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Featured FIA Vegas eRace - Was it good for SimRacing?

Discussion in 'rFactor 2' started by Chris, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. Chris

    Chris
    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Premium

    eRace1.jpg 2017 is now well and truly underway, and for many months prior to this day, a select group of SimRacers have been practicing their rear end's off in order to have the best shot at winning the 200,000 dollar cash prize on offer from the inaugural Vegas eRace.

    Whilst the chance to see the worlds best SimRacers going head-to-head with real life professional drivers is a tasty proposition, did the Vegas eRace really capitalise on SimRacing's very first mass-market production?

    In some respects, yes it did. It gained far and away the largest viewership that SimRacing has ever had, and given the money that was thrown at it, that's not surprising. It had the backing from large corporate entities such as VISA, the FIA and the Formula E teams themselves, which meant that out of all the SimRacing events that have taken place over the decades, this one was far and away the heaviest hitter. Utilising the real life commentary team of Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti also helped boost the cause of the event and gave it more credibility. It really wasn't too distant from a real life Formula E race.

    However, the driving standards were what the majority of those of us in this little niche were curious to see. In the past, Formula E has run similar events, albeit on a smaller scale, at race events with the fans. A couple of real Formula E drivers would go head-to-head with a fan (or several) at the Simulator-zone, which every single time, would result in a crash-fest so bad it made public lobby racing look cleaner than a vacuum-sealed laboratory, as the everyday fan had no clue what they were doing, and the drivers themselves simply didn't care as it was all a big joke.

    eRace2.jpg

    Given that 200,000 'Big Ones' were on the line, the drivers taking part no doubt had to take things a little more seriously, but would there be enough time for them to get up to speed with basic SimRacing skills in order to avoid taking someone out and potentially costing them a life-changing amount of money?

    Well, the driving standards from the real life drivers had improved. The only massive incident coming when David Greco tried to go three wide through the fast chicane, causing a large pile-up and significant damage. This is no different to any pro-league race you'll find. Driving standards are never going to be perfect. But with so much money on the line, and more eyeballs on the race than SimRacing has ever had, every incident is magnified and scrutinised just that much more.

    As for the presentation of the race, well I actually thought it was pretty impressive. The on-screen graphics were well done, the commentary was, as expected, good, and the replays all fed into a nice production that can definitely be learned from and improved upon in future events. However, since Formula E had chosen rFactor 2 as their simulator of choice, the graphics of the actual cars, the track and it's surrounding were simply not up to par with what e-Sports expects and demands from it's productions. rFactor 2 is not the worst looking game, but it's certainly not what you'd call 'Eye Candy'.

    eRace3.jpg

    Sure, the cars and the track they used were a massive step up from previous e-Races they've done (which, let's be honest, looked like they were straight out of a PlayStation 1 game), the images seen from the race were a far cry from the beautiful images you see coming from the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo.

    But rFactor was chosen for one simple reason. It's pretty much the only simulator that can pull something like this off given that iRacing does not have a Formula E car lying around. Had iRacing actually had a Formula E car at it's disposal, then that would have unquestionably been the platform of choice for this event. But even so, the best was made with what they had available.

    But already there is controversy brewing. With just a handful of laps until the end of the 20 lap race, Bono Huis and Felix Rosenqvist were running one-two and had amassed a fairly substantial lead over the rest of the pack. However, Formula E uses a thing called "Fan Boost", whereby the fans watching at home can vote for a driver to receive a horsepower boost for a limited period of time.

    Enter third placed driver Olli Pahkala.

    The average race pace for this event was a 1 minute 28 second lap. This is what the majority of the front runners were able to produce. When Olli received fan boost, it was supposed to only be for six seconds, instead, it appears he received fan boost for six laps. This meant he was able to lap in the 1 minute 26 range. This was not supposed to happen. Either that, or as Dario Franchitti said several times "He must've found a shortcut somewhere!".

    Untitled.png

    As Huis and Rosenqvist left their pitstops very late, they emerged behind Pahkala, who was still lapping at the abnormally quick pace. With only a couple of laps left, Pahkala had well and truly checked out and was on his way to winning the $200k. Why he received fan boost for such a long period of time, you ask? Well, that remains to be seen, but one thing was for certain: Bono Huis was not a happy camper.

