Sunday, 25 October 2015

[Falcon 4] Ramp start tutorial @ Kunsan Airbase, South Korea

This is a flight sim that I have wanted to get into for a long time.

What I mean by that is that Falcon 4 requires a real investment not just of time but also in terms of study. This is the first of the modern study sims.

To put that into context until the original Falcon was released flight sims had been, for reasons of hardware limitations, been somewhat limited. Microprose dominated at least the combat flight sim market, and the complexity of their titles increased over time, but Spectrum Holobyte, the developers of Falcon pushed the fidelity of their sims further.

When Falcon 4.0 was rushed to market in December 1998 it was under the Micrprose label, after Spectrum Holobyte acquired the company, and after Hasbro had in term acquired them. The incomplete title was patched, but before the fixes could be completed Habsro closed the studio.

After the source code was briefly leaked on an FTP site the community essentially continued development. The ultimate result of that is Falcon 4 BMS.

So, that's how we reached this point, with a title that is almost seventeen years old, looks dated, but still has a depth and complexity that stands up well even now. In fact if you speak to any group of flight simmers about a campaign mode for whatever new title has been released they will almost certainly raise Falcon 4's campaign mode as the gold standard. It has yet to be equalled, let alone surpassed.

I have looked at F4 at various times in the past, but the furthest I've reached so far is the air-to-air weapons tutorial. I'm now dedicated to making it all the way to the campaign, through all of the flight and weapons tutorials.

In this first video I'm starting the jet up, taxiing, taking off, navigating back to Kunsan, landing and then taxiing to shutdown.

[rFactor 2] Introduction to Sebring

Now this is more like it.

After the debacle with a clearly unfinished Interlagos rFactor 1 conversion we have a track that, while not laser scanned, feels as it should do - like a bumpy airfield conversion.

But it's bumpy for all the right reasons. It doesn't feel like there a lot of missing data under the car, it feels like every bump that's actually present in the track is coming up through the suspension and your seat.

And what a challenge it is in the Skip Barber Regional. You have to have your line down absolutely right because of the amount of lateral movement that's possible. At times there is no clear line, you must define it yourself.

In the first video I'm giving my first impressions of the track. In the second I'm pushing harder and looking for better speed. You can see from the second video how often the car wants to get away from me, and how I have to at times come out of the gas and allow the car to settle down.

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill 7am - turns 1 & 2

The first series of turns from the Combat Mission - Battle for Normandy scenario.

[rFactor 2] Interlagos and the woes of track conversions

At the outset I have to say Interlagos was a huge disappointment.

I have driven the track in iRacing quite a bit, and it's a favourite. It has that iconic complex of corners at the start, standing on the brakes after the long straight, turning in to the downhill sections and then being aggressive on the gas and steering wheel until you exit onto the back straight.

It's just a fabulous track.

The rFactor 2 versions downright stunned me. You can tell that from this first look video.

The track is practically undriveable, at least in the sense of enjoying the experience. The car bounces down the road like it's on a pogo stick. Even the kerbs which are perfectly useable in the laser scanned iRacing version are absolute death traps.

That said, what's the reason for that?

I think it's pretty clear that this version is an rFactor 1 conversion. And the problem with that is the resolution of the track appears to me not to have been increased as is required by rFactor 2. It's a barebones conversion, and for it to be listed as an official track to me is not acceptable.

I don't mind the rFactor 1 look. Of course it would be ideal if it had been redone to the improved graphical standards of a Lime Rock or Sebring, but you can live with that. But in this state the track it is simply not an enjoyable or realistic track to drive.

[rFactor 2] Racing through the dust clouds at Montreal

The A.I. has a peculiar approach to Montreal.

I'm learning steadily about rFactor, on and off the track. Part of the off track learning is bits and pieces I discover about track conversions, their ups and downs, and how that affects the driving experience.

It seems to me that Montreal and Interlagos are both rFactor 1 conversions. It also seems to me that Interlagos hasn't had it's track "resolution", for want of a better word, increased to reflect improved rFactor 2's requirements.

