So you think you know about force feedback?

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One of the most lively debates amongst sim racers surrounds the topic of force feedback. For most of us it is the foundation of our immersion, the contact patch with the cars we drive. It often dictates which sims we love and which sims leave us colder than a skinny dip in a Norwegian fjord. But how much do we really know about what our sims are telling us?

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This weekend Niels Heusinkveld released an epic deep dive into force feedback. With a whole new generation of direct drive wheels amongst us and more and more sim racers switching from their traditional gear and belt driven solutions, we are on the cusp of a new relationship between the evolving physics of sims and our input devises. Niels has produced a brilliant breakdown of the information your sim is sending to your wheel and some of it you may find very surprising indeed.


Do we all need to start thinking differently about driving in our sims? Let us know your thoughts and opinions below!

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Shovas

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This really is an epic deep dive and justifies the title of this post.

You think you know why you like your FFB the way you do?

You probably don't, not really. I learned a lot, myself.
 

muzikant

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I bought a DD1 this summer and the Heusinkvel sprintpedals what a combi . And I have to say that simracing has become completely new experience. Even Ac that didn't feel right on my G25 I can now appreciate. But the kings Rfactor2 and Automobilista there no one comes close .. Racing with the new porsche cup S397 on the Nord is a real pleasure! You don't have to go to the gym anymore
 

RCHeliguy

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Great video breaking things down in isolation.


In most discussions people seem to dwell on feeling the cracks in the road and tire effects that simulate slipping. The closest I've heard people talk about physics in FFB is mentioning how a game loads and unloads the steering wheel which covers everything in the video but in an extremely vague way.
 
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mantasisg

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Thats awesome content by Niels, happy to see it being spread by RD. I think it would be great for RD to have some sort of "science garage" stuff from time to time, just so simracers won't go too dumb one day.

Is this article from Leo Bodnar about FFB still valid?
https://www.racedepartment.com/attachments/ffbdontwork-pdf.222847/
This is very technical, I doubt that a lot understands perfectly clear what is written there, even though it is explained to great detail. But in general thats physics, and physics are always valid. Unless you ask if this is all true ?
 
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Thats awesome content by Niels, happy to see it being spread by RD. I think it would be great for RD to have some sort of "science garage" stuff from time to time, just so simracers won't go too dumb one day.



This is very technical, I doubt that a lot understands perfectly clear what is written there, even though it is explained to great detail. But in general thats physics, and physics are always valid. Unless you ask if this is all true ?
The article defends the idea that the FFB implementation, specially on software side, in 2011 was not realistic.

"Remember that we have noted earlier that FFB steering wheel traditionally receives the force demands from the sim and sends back the wheel position? One way of solving our simulation problem would be to turn it all on its head and instead send position demand to the FFB wheel and receive back the force applied by driver."
 

Richard Wilks

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I think the most important thing that Niels says there at least applied to regular comments i read about FFB, is that you can't "feel" understeer through the wheel, at least not without canned artificial effects. So the famous subtle front end feelis more placebo, or some canned effect thrown over the "real" forces. Also he points out that like in a real race car, the super stiff "self aligning" torque that is supposed to happen when your car oversteers is also a canned effect, because the steeering is supposed to go LIGHT, and the FFB force largely REDUCED when the rear steps out suddenly.
 

protonv5

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"But how much do we really know about what our sims are telling us?"
Not much. The problem I find is that ALL the sim makers out there leave us, the consumer, with the same problem. We must start from scratch every time a new sim is released and we must keep working on our FFB settings over months and even years to get it just right. It seems their argument is: "Well, it's a matter of taste. Of preference." So there is barely a baseline setting for a particular wheel and base and we must wander aimlessly over months to find a good feel/setting. This should not be the case. I do realize that say Kunos or SMS can't make perfect default settings for every wheel on the market, but they should be doing this for most of the popular wheels. Which really shouldn't be that difficult.
Further, as I've been doing this for years now, I find that studios do not first work on making say a Fanatec CSL Elite when driving a 911 GT3 in ACC, FEEL LIKE A 911 GT3. The feel is in there for that car, somewhere, but I have to dial it in to really find it! What?! Sorry, but when I buy a GT3RS for the road, the reason I buy that car is because of the way it drives. The way it performs. I don't first day start changing parts and making adjustments to make it feel like something. It is what it is! It drives the way it drives. That's what makes it a 911. I don't say to the dealer, "Yeah, my RS sucks right now. Just can't quite get it right. Oh well. I'll find the right settings someday." In my opinion, there need to be way better baseline, out of the box settings for most of the mainstream wheels out there. This in turn will bring more people to the hobby
Now, I get what some may say; "Well even in racecars, guys need to find the right setup for the track/conditions, etc. I get that. But that's not what we're talking about here. Those settings are suspension settings in the game. That's not FFB! FFB should work right out of the box. Just like a brand new 911!
 

mantasisg

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@Richard Wilks He didn't talk very much about oversteer, but yes thats the thing, as car oversteer SAT should decrease before it would inverse to the other direction. How sudden this should be is another question, it is next leve lchapter of this topic.

Understeer though can be felt, but that depends on the geometry. To be more precise how much significance there is from the change of pneumatic trail when slip changes.
 

protonv5

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I think the most important thing that Niels says there at least applied to regular comments i read about FFB, is that you can't "feel" understeer through the wheel, at least not without canned artificial effects. So the famous subtle front end feelis more placebo, or some canned effect thrown over the "real" forces.
I am not sure what he's talking about here. I must completely disagree. I feel understeer all day long in my road car when pushing through corners and over-doing it and I know what it feels like. To say you don't feel it in real life? What?
 

Richard Wilks

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I am not sure what he's talking about here. I must completely disagree. I feel understeer all day long in my road car when pushing through corners and over-doing it and I know what it feels like. To say you don't feel it in real life? What?
You feel other things, but you don't feel any point where the grip is maximum, or the grip is not. He said this almost verbatim there in the video, you feel many things, but due to slip angles, the maximum grip point is a point where your wheel would already have lost all the feel, if it wasn't for suspension geometry coming into play and still creating resistance.
 

protonv5

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You feel other things, but you don't feel any point where the grip is maximum, or the grip is not. He said this almost verbatim there in the video, you feel many things, but due to slip angles, the maximum grip point is a point where your wheel would already have lost all the feel, if it wasn't for suspension geometry coming into play and still creating resistance.
Simply not true. I know where my front tires are at maximum grip and when they start to lose that grip. So does a racecar driver. He knows exactly where the limit is. It's why he's being paid so much to drive the car.
 

KittX

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The problem is understeer doesn't really feel like sudden lack of lateral pull on the wheel like many people misinterpret it - very often understeer feels like the whole front end of car starts bouncing and producing very distinctive sounds. I haven't felt/heard it in any game yet tbh. Problem with bouncing that it shouldn't be lateral too, it should be more like those extra vibrating thingys on T-GT wheel.

Example can be found here at 8:04: