Niels Heusinkveld Talks & Drives - With a Twist!

Discussion in 'Other Racing Games' started by Paul Jeffrey, Dec 10, 2016.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

    Build it Drive it - Speedboats 1.jpg
    Niels Heusinkveld needs no introduction as the man behind much of the physics work in Automobilista and his prolific back catalogue of physics projects in the sim racing genre. Niels shares his love of sim racing physics with regular 'Talk & Drive' videos - showcasing a number of his creations and sharing hits and tips with fans. However in his most recent video Niels tries his hand at something a little bit different... Speedboats!

    Ok I'll admit Design it, Drive it: Speedboats is a title that totally passed me by since its release back in November 2015. Simply put I've never heard of it. Having watched Niels video for just 3 minutes I was hooked immediately... the game looks to by a physics sandbox title focusing on the very entertaining world of powerboat racing. Obviously our Mr. Heusinkveld feels the same as he uses the software as a basis for his latest Talk & Drive show, with the Reiza physics man pulling off a string of manoeuvres in his racing boat while explaining a bit more to fans about the game and what players can expect from a title a little different to our usual type of racing experience.

    Granted I've not played the sim yet (that's going to change by the end of the weekend...), however judging by some of the available videos it does look like a very strong addition to the sim racing fans game library. Something of a rarity at the moment in our little niche is VR support (although only for Oculus at present, Vive to follow) and with a strong focus on physics simulation, this game could be a nice distraction for those wanting to further the vehicle driving experience.

    It's probably not everybody's cup of tea here at RaceDepartment, but have a look at Niels latest video and see what you think....

    Talk & Dive 22: Showboating!

    Build it Drive it - Speedboats 2.jpg

    About the Game

    Now With Tunnel Boats!

    Design it, Drive it: Speedboats is a speedboat simulator with high fidelity physics that lets you design and drive your own speedboats from dozens of adjustable parameters on a Windows PC, then compete against other players via leaderboards in top speed shootouts, solo time trials on lapped or point to point courses, or just free drive as you please with no constraints. Whether you end up with boats that are slow, fast, turn well, chine walk, or tend to blow over at high speeds or not depends on what you do with the shape and design of the hull.

    This is not your typical boat game, it's a serious, hardcore physics simulator used by real life boat racers including Formula 1, 2, 3, and offshore powerboat racers to keep their skills sharp between races.

    As of November 17, 2016 there are now two basic types of hulls that you can modify to your heart's delight:
    • Vee bottom outboards
    • Formula style outboard tunnels (NEW!)
    Boat Design Variables:
    There are more than 25 adjustable parameters in the simulator on the vee hull alone you can play with that affect not only the boat's appearance, but also the performance and handling. Some of these include:
    • Single, twin, and triple engine outboard installations (up to 900 total horsepower with triples)
    • Engine power (150 hp through 300 hp in 25 hp increments guided by or using real outboard engine dyno data)
    • Propeller pitch
    • Overall hull length, width, and molded depth
    • Transom height
    • Chine width
    • Bow and transom deadrise angles
    • Cockpit position, width, and dash height
    • Seat positions and floor depth (the driver's position matters a great deal for balance)
    • Bow top shape
    • Overall hull curvature
    • Pad or no pad: With a pad you can choose the pad deadrise (side) angle, length, width, and height.
    • Strakes/Step positions, width, and deadrise (side) angle. You can run two steps or no steps.
    • Jackplate setback (from 4 to 12 inches)
    • Weight can be adjusted from 0% (lightest) to 100% (double the lightest weight) in 10% increments.
    There are similar parameters for the tunnel hulls specific to that type of boat. You get the idea: Design your boat and take if for a test drive to see how it performs, and if you're feeling competitive, pit yourself and your boat designs against others via leaderboards.

    The boat mesh is generated procedurally (mathematically) from the above parameters. The physics computations are run directly on those mesh triangles for your design. All parameters affect the handling and top speed of the boat in much the same way they do on a real boat.

    The physics code/vehicle simulation model driving all this is a proprietary system that solves thousands of hydrodynamic, skin friction, buoyancy, and aerodynamic forces separately on almost every triangle in the boat mesh, lower unit, and powerhead as well as the individual propeller blades.
    • Chine walk naturally comes out of the model as well as blowover. A lot can be learned about both by experimenting with the hull design and driving techniques inside the boat sim. You can learn to control chine walk in a real boat by practicing it safely in the simulator first.

