@wwf20112 Depth is not really the problem for racing games, sims in particular. Its just that they are not viewer friendly.
Are racing games on the verge of becoming the next big thing in eSports? Joe Barron speaks to the iRacing grand prix world champion Greger Huttu to find out.
Whenever eSports are mentioned, specific games come to mind: League of Legends, Starcraft 2 and fighting games like Street Fighter IV that are featured in tournaments such as EVO. Professional gamers have flocked to these titles for sponsorship deals and the opportunities to win big money, but there's another genre that's growing in stature, and it has a much greater connection to a real sport.
iRacing is a multiplayer-only PC racing simulation that re-creates motorsport in meticulous detail. The game uses real-world rules and regulations in all of the major racing categories, from Formula One to NASCAR and sportscar racing. The tracks are the most accurate ever created for a game, using advanced laser scanning techniques to perfectly match the virtual tarmac to the real asphalt. Real racing drivers throughout the world use iRacing to practice, and the service has over 40,000 competing members.
The racing is brutally realistic. Drivers are punished for dangerous driving, encouraging a level of fair and clean competition that's unheard of in other racing games. The pinnacle of the iRacing scene is the Grand Prix World Championship and its greatest champion is Greger Huttu, a mild-mannered speed freak from the tiny town of Vaasa in Finland. He has won this prestigious title twice and he is the fastest virtual racing driver on the planet.
The tracks are arguably the most accurate ever created for a game, using advanced laser scanning techniques to perfectly match the virtual tarmac to the real asphalt.
"I guess I've always been interested in cars and especially driving, not so much the mechanical side of them," says Greger. "When I was a kid I wasn't that much into motorsport, instead I used to play football and sports like that. In the early nineties I remember reading a review of the Formula One Grand Prix game by Geoff Crammond and it seemed really interesting. It was one of the most realistic racing games back then and I was pretty much hooked the first time I tried it. I really enjoyed the challenge of what was needed to drive the car well. Of course if you look back at it now, it wasn't realistic at all, but the challenge of hitting a good lap was still there."
Greger's continued interest in racing was inspired by another flying Finn who was climbing up the ranks of real motorsport at the time, on his way to two Formula One World Championships: legendary McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen.
"Playing F1GP got me more interested in real motorsports and it didn't hurt that Mika Häkkinen was just starting his career in F1, so I started to follow F1 very closely. One nice thing with realistic racing games is that you can learn about real racing, and that makes it more enjoyable to watch the races. It can be something simple like just knowing the tracks inside out or something more complex like car setup and handling."
Though Greger was enjoying his first experiences with simulation racing, he had yet to take on the challenge of racing against human opponents. Once he did, he showed a natural talent for going very, very fast.
"I'd say I started sim racing properly when Grand Prix Legends was released in 1998 and I was winning races pretty much from the beginning. There were guys at the time that I thought were better than me but I had just gotten my first wheel and pedals back then. As I got used to them I started winning more regularly. I never could have imagined what would happen in the future when I bought my copy of Grand Prix Legends on a rainy autumn evening. I was still doing my real driving school back then! I never thought I'd be as successful as I have been or that sim racing would be what it is now. I had never done any online racing or online gaming before either, so just doing that was magical itself. It's pretty funny to think about it all now."
Greger's first online races showed promise, but he was still entering into the unknown. Today, getting started in a title like iRacing can be incredibly intimidating for new players. The level of realism is far more intense than in console racing games, even when compared to Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo.
It's all the more difficult in tournaments like the Grand Prix World Championship, which puts all of the drivers in the type of same car, the Williams-Toyota FW31 from the 2009 Formula One season. Sharing the same machinery makes for incredibly close racing, which makes Greger's wins all the more impressive. In the 2012 season he had an intense battle with 2011 champion Hugo Luis. The two drivers dominated the season, winning all but two of the sixteen races between them. Luis managed six wins, but Greger took the title with eight victories. In fact, Greger was so consistent that by round eleven he was in a position to take the championship, even if he finished behind his rival at every one of the remaining five races.
