News of September, 2022

VIRTUAL RC RACING – THE INSIDE STORY Episode 22

01.09.2022   Category: Site news

Episode 22: VRC racing modes

Basically VRC Pro has 3 racing modes, practice, events and multi-player. The practice and event modes are based on what we had already developed for VRC v3, but much more sophisticated and more depth in the reporting, for multiplayer we had to start from scratch.

Of course, we were going to include multi-player in VRC Pro. Gaming and multiplayer had evolved immensely fast between 2005 and 2010, especially since superfast internet had become widely available in most of the developed countries, and it looked certain that this was only going to accelerate at a faster pace in the years to come.

Our multi-player development was started somewhere around 2008, we had opted to use the Raknet open source library rather than to develop everything ourselves, we had more than enough on our plate already. It was a promising platform illustrated by the acquisition of Raknet by Oculus VR in 2014 (and Oculus was later acquired by Facebook).

The Raknet library provides the underlaying software technology to enable multiplayer (mp) and a ‘meeting room’ where players can come together, create a multiplayer session, or join a session. That sounds straight forward but of course the multiplayer software had to be integrated in and tailored for our application: racing radio-controlled model cars.

I had written a document outlining how it should work and what the requirements for our multiplayer version should be:
- 10 cars
- Create your own mp session
- Organizer option
- Collision on/off
- Text ideally voice chat option
- MP integration with VRC Pro event structure

How it should work
With no background in game or even software development my approach has always been quite pragmatic: try to mimic the real r/c world as much as possible
With my long and intense involvement in r/c racing I started to describe and explain what the racing procedures in r/c racing are. Still, with absolutely zero knowledge of r/c on developer level it was a daunting task for me to describe all the procedures in such a way that the developers actually knew what I wanted.

10 Cars
This was back in 2008, and most of the racing was still maximized at 10 cars, so that’s what we went for. Also remember, back then we had only on-road aspirations, we had no off-road ambitions yet, 1:8 nitro and electric development took place in 2013 and 2014! At hindsight, 15 cars would have been better, but by the time I presented that to the team it was virtually impossible to re-write all the race and results procedures.

How VRC multi-player works
What you have to know is that our multi-player system is a peer-to-peer application, meaning that someone sets up a mp session (he is the session master) and others can join that session, the session owner races himself too in that mp session. All participants ‘connect’ with the session host, either the session master (SM) or the session organizer (SO), meaning all mp data is constantly sent from the participant to the session owner who then sends out the mp data of all participants to all participants. Obviously, this requires the session master to have a very good pc to handle/compute all the mp data from all the session participants, but also good bandwidth (the amount of data he needs to send to and receive from all the participants), and with minimum latency or delay. Ideally it should be less than 50msec!

When setting up an mp session the session master or organizer selects the following:
- car class
- track
- race direction
- collision on or off
- nbr. of racers allowed in the session
- duration of the qualify race and the final
- track and weather conditions

At the end of the session all mp data is stored and can be replayed later to watch again or to record a video.

Session Master and Session Organizer
The difference between these 2 is that the Master races himself in the mp session, the Organizer does not, he just controls the session, like when to start a race. As he is not racing himself, he can live stream the session to YouTube or Twitch, control the camera’s and which car to follow and event do some commentary to make it more interesting for the viewers. However, the session organizer takes up 1 spot on the grid so only 9 can race in such an mp session.

My ultimate wish was to be able to schedule mp sessions, i.e. combine offline event racing with multiplayer finals. This would require much more complex event structures, but also special multiplayer servers spread all over the world. When the developers had explained to me the vast complexity and cost of such a project, I simply had to abandon the idea. VRC is not iRacing…

VRC event options
Besides the standard event settings which are preset for each individual event the racer has always 3 options when entering a race.
- Individual
- Target
- Opponents

Individual
You can choose to race individually, no other cars on the track. That is of course the most comfortable race mode, alone on the track, no opponents, no stress! If your focus is on just setting the best possible result that this is the obvious mode.

Opponents
You can also choose to race with up to 9 opponents! These opponents are racers who have already raced in that particular event round. As their runs are automatically recorded you can now choose which opponents you want to race against. This is obviously the toughest mode as you are now distracted by other cars on the track. This is the closest VRC comes to real racing. In this mode collision is automatically off else you wouldn’t stand a chance…

About collision on and off
In event mode racing collision is automatically off as the opponent cars use pre-recorded racing lines which cannot be affected. When an opponent ‘hits’ you, nothing happens!

In practice and multiplayer mode, you can also race with collisions on! In practice mode this means that the opponents can crash into you and your car will fly off the track, only your car is affected by the crash.

In multiplayer mode with collision switched on it’s real time collision, therefore both cars are affected by a crash. That’s the most realistic scene VRC has to offer to you. Question is if you really like it… For the new Bashers class collision on is of course the way to go!

There you have it, this is what VRC Pro has to offer in terms of racing experience. You can make it as realistic and challenging as you want or dare. I know of VRC racers who have set up practice schemes for themselves to gradually challenge themselves more and more by using these racing options, making it more difficult every run to build up racing toughness and test their concentration and nerves.

I have a few more episodes to go, one of them being developing off-road cars, a field where even I had absolutely no knowledge of or experience with.

That’s next…

Comments

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(Total posts: 2)
22.09.2022 [01:01]
Very informative, thank you .
16.09.2022 [19:22]
amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!

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