Not only since Stefano’s latest stream people are getting really excited about Assetto Corsa 1.7. I am as well, but not for everything. To be honest I’m afraid there will be a huge disappointment and I already feel sorry for the Kunos guys who are working hard on the next version(s).
Stefano live demonstrated the false start with drive-through penalty, and that gave me some thoughts. Careful: High amount of opinion!
1. Jumps starts and penalties
We will have jump starts with 1.7. The (developer’s) plan was to teleport early starters to the pits, which caused an outcry and eventually Manuel Darin was sitting down to code a proper drive-through-penalty. Yay!
But the problem: Many of those who now yell “yay!” – including myself – will not use this feature. The reason: It’s an immersion breaker. Wait, the teleport? No, the drive through penalty.
Let me place my bet on this: The vast majority of multiplayer contributors runs public pickup racing. First you will see every server setting up the new drive-through there, until the first sensation is over and people realize that every single start at least one idiot early starts as soon as he can (just like Stefano did in the demo), driving around the grid and maybe even try to hit the people. They won’t even care about the penalty. I hope there are counter-measures like a disqualification; but those guys just would quit then, finding the next server they can have their kind of fun. Very immersive, mh? Result: Server admins will reduce to either the teleport option so the clowns are out of sight immediately, or even disable the false start like before 1.7.
The vast majority of single player drivers will not throw away their race with a drive-through-penalty even before the race started when the restart is only two clicks away.
Yes it is pretty cool for the few % of league drivers, or participants on the special systems like SRS or MR-AB. It’s also very cool to see it working for the first time, but don’t get too excited about it.
The only light I can see regarding pickup multiplayer is when the disqualification by not obeying the drive-through (if there is any!) is communicated to the server plugins, so both SRS and Minorating can add some persistence to the ignorance of a penalty. Unfortunately this does not look easy (how about quitting before disqualification?) and especially MR is pretty bad at giving feedback.
2. Brake temperature simulation
Not included in 1.7, but we can see and hear quite some stuff about the brake temperature simulation during the streams. So far it looks like we will get “cold brake” effects, which happen to influence the way you want to slam on the brakes – pretty good simulation value.
We know – since a long time – there won’t be brake fading: Brakes can become too hot and fade brake power, usually restricted to street legal cars. Stefano doesn’t like it at all – feedback to the user is bad, sounds little fun, and prevents half of AC’s cars to do more than a short 10-minute race. His plan was to give fading to the modders, but not use it on official cars – or only enable it in multiplayer. I don’t even talk about brake fluid boiling here, again.
My personal favorite won’t happen as well: The temperature won’t affect the glowing brake discs.
All in all the temperatures will have influence on the braking when they cooled down, changing the style how sharp they bite in the first moment. That is cool, but – as far as I can see – that’s it. I don’t know what people expect on this – 17.7% voted for the brake simulation as their #1 priority in the poll. Maybe they assume more than a practical simplification of the initial braking?
Added Flashing lights
This simple line in Stefano’s 1.7 patch notes refers to the option to flash the lights with a wheel-mapped button. For quite some time Stefano rejected this because you already could bind the light and just need to press it 2x or 4x for a flash, but well. Now we will have it.
And you know what? It won’t be cool. Either your cockpit goes to light mode during the flashes as well (not that realistic to be honest), or you won’t even notice. There is no way the car or environment reflects your light in the well performing graphics engine that doesn’t support multiple light sources (that’s why we don’t see night races).
The next thing is: Why would you want to have flashing lights in the first place? Yes, just like in real life: You approach a slower car, give signals so he knows you’re there and let’s you pass. Guess what: Won’t happen even. AI drivers would not care at all, multiplayer participants will not magically turn into sensible and respectful drivers just because they can (hardly) see you flashing from behind. Honestly, if you can miss either the blue flag symbol or its meaning, you most probably will miss flashes in the mirror as well.