    • Skin friction at the hull and lower unit is computed using a sophisticated Reynold's number approach that depends on the details of the water/hull interaction, so as you trim the engine or adjust the hull or pad design to raise the bow or hull out of the water with aerodynamic lift, the effect on top speed is similar to what you would get with a real boat. The same goes for the cockpit operated hydraulic jackplate which can be used to raise the entire engine up to minimize wetted drag on the lower unit to attain even higher speeds.

    • Paddlewheel effects due to surface piercing propellers come out of the physics model due to the individual propeller blade modelling, so when the jack plate is raised or the engine trim is adjusted to lift the propeller partly out of the water (surface piercing prop) in the hunt for maximum speed, the lopsided propeller forces from blades exposed to the air tend to steer the boat which requires a steering correction similar to real life surfacing propellers.
    These maps are real life locations generated from satellite terrain data.
    • Lotus Lake in Chanhassen, Minnesota, is a small, three bay lake about one mile long that the developer grew up on and spent untold hours driving the family speedboat on.
    • Glen Canyon, Utah, is an enormous stretch of the San Juan river that takes more than 30 minutes to drive the entire length of in a 100 mph+ boat. It includes a bit of everything in one giant map. There's a narrow, twisty section of the river, some wider, straighter areas, and a couple of wide open lake areas that are each much larger than Lotus Lake. With multiple starting locations, it's like several maps in one.
    Are there more real life locations you'd like to see added to the simulator? Post them here!

    Simulation Modes
    • "Free as the Wind" mode lets you drive freely in much the same way you'd play with a flight simulator. Go anywhere and do anything you want without any buoy turn markers or timers or goals. In this mode there are multiple starting locations spread throughout each map.
    • "Courses" mode lets you drive competitively either in lapped solo time trials or in one mile top speed shootouts (available on both maps) with your results submitted to a separate leaderboard for each course. NEW August 6, 2016: Leaderboards are available for all courses. Previously they were available for top speed shootouts only.
    Courses are open water circuits on the Lotus Lake and Glen Canyon maps marked by buoys the same way it's done in real powerboat racing (red buoys are for right turns, yellow buoys are for left). As of August 4, 2016, all non-top speed shooutout courses have leaderboard functionality added that will display your rank, best ever laptime, last laptime, best session laptime, and world record laptime every time a lap is completed.
    • Lotus Lake Top Speed Shootout: A straight, mile long course for top speed competition.
    • Lotus Lake Short: A short, four turn lapping course in the main bay similar to some formula style boat circuits. Laptimes here are usually less than one minute.
    • Lotus Lake Full Lap: A longer course with a large number of turns that hugs the shoreline and takes you around the entire lake once per lap. A full trip in a quick boat that turns well takes under three minutes.
    • Glen Canyon Shootout: A straight, mile long course for top speed competition.
    • Glen Canyon Full: This enormous one-way point to point course extends the entire length of the Glen Canyon map and is well over 40 miles in length. It can take more than 30 minutes to go from one end to the other with a boat capable of 100 mph.
    • Glen Canyon Minnow: A short, four turn lapping course with two very tight left handers, a medium right turn, and a long 180 left hander. Similar to formula style tracks with lap times typically around 50-55 seconds or less.
    • Glen Canyon Steak: A large offshore powerboat style course held in a large bay that's partly out in the open water, but also snakes between the shoreline and a couple of small islands. The turns are long and wide here for the most part, very high speed. Lap times under three minutes.
    Do you have course layout ideas for the existing maps or real world map locations you'd like to see added? Suggest them here:

    You're not restricted to driving on courses, however. Just choose "Free as the Wind" mode and drive anywhere you want. A lazy run down Glen Canyon with no pressure can be surprisingly relaxing, especially in VR.

    Controller Support
    • Fully configurable with axes/buttons. Use a keyboard, gamepad buttons/axes, joystick, steering wheel (force feedback supported), a combination of all of these, etc.. Anything that DirectInput can see should work for a controller.
    • Steam Controller does not have full native support, but can be made to work with some effort. See tutorial:
    • VR handheld controllers are NOT supported. In VR mode you use a mouse and keyboard to navigate the user interface, change cameras, etc..
    The best setup is a force feedback steering wheel + pedals with a mouse and keyboard within reach.

    VR Support
    • Oculus Rift DK1, DK2, and CV1 : Fully supported. Requires Oculus Home 1.3 or higher.
    • Vive: NOT YET supported, but will come.
    Oculus VR headsets are optional. Single, dual, and triple monitor setups are supported.

