Archive for the ‘Allgemein’ Category

Freitag, Oktober 31st, 2008

just to raise my attention to gtr evolution, i’ve started to test different cars on the Nordschleife. in combination with performance tweaking, i’ve spent about 2 hours with different practise sessions and one race. the caterhams are really brutal biests and especially the helmet view is a nice idea. on one side, this view is a really nice feature if you have a head tracking system, on the other side, it’s not really recommended if you’re not owning such a system. to handle the strongest caterham within a field of 24 other cars is almost impossible if you can’t turn your head and even to have a look on the gauges is very limited.
after having a look into the manual i’ve got an understanding of the performance manager. so i’ve started to switch thru the different presets just to check the recommendation by the performance manager. i’m not sure if it is related to the change of the settings itself or whatsoever, but at the end, the performance manager recommended to set the visual settings to max. this was unusable the days before and a quick practise session was showing a kind of fluid game experience. to stay on the safe side, i’ve kept the settings to high and started a race with the spyker and a field of the related group. since i wasn’t really in the mood to put every nerv into the race, i decided to keep the opponent strength at 90% and skipped the qualify. the preset setup for the car and this track is not bad, pretty good balanced and enough performance to handle an ai strength up to 100% or even more. the next nice feature i was interested in was the pitstop profile. this is indeed something i was begging for since GTR and GTR2 and this would be definitely a ‚blown away‘ feature for endurance races. everything can be predefined, fuel, repairs, tires. it is possible to store multiple profiles, so no problems if the weather starts to change or if you are going to change your strategy. especially with this feature, the absence of endurance races is really not logical. anyway, back to the race. my main interest was to see how the ai will perform on this track and if there are major flaws regarding best line, breakpoints and so on. the overall performance is not bad, the ai is doing most of the time a good job. what’s still a problem is this radical approach to put the own car on the best line without paying too much attention if there is another car or not. after the flying start, the field headed for the first corner, scratching and pushing, just to leave a ton of small parts on the start-finish line. after a few bends, the field started to stay in rope of pearls. i was just following the pack until my tires and brakes started to develop some grip. getting more familiar with the car, i’ve started to push a little bit to stay in touch with the pack. and what a surprise, the ai behaves like in former Nordschleife conversions for GTR/GTR2. there are some strong areas, where it is really hard to follow and there are some areas where it is really easy to collect some seconds without any sweat. the ai is significant slower at Flugplatz, Adenauer Forst, Angstkurve, Kleiner Karussel and Schwalbenschwanz. the pack performs very well between Hatzenbach and Hocheichen and the section around Pflanzgarten. on the long Döttinger Höhe, the opponents tend to drive from the left to the right without any respect to other cars. the mentioned behavior is very predictable, so if there is no chance to pass a certain car due to different power or setups, just follow until you have reached the listed section, keep the pedal to the medal and pass. this is very disappointing because every car behaves like this, so it is not related to model, class or whatsoever. using this experience for a conclusion, i haven’t found any major differences to former GTR titles at all.

review – gtr reloaded part2

Mittwoch, Oktober 29th, 2008

as promised, i’ve spent some more time with the latest release of the GTR series. my main focus was getting an impression about the realism, the overall performance and to have a look at the different features of the game. i won’t say it was a disappointing evening but to say the game is great would be too biased as well.

steering wheel:
no racing sim without steering wheel. since i wasn’t able to upgrade my current wheel i’ve had do go for the old logitech momo force racing wheel. this one is known as a little bit itchy to set up but compared to the G25 i really like the fat grip feeling which is much closer to my Raid i’m using for my real life roadster. anyway, the new option to create different control profiles is a real addition to the game. even if you’re not going to change your control device very frequent, the option to keep all your settings when you start the game without the wheel attached is really comfortable and depending on car, event or track, you can create different mappings as well, e.g for some cars, there is no multi screen motec display, so no need to waste a button for this option, so this button can be used for headlights if you’re going to race at night.
the momo started to rattle as usual, so the option to reduce engine vibration without editing a config file is very nice and balances the lack of preset for different wheels like in former titles. the feedback is not really different to older GTR games but this is quite hard to judge since it’s not the same car. the overall feeling is as usual, the feedback is strong and detailed and can be adjusted to personal needs very easy. maybe it’s based on my experience or the physics is a little bit less demanding compared to former titles, i found driving on the limit or with a more rough attempt is easier but i won’t bet something on this feeling until i’ve got a car which i’m used to drive. unfortunately, Barcelona is not included anymore and the Nordschleife layout is different to other versions, so i’m not able to compare lap times right now.

