Car Count Woes for Sim Racing System

SRS.jpg

I’ve written a few pieces on Sim Racing System in the past, but unfortunately my initial predictions regarding the long-term popularity of the third party application intended to save Assetto Corsa’s online scene have proven to be quite accurate. After the initial excitement, which lasted only around a week or so, grid sizes have more or less dwindled to that of irrelevancy. Once again, sim racers are perfectly happy with praising a game, modification, application, or miscellaneous third party contraption across the various sim racing message boards, but when it comes time to actually play the damn thing, it’s suddenly a ghost town.

Designed by Sim Racing Portugal as a way to give a sense of purpose to online racing across a wide variety of racing simulators – but specifically capitalizing on Assetto Corsa fans eager to race in a competitive environment – the built-in compatibility with the popular title by Kunos Simulazioni was a simple but extremely well executed knock-off of the iRacing online service, one which has dominated the sim racing community and completely changed how people play racing simulators. When I gave the software a proper shakedown this spring, I was happy to report that everything worked as intended, and my only grievances with the overall experience boiled down to issues with Assetto Corsa itself – not the Sim Racing System software. Very rarely do I give two thumbs up to anything in the world of sim racing, yet the team at SRS managed to impress me with what they had created, and I truly enjoyed the “shakedown” races I participated in – even running across notable YouTube personalities in my travels such as GamerMuscleVideos. Everything worked, as advertised, right out of the box. This is a rarity within this genre.

But going back to my initial piece on Sim Racing System, I noted that there wasn’t a whole lot to distinguish the software from something like Race2Play, another online racing service intended to do exactly the same thing – create structured, organized online events within simulators which do not currently feature an iRacing-like ranking system. My biggest worry was that two near-identical services offering the exact same experience for the exact same simulators would unintentionally saturate an already small online racing community. Race2Play was struggling to see more than ten individuals sign up for most events, so why would this suddenly change overnight with the release of what’s essentially the same kind of software – albeit with a much more streamlined interface physically built into the game of choice itself?

Well, that ended up being the exact problem Sim Racing System is currently facing. Our boy Maple was actually asking about this software a few days ago because of his newfound love for Assetto Corsa’s Japanese Pack, and while discussing Sim Racing System, I would periodically check the website near the top of every hour to see the size of each field he could look forward to compete against.

Now as you can see in the picture at the top of the page, obviously this software has simply not retained its popularity past the initial two-week grace period. While one Mazda MX-5 Cup session in the European evening slot managed to reel in 18 individuals, those living in the Western Hemisphere got to race with only two drivers. Jumping into much faster cars, sixteen individuals signed up for an European slot GT3 event, yet only three turned up for an evening race. The reality is that Sim Racing System indeed works as it should and offers scheduled events at numerous periods throughout the day, but the size of the user base is too small for the software to really take off. It’s basically like, there’s one race each day that people show up to, and, well… that’s it. Add in a couple external factors, such as the fact that Western Hemisphere residents obviously can’t skip work just to play in pickup Assetto Corsa races, or not every driver possessing acceptable levels of talent to turn these races into intense battles, and you’re looking at an impressive piece of technology that is already on its last legs. That’s not good.

acs 2016-05-13 17-04-29-08.jpg

The solution to this problem isn’t exactly a simple one. There is no possible way to spam every last sim racing forum, begging people to sign up for Sim Racing System and get in on the action, because sim racers just won’t do it. We have guys in our own comments section outright admitting they purchase racing simulators just to drive laps by themselves in practice mode, so getting guys who are on the fence about all of this to register on a random website and download a piece of software they’re not completely sure about isn’t going to happen.

What needs to be done, is Kunos Simulazioni themselves need to take a chance on these guys – as they’ve done when outsourcing DLC cars to talented community modders – and implement the Sim Racing System software into the default game so everybody has it, and everybody can try it. Get rid of the admittedly shitty third party applet name, call the tab Assetto World instead so you can make this huge PR announcement and compare it to Forza Leagues, stick with four main series to start things off – MX-5 Cup, M235i Cup, Formula Abarth, and GT3 – and away you go. Because as it stands, the guys at Sim Racing System have built something that is objectively quite good, and can really breathe new life into Assetto Corsa as the title matures, but none of this will matter if the average sim racer goes through the process of installing SRS, only to jump into a session after work and discover there’s three other cars on the grid.

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46 thoughts on “Car Count Woes for Sim Racing System

  1. Timely article. I had actually forgotten about this. I’m gonna check it out.

    Also, I agree kunos should adopt it, much like they have MR for the official servers.

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  2. Turn 10 bought kunos for this exact purpose, to compete with GT sports online aspect. Thankfully they putt the muzzle on Stephanie.

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  3. I literally signed up to this the other day hoping for something. Even put you down as the referrer. 😉

    Only to discover that on the one day I had some hours to kill racing the system seemed to be down and couldn’t do anything.

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  4. Kunos should definitely consider integrating SRS into AC, and as suggested, cut the number of series substantially.

    BTW, I’m surprised PRC hasn’t written about the new “pro” sim racing team founded by the guy who started GT Academy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With an integration into AC they could even run many more series. There are just four parallel series and not everybody likes a sluggish MX5 or want to handle an F1 car from early 60´s.

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    2. Because that fatass of Darren Cox hasn’t invented anything new. Professional simracing teams have been around since 1998. Private leagues with real world sponsors have been around since 2007. Simdrivers who went professional (Even if just for a small period of time) have been around since 2012.

      He hasn’t even announced what exactly he’s going to do or where. Because you can’t simply create a team and then enter random private leagues with drivers that do it just for hobby. He needs sponsors (A lot), he needs other full professional teams, he needs a simulator. He needs a lot of stuff and I believe this will be a huge fiasco.

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  5. Kunos won’t consider this because they don’t have time to implement important updates instead of shit that should’ve been in the game a long time ago. Stefano puts all his time in improving AI and fixing minor bugs for months.

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    1. Where’s your game? I want to review it.

      Oh, but you seem so knowledgeable and experienced to know what is important or not in a game, and where the development should be prioritized. Or should studios hire JesusOfSims because he would make a hell of a manager, game planner, game designer, tasks distributor, coder.

      Which are those important updates they should implement instead of shit that should have been in the game a long time ago? Which are the minor bugs he’s fixing for months?

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            1. I’m just asking jesusofsims for the things he said, because he was too vague. Read the last paragraph in my first reply to him.

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              1. “where’s your game” hurr durr, retard back off back to Kunos’ forums. If I would make a game I wouldn’t leave basic shit out of a real sim. Even games like GTA 3 from fucking 2001 have rain and day/night cycle, it even has more realistic damage.

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  6. If SMS ever becomes the main online interface for AC, then I would rather play AC online than iRenting, and I would save a whole lot of money by doing so.

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    1. As I said, all they gotta do is break it down like this:

      MX5 Cup for the Plebs.
      M235i for Advanced Plebs.
      Formula Abarth for Open Wheel Fans.
      GT3 as the “premiere” series.

      The first three series, run 10 min. sprint races races every 30 minutes. For GT3, run 30 min races at the top of every hour.

      Oh, AC doesn’t have timed races? Well, now they have a reason to figure it out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. James, it will take time
        In the last live stream, Stefano and Aris basically have confirmed, that practically all the coding, or at least the very biggest part of it is done by Stefano allone, and Aris is the sole person to do all the physics of all the cars. Then they have Simone who is, again almost exlusively, on the tracks, and a number of additional 3D Artists who are working on the new cars that are added to the game time and again.

        So on the positive side, the game feels very coherent, nobody is getting into the others way in terms of what needs to be done to the game and how it is done. Stefano also stated that one reason why the do not hire additional programmers or a second physics guy is because it would inevitably lead to fights in the team over priorities, and Stefano and Aris both are very proud of their work achieved, and they do not want anyone really to tamper with their work.
        So on the downside, the developement goes very slow, and contrary to what is our believe, the offline playerbase who is only driving is practice mode and doing racees with the AI, as it seems by far outnumbers the online player base.
        Therefor the game development is focussing on the core elements rather then added multiplayer functionality. that being said, the new 1.7 update should contain things like false starts e.g.