In that respect Montreal is a better conversion. Montreal - and I could never bring myself to race with the A.I. at Interlagos as it's such a pain in the rear end to drive - has the failure of A.I. that appears never to have seen the track before.

It starts off badly. It doesn't have the faintest idea how to arrive on the grid. The cars are practically sideways when they start. After that it does improve. But it still kicks up plenty of dust as it drives around. You just have to write off its inability to stop in a straight line on the grid.

A.I. strength set to 100%, aggression at 50%. At 95% I was leading by about three seconds after 12 laps, and so for this, my second race, I increased their strength. You can draw your own conclusions from how much difficulty ramps up from my performance in the race.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

[Assetto Corsa] BMW Z4 GT3 @ Spa

I have a confession to make.

I've had AC for quite a while, but haven't really done much with it. It looks good, but there's a distinct lack of slower open wheel cars. And I'm not a fan of hurtling around a track in a car I can barely control, much less race.

However, when I have looked at it, I've kind of enjoyed the BMW Z4. I say "kind of" because TrackIR was always a pain. I couldn't look around properly, to the point it felt like I had no knowledge of what was going on to either side of the car. Which is not good for close racing.

It didn't help that it took up so many resources that I would have to do a complete reboot whenever I wanted to look at it.

But it seems both those issues have now been fixed.

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill 7am - setup

The third of the four scenarios covering Operation Jupiter and the attack on Hill 112 in July, 1944.

As 5 Dorsets consolidate their gains and exploit to the road network 4 Dorsets attack Eterville.

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill 6am - turns 3

More turns from this scenario:

Monday, 5 October 2015

[rFactor 2] First look at Montreal

We're flipping the situation around here after Lime Rock. Now it's rFactor 2 with the older version of the track.

I do prefer the iRacing version. Much more runoff and less green suspicious stuff at track edge. The track is narrower here, and it has a vicious chicane at the end, which really cramps the car up.

But it does answer a question I've had for some time about the iRacing version. Quite often in a couple of areas of the track - across the start line towards turn 1 and the left hander before the hairpin - I've noticed drivers take a wide line. Having driven a little bit here I can see why. With the new layout I still think a tighter line is faster, but you can't get away with that here.

As far as the quality of the graphics ... where it loses out there it gains in frame rates. It's definitely a track that would benefit from an update as it does look dated. But it more than gets the job done.

It will be interesting to see how the two works in rFactor 2 down the long back straight, and how the A.I. handles the chicanes as well as the hairpin.

rFactor 2] First look at the Skip Barber National

It was only fair that I shared the experience of my first laps around Lime Rock in the National version of the Skip Barber.

What are my initial thoughts on it?

It definitely has a lot more grip mid corner, which is what you would expect, given that it uses slicks instead of the treaded tyres found on the Regional version. In simple terms that means it's a lot easier to push it through corners.

It certainly feels a lot closer to the iRacing version of the car, which leads me to believe that the version there is a hybrid between the two, if not the National version itself. As I recall the model uses treaded tyres, but I think that's misleading.

I found myself to be about two seconds up on the Regional, even after a small amount of time in the car, and the overall feel when pushing through corners was very similar to what I'm used to at iRacing. You can throw that car around in a way the Regional in rFactor 2 wouldn't stand for.

[rFactor 2] First race at Lime Rock Park in the Skip Barber

Well, the first race that's worth posting. Because it did take a while for me to get the hang of racing the A.I., and in all honesty, there's some way to go before I can consider myself at all proficient.

And here's the reason why. So far I haven't been able to pass a single A.I. driver. It's not that I'm not fast enough. In this race I qualified second, less than two hundredths behind pole. But in a race it's a case of having to put down that sort of pace lap after lap.

That's not easy in a 25 lap race.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill - turns 2

As the morning continues, 5 Dorsets continue their advance during Operation Jupiter, the attack on Hill 112 in Normandy, July 1944.