The key to victory, Greger says, is understanding the physics system, and good old-fashioned practice. But, he admits, some decent racing gear helps too.
"Definitely get a steering wheel and pedals. You can get a decent set for $100 but if you want something better the new Fanatec Clubsport Wheel offers great force feedback and you can buy different wheels for it which resemble steering wheels found in real race cars."
"You can learn a lot by just watching replays of faster drivers and analysing what they're doing differently. I wouldn't worry about car setups at first. The main thing is to have an easy setup and slowly working on your driving. We're also hoping to have a driving school in the near future on our Team Redline website."
"The school is still in the planning phase but there will be different stages and options. A lesson could start with the basics of setting up the wheel and pedals and other settings and then move on to analysing a student's replay and comparing telemetry. Finally, a live online session could be used to teach some finer details and race-craft. Nothing is set in stone at the moment and I'm sure things will change even after we get this going as we learn how to do things most effectively."
@wwf20112 Depth is not really the problem for racing games, sims in particular. Its just that they are not viewer friendly.
Racing games won't become part of eSports for one big reason - they are boring as hell to watch. Real racing is quite often boring too but they have many attractive elements that are not present in sims. For example, I watch Formula 1 and I know its not just the racing I watch it for. There are household names like Ferrari and McLaren involved, the drivers there feel like heroes since they actually drive around at 300kph, and if you've never been to a race then you wouldn't know the sheer power that is the sound of an F1 engine. But all that is missing in a sim. I have no illusions about how hard iRacing must be but its fans must realize that the term "sim" is very relative. Compared to a Codemaster game iRacing is much more realistic but compared to the real things its nothing. Most F1 drivers say that there is not a simulator in the world that resembles the real thing, not even the simulators of the F1 teams. Similarly a Codemasters game can be considered a sim when compared to a game like NFS. At the end of the day if it can't capture public interest it can't succeed as eSports. And there lies the problem - why would anyone want to watch a sim while they look so similar to the real thing and yet lacks many of its elements.
@crazynotstupid While I think there is well deserved competition between players who compete in racing sims - I have to agree with you. It just won't take off.
Reading the comments has been amusing. Most people here are oblivious to the term simracing. It is not Forza or GT
F1 sim's are boring. Not alot of feel to it. Like driving a very fast hair dryer. But that's just me.
@LukeWesty You're my favourite. Can I adopt you?
That game in the video, iRacing, isn't just a F1 sim. It also has NASCAR cars and just normal racing cars.
hey what ever game it is, if you enjoy it and get really good at it, go for it. Isnt that how Lewis Hamilton brother started racing on a game?? Potential from games as they get more realistic and better could promote and aid anything in the future.
They say this is realistic game. Lets say someone is playing this game for 2-3 months or a year, i wonder if he would be able to drive real car although he never drove the car before? How much would this game help him in any way?
@Compact87 There is a guy, Wyatt Gooden who is an iRacer and he went on to race in the real world VW Jetta cup.
@Compact87 what do you mean 'real car'? A road car or an open wheel race car? Keep in mind these simulation games are never 100% accurate.
The game would help, a lot. Of course, a game can never simulate the feeling of driving a car, but this sim is so accurate with it's physics and handling of the cars that it will translate into the real world.
I'm talking from experience, i've been lucky enough to drive one of the cars in the game, it wasn't modified as much as in the game but it was still the same car, and i definitely felt the similarities and i knew beforehand how the car would handle.
@Compact87 Search for the Words fastest alien on youtube.
Judging from the comments, there's clearly a big divide between the average gamer that plays racing games, and the gamer that is into the simulation racing games. Lots of people calling them boring, saying the graphics suck, etc. I can understand that many people might find watching a racing sim boring, but bashing the games themselves is something else.
