By Team SimRacingWorld
13 July 2010
This has been re-posted from the official F1 2010 forums.
So a few of you asked for a write-up on the Multiplayer race Lee and I arranged this afternoon. I offer no excuse for the rushed piece you see below, it’s quite late here and I’ve got some stuff to do (isn’t that an excuse?). For some time we’d been saying we should try a full race distance MP event. Sure, a number of the QA and even a couple of the dev staff have run full distance races but Lee and I are competitive… we’d play it to win, not to test the thing
100% Race distance, Monza, Dynamic weather, Player car choice, Random grid, Full damage, 2010 performance, Race only, fuel and tyre simulation on. Pit limiter and Pit Box control were player choice, but I went for everything manual in order to see if I could gain an advantage over Lee’s ‘auto’ setting for both. Custom game type, with Lee as the host.
We were running this on a couple of 360′s, both with official 360 wheel/pedals.
We agreed to pick a particular class (classes are hidden to players but it’s fair to say GP Mode, and 2010 MP performance is based on the teams capabilities thus far this season). I went for the Mercedes as Lee took the Renault. In reality this game mode allows the highest rank player to pick their preferred car. Lee filled the rest of the room with drivers from each of the remaining teams. Each of the drivers he set to Legend. This is the toughest AI level.
So, we both start in the garage which gives players an opportunity to load setups, change things there and then including race strategy and so on… We both signal to our Race Engineers that we’re ready to start the race. We’re ushered out of the garage…
Intro sequence showing the grid. Now I can see where I am in terms of position. I’m sitting at the back… fantastic. Lee however is only a couple of places ahead in tenth position. Maybe I can gain a solid start with just the right amount of revs and beat him to turn 1…
The lights go out and we’re away. Immediately I’m switching my engine up to FAST in order to use everything it’s got. I get a solid start and move towards Lee who sits out on the left. I drift to the right as Lee cuts across in search of a gap up the inside of the AI (yes, that old trick). Thing is, the AI are looking for gaps too and his path is blocked. My Button senses tell me to hang back, it’s a long race and the rush into turn 1 is manic. Despite having a full tank of fuel Lee’s managed to find a way past a couple of cars into turn 1 but finds himself on the outside for the immediate left… he’s pushed wide as a couple AI cars make contact… it’s all a blur but I manage to navigate around a spinner. Before I know it I’m changing up through the gears and sweeping through turn three. I’m up to sixth after that little incident! Unexpected result, but I’ll take that thanks.
Lee’s accessing the Pause Menu because he forgot to check settings in the Lobby, he’s got auto-gears enabled! You can change this in a race, as your car becomes ghosted under AI control which brings the car to a slow halt. He grabbed the latest build but it didn’t keep his driving preferences. He’s now flat last. Things are looking up for me. Looking at the OSD I can see Alguersuari has benefited from the spin too as he’s running just a few seconds behind me in seventh. I think Barrichello was ahead of me at this point, and I could see a couple of cars ahead. All I needed to do now was settle into a rhythm and get onto his tail…
The car felt quite heavy at this stage. My braking distances were noticeably longer than usual (Time Trial runs almost no fuel) and I was quite wary of tyre wear. I hadn’t run a race as long as this and starting with the Options I wasn’t quite sure how long they’d hold out. In fact, I hadn’t even checked the strategy given to me by my Race Engineer so I didn’t know when I’d first stop. I assumed the Options would last until lap thirteen at the very least.
A few laps in and I have seen enough from the split comparisons to understand Barrichello is out of my league. He’s pulling away from me all the time and I’m roughly two seconds down on his lap times… this is going to be tough. I was being easy on my car (the benefit of having a gap to the chasing car) and thinking long-term rather than thrashing it as if I were trying to set a qualifying time. But still… he’s in a Williams… I should be able to catch him, right? So I started to push a little harder and remembered I had the adjustable front-wing to take advantage of. I started running a low downforce setting for the straights and switched over to the higher downforce setting on the approach to turn 4. After the Lesmo’s it was my one switch-over back to speed… When doing this, in TV-pod & cockpit views (the former is the one Lee and I use), you can see the driver take his hand off the wheel and adjust a wheel mounted controller. There is something about this that just looks cool
It certainly helped me with a heavy car over the next few laps. I couldn’t halt my slide back from Barrichello by any noteworthy amount. By this point Alguersuari, and the cars he was managing to keep behind him (cars caught in the earlier accident no doubt) were gaining on me. I could hear the sound of their cars as it reflected off the scenery into braking zones. This often makes it feel as though they are right on top of you, but a quick glance back tells the true story. Nevertheless, they were gaining….