Leading to the sad prediction: People will complain about this a lot. AIs should flash. AIs should give room when flashed. They will post LMP1 cars illuminating the area of a small city during the 24h of Le Mans, demanding brightness and volumetric lightning and also unleash a new discussion about the blue flag penalty (as we now have drive-throughs). And night, of course, next to more mappable wheel buttons.
Personally I like the mappable flashing for the immersion of replays, this will look pretty cool, at least if people actually will use it. And it is a small step to my personal dream of multi-class racing. Looking at the current state of the AI and maybe some day timed races I’m getting more and more excited. It is not really that bad today in 1.6 (good enough to do any SP race with some multiclass elements), and future is looking really promising.
The poll’s #1 VR implementation is top notch and worth every second of development time. But for the ranks 2-4 (the points above) my feeling isn’t that good. Yes, I appreciate the features very much. I just don’t understand what people wanted to see them in the first place – and I’m sure they won’t be satisfied.
Why? One theory is that this is just some kind of client-sided feature creeping (which is of course important to keep AC “alive”) which might work then. Another thought is that people want to improve their race experience towards the drama we experience in the real life racing – like Formula 1 or the 24h races. Those teach us racing is ultra exciting, pick the 24h of Le Mans for example. Porsche won in the last lap, after Toyota dominated them, after Porsche lost several laps in the pits due to repairs. The 24h of Nurburgring 2016 had a position switch in the very last lap, just because the race leader had to splash & dash with some unfortunate traffic on the Nordschleife afterwards. Yes, this is extremely exciting and not comparable to the 8 laps of Spa we witness online.
Those races are usually lonesome after you survived the first corners: The guy in front is slowly pulling away (because he was slightly faster in the qualifying), as you do compared to the guy behind you. If nobody does something stupid, nothing happens for the rest of the race. I can understand that you start thinking about exciting real life races during your boring routine – maybe the race leader now has a technical issue and comes out of the pits shortly after me, joining a long exciting race until the photo finish.
But sorry, that’s just unrealistic dreaming. Let’s pick the 24h of Nurburgring 2016: 101 (of 158) actually finished the race, that is a total of more than 2424 hour – most of the hardcore simracers have 1-2k driving hours in total after years. Most probably the race wasn’t as exciting most of the time, we just remember the cool 3 or 4 scenes. So no, just because of some exciting moments that doesn’t mean race driving is not just boring hotlapping most of the time – and random events in a sim won’t change a lot. On the contrary: Ask the Audi crew, or Toyota (LeMans 2016).
(Yes I ignore the multiclass traffic here)
Actually simracing is much more dense compared to the real thing, we can’t complain – we just need the pace and consistency. Random events/more gameplay elements won’t help you to bring a better experience. Getting faster and especially more consistent will do. Demanding features that possibly might improve the situation is a way to go, but what if they don’t really help? That’s my fear now.
On the other side, Stefano once spoke about the legendary 4k wifes. How long should this go on? Imagine the point where everything is included in AC – will the actual race experience improve that much, compared to today? The downsides: Any added feature makes AC more complicated, slower in development and test – not to talk about the time and money invested to get there.
That’s just a thought so far. If it should turn out correct, maybe it’s time for us – as community – to re-evaluate what we want. No question asked, the features are very cool – but are they justified? Are they really worth the effort?
Now you may get angry about me: How about letting go, and accept Assetto Corsa 1.x as-is. Let the devs do whatever they have fun with (looking at the amazing progress with both the SF-18T systems and the AI). Most of the work will go to the core strengths like physics engine and AI; stuff we might enjoy beyond AC1.x. Maybe we are at a point where we shouldn’t demand things that do not solve our problems. This might give Kunos the room to start out on a different design base, re-using the good and cutting the bad.
And now back to the hype for 1.7 – can’t wait to get my hands on the new AI and that spacecraft. Allow me a 2nd guesstimate: The F138 will be even more popular, once it steps out of the shadow of the spaceship.