With the upcoming Shift 2: Unleashed, we wanted to bring our readers this article that shows how the real world of racing is embracing new racing video games and how their realism is actually creating buzz among the racing professionals:
Taken from telegraph.co.uk:
Horacio Pagani, founder of Pagani Motorbili and architect of the Zonda C12, is not a man you'd readily associate with video games.
His small, extremely specialised plant in Modena has its work cut out hand-building some of the most desirable cars in the world, so you'd think the idea of relaxing on the sofa with joypad in hand would be the last thing on his mind. But Pagani's new Huayra supercar, one of the stars of last week's Geneva motor show, is about to appear in a video game – around the same time that the first example rolls off the production line.
We've come a long way since the days of Pac Man and Space Invaders. The past 10 years have yielded rapid rates of technological development – not just in the console under your television, but in the way things are being made.
Racing games have reached a point where simulations of cars and racing circuits don't just bear a passing resemblance, but are picture-perfect, right down to the dashboard detail of a Lamborghini Gallardo, the precise camber and surface-texture of the Nürburgring's Karussell or the unique, downforce-generating ailerons of the Pagani Huayra.
Racing has also experienced its own technological evolution. Telemetry data is now fundamental to motorsport and complex computer simulations provide teams with information to help optimise tuning, predict tyre wear and generate competitive lap-time targets.
Such a deep level of development has given the two seemingly distant worlds of motorsport and racing games a number of common reference points. Accurate simulation of cars and tracks requires precise data, so video game developers are working more closely than ever with the motorsport industry to access that data and achieve parity in terms of both look and feel.
The result is a range of games that make individual marques instantly recognisable, with handling and mechanical characteristics mapped from their real-world counterparts, and racing environments that are identical to the real thing. The ultimate aim is to bring us closer than ever to the sensation of speed, intensity and vehicle feel, from the comfort of our homes.
Slightly Mad Games, creator of the racing titles Need For Speed: Shift and the imminent Shift 2: Unleashed, has spent recent years forging strong relationships within the motorsport industry to precisely this end. It's a process that has taken time and overcoming the prejudice that video games are nothing more than toys, as opposed to realistic simulations, has been a key challenge.
As the studio's chief operating officer Steve Viljoen explained at the recent unveiling of the Huayra: "Initially, companies aren't too sure about how well we're going to represent their cars. But once they see the sort of detail that we create, they buy into the whole mindset. After that, they're totally forthcoming. They want to make sure their cars are reproduced as accurately as possible within the simulation."
So what kind of data do car manufacturers typically provide? "CAD models and technical specifications," says Viljoen. "They sometimes release these to us before they become generally available.
"They also give us access to the cars themselves, so we can accurately reproduce audio – and not just how the engine sounds. Our sonic engineers work on the whole package, so they record the sound of the brake discs, the outlet system, the gearbox… all the mechanical aspects are captured to recreate the full aural experience."
Alongside manufacturers and track-management firms, the studio also works in concert with racing teams to gather data. "When teams practise on the tracks, they record telemetry data, which we reverse engineer," Viljoen says. "If you can see what the shocks are doing at a certain point in the track, you can tell how rough the surface is.
"We then map surfaces into the game to simulate the bumpiness of the track in that area. Racing drivers then help us fine-tune the exact placement of surfaces from their own experience of the tracks."
One thing that a game cannot reproduce is the g-forces experienced when accelerating, braking and cornering; the sense of motion that drives emotion. Steve's studio is attempting to achieve this in other ways – through vertical and lateral on-screen movement, which simulates chassis roll, and force-feedback through the controller, which describes the surface beneath the wheels and enables you to feel bumps in braking areas where the tarmac has rucked up through overuse. One neat innovation is the cockpit view, which not only painstakingly recreates each car's interior, but simulates driver head-movement. Approach an apex and the view turns slightly to focus on it.
Without the assistance of the racing industry, none of this would be possible. But what is this high degree of simulated accuracy doing in return? Free promotion, for one thing. The Need For Speed series has now broken the 100 million mark in terms of units sold – an enormous audience for any car manufacturer.
Drivers are benefiting, too. "I remember when we were working on our previous game," Viljoen says. "We were at Spa-Francorchamps, in Belgium, and had the game set up and ready to play. We had some drivers in there. They were completing two- to three-hour shifts on the real track, but a lot of them played our game between stints. They were amazed that our virtual Spa was so accurate and it gave them a chance to practise. One team manager actually ran in – his driver was so engrossed in the game that he'd forgotten it was his turn to take over the car."
It's a happy anecdote that illustrates a growing trend for real drivers to dabble in virtual environments. Point your web browser to www.iracing.com and you'll find a deeply dedicated community of virtual and real-world racers who practise – and compete – for fun through the downloadable iracing game. It's a serious simulation for the serious enthusiast.
And how does Pagani feel about his car appearing in a game? "It's very exclusive. Not everyone has the chance to drive such a machine, but I've met so many people who say: 'I have your car!' They talk as if they own the real thing. It's a passion for cars, which is also translated through the video game. We're speaking the same language."
Shift 2: Unleashed is available now for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3[...]
Article source can be found here