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Friday 25th January 2013

Ringside Seat: playing games

With the 'ring out of bounds our man in Germany keeps his hand in with a bit of virtual training



The off-season is a chance for me to disconnect from the world of motorsports and fast cars. I can chill with the family and forget about apexes, lines and braking points.

Or so my long-suffering wife would like to think...

Dale gets down to some essential training
Dale gets down to some essential training
The reality is that as my ability to rack up real-life Nurburgring laps begin to dwindle, my virtual laps simply increase. It's an addiction that started when I was just 11 years old (Test Drive on the Atari ST, anybody? ). For me, cars and computers have always gone together. Gran Turismo was the impetus to buy a PlayStation and Forza Motorsport the only reason why I have an Xbox gathering dust in the attic. And don't get me started on the PC games like Live For Speed, Grand Prix Legends and the like. If I added all the hours together I could have had a second job and a new life, I'm sure.

Of course, an admission like this isn't as nerdy or socially awkward as it used to be. Big computer game releases now make Hollywood blockbusters look like charity productions. Computer games are mainstream, and they help drive our whole petrolhead addiction.

Well, if you can't do it for real...
Well, if you can't do it for real...
Last summer I spent some time at Silverstone working on the Gran Turismo Academy. It's an incredible thing to see from the inside. The GT Academy sifts through regular folks, most of whom have never driven a car on a real track before, and finds those with the reactions, skills and talent to become a race driver.

So, just by playing a game, you can end up being a professional factory race driver. My mind still boggles, but some of the folks that have come out of that system (Jann "the man" Mardenborough and Lucas Ordonez) are absolute stone-cold professionals that live their life in the zone.

I will admit, as a frustrated racing driver, I was insanely jealous of the 12 guys I helped look after. Just by playing a computer game, they were getting a shot at the dream life.

So with that in mind, I vowed to put some hours in the PlayStation3 this winter. And I managed to lay my hands on the official Thrustmaster T500RS GT5 wheel to help me too.

Gaming takes on new level with a wheel
Gaming takes on new level with a wheel
This 10kg chunk of alloy and steel is a £425 PlayStation controller. Gulp. It's also a full-size 300mm steering wheel with force feedback that will make your shoulders ache. It might sound trite, but a steering wheel of this quality opens up a whole world of possibilities.

It transforms GT5 from an arcade game to a home racing simulator. Maybe the finest points of tyre slip and wheel torque aren't 100 per cent perfect, but the way you have to concentrate your mind, judge the line and eke the most from your car are more than convincing enough. And the lift-off oversteer, the biting point of the tyres, it's damn near 95 per cent realistic in most regards.

Still, when I couldn't perfectly correlate my real-life experience with the version GT5 was offering me, I went in search of the ultra-realistic and signed up for a three-month trial of iRacing on the PC. Wow. iRacing is serious. Really serious.

Things have come on since the Atari ST
Things have come on since the Atari ST
At first I was like a novice, I couldn't control the mildest slide or oversteer. A few weeks later I could fight for the podium, but I realised it was so tough and needed so much practice and setup time that it wasn't actually fun for me anymore. I wasn't looking for a new hobby, I just wanted to dip in for an hour once a week and race.

So now I'm back at GT5 with a vengeance. I don't think I'll ever qualify for the GT Academy, but the new wheel means I've been doing rather well fantasy racing my mates and having fun. Which is what a game is supposed to be. And it's why I'm still waiting patiently for this celebrity baking thing to finish and my wife to go for a soak in the tub...

Dale Lomas
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florian

Original Poster:

81 posts

159 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
A little bit off topic:

This device will totally change the gaming industry: Oculus VR, a low latency stereo headset with a wide field of view. Was successfully crowd funded on kickstarter.com with 2.5 m. USD. Development kits are set to ship in March 2013. Check out the video - looks amazing!

http://www.oculusvr.com/

Agoogy

7,100 posts

133 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Or sit in an attic with a projector and big screen in the dark with one of these:

www.gameracer.co.uk

SturdyHSV

3,995 posts

52 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Glad to hear GT5 is in use while Forza is gathering dust. I just don't think Forza handling is difficult enough to be realistic.

It would've been the only reason I bought an XBox, and after trying Forza3 out on a friends XBox, the fact I could magically drift perfectly with the controller with all the aids apparently off within about 20 minutes, just didn't quite ring true...

I've got a VisionRacer with a G25 for my set-up, although since 'she' moved in, it's not had as much use beyond the odd boy's night. Must sort that out. Good old Live For Speed too, that has some epic handling, felt much better than GT5, which given the whole team is 3 people, is pretty impressive.

VladD

5,270 posts

150 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Agoogy said:
Or sit in an attic with a projector and big screen in the dark with one of these:

www.gameracer.co.uk
I've got one of those, love it.