        However, the situation is bad at the moment. We finally have a sim with an insanly good driving model, and
        it was an eye opener really for me. Honestly, I just can not drive my preferred sim of many years anymore now, simply because it drives soo damn bad im comparison to AC, but I can not enjoy AC either because there is no online system.
        In the sim I used before, all was arranged so nicely, it was soo easy to have good multiplayer races with competitive participants, results tables, championships, The races were monitored, you had stewarts. It was a lot more expensive, so the people joining in usually had some interest to behave themselfes.
        In AC it basically is back to the roots of online racing, pick up races.
        Right now, if I start up the in game browser on any given evening, there are up to 50 servers with good ping, and between 15 to 25 players. if you start the game on a friday or saturday evening, its even more then that.
        So there is immense popularity online, and the player base is still growing. Hard to imagine what will happen if they realease the first Porsche DLC…
        Now if you have choosen your car and server, what awaits you are maybe 5 fast drivers, 5 decent ones, and the rest does not get together a lap…
        You can have a good race still, but after the race, there is nothing, not even a display of the fastest lap you did, or the fasted lap of the race.

        And then there is the SRS, and you’ve expressed my feelings about it very well.
        I do not want to download any software to fiddle with and register on some website. I want to start up AC in the evening after work and have everything slipstreamed into the interface of the game.

        At the end of the day I (quite literally) revert back to offline races with the AI, because multiplayer is not there yet, but the core of the game is so unbelievably good, that the sensation of driving itself outweighs the sub par online experience.

        However I keep my hope up, and my fingers crossed!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m sure you already know this but if you disconnect from the server after you finish the race but before the next session begins, you will get a fastest lap display in the launcher (including laps invalidated by the server..) and chance to save replay.

          Your points still stand of course, aside from general convenience, sometimes the next session begins almost immediately and you end up not knowing your time or getting the replay.

          “Now if you have choosen your car and server, what awaits you are maybe 5 fast drivers, 5 decent ones, and the rest does not get together a lap…”

          This right here. Last night on the official kunos server running spa, (quali 5th 1lap iirc) I got dumped on the first corner by dive-bombing back-markers that use other cars for deflection instead of brakes. Fought back into first and dropped to second with 2 laps to go at Blanchimont.. lapped traffic going at least 100 km/h too slowly decides to act like he’s probably going to stay inside (certainly going slow enough to place the car out of the way safely or at least maintain his line, wouldn’t even lose pace) and then just casually lets the car drive into the outer line of the exit, exactly where I HAVE to be in ~ 1/4 of a second and with limited options for avoidance due to my speed.

          blUE flag goddammit, really get tired of this shit. Street stocks really burnt me out on people driving like blind dickheads, I thought I would become less annoyed by it over time.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. So basically you are saying that a former GTR2 modder is in charger of doing all these “special physics” and that AC is basically a poor man’s gran turismo to hot lap street cars?…

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      2. The Ferrari SF-15 from last year’s F1 championship is set to join the car list for Assetto Corsa some time this year.

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        1. 14th July the “Red Pack” launches. Also has Maserati 250F 6C, Lamborghini Aventador SV, Red Bull Ring (laserscanned). I’d assume the Ferrari FXXK will be part of the pack too.

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      3. The most boring class ever as premiere… that would be terrible. GT3/GTE is where “advanced plebs” should go really. If you can´t drive a GT3 you´re hopeless.

        LMP1 and whatever they have to mirror modern F1 should be the top.

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        1. Yes! GT3 is a plague in simracing, and it’s no surprise the league scene in Assetto Corsa centres around it exclusively because it’s all those simcade noobs can handle.

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            1. the F3 mod is a baby car for plebs too. There are no serious open wheel leagues with quality drivers in Assetto Corsa. They are all on iRacing or rF2.

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      4. Agreed.

        As you said, the main issue is playerbase; the majority of people that would use this system are likely already on iRacing, so don’t see a need to move over at this point.
        Not eneough people on it at the moment, with more on the pub lobbies.

        An official tie up with Kunos cuold give them user numbers/budget they need, and they could market it as a cheap/free version of iRacing with ‘better physics'(?)

        It’s what the genre NEEDS at this point to break free from the strangle hold iRacing has.
        Sadly I think egos may get in the way somewhat.

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  7. Not saying you’re wrong but summer and vacation time is probably cutting down the numbers just as much as apathy for something that’s no longer the new thing. Gamermuscles put out a few more SRS videos so the thing doesn’t seem completely dead.

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  8. There are several apps Kunos should implement, helicorsa and SRS are nobrainers. Sadly they have other priorities like another tire model, minor bug fixes etc, rather than improve or add important featuers. So frustrating seeing all the potential AC has wasted in Italian fashion.

