Online Driving Guide

The Multi-Player’s Online Driving Guide -by Mike “Miral” Ostrow

Welcome to the world of Multiplayer Racing!
Online vs. Offline- a whole new experience!

Racing online against a field full of humans filled with as much desire and emotion as you adds a new dimension to the game and a driver must adapt to it.

Blocking

The first thing a new driver has to come to grips with is that, while it may be OK to block the heck out a computer car for 50 laps by riding down the middle of the track and swerving about, and treating the AI like cold lifeless blips of light, you can NOT treat human racers that way. Every car you see out there has a real human being behind it, and you have to treat them with full respect. The Multi-player League racing environment is really a very civilized, gentlemanly sport. This is a major adjustment.

Getting up to Speed

Now how’d they do that? One of the first thing that may astound you is some of the mind boggling speeds some people are pulling. Don’t let this dishearten you. They’ve been racing for years, and probably spending 3-4 hours a night working on setups. There’s plenty of drivers who will still be your speed, so run with them, and you’ll still get a good race, probably a better race in fact as they won’t pull away at the start.

Start of the Race

Green Green Green Stop!!! This is the most important and dangerous time of the race. All the cars are bunched together and are on cold slippery tires. When the spotter calls “Green green green” the natural inclination is to stomp on the gas and fly into the corner like its the last lap. But as hard as it may seem, a driver must fight this urge and just lay back for that 1st turn until everything settles out. The first lap of a race is for getting the cars sorted out, and getting the tires warmed up. Passing on the front stretch and in Turn 1 should avoided unless the guy in front really blows the turn.

One very important thing to keep in mind: Causing a wreck on the 1st lap, while everyone is bunched up won’t just take you out, it will almost always cause a huge pileup taking out much of the field, and ruining many drivers nights. Remember its not just you out there, but other guys too. I cannot stress Patience enough here. A driver’s responsibility and goal should be “Make it thru the first lap in 1 piece” and then go from there. Save the hard racing for later in the race when everyone’s spread out.

Remember, if its a 40 lap race, you cannot win it on the 1st lap, but by driving overaggressive on the 1st lap, you sure can lose it.

Driver Etiquette

The situation: A driver cuts in front of you early in the race, shutting the door hard, nearly causing an accident. You’re quite vexed at this, and with the faster car you’re right back on his tail again. What do you do?

As much as one may want to react with some form of retaliation, or force their way through, the proper thing to do is treat the other driver as a potential for an accident, and wait patiently and calmly for the next clear opening. While the other cars ahead may get away a little, at least this way you’ll be A) past the offending car safely and in one piece B) In a much better frame of mind and consequently get better laps and C) On much better terms with that driver in future races.

Give and take is a necessity out there, letting that guy have the spot without fighting him for it.

Please keep in mind this most important ideal, we’re here to battle each other in our cars, not in the chat room. If an accident happens, instead of instantly pointing the finger and getting into an argument, go look at the replay, and see not who was at fault but “what could I have done to avoid this incident?” Even if the other guy was at fault, keeping out of an accident is more important than who caused it, even if it means losing a few spots on the track. If you think you might be at fault, just let him know. Beleive me, an apology in the chat room goes a Looooong way! So fight the urge to get caught up in a fight, it gains no one. Compared to most multi-player games, NASCAR is a very gentlemanly sport. There is sportsmanship among the drivers, not flaming, a lot of help to be offered by the vets, and a good many freindships grow out of the experience.

Latencies and Warp

Scotty I need warp power! One of the most important adjustments a new multiplayer driver has to make is for the thing we call latency. The time it takes where your car is on your computer to be sent to the main server across the country and onto all the other racers’ machines so they can see where you are, and vice versa, many times every second. When things get bogged down on the internet, some of this information gets delayed or dropped and the program has to extrapolate (guess) where yours and their cars are headed, kinda like driving with your eyes closed for a second, trying to go in the same direction, usually right on, but sometimes quite off! Thus your car on their machine might appear in a slightly different place than where it really is, and vice versa. Thus the argument, “You hit me!” “I did not, there was no contact.” Technically, on your end you didn’t hit him, but on his end, a packet was dropped, and his machine “guessed” where u were headed, and thus we have contact. Both drivers did nothing wrong and never really made contact, but a “warp” wrecked them.

Consequently, the solution to this big problem is GIVE ROOM. Give more space between cars then you normally do offline. And if the warping is really bad, give a TON of room. Again, better to get passed than to get wrecked by the dumb server *g*.

