2016 Extra Life: Trace's 24 Hours of Horror 3: Still a Bad Idea, Still For The Kids

Trace’s Twenty-Four Hours of Horror 3: Nightmare Warriors

STARTS: Friday, October 21st, 10:00 PM Eastern (7:00 PM Pacific)

ENDS: Saturday, October 22nd, 10:00 PM Eastern

STREAMING: At http://www.twitch.tv/pseg and Explosive Runs

DONATING: Here or extralife.teampseg.com

The Nightmares Never Die...For The Kids

For the last two years, I've played 24 hours of scary games to raise money for Extra Life. In the name of helping Michigan's Beaumont Children's Hospital, I've vanquished SOMA, Outlast, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, and numerous other frightening games, and raised over $1,500.

This is wonderful! It's great! But yet...my belly was still not full-OK, that's a pretty lousy Dead Rising reference, let me try this again

We live in a nation full of scary games. Some of these games, they have jump scares, dark rooms, some scary monsters, things of that nature.

On October 21st, you have a choice. You can watch a man who hates horror games suffer through them for charity. There's prizes. There's extra punishments. It's going to be great. You'll love it. It's all win-win.

Can I count on your donation?

DONATE NOW!

The Lineup of Terror

This year, since I live on the other side of the country in Seattle, I’ll be starting at 10 PM Eastern (7 PM Pacific), since I can handle 24-hour runs better starting at night and it allows everyone to be able to watch my final shreds of sanity slip away on Saturday night. I’ll be streaming on Twitch, and my channel’s listed on Explosive Runs, so you’ll be able to watch there, as well.

I will play as many of the following games as possible in the 24 hours:

  1. The Park
  2. Layer of Fear (w/ DLC)
  3. Oxenfree
  4. Outlast 2 Demo
  5. Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion
  6. Spooky's Karamari Hospital
  7. Asemblance
  8. Dead End Road
  9. The Guest
  10. Obscuritas
  11. Masochisia
  12. Curse
  13. Calendula
  14. Welcome to the Game
  15. White Night (using a walkthrough)
  16. DreadOut (using a walkthrough)
  17. DreadOut: Keepers of the Dark
  18. The Room Two
  19. Minds Eyes
  20. Outlast: Whistleblower DLC
  21. Asylum
  22. Magrunner: Dark Pulse
  23. The Cat Lady (using a walkthrough)
  24. We Know the Devil
  25. IMSCARED
  26. Deadly Premonition

Yeah, I'm trying to make sure I don't run short on my list this year. Games are subject to change or be shifted around without notice, and I'm also happy to take any additional suggestions you have to add to the early parts of the list.

As per tradition, I will only move on from a game after either:

  • Beating it
  • Discovering it’s not scary
  • Running into a frustrating and time-consuming impasse, or
  • If a technical glitch prevents me from streaming it out.

While streaming, I’ll be taking donations for surviving these scary games. There will be ulterior motives and benefits for these donations, but mainly you’ll be helping sick kids once again at my local Beaumont Children’s Hospital! It’s a great hospital, trust me. They do wonderful work.

DONATE NOW TO HELP THE CHILDREN, WON'T YOU?

Pre-Donation Incentive SPECIALS! !!! !!!!!!!

Here's are a special secret for you, fair readers. This won't be on my stream or my Extra Life donation page, because by October 21st at 7:00 PM Pacific it will be too late.

I love having my donation goals achieved early on. I want you to help me by donating early. I will put up two incentives for this, including a very popular horror game series I have purposely ignored...until now.

If, before my 24-hour scary games stream begins:

  • $100 is raised: The game Dead End Road will be bumped up to 2nd or 3rd on my list, and while playing it I will dress up as Super Hacker Trucker Trace. What does that look like? WELL, I'M GLAD YOU ASKED.
  • $500 is raised: I add Five Nights at Freddy's 1-4 and Sister Location to my list early on, and promise to give them each a couple of playthroughs. I am genuinely unnerved by this series, but if you get me halfway to my goal before we start...I'll take it on.

The Punishment Incentive: #DRIVECLUB With a Vengeance

The punishment bonus stream will occur on November 12th unless otherwise noted.

