another race

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?

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 😉

review: need for speed carbon collectors edition

November 20th, 2006

beside gtr and gtr2 i am always attracted by other so called racing games as well. so i have played several ‘need for speed’ games (starting with the very first demo of nfs), especially the underground series (i really like those ‘fast’n’furious’ cars), i spent a lot of my time on forza motorsport and i am really a fan of the burnout series. since i have to life in two flats due my job i was missing my x-box over the week and i had no chance to play my racing games. the release of ‘need for speed carbon’ was a chance to change this. to empty my pockets completely i went for the collectors edition which comes with some additional cars, tracks, whatsoever and a dvd with the trailer, short clips about tracks and cars, some material about the production of the game and some audio/visual mixes. i haven’t checked the whole dvd since i was more keen on testing the game. the installation was kind of flawless but very slow. i am not sure if it is really necessary to copy 5 gb on the harddisc because the game-dvd is always required to start the game and even from the harddisc most of the videos are very shaky. load time is ok, would be a little bit slower from dvd maybe but copying of 5gb takes some time as well. nethertheless, the installation is necessary just once, so no more complaining about it (there are just 3 or 4 different pics during installation, played in a loop….)
the game:
the overall impression is stylish, even if i don’t know for what are all the x’s stand. the introduction is quite nice and the first look and feel is like nfsu2. welcome back i thought. after some minutes of video i came to the main screen and this screen unleashed my repressed memories about nsf most wanted. the navigation is simply horrible. a fluid handling of the game is neither with a controller nor with mouse and keyboard possible. i can imagine that this is a little bit easier on a console with a standard controller but not on a pc with a steering wheel. to have a mouse/trackball AND a keyboard in range is absolutely required and this mixture of wheel/mouse/keyboard is comparable with a flight simulator and not with an arcade racing game. the good thing, maybe based on the 5 gb on my harddisc, is the load time, this is at an acceptable level and does not interrupt the game play.
this is always a difficult part. playing games on the old xbox changes the sense for graphics a lot. the limitation of memory makes xbox games always a little bit wahsy but i tend to like this look more than the super sharp 3d look of most pc games. so my expectation was not really disappointed and tuning some options within the game gave me an acceptable level of details and sharpness even the textures are still not razerblade sharp. the level of details in geometry is quite nice and really enough for a fast pace racing game. the mood is great and some parts of the city reminds me of nfsu2 or older nfs parts. there are better games in term of graphics available but this wasn’t my requirement. the cars are well designed and with lot’s of details. the effects on the car are sometimes a little bit strange and the reflection of lights are more like jumping white dots which can be a little bit irritating (reflection update rate at high). what i don’t understand, and with this i mean this is more than inacceptable, is the lack of wide-sreen support. what the bloody hell is going on here? didn’t recognize ea that wide-screens are some kind of common? every damn old console games (from ea as well) comes with wide-screen support. do they want to force me to buy console stuff instead of pc-games? i really like console gaming and beside gtr and gtr2, nfsc is the only racing game i bought for pc the last 5 years (i am still playing q3 and q4 on pc but that’s another story) i think buying pc games from ea is indeed a worst idea. fortunately, there is a workaround for this. the widescreen patcher for nfsu2 works for nfsc as well. but to get this you have to crack the game (remove cd protection) and then you can patch your own resolution into the game. from a buyers point of view, this is really a hit in the face.
the soundtrack i’ve heard so far is not bad and better than nfsu2. the style for the import racers is more like pumping trance/dance music, very electronic and fits well to the game and the cars. if you go for a muscle or exotic car, the soundtrack is different. unfortunately, the whole soundtrack is much shorter than for nsfu or nfsu2. the first thing i really miss, like the wide-screen support, is 5.1 sound. coming from the xbox were this is some kind of standard this is quite inacceptable for me as well. just a cheap surround effect kills a lot of the feeling of being inside a car. the engine sound is kind of thin and not as impressive as you expect it from a tuned car with custom exhaust system. the overall effects are not bad at all, the response of the engine, shifts, environment, opponents/crew and the tires are quite well sampled and far away from synthesized sounds. after playing the game for some hours, the tire squeak is a little bit anyoing, every steering action is followed by the squeak which is a little bit too much.
i’m just jumped in and so i wasn’t able to check all the cars and possibilities of modifications. but what i’ve seen so far doesn’t look bad. the cars are detailed, the mods are wide spreaded and the autosculp feature is a nice way to modify (or to spoil) the cars. quite funny to customize customized parts as usuall, tons of vynils, logos, colors, wings, rims, exhausts and so on. the sounds are different for the cars and the handling as well. it is also nice to have the categories of muscles, imports and exotic (european) models, this provides enough material for every mood and everybody. what i dislike is the limitation to tuning parts by progress steps. even with the start capital of 15000 $ it is not possible to spend all the money at once at the car because most of the parts are looked. so you have to drive around with a ‘close to stock’ car for the first races and this is a little bit stupid for this budget.
the mixture of tracks is nice and also the different locations are well designed. some parts of the city and it’s surrounding are taken from former parts of nfs but i am happy to see this. i feel kind of familar driving around in the different territories and it is far away from being repeating or boring. the canyon parts are very close to fast’n’furious tokyo drift so if you like the movie, especially the last race, you will enjoy those tracks.
even if the story is as usual quite linear and given, it is a nice plot and to have some buddies on the streets eliminates this one-against-all feeling. the different types of racing require different setups and sometimes different cars and so you will get the chance to build up different cars not just for the sake of it.
at this point of progress i have done so far, the game provides what i was looking for. it is good for short races, it is good for tuning and styling and there is enough room to spend some hours on it without getting bored. the lag of the suv’s is not really a problem, i was never really enjoying the races with the suv’s in nfsu2. what i really miss are the tuner shops and painters in free roam modus. you have to do all the tuning, modification and painting in your own garage. so roaming around is not as funny as in nfsu2 were i was often just driving through the city to get a special part in a shop or for repainting my car. coming home was ‘undergroundish’ as well, now you just have to get close to the save house and that’s all. the races are very obviously placed on the streets, so no hidden races anymore. the opponents are a little bit better than on other parts of the nfs-serie and especially the canyon races are challenging due the breakable barriers and guiderails. i can not say if they are fair and i haven’t tested if the crew is usefull or not. my 2 cents, nfsu2 was cooler than carbon for me and i will try to get a used version somewhere which doesn’t mean that nfsc is crap.