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    1. First, AC is a sim and then a game (considering all the history with AC since the beginning). What you consider trivial, tire model, physics, bugs, issues, are what makes things go forward in supporting what is added afterwards. Which are the cars, tracks, and other game elements. For 1.7 they’ve announced improvements to Multiplayer interface/system (mainly related to the racing aspect) and AI for single player.

      Taking on apps like helicorsa or SRS is more complicated that first meets the eye. The code is not made by Kunos, there’s a logic to it that is more understandable by who made these. Then they will need to maintain these until the game is supported. So maintaining everything already in the game + extra projects done by the community can be too much for their current team.

      Now talking more about SRS. This is a system created for many of the sims. So Kunos can’t really take ownership of it. Then even if KS adds SRS in the game, it means it now becomes responsibility of KS to manage, maintain, and improve. This doesn’t come cheap in terms of resources when they already have many things in the game to worry about.
      So, these things have to be planned from the start in the game, not add these medium/big projects from someone else in the middle, in your game.
      Hopefully people have some more analysis thought instead of saying the easiest thing it comes to their mind. Adding this app and that app, this and that 3rd party project, is never as simple as just adding it… One thing is when you create and maintain it as modding, other is when you make something for 300k+ players.

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  9. The evening GMT-races are okay in grid size, but should be many more and SRS in the other titles are ghost towns. First reason is, that the biggest news sites seems to ignore SRS well and one news months ago isn´t enough either. Viral marketing is the key and articles like that are better than ignoring SRS.

    I personally begged Stefano to implement SRS (by licensing it) and there´s a strong argument for that: SRS could convice even five figures of iRacers to switch to AC in the long run. And with a bigger community they could charge a fee for the service as well, but first things first.

    Here in Germany SRS is running better than iRacing (with a ping <20). No vanishing cars and no contacts without visual contact. And this bullshit point system in iRacing is ridiculous. Aboard a race and you are fucked, but staying minutes in the pits for repair in a 20 minute race doesn´t make any sense at all. Very few contacts and you are loosing points even if you climb podium. How has this any resemblance to real racing?

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    1. I personally like having 4 incidents before green because of idiots bouncing off your back bumper. God damn, if you didn’t expect it to happen and hit other cars, might get DQed before green at no real fault of your own lol. pace lap is the tensest part

      That’s the problem with pace laps. People just dick around too much. I like having the option and really like it when you get a good clean rolling or warm tyre start, but usually it just gives more time for fools to cause problems or waste time.

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  10. Stephanie cam out and said they have no interest in improving online play in an interview he did with VR awhile back, so like every other feature that is lacking, this is not happening.

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    1. Multiplayer is not their first priority, but compare to the MP in pCars, Raceroom and AMS the netcode is stable as a rock and SRS is ready to be a part, even better integrated in the game than iRacing. They don´t need to code one line for that and already pay modders to build content for AC. Zandvoort was a mod before and cars like the Corvette came from URD. SRS is the missing piece in AC and Kunos a smart company.

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    2. He’s improving online play for the next update, and many of the updates done since 2014 had things to do with multiplayer or server. So at least you could write your posts in a non-ignorant way, with some critical thinking, without holding on something he said many years ago when AC was in the very beginning.

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        1. So it was interview with racedepartment not vr (virtualr?)?

          Then I also read that and the only things they said were not going to happen, or very unlikely, were driver swaps, multiplayer like iracing.

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  11. Assetto Corsa’s keyboard experience is still unsatisfactory, because its speed sensitive steering is not adjustable so the steering will be jerky and not smooth. It also lacks a steering assist that takes the track contour into account, so in fast large bends and on straights you end up loosing steering response, which makes it too difficult to consistently correct the car or drive alongside a opponent.

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    1. Yes the Kunos idiots have no clue how to make a true simulator that handles the way God intended cars to be handled, using a keyboard.

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  12. Nice article, James. I would love to see one of the current sims (AMS, AC, rF2, or even RaceRoom would all be fine by me) take the plunge on trying to create an iRacing-like system integrated into the sim itself.

    iRacing has done a great job with it and I assume have raked in the dough in the process, but they are on an competitive island as far as driving quality go. People like myself are willing to keep putting $$$ in iRacing’s pockets despite the ‘meh’ physics for access to the online community. I would jump to another sim in a heartbeat if someone else could replicated the iRacing online experience.

    Like

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