In past years, I've played the "best" exclusive racing game on the PS4, #DRIVECLUB, for hours straight.

This year, #DRIVECLUB continues to be the only reasonable racing-based suffering available to me, so I'll be putting my time up for a punishment stream on November 12th. Up to 12 hours straight can be earned through donations for my punishment, and as with last year, there's a Lamborghini Pizza Club incentive should enough hours be earned to allow/force me to eat a full pizza on-stream. I've also put my promise of never playing Project CARS on the line at an atrocious $2500 total. You won't hit that...or will you?

That doesn't seem like enough, though. I feel like bad racing games as a punishment is a bit played out. I should tackle a questionable game in another genre I love, like platformers. That seems like a suitable punishment.

If you raise $1250 total, I'll play the entirety of Bubsy immediately after my #DRIVECLUB punishment. You know Bubsy! He's a loveable bobcat. What could possibly go wrong, right? Right?

Oh, there's also a atrocious goal at the $10,000 mark that throws back to my original ill-fated 2012 drive that failed, but that'll never happen so let's not talk about it

Here's the summary (keep in mind #DRIVECLUB amounts are pro-rated, so until the probably-won't-reach-this $2000 mark, every dollar makes me play more):

If by the end of my 24-hour scary games stream:

  • $500 is raised: 3 hours straight of Driveclub.
  • $1,000 is raised: 6 hours straight of Driveclub
  • $1,250 is raised: In addition to 7.5 hours of Driveclub at this point, I will play the entirety of Bubsy (start to final boss, savescumming allowed) immediately after the Driveclub time expires.
  • $1,500 is raised: 9 hours straight of Driveclub, Bubsy afterwards, and I take my second step into the Lamborghini Pizza Club my ordering and eating an entire pizza during my 9+ hours.
  • $2,000 is raised: 12 hours straight of Driveclub, Bubsy, and the Lamborghini Pizza Club.

All goals below this point are all-or-nothing, so no more pro-rating. These aren't likely to be at risk, anyways.

  • $2,500 is raised: Driveclub is out. Instead, I play 12 hours of Project CARS, a game I've previously vowed never to play unless Slightly Mad Studios issues me an official apology for SHIFT 2: Unleashed. Bubsy and the pizza still included.
  • $5,000 is raised: 15 hours of Project CARS, Bubsy, and pizza. Just typing this out hurts.
  • $10,000 or more is raised: I really don't think we'll reach this point, but if we do, everything before this is off the table. Instead, I move my punishment stream to the official Extra Life day of November 5th, and I make another attempt at a run I've previously failed at: 24 Hours of Forza. It will be six 4-hour races of my choosing, and if I fall asleep repeatedly and crash like I did during my first attempt in 2012, then I will play through Bubsy 1 & 2 on the November 12th punishment date. ...I've never beaten Bubsy 2. I'm not even sure if it's possible.

As in years before, I’ll be attempting to earn as many trophies as and much experience as possible while playing Driveclub (including potential awful DLC purchases), and there may be guests helping me along in my Lamborghini Pizza Club-based journey.

Won't you donate to our cause?

DONATE HERE! DONATE NOW!

Prizes

I have prizes to raffle off this year! They're all unique and related to Giant Bomb in some manner.

Donate the amount shown below for an entry, and I'll automatically enter you to win these fabulous prizes! Multiple entries will count (so $15 would get you three entries for the signed hot dog container), and I'll use the total amount you donated by the end of my 24 hours. I'll ship these free to anyone in the US, but if you're outside of the country, we'll need to talk first.

Here's what you can win for donating:

$20/entry: Signed PAXAMANIA II poster

Signed by loads of participants! It got kind of hectic running around in the theatre, but I guarantee Aaron Trites, Eric Pope, Samantha Kalman, Danielle Riendeau, Mikey Neumann, Greg Miller, and many more signed this thing.

