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Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster do exist

Let’s just get the bad news out of the way right away. Driver swaps WILL NOT be in the Season 3 build. Take a minute to go file a protest, punch a wall, crush a six pack or whatever else you need to do to get that frustration out of your system. Then come back and finish reading.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock . . .

Okay, feel better? So now that we have got that over with, I am going to write something that anyone that has read one of my blogs knows I never do: Makes as close to a promise as you will ever get from me about release dates. If I was allowed back in Vegas again and a casino would take my bet, I would put money down that driver swaps will be in the season 4 build. In fact, I’d bet all the money I could get my hands on as well although, in reality, that’s not so much considering I have two small children who literally never stop eating. But to reiterate, the driver swap feature really is coming, and it is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some of you may have seen our post in the forums a month or so ago saying we needed more testers to help get driver swaps tested. If it was not obvious that this was a sign that Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster and Grant Reeve actually do exist and testing is in fact going on with driver swaps, then I don’t know what is. Quite frankly, driver swaps are really close enough that we’re not missing this build by much. I could go into a long-winded explanation of what development branches are and how they work, but only a handful of you will really appreciate it…. and the engineers will point and laugh at me after writing it.

So the short explanation is that after locking Randy Cassidy in his office for two years to work solo on driver swaps, we now have seven engineers working on this project. And with the massive amount of changes being made to the code for this feature, we have kept it isolated from the main development branch. We re-purposed a particular environment specifically to test this feature which we now need to prepare for the actual build that will be released in less than a month. Although testing has been going really well, the feature just doesn’t have the polish it needs to be moved over to the main branch, and we really need to focus testing on the goodies coming out in the next build.

The good news is that once we get this build out, we plan to close our eyes, cross our fingers and merge all of this code into the main branch, pretty much committing ourselves to releasing driver swaps in the Season 4 build.

Team RegistrationNow that the timeline is hopefully a little clearer, let me tell you about the actual feature. I really am not lying when I say the feature is awesome. I have been sim racing for over twenty years now and worked in the industry for 15 years. iRacing has literally been integrated into my life for 10 years, day and night, 365 days a year, so I don’t always have a desire to sit down and just enjoy it when I actually get a few minutes to myself. I know some of you probably think I just kicked a puppy there, but it’s just a fact. I generally use the sim for work purposes and not as much for entertainment as I used to do.

Testing driver swaps these last few weeks has changed that for me. I legitimately have had fun and it has opened a new way for me to interact with the sim that I never would have imagined. I think when we originally sketched-out the design of this we had a pretty good idea that it would scratch a big itch for the endurance racing types out there; but with the way it has been implemented I think it will be much bigger than that. This feature has the potential to really create a multiplayer “co-op” feel, both in leagues and official racing; a feel I think people will not really understand until they try it. Interestingly enough, you really don’t need to run long races to appreciate and use it.

I will give you an example. The other day we wanted to test some changes that had been made with how the race servers communicated with the database, so we had an “all hands on deck” test session. I mistakenly decided to team up with Otto and we entered a 16 lap street stock race at Rockingham along with the rest of the company. Creating a team is easy. Click on the “teams” tab from the menu, click the “create team” button and follow the simple instructions. Once you have done this you can invite members to your team.

Once I invited Otto to my team I registered for the race and we both joined the session as “Slobbargoat Racing”. What instantly becomes important is communicating with your team mate(s), because only one of you can drive the car in warmup at a time. Otto and I immediately started bickering (as we always do about everything) but in this case it was about who got to do practice laps first. I was the first one to click “drive” so I was on track first, and I did a handful of laps before pulling into the pits and into our pit stall. I hit the “escape” key and Otto mashed the “drive” button and was instantly placed in the car in the pit box which he drove out of the pits and destroyed…..

The warmup finishes up and we decide that I will start the race, so at least we have a shot at making it halfway. FYI, there will be options in place allowing both hosted and official races to have minimum and maximum laps or time required in the car in order to score points for a driver in the race. We did not have any of those functions selected for this race, rather we just decided to make at least one driver change for each team in the race.

