October 4, 2010

VRC Column – Retro, Multiple screens & Beta testing

VRC Column - Retro, Multiple screens & Beta testing

VRC is planning to offer you some other r/c racing experiences than just the latest and fastest that’s on the market today. Vintage r/c cars are one of them. We have already modeled a PB9 International, one of the last generation of simple non-suspension cars from the late seventies. We are now looking into the physics of such models in order to make them drive like they did in those days. The vintage cars may draw old school racers back into r/c and perhaps even inspire them to get their kids involved in radio controlled model car racing. Who knows what this will bring to r/c, and if for nothing else, we at VRC will be proud of bringing these old cars back to life again.

VRC Column - Retro, Multiple screens & Beta testing

VRC Pro running on multiple screens
Probably the only complaint about VRC has been the limited track view you have from the rostrum. Some racers find it hard to get used to that, others learn to cope with it and become blistering fast and consistent even with the limited track view. The car is always positioned in the middle of the screen and to get enough track ahead of your car you need to zoom out but then the car becomes so small that it’s very difficult to control it like a real r/c car. The dynamic zooming takes care of this as good as possible. The solution is using bigger screens or multiple screens, or use a head movement tracking system like Track IR that lets you control the position of the car on the screen.

Bigger screens are becoming cheaper and cheaper, full HD 1920×1080 in 22” or 24” can be found well below $250 nowadays. Make sure the response time is under 5 milliseconds. The bigger the screen the better! Of course your graphics card must support the resolution too with enough performance left to give you a smooth ride in VRC Pro. We recommend not to go under 40 frames per second, 30 is the absolute minimum.

Another option is to go for multiple screens. As VRC Pro positions the car in the middle of the screen multiple screens therefore means 3 screens. The car never moves off that centre screen but having all that track view left and right of you transforms the experience and gets it incredible close to a real r/c experience. In reality it’s the same, the track left and right of your car is there for your orientation but you don’t really look at it as you always have to keep full focus on your car. Although the screens overlap each other with their frames this is not really taking away much of this super wide screen experience. 1280×720 would already give a fantastic 3840×720 pixels screen resolution, such monitors sell for less than $120, 1680X1050 screens are just a bit more expensive. A 3-screen setup requires a powerful graphics card like the ATI Radeon HD 5870 series which sell for about $300. Of course you can’t put such a powerful graphics card in just any computer, so you have to check if this is possible at all.

The last option to improve your view is using a head tracking system like Track IR. An infra-red sensor is placed on your monitor and tracks your head movement. This is then translated to the computer as moving the car away from the center of the screen. So when the car is on the back straight going from left to right you slightly move your head to the right which moves the car away from the center to the left resulting in more track view in front of your car so you can better anticipate the next corner. Such tracking systems are selling for around $120 and don’t require a special graphics card. Support for TrackIR will be provided in VRC Pro.

All this is NOT required but it greatly enhances the experience to a level you never thought possible. So if you are serious about your hobby and want the best possible driving experience in VRC Pro you may want to consider this when you go out shopping for a new computer or monitor.

VRC Column - Retro, Multiple screens & Beta testing

VRC Pro beta testing
The beta test is the last test before opening VRC Pro up for the general public. We will recruit the beta testers from the active member base of VRC v3. The purpose of the beta test is to go through all the procedures, from signing up for your membership until multiplayer testing. Beta testers will have to provide feedback to us at the Virtual Racing Industries lab about their experiences with VRC Pro, report hardware and software issues and actively participate in the VRC World social network. At the end of the beta test they will be allowed to invite a few friends to sign up for VRC Pro and so on, in order to give us time to monitor and adjust our systems to accommodate a larger user base. This gradual launch will last till end of the year, we expect to open up completely beginning of 2011. So get ready…

For more information about VRC go to the game website here.


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