i went for some tests of this so called performance manager function. due to the quite simple graphics of GTR i thought it should possible to run at high or max settings. the performance manager works only for the preset settings like low, med, high, max so there is no chance to leave the balancing to the game while prefering some certain settings. for this, you have to finetune your settings like in the older versions. my main focus is the nordschleife with a field of cars which should be as big as possible. setting the preset to high, starting a race of 25 cars (which seems to be the maximum?!?!) and jumping to the practise session was done in a few minutes. i’ve had the windows task manager in background and i’ve started the nvidia system monitor to track the temperatures of the two cpu cores and the graphics card. the major surprise happens as i’ve hit the pitlane. the game was stuttering with lots of sound glitches and drops. i thought this may disappear after spending some minutes on the track but that’s not the case. on my 3.6 ghz E8500 with nvidia 8800gt card these setup is completly undriveable. the frame rate is very low and the prefered frame rate of 55-65 is not achievable. i have no idea what the performance manager tries to do but the difference between just selecting a preset with or without performance manager is minor. the only visible effect was the quality of the rear view mirrors and the impact is that ugly that no one really wants to go for that. to figure out if this is related to graphics, i’ve started a test session without any ai drivers and the performance was kind of fluid if not close to perfect. jumping back to the task manager and the nvidia system monitor was showing that just one core is utilized and the graphics card is not really pushed to it’s max performance. to proof this, i’ve started a race on a different track, Brno, and as expected, the performance is quite similar to Nordschleife. The more cars you add the worse the performance. even if i understand that the complexity of simulation can’t be compared to titles like GRID but taking into account that the visual appearance is much better in most of the current titles it is really hard to understand that this game is showing such a huge weakness on a system like mine. it seems like i have to spend more time on this issue.

my first comment about the bumbness of the track must be corrected. the track is really very detailed in terms of road conditions and curbs. especially with a stiff setup, the car tends to bounce and swing a lot which is especially at high speed a very demanding thing. leaving alone the graphics, in terms of layout, tarmac, curbs and bumps, i would tend to say that’s the best Nordschleife for GTR so far. from a visual perspective, there are better versions (3rd party) but taking into account the life track feature, i thing this track is worth buying the game. the different sound environments depending on which section you’re driving are nice but they require some sound tweaking because the car is too loud to get any notice of audience or pit sounds.

the huge amount of cars are interesting if you are keen on driving different classes or cups. the mini challenge is nice but is lacking the Salzburgring which may was not on the list for 2007. the feeling of the front wheel driven cars is really different to the rwd cars and this is offering a broad spectrum of challenges. the biggest disadvance is the lack of 24 hour races or endurance races. this eliminates the races at night as well. from a pure gt racing perspective, GTR2 offers the best package so far, especially if you keep in mind the huge amount of 3rd party tracks, cups and cars. the graphics are not really different and in terms of performance, there is no difference neither. if you are keen on driving a wide range of different cars on an uptodate Nordschleife or if you are a hardcore mini fan, then this package is indeed interesting and worth the money. but please keep in mind, this review is heavily biased because i’m just looking for gt class endurance races or custom elise cups, so the mix of tracks and the lack of races longer than 4 hours and the limited field size is disappointing but no one can expect that Simbin is going to produce gt sims only. i just wish for one which will address most of the issues GTR2 is showing 😉

variation is evil

Dienstag, Juli 15th, 2008

i’ve spent last week preparing the new elise cup so that i can start a new season. i have limited the amount of fuel by resizing the tank so that the pack must pit, even for this short distance (22-25 laps) this will give the cup a more sprint series like feeling and i hope this will mix the field a little bit more, and well – it’s great entertainment for the visitors 😉

