I discovered this set of videos after a tweet from the excellent Tommy Kendall, who is one of the instructors at AMG Driving Academy. For those unaware, the academy is sponsored by Mercedes and is a performance driving school that also is a bit of a Mercedes AMG showcase. Tommy and the school put out this excellent 10-part mini-series on some of the fundamentals of driving that I thought I would share, as the terminology used is really important to understand for racing games, even if the techniques are over your head! It’s also important to understand where your audience is coming from in terms of expectations for the game-to-player interface. I also have added my thoughts on how the videos correlate to racing game sound in hopes that everyone interested in racing game sound can gain something!
Episode 1: Seating Position and Line Of Sight
Tommy is talking here about how to set up your sitting position, which by the way you can completely apply to your own car even if it’s nowhere near a racetrack. Tommy also explains the importance of keeping “eyes up” or looking ahead. IMO, this is going to be the next big technical breakthrough in racing gaming — eye tracking will both reward the players that can keep eyes up, and punish those who don’t. But I digress!
Episode 2: Threshold and Trail
Tommy is now moving into the basics of braking technique, with a bit of reference to grip levels (referred to here as contact patch manipulation). This correlates directly to a tire sound simulation in that the sound of the tire changes as the contact patch is changing.
Episode 3:Slalom Driving
Now we’re seeing the introduction of steering and the concept of weight management as it applies to balance across all four tires. The introduction of four-wheel independent tire sound makes this type of simulation driving possible.
Episode 4: Understeer & Oversteer
Understeer and oversteer are the two possible outcomes of exceeding the contact patch’s limit, where either your rear tires will lose grip before the fronts, or vice versa. Since a game player cannot get the physical feedback of his or her body being thrown around, sound has to help fill in the communication of the tire.
Episode 5: Line Technique
Not much to deal with sound here, but it’s interesting nonetheless! As Tommy says, there are infinite lines through a corner, but only one of them is the fastest.
Episode 6: Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
This is pretty much an advertisement for Mercedes’ ESP system, but the overhead shot of the three settings and their corresponding slip angles is really interesting. Listen to the squeal at the three settings, as there’s a fascinating difference.
Episode 7: Drifting
Everyone loves sideways cars, enjoy!
Episode 8: Lead Follow
If you were ever interested in attending a driving school, this is what most people go to experience. I kind of which a game would implement a much better training mode that used a system like this.
Episode 9: Racecraft
The art of racing is stalking the person in front, and sound can help a driver learn where he or she has an advantage over the car in front!
Episode 10: Hot Laps
Last video, time to go fast and enjoy!
I had a bit of time to talk via Twitter with Tommy, and asked him a few questions. He kindly responded, so here are some tidbits!
TTA: what do you feel about racing games/sims? Do they help? Have you had students with gaming experience do well?
TK: I think they can help immensely. Some of the Academy’s most students augment their on track with sim work.
TTA: interesting, any downsides to using a sim?
TK: No downside, per se. It does not translate exactly, but the fact that all the F1 teams use them is a strong endorsement
TTA: true that! Last question while I have your attention, what’s the best sounding car in the world?
TK: Normally aspirated F1 cars are hard to beat. Some modern day road cars: Carrera GT, the 458, C63 Black, Mustang.
A big thanks to Tommy for producing the series and also for taking the time to chat! As always, if you have comments or questions post up.