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Hello. I suck! But hope to get better.

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by TheBloke, Jan 14, 2015.

  1. Hi all,

    I've been lurking on the forums the past couple of weeks. I discovered it when I bought Assetto Corsa and started looking at the mods here (which are much better laid out than on AC's own forum.)

    So, as the title says, I suck. Really, really suck. I don't know what sort of innate understanding of racing driving that you all have, but whatever it is, I lack it. My first time out in any new, powerful car usually sees me spinning off the track on every corner - or going so slow to avoid that that my times are ridiculous. My first hundred laps on any new track are a similarly painful experience. I basically have to memorise the course layout, learning by rote where the brake and how far to turn the wheel. Even then I still keep the racing line on for many more hundreds of laps, and my lap times are always far below what I see on the leaderboards.

    I've had an on-off experience with racing games. For a long time in my gaming life, I simply ignored them because I knew I sucked and so I didn't enjoy them. Then in Jan 2010 I got Forza 3 for the XBox and got excited by the idea of a real wheel, so I bought the Fanatec Porsche 911 Turbo S wheel. That was exactly five years ago, and I think I've used it for about 4 weeks in those 5 years - two of those weeks being the last two weeks, since I bought AC!

    But things have been a bit different this time round. On a whim, I got the wheel out of its box over Christmas, and then discovered and purchased AC. And I've really got into it. Rather than quitting after a few days because I am so bad, I've stuck with it - sometimes to the point of obsession.

    For my first 7 days of AC, I did nearly 1000 laps. In one car. On one track. Exclusively. That being the slowest car (Abarth 500 SS), and the shortest track (Vallelunga Club.) I chose that combo because they were the opening car/track on the Novice Career, and after doing appallingly in career event two (the first AI race) I went to HotLaps, determined to practice until I could beat the event. I then got a little obsessed with improving my lap time, driving 900+ laps over the next few days, without touching any other car or track.

    I did make progress though, eventually getting my lap time to 1:01.286, which puts me at position #430 out of 1500 on RSR's Live Timing leaderboard: top third, by far my best position. (And many fo the times higher than me may have been recorded before AC was released, and so on earlier, easier physics. On the other hand, I currently shift only with paddles, not using the clutch.)

    But even with all that time and practice, I'm still more than 1.5 seconds slower than the top times, with no beginning of a clue as to how I would reduce my time by more than 0.5 seconds, let alone 1.5. And I'm still inconsistent, generally lapping at best 0.4 slower than my PB, and only occasionally (once per 100 laps or so), managing a 'perfect' lap where I match or beat my PB.

    Now that I've got a semi-respectable time with that combo, I have branched out into other cars, and one more track - Silverstone National. The second shortest track :) I have tried a couple of other tracks, briefly, but I just suck too much on the longer/curvier tracks, and really feel I need to concentrate on one track at a time, practising over and over. This is what I mean about not having any 'instinct' for fast driving.

    So I'm planning to open a thread, I guess in the AC forum here, asking for advice on how to improve. I'm hoping someone can suggest some good resources - videos, books, anything - that will teach me a bit more about the concepts. All the driving I'm doing has certainly helped - I can catch and fix some fast car skids/slides now, for example, where before I would just spin off every time - but I still feel I'm missing huge chunks of basic knowledge and technique, stuff that most of you probably take for granted. And there's still plenty of cars I find almost literally undriveable. And I've done no car tuning at all - or rather, the few tweaks I've tried here and there never make any positive difference (though I'm so inconsistent it's often hard to tell whether a tweak has affected the car, or whether I just happened to drive a bit better/worse on those laps.)

    Anyway, apologies - this has been a very long "hello"! I will stop now. Thanks very much for this excellent forum and I hope to stick around a while and learn and contribute!

    TheBloke (Tom)
    • Like Like x 1
  2. jimortality

    Premium Member

    Welcome Tom, it doesn't matter how much you suck, this place caters for all levels. You say you've done 1000 laps well the faster guys have probably done 20 times that over the course of several years. Have a look in the set up forum, that will help with your lap times. Get to know people and get on teamspeak and they will help you out. Try and take part in the race department academy that is run for premium members and just ask ask ask on here!!!
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Thanks Jim!

    You're right of course, practice will make a huge difference and I'm trying to do so as often as possible. I do still believe that there's some kind of 'instinct' and natural ability that some have and some don't, and I clearly lack it completely. A week after I first got the wheel, I took it round to a friend's house and he and I and two other guys did some racing on Forza 3 on the 360. None of them had played Forza, or used a PC/console racing wheel before, and I'd been playing for a week. Despite that they still consistently lapped faster and more confidently than I did!

    But it's OK, I'm going to stick at it. I don't have any illusions of reaching the top of any leaderboards. I just want to get to the point where I can join some online races and have the confidence that I won't embarrass myself, or annoy everyone by crashing too much! And have practised enough cars and tracks that I actually have a reasonable selection of races to choose from (right now I couldn't even think about joining 99% of Assetto Corsa servers, because I only know two tracks and they're not popular ones, it seems!)