$10/Entry: Signed "WIKE, COMET, SUBSCWIBE" t-shirt

Remember when Dan Ryckert and Patrick Klepek had a huge feud over Mario Maker? After one stream where Patrick tried and failed to defeat Dan's dastardly level, Dan used Periscope to crowd-source an exclusive t-shirt mocking Patrick becoming a YouTube sensation. This is that shirt. There's only 30-40 of these disgustingly purple shirts in existence, and this one's signed. No promises the ink won't wash off if you do wear it, so please be careful.

$5/Entry: Signed hot dog container

At PAX East 2016, Max Temkin and Patrick Klepek interrupted the Giant Bomb panel to give away hot dogs. This container was flung into the crowd by Patrick Klepek, hot dog and all, and landed right in my lap. Naturally, I had Patrick and Max sign it, along with Vinny Caravella and Dan Ryckert, since they had an impromptu hot dog eating contest.

The container does not have a hot dog anymore - the autographs explain why - but the stains of grease are very real.

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CAN I COUNT ON YOUR DONATION, FAIR READER?

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2015 Extra Life: Trace's Terror Stream #2 and Horrible Life Mistake #3

Trace’s Terror for Twenty-Four Terror-Inducing Thours Two

STARTS: Friday, October 23rd, 9:00 PM Eastern

ENDS: Saturday, October 24th, 9:00 PM Eastern (~if I survive~)

STREAMING: At http://www.twitch.tv/pseg and Explosive Runs

DONATING: Here or extralife.teampseg.com

It’s Happening Again

Last year, I played 24 hours of scary (and some not-so-scary) games to raise money for Extra Life. Outlast, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, Among the Sleep, Year Walk, and Neverending Nightmares were vanquished in the name of helping sick children get better. Despite some minor hiccups and not-so-scary game choices, the gaming marathon was a largely successful effort, and I managed to stay awake for 36 hours straight while raising $500 for my local Beaumont Children's Hospital.

Let’s up the ante and do it all over again.

This time, I’ve prepared a more blatantly scary lineup of horror games to rush through in 24 hours. I’ll attempt to keep my sanity playing my least favorite genre of games and complete as many as possible within the time. Afterwards, your donations will decide how much further I suffer.

I hate horror games. You enjoy watching suffering for charity. This should be a win-win proposition, right?

…this is going to hurt me.

DONATION LINK IS RIGHT HERE

The Lineup of Terror

As with last year, I’m starting at 9 PM Eastern (6 PM Pacific), because scary games are best played at night when my mind is fresh, and I’d like everyone to be able to watch my final shreds of sanity slip away on Saturday night. I’ll be streaming on Twitch, and my channel’s listed on Explosive Runs, so you’ll be able to watch there, as well.

I will play as many of the following games as possible in the 24 hours:

  1. Among the Sleep (Prologue DLC)
  2. Daylight
  3. White Night
  4. Nevermind
  5. DreadOut
  6. Spooky’s House of Jump Scares (as suggested by Patrick Klepek)
  7. Layers of Fear
  8. The Cat Lady
  9. SOMA (I honestly don’t expect to get past this point, time-wise or mentally)
  10. Outlast (Whistleblower DLC, going to complete it this time)
  11. Magrunner: Dark Pulse
  12. Deadly Premonition
  13. Asylum

The order will be roughly as listed, though I might deviate a little here and there. I will only move on from a game after either beating it, discovering it’s not scary, running into a frustrating and time-consuming impasse, or if a technical glitch prevents me from streaming it out.

While streaming, I’ll be taking donations for surviving these scary games. There will be ulterior motives and benefits for these donations, but mainly you’ll be helping sick kids once again at my local Beaumont Children’s Hospital! It’s a great hospital, trust me.

YOU SHOULD PROBABLY DONATE HERE BECAUSE THIS IS REALLY SCARY AND IT’S ABOUT TO GET SCARIER

The Punishment Incentive: #DRIVECLUB Fever

The punishment bonus stream will occur on the official Extra Life weekend of November 7th and/or 8th.

Instead of prizes, I’m offering up further game-based punishment as an incentive to donate. It’s well-known that I’m a fan of various quality racing games. However, there are a few racing games that annoy me. They drain my soul. They hurt me on a personal level.

One such game is #DRIVECLUB, and I’m going to play it again this year as part of a bonus stream.