driving school

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

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.

new blog style

Oktober 31st, 2006

after a couple of months i found it quite laborious to put the content into a html page so i decided to start a real blog for my gtr stuff. let’s see if this will work better.

real -> virtual

Oktober 27th, 2006

unfortunately, less work done than planned. but i was at least able to do some laps on the original elise tires. i found they have the same size like the m3gtr tires and so i was a little bit nervous to see if the result is comparable to the m3gtr tires. the handling feels quite similar and my lap time of 7:43 was close to the best i did on the michelin_gt set. after just 10 laps (not enough time to do more) a quick check in motec showed that they are similar to the m3gtr set. to test the wear i just started a 5 laps ai session and what the hell, the ai driver was 10 seconds faster than me. in gtr, the ai as well as the ai opponents were always slower if they were set to less than 115 percent strength. so i think i have to work on my driving, the car and the track conditions were the same, so there is no excuse anymore and it is proofen that my exige is able to do such laps on the elise tires. but back to the wear, after 5 laps the front tires were down to 7 and the rear to 14. this isn’t really nice, keeping in mind that the temperature of the tires is still below 80 degrees even under heavy pushing the car around the track. this wear will definitely kill the ‘change tire at every second stop’ strategy for 24 hour races. if i go for med or hard slicks, i will be back to the cold tire problem and so i can go back to the michelin_gt tires which are a little bit easier to drive.
but i found some minutes to start on my smart roadster gt project. the engine mapping is complete, the tire adaption about 50 percent, the gears are finnished and so i can go for the first performance tests to adjust the model to the real world, even if the roadster still looks like a elise 😉 the final goal will be to create a smart roadster cup with about 20 cars or so, depending on my spare time. my real world roadster is requesting its time until the winter, next week it will be equiped with a brand new tarox 6 calliper brake system on the front, so many work to do here as well.

