#5669832, By ForestRed First Corner Blues

  • ForestRed 4 Jan 2010 17:42:10 2 posts
    Seen 1 year ago
    Registered 11 years ago
    Monaco, Sunday May 16th 2010.

    Formula One's big glamour day of the season, notwithstanding a race round an aerodrome in Northamptonshire. Jenson Button lines up on pole position (it's fiction - bear with me), with Lewis Hamilton alongside him. Further back we find Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa.

    The drivers line up after the parade lap, one light, two lights. The crowd holds its breath. Three lights, four lights. Engines rev shrilly. Five lights, go! Button and Hamilton are both away well, but so is the chasing pack. The leaders break into the first corner. But Schumacher is going for it! Breaks are for girls, and who needs them! He's pushing 160mph as he rear-ends Hamilton, who in turn collides with Button, who ploughs into the barrier at the end of the straight. Race over for the first two, but Schumacher only has minor damage and heads up from St. Devote into Casino Square in first position.

    Chicago, Illinois, Sunday May 16th 2010.

    RudeB0y fires up Forza III on his 360, and finds a game. He's 4th on the grid, behind Kn08slay3r, Mr_gr1nd and Big_jo3. As the lights go, all four get away well. Mr_gr1nd is first into the first corner and breaks early (aware that his breaks are probably still cold). Big_jo3 sees that he's on the breaks and takes a similarly cautious line into the first. RudeB0y is having a look up the inside, but decides it's not worth the risk and slots into third.

    We've all been there, we've all seen it, but it never gets any less annoying. First corner blues are a symptom of pretty much every race game everywhere. Developers spend years fine tuning performance to the point that if we break wind the additional uplift created causes a slight loss of grip. Yet all of the work is ruined every time by the same problem - a problem that resides somewhere between the sofa and the controller.

    So what's the answer? Here are half a dozen suggestions we came up with.

    1. Collision Avoidance. Get the software to detect anyone driving erratically and briefly turn them into a ghost. This worked to some degree with GT5 Prologue, and certainly gives anyone driving in a sympathetic manner a chance. Or turn all collision off for the first 20 seconds of a race. It neuters the whole experience, though. Some races, especially F1, are all about the first corner.

    2. Realistic Damage. Schumacher and co have one good reason for breaking at the first corner - if they don't their race is over, and they face everlasting ridicule and abuse (a bit like being on Modern Combat 2 Multiplayer). Unfortunately if this was the case most of us would never finish a race anyway.

    3. Black Flag. Anyone who causes an avoidable first corner collision is black flagged and dropped out of the race (and session). This should provide some sort of deterrent, but again there's probably a grey area - did the cars in front break too early? Did someone swerve into your line even if it was at a reasonable speed?

    4. Hell's Kitchen. If you don't like the heat, stay out. It's a fact of life and there's always another race. But the same thing will probably happen next time anyway.

    5. Fight Back. Back off at the start to stay mid pack, and then hard on the gas. Watch them fly as you use the car in front as a breaking mechanism for the first corner, then laugh manically as you see them spin off into the far distance.

    6. Keep score. Don't penalize the perpetrators, and instead give points to safe drivers. Anyone who gets shunted before they shunt could be credited, and slowly a score could be built up showing good starts. Display this on the session screen before a race to see who can be trusted. Insurance companies reward good drivers through no claims bonuses, so why can't racing games do the same?

    7. Rolling Starts. Used a lot in real life, but where's the fun?

    Some will argue that the cream always rises to the top. And so it probably does. But for the sake of the rest of us trying to scrape a personal best 5th place finish take it steady next time you're heading into the first corner. In the meantime I'm sticking to the Christmas Scalextric.

    Happy New Year!

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