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Is F1 esports Ready?

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I recently watched the Chinese Virtual Grand Prix, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it.  There were definitely issues.  Lando got disconnected again (and after 3 disconnections, I have to start to question Lando's end of the connection) as did (I think) Giovinazzi later on.

But from a spectator standpoint, it was enjoyable - especially with no real F1 going on.  And in the end, it's the fans who make - or break - any sport.

So what does a racing game need to be eSports worthy? (Note: this is my opinion based on 2 decades of racing sims and an insane amount of watching F1)

 

1.  It has to work well.  The game itself must be solid and stable.  Frame rate drops, connection burps, etc - anything that directly affects game play - are unacceptable.  If the game stutters for one player, and it costs that player any time, it can not be considered ready for any form of serious competition.

It would be like having a running race, but one of the runners will have banana peels thrown at them during the race.

 

2.  It has to be enjoyable to watch.  The commentators play a large role in that, but on-screen graphics need to be representative of real life.  Being able to do replays of particular parts of the race - during the race.  Having race information appear on screen as it normally would - timing tree, investigations by the Stewards, penalties awarded, basically make it look like an F1 race broadcast.  Simple. Right?  🙂

 

3.  It has to be realistic.  This is probably the most controversial topic regarding this entire franchise.  Is it realistic?  Currently, based on the feedback in this forum and from other players, no.  There are too many issues with the car to consider the game "accurate or true to life" per the definition of "realistic."

But setting aside Webster for a moment, what does "realistic" mean to the player?

If the player feels that the car behaves in the game the way they would expect it to in real life, then that is realistic.

If you get onto the grass, expect less traction - but it needs to be like hitting real grass.

If you graze a curb on a high speed corner at 200 mph with 1300 kgs of downforce, you shouldn't suddenly lose all traction and go into a forever-slide as if your tires have turned to molten rubber. (Or does that really happen to an F1 car? I've never driven a real one, unfortunately.)

In this case, trying to model an F1 car - the most technologically advanced racing car on the planet - would require some extraordinary coding.  My friend created the entire physics engine behind "Bass Pro Fisherman."  That's a lot easier to simulate than all the workings of an F1 car, and even it was a rather complicated affair.

But how complicated do you need to get? (Remember: uber realistic = complicated = expensive)

Does the car need to have fully modelled tires, brake rotors, and every tiny bit of the barge boards, wings, etc?  If you want to create a perfect simulator - and consequently charge thousands of dollars for it - then yes, go ahead and model the heck out of it.  Make every surface as perfect as possible.  Recalculate the loads on every point as many times per second as possible. 

And the vast majority of gamers wouldn't even notice.  Heck, I would say a large number of the players of this game probably don't even have a driver's license, let alone driven at breakneck speed down a mountain road in a beat up Ford Courier that wasn't even fit for a parking lot.  (fun story)  However, despite the lack of "valid opinion about driving realism" they do buy video games.  Lots of video games.

And to them, the game is probably good enough.

So, from a company stand-point, F1 2019 is wonderful.  It sells in large numbers and most players enjoy the game.

But to an eSports driver?  Based on the feedback from hardcore fans in this forum, and out in the press, there's too much "video game" in the game, and although it's close to realistic most of the time, there are definitely areas that need to be addressed.

Opinion: No professional driver should ever have to "learn to game the game" in order to be a successful eSport Race Driver.  In other words, they should not have to learn the exceptions that would cause the car to slide or spin, or the "cheats" that allow you to get a faster time because the game "doesn't notice" (like being able to cut certain corners more than normal).  The game should be close enough to reality that a pro driver can play and not feel like it's "a game."

However, opinions aside, this IS E-sports we're discussing here.  And by definition, they ARE games.

So how to proceed?  Codies is set on making this an eSports game.  I think that's fantastic.  But to me, the game isn't ready.  There are too many issues with the car and the environment that are too far from "true driving."  A curb that is ultra-slippery and causes an immediate slide - which itself goes on forever - is not realistic.

However, on a positive note, I do believe the game is very close.  If Codies can iron out the things that are still plaguing the driving - car handling, curb issues, etc - then I think they'll be in good shape.

The casual gamer would still love it.  Codies would sell lots of copies and stay in business.  Yay!

The hardcore racers would love it because it would be a realistic experience.  Yay!

The experience of driving an F1 car would be as close as virtually possible - short of creating a full simulator.

So, in summary:  If Codies insists on making the F1 franchise an eSport, the car needs to respond in the game as it would in real life.  As perfectly as possible.  Otherwise, you're asking Pro Drivers to "game the game" in order to win.  It doesn't matter how that accuracy is accomplished - modelling of every part of the car and track, or just really good code that relates the car to the track and feeds that back to the driver.  As long as it's 100% accurate (or as close as possible) then the end result is a great driving experience.

And if you actually read all the way to here, thanks!

 

 

 

 

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TCAM! Biggest joke on esports.

when you point out the realistic issue. Would be funny to see hamilton and co sitting on their halo's in real life though.

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10 hours ago, AlexTT said:

TCAM! Biggest joke on esports.

when you point out the realistic issue. Would be funny to see hamilton and co sitting on their halo's in real life though.

T Cams should be banned in eSports, it’s a clear assist. Proximity arrows and some other display options should also go.

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You definetly bring up some decent points but Codies F1 games itself is just not ready, have a read of this as it covers what needs to happen for F1 eSports to start on the road to success 

http://demo1garage.com/esportbroadcasts/f1-esports-has-to-do-better/

While i don't think all racing games require realism to become a good eSport title, in F1's case they push and market themselves as just that but they miss the mark on so many aspects and that hurts it.

Plus the camera debate is always interesting to discuss, Ban T-Cam/Chase view that sort of thing and even things like radar or proximity arrows, which i think personally are required in simracing.

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14 hours ago, AlexTT said:

TCAM! Biggest joke on esports.

when you point out the realistic issue. Would be funny to see hamilton and co sitting on their halo's in real life though.

Agreed.  If it's actually going to be an eSport, it has to be cockpit view, no assists, etc.  But that picture of Max out the back of his car is just frikkin hilarious!  🤣

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2 hours ago, Geordie09 said:

You definetly bring up some decent points but Codies F1 games itself is just not ready, have a read of this as it covers what needs to happen for F1 eSports to start on the road to success 

http://demo1garage.com/esportbroadcasts/f1-esports-has-to-do-better/

While i don't think all racing games require realism to become a good eSport title, in F1's case they push and market themselves as just that but they miss the mark on so many aspects and that hurts it.

Plus the camera debate is always interesting to discuss, Ban T-Cam/Chase view that sort of thing and even things like radar or proximity arrows, which i think personally are required in simracing.

Great article.  Lots more detail than I went into.  But many of the same points.  The fact that the game car doesn't feel like a real car is the biggest issue that Codemasters has to overcome.  How they do that is up to them, but they first have to decide to take that path.  Even if it takes another two years of development on the side by a dedicated "physics handling" team, at least it would show they are serious about it.

The camera debate should be a moot point.  If you're an eSports racing driver, get in the car.  Turn off the assists that don't exist in real life.  The proximity arrows ... I think they're actually useful, considering you can't easily move your head or eyes to look sideways, and the mirrors are useless.

My one question is: During an actual eSports event (not these online "virtual grands prix") are the racers not all in the same place, on equal setups hooked directly to the LAN?  Please tell me they don't hold professional-level events where people dial in from MacDonalds.

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28 minutes ago, DrDraken said:

Agreed.  If it's actually going to be an eSport, it has to be cockpit view

Only if they also mandate a triple screen setup, of course, because the FOV in cockpit view is nothing like real life.

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18 minutes ago, scottishwildcat said:

 

Only if they also mandate a triple screen setup, of course, because the FOV in cockpit view is nothing like real life.

Good point.

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3 hours ago, Geordie09 said:

You definetly bring up some decent points but Codies F1 games itself is just not ready, have a read of this as it covers what needs to happen for F1 eSports to start on the road to success 

http://demo1garage.com/esportbroadcasts/f1-esports-has-to-do-better/

While i don't think all racing games require realism to become a good eSport title, in F1's case they push and market themselves as just that but they miss the mark on so many aspects and that hurts it.

Plus the camera debate is always interesting to discuss, Ban T-Cam/Chase view that sort of thing and even things like radar or proximity arrows, which i think personally are required in simracing.

Only thing I take issue with in the article is that the Esports mode could standalone. I don't think it could, because how do you get into Esports or have the Esports experience? That's like having The X Factor Grand Final without the auditions.

However, I am an advocate of splitting the game into multiplayer and career components. It's clear this year that CM can add nothing to the multiplayer experience so they've gone the Legends and extended Career mode into management. How they justify this without actually correcting the issues with career that exist (and I don't play that mode but I read about the issues) I find a little unpalatable.

I suspect the core game is the same under the lipstick and the new tracks and liveries, so after the hype has cash splash has died, you will see the F1 2020 tracks and liveries made available for F1 2019. There is also F2 to try as well, as the assets are bought and paid for under the main game, so anything for a few bucks more.

Management mode will remain the exclusive to F1 2020, until next year at least.

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22 minutes ago, steviejay69 said:

Only thing I take issue with in the article is that the Esports mode could standalone. I don't think it could, because how do you get into Esports or have the Esports experience? That's like having The X Factor Grand Final without the auditions.

I'm just a little confused with how you mention eSports as a "seperate mode" 

eSports isn't a mode, it's more the concept and execution of the game interwoven with the elite competition of the games best drivers.

The current format with online qualifiers and live events (Maybe online finals in some cases) is how it's executed.

In the end though the success of the competition comes down to Codemasters, for as long as they hold that licence from F1. How much money and time they choose to invest, has huge impacts on the quality of the product for the end users. Those being Fans and drivers alike.

Multiplayer does form part of this but it's just a fundamental foundation that the eSports side utilises.

So not sure that helps but let me know what you mean too.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Geordie09 said:

I'm just a little confused with how you mention eSports as a "seperate mode" 

eSports isn't a mode, it's more the concept and execution of the game interwoven with the elite competition of the games best drivers.

The current format with online qualifiers and live events (Maybe online finals in some cases) is how it's executed.

In the end though the success of the competition comes down to Codemasters, for as long as they hold that licence from F1. How much money and time they choose to invest, has huge impacts on the quality of the product for the end users. Those being Fans and drivers alike.

Multiplayer does form part of this but it's just a fundamental foundation that the eSports side utilises.

So not sure that helps but let me know what you mean too.

Quote

Codemasters do not seem prepared to go above and beyond, to go that extra mile with their F1 licence, which begs the question why haven’t FOM and the team behind Dr. Julian Tan been able to force Codemasters hand and request an in house early release with the new tracks, the new liveries or even a custom unreleased version which enables F1 eSports to tweak custom spectator options or just enable them to setup replays using the in game broadcast tools.

Yeah the Esports mode must be in the Multiplayer game that the gamers can access.

There are already barriers (console players need to switch to PC - with all the hassle that that can bring). Pad users have to cope with wheels (rightly so, IMO - not getting into the pad vs wheel argument).

I don't think triple screens are warranted, there is enough with the wheels and standardised equipment is best.

What I mean is, and I think it's clear from my post that the career side of the game is different. The whole game being rehashed EVERY year because of the changes on the casual gameplay side is just not getting anyone anywhere. Have that game, with multiplayer, but Esports should be a separate engine, that is retained, evolved, developed and just the liveries and tracks are added in to make it current.

Esports Multiplayer should have all the broadcast tools to let gamers recreate the Esports events. Commentaries, camera angles, race control, yes advertising AND dedicated servers.

I don't think CM should be allowed to tweak a version of the game purely for broadcast Esports, it's not representative. It's a complex animal, because they have done just that in the Virtual Series (including changing trackside advertising for TV).

I think we agree, just maybe lost in translation somewhere. But you should be able to choose the Career plus Multiplayer version of the game and the Multiplayer with Esports versions.

Edited by steviejay69

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25 minutes ago, steviejay69 said:

What I mean is, and I think it's clear from my post that the career side of the game is different. The whole game being rehashed EVERY year because of the changes on the casual gameplay side is just not getting anyone anywhere. Have that game, with multiplayer, but Esports should be a separate engine, that is retained, evolved, developed and just the liveries and tracks are added in to make it current.

Ahh ok i see what you mean, something the big companies refer to as the "live service model" This would mitigate alot of the shortcomings right now but as the article also points out Codemasters are more focused on the yearly cycle and refresh. As the ongoing revenue stream from last years game begins to trickle in slowly, from the sale of in game items like liveries etc.. They have the new release to invigorate the market, produce hype and create new ongoing revenue from the new in game items you can buy now.

Which i want to add they have been doing it so slowly that it becomes normal, im expecting more useless items for 2020 unfortunately.

So while a live service approach would be awesome, maximising ongoing revenue is a priority and so are alot of other aspects but sadly not the eSports side. Which makes you wonder if Codies actually care about this sector of the game, its community and culture or do they get away with the bare minimum to satisfy Formula 1 and that licence.

So yeh we agree, it did get abit twisted and lost in translation. As you said.

Prove me wrong Codemasters, i hope you do. 

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3 hours ago, DrDraken said:

Good point.

Maybe with the PS5 having an upgraded VR headset, the first F1 should be VR compatible and eSports should use it and restrict players to cockpit view as well as no assists and many HUD components disabled (ie proximity arrows, track map)

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Cockpit view IS restrictive in the game no doubt about it but who cares as it's THE SAME FOR EVERYONE (except triple screeners but they'd still have a huge advantage in any view tbh). If  getting the widest view of the track and the other cars is the only thing that's important you might as well all race top down isometric or even 2d like GTA &  GTA II. Simulate the real drivers car and assist situation first as accurate as possible THEN you have a chance the race itself will look more like a simulation, be more unpredictable and exciting to watch.

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