It's interesting though, I think it's a clear indication of the current state of simulation in gaming, and I mean anything from shooters to racing games. People generally don't want simulation, and that's fine, but to make fun of a game for trying to be highly realistic, that's just sad.
Maybe it's because the market has been fooled? Not fooled into liking unrealistic games, that might just be their own preference for the play style, but perhaps fooled into believing that most of the games we play are realistic? You see games advertised as realistic all the time, but they are actually so incredibly far from reality it's ridiculous. So, maybe most gamers have fallen for this and when you show them a realistic game, they say it's boring and stupid. Sure, maybe it's boring to you, some games are boring to me. Personally though, even if it's a game I don't like, I commend games that try to be realistic, in any genre.
@hystavito The community itself hasn't fully adopted the ability to respect other games for what they are and offer. It has held the stigma of "just a toy" for too long.
Nice promo article for the iRacing community.
But if you really want superior physics by today's standards with laser scanned tracks and such... Project CARS, rFactor 2, and the long awaited Live For Speed S3.
Isn't iRacing still based on the rFactor 1 engine amyways? 2 years ago I would have said the graphic situation wasn't all THAT important, but it matters now. It's becoming part of the new era of simulator experience.
iRacing's days are numbered. LFS will most likely stay the niche sim for those that want the best tyre realism (and it is pretty awesome as is in S2).... and competitive 'sports' will be split between the cross platform dominance of Project CARS and the multiple league mod-builds that come out of rFactor 2, if not from the base client of rFactor 2.
@eriktkire have you been drinking? iRacing has nothing to do with rFactor, which should be evident to anyone that tried both games. You also mention pCARS which is an alpha stage game, with maybe 2 cars that drive halfway decent and no scanned tracks. The graphics are excellent, but ask any simracer and they'll take accurate physics over graphic every time.
Then you mention rFactor 2. Fair enough, but it has still a long way to go to replace rFactor 1 and it's no threat to iRacing at the moment. Next you mention the long awaited LFS3 which as far as anyone knows is pure vaporware at the moment. But even version 2 is a far cry from any of the new crop of sims. It was a great game at some point, but the lack of progress and updates have pretty much turned it into a nice memory and little more. I do hope that V3 will come out at some point, but it doesn't look good.
Then you forget to mention Assetto Corse which just came out last week in a technology preview format. Everyone was really impressed and at this moment it promises to be the most accurate driving experience. It's just amazing and also will sport laser scanned tracks.
You also forgot The new Simbin Title, simraceway (no big loss there) Game Stock car, which is by far the best gMotor 2 (same as rFactor 1) based driving sim, Netkar pro (the folks that now make Assetto Corse) GTR2 and GTlegends and a few others.
Look, I am not an expert on regular video games, as I almost exclusively play racing games and I dislike games like Forza GT5, Need for Speed and so forth. I don't like to gain point shooting rockets at my opponents or hitting their cars to get awards. I like to drive simulators and the closer they are to real life, the better.
But I did try a few FPS and some of the games available on Steam when they are on sale. Few hold my attention so I am not really at a level where I can make informed comments about them. Clearly, you are in the same boat in regard to driving games. No shame in it. Just don;'t make it seem like you are an expert. There may be people reading that would love to try these games and misinformation won;t help them.
BTW, in regard to the article, iRacing tracks and cars cost no more than $15 and frequently less, plus there are scores of discounts and sales. I never pay more than $45 for my annual fees and around $8 to $10 for my content.
And Greger is crazy fast. Crazy fast. He once passed me while practicing and I tried to stay behind me, he was magic. He made that car drive like it was braking the laws of physics.
@conticreativeI love how personally you're taking this, and how insulated your sim-only opinion is that you are absolutely certain things will stay the way they are. And that anyone that doesn't see it exactly how you see it must surely be inexperienced in the world of sims.
