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A Drive for Glory (1)

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Danny Asbury, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. Danny Asbury

    Danny Asbury

    I thought I’d give you a little story. It's nothing spectacular, trust me, but for those of you that like a good simracing related read, here’s to you. Below you will find the first part of a story I’ve entitled “A Drive for Glory", which chronicles how I first got started with simracing and the events that brought me here to wonderful RaceDepartment.

    But you should know, I'm no ex-racing pilot. In fact, I don't even have a drivers license. (Why I just told you that, I don't know.) So if you want to read that cool story where Timmo IDroveFormula3forFiveYears transforms into a simracing god, so do I. Sadly, this isn't that story. (Don't say I didn't warn you.) So without further ado...

    A Drive for Glory
    Part 1: A driver with no feedback

    It all started some four years ago. I was eighteen at the time (yes, yes, now you think back to my "I don't have a license" comment and hear crickets...crickets...crickets...) Well, I had grown tired of the usual sports games us Americans get hammered with. Madden Football, MVP Baseball, NBA 2k, and the occasional Fifa Soccer. It had all become boring to me.

    So I had been thinking about changing it up a bit, trying a different sport. I had played games like Forza 1 and Project Gotham Racing 2 and 3 casually, but nothing serious. I had remembered having a fun time with those games, so with Forza Motorsport 2 having come out earlier in the year, the idea came to me to try it out with an actual racing wheel.

    Then I thought better of it. “I’m a man. I'm not getting a 'play' wheel. Those are for kids," I told myself. But no matter how much I tried to throw the idea away, I kept returning to the thought that I should give Forza Motorsport 2 a try.

    Damn it all, I thought. "Just do it!" So one day while coming home from work, I decided to just to do it and put my money down for one of those dorky wheels. And truth be told, I instantly felt like a dork when I told the guy at the gamestop I wanted one of the Xbox wheels. He gave me a strange look, something akin to holding back laughter, and said, "Okay buddy." I walked out of the store with my head low and feeling more than a slight tinge of embarrassment. I could just feel the eyes on me. (Let's just say where I live no one buys this stuff. Heck, you say F1 to people around here and they think you've just cursed at them.) So I rushed home, lugging the two and a half foot box along with me through public transportation, getting weird looks along the way.

    Well, I got home and made a b-line to set everything up. Popped Forza into my Xbox and was ready to roll, so to speak. I turned my first ever "sim-laps" on Laguna Seca in a Mazda--I forget exactly what model, but it was something slow. My first impressions: THIS IS THE STUPIDEST THING I EVER WASTED MY MONEY ON. I was quite disappointed, and to some degree annoyed. Well, to a very high degree annoyed. Pissed, really. I had bought a used wheel, and those money grubbers at Gamestop said something about no returns. Great.

    Anyhow, I turned the thing off and went to sleep, the whole time thinking of what a stupid decision I made. The next day at work I was scheming up how exactly I would play Madden Football when it came out. Tactics and the like. Blitz this, and run defense that. You know, the American football stuff. The same old same old. In a way, it cheered me up.

    It wasn't until I got home later and saw that damned wheel again that my mood changed. I once again thought about my wasted money, and how immature I was to buy something so childish on mere impulse. After all, I needed to learn how to drive in real life, not on some damned game. But I turned the thing on again, just to make sure it really was as retarded as I thought it was. After these next few laps, I'm going to junk this wheel for good, I thought.

    Well, Forza came on, but the wheel didn't. The batteries were dead. Great. Just great. Not only does this thing suck, but it eats batteries like gas, I thought, with a curse or two thrown in. So after running all over my house searching for some double A goodness, I returned to my little driving setup empty handed and completely defeated. Time to scrap this stupid thing.

    Then I saw the cord on the floor. Apparently you could plug the wheel directly into the wall. I had missed this cord yesterday when I pulled it out of the box in a frenzy. I plugged the cord in and... WHAM! The wheel started turning and jiving and twitching, this way, then that way, then again. I thought I did something wrong or broke it. After a minute, when the damned wheel calmed down, I pulled the car on the track. Went for the first corner and... what the heck? It was completely different. The wheel was resisting me. It was providing what I later found out was called "Force Feedback". And it was night and day.

    Unlike the day before, where I wanted to stop before I finished the first three corners, I took lap after lap after lap after lap after lap, fighting the car around each corner, learning how to brake and THEN turn. It was insane. A few hours passed and finally I stopped, utterly blown away.

    Before long, I was at work counting the minutes before I went home and could get back to action, back to driving. A week of this brought me to a place where I wanted to go against other cars.

    So I did some rounds with the CPU. It was fun, but I came away feeling that actual human drivers couldn't drive like them. The computer drivers drove so closely together without hitting one another. I said to myself that it was impossible to do that. Maybe real life driving was different, but on the games I deemed it utterly unachievable.