    I definitely plan to ask around for help, you guys are very helpful and welcoming. And yes I'm hoping I can take advantage of the racing instruction that comes with Premium - that could be a big help! I'm going to do a few thousand more laps first, though, so I can get hopefully get the most out of it :)

    Thanks again for your warm welcome; it's great to be here.
  4. Andy Jackson

    Andy Jackson
    Sponsored by BRUT Premium Member

    Hey Tom, you could always sign up for the Racedepartment Driver Academy. Like you, there are many racers here who suck. I'm one of em. ;) But I still enter the odd race or two. If there were no backmarkers, the fast boys would get bored with no one to overtake.

    Some of the club racing with Game Stock Car allow driving aids and I find that helps a lot to actually enjoy a race without spinning off.

    Try it. :thumbsup:
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Thanks Andy, that's a good point!

    I usually try to drive without driver-aids, with one exception: I always have auto-clutch on. I've not even begun to try using the clutch pedal, or an external shifter; I always use the paddles on my steering wheel.

    Actually in Asetto Corsa, I don't need auto-clutch, because it seems that the game recognises when paddles are used and disables the clutch completely.

    I use Racing Line a lot too when I'm learning a track, but I can turn it off once I've done enough hundreds of laps (at least I have been able to with Vallelunga Club in Assetto Corsa.)

    Will my use of paddles and lack of clutch (or use of auto-clutch in non-AC games) preclude me from most races?

    If it is, I guess that actually I could also participate in races when I was driving a car that only has paddles anyway - like a BMW M3 or the Zonda or whatever.
  6. John Grant

    John Grant
    Dont Rub me up the wrong way Premium Member

    I get your feeling Tom one feels so useless not being able to achieve even a point on the board, Just a question. Why "Asseto" such a keyboard game to play and u have a wheel, what a waste, Rather have a look at " RACE 07" so much more tracks , cars etc. definitely not made for keyboard players, and great clubs to belong to that will help and guide u.
    • Beer Beer x 1
  7. Andy Jackson

    Andy Jackson
    Sponsored by BRUT Premium Member

    Not in the slightest. I use auto clutch and paddle shifting in AC, GSCE, Race 07, GTR2 and RRE and in all club races here.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Hey Tom!
    Good to meet you, and I see you already have a lot of help coming your way. I think joining Race Department is the most positive step you can take. I've spent the last 15 years playing Gran Turismo, and I must say it has been a fun ride. I've been getting more involve in AC because I think it can easily be the future of Racing Sims. Keep in mind that the game is still early in it's life cycle, so we are still beta testing to an extent. Like many other new games I've played, as the game gets better, you will get better.

    Also, you may want to (if you haven't yet), experiment more with the settings and interaction of your wheel with the game. I was having a lot of trouble in the beginning as well, and I'm still a noob for sure, but one thing I do know is that getting your controller to respond the way you want it to will improve your performance greatly. I experimented last night for about 4 hours and with every good adjustment I made, my times came down. Sometimes as much as 3 seconds a lap in a variety of cars and put in a couple of good laps in the Yellowbird at Silverstone. Something I still can't do in GT6! :unsure:

    I personally feel that is the first step, because once you start tuning, you are tuning for your car, the track and your wheel setup, and if you change something in your wheel, you will have to change something in your car. All of your cars potentially. So try to make sure that you are very comfortable with how you feel about that before moving on.

    Then you are doing what I would have recommended second. Join a good board(s) and interact with people. Read their stories and experiences and don't be afraid to try what they say. Just make sure you keep a good record of your settings so you can go back if you lose time in the process. When you find your comfort zone, you will know it, and your times will reflect it. Those are just my thoughts as we take this ride together.

    Welcome aboard, and I hope to see you all on the track sometime soon!

    dctoe (Toby)
  9. I see your point John, but I think this game has a ton of potential, and although I am going to look in to Race 07 (because I like all racers), I think it's too early to give up on this game. If they continue the development model they are using, it will turn out to be quite successful and much more fun to play for us sim guys. We are experiencing some of the headaches of getting in on the ground floor, and as a developer myself, I can tell you that it is it's own kind of h*ll. But if you see it through to the end, the rewards are often greater than expected and well worth your blood, sweat, and tears.

    Thanks for the counterpoint however, and I will see you out there somewhere!

    Toby (dctoe)
  10. Thanks all for the good advice!

    Good suggestions! I have recently started with tuning the cars. I did that a bit at first but really wasn't sure what I was doing. Instead I've been downloaded recommended setups from others. At least with this I can be sure I'm driving a setup that some people have used for good lap times. Then I've sometimes re-configured from there, perhaps to make it slightly easier to drive.

    But I still face the issue of being so inconsistent, it's hard to judge the effects of tuning. Sometimes I make a change - making the car easier to turn-in, for example - and then suddenly I seem to post much better laps. I think "great! I've got a setup that works for me." Then, to be sure, I reset the car back to default. And post the same or even better lap times again. Then I realise that any improvement after my tuning was just that coincidentally I happened to start driving better around that time. So now I mostly just use downloaded setups unchanged, so at least I know they work for someone - and some have definitely given me improved times overall, e.g. by increasing my top speed on straights.

