a few turn one pileups in the lower classes at Vallelunga, but from what I observed in my rear view mirror, the incidents were a result of honest mistakes rather than a total lack of incompetence. In time, we’ll be sure to see more and more people checking out the service out of sheer curiosity, and maybe that will lower the overall driving quality, but from what I personally got to experience, I was satisfied.

I was able to partake in two twenty-minute GT2 events, and two significantly smaller eight lap events at the short Vallelunga club layout. All four events had mammoth grids, and I truly do mean mammoth. We brought over 20 cars to the dedicated server during each of my first three events, while the final late-night stop at Silverstone saw an adequate ten car field – a number Race2Play has been struggling to achieve as of late. There were some seriously good drivers in all four race sessions, and while I was indeed able to hold my own at the front of the pack, it was nice to see that the Assetto Corsa online community is more than just PC hardware snobs and drift kiddies. So to all whom I battled with on Friday afternoon, thanks for showing up and making this shit a whole lot of fun.

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But having fun doesn’t mean the overall experience is objectively good, and unfortunately for how functionally tight of a service SimRacingSystem appears to be – even in beta – the underwhelming performance of the software it relies on may cause teething problems in the long run. If you happen to be coming over from a more established simulator, most likely powered by either an isiMotor or Papyrus engine, it will become immediately apparent that Assetto Corsa kind of shits the bed online.

The online interface is not aesthetically pleasing, and it’s really clunky to navigate if you’re used to other racing simulators. The in-game heads up display doesn’t fare much better, as it’s a mess of random boxes of all shapes and sizes, with an art style that would be more at home in a perpetual beta program such as BeamNG’s Drive. The fact that I would sometimes have to physically click around the screen while driving at speed was absolutely ridiculous, as the standings box wouldn’t even tab over to the current session automatically. The chat applet is woefully small, displaying only a single line of text, and if you aren’t keen on filling up your screen with floating displays at the start of the race, you’ll literally be clicking through the app list with your mouse in the middle of an event to spawn the correct information. I’m obviously aware that this is how Assetto Corsa handles their heads up display, but with how streamlined other sims are, and how enjoyable it was to race in a competitive environment within Assetto Corsa, you notice it a whole lot more. As we outlined in Black Flag, managing these display tabs over the course of a race is important, and you basically can’t do it in AC.

acs 2016-05-06 20-21-51-69Another thing you can’t do in Assetto Corsa’s online component – and it’s an issue that is magnified by the purpose of SimRacingSystem – is drive in a pack with other opponents for an extended period of time. If this is what Kunos Simulazioni believe is acceptable for online netcode in 2016, they can keep it. I did my share of following other drivers over the course of Friday afternoons trial runs with SRS, and it’s the exact opposite of playing a Papyrus or isiMotor product.

acs 2016-05-06 16-29-14-75Opponents oddly hover around the racing surface, and the direction their cars are facing doesn’t always correspond to their physical trajectory. I found that I genuinely couldn’t look at some of the cars I had been trailing, as they would be exiting corners with the nose almost pointed towards the wall. On some occasions, I would lift off the throttle, believing a competitor was about to spin out in front of me, only for their car to shudder and realize it was all just a result of lag. Other times, I thought the car in front of me was exhibiting a bad case of understeer due to how the vehicle was pointed at the apex, only for him to snap towards the proper line and magically gain speed. It was tough to tell what was going on in the race around you.

And it didn’t get any easier when you were forced to drive alongside people.

acs 2016-05-06 20-54-14-88The talent level of users in SimRacingSystem means you’ll be spending a lot of time dogfighting, and while I’m not saying you outright can’t do it in Assetto Corsa, you’re definitely made aware that you’re playing an inferior product. In isiMotor or Papyrus-powered simulators, you can literally beat the shit out of your opponents fenders for several laps at a time, provided both of you are still making a conscious effort to hold your line and go for the corner.

On no less than four separate occasions, I saw two cars enter a corner side-by-side, only for Assetto Corsa’s awful netcode to send both cars flying. In my first GT2 race, I tried a pretty banzai pass on a Corvette in the esses at Silverstone, and what would have been a highlight-reel overtake in Stock Car Extreme instead sent me flying through the infield due to slight contact with an opponents car. During my second GT2 race, I inherited the lead from a Corvette & Ferrari 458 when they made incidental contact in front of me and were promptly sent flying. Neither driver did anything to warrant an accident that big.