real world / more gtr2 testing

Oktober 10th, 2006

very busy days again. i got a new clutch for my roadster (bonalume sport clutch with lighter flywheel and more grip) so i went out to test the new clutch. switching gears is improved by about 0.2 seconds (semi automatic sequentiell gearbox) which is quite impressive.
but i found some time to test GTR2 a little bit more. with my modified exige, i was able to drop the time from 7:44 to 7:40, which is an overall improvement of about 15 seconds, compared to GTR. i am still not sure if GTR2 is easier or just better to drive but i can say it is closer to my real world experience, even if i have never driven a gt car. the exige is compared to my roadster (equiped with a kw suspension, which is used in ngt/gt cars as well) kind of similar, the handling is more relaxed than in gtr and if i feel thru the steering wheel the car tends to slip there is still room to react on this. late braking, in bend braking, trailbraking is very close to my roadster, catching the rear under power oversteer is much easier than in gtr and finding the right compromise between braking and steering is more predictable, means, if i reduce steering, the car will brake better, if i reduce braking, the car will turn in more. in gtr i often faced the problem that neither braking nor steering was working and the car has just left the road.
i started to analyze the new tire sets coming with gtr2 and beside the new brand yokohama there are a second michelin gt tire set and tires for the porsches. since i am still not happy with the gt tires on my exige i decided to start a complete new tire test. thanks to the new channels, i can track the tire temperatur within motec and so it is much easier to compare the brand against temperatur, lateral force and speed. and the new gtr comes with non encrypted tire files, so i can easily compare the size of the tires (diameter, width) and the grip curves. lots of work ahead, stay tuned for the results.