then i’ve started a practise session and even i’ve got a very comfortable feeling, i’m still more than 1.5 seconds behind the leader. i know, the ai in gtr2 is very strong in practise and qualify sessions but that the difference is that big is a little bit surprising on this 1:41 track. so i’ve started to analyze my lap and sector times to see if it is related to the setup or the line. by applying some of my 6S tools i’ve found that i’ve got some problems with consistency at 4 different positions of the track. the best consecutive sector times are about 1 second faster than my best lap and the theoretical best lap would be a 1:39xxx. so my goal was to get somewhere close to a low 1:40. by focusing myself to the 4 spotted areas (three corners and one straight). i’ve payed more attention to brake point and turn-in point and to the acceleration point. for the straight, i was looking if the variation comes from the last corner exit or from a wrong brake point with some idle phase until turn-in (funny, it is the start-finish line). since the turn before the straight was kind of constant i found that i’m exiting the turn at different positions and that the brake point varies for the first corner. by forcing myself to a better line for the last corner and by setting the brake point more towards trail-braking without using the throttle before the apex i’ve got kind of stable sector times. and viola, a few laps later, i was able to stay within the 1:40xxx range without many hazzles. by softening the front swaybar once more and decreasing the air inlet the car started to be very fast in bends as well as on the straights. so i went for the qualifying, keen on getting a start place somewhere between 10 and 20. fuel for 3 laps and heading to the track wasn’t a big deal. i forced the car thru the first lap to get the tires as hot as possible and by steering the car as sensitive as possible thru the last corner i flew on the start-finish line towards the first corner. brake point – perfect, turn-in – perfect, right-left-right and apex – a little bit disturbed by an other car but i tried to use the slipstream to get the car out of the bend as fast as possible. unfortunately, another car, same story, slipstream until corner 6 (the one after seat), outbraking, snip back onto the racing line just a meter in front of the opponent, hitting the apex synchron with the throttle and out for my weakest point, the last left-long right until it comes down to the last right corner. everything went fine, the outer tires were touching the curbs as best as possible and event the last right went close to perfect. shifting to 6th gear, flying to the finish line took endless seconds but then – new best lap – 1:39.534 – i was blown away. within 1 day an improvement by about 2 seconds, that’s what i call amazing. at the end of the quali session, i’ve got place 4 to start from and this was far more than expected. the race itself was really entertaining. since 22 of the 26 cars were able to stay within 1 second during the quali session, it was always tight, no chance for mistakes nor relaxing around the track. battle for a top 3 position forced me to drive a very aggressive line and so a visit to the gravel was unavoidable. unfortunately, the limited fuel wasn’t able to force the cars into the pits, since the race length is calculated by time, not by laps and the new elises are way faster than the original cup which decreases the lap count and so no need for pitstop. i have to change this for the next race. back to position 9, i’ve started to fight myself back to the top 3 but attacking the leader forced me again to leave the racing line but i wasn’t successfull and lost the 2nd place, to finish 3rd. whatsoever, i’m lucky with the 3rd place as well, it’s a cup and so more than one race.