And when they finally caught up to my ass in the pathetically slow BMW M3 E92, as you can see in the picture above, minor contact on corner exit sent my ass flying. I have no hard feelings towards the driver of the C7; as he barely even nudged me, and it was as if my right rear quarter panel exploded. When you make contact with another car in Assetto Corsa’s online environment, you have no fucking idea what’s going to happen. This truly sucks when SRS funnels you into a room with competent drivers, as you’re walking on eggshells just to complete a lap and avoid contact with drivers you can’t easily pull away from.

acs 2016-05-05 20-17-05-63Then there’s the truly hilarious shit as seen in the above on-board shot, where soft compound tires were literally cooling down on me over the course of a ten lap sprint, and how North American prime time rooms on SRS are a desolate ghost town, but these are issues not really related to the SRS software itself.

acs 2016-05-06 20-55-46-30So how do I feel about SimRacingSystem so far? I have to give credit where credit is due: SimRacingPortugal built iRacing for Assetto Corsa, and its overall functionality exceeds what most people would expect from a service still listed in beta. The service works as advertised, which is a pretty stunning accomplishment for what was a fairly ambitious project. My biggest issues have not been with SimRacingSystem, but Assetto Corsa itself, as problems with the software are immediately brought to the forefront while driving in a pack of talented human opponents.

 

 

 

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41 thoughts on “SimRacingSystem: The Mini-Review

  1. Last time I checked rF2 and AMS are both supported by SRS. These are “complete” sims according to you but nobody is driving them.

    SRS has some issues with high ping from what I have seen. I was in the last GT2 race last night and my ping was in the 200s and I saw some people in the 400s which is insane but I was still able to race them. When the ping are more reasonable, contact can be made without the pin ball effect, and the cars follow the correct path.

    Oh and skin selection has always been an option in booking mode. This is how AC was designed by request of the community but nobody ever used it.

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  2. Indeed SRS has some problems with their servers, my ping was over 100 when it’s normally in the 30-60 range on servers that are located in Europe.

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  3. You know the only reason you are able to pick car liveries is because SRS is using booking mode to place signed up players on that specific race. The majority of AC servers use pickup mode where you just join, which means the server host pre-selected the liveries per car.
    So if someone uses booking mode, this gives the user the possibility to choose their livery, but booking mode is mostly for leagues and system as SRS, pickup mode was a later addition to the multiplayer, which made skin selection not possible in this current MP system.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. For James is a jolly good fellow…and so say all of us. Or me, at least. Glad you enjoyed SRS. I did too. And will continue to do so. Or so I fervently hope.

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  5. The physics of Assetto Corsa are not of simulation value, when you compare it to the way a racing driver and racing team and even vehicle manufacturers can use rFactor and rFactor 2’s physics to develop their cars and their drivers in a way that provides accurate data which they can rely on to use at races.
    To give you an example. All our race team clients and even our series clients, they don’t only use rFactor for track familiarization. They also use it to test setup data before they go to an event, they use it to test potential new part data, by developing new brakes or new engine performances and testing it in the game before they actually commit to building it in real life. rF1 and rF2 provide far higher accuracy for those things than any other simulation on the market. When it comes to Assetto Corsa, their game is marketed for a set audience which covers the Semi-Arcade side. When I drive rF1 or rF2, I’m always in a serious state of mind, I can’t just go out on the track and run a few laps. It is too simulation based and I treat it as such. I work on my setups, I push to find every tenth I can throughout a lap. I analyze too much. When I play Assetto Corsa, I can easily go in, pick a car and track, chill back and drive When using my Xbox360 controller and not give a care. The physics seem very much like Forza Motorsport 5, a console game physics HOWEVER, Kunos has done a great job for the simcade fans, but cut down to the wire, rFactor 2’s physics engine is by far the most simulation based physics engine using real life aero and physical data that no other title has come close to.

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  6. Sounds like clasic high ping connection problems, these warping and contact issues dont occur when playing on a low ping server. The net code has improved alot recently and collisions are better as a result, with a sub 50 ping you can bump without an issue and the cars are very stable. There are plenty of videos on youtube of close racing without these issues so this is just misinformation to suit your agenda.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AC is not nearly a popular enough game for a sub-50 ping to be a reasonable requirement for the game to not shit itself.

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      1. The ping is fine mostly up to about 150 and above. Even then it’s mostly fine. The key part is the stability of their connection. You have in AC a ping and quality reading. If you have a high ping and low quality… Bad things will happen.

        Imagine you have a ping of 200 and you are racing side by side… Effectively the location information is being passed every every 2 truths of a second.

        Imagine how far you can move in that time.

        Basically the lower the ping the better. It’s simple and honestly any complaints at 200+ need to be addressed at the persons network not the game. There isn’t much you can do at a game level to make that work too nicely without fudging everything

        Liked by 1 person

        1. 200ms is like an american playing on european servers and vice versa, lag noticable at that point, playable but very close to the limit of playability

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    1. iRacing has much more consistent and predictable results when racing people on literally the other side of the planet. When you’re racing people who’re ‘only’ across the Atlantic its pretty solid.

      200-300ish ping isn’t that bad if the net code is right.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. iRacing has them blink in and out of existence in the same conditions, is that really less of an immersion breaker than “direction their cars are facing doesn’t always correspond to their physical trajectory”

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Credit where credit is due, well done on giving it a fair go. I’d agree that it’s far from perfect but it shows a boatload of promise and I imagine that Kunos and other developers are keeping a close eye as to how it’ll develop.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “sim racers just weren’t flocking to it for whatever reason.”

