Unwanted Setup Sharing Plays Prominent Role in Automobilista Time Trial Championship

It’s admittedly been a while since we’ve talked about Reiza Studios’ Automobilista here on PRC.net, as the Brazilian-backed evolution of rFactor has remained in stasis for several months; pushing out tiny fragments of objectively high quality downloadable content for the small group of users who still use the title as their sim of choice. Not quite a massive step for the overall sim racing landscape, but still a worthy addition to the library of any hardcore virtual racer, Automobilista was designed as a stop-gap title for Reiza Studios’ 2017 project – which we suspiciously haven’t heard anything about in recent memory – but that’s not the point of today’s article.

Over the past week, Reiza have dropped the green flag on a mammoth hotlap competition intended to bring the entire userbase together for the ultimate display in leaderboard dick-waving, putting up a fairly decent sim rig as a grand prize for accumulating points throughout twelve different weekly time trial challenges, which will obviously span a period of about three months total. The first combination Automobilista owners can try their hand at, the 2015 Stock Car Brazil Series at Velopark, reportedly boasts over five hundred unique entrants, indicating there’s a pretty solid core group of sim racers hanging around to see what Reiza Studios will churn out next.

However, upon actually examining the fine details of this competition, it seems Reiza Studios didn’t put all that much thought into what constitutes as a fair, competitive environment – or take special precautions prior to the start of the competition. Automated setup sharing has been built into Automobilista by default as a tool to ease newcomers into the world of sim racing, meaning that the setup of any individual who registers a lap has their configuration automatically uploaded into an online database, and those hitting the track for the very first time can merely highlight the name of a user, click Fetch Setup, and be given the keys to a car several seconds faster than their own. Now it’s really not a bad idea in theory, especially as the default setups for any car across a variety of games are sometimes just random numbers between the minimum and maximum value – thus creating a car that handles like dog shit – but the problem is that Reiza forgot to disable this functionality before the competition kicked off.

Because every car in sim racing is 100% equal by default, setups play a much larger role in determining the victor of any given competition than they do in real life auto racing. While major sims like Forza Motorsport and iRacing both have external setup marketplaces, neither piece of software allows you to explicitly click a drivers’ name and import their setup for this very reason; whereas real world car setups are just part of the equation to being successful out on the race track, a sim racer’s car setup is basically their whole goddamn playbook, and with sims not being totally accurate, sometimes their setup includes exploits that only they have found.

As a result, participants are discovering the hard way that all of their work and research can be stolen by their rivals at a moments notice, and with a decent prize on the line, several can be seen on the official Reiza forums demanding the developer to disable the function for the contest. Others are explicitly not turning a lap until the closing moments of the seventh day, giving other sim racers little chance to become acquainted with their setup and turn a quicker lap.

It’s pretty bizarre that a hardcore sim developer would not understand the importance of keeping car setups private during an intense, twelve-week online competition in which prizes are awarded. Part of the fun of being a sim racer participating in a serious league is sitting down in front of a PC, reading about how cars work, and applying that knowledge in your simulator of choice to gain a few positions on track, whether it be outsmarting your opponents on strategy or blowing by them with raw speed. Reiza have essentially nullified this entire process, with the vast majority of participants now sitting around waiting for “one of the fast guys” to register a time,” and in some cases beating the quicker entrants with their own setups – which the creator didn’t want shared in the first place.

It’s certainly not a good way to begin the championship, that’s for sure.

But with the setups of top leaderboard drivers now floating around in the wild for all to see, the physics flaws and general shortcomings of Automobilista have now been exposed as well. Though the Stock Car V8 was constructed by Dallara to be a low-cost, heavier, ultra-durable DTM knockoff, a sort of hybrid between a NASCAR Xfinity Series entry and a 2010 German Touring Car, the setups being used at the top of the leaderboard are nothing short of nonsensical from a realism standpoint. Sim racers are setting up these lumbering tanks created for wealthy Brazilian auto racers to be ultra twitchy death traps that loop themselves over the slightest of bumps and elevation changes, mashing the restart key over and over just to complete a clean lap. With no fuel consumption or tire wear enabled, sim racers are hitting the track with a single liter of fuel in the tank and working the two-foot magic save hax garbage to turn laps in a caricature of a Brazilian stock car – which sort of defeats the entire purpose of a hardcore simulator.

To make matters worse, Motorsport.com reports the 2016 Stock Car Brazil pole at Velopark set by Caca Bueno was a blistering 54.172, yet this would put him almost three seconds off pace the current #1 time in Automobilista of a 51.8. I understand that the locations aren’t laser-scanned, but Reiza’s tracks are fantastic works of art regardless, and a difference of three seconds in qualifying trim between the best driver in the history of the Stock Car Brazil series, versus the top twenty five sim racers – some of which have probably never driven the car before this week – is something that should be looked into.

