David: Putting Myself On Displays (part 2)
What you want is for your vision to help put you in place on the track.
As far as my experience goes, seeing stuff all around you at all angles doesn't really do much for you in terms of positioning yourself on the track — or, if it helps, it helps in the wrong way. Stretching your field of view to see the whole apex of a hairpin isn't much different than using the chase cam — it might make things easier, but it won't help you drive faster. And it's morally wrong, like kids being brainwashed into thinking that they're counterculture because they go to the mall and buy studded fake leather collars at Hot Topic.Morally wrong. I'm not even kidding
You don't see drivers flopping their head-holders around 90 degrees as they round the toe of the boot at Watkins Glen, do you? No — you position yourself on the entrance, and drive through. If you're oggling the curbing as you cruise by, the ship has already sailed. Go to the pits. It's over. Hand in the keys, lean against the team trailer, and put a sombrero over your shamed visage so nobody can see you.
A realistic FOV helps you position yourself correctly before the entrance. That's the bit that's important; from there on in, your eyeballs can flip over backwards, and look at the brain that was smart enough to let them do the work on the way in, and smart enough to let your hands and feet do the work on the way out. Once you've committed to your entrance, the eyeballs can look at the peely-uppy corners of those embossed sticker things they put on the dash gauges, for all you care.
The right FOV will 'plant you' in the car. You're used to seeing those gauges and their stickers, and a-pillars, and bits of road, etc, show up in the same place in your own field of view all the time. You're used to driving a car with your view like that, used to understanding the road with your view like that. You want your simulator to take advantage of that, not fight it. You don't want to feel like you're stuffing your head into a matchbox car. The ninjas will eat you up. You want to make the whole experience as transparent as possible, not as impressive as possible or as 'useful' as possible. You've succeeded when you do a race and never notice your setup.
A one, and a two, and a one, two, three, ....three
So, what have we learned? Right. FOV is very important, but it's important not to expand what you can see, but to help you see it correctly. You might end up lowering (gasp from crowd) your existing single-monitor FOV if you do it right. You might feel like you're driving a car from 10 feet in front of the hood, stuck on with a PVC pipe you got at Lowe's for what really was a pretty good price especially when you consider the coupon on drill bits you had too. But if you give it some time, you will find out that I am right.
As I am.
So give it a shot, gents. Even if you're not going to get a motion simulator, get those monitors. Run 'em in 1280x720 to keep the video card load down. Find two half-dead displays on Craigslist and give it a try first.
You don't need perfection — the important thing is to get the information to your brain, and get it to your brain in a way you can intuitively correlate with what you know from reality.
I've upped my FOV — so up yours!