    Oh come on James. Last time I checked R2P 3 days ago all the races were scheduled at retarded timezones for 3/4 of the world. Unless you live in NA, you have little chance to physically sit behind a computer. It’s either too early in the morning or too late at night for anyone in EU and OCE/ASIA. How the fuck do you expect people to flock to R2P where most of the races are held at times favorable only to NA players?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m GMT+1 and have no trouble finding a couple of races on weeknights most weeks. Would be even easier if I didn’t work funny hours. Can get in 3 – 5 races over a weekend if there’s something I’m interested in happening. Breddy gud imo

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  9. Many complaints about the Online-functionality in AC is due to higher pings oversees. Here in Europe i nearly never have any lag problems in AC and would say, it´s by far the most stable MP in sim racing. Even better than iRacing, where cars disappeared in front of me quite often.

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    1. If the games compete with each other, why can’t the add-ons do the same? They’re building a better mouse trap, not reinventing the wheel after all.

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  10. This article blatantly shows how out of touch the author is with Assetto.

    The latest update allows true gender bending with no adverse affects. The problem he highlights is totally ping related. Shame for the bad journalism.

    Also the interface…. Every single on of his problems is sorted through easy apps to add or a non issue.

    I know I shouldn’t keep getting disappointed but finally I expected some retraction of how flawed his opinion is.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Nice, I already have enough rep to be used as an insult around here.

        This really is a small fucking cess pool of a comment section.

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  11. Those pings! I really don’t know what else you would expect. The netcode was always fine with low pings, but it’s been outright great for months now. Your complaints about AC’s multiplayer have otherwise been reduced to “NA servers don’t exist because iRacing” and “the server browser doesn’t look nice”, which is funny given rFactor 2 looked like this for years:

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  12. Why do folks keep saying this was made for ac,when I joined ac wasn’t even on there,just rf2 gsce and 2 others I think.
    To limit this to ac is foolish,it isn’t a very good SIM really.
    Wish folks would dump them and go for auto or rf2.

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    1. No matter the “limitations” AC has in race setup, be it for creating/organizing an offline or online race, it does what is needed well enough. And that is putting people online and racing in multiplayer. You start the race, do the race, end the race. What do you need more? Anything more is just extras, but aren’t those extras that put people to race vs others.

      Yes, in other sims you have features for rolling starts, jump starts, or a more complex penalty system with enforced flags, but nothing takes away the fact that people are intelligent enough to enjoy their racing experience in AC as is, instead of moaning and complaining all the time and not racing. That’s the big problem, not using the sim much for what it is, always wanting something else or something more and forgetting to enjoy what is there.

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  13. LFS IS THE BEST SIM AND HAS ALL POSSIBLE SIMULATION VALUE!, THE TRUE BEST SIM RACING MULTIPLAYER SYSTEM IS LFS !

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  14. SRS servers seem to be losing too many packets. Ping itself is never really an issue even above 200. I was the Ferrari that made contact with the Vette in that race and honestly if that sort of impact doesn’t send me spinning in real life I don’t know what does.

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  15. While AC has it’s shortcommings let’s focus on these floating cars with erratic trjectories that might or might not have to do with your monumental lag, that is nicely shown in the top right corner of your screen. Surely you will retort how flawlessly ISI motor sims handle this American continent player to EU server shitfest but I doubt you would have very good results with a setup like this. Funnily enough, it’s almost half a year since I saw a sub 150 ping car do an erratic move in AC other than those caused by a braindead driver. Coincidentally it’s why nobody really uses R2P and it’s majority of US time and location servers that are in no way helpful for the rest of the world. Another funny thing is how easily you would have the rest of the world dismiss SRS in favor of R2P despite your I will not move to Europe for lower ping comment. It’s also funny how you find something to shit on in everything you write about except fucking R2P. Don’t want to call you a shill, but are you shilling, mate?
    Car contact works great in the past months. It used to be a shitstorm every time you would as much as breath on an opponent car but now I see people trading paint regularly without cars flying to the moon, keeping decent trajectory.
    Then there is the fully customiseable UI of AC which you can preconfigure any way you fucking like BEFORE a goddamn race. Or the 2-3 chat apps which will give you floating text on multiple lines like every other fucking sim you bash.
    Car selection is in AC since day one of MP release, if you use booking mode as SRS does.
    One very valid comment you have which K devs and their shills will fight you for until someone dies is the damn soft tires cooling. Tires are supposed to work nowadays but honestly they are not very convincing.

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  16. You got to consider that the server is countinuosly synchronising (by a certain rate presumably quite high) the position of the cars on track. Strange thing occurs with high pings, even if only 1 player in the grid will have a crazy high ping lets say over 400, the entire server will lack in synchronisation => due the asynchronous late responses of that host which will also warp on track specially in the vicinity of others . The solution would be not to tolerate too high pings in a session, just sayin

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