I never alluded to having anything against iRacing, but whether you like it or not, and whether you agree with the potential accuracy of physics of games like rFactor 2 and pCARS or not... facts are facts. Competition is coming, both intend to be more accessible to the competitive community. I'm not saying they'll succeed as big as either of them hope to, but if they are mostly successful with most of their goals, they will create an option. My original statement stands, if iRacing doesn't evolve more... ie, moreso than has been generally accepted for the last few years in the sim community, it won't be the top dog anymore.
Amd as far as physics experience goes, I still stand by my preference for LFS as having the most realistic and responsive tyre physics (other parameters, maybe not, but tyres yes) of the lot.
Perhaps the real question that needs to be asked here is not how much experience someone has with sim racers... patch after patch after patch... but how much real world experience backs up that understanding of REAL accuracy of physics that a sports car feels like when being thrown around a track.
Keep in mind I'm not saying everyone else has to feel that way, it's just what I felt was closest to the real thing. Saying that iRacing is the absolute height of current sim racers, that are available to the public, from a tech point of view is absurd. They all have their strengths over the others, and they all have their weaknesses. That's an easy claim for people to make if they don't know what real world driving feels like.
And while the graphics issue hasn't been a serious part of the equation for awhile, things can and will change. I'm not talking about pointless pretty effects, there are visual elements that can and will contribute to the skill element of a sim. We're living in an era where that can be part of the game without hampering any physics computations. The hardware required is cheap enough, and people that play proper sims to have the money to throw at making a stupidly powerful rig regardless.
And what about the consideration of that VR headset, I can't remember what it's called. That thing that was on kickstarter and will support Doom3 and Hawken. You can't pretend that's not going to be a serious consideration for sim racers, might even be better and more comfortable setup than having 3 monitors and a TrackIR sensor attached to your head. You can't discount that becoming as important an option of equipment as having a proper clutch-wheel with TrackIR.
I'm just saying, changes... they're a comin'. Perhaps if you didn't feel the need to treat it as a personal attack, you might see the options that are on the horizon.
@eriktkire iRacing is built off of the base Papyrus used for Grand Prix Legends and the NASCAR Racing Series. The most recent game that used the iRacing engine was NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, but the engine has been heavily modified since then. rFactor's community is too divided for it to be serious competition against iRacing.
@eriktkire are you trying to intentionally embarass yourself ? if so you are doing a super job !
@moosetafa81go on, explain how I'm doing that? If you're pointing at my iRacing-rFactor 1 refernce you'll notice it was a question... I can't remember how many of those offshoot subscription racers were iRfactor 1 based and then did their own thing, or are still running their modified rFactor 1 code.
Everything else I said stands up son. Point out where I'm wrong instead of trying to be an elitest troll.
@mlcarter815 sanctioned events aye? That sounds really cool.
@eriktkire The deal isn't exclusive since the console games aren't made by the iRacing guys. However, as far as I know, iRacing is the only sanctioned NASCAR simulation right now. NASCAR.com even has articles covering the Pro races as the top championship series are officially NASCAR sanctioned events.
@eriktkire Iracing is THE sim to get if you want realism. Nothing beats it when it comes to that. It will cost you though: bying cars, montly subscription, you must have a racing wheel, and a powerfull computer.
@mlcarter815 true, but there could be enough arcade-to-hardcore converts to start a shift in which games are more 'pro' on the competitive scene than others. There's a good and bad side to that of course. Hopefully it still stays 'serious' the way it is now rather than Starcraft/CoD obsessive.
Is the iRacing license for NASCAR exclusive? I have seen some stock cars added to the Project CARS alpha stable, but nothing indicates they're endorsed by NASCAR at the moment (or will be).
@eriktkire rFactor doesn't have the license for NASCAR style cars and tracks. The issue with rFactor is that it relies on the community to create the content, and a lot of the content isn't very good. iRacing has direct access to data from the series.
