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Focusing on a Single Sim

Davide Nativo

Columnist for RaceDepartment
Corvette R3E.jpg

When less is actually more.

We live in the golden age of sim-racing. That is surely something we hear quite a lot lately. Whether we agree or not with this claim, it is indeed true that nowadays we have plenty of sims available to us, each and every one of them with its peculiarities and its specific character. Spacing from jack-of-all-trades kinda sims, to more traditional ones focusing mainly on a single discipline, new titles seem also to be in development giving to this niche market a breath of fresh air.

It was a long long time, the period ranging from the late nineties to the beginning of this decade, when we basically had just a handful of sims that were actually good. Today, there are plenty of alternatives for the contemporary sim-racer, with developers trying to fill in every gap there still is and even more forms and branches of motorsport being virtually recreated. On the other hand, having this amount of available options to choose from could be disorienting and eventually lead to some frustration.

Every studio puts a lot of work in their product, and tries to deliver the most authentic driving experience to the user. It is undeniable that sims have now reached an impressive overall quality, and in fact increasingly more professional drivers actually use them for every day training. Professional grade simulators are often derived from commercial products, and the ones built in-house seem to be affected too by the ones we drive at home. It would be mad not to acknowledge the tremendous jump in quality we have made in the last thirty years or so in this area.

Hardware has also made an incredible leap forward. Twenty years ago, you would have been very lucky to have some basic, plastic, 90 degrees rotation wheel. Now you can buy premium direct drive wheels and belt-driven wheels, finished with leather or alcantara. Pedals working with gas, hard coiled springs or hydraulic pistons. Metal shifters, button boxes, gauges, LED displays, handbrakes, motion rigs. There is no end to this list, short of your bank account going into the red!

ACC - Jag Emil Frey.jpg

Virtual Reality is the last milestone in this never ending evolution process, which allows those who can afford it (but no doubt this technology will be available to a larger audience sometime in the future, thanks to prices dropping and tech evolving), to actually sit in the car the sim is replicating. Can you imagine, whatever your dream car is, to actually be in it, for how as much time as you want, on the racetrack or on a nice coastal drive? We experience something that not only would have been deemed impossible by previous generations, but not even imaginable or conceivable in the first place!

However, as we were saying, all of this can actually become disorienting. Leaving the hardware side of things aside, the software is also a big problem. Having all these nice sims available, means, ideally, that you’ll first have to invest quite a lot of money into having all of them or most of them; second you’ll have to split up your free time among all the choices you have. Considering that many sims have 100/200+ cars rosters, you may end up not enjoying sim-racing at all. Isn’t that nonsense?

Every title has its peculiarities, and it requires you to adjust your muscle memory to what is necessary for it to provide an enjoyable and satisfying driving experience. Jumping back and forth between sims means that you are constantly re-adapting, which in the end also means you will never completely get used to any of them.

It might sound as a contradiction, but having this much choice means that you actually have to make a choice! You can buy all of them, and try to regularly drive all of them, but in truth, you will end up just wasting precious time and resources. Instead, search in the store pages, read reviews, look up on YouTube. Try a demo if available. Listen for opinions. Then go for what has caught your eye, and dedicate to it.

rFactor 2 - LMP2.jpg

This does not mean that you have to preclude yourself from other sims, or that you have to end up panicking to get the first choice right because it’s the only one you’ll get. No. It means: give yourself time. Relax. Pick an option, and strip it to the bone. Learn to enjoy what you have and to get the most out of it. Nobody says that you cannot have another sim, or that you cannot be interested in other future titles. The choice you made might be the wrong one, or it might no longer be the best one. It is down to you to come to that conclusion though. If you constantly shift your focus you never will, because you will never have the time to understand that.

Let us make a simple example. If you could swap every single day your hardware wheel with which you intend on sim-racing with completely different models, wouldn’t that totally scramble your driving, making impossible for you to get consistent results? Nevertheless, by sticking to the one you have that does not mean that at some point you will not feel like buying a new, better one. Why? Because you will end up knowing everything about that wheel by that time, and you will be able to fully evaluate whether you may or may not need another one, more suitable to your purposes.

We live in society that values speed over quality. However, speed blurs every detail. Life is lived one day at a time. We should try to remember that more. Give yourself the time necessary to actually enjoy what racing sims have to offer.

More on the subject, we touched on this discussion in the latest episode of the RD Podcast while speaking about how do we practice in sims. The topic got us into a debate about what deserves more focus (practice or the actual fun of just getting into the race) and how different types of online races (casual, sprint, endurance) require very different approaches. Most importantly, how consistency in your choices deeply affects consistency in your laptimes. Have a listen at min 54:30 here

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The amount of choice can be dizzying. Do you choose the GT cars that Studio397 are focusing on or are you more into the GT cars Kunos are focusing on. Then there is the choice way out of left field in iRacing where they tend to focus more on GT cars instead :roflmao:

Deleted member 503495

"constantly re-adapting"
If I have to adapt too much, something is not as it should. You adapt to GPL, this day and age you shouldn't have to compromise as much.
I have no problems at using multiple simulations, and wild variety of cars in all of them.