The field was gridded by iRating because nobody qualified for the race, but qualifying will work exactly like it currently does on the member site: The grid will be set by the qualifying time of the fastest team member who is registered when the server launches. Not surprisingly, the team consisting of Shannon Whitmore and Kevin Bobbitt was on pole due to Shannon’s cheating and/or iRating depending on how you look at it.

The race starts and I am able to hang with Shannon because he is busy abusing his admin privileges to clear his jump start black flag and to issue black flags to the team of Weidner and Cross to keep them at bay. Otto and I had decided to do our driver change on lap 8 which ended-up being a lap later than Shannon and Kevin. Shannon pits and I put down a decent lap and do everything I can to get into the pits cleanly and without speeding. I park in the box and immediately start smashing the keyboard to find the escape key while Otto hammers his mouse waiting for the drive button.

We complete our stop and Otto manages to get out of the pits without penalty and rejoin the track with a nice four second lead. I immediately switch over to be the spotter and start giving Otto updates as to how far back Kevin is and what the lapped traffic ahead looks like. With one lap to go, I sense danger when I see Richard “crashes everything” Jobling meandering around the track in front of Otto. I start screaming at Otto to just be patient and ride it out instead of trying to pass the wayward Mr. Jobling. Alas, apparently after you hit 50 your hearing really starts to go and, sure enough, Otto collides with Richard. Our street stock badly damaged, Kevin cruises by, race lost.

And you know what? It was the most fun I’ve had in a race in a very long while. I was excited to try and outperform not only the rest of the field but also my teammate. I was nervous about making a mistake on the track or in the pits and letting my teammate down. I was anxious to minimize the time I took to make a driver change to, hopefully, give us an advantage on the other teams. I was eager (if slightly delusional) to see my teammate perform well, and watching the race actually meant something now because I had an actual horse in it. I was bitterly disappointed at losing because of bad judgment by my teammate, but also because I should have told him sooner about the rolling disaster in his path.

What’s hilarious about all of this emotion was we had just done a silly testing race in an environment where statistics mean nothing! I can’t imagine how it will feel to compete in a race like this on the member site where it actually matters. Racing has for the most part always been a “me against the world” sport, but I can see this feature changing that. I can absolutely see short sprint races in both oval and road becoming a huge draw because of these emotions and the ability to experience them with a friend, even a mediocre one like Otto.

I am sure some of you will discount my words as marketing hype and that’s perfectly understandable, but here are the facts as I see them:

This really is a “first of its kind” feature in the sim racing space and I, Steve Myers, think it’s a blast.

I would definitely put all the money I stole out of Tony’s wallet on the probability of driver swaps being in the Season 4 build.

The Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot and Grant Reeve do in fact exist, and Otto is a mediocre friend with questionable judgment.

 

PS – I negotiated on your behalf with Greg to get two teaser screen shots from tracks in progress. You owe him a pizza.

Phoenix

Phoenix

Donnington

Donington

About SteveMyers

Steve Myers is the Executive Vice President and Executive Producer of iRacing.com. His day to day activities include over seeing and coordinating production, engineering and licensing and trying to get many far more intelligent people than himself heading in the same direction. Steve has been with iRacing since the doors opened in May of 2004 and previously was a Producer at Papyrus Racing Games since early 2000. In his spare time Steve enjoys watching from his comfortable couch all forms of sports including motor racing and occasionally will drag himself to an actual event. Steve lives outside of Boston Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters.

25 Comments

Beside the excitement for the new features coming, this was really an enjoyable post, Steve! Cheers!

June 27th, 2014 at 11:51 am
Tommaso Carlà

Beside the excitement for the new features coming, this was really an enjoyable post to read, Steve!
Thanks for your hard work!

June 27th, 2014 at 11:52 am
Tommaso Carlà

Thank you very much! :)

June 27th, 2014 at 12:03 pm
Diego Colafabio

great writeup…. best yet!

June 27th, 2014 at 12:42 pm
Andy K

There is no limit to the awesomeness this will bring to iRacing. This seems like it will be the coolest thing you guys have ever done.

June 27th, 2014 at 1:23 pm
Todd Bettenhausen

hehehe Fantastic read, i see the good potential of the swaps, i also see some complaining for a Team points system to reflect the new dynamic.

I can’t recall if Team functionality was to be included with driver swaps or not but us getting that sooner than later would be great.

Having a repository of Sim Racing Teams/ members on the iRacing site itself would be fantastic.
Depending on how much you guys put into it we could use them to promote ourselves vs hosting individual sites.
It can also be another $ generator like hosted sessions to have iRacing host easily customizable pages that we’ll use to promote out Teams.

June 27th, 2014 at 1:29 pm
Marcus Caton

Slanderous!

June 27th, 2014 at 1:33 pm
Richard Jobling

Which livery will be on the car? The driver’s who started the team? The driver’s who first go in the car? Or does it change with whatever driver is currently in the car?

June 27th, 2014 at 1:38 pm
Brett M. Waldrep

Sweet, repaved Phoenix!

June 27th, 2014 at 1:54 pm
Bryan Clark

Can’t wait! And enjoyed a good chuckle :)

June 27th, 2014 at 2:48 pm
Lisa Pineda

awesome news! thanks for taking the time to write about it… have fun finishing the thing! ;)

June 27th, 2014 at 3:21 pm
Alexandre

I had a good fun reading your post, can’t imagine how much fun i’ll have when i actually have the chance to use this feature. Great read, thanks!

June 27th, 2014 at 3:47 pm
Thiago Izequiel

I for one am super excited about this driver swap feature, but the obvious question arises.. are people / teams going to use it? certain top split drivers no doubt, no questions as everyone has same times etc but what about lower down the stack where you might not have that matched time consistency? whos going to want to team up with someone who will take them from 2nd to 12th..

June 27th, 2014 at 4:08 pm
Adydas

Great!! Thanks for that, iRacing!

June 27th, 2014 at 4:20 pm
Renan Azeredo

The feeling of sim racing in person with people is so intense. The ability to run multiple drivers in single race will allow more people to race In 1 event. Great job @iracing G.E.

June 27th, 2014 at 4:33 pm
gweedo ecclestoned

This, along with the Holden V8 is going to make most Australians heads explode……Having used a similar feature in rFactor many years ago for a 1000km race at Bathurst, I can tell you that everything said above is true, 10 fold ! Just the build up to a race is huge, the nerves of the start and just lapping, knowing that your responsible for someone else’s race as well adds a huge dimension not seen in this service. It is by far one of the most anticipated update to the service. As a League founder, I can tell you , we have been planing to use this feature since before the announcement that Bathurst was coming to the service (we had inside info from a member of Bathurst city council :) ) and just cant wait to get our hands on it.

Thanks so much to all iRacing staff who have worked/are working on this, you really dont appriciate just how much the community and in particular Australians are of your efforts to get this feature implemented.

June 27th, 2014 at 6:25 pm
Mike Koroleff

Great Post, Looking forward to it, Updating some iRacersResource.co and our ISRALeague.com sites for the changes. Going to be some fun racing. Thank You

June 27th, 2014 at 8:25 pm
PJ Losey

What an Amazing Post! Great Read and I really think this will Revolutionize Sim Racing For Ever!!!!

June 27th, 2014 at 8:40 pm
JD Smith (V8sOnline)

Excellent news, it sounds like you have done “another” great job. Thank you.

I will have to spend Season 3 finding some fast teammates ;-)

June 28th, 2014 at 2:30 am
Allan Paterson

Great read and I’m looking forward to this awesomeness. I am happy to order pizza for you, but alas, I live in Australia…

June 28th, 2014 at 3:33 am
Bernie Wiemers

Great to have a date nailed down, bring it on!

June 28th, 2014 at 3:47 pm
Mark Bird

Well at this point, just missing the 24 Hours of Lemans!

June 29th, 2014 at 5:10 am
Fabrizio Raffa

What is driver swaps&

June 29th, 2014 at 8:38 am
Alex

This is really going to kick things up to a higher level, this is going to be epic, even as a spectator.

June 29th, 2014 at 10:44 pm
Sean Seebran

This is really is great news :) can’t wait for this feature to be released. I hope this will open an endurance championship in the near future, perhaps season 1 2015!!

July 17th, 2014 at 9:58 am
Sergio Carretas
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