    I went online shortly after that. I did a day of lobby racing with random people. After quite a few races, I proved my hypothesis true: you can't race close with another car. The closest you could be was about five or six car lengths away (and you'd be lucky to maintain that for two corners) otherwise you'd hit them. I was a BAD driver at the time, if you couldn't figure it out. But you have to understand, I had no grasp of things like racing line and braking point. So the idea of two cars running close together seemed impossible, because you'd never know where the car in front was going to brake. Hell, I didn't know where I was going to brake for each corner. I was just sort of eye-balling it, as were most of the people I was racing against. Needless the say, crashes were the norm, and completing our three lap races with no damage was as likely as God himself coming into my room and telling me I needed to set my cars up for a little more oversteer. So I was a little discouraged that the actual racing (although fun) wasn't like how I saw it on TV.

    I was now about to do one of my final races for the day. Then these two guys joined up to my lobby. They both had a very high Forza rank. I thought the whole ranking thing was for show, because I had seen guys with pretty high ranks crash like the rest of us. But these dudes were different. These guys were race drivers. The lights went green and they stormed off in the lead and it wasn't two corners before the rest of us (banged and battered) couldn't see them. By lap three both of them were lapping me and the rest of the strewn out field. I was in complete awe at how close they were driving. They streamed past me, only feet separating them. I kept thinking, how are they that close on lap 3?!?!?!? Impossible!!! I can't tell you how amazed and impressed I was by their driving. To see them go past was stunning--pushing their cars to the limit, making maneuvers, attacking and defending, both drivers chasing the victory. There was something glorious about it all.

    It made me realize the amount of skill it takes to simrace. You couldn't just pick it up and do what those guys were doing. This wasn't Madden, or NBA 2k, or Fifa, or any of that stuff. This was simracing. And this was a hobby. My new hobby. And from that moment on I wanted to be good. From that moment on I became a race driver.

    From that moment on I've chased the glory. Little did I know what that meant...

    Part 1 End

    Thanks for reading! And if you didn't read all that, thanks for the scroll--hope you didn't sprain your finger getting down this far. I’ll post something else once or twice a week to the blog. And occasionally, if there’s interest, I’ll continue the story. The next part gets into how I started with league racing, which is an adventure in and of itself. Anyhow, feel free to comment below! How did you first get started with simracing?
    • Like Like x 3
  2. I liked it so far
  3. Good story, sounds familiar. Keep writing like this, and you might get over 5 page views :)
  4. Nice read.. we know how it ends lol :)
  5. Rui F. Martins

    Rui F. Martins

    nice story, looking forward to the next part :wink:
  6. Marco Bijl

    Marco Bijl
    adMAXIhater (O.O.O.)

    Nice read, nice story :) Indeed it sounds familiar. I managed to stay away from this tempting hobby for quite some time. I did play occasionally, but without decent track knowledge, it is hard to do. But, it's very tempting, and very funny to do, so I could not resist it in the end also. I was introduced to simracing (and to RD) by Remco de Wildt. Me and Remco go way back together. We where on the same highschool, and have been close friends for many years now. Remco is active in SimRacing a lot longer then I am, and a few years back, he bought himself a decent wheel and seat. Up until a month ago I managed to keep it restricted to racing at Remco's place only. Nothing online, nothing serious, just fun. However, the fact that if I tried to do a decent lap on a track after practicing all evening, and then seeing it crashed totally by seconds when Remco did 1 lap, got me a bit frustrated. So, to compensate a bit, I figured I'd install the offline version of Race, so I could practice and learn the tracks a bit..... That was the end (or the beginning, depends how you look at it :)).It didn't last 1 week before I dediced I needed a wheel as well, cause that controller is ot half as much fun as the wheel was :wink:. After looking a lot on the internet for a decent priced wheel, I got myself a momo now. As you can expect, I am hooked. Can't resist, and I am also counting down the minutes till I can start up the engine again. Still learning a lot, but having loads of fun. I hope to be present at some race events soon.
  7. Nice, thank you!
  8. David O'Reilly

    David O'Reilly
    A bad quali means I can go forwards in the race.

    Nice read Danny, well done.These reads enrich our experience here.
  9. Nice article, Danny :)
  10. kind of what we all feel I guess. Nice job man
  11. Nice article, thanks :)
  12. Tim Ling

    Tim Ling
    It's a million-to-1 chance, but it just might work Premium

    Thanks for sharing Danny :D I look forward to the next instalment!
  13. Very good Danny cant wait for the next instalment :D
  14. Daniel Monteiro

    Daniel Monteiro

    great idea of writing this, made me start thinking about mine! looking forward to the sequel!
  15. Danny Asbury

    Danny Asbury

    Thanks for the replies guys! Part 2 will be up sometime next week. :)
  16. I liked it so far:) It took rather long for me to get to race online against other drivers:tongue:
  17. Very nice. I'm in the begining right now so everything you write so far looks like "Present":DThanks for sharing it and keep it coming...
  18. loved it, touches every true sim racer very deep in his or her soul.By all means please continue.
  19. This is a great story, thanks for sharing. Can't wait for the second part.:D