Using VRC yet?
Why not? After all, it's totally free.
Pro in action at Mike?s Hobby Shop, an excellent
little track for free
may remember we ran an article not that long ago asking
about the value of simulators; you can read that here.
Well, as it happens I already had a USB dongle from
a promotion for moderators at RC Universe when VRC became
a sponsor years ago, and the article reminded me that
I?d still never actually tried it. So I finally
got around to it, and I must say I?m totally addicted.
It?s great, I?m having fun and I?m getting
better too! Feels almost like doing something constructive!
in a capital city and having young kids, I don't get
out as often as I used to and have definitely lost some
of my more technical driving skills. Now I don't need
to leave the city to practice? So here are my thoughts
Pro is the only 'serious' surface RC simulator available.
I don't even remember when it first started, but it
was quite a few years ago, and like all successful software
enterprises, it's been getting steadily better and better
since then through updates and additions. Today it's
a beast of a game, with a huge number of available cars,
tracks and options, on-road and off road, nitro and
electric, and the best part of all?it's TOTALLY
FREE to play.
that's right, totally free. You go to www.vrcworld.com,
register an account, and start downloading?initially
you get a basic installation package, then a significant
additional download for installation of the updates
that have been released since the main installer was
published. Once it's installed however, all you have
to do is select a car and a track, hit 'Practice' (a
completely free practice mode, do as many laps as you
wish, change as many batteries as you want) and you?re
be fair and honest, you don't get a lot for free, but
you do get enough to keep you entertained for a good
long time, and certainly enough for anyone to dramatically
improve their skills without spending any real money.
A few on road and a few off road tracks are available
in the basic package, as well as a couple of short course
truck choices, a couple of sedan choices and nitro 1/8th
buggy. I?ve been playing stock 13.5t short course
with an Associated SC10 at Mike's Hobbies short track,
and 13.5t sedan with an Associated TC6 at the VRC World
circuit (an imaginary, simple but engaging track), both
very challenging and fully featured racing modes available
you practice, the laps you do are properly timed, and
you can get achievements immediately that you achieve
them, for example, if you manage to do a time within
80% of the lap record, that achievement pops up straight
away. I?ve managed to get within 90% of the lap
record on each of the tracks I've played already in
the stock classes, earning achievements for 80%, 85%
and 90% along the way, as well as another achie for
'Great precision driving!', but without looking it up,
I don't actually know what I did to achieve that?maybe
hitting apexes consistently?
as anyone who has actually done any racing knows, it's
not just fast laps that win races, its consistency.
You?ll know when you ready for a practice race
(which you can choose to do immediately against AI opponents
at any time while practicing), when you can do 20 or
so laps without needing to be marshaled (just press
space bar if needed) and all the laps within 1 second
of each other. The AI racers are pretty consistent (but
not so consistent that you?d say a robot was driving,
they do make frequent mistakes or go off the racing
line) and will give you a decent challenge without the
embarrassment of coming last in an online race. In fact,
the AI is so 'human-like', I had initially wondered
if I was practicing online with real people (I quickly
realised I wasn?t, but kudos to the AI anyway).
you want to play online against real people you need
to pay for a subscription, but I'm still perfectly happy
practicing away and getting better and better until
I feel like I need to do that. You can choose a difficulty
setting and a number of computer controlled (AI) opponents,
which are represented on the track, going around at
the same time as you, both in free practice and in the
practice races. You can also choose whether the computer
registers collisions or not, but since avoiding collisions
and clean overtaking are very important skills, I think
it's best to keep them on for realistic practice. Unfortunately,
the computer is godlike at recovering from hits and
will invariably throw you off the track if you touch
them, but hey, just makes it all the more important
to avoid contact.
you choose pc setup a number of opponents, two or
three or more, you can understand that their skill
levels are varied, one driver often being noticeably
better than the others. I can easily win a practice
race on the Easy setting, but the good driver on
Medium always beats me so far, I always come second.
Still, another testament to the realistic AI.
already spent hours on this game/sim over the
last couple of weeks, but no money! I?m really
kicking myself I didn't do this sooner; it's excellent
fun and I am definitely getting better. More so
in a few weeks than in the last few years of real
wheel time, the only thing I (would have) spent
money on if I didn?t have one already is
the USB adapter for RC receivers.
you can control the cars with a keyboard alone,
or even a Windows compatible game controller,
the game comes into its own when you get the USB
adapter. The great thing about this is that it's
completely compatible with all current versions
of Windows, without any kind of driver or software
download, and allows you to use your own radio
as a controller. I am using my Futaba 4PLS and
the micro R204GF antenna-less receiver which lives
in my latest drifter project. I don?t even
have to take the receiver out of the car, I just
unplug the servo and ESC, plug in the adapter
cables and go (the car sits proudly on top of
my tower, see above left, lol)! The USB adapter
powers the receiver, there?s no need for
any batteries (except in the transmitter of course).
using a good radio can give you the ability to use various
effects that the radio firmware has (settings, etc),
the game itself also allows you to set the really important
stuff in control options (exponential and steering/throttle
limits), so really, you can use any old RTR radio. To
get the best out of it, I'd say you really should use
the same radio that you bash or race with, as this is
the one that makes you feel comfortable, and any improvement
in your muscle memory (and let's face it, RC is all
about muscle memory), would be somewhat negated if you
then switched to a different controller.
course immersion is the only problem?we don?t
really race RC looking through a 27" (or however
big your screen is) window, which is essentially what
I'm doing when I'm playing VRC, what would really complete
the experience would be the use of a VR headset which
has a wide FOV, such as the much lauded Oculus Rift
(second edition, the first one has a bit of a low resolution),
which literally fills your field of view.
out, my only gripe if you will?what this sim really
needs is the ability to create content. Not just for
the obvious benefit of creating tracks, both real and
imagined, but also as a money maker and a creative outlet.
Graphic designers and 3d modelers can make awesome bodies
and designs, other customers can buy them, VRC gets
a cut. There is a disappointing thread on this in VRC's
forum, where the management state the project has been
shelved. Great shame, it would be the perfect way to
take this software to the next level.
think I'll be playing this a lot going forward, so expect
updates! Here?s a little vid of my current ability
so we've something to compare in a few months. ;) Such
a shame about that last lap? :(
there you go, a solid recommendation from me for VRC
Pro; go download it now and order a USB adapter. You
don't need a monster PC to run it either. What are you
doing still here? GO! NOW!
am a Brit living in Greece, bringing 30 years of
playing with toy cars to the arena. I was never
a serious racer though I do have some club level
experience. I'm in the hobby for the engineering
and the modeling as much as the actual driving.
Having been moderating and doing the occasional
review for RCU for nearly 10 years I hope to share
an interesting insight or two as well as give you
my opinions on any models that come my way. I also
dabble in photography, modifying real cars and used
to be a very serious gamer, BK (Before Kids lol).
But that's enough about me... Keep the rubber side
down and the shiny side up! ;)