gtr2 – second impression

Oktober 10th, 2006

the game:
the intro is nice, good music, nice line. the menu is the same like in the demo version, which is not a surprise but i still dislike it. the setup of the game works like a charm, lots of different settings for graphics, audio, controller and realism. nice to see that depending on the difficulty (arcade, semi, sim) some of the aids are disabled by default.
the tracks:
well, the game covers the fia gt tracks only, means, only tracks on which a fia gt race took place in 2004/2005 are included in the game. as an european, it is a pity that the vln long distance series is not included. this means no Nordschleife for example. the other tracks are not bad but i found a major disbalance for the frame rate for different tracks. this depends mostly on the scenery. if you are running a system which is a little bit ‘on the edge’ you have to change the graphic settings for each track and this is quite anoying. the details of the tracks are fine and especially with the new lighting system it is really impressive to watch races on certain tracks. for driving, it is very helpfull for finding brake points and turn in points, especially if it is not daytime.
the sound:
the sound is not very different to the first version of GTR. still no 5.1, still a little bit flat and liveless and i miss the incar feeling. compared to other sims like nascar, where you can feel the brutality of the engine, GTR2 is not really a reference. and i want to hear the engine where it is, means, for a mid engine or rear engine, the sound has to be placed in the back not in the front. and i also miss the sound of the tires, it is so great in richard burns rallye if you can hear which of the tires are scrubbing.
the cars:
the anouncement of 140 cars is a little bit strange, since there are less cars, just different skins. if you start a race with 60 cars (like spa) then you’ll get the warning that not enough cars available (red number close to the slider) even if i understand the concept of the different skins (driver, season, event) i don’t understand the promotion of 140 cars. the good think, or better, the very good point is, all cars are not encrypted. even if i dislike to mod or to change everything nor i want to drive a 1000 horsepower car, this is really a good decision to put the files non crypted on the disc. this will make things a lot easier (vln series, other privateer cars etc) and it gave me the possibility to add my modified exige to GTR2 as well. due the different seasons and cars, new tires are available, so i have to go for my tire test again ;). the quality of the cars is great, even at low detail and low textures, they look brilliant, especially in dusk or dawn.
the performance:
as i have said above, the performance depends on the track. the overall performance is much better than GTR. on my sony vaio 2 GHz, 2 GB, Ati 700, Soundblaster Audigy PCMCIA the game is running at about 30 fps without many hacks on graphics. if i go back to directx7 shaders (or no shaders i would say, it looks quite close to GTR then) i get 60 fps easily, even with 60 cars on the track and full scene antialiasing. rain is really demanding and also with full shadows at high quality i got frame drops to 10 on spa or other complex tracks. rain is good to handle without fsaa, which is not really necessary due the fog. the shadow problem (if you want to call it like this) can be fixed by decreasing quality and setting it to medium. but the shadow issue hardly depends on the track, a complex pit building cuts off about 30 fps easily while a flat track like china is no problem at all. motec eats up to 10 fps as well and like in GTR, outside the cockpit, the frame rate is much better and more consistent. overall, it is acceptable and still driveable on low spec systems if you can life with less details on cars and tracks.
the realism:
this is the most important part of a simulation, isn’t it? i’ve already tested the conversion of the Nordschleife from GTL and brakesmann has released a kind of official version for GTR2, so no editing and renaming necessary. now, with the final release of GTR2 i am able to use my former exige. so i can compare GTR and GTR2 side by side with the same car on the same track.
my first impression was – easy. my second impression was – more like a real car, and my third impression – great. GTR was often some kind of too predictable, means, i know befor a curve this will be a disaster because there was often no chance to catch a spinning car. from real life i know that there is a border on which everything is lost but in GTR this border is reached earlier than in real life due the handling of the cars. in GTR2 i think this border is set properly and, and this is a very good thing, the cars are able to slide more than in GTR. so if you throw a car into a bend and you know you are a way off the line for the current speed, you will be able to force the car into a more sideway motion and with some luck, this will rescue the situation. i do not talk about ‘need for speed underground’ drifting, i just talk about exceeding the tire grip a little bit without loosing the car completely. especially on tracks like Nordschleife, where you have a lot of places where you can not look ‘around’ the corner it is quite important to have at least a chance to avoid crahses initiated by spinning cars or whatsoever, especially for 24 hours races.
to test the physics a little bit in depth, i took my exige and went out for a couple of laps on Nordschleife. with a base setup (short gears, too much rear wing, wrong caster) i was able to drive a 7:55, which is not bad for this car. after getting my old settings from GTR i was able to get a 7:44. this is about 9 seconds faster than my best time in GTR. my first idea was, more grip on the track. so i went to motec and compared speeds and g-forces at certain sections of the track. surprisely, they are quite close together, so it is not only related to the grip of the track. so i started to dig a little bit deeper and i found that i was braking a little bit later and i was accelerating a little bit earlier than in GTR. i have no idea what is the major reason for this but i would say it is a better ‘feeling’. handling the car on the edge seems a little bit easier than in GTR and i’ve got the impression that the force feedback is different to GTR (i have modified the force feedback settings to get rid of this raddling feedback, maybe i have spoiled the feedback in GTR). i will spend some more time on this issue to get the reason for this improvement.
the analysis:
for me as a statistican, it is very important to analyse my driving. GTR2 requires the new Motec version I2. At a first look, this version looks very different to the well known Motec Interpreter. But at a second look, the new version is more flexible and provides better output. Handling multiple graphs, adding and removing channels, everything works like a charm, there are lots of detailed settings like filter, scale and color. handling different sessions is as easy as eating icecream, so jumping between different runs is very handy. a major improvement is the new selection of channels. the tire temperatures for example, this provides a great opportunity to adjust the caster settings in a more sophisticated manner than in GTR. what i miss is the brake temperature, especially for cars with non-motec displays or with the small motec display (there is no brake nor tire temp available while driving). to find the optimal brake cooling setting is more a shot in the dark.
GTR2 is definitely a great sequel to GTR. if you are into sim racing and if you like to get a complete package of gt racing, this is your choice. it is not without minor problems and bugs but it is a good game with lots of features like full seasons, driving school and time attack. hardcore sim freaks may not enjoy every option but i think this game offers a lot of different features to fullfil a wide spectrum of needs without the need to use every option. the non encrypted files offers great opportunity for modders or for people who wants to ‘adjust’ some parts. if you are a pure mod freak then maybe r-factor would be a better choice.

gtr2 has hit the stores

Oktober 10th, 2006

another big gap of updates. i was really busy with my real life roadster. got some new updates on my car, new air intake pipe, modified pop-off valve and i went out to gather some data befor the cold season makes this impossible…
GTR2 finally has hit the stores so i went out for my copy. surprisely, it costs just 40 euros at saturn, i had prepared myself for a full price of 60 euros. not bad. installation was flawless, no troubles with copy protection or so. graphic setup recognized my external screen resolution as well, no problems.
feel free to check the review section for my frist impression of the final release of gtr2.