Lap fourteen and I’m still going strong. But the tyre indicator appears. My front-left is starting to show some signs of wear. Lee is still running in last, but has started using the wing trick to eek out time around the lap. Still many laps to be run, so he’s not panicking. I can see his screen (advantage me) but both of us momentarily move our headphones aside to talk best lap times. He’s managed a 1min 29.100 to my 1min 29.500 but hey, it’s not a sprint
Now one of my rear tyres is starting to show signs of wear. This distracts me and I’ve not realised Alguersuari has been passed by Hamilton. No doubt he was caught in that turn 1 incident and has finally found a way past everyone. He’s on an absolute flyer, the McLaren perfectly suited to the low-aero requirements of Monza. Actually, he really is racing towards me… I cross the start/finish and my pit light comes on. Ah, this must be the my lap to pit…
we later realised my test of AI fuel performance switches off after a distance of 10k so the AI was effectively running low fuel to our full-tanks! My error… Nic, one of the AI coders, had been asking me for proper data over the past few days and it was something I hadn’t got around to giving him
…my pit-stop had come at the right time. I’m about to be passed by a man on a mission. I switched the engine back up to it’s FAST position and set about getting everything I could from this set of tyres before discarding them. When you run a higher engine setting you consume more fuel so it’s something to be wary of. It’s not just temperatures that you need to consider.
Hamilton is still behind me as I enter the Parabolica but I push a little too wide and my front left touches the outside… I spin! Nooooooooo! what a waste of a flying lap! I get the car pointing in the right direction as Alguersuari and gang come steaming past me. Luckily everyone avoids colliding with an embarrassed Mercedes driver. A couple of my tyres have some gravel on them but who cares, I’m changing for new in a moment. Entering the pit-access road I fumble for the limiter. I see it’s applied which is confirmed with the driver animation. Cruising along the pit-lane at what feels like a snails pace I can see my crew have come out of the garage and stand ready for my arrival. I slow for the box, not wanting to make any more mistakes. I slot in perfectly as my front-jack guy breathes a sigh of relief…
The team have me on my way in next to no time. It looks like I’m the only car to pit this lap. As I travel towards the pit-exit I get a blue flag warning and a message telling me to let the faster car pass… I’m not even out of the pits yet! As I rejoin the track this message flashes up rapidly one of the bugs we’ve now got to fix… and during the confusion I hold up some of the cars coming round to lap me. Lap ME? I do this again through turn one and two, and receive a drive-through penalty!
Things are not going well at this stage. Lee has passed me already and even though he has similar levels of tyre wear, having started on options, he’s driven conservatively enough to justify his decision to delay his stop. I don’t think the fact he’s played a big part in setting the grip and wear rates has anything to do with his decision… oh no (For those that don’t know, Lee is the handling designer).
So now I’m at the back and have to serve my drive-through within a couple of laps [censored]!
I struggle through the first corners with a new set of tyres. In the confusion I forgot to adjust my driving for not only a brand new set of tyres, but the Prime compound. I run wide into a couple of corners. Fortunately across the run-off area. I get a couple of warnings for corner cutting, but as I didn’t gain any time (I backed off the throttle) I’m not given a penalty.
DRAMA! Lee runs wide at the Parabolica. His controller has stopped responding. He's staring at an error message and shouting profusely. At this stage various dev team members have been passing, watching the race events unfolding. I've been shouting over to Tibi (designer - one of the things he works on is the rules and flags system) letting him know of my displeasure at getting a drive-through. Lee gets his controller working again and hauls himself out of the gravel. Luckily he escapes without any major damage sustained... he's lost a few bits to his front-wing but you can drive around this by altering the front-wing setting.
I take my drive-through penalty the next lap around, as a number of AI cars are pitting for their first stops. I can see the McLaren crew running out of the garage with a new set of tyres for Lewis. Looking back I can see he's approaching the pits. Barrichello's held in his box as I drift pass, then he's tearing out and right behind me. Leaving the pits we stream towards the first corner. I let him go as he's taking no prisoners and I've got myself into enough trouble for a while.
Lee's cursing at his controller going down again. This time he's staring at the Pause Menu as his car slows down on track...
I'm part way around the circuit when the rules and flags systems has a meltdown and tells me to take my drive-through within a lap... wait, didn't I just serve that? I don't think it's going to let me off lightly (another bug waiting to be fixed) so I decide to retire gracefully.
Lee's got control back again and says he's going to continue running the rest of the race as his screen announces T4RG4 has exited the session. He quickly gives up on this plan when his controller goes down yet again...
We later discovered Andy Gray (PR), who was in our office grabbing the build for our Silverstone weekend, was trying to sync a Fanatec wheel Lee had been using earlier in the day. Each time he fumbled around with the buttons, Lee's machine became confused and switched controller allegiance
Next week, when Lee and I return to Birmingham, we'll have another attempt. Hopefully with a few more bugs fixed
What we did discover, and we've thought this for a while, is that longer races are more than enjoyable. In fact, that could be the crucial differentiator between our game and many of the racers already out there. Tactics come into play!
Strange. I didn't think I'd written all that much... maybe I should serialise this ))