Bringing in the former arcade racers isn't going to change iRacing or any of the other already established communities. The hardcore sim racers are always going to be the core of the community or else the developers would already be making arcade games. The arcade racers can swarm around any game, but it's where the hardcore guys are at that matters.
1. well there you go, there are so many that are rFactor based it's hard to remember.
2. popular doesn't mean it will alst forever.
3. Handling right now isn't up to scratch by their intention is to make it a proper sim, and a competitive one at that.
4. did you not read I mentioned LFS S3? I'm not holding my breathe of course, but they claim it'll be the next thing they release rather than another patch. That could make it a serious contender again.
5. well, it is in alpha, like Project CARS. As far as the propaganda goes for both, they're very promising.
6. never say never. When something comes out with better physics/handling/etc... if they don't catch up on that front, they will lose their throne. iRacing is big, but there are others keen to make a claim. They won't hold the monopoly on serious competitive sim racing forever. Project CARS is a perfect example of another racer taking a serious look at how to implement competitive events/track days/teams/etc.
7. Oval as in Nascar style? CARS and rFactor 2 will have that in the end.
I'm not rooting for them to die miserably, I'm just saying the potential is there for them to take a big hit... it's already turning up in the alphas of CARS and rF2. I do happen to want to see alternatives appear though. And there are plenty of other racing sims that have been great in their ownright, but because they didn't continue to develop quickly or thoroughly enough (LFS has been suffering from this), they've lost any ground they made in the genre when they first came out and gained a following.
The sim crowd is pretty cmall, but if its numbers expand to include former arcade racers, and they choose to swarm around a different title, no amount of backing will be able to change a shift in power.
So all said and done, I still don't see how I was embarrassing myself.
1. Its not based on rfactor 1's engine
2. Its by far the most popular pc racing sim about and also has considerably more financial backing than its main competitors (google John Henry)
3. Project cars is not a sim no matter how hard they try to convince you it is
4. LFS whilst good for its time is very dated, not many people play it anymore, certainly not online.
5. Rfactor 2 has potential but its currently a bit of a mess and lacking content, and again it will never come close to matching iracing for online features.
6. Iracing has the online sim racing market in its pocket, it doesn't have any competition in this area whatsoever.... its days are not numbered, its only getting more popular and until another sim delivers an organised online racing structure capable of competing then its going to be here for some time.
7. There is no other modern oval racing sim in existance and a huge number of iracings subscribers are there for the Oval side of things.
I tried Iracing a while back, it was really difficult and it took a lot of patience. There was only 1 race per every hour and more times than others the race was over at the first turn. Just like this article says racers penalized for driving stupid, but your also penalized if another stupid driver crashes into you. I asked one of their tech support why is this the case? all they said was "stick with it until your not longer driving with them". For every good race i got +.12 points and for every other race that an idiot ram into my car was -.24 it was a loosing battle.
@herminio01 A good driver know how to avoid trouble drivers. The key to iRacing is to just lay back in the rookie races until you can get your safety rating high enough. Then once you get into the D class late models the races get a lot better. The rookie class is there as a barrier to keep the kids out who don't take sim racing seriously.
Thinking about it now, if PS4 was to really look at Motorstorm and realise the concept is brilliant and invest into a new one for Ps4 that would be fantastic. I Understand that the last Motorstorm had hiccups on it's release and didn't go according to plan but don't give up on something which is so awesome... Apocolypse is still the most wicked racer out there.
@LukeWesty There is a VAST difference between the sort of game you are waffling about and race sims.
When yer bollocks drop you might understand a bit more.
@LukeWesty Motorstorm is a fun little game. But to be honest I'm really looking forward to Drive Club more than anything. Maybe its just cause I'm an enthusiast
I find racing Sims boring as a eSport. why not just watch real racing? I don't see the point of this.
iRacing destroys Forza and Gran Turismo for accuracy and simulation. As for F12010/11/12, that game's a bad joke.