back for some action

Mittwoch, Juni 25th, 2008

after finishing s.t.a.l.k.e.r. i found it is time for more racing action. i won’t cancel playing s.t.a.l.k.e.r. but i think i should spend some more time to gtr again. after learning that most of the tracks runs very fine and after testing an 18 elise custom championship i have decided to pay some attention to common race tracks instead of fiddeling with this kinda annoying nordschleife. i mean, i really appreciate the effort and the time people spend to projects like the nordschleife but i really can’t understand why this track is still suffering from the same issues like the first release for gtr2 (not the old gpl version). very variing performance, wierd shadows, reflection layer about half a meter above ground on some parts of the track, sun is shining thru the track or ground, the track appears as a white ‚rollercoaster‘ at the horizont, sudden ctd, ai drivers failing to find the box or play demolition derby at certain corners. beside the ‚beautiness‘ and the realism of the track, at the end, it is a race track and what i want to do is race. i don’t care if the number of seats at the tribune beside the ford corner is correct or if there is enough space for the vips above the pits. to turn shadow details down helps a lot but then i drive on a flat lighted shadow free track and this is indeed far away from what i expect from driving on the nordschleife. to say it like elvis – a little less detail a little more action please! i know, it is possible to contribute and at the end there is no real excuse. just to complain won’t change something but the direction this projects has taken, i can not see a real benefit of spending a tiny and very unreliable amount of time. anyway, i was a little bit unhappy with the 18 elise custom championship since i’m always struggle with the performance and the 5 gear fixed gearbox of the original elise. i still have my own version of the elise around and thought it would be nice to use the engine mapping and the gearbox of my version for the championship as well. unfortunately, i wasn’t able to get this ‚hack‘ running and by whatever reason, i don’t have the original archive available. a quick search on one of my prefered pages ’nogripracing‘ (big thanks to you guys) offered a 25 cars lotus exige pack which has catched my attention like a sundew a fly. even if this pack comes with 500 ps exiges, overall, this is what i’m looking for. different tires, nice paintings, 6 adjustable gears, great sound – perfect. a quick run on barcelona in rain was proofing my assumption, this power is far too much for this tiny car. but i found on nogripracing some 380 ps exiges/elises as well and it wasn’t really tricky to use the different engine for the 500 ps versions. by whatever reason, the sound of the engine was heavily shifted to the left but to edit this within the engine file isn’t really rocket science. without spending much time for the setup, i’ve started a quick race at barcelona and i’ve had some very serious action. the ai is performing quite perfect and the variation between the cars/drivers is very well designed. the tires are really sticky, i have tested the soft slicks, so for longer races it won’t be a problem to go for med slicks. the 380 ps are really handy and still enough to speed the car up to 250 km/h. the lap times on barcelona are reduced by 12-15 seconds, down to below 1:40, which provides enough adrenaline, especially when you surrounded by about 10 other exiges and the rear starts to get loose under braking 😉 i will now go and try to implement the 18 elises from the other pack, so that i will get a field of 40 cars and then i will create a custom championship with ’suitable‘ tracks for a 6-8 races season.

at day, there are no performance issues, just a few stutters, at night the performance is dropped a little due to the headlights but even under rain condition with headlights, the frame rate still tries to stay above 40-50, when just a few cars visible the frame rate climbs the 60 fps like under daylight condition. this may vary for certain tracks, especially spa is very demanding, but overall, this is much more ‚driveable‘ than the current nordschleife, even with higher graphic settings.

in general, i’m really happy to be back to gtr2, it is still a very good simulation and the more or less outdated graphics is something i can life with, while racing i don’t spend any attention to the surrounding except for brake points or other vehicles. the feeling, even with my old momo racing wheel, is nice and kind of close to real world driving, especially the scrubbing when pushing the car too hard or the feedback when the rear starts to loose grip. this is exactly what i found while driving with my roadster on real world race tracks. the sweeping and rattling is still strange but maybe i will go for the g25 sometimes. surprisly, i was able to go with the pack quite quick. i was expecting that it will take some time to get close to my old performance since i haven’t touched gtr2 for more than a year and especially on unknown tracks (i haven’t spent so much time on barcelona before) i really struggle to find the right pace. more to come so stay tuned.

GTR2, Vista and the green hell

Dienstag, Juni 17th, 2008

motivated by the great performance of my (in the mean time overclocked to 3.5 ghz) system, i went for a set-up session of GTR2.

the first goal was to get a fluid performance. since GTR2 is suffering from stuttering since it’s initial release, i was wondering if there is a chance to minimize this effect. after the test of some settings (graphics) on the nordschleife (latest conversion from the r-factor version) with max cars (68, i think) i found that there is too much variation in terms of frames per second, related to time of day, weather and behavior of the field. to tweak the settings is not really possible, even if i was using a demo to get the same ‚input‘ all the time. i’ve managed to change priority and affinity (click on ’show processes for all users‘ at task manager to change those settings) which shows some impact. the frame rate (just an example) went up from 44 to 48 average after changing priority from normal to very high. by setting priority to realtime, the stuttering was completly gone but the sound stopped to work on my sb xfi card. setting affinity to 1 or 2 cores makes no difference at all.