The only thing to adapt is if simulation offers something you don't know well. Then you have take some time to get used to it. But after that you basically own it.

Naturally you should be adapting to every car, in any track, in any simulation for a couple of laps before increasing to less comfortable pace.
I'm not happy with any sim at the moment. They all seem to have one annoying problem which I can't ignore.
Just want a rock solid VR experience and be able to do a properly formatted offline endurance championship with some decent AI.
I think if iRacing nail this AI update then it might well be that one sim.


The amount of choice can be dizzying. Do you choose the GT cars that Studio397 are focusing on or are you more into the GT cars Kunos are focusing on. Then there is the choice way out of left field in iRacing where they tend to focus more on GT cars instead :roflmao:

Was thinking about posting something similar. :D
GT cars are well represented throughout the current sims but if you like other series – especially historic ones – you often just have one or two cars to choose from. R3E on the other hand offers some nice packages which I really appreciate.
I focus on one sim only (ac) for the reason of extracting the most out of it and try to max out my possibilities of being as competitive as possible. If acc gets triplemonitor support I will move to that one.
I've always been a man of a single sim. I stick to whatever feels more real to me since I never drove a real race car. The only time I have more than one is if I'm making a transition, then the number rises to 2 lol
What makes me try a sim and see if I'll like it is features. Right now 24h cycle, rain, dynamic track rubber/dryline, rejoin and FCY are a must. If one of these is lacking I wont even try.


The James May of Simracing
In the past I mostly focused on AC and accumulated 2000+ hours. Nowadays, with less time overall and more options thanks to more useful hardware, my choice of sim to drive depends on what content I want to drive - If there is a specific piece of content I'll use the sim that does it best imo, else I usually go by what I want to do:

Hotlapping/Cruising - Assetto Corsa
Offline Racing - rFactor 2 & Automobilista
Online Racing - iRacing
Everything GT3 - ACC (when fully released)

What's that?
What's that?
full course yellow. I used to have this in our GT3 leagues when I managed/assisted them some time ago. It's fun but can be a bit annoying when yellows breed yellows. When people have patience tho it's amazing, it can mess up with your strategy so bad, send u to the back of the grid, or to the front.
I just want Assetto Corsa 2 using their own engine.
Only rFactor 2 and Assetto Corsa are installed on my PC.
I don't have alot of sim time these days and have been focused on finally completing AC career.
I love career modes in sims.
For me it's depend on what i want :
RF2 for league racing (and you can only race online in league in RF2 i think or i missed something)
AC and ACC when want some immediate fun online race after work or the week end.
But if RF2 had the same number of online player as AC or ACC, i think i'll be sticking to RF2.
Focusing on one probably helps in being fast.

My thinking has been "since I've invested into triples and wheel setup, I get every possible driving game with decent wheel support" and that I basically have. So I constantly switch. Different sims have different strengths

- AMS: FFB is probably the best. Physics are great too
- AC: Graphics (Shaders patch), street car selection, mod tracks, pretty good FFB too
- Dirt Rally 2.0: Well it's rally. Sound is phenomenal, gravel physics are good
- WRC7: Stages
- RaceRoom: Sound
- Wreckfest: Wrecking
- Forza Horizon 4: Graphics, car porn, virtual sight seeing
- ACC. Sound, graphics. The performance makes me play it less than AC though

Okay not all are sims. But anyway. Mainly it's AC vs AMS. I'm wasting resources anyway, by playing games :p I'm not gonna gain anything from it, even if I was 10% faster. So if I'm a bit slower due to switching constantly... meh. I do what fits my mood, it's only to relax and have some fun
Very hard to do actually, so much to choose from. But somewhat limited by hardware. With a new video card I can now actually enjoy 20 car AI fields, with no lag and just occasional issues with 99%CPU issues, at least with AC. Automobilista on the other hand is very good, I can run huge fields with no problems.
I mostly run older cars, new ones are just too fast, and just have no personality.
I used to like iRacing but with no AI I left it a few years ago. Always loved that little Skippy, and it took some skill to drive it quickly as well. Then again opening up a McLaren M8A is just a thrill even If your the only one on the track, just RAW power.
I long though to hear a good simulated Matra, haven't heard or seen one yet that has that Matra sound.
Too many....I have them all. I started out in F1 with rf1 and just love driving F1 cars but todays F1 cars just take more time to get right than I have.

The bouncing around between sims has for sure had a negative effect on my performance, not my race craft just my ability to get a car setup to compete. I keep them all updated why I dont know...lol. But i do. I have taken these days to GT3 because at least I can work with them with out spending too much time on it. And although I hate the fact that I get penalized in IRacing for some idiot flying across the track and hitting me. I have migrated mostly to Iracing these days.......just because everything just works right with out any issues including VR.
And oh I hate steam. :whistling: