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It is impossible to discuss all aspects of this game (or for that matter most games) in a forum message thread; a book of considerable size and complexity would be needed to do any critique justice. It is possible, however, to do an in-depth analysis of individual aspects of any game within the space available in the game’s forums.
About 40 of you have seen a recent previous post from me which at the time of starting this message is the most recent post in the thread “THE FUTURE OF GRID” Those of you who have read that post will know that I believe the AI of both RaceDriver Grid and “GAS” to be good. What follows here is a comprehensive analysis of the AI in “GAS”
Having no choice (if I wanted to race online) I was forced by RaceDrivers servers being closed, to buy/play GT5 and later GT6. From the closing of the servers (19 June 2011) and for the next four years! The entire GT series has never appealed to me to me being little more than an Arcade racer in its earlier forms and an exceedingly weak game aimed at children in its two latest incarnations! Principally, among 100s’ (possibly 1000s’) of weaknesses and faults, GT5 and six the AI and the Penalty systems suck to such an extent that it makes me question why they were included at all? What is the point of having AI if the AI is so weak that it is possible to lap the entire field in less than five laps? If the AI is not challenging why include it? RaceDriver and “GAS” give us the ability to select an appropriate Ai hardness to suit our abilities! Bearing this in mind It is incomprehensible to me why so many people have complained that the AI is too aggressive. In championship mode a facility to change AI level in the re-start/pause box allows for a reduced difficulty setting if an individual race in a series proves to be too difficult, perfect! Any person who finds the lowest AI setting in “Grid” and “GAS” too hard should never consider getting behind the wheel of a real car because they will be a danger to themselves and everyone else. I must assume that the people who whine about too aggressive AI are talking about the AI cars on track in an online session! Firstly, the feature which allows a session host to pack out the grid of an online session with AI cars and select AI hardness is inspired, allowing two or three real people to have a challenging race with a full starting grid. I do understand that for a novice entering a session which has a strong AI presence may find it too uncompromising to be enjoyable. The question is though, should a person who can’t deal with the AI at it’s weakest be racing against people who chose the highest AI settings for their online session. People talk about realism and how realistic a game is yet realistically they are prevented from jumping into a real F1 car and trying to compete with experienced F1 drivers! Even entry level racing series require a licence to be obtained before a race may be entered (proof of a minimum ability level commensurate with the series). If the AI in an online session is too difficult for you, you are in a session which it is inappropriate for you to be in. find a session which you are comfortable with and understand that you are not as good as you think you are. The very lack of realism in computer games is the thing which makes them accessible to all levels of ability. Complaining about too aggressive AI in Grid games (online) is actually saying… I don’t like the fact that everyone is a better racer than I am!!! A suggestion for the future is to have AI difficulty settings which an online session is running, stated for each session in the lobby list. Another possibility for the future is to introduce a feature that would prevent anyone with insufficient skill from entering a session which would be inappropriate for them (unless they are invited to join, friends will be tolerant strangers rarely will be).
I have no idea how most of the AI’s sophistication is achieved but it is a triumph and the much maligned devs. should be commended for the achievement! I decided to try to analyse the AI and concluded that the place this could most easily be done was in RaceNet challenge “Party Mode” (all things apart from skill are equal in “Party Mode) I am not a natural racer! I need to practice, I need to re-start a lot. Yet with practice I can set consistent times which put me in the top 10% and not uncommonly among the top ten times on the leaderboards. My observations are these… When entering a “Party Mode Challenge” the car (always a loan car) has a reduced condition percentage around 84%. At 84% condition and with everything else set to basic the car is capable of winning the race if there is sufficient skill to get past all of the AI. To do this I usually need to race to the first corner and re-start a few times figuring out where and how to get the best slipstream tow in order to be fast enough and to figure out the best way to avoid contact with any other car. After a few attempts I will be fast enough to get to 3rd or 4th position exiting the first corner and my car will still be undamaged. Whilst doing all of this I have observed that each time I re-start it becomes easier or harder to do. This is quite confusing until close assessment of what is happening is done!
Start the race run to the corner as cleanly as possible, at which point I am thinking “hell this car is not fast enough to compete against the AI” but if I have gone as fast as the cars capability and have done it cleanly the next time I start (re-starting) I am able to pick up the slipstream easier and as long as I can still get to the corner cleanly I will be faster! This does not make any sense until it is understood that the AI (“Too aggressive”?) actually helps you to go faster! **** I hear you say, how the hell can that be possible? Well it turns out to be very simple in fact and it is done by slightly (almost imperceptibly) compressing the grid formation after a successful ( that is to say fast clean start).In the re-start the AI cars are slightly closer to your car at the start. This enables a better tow and faster run to the first corner which if clean will lead to a faster start after another re-start. This continues to happen every time a re-start leads to a faster clean attempt! Conversely if a re-start leads to a poorer start than the previous the gap on the grid opens again making it more difficult to achieve the speed needed for a fast time. Once I can consistently make the first corner as fast as the car will allow I will repeat same the process with the next few corners until I can get into P1. In the case of the current “Party Mode challenge” Sepang eliminator a Platinum time is only possible if P1 on track can be achieved before turn four, Having got to P1 before turn four I will then complete the race and take the pay out! If I have time or if I want to set a faster time I will re-enter the challenge and try again. What happens next is that it can be observed that the cars condition will be slightly improved so instead of being 84% it will be 85% which enables the car to go faster and thus will enable a faster overall time, the above mentioned manipulation of the grid is still extant but now the car is a little faster and will enable a faster time to be achieved if sufficient skill allows the car to be driven to its maximum! Rinse and repeat until the cars capability exceeds your own. As long as the session remains current the car condition will remain the same. If the second round of start and re-start with the slightly better car leads to a higher score complete the session and re-enter the challenge where you will find the cars condition has increased yet again! After finally achieving a top 10% time yesterday I could have started with my loan car registering 87%!!! Unfortunately I had to quit playing before I could race it, but had I been able to continue the car would have allowed me, if I have sufficient skill to utilize it, to set an even faster time. Quitting the game re-sets the cars condition to default so returning to the game later means that the process must begin again. Achieved much quicker this time though because by now the previous session will have honed ones skill and familiarity with car, track and AI.
So… the “too aggressive” AI has actually been designed to help as well! All of what I have said about this is most readily observed in “Party Mode” because the cars are always loan cars and as such have no player influenced tuning which obscures what is happening in the other challenges. The fact remains, however, that all I have said above does remain the same, This is apparent because it remains possible to set consistently fast and comparable times with both a fully upgraded and best tuned car or the stock loan car. The only difference I have observed is that an owned car will allow it to be done quicker than it is possible to do with a loan car! One further thing on this is that choosing the best set-up loaner available (always Ravenwest) will also reduce the time it takes to improve times, lesser teams with their poorer setups incrementally slow the process down again.
“AI too aggressive”? IMHO the AI in this and “Grid” are remarkable achievement both in terms of subtlety and of sophistication! Well done Codemasters for the AI and the Penalty System and a whole lot more. Just try to stop with the stupid ommissions that have prevented “GAS” from being the worldbeater it could so easily have been.
Bearing in mind the limited number of people still playing, there will be very few of you who have the skill and interest in the game to be able to confirm what I have said and even less who have already noticed that what I have said is true. With that in mind I expect that most people who read this will think that I am a basket case or at least delusional, to which I would reply… I am not surprised! I seriously doubted my sanity when I first started to notice these things! However, questioning my sanity does not make what I say any less true.
Finally, my previous post afore mentioned as the latest post in “THE FUTURE OF GRID” thread has had no responses which has at least had the affect of keeping it current! For this thread I ask for comments but for the reason that I would like this post to remain current and not be buried under replies I ask that a new thread be raised (referencing this thread) by the first person to reply, to be used for all future replies to this post.
Thank you all for your patience and perseverance in reading this ridiculously long message.