Getting Passed

No big deal When Mark Martin won the Talladega race this year, he was passed probably about 20-30 times over the course of the race, which just proves the underlined part of this sentence, its no big deal ;). Passing and being passed are all part of the game. If a guy passes you, he might wear out his tires, and you’ll get him later at the end of the fuel run. Or, if he passes, he may also wreck because of overaggresiveness.

Holding your Line
Hold thy line! When in a 2 wide situation each driver must hold their line, or an accident will ensue. Each track has 3 distinct lines which a driver should be able to run:

* The Preferred Line The normal line, high against wall on the straights, low in the turns, back out to wall exiting turn.
* Low Line With a guy on your right, ride the middle of track down the straight, keep it LOW throughout the turns, and exiting track, give him room and enter straight in middle of track.
* High LineWith a guy below you on left, ride against outside wall down the straight, keep in middle of track in the turns, leaving enough room for the guy below, and exit turn out against the outside wall

In the practice period before the race a driver should run a few laps in each of these lines to get comfortable with the limits before doing it for real.
Mirrors

Learning how to use them Running in multiplayer mode with the “unknown” and unprogrammed driving lines of real people, learning to use and to constantly look in them becomes a necessity. Part of Situational Awareness is knowing where the other cars are and what they are doing. The only way to track what the guys behind are doing is by constantly looking in the mirrors. When there is anyone within 2 seconds of me, I generally will look in the mirror several times per lap, usually going into turn, at apex, exiting turn, and midway down the straight. When he is on my bumper, I’m continually looking at road, mirror, road, mirror. Just enough to keep my line through the turn, but always knowing where he is and what he is doing/trying to do.

Relearning how to use them The AI with their subroutined “preferred” lines were basically easy to figure out,and you eventually learned exactly where in the mirror the cut off was for coming down and cutting them off. With the “unknown” and unprogrammed behaviour of real people out their, this “old” method becomes obsolete for 2 reasons: 1) You don’t want to be cutting real people off the way you might have done with the AI. 2) You have to learn where THEY are in the mirror, and where they are GOING, as they never run the same line twice. The Mirror is one of your most valuable assests, and the more you use it, the more races you finish. The Mirror IS your freind out there, even if the spotter’s drunk!

Arcade Camera Views

Don’t use ’em. While [the Arcade Camera view] provides a “fun” way of looking at the track, it is actually very limiting to the driver. Firstly its much harder to steer a straight steady line, and much harder to get the turns correctly. You will inadvertantely swerve all over. The in-car view while perhaps harder to learn makes it very easy to drive that straight line. (Besides, Jeff Gordon isn’t on top of his roof when he’s driving!). All serious sim racers use the in-car view during the race, and only utilize the [other views] to look at the extent of damage they might have.

Rush Hour Traffic
Not going anywhere for a while? When its 5 cars deep by 2 cars wide and your plum stuck in the middle of it, this is when racing is at its best… and most dangerous. Patience is like gold here, Reserve is mandatory. In heavy traffic you’ll be doing speeds 3-mph off your normal pace, but try not to do anything rash, just ride out the storm and wait for the opening to develop.

Lap Traffic

I have my rights! Everybody has the right to be out there, even the guy 3 laps down. The leaders when coming up on a lapped car do not have the right to push them out of the way and fly by. If a lapper is riding the “normal” line, high in, low at apex, high out, it is the faster car’s responsibility to pass cleanly.

HOWEVER! As a lap car that’s 5 mph slower than the guy who’s coming up on you, you may weigh the decision in your mind, is it better to fight hard for this non-position, or should I be a nice guy and just lift for him? By lap traffic giving way willingly, and leaders being patient in their passes and respecting the lapper’s existence, there is a better time had by all, a much more gentlemanly one, and a whole lot less accidents.

Form a Racing Team

2 Heads are better than One To run up front at every track means having a killer setup at each one. This takes a LOT of time, and the effort can be aided by sharing setups with someone by forming a racing team. Online Racing is full of multi-player teams: Impact Motorsports, Virtual Velocity Racing, Lightspeed Motorsports, Three Wide Racing, etc. Having someone else there also makes turning the wrench a little funner.

Ride all the Tracks

But I Hate that Track! Out of 26 tracks, there are going to be a few that a driver just gets turned off by immediately because it’s too unusual or just too tough. But by heavily practicing the tracks you dislike, not only will you become good at them, you’ll find they really are enjoyable. I find generally the longer it takes to learn a track, the funner it is. North Wilkes and Sears Point were 2 of the toughest for me to learn, but man they are now 2 of the funnest to drive!

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