    The final podium ceremony was cringe-worthy to say the least as Felix Rosenqvist was the only driver to actually look happy. Huis and Pahkala both took hugely long periods of time before coming out on stage and at first I put this down to being shy, or something. But could there perhaps have been some more serious discussions going on behind the stage regarding Pahkala's miraculous pace?

    Whether or not the details come out remains to be seen. There were some things that definitely need improvement for subsequent holdings of the event, like the unbelievably awkward post-race awards ceremony along with it's poor execution, but by and large, this was a positive boost for SimRacing to gain traction (pun intended) in the eSporting world, and to be taken more seriously. If real drivers are beginning to take it more seriously, then the rest of the motorsport community will sit up and take notice.

    In terms of getting the sheer number of eyeballs on the event, yes it absolutely was a success, however the overall presentation of the race along with pre and post-race events, definitely needs more work. But it was a decent first go at it, and there is definitely the potential for a huge improvement in what is delivered at the next event.


    Over to you!
    What did you think of the Vegas eRace? Was it good for SimRacing, or are we destined for niche-ism?



    ***Update:
    Olli Pahkala has taken a post-race penalty, demoting him to third place. This means Bono Huis takes first place for the Vegas eRace.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
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  2. Nope, and we have Cloud Sport to thank for it. Maybe if the mod had been tested to, oh I don't know, a decent degree, just MAYBE they'd have caught this.

    But no. Such a glaring error goes un-noticed. With a million dollars on the line, that can't be good enough.
     
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  3. The marketing of the event, the videos and trailers and the show itself on the stage has been really good but all the software side has been horrible. The guys from CloudSport should be fired for making look rF2 like a Nintendo game with Mario kart tracks and a horrible mod, alongside with their faulty software and plugins which just bring technical issues for a stable product like rF2. At the end the super awesome fanboost is just the tip of the iceberg of how things can't be done, hopefully there is a next time where they actually place this in the hands of capable human beings.

    Congratulations to Bono, he truly deserved it.
     
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  4. WPxNJ

    WPxNJ
    Premium

    Overall, a big maybe.
    Call it "sim" all you want, banging the wall without snapping the corner off the car was pure arcade. Quali laps looked like billiard bank shots off the final turn.
    Coulda used some RRE crowd animation, flags waving, camera flashes, man, it's Vegas!
     
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  5. Kris Cobb

    Kris Cobb
    Avid Chronic Racing | Team Principal

    rF2 isn't the best looking sim but what Cloudsport turned out was horrible. rF2 is capable of much more and its a shame that it couldn't be shown off more.
     
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  6. no, it was a disaster, total embarrassment to the SimRacing community. I would've jumped off a bridge if there were any around.
     
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  7. Thomas Hinss

    Thomas Hinss
    Aussie Commentator and Writer Premium

    To me this event brought out more negatives than positives for sim racing. Yes the presentation of the race itself with the graphics and commentary was good, yes the racing was generally solid, yes the viewership was fantastic. But the fact a glitch in the mod caused the race winner to be penalized is a big red flag to me. Had Cloud Sport done their job properly this should not have happened, as testing mods thoroughly is seemingly done much better at leagues which don't have $1 million on the line.

    Added to that the game looked absolutely awful, making rfactor 2 look far worse than it actually is. I've heard it's possible they were using an older build of the game which may explain the lackluster looks, either way they did a very poor job of showing off sim racing and rfactor 2 in that department. The podium presentation was indeed all the cringe from what I saw, I actually stopped watching it pretty quickly as I just found it far too awkward to enjoy.

    Also the mess of discussion I was seeing post race with people in the sim racing community was quite depressing to me at least, as it seemed people were jumping to conclusions very quickly on whether Olli got a penalty or not long before official confirmation was given.
     
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  8. LilSki

    LilSki
    Premium

    I kind of feel bad for rf2 getting caught up in this. A 5 year old could build a better looking track. We all know rf2 isn't always the prettiest of sims but man that was horrid. With that much money thrown at this it truly boggles my mind.
     