Next week, the Reiza community challenge will take the early 2000’s Formula One car to Suzuka, which may see this problem magnified thanks to the increased complexity of setup building for open wheel race cars.

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54 thoughts on “Unwanted Setup Sharing Plays Prominent Role in Automobilista Time Trial Championship

  1. I’m not cool with how Slightly Mad Studios have increased their viral marketing presence from what we saw with the original Project CARS – which was already intrusive on it’s own.

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    1. This is right in line with SMS’s (Project Cars) hot lap competitions, cant be competitive unless running nonsensical setups with zero camber. As shitty and unprofessional as this is, at least this leveled the playing field.

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      1. There is no way Austin would allow Ian Bell to attempt to release a game with such glaring inaccuracies as this in Project Cars 2. I am positive there will be no such issues in the sequel and the game will be a 1:1 simulation of reality. If this is not the case at least we PRC readers know who to blame.

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          1. lan Bell is better looking than Niels Heusinkveld the fake physics guru.
            Niels Heusinkveld looks like oddbod jr from those old British carry on movies.

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  2. I wish someone would incorporate a feature like the way setups work in Motorsport Manager, where the numbers are randomized just enough that you can’t share them. Being able to setup a car should be as important in sims as it is in reality (also known as why Montoya can’t find a job).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Although Reiza should obviously disable setup sharing during the competition (or at least allow users to opt out), random midpackers aren’t suddenly going to top the time sheets with access to a fast setup.

    Moreover, aliens usually run incredibly loose setups that the masses can’t begin to drive.

    I imagine Reiza will close loophole shortly, but I doubt the leaderboard will look much different.

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  4. For some reasons the correct setup in AMS makes a huge difference. Most of the time it will be kind of extreme setup which doesn’t make much sense but you have to use it because it will make you faster.

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  5. The Bell-bitch should know, that everybody can deactivate the setup-sharing by disabling the steam cloud sharing and seems that enough people knowing that.

    And comparing lap times without knowing the restrictions the cars may have on this track is pretty useless.

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      1. Even if: Far more people are happy with this feature and have a reason to try TT out. So it´s okay and really missing in Raceroom. The Time-Trial Mode is not obligatory and it´s not about doing the best setups. And it´s the same in F1, which wasn´t bothering James at all.

        And i saw this Raceroom DTM-race with the real drivers and was surprised that these top-aliens were driving like 4 seconds behind their Leaderboard-pace in qualifying, even you can use less fuel than in the Leaderboard-runs.

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        1. The times in leaderboard challenge mode in R3E will always be faster than in race practice/qualification, though. R3E does not have dynamic track, but it tries to emulate a race weekend with gradually increasing track grip. So practice has the lowest grip, qualification has slightly better grip and the race itself has maximum grip. Meanwhile leaderboard challenge always has the perfect conditions.

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          1. For me it seems the race-grip is lower than the qualifying grip. Maybe an explanation for a some tenth, but 1:33 instead of 1:29?

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            1. Well I’m definitely not an alien, I’m actually quite slow, but my qualification laptimes can easily be several seconds slower than leaderboard laptimes. Even in private qualification, with exactly the same setup as the leaderboard laps (apart from the fuel, obviously).

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  6. It’s natural with real prizes on the line be it a few hundred grand or a rig that set-up and game exploits become more crucial. As far as I can tell all games have their own nuances which can be taken advantage of, perhaps event organizers should run a beta period first

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    1. What’s your point? That all of the sudden we should embrace exploits?

      If so, that goes entirely against fair competition and shouldn’t be allowed.

      As for Automobilista/Reiza, this event costs them credibility and shines a light on the short comings of the sim, something I’m admittedly amused by.

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      1. Not at all dude, I’m saying that running a test session or some such might see some of these issues resolved before prizes get awarded, I’m thinking of the Visa race too. As for exploits in games, well, while far from correct it certainly does exist

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      2. Maybe they should just run fixed setups until they get this ironed out.

        That would also eliminate the possibility of someone winning via an exploit, at the cost of eliminating a critical aspect of real racing.

