Category Archives: gaming

Aston Martin GT3 @COTA, a 4th place with F1s on the event

I think that many people in the computer-based racing community have stopped playing alone and quit the single-player experience that most games, fortunately, still provide. I am not one of those people. With time, I have shifted my preferences from online/multiplayer to offline/single-player.

I was an early adopter of iRacing, joining the service short after it started. I paid my subscription for 2+ years. Then, I returned to self-set single-player challenges, now mostly racing alone in rFactor2, which does have a strong online/multiplayer mode.

I feel that the online multiplayer races are extremely bipolar: one goes either through a very enjoyable experience, or through a tremendously frustrating and irritating event. Odds are that, on any given day, you will meet a too aggressive player, or someone who uses unpleasant language, or something else that you just did NOT need. Most services provide tools and actively fight these situations, but it is only human nature.

I can get an enough dosage of human nature in all the other moments of the day, so when I find time to play, I usually opt for single-player events against A.I. adversaries.

Today I had a tremendous good time with rFactor2, racing on “Circuit of Americas” (the U.S.A. circuit that is part of the official Formula 1 calendar). I decided to deviate from the standard formula and went to challenge Formula 1 cars with an Aston Martin GT3.

I chose to race against other GT3 cars, some GT2 and GT1 machines too, but – and this was the most fun thing I did – I also configured the race session to allow drivers from the 1988 and 1996 F1 championships.

I got to race Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost, in the same event! In the first practice session, I achieved P4, with a time of 02:10:xxx (two minutes, 10 seconds, something more), and was the fastest of the non-F1 cars! Quite reasonable, for someone who has been neglecting his race craft for too long.

Schumacher was the fastest, with a 01:52:7xx, but Prost, with an 8-years older car, was only 2 seconds away. Pedro Lamy also did amazingly well, close to Prost, although driving a Minardi. I very much doubt the Minardi could get that close, and that a 1988 F1 would only be 2 seconds slower than a 1996 machine, but such is irrelevant. What is relevant is that every lap was big fun. It was hilarious to be pedal-to-the-metal with one of the most modern, powerful, and expensive GT3 cars in the world, only to feel stuck in first gear, against 30+ years-old F1 monsters.

I video-recorded my 02:10:xxx lap. The video’s first half is from an inside-car camera; then from a “TV” camera. Unfortunately, it was a rather clean lap, with no F1s on view, still with other cars causing some trouble.

Enjoy.



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Audi R8 LMS GT3 around Circuit d'Azur

Studio397 is now selling “Circuit d’Azur” for rFactor 2. That is the “Monaco / Monte Carlo” circuit, 2019 layout.
https://store.steampowered.com/itemstore/365960/detail/45/

I decided to invest 30 minutes in it, driving the “Audi R8 LMS GT3”, one of the best GT3 cars ever built, against other GT3 machines, namely the McLaren 720S GT3, the Aston Martin Vintage GT3, and others.
I managed P1 in practice, with a time of 01:35:5xx. It was fun, enough to sweat.

I recorded the hot lap, first from an outside camera, then from the inside.

Wolfenstein II – 10 Minutes of Total Rustiness

A recent Steam promotion pushed me to buy “Wolfenstein II”, “The New Colossus”, although I never completed the original game. In fact – and unfortunately -, I am as rusty as I have never been before, in playing First Person Shooters (FPSs). That was spectacularly obvious in my first gaming minutes.
At a certain stage, I had to reject my Logitech “MX Ergo” trackball, supposedly the best trackball money can buy, featuring two handling positions, because the positions automatically switch depending on hand pressure. This device is not FPS game ready at all: in the heat of the action, when the player wants to suddenly move or target something that requires fast response, the “MX Ergo” will collapse to its lower profile setting, or rise to the opposite angle, surprising in the worst possible way.
After having switched to a Trust “Sferia” trackball, my gaming improved, but my FPS skills are definitely at an all-time low.

Still, it was a fun ~30 minutes gaming episode and it is probable that I shall return to the game. Amaze yourself with my rustiness in this 10 minutes video.

Defeat: a 15 minutes "Project Cars 2" race

For my 15 minutes Saturday physical “challenge”, I decided to revisit the superb looking “Project Cars 2”, probably the second best racing simulator available to PC gamers, only lacking in the realism of its car handling experience, relatively to the reference “rFactor 2”.

Months ago, I had started my “career” in LMP3 Pan Asia Championship, winning all the races until the Fuji GP.

Today I returned to this game, but the time away charged its price, and a drying but slippery track at the Fuji circuit was enough for me to crash out of the race, with just 2 minutes remaining (2 laps to go), when leading.

I started on pole and did quite well on the rain, during qualifying. That made me overconfident for race day on a drying track; I did not change the car setup, other than switching to “soft” tires.

Even before race start, a very small contact with “Max Throttle”, awarded both of us a 5 seconds penalty. Showing yet again unjustified confidence, I did not worry. As the race progressed, I started feeling Max’s pressure, which came as a surprise. While trying to gain a 5 seconds advantage, I could not avoid wide trajectories. The tires were theoretically in good-to-perfect condition, but the handling was loose, with the rear sliding and finally breaking out of my control, with a couple of minutes left. I quit, but enjoyed it.

RF2 : Racing Alain Prost's 1986 McLaren around the Nogaro circuit, France

One RF2 lap around the Nogaro circuit, France, driving Alain Prost’s 1986 McLaren. Two mistakes of mine and one accident of others easily cost 2 seconds, which means this 01:20:5xx lap could have been a 01:18:xxx lap. Notice that the 2019 Indycar machines lap this circuit in the 01:16:xxx. In other words: 30+ years ago, these turbo powered F1 cars were nearly at the level of performance of modern Indycars, at least believing RF2.

The video includes a “TV” view and, after that, the in-car camera.

rFactor 2 is awesome

If there is one gaming genre that can be unfair to those really pushing ahead, it is the “racing” genre. Regular gamers are used to absurdly unrealistic software, where vehicles respond like they’ve done since the ZX Spectrum days, meaning like indestructible spaceships that make good use of the surrounding structures to stay on course. The average gamer can’t be bothered to learn about precision driving and delicate handling, using proper input devices. Surprisingly, professional game critics usually adhere to the same shallow standards: the “F1” series from CodeMasters is a very good example of how ridiculously deceiving ratings and scores can be. The “F1” games score high in most specialized publications and have been celebrated in BAFTA events (!), but they are less interactive than playing with a toy train in rails.

CodeMasters’ “F1” looks wonderful, but plays horribly, tricking the user to think that he/she is in control, when in fact, the player’s freedom is severely limited; it is literally like driving on rails with narrow margins for anything creative. It is disgusting because for casual racers and other outsiders it appears a worthy experience. It is not a worthy experience, and it is unfair that the true racing simulators must flourish in niches, under the shadow of such miserable titles.

From my experience, one of the “true” simulators available today is “rFactor 2” (RF2).  RF2 is fun, demanding and reasonably realistic. If you ever drove a competition car, you’ll probably notice the extra care: for example, tires start cold, then get warmer; tires will get flat spots if you lock them under braking; and the car will get damaged, and respond accordingly, even if in very subtle ways, if & when you hit obstacles.

RF2 tires’ physics is unique. I am not writing about different temperatures for each tire – I am writing about different temperatures across different regions of every tire! It feels “organic”, it feels true! The vehicles are responsive and the pedals truly analogue. It is literally a physical exercise to put consistent fast laps against 100% strong computer opponents: in fact, you’ll probably sweat and burn a significant amount of calories. For real!

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