to get an impression of the impact of different in-game settings, i went for a normal track like Barcelona. here i was testing day-time, night-time and rain. a track like Barcelona isn’t suffering from high quality shadows that much like nordschleife, so this isn’t an issue here. but going into the night, especially in rain, changes the situation drastically. even with just about 30 cars on the track, the frame rate dropped to 20-30 (at 1280×768, 2x aa, 8x anisotropic). neither a reduction of aa nor anisotropic was impacting this, so the limit is the cpu. reducing head light quality rendered the feeling into driveable and because of the stupid flashing interior at headlight max quality, stepping back with the head light quality isn’t such a big visual impact. the lightening of the cars when followed by others is quite minor, a stable framerate not. rain is affecting the performance, i would say, regardless to the graphic settings. i haven’t reduced none of the parameter so that there was a major increase in frame rate. i assume that setting back the special effects may give some benefit but i’ve got a stable frame rate after a few corners.

motivated by this, i’ve started the custom elise cup, which starts at Barcelona and after some practice, i’ve had a very nice race with 18 elises, lot’s of passes and overheated tires 😉 – welcome back GTR2

stay tuned for some more tests soon


Dienstag, Juni 17th, 2008

very long time no update to this blog, i was fully allocated with very different things. the last summer was asking for some more real life action with my smart roadster. so we have visited 3 different race tracks and i have spent some time to optimize the suspension. the winter placed me into the snow, i have really enjoyed my new passion – snowboarding.

but finally, i’ve bought myself a complete new system for gaming. it took some weeks to come to the decision if i go for a new console or a new pc rig. beside the nintendo wii, which has stepped in recently, i went for an Alienware pc. see the review section for a description of the system. this pc brought back GTR2 into the spot and so i have started to spend some time with this sim. the game runs quite well on the 3.5 ghz (oc) system but still suffers from stuttering. but it is more enjoyable than playing the game on my vaio tho. more news to come.

another race

Dienstag, März 6th, 2007

i decided to cancel my former 24 h race due the strange weather and respectively wrong setup. based on my previous tests last week i went back to the elise and started a new 24 h race. weather – changing, opponents – 49 at 100%, aggression real, nordschleife 24 h 100%, fuel consumption and tire wear 100%, technical failure – 120 % (to compensate the weak damage model a little bit). fortunately, the weather is fine, 28 degree air, 37 degree track. forecast is dry. so i modified the setup to medium slicks all around, a little bit less air pressure and 100 litre stops by default. out to the track and skipping the formation lap, green flag and go. the start was more fluid than the other races due the modified driver files (i have added more skills for passing) so the first corners are not a complete mess. battling with the bmw and a porsche i was able to keep my place. i was not sure about the tire wear on a 8 lap stint so i was not pushing as hard as possible on this hot track. but it wasn’t hard to follow the pack and to stay in front of the g3 cars. my first stop after 8 laps just for fuel was done in 41 seconds, tire wear front was 7 and rear 4, really good on medium slicks, especially, the tire temps are quite ok, between 80-110 on the rears and 75-95 on the front tires. 8 laps later, time for stop 2, tire wear on fronts were 15 and the car became a little bit slippery on the front so i decided to swap front tires to new mediums. with some repair tasks and the refuel the stop was 64 seconds. i decided that 2 and a half hour is enough for this evening, more to come tomorrow.

24 hours / stuttering solved?