    Developer Info
    This solo indie project is under continuing development by Todd Wasson, formerly the physics engine programmer/vehicle dynamics engineer behind Virtual RC Racing and it's successor, VRC Pro. Todd has been writing physics engines and vehicle models since before 2000 and specializes in vehicle dynamics.

    Audio was created by Greg Hill of Soundwave Concepts, the master car (and now boat) engine audio developer behind iRacing and many other sim racing titles.

    Future Development
    This product is under ongoing development. The main priority right now is adding more types of boats.

    Design it, Drive it: Speedboats can be purchased right now on Steam. Check out the store page here.

    Build it Drive it - Speedboats 3.jpg Build it Drive it - Speedboats 4.jpg Build it Drive it - Speedboats 5.jpg Build it Drive it - Speedboats 6.jpg

    Did you enjoy Niels latest Talk & Drive video? What do you think of Design it, Drive it: Speedboats? Does this type of simulation appeal to you? Have you tried it already? Let us know in the comments section below!
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016
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  2. M D Gourley

    M D Gourley

    Yes it does...but...only when it reaches maturity with the graphics / audio etc. I would like to see those small jet boats with V8 engines, a driver and navigator going around those very tight water courses (the name of it escapes me at the moment) and other challenges...if they get that type of Sim I would definitely be in, especially if I could still map my wheel and pedals
    EDIT: Small jet boats with V8 engines = Extreme Jet Sprint Racing...awesome sounding and amazed how these Jet Boats turn so fast, the G-Forces must be incredible.
    2nd EDIT: Pulling as much as 7 G-Forces around corners... the boats are approx 12 feet long and some are equipped with an engine size of 9.4 litres and they go up to 11.5, fielding as much as 1043kW.
    Acceleration 2G’s force 0 to 120 kph (0 to 75 mph) in 1.9 seconds...the jet unit processes 300 litres of water per second (83 US gallons)....and they have to run around water channels that are only 3 feet deep and 15 feet wide....amazing stuff

    ...and website with some more facts...
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
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  3. InsaneOzzie


    Interesting! Nice to see an alternate racing sim to bitumen & dirt. I agree with @M D Gourley Jet boat racing is the thing that would rope me in, Ive seen it in action here in Aussie, awesome stuff, visually & audibly, this sim could even delve into the Offshore racing, which are massive craft with massive horsepower. Will be watching this sim with keen interest.
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  4. RaceNut


    I've been watching this title for some time since it was revealed in the Oculus forums. Having owned several boats over the years, I have interest in this kind of title and used to have a Jet Boat (not the Racing Kind though) with a 400hp big-block V8. We used to knock whoever was skiing behind the boat off the ski with the rooster-tail as they crossed the wake. Maybe they could add that into the sim too! :D
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  5. fortyfivekev


    Not really my cup of tea as it stands but I like the way you can see the forces acting on the boat. It would be interesting to see something similar in driving sims.
  6. Nox


    @Paul Jeffrey let us know what you think of it after you play it this weekend :thumbsup:
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  7. k_badam

    Yer Nan

    The developer is/used to be a sim racer :)
  8. Nick Gregory

    Nick Gregory
    Forever a backmarker Premium

    There should be a run-what-you-brung race server if multiplayer is ever implemented.
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  9. Tom Moore

    Tom Moore

    Pretty good. Have a google search of chine walking. High performance V hull boats run on a small pad when up to speed and the boat is constantly trying to fall off the pad due to the torque of the motor/prop. It can make for interesting boat driving.
  10. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

    Yeah will do mate. Not yet had chance to purchase it as one or two unexpected events have been going off over the weekend :( ! Hopefully I'll get the chance after I've done a good search round for news this evening and had my hit of driving for the night. I'll feed back here when I've had a chance to try it out :)
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  11. Bram Hengeveld

    Bram Hengeveld
    Founder Staff Premium

    Some of those old Formula 1 boats would be awesome :inlove:
  12. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

    Ok so I've tried it now.

    Firstly it runs well, FFB is good, VR is solid and it feels "nice".
    What you actually have to do is... minimal. But its early access, so that will get better I suppose.
    Graphics are fairly decent, the water especially looks good. Jaggies on the shore and some shimmer effect but not too bad.

    All in all, its fun, I assume its very realistic, and the boat creation is well done at this early stage.

    Will I keep going back to it day in day out? No. However saying that, the potential is huge going forward.

    IMHO, £18 was a bit steep. But its fun, and if you like boats its a must have!
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  13. Kevin Knorpp

    Kevin Knorpp

    Way cool. Favorite Niels quote = What have I done?! haha