While the rest of the
editors of this site are gumming up their keyboards and controllers drooling over Dragon this and Dragon that, and RPG this and RPG that, I’ve been busily scouring the Interweb for the latest news in racing sims since last Spring. It’s hard to believe my steering wheel has been in a box somewhere since last April. This has set my sim racing career back a full decade in real racing time, and a slew of releases have come and gone with no attention whatsoever.
I haven’t been driving, but I’ve been training plenty hard using the positive re-enforcement mental imagery system. If you have a rapid broadband connection, there are streaming videos at http://www.formula1.com under the ‘video’ entry on the main menu that are pretty impressive.
The Race Edits are somewhat comical testosterone-and-music filled summaries of the year’s races. They suitably capture the soap opera-ish nature of the F1 season, but at the same time are far too short to convey any real information about the actual race. However, the Onboard videos record the pole setting qualifying lap from an on-board camera and at high resolution they can be rather immersing. If you can stomach it, watch Jenson Button’s qualifying lap from Monaco. With the proper network speed and monitor size, it can feel like you’re right in the cockpit. There’s a spot about 10 seconds after the qualifying lap flag (about 30 seconds past the start of the video) after climbing a steep hill there is a sickening long left turn as the track levels and starts to descend that is just taken so sweetly on the edge of gravity, friction, and getting air-borne. Similarly, Rubens Barrichello’s qualifying lap on a rain soaked track at Brazil in the second to last race of the year is also taken on the very edge of nerve.
I enjoy the qualifying videos because they show how close to the limits the drivers operate. The limits of adhesion, the limits of tolerance (count how many times Button’s tire comes within 6″ of a wall), and the limits of human capacity to react and manage the car.
Finally, we have an introduction to on-board telemetry. This screen-side version is very limited in extent, but, going forward, this will be an essential key to reaching 7:00. There is a freely available software package from MoTeC http://www.motec.com.au/ designed to accompany the data acquisition and telemetry hardware that they sell. In a stroke of genius, the GTR games can write the simulation information out into files that are compatible with the analysis software and learning the ways of car setup and performance analysis is easily as fun as the driving itself.
There are a lot of new driving games in the market this fall for all platforms http://kotaku.com/5271643/e3-2009-preview-these-are-the-big-racing-games-we-think
SimBin, the makers of GTR-Evolution, are doing their best to saturate the market with hair-splittingly-indistinguishable titles with four having been released in the last year while also carrying on their ‘advergaming’ adventures. A car maker, Volvo in this case, hires the game developers to provide a limited simulation of a few of their cars which is free to download. It’s the same game engine involved in SimBin’s commercial offerings, just limited to one make of car. This follows the path of BMW ‘s M3 challenge:
As I said, the game engine is the same as in the commercial version so anyone looking for a taste of this style of play can do so freely. But a warning that they can be plainly unpleasant just using the keyboard.
Finally, I can’t yet report success, but delicate negotiations are in progress even now regarding the location of the new simulator in our new house: