“Never had a doubt in the beginning
Never a doubt
Trusted you true in the beginning
I loved you right through

On and on we laughed like kids
At all the silly things we did

You made me promises, promises
Knowing I’d believe
Promises, promises
You knew you’d never keep

Second time around, I’m still believing
The words that you said”

“Promises Promises” by Naked Eyes – 1983

Sorry, maybe I have been reading too much Bill Simmons lately but for some reason this song (which I don’t even particularly like) popped into my head when I started the process of writing this.

It is kind of funny to read those lyrics though and think about this communication game we play as developers and customers. Maybe game is not the best word but it also could be the perfect word.

Here is why I think it may be the perfect word. Run for the hills, an iRacing employee is going to say it, we make a video GAME!!!! We make a hardcore racing video game. We make a racing simulation that for the most part is used for entertainment purposes. There may be fewer than a thousand of our customers that actually make a living from racing and they may get some practical use out of the software but the rest of us are using it for fun and to increase our enjoyment of the sport.

I have never really understood why “simracers” get upset when these hardcore products are called games. The reality is that they are, and there is nothing wrong with that, and quite frankly that’s the whole point for most of us.

Now I am sure the argument will be made then that why is our message always talking about the most authentic racing simulation ever made, or why we never call it a “game” in our press releases or announcements. The reason we do this is to create a brand called iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations, to differentiate ourselves from other products. I think it is a fair statement that we have gone much further then anyone else in the commercial space in trying to create as authentic an experience as possible, but we still are an entertainment product.

If you accept that iRacing.com is a hard core video game and therefore a product used for mostly entertainment purposes then lets figure out how we can communicate like we are having fun.

Coming back to the cheesy 80’s song I quoted lyrics from. I am about to write about a bunch of things we are working on, none of which I will promise you will be done. I write these blogs because some of you want to know what to expect next but if one of these features does not get completed it is not the end of the world. The sun is (hopefully) going to come up tomorrow and everything is going to be okay. Trust in us that there is a plan and we are doing our best to execute on it.

If you accept that iRacing.com is a hard core video game and therefore a product used for mostly entertainment purposes then lets figure out how we can communicate like we are having fun.

On to some of the highlights of the things we are working on…..

Tires, yeah, instead of me regurgitating the same stuff I always say Mr. Kaemmer himself is going to write an entire blog post on what he is working on. After being tied to a chair and forced to watch me trying to solve quadratic equations on the whiteboard he finally broke and said he would do it.

Grant is back working on his new transmission model. He made my eyes glaze over yesterday by telling me he had just added in the mass of a hand into his model in trying to determine the velocity needed to get the dog tooth gears to engage. There is still quite a bit of work to be done on this, most importantly that there are aids available that make this new model usable by all of our customers.

One of the most complained about “features” in the sim is that a damaged car is just as fast as an undamaged car. We just figured what fun would it be if you lost the front wing on your IndyCar and it actually required you to slow down? Okay, seriously, we are working on improving the damage model.

I read a hotly debated thread yesterday on what exactly we are doing with the very general statement of “we are working on night racing”. (On a side note, if you ever want to see an engineer melt down describe a project they are working on in the most general description possible and say it’s a piece of cake to complete.) To elevate the suspense we are working on turning Richmond into a track that can be run at night. This may seem like a trivial task but we are modeling a light source from each light at the track. This will be over 100 lights. Kevin Combs will be doing a blog post specifically on this topic in the near future.

This project is just the first step in the long term project of finally getting back to work on improving our graphics engine. Now that Shawn is finally done working on the HoF project he is being set loose on all kinds of goodies to make the product sexier.

Fixed setup racing for hosted and official racing is also being worked on again. This is pretty self explanatory really. The real debate for this feature is what official series to make fixed setup. We have not had serious discussions about this internally yet but my first thought on this is that to start maybe D and under series are fixed setup? What do you guys think we should do for fixed setup series while trying not to add any redundant series?

I am pretty sure I have mentioned this in one of my previous blogs but we have started the process of transitioning to a third party sound engine called FMod. The feature set for this product should allow us to add some cool effects into the model and hopefully increase performance in general. At this time the goal is to have the old system in place as well so if there are any problems for a particular user you can continue to use the old sound engine.

We have heard quite a bit of feedback from our league operators that having more control over a hosted session would make their lives easier and we have listened. We have begun the process of trying to get back into hosted racing the extended admin functionality that we had in our previous products at Papyrus. As we have said many times before just because we did it at Papyrus does not mean we can copy and paste the code into iRacing so I don’t know the exact feature set we will have yet.

Tony “loose lips” Gardner has made a few posts recently about a few cars we are working on. We plan on trying to get the Tour Modified out in June around the same time that Thompson Speedway will be finished up. We also plan on trying to get the Mustang done in June or early July for when Mid Ohio is released.

On the topic of cars we have received a ton of feedback on our aero model and we have started to look at trying to model the draft effects on aerodynamic side force on the car. We think this will improve the side by side oval racing and being able to pass cars a little easier on the outside.

One of the larger projects that we will be working on is being able to find your friends on the service. We hope to be able to allow members to see if their friends are already in a running race, qual or TT, and can allow them to join an open practice and possibly a hosted session with them. We also are going to try and allow you to join an actual race they are competing in to watch it as a spectator.

I got to see some of the videos the other day that are going into the driving school and I must say I came away incredibly impressed with what they have accomplished. It’s going to be a seriously comprehensive training package that I believe everyone from novice to experienced sim racers will find useful. I am really looking forward to that getting launched.

And lastly, the cheerful backbone of our community, the iRacing forums, will be getting an overhaul. I have told Scott that if we don’t see a serious increase of positive thoughts and discussion in the forums you will be stuck with this same outdated piece of software that you have now. So let this be your warning!

Seriously though, we are incredibly excited to get these projects we are working on out to you guys as soon as possible. I think they encompass many of the things you have been asking for and yet only scratch the surface on what we want to accomplish. I hope everyone has a great summer (or winter for you guys down under) and now I am off to try and get this damn song out of my head!

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