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  7. I thought it was about driving skill. So I think this is a good thing so you can see who is the fastest driver. And not who is the best in finding an exploit in the software.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It would’ve been a fix for this but isn’t car set-up sort of part of the game, can’t have our cake and eat it, untill things improve I suppose

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  8. I don’t see the problem with the sharing setup thing. With such a prize being given IMO it makes sense to share, also helps to find setup exploits

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  9. Just a heads-up, there’s a bit of an exploit on iRacing at the moment, the McLaren’s ERS is being exploited by external applications controlling it to achieve greater performance than a human can. Additionally, launch control is now a thing, again requiring use of an external app. This is highly relevant to the world championship on the road side of course, with accusations flying around that many teams are using this exploit, and that Nim and Shannon are predictably burying their heads in the sand, though they did find time to delete a thread about it.

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      1. It’s there if you dig for it. http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/3546838.page is where the relevant items are. Sadly there was another thread that disappeared because it was in general discussion, iRacing figure nobody reads the world championship grand prix series forum.

        In other news, iRacing have predictably cocked up by putting the 410 wingless sprint in the 360 series and the 360 in the 410 before being told about it and swapping them back, and they’ve accidentally given everyone access to the moderator subforums for the wingless cars, because they ALWAYS cock up forum permissions. They’re an intelligent bunch.

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        1. iRacing won’t do shit until someone leaks the software, and even then the only thing they will do is ban anyone who mentions it.

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  10. Being able to fetch the tunes does not suddenly turn average drivers into aliens. The post I read from the, at the time, AMS time trial leader said he had turned over 300 laps. Practice, practice, practice.

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  11. I don’t mind people taking my setup as a base to improve themselves and maybe even the setup, and if they set a faster time it’s either because they put a hell lot of more time into it than I did (and my setups are not complicated). The one good thing about this attack on track and car combos is picking out differences to real life and setup “cheats.” 3s on such a short track is way too much, it shouldn’t be more than 1.5s off real life on abusive hotlap conditions.

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  12. This is why all those hotlap competitions with unlimited attempts suck. Being able to grind out an ultrafast lap in a barely controllable car has nothing to do with the racecraft. Put these champions with ridiculous setups on a start grid and see how many of them will have finished lap 1 without spinning out

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  13. there’s no point in running this competition as we all know Josh Martin will win.

    topping a mere 12 leaderboards will be a doddle for the **seventeen** time world record holder

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t see the problem with setup sharing. How many times we discussed that an alien setup is only suitable to that alien driving skills? So, now it’s a relevant thing?

    If someone finds an exploit by a weird setting, it’s better to share that exploit, both for the developer and for the competition.

    If someone is faster than me with my own made setup, it only means he’s a much better driver than me.

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    1. I’m pretty much of the same opinion but I dare say it’s different at the pointy end with people racing for genuine prizes or dick waving privileges

      Liked by 1 person

  15. It’s a racing SIM, not a racing engineering SIM. No professional driver has to setup their own fucking car, F1 drivers often dont even know what changes the team has made. Hell 1980 F1 champ Allen Jones to this day says he as no idea how to setup a car. So why do some racers still persue having to setup a car yourself when it is completely unrealistic?

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    1. Not only F1-drivers often don´t know shit about setups. Daniel Abt said they get a sheet with the track-layout after practice and write down how they got along in each corner regarding entry, apex and exit. Together with the telemetry-data, the team-drivers infos and timings the engineers optimize the setup.

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      1. In that case you could use any game as a Lewis Hamilton simulator, just run the car stock and complain to someone else if you loose. Those of us that do tinker, for whatever reason, shouldn’t we be allowed to compete too

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  16. While major sims like Forza Motorsport and iRacing both have external setup marketplaces, neither piece of software allows you to explicitly click a drivers’ name and import their setup for this very reason

    Forza Motorsport 6 allows you to download any publicly shared Setup File directly from the Leaderboards.

    Personally, I don’t think this is an issue. If everybody’s using the same setup, then the driver with the most skill wins, right?

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  17. Its astonishing that someone with so much knowledge and experience in sim racing and now real world racing would make such a glaring error in their analysis comparing real life times to sim racing times.

    The very reality of sim racing means the times will always be faster with a realistic representation of a car and track, the one off hot lap set ups absurd and dangerous. Real life they could probably try to do some things they’d never do because the car is too valuable. Real life qualifying and racing is all about calculated risks. They also don’t get 10 000 laps if they want and they don’t get to restart a lap and start over instantly. Qualifying in real life also is when the track is greener than race conditions and I’ve read that Velopark especially is kind of a shitty track that’s usually in poor condition so I wouldn’t be surprised if Reiza’s track conditions are highly optimistic.

    Real life lapping is about making due and doing the best you can with limited resources and opportunities. Sim racing is not real life.

    Really this applies to all simming and James should be ashamed at being so obviously illogical. Usually he’s the first guy who call bullshit on people who think this silly thing we do relates whatsoever to real life.

    Like

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