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  9. This. For a thousand bucks any number of modders could have made that track look ten times better. For some serious coin it could have looked amazing.
     
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  10. I hated MAK-Corp before it was cool.
     
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  11. Thomas Hinss

    Thomas Hinss
    Aussie Commentator and Writer Premium

    MAK-Corp may have made the mod but they weren't the ones running the event, so I would put more of the blame to Cloud Sport. If they were organizing the event as thoroughly as they should have been, then proper testing of the mod would have been performed and any bugs with it would have been found and resolved.

    Being such a huge event I would have thought they would have done this. No matter how long the mod has been around for or how much praise the mod being used may have gotten in the past, I would think it would still be thoroughly tested to make absolutely sure it is in the best shape possible for the event.
     
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  12. Chris

    Chris
    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Premium

    It would not surprise me if iRacing went after this next year by adding their own Formula E car to the game. It's a better platform for this kind of thing and combine that with a million dollar prize pool, 10,000+ viewers and the best of the virtual world vs real drivers, it's a massive opportunity for a company that could actually do justice to this. iRacing have the money and the technical know-how to make it work IMO, irrespective of your views on it's physics.

    What really surprises me is that they're pushing electric racing so hard. I totally get it from Formula E's point of view because they're exploring all avenues for organisational growth, but if this were an event using Formula 1 cars or something, then it may well have gotten 20,000 viewers, and would have been a far more impressive spectacle: racing around Spa or Monaco would have simply added to it, rather than driving an electric car around some bastardized inner city street circuit.

    In relative terms, no one is interested in electric racing. Why would a virtual version of that be any different?
     
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  13. svt4cam

    svt4cam
    Premium

    Stopped to look briefly and thought I was watching Papyrus Indy Car racing.
     
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  14. Build 1098.
     
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  15. From a marketing perspective the fan boost is great - you get to find out exactly how many people there are in the audience and paying attention. Which lets you push the price of ad spots up since you know who's seeing them.

    From a sporting perspective it makes me not want to even watch... it's like if the 200m Olympic sprints let Usain Bolt move his blocks 2m forward because the fans want him to win.
     
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  16. For me it's a big NO...
    Turning a game into a sport with professionals is never good IMHO...
     
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  17. Graphics is not the main priority in a sim, but god damn it, worst than what they have done, must be hard to accomplish! I actually can't understand how it look so awful, at least from the spectator seat..

    And besides that, was the physics a bit confuse because of being electric cars with huge batteries, so it come to the point where it began to create a magnetic force to the center of the earth? like a slot car with magnet, because driving with no frontwing made it made no difference, besides the time they lost losing the wings, it appeared to be as fast both in corners and straight speed.

    For the random spectator how likes Formula E (whoever it is), looked like a ps1 game with steel cars hitting the walls, and for the sim drivers looked like the first days of rf1 with arcade physics...

    I honestly expect a LOT more from the event, I expected a top level organization and top level game content, and not things like 6 laps of fan boost...

    Btw, why did Rosenqvist started in second place? I saw the pros race, and Felix Da Costa that won that race, only starded in 10º or something like that...
     
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  18. Lorenzo Bonder

    Lorenzo Bonder
    RD's Two Wheeled Driving Specialist Staff

    Yes and no.

    tbe later.
     
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  19. The idea was good but execution was horrible. RF2 and the mod used looks like crap tbh. The broadcast could have been a lot better. And the fanboost glitch, how did they miss that? Was there any testing done?
     
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  20. The feature race was a mess. Firstly one simulator wasn't working so some couldn't race. Then the race was shortened to 20 laps due to a technical problem. Then the feature race itself was incredibly dull. Then there was the fanboost glitch and the mess of the podium ceremony with Huis and Pahkala taking an age to come out. No interviews with the driver, and I feel they could have done a better job with graphics if I'm honest. I was well confused to who I was onboard with at times, with me and several others thinking that Huis got overtaken on the last lap, even though it was Pahkala lapping someone
     
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