Mittwoch, Februar 14th, 2007

to continue my tests with tire wear, fuel consumption and strategy i decided to start a 24 hour race and to drive this ‘by instalments’ with the help of the save race function. 49 opponents with 100% strength, fuel consumption 100%, tire wear 100%, defects 120%, weather changing, no full course yellow (that’s quite a pain on nordschleife, one lap will take more than 20 minutes). and it seems that gtr had the oppinion, let’s make it more funny. so the race started at rain, forecast was wet. so i decided to start on soft rain tires. the ai was quite carefull so i pushed the car a little and after two laps i was on position 30. my rear tires heated up to 110 degrees and about 125 degree on the straights. i decided to grab a pack of med slicks since the track was quite dry (just some thin fog behind the cars) it was a little bit tricky to get this tires to 80 degrees but it was not as slippy as expected. the ai pitted, not the whole field tho, but they were still very slow. i feld very comfortable with the track and my tires and started to pass lots of the opponents. funny thing, there was a huge accident at the backside of the start-finish line. a burning car, lots of debris on the track and i would say at least 10 cars are involved. after lap 6 i got 10th position and the ai started to become very itchy to pass. very slow in curves but powerfull on the straights. the elise is definitely not a car which is able to accelerate out of curves for passings so i tried to outbrake the others. one of the gt cars was really anoying. after several paint tradings i found myself on the green close to wppermann and with a light contact to the wall my front right tire lost air. pitstop 2. my second set of tires and this just for 6 laps! i decided to call it an evening and to continue the race on another day.
stuttering 2:
after increasing my memory (not mine but of my computer) to 2 gb and changing the priority to high (config.ini of gtr), closing all unnecessary background tasks i got quite a smooth game with very low stuttering and i would say no warping. sometimes the frame rate dropped below 20 (close to karussel) and i had 4 or 5 breaks for less than a second (maybe due the crashs of the ai, gtr had to reload the car models). i am quite happy with this, 50 cars on the track and it is really playable on my 2 ghz centrino notebook with ati x700, 2 gb ram, dual hard drive and a resolution of 1280×768 with 2x antialiasing, attached to my 30″ lcd screen 😉

driving school

Freitag, November 3rd, 2006

one of the new options in gtr2 is the driving school. the main idea is great and i really like the opportunity to drive a certain section of a track over and over again without going around the whole track. this is really great if you want to work on some of your weak points. the challenge with the instructor is nice and encouraging and often not too easy. the lessons are increasing in difficulty and you have the chance to earn a gold gearwheel if you beat the instructor by a given amount of time. some lessons are a little bit hard if you don’t know the track, so not every lesson is really usefull for newbies, especially the passing lessons, for these you have to know donington a little bit more than just from a picture. what i really miss is a true teaching mode. you have the option to observe, to train and to attempt the challange. but if you don’t have any idea how to handle the situation you will have no chance to manage the challenge. there is no hint about brake intensity, steering speed, throttle application. for the first challenges of each lesson you will get a line on the road with different colors for braking, acceleration and for visualizing the best line. what i miss is some kind of graphics for the observation mode of the brake pressure, throttle level and steering angle, to demonstrate when should you do what and how. the recommentation of speed and gear is just what the instructor is doing and even as a semi-skilled driver, it is hard to manage to read the recommentation and to match the own speed to this. for the track lessons i miss a start lesson where the instructor shows you the whole track at low speed, like it is common for real world track trainings. overall, it is a very good idea and the lessons are great but i am not sure if this is really helpfull for newbies. right direction just didn’t gone long enough 😉

stuck in the middle of nowhere

Dienstag, Oktober 31st, 2006

while transforming my old blog to this new one i found that i never finished one of my 24 hour races. i feel quite pity about this but going back to gtr doesn’t sound like a good idea. unfortunately, it is impossible to start serious races with gtr2 at the moment. the behavior of the opponents is more than strange. last week i did a 1 hour race at nordschleife and 27 cars did not finish. beside this, the ai is changing it’s style lap by lap. they drive fast, then they drive slow, they drive without mistakes and then they crash without any unusual happenings and so on. it seems that they drive to the pits but then they never pit, just parking there. i found a lot of similar discussions at several gtr boards and i decided to wait for the first patch which will hopefully fix this problem. in the meantime, i will spend some more time on tire tests, applying six sigma to my racing and working on my roadster cup.