    As for tuning the wheel, this is something I've tried but I really am not sure what to do. My wheel is now rather old (got it beginning of 2010.) I keep worrying that it's not nearly good enough compared to everyone else's. It seems to give reasonable FFB, and I've used the FFBClip app to tune the maximum gain so I don't get lots of clipping, and I used the iRacing Wheel Check software that someone posted on the AC forums to check my "FFB curve" and my "minimum force" setting. So I appear to have settings that get the most out of my wheel.

    But I really don't know what the FFB is meant to be telling me, or how to use that information. I read a lot about people who "caught and fixed a slide" because of the FFB feeling. I don't know how to do that - I have no idea what information I am supposed to learn from the movement of the wheel! I even went to the drift track with a car setup that gave me a hugely twitchy rear end, spinning all over the place, and tried to work out what in the wheel might warn me it was about to spin. But I could not pick up any subtle distinctions before and after a spin started - usually the wheel just felt the same throughout, and I only noticed major FFB movement (wheel whipping back and forth) later in the spin, I guess when I regained traction.

    Any advice on how to learn from the FFB response would be very gratefully received and I think could help me a fair bit.

    Overall, I keep going through cycles of interest and depression. If I can see any sign of little improvement in my times, and so I have something to aim for, then I practice and practice for hours. I might get down during that practice if I keep crashing or keep failing to post a clean lap, especially after several hours. But then if I realise something - how to take a corner better - my enthusiasm returns and I carry on. Eventually I post a much improved time, and feel good. And then I make the mistake of looking at the leaderboard, and realise that despite just taking no fewer than 4 seconds off my Spa time, I'm still 650 out of 700 people. Then I'm down again for a while. Or, I try a new car or course, and again get down because I'm so bad at a fundamental level. The other night I tried continuing the career, which put me in the Alfa Romeo on the Magione Time Trial (a new car and track for me.) This is Novice career level 3, and it took me maybe 8 attempts just to get bronze on the time trial, and then I was nowhere at all on the race (the next career level.)

    It's stuff like that gets me down and makes me think I'm just wasting my time even trying to improve - after nearly 3 weeks and 120+ hours driving, it really feels like I should be doing much better at new stuff like that.

    On leaderboards, I don't even expect to be anywhere near the top, or even the middle. Justoff the last page would be a start. (I try to think, "well 650 out of 700 is still better than 50 people." But I know I've done 500 laps and spent 15 or 20 hours to get that, and I have to wonder if the 50 below me only spent 20 minutes.)

    More importantly, I just wish I understood even the basics of how to shave so many seconds off my time. I don't mind if I can't do something; if I know I need to keep practising to improve it. In fact, I enjoy that - constantly trying to do better and better. What gets me down is not even beginning to understand what I'm supposed to do or how to do it. It's not just a case of driving better. How I drive now clearly cannot shave off as many seconds as is needed. There's some fundamental change needed, and I don't really know what it is. It's that lack of basic understanding that gets me down most, because it often feels like I'm just driving round and round the courses to no avail - spinning my wheels both figuratively and literally! That's not fully true of course, I am improving bit by bit. But there's still a huge knowledge gap as to how to improve significantly.

    I guess I need to do what I keep meaning to, which is carefully studying videos of other drivers on the same course/car. Literally frame by frame - working out where their steering wheel is, where their pedals are. And step-by-step re-creating for myself how they drive that way and then trying to do that myself. Maybe some epiphany will then come. In the meantime it does rather feel like trying to crack a code or decipher an unknown language. This is what I mean about lacking any innate understanding or feeling for how to drive fast - I have to learn literally by rote, basically memorising the pedal and wheel movements.

    Perhaps a bigger problem is that I'm lacking a lot of basic background understanding that would help. Rather than just memorising pedal and wheel positions, I wish I understood more of the underlying principles, and basic techniques. I'm rather surprised that there seems to be so little resources on the internet. I thought Youtube would be full of "how to drive better" tutorials. But I'm struggling to find any (besides iRacing's Driving School, which I've watched several times but is woefully short and undetailed.)

    Anyway, I shall keep persevering :) Thanks again for your advice and support!
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2015
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  11. John Grant

    John Grant
    Dont Rub me up the wrong way Premium Member

    Hi Tom .
    that is a mouth full, i can understand your frustration and must admit i feel the same, keep on-trying mate. in my club there a guys who piggy back you while driving then giving instructions as you go along on " Teamspeak" this is a great help. attached a file that could help you with setups. check the last page

    Attached Files:

  12. Good advice John! I may just try that myself!
  13. That's a really helpful doc, thanks! I've been reading the AC car setup guide on this forum and it's very good, but this doc adds quite a bit more explanation in some places. Thanks a lot.

    What club are you in?
  14. John Grant

    John Grant
    Dont Rub me up the wrong way Premium Member