Reality vs. Virtual Reality

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by -Cp, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. -Cp
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    -Cp Senior Member

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    There's an interesting article up where some folks take the new Grand Turismo 4 on the PS2 and compare it side by side with a real Ford GT driving on the same course with interesting results.. :)

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    Reality vs. Virtual Reality
    I'm approaching the blind crest of Laguna Seca's front straight in the 550-horsepower Ford GT. The speedo has swung past 100 mph, but the car continues to accelerate through its meaty torque band like a low-altitude cruise missile. Yet despite the blind hill I already know exactly what resides on the other side, because I've just completed four laps at this same circuit on Sony's PlayStation2 driving simulator, Gran Turismo 4.

    In fact, the level of accuracy and detail conveyed by Gran Turismo 4 is downright eerie. By setting up a 43-inch LCD monitor, Sparco Racing Cockpit Pro seat and GT4 force feedback steering wheel, and driving the circuit in Laguna Seca's infield just before sliding into a real Ford GT, I truly feel like I'm already familiar with the track's layout before ever leaving pit row. The placement of the "Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca" pedestrian bridge as I rush under it on the front straight; the location and design of the tower just off Turn 1 — they're all spot-on representations of the real deal (OK, the grass surrounding the real track, in August, wasn't nearly as green and lush as it's portrayed on Gran Turismo 4).

    And if I just pulled a 1-minute, 38-second lap time on Grand Turismo 4, driving a Ford GT around Laguna Seca, obviously my lap time in the real world, driving the same car on the same track, should be the same, right?

    Why Reality Bites
    Wrong. I can't manage better than 1 minute, 52 seconds in the harsh reality of…well, reality. Where did those 14 seconds go? Most of them disappeared on the front straight I just described. Sure, the track's layout and visual cues are all the same as in Gran Turisimo 4. But careening over a blind crest at 100-plus mph is somehow different when seated in Ford's $150,000 exotic press car than it is when seated on a Sparco race seat, staring at a widescreen LCD. Very different.

    Watching the practice session replay on Gran Tursimo 4 makes it painfully obvious where — and why — I lost time. In virtual land I keep the throttle mashed all the way over that crest and halfway down the hill before braking for Turn 2. My terminal velocity in the game is around 140 mph. In reality, I'm braking just before I crest the hill, topping out at a meager 105 mph. On a track like Laguna Seca, where your terminal velocity on the front straight is crucial, I'm throwing away any chance of matching my virtual time by refusing to stay on the gas over that crest.

    Which brings up the single biggest difference between reality and virtual reality — consequences. A mistake on Gran Turismo 4 costs me nothing more than a bad lap time. A mistake with a real exotic car on a real racetrack is…a bit more costly.

    Why Reality Doesn't Bite
    The other major difference between virtual racing and the real thing is feedback from the car — or an almost total lack thereof. Yes, the force feedback steering wheel does its best to let you know when you're veering off the track, or sliding the rear end, but none of this comes close to the kind of information you get while driving a real vehicle. And in a car like the Ford GT, that's vital information. Because of the GT's midengine layout and powerful brake system you can use trail braking to rotate the car and set up your entry angle on any given turn. You can also sense how much traction you've got left in the front and rear tires when getting on the throttle, which greatly aids cornering speed.

    So while the consequences of real life work against your lap times in reality, the complete immersion in vehicle feedback that you get while driving an actual Ford GT makes it easier to push the envelope on the real Laguna Seca racetrack than on the virtual version. It's these two factors that battled it out as I drove not only a Ford GT, but also a Dodge Neon SRT-4, Ford Mustang GT, a Mazda RX-8 and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo through the corkscrew and around the 11 turns that make up Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

    And just to keep this story interesting we dragged along Justin Kaehler, gaming editor extraordinaire from IGN.com, and Champ Car driver AJ Allmendinger, to see which background provided the best training for virtual-versus-reality gaming. Who would pull the best times? Would it be the hard-core gamer, the professional racer, or the deluded automotive journalist who thinks he's both?

    Read the next section of this story to find out.


    http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Features/articleId=107485#7
     
  2. Max Power
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  3. Jitto
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    that really is interesting..
     

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