Loplop

1,599 posts

70 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
A lot of people laugh at me when I say the amount of experience I've had on racing games helps my actual driving. I'll never for one minute insinuate that even the best racing simulators give a 100% real life experience, because no matter how a simulator is you're still safe in the knowledge that if you bin it, you're not gonna die.

But racing games have taught me a lot, Forza Motorsport 2 taught me about apexes, Live For Speed in combination with my trusty 6 year old Logitech G25 taught me the joys of opposite lock and with the Historic Rally Cars mod for rFactor (A must by the way) sending me into a spin every time I got behind the virtual wheel of a Ford Escort I had to learn Heel & Toe through necessity.

When I actually started driving, the line between games and reality became far more bold and clear. Grip, the feeling of weight and inertia were chief among the differences I instantly noticed. But stuff I've 'learnt' in the virtual world can translate over into the real world, mostly my spatial awareness.

I'm itching to have a go in a proper track car at a proper track just to see how well it translates in a proper environment!
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mr2j

436 posts

43 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Is GT5 really better than forza? I've invested/wasted so much time on the forza franchise it's unreal. i just wish GT5 wasn't limited to the playstation.

Daveyraveygravey

378 posts

69 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
You have to try Power & Glory 3, best driving sim ever...

Oddball RS

1,415 posts

103 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Loplop said:
A lot of people laugh at me when I say the amount of experience I've had on racing games helps my actual driving. I'll never for one minute insinuate that even the best racing simulators give a 100% real life experience, because no matter how a simulator is you're still safe in the knowledge that if you bin it, you're not gonna die.

But racing games have taught me a lot, Forza Motorsport 2 taught me about apexes, Live For Speed in combination with my trusty 6 year old Logitech G25 taught me the joys of opposite lock and with the Historic Rally Cars mod for rFactor (A must by the way) sending me into a spin every time I got behind the virtual wheel of a Ford Escort I had to learn Heel & Toe through necessity.

When I actually started driving, the line between games and reality became far more bold and clear. Grip, the feeling of weight and inertia were chief among the differences I instantly noticed. But stuff I've 'learnt' in the virtual world can translate over into the real world, mostly my spatial awareness.

I'm itching to have a go in a proper track car at a proper track just to see how well it translates in a proper environment!
Hmmmm i think i would laugh as well to be honest, one is a game, the other is not.

Loplop

1,599 posts

70 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
mr2j said:
Is GT5 really better than forza? I've invested/wasted so much time on the forza franchise it's unreal. i just wish GT5 wasn't limited to the playstation.
I've played neither with a wheel but I've always felt Forza had more quality to it, it's only let down by the fact that all RWD cars in the game seem to be drift machines, regardless of how well they're setup and how sticky the tyres are. GT5 does RWD cars better but I think Forza has a far better portrayal of FWD stuff. I think the online side of things is far better on Forza as well.

Neither can compare to the PC simulators but it's understandable why a lot of people don't invest in a proper PC setup, it can get awfully expensive!

Oddball RS said:
Hmmmm i think i would laugh as well to be honest, one is a game, the other is not.
You seem to be missing my point. I'm not saying if I can put a lap time in on the game in a certain car on a certain track, I'll be able to do that in real life. I'm saying that I've got an understanding of taking corners 'properly' and what have you. I'm not saying I can do it 100% all of the time, but practice makes perfect.

Edited by Loplop on Friday 25th January 10:13

ode

129 posts

87 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Nice to read about someone else that didn't hit it off with iRacing.

I'm sticking with Simbin's series and the odd bit of GPL. They might not be as accurate, but they keep me interested for more than two minutes.

Jurgen

189 posts

40 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
It depends a lot which version of Forza you're talking about, Forza 4 is a lot better than 3 (big difference in handling!). I've played GT5 several times and the premium cars are usually very good, but the non premium ones are quite poor (and some awful!). Wrong gear ratios, wrong amount of gears, unrealistic sound effects, etc. Both the Fiat Coupe 20vt and the Honda S2000 (both cars I've owned for several years) feel and sound a lot better in Forza 4.

In general GT5 is probably a better simulator (and has nicer tracks), but I somehow have a lot more fun with Forza 4.

4a4

211 posts

20 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
What's your PSN id then? Haha.
Great write up. A lot of people are sceptical of the 'game' side of things, but trust me a decent wheel, with a full HD LED 40"+ with GT5 is pretty damn incredible.
The recreation of the tracks is impressive, but not as impressive as the unique dynamics, traits and idiosyncracies programmed for each car.
If you set an Elise up properly on there, and with decent force feedback, you're really not a million miles away from what a real one feels like. They're not perfect, but at the end of the day...it's a game, and it's a game that was started to be developed nearly a decade ago. So, hopefully in the next iteration, the graphics will be slightly better, and some of the bugs ironed out.
Hopefully, they'll remove things like beneficially reducing gear ratios in certain ways to get the maximum out of a car, and reverse-raking the cars which gains you traction and top end (although aerodynamically wouldn't work in real life).
A little bit more realism in the adjustment of compression/rebound/ARBs, andd the game would be pretty much untouchable.
Just my two penneth....

