While detailed information on all supported (or potentially-supported) software is beyond the scope of our web site, an overview of the most commonly used programs is useful. This guide is not intended to be exhaustive; in this area, the best teacher is experience.
Some information on game operation will be provided, however, that instruction is usually best left to the documentation provided by the game developers themselves. We provide support for game software where practical and where such support is important for operation with its motion platforms.
Following are overviews of the three main software titles used with our motion platforms: iRacing, Live For Speed, and rFactor.
iRacing is a no-compromises simulation top-to-bottom. Tracks are laser-scanned, resulting in surface accuracy which is practically impossible via other means; vehicles are modeled with assistance from manufacturers, and the simulation’s tire model — arguably the most important and difficult part of a racing simulation — is excellent and updated frequently.
Solo races against computer-controlled cars won’t happen; there aren’t any computer-controlled cars against which to race. All competition is done via pre-scheduled Internet races with other similarly-skilled opponents, or via similarly-arranged solo time trials.
The main negative of iRacing is its requirement for an always-on Internet connection; secondarily, its accuracy and (until recently) complete lack of aids to assist new drivers give it a learning curve nearly as steep as the real thing.
One mitigating factor: Unlike real life, you can make as many mistakes as you want without incurring penalties to life, limb, checkbook — or reputation.
But don’t celebrate yet — that only applies in practice. In a race against other live opponents, ‘agricultural’ excursions, course-cuts, and collisions with other vehicles are punished severely by the game’s automatic, teutonically-precise, and unblinking marshals. And adding insult to injury, enough on-track indiscretions will find your license demoted (yes, you need a license for various levels of competition) or even revoked.
Realism has a price.
Called LFS for short, Live For Speed is an independent title created, remarkably enough, by three individuals in the UK and Europe. Responsible respectively for code, graphics, and music and web design, they have triple-handedly produced a renowned simulation which punches far above its weight in developers.
Live For Speed’s main claims to fame are a fantastic and incredibly detailed online race matching and statistics system, excellent network performance with large numbers of competitors, a clean and intuitive user interface, and a physics engine which, while not as accurate as iRacing’s (if for no other reason than due to its predominant usage of fantasy vehicles rather than expensive-to-license real-world cars), uses ‘real’ modeling for every aspect of output.
Rather than having sampled engine sounds, for example, audio is derived from a physical model of the engine and exhaust system; rather than having one system to display tires and one to calculate a ‘black box’ interaction model, LFS’s tire physics are integrated. Pause a car mid-corner in a replay, and you can see the tires’ sidewalls stretching inward; abuse your shoes enough, and a flabby carcass will join you in the slow plod back to the pit lane.
There are negatives to such an integrated approach, however. A somewhat capricious damage model will occasionally see cars sail off into the wild blue yonder, where AI-controlled vehicles suddenly stick in place mid-flight with a humiliating RETIRED label. And if you find yourself unlucky enough to be rear-ended by a reckless competitor while entering the pits, you can prepare for a penalty — for speeding in the pit lane.
Quirks aside, LFS’s detailed physics engine and low-pressure community make a nice break from the competitiveness of iRacing and rFactor, while retaining the satisfying driving experience of an excellent vehicle model.
rFactor, while not as polished as Live For Speed or obsessively-realistic as iRacing, has excellent physics, and one standout quality: Extensibility. Both LFS and iRacing are closed ecosystems, whereas rFactor allows essentially infinite customization. In fact, rFactor is Force Dynamics' go-to product for custom software development, and has seen us develop nearly a dozen various scenarios ranging from modified stock content to completely customized vehicles and locations. rFactor is whatever you want it to be.
Flexibility is the game's key quality: the same basic engine tests setups for F1 teams, and provides the backbone for the “24 Hours Of Lemons” modification, which features giant mobile fruit — a must for any serious racing enthusiast.