Jurgen

189 posts

40 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Loplop said:
You seem to be missing my point. I'm not saying if I can put a lap time in on the game in a certain car on a certain track, I'll be able to do that in real life. I'm saying that I've got an understanding of taking corners 'properly' and what have you. I'm not saying I can do it 100% all of the time, but practice makes perfect.

Edited by Loplop on Friday 25th January 10:13
I agree, sims do help with understanding driving lines, apexes and car behaviour. Especially Grand prix legends and live for speed have been helpful to me.

VladD

5,270 posts

150 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Oddball RS said:
Loplop said:
A lot of people laugh at me when I say the amount of experience I've had on racing games helps my actual driving. I'll never for one minute insinuate that even the best racing simulators give a 100% real life experience, because no matter how a simulator is you're still safe in the knowledge that if you bin it, you're not gonna die.

But racing games have taught me a lot, Forza Motorsport 2 taught me about apexes, Live For Speed in combination with my trusty 6 year old Logitech G25 taught me the joys of opposite lock and with the Historic Rally Cars mod for rFactor (A must by the way) sending me into a spin every time I got behind the virtual wheel of a Ford Escort I had to learn Heel & Toe through necessity.

When I actually started driving, the line between games and reality became far more bold and clear. Grip, the feeling of weight and inertia were chief among the differences I instantly noticed. But stuff I've 'learnt' in the virtual world can translate over into the real world, mostly my spatial awareness.

I'm itching to have a go in a proper track car at a proper track just to see how well it translates in a proper environment!
Hmmmm i think i would laugh as well to be honest, one is a game, the other is not.
Actually they are both games, but one is simulated.

SturdyHSV

3,995 posts

52 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
I did a rally experience with locked diff RWD Imprezas on a course that covered a variety of terrain, and although obviously the sensations of actually being thrown about and how you feel the car move are different, I found that the thought processes and the inputs I was putting in felt unbelievably familiar and comfortable.

Needless to say, I was very surprised, and had a fantastic time.

Should point out this is from a lifelong GT player, with a few years of Live For Speed a while ago

Edited by SturdyHSV on Friday 25th January 10:43

robinandcamera

154 posts

65 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
I've just bought this wheel and it has transformed the 'game'. So much more involving and realistic now.

Perfect for me as I live in central london and it takes 45mins for me to get my toy anywhere I can drive it fast, this gives me about 75% of the fun whenever I want it!


luke g28

145 posts

44 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
If there was no transfer between a game / simulator and real life then a lot of F1 teams are wasting an awful lot of money.

The amount of time I have spent on racing games is stupid (PC only im afraid) I find that many simulators are actually harder than real life because you cant feel what the weight of the car is doing. Clearly though there are transferable skills, reaction times, optimal lines, spatial awareness etc

Getting a proper wheel and pedals really transforms a racing game, better yet get an old bucket seat off of ebay and make a proper little sim wink


stephen300o

13,673 posts

113 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
A fun and cheap way to get some lap time in. Someone will be along to point out that it's in no way related to real racing, even though the pros say different, These are usually club racers with delusions of grandeur. smile

V8 GRF

6,726 posts

95 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
florian said:
A little bit off topic:

This device will totally change the gaming industry: Oculus VR, a low latency stereo headset with a wide field of view. Was successfully crowd funded on kickstarter.com with 2.5 m. USD. Development kits are set to ship in March 2013. Check out the video - looks amazing!

http://www.oculusvr.com/
I was involved with immersive Virtual Reality from the mid '90s to mid 2000s and own(ed) 4 units from Virtuality which had the best graphics and HMD design in that period at an affordable price (although still costly). I've tried most HMD's from cheap to super high-end and I've yet to see anything better less than £50K.

I'm fascinated by the Occulus but there's so much hype I'm concerned that it's a 'geek' driven desire to have an affordable HMD. I've worn several HMDs that use lenses to create the wide field of view and they really do induce nausea & eyestrain after a very short time, that allied with lag is really not something that you want to experience for too long. vomit

This device isn't fully 360 and it appears you have to use the controller to look around which doesn't work in my experience.

We had a couple of driving games on our systems and they're not really suited to immersive environments as you don't need to be fully immersed unlike a flying or space shot-em up. It's also odd not being able to see your hands in your peripheral vision when you're driving as well which is another negative.

Three screen in front of the payer is really the way to go for driving.

BILL PAYER

517 posts

64 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
So who has the best time around the Ring on GT5 and in what ? please discount the Red Bull X2010 and stick to the real cars.
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