Now let’s be clear: I played five straight hours of Driveclub last year, and while it started off fine, by the end, I was a grumpy and miserable mess. That was a mere five hours, though, and I only scratched the surface of the “best” PS4-exclusive racer currently available. Heck, I hear it has rain and everything supposedly works now.

This year’s donation benefit is simple: The more you donate, the more Driveclub I have to play. I’m already forced into another five hours this year because an early bird incentive was met, but let’s look at the potential tiers of pain:

If by the end of my 24-hour scary games stream:

  • $200 is raised: 5 hours straight of Driveclub. [ACHIEVED!]
  • $500 is raised: 10 hours straight of Driveclub.
  • $1,000 is raised: 15 hours straight of Driveclub, and I join the famed Lamborghini Pizza Club and begin my journey towards Lamborghini glory. For the uninitiated, that means ordering a pizza and eating the entire thing during the punishment stream. One down, 4,999 to go.
  • $1,500 is raised: 20 hours straight of Driveclub, including the Lamborghini Pizza Club piece.
  • $2,000 is raised: 25 hours straight of #DRIVECLUB?!? Is there even that much Driveclub to play? Also pizza.
  • $2,500 is raised: I’ll play 24 hours straight of Driveclub instead, but I’ll be digging out a different painful racing game for a separate stream of the additional six hours should we somehow reach this unlikely point. Perhaps a certain game that I said I’d never purchase without an apology from the developer*…oh, and pizza. Maybe two pizzas.
  • $3,000 or more: An extra five hours of that double punishment for every $500 raised, but seriously, there’s no way we’ll even get close to this point, right? That’s just silly. Pizza included.

*The game in question is Project CARS, by the way. Yes, this is a real incentive. I’m willing to break my word for the kids if we get this far.

I’ll be attempting to earn as many trophies as and experience as much as possible while playing Driveclub (including potential awful DLC purchases), and there may be guests helping me along in my club-based journey. Who can say?

Hey Trace, what happens if you raise a bunch of extra money in $500 total increments during your bonus stream?

I don’t know…maybe I’ll play another racing game on a second punishment stream?* Maybe I'll just extend my bonus stream? I doubt I'll raise enough for this to be a concern, but I’m open to suggestions here.

*Not Project CARS. You’re not getting me to break my word and play that garbage for a mere $500.

SPEAKING OF PUNISHMENT DONATIONS CHECK OUT THIS DONATION LINK FOR THE KIIIIIIIIDS

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Finishing Forza: Drivatars and Impatience

Finishing Forza

One of these days, I plan to finish everything in all of the Forza Motorsport series, and write about my thoughts regarding the series’ evolution. Today, I’m firing Forza Motorsport 4 back up with the mission of completing the game’s event list once and for all.

It’s interesting how a Drivatar can change your willingness to race.

I’m not much of a fan of direct competitive AI in racing games, but I understand their necessity. We can’t expect other people to be on call for specific races 24/7/365, after all.

It actually feels silly to state something that obvious, but stick with me here.

AI cannot perfectly emulate human driving behavior in a racing game. Even if it were to get close to driving like a human, the experience is lost. You can’t give props to lines of code for a good pass. You can’t demonstrate anger or frustration towards them for a boneheaded move in a way that leaves a lasting impression and makes them want to improve. It’s lines of code. It can’t care. It’s not made to understand. Maybe one day we’ll build AI that’s responsive to human emotion in racing, but by that point we’ll be handling far more complex problems like Skynet or some other end of humanity to a new machine race.

War-against-robots doomsaying aside, AI best serves as a metric. Assuming it plays by the same rules and physics as humans, if I can’t beat it, I’m not good enough at racing that car/class/track at that level yet. If it makes a successful pass on me through a turn, then I’m probably not handling that section of track as well. It’s there to show me my strengths and weaknesses in racing, and much like it can’t care, it also can’t judge if I decide to plow it off the road to quickly gain the lead because I’ve turned it down to the easiest difficulty. Some games might have the AI become more aggressive towards the player when it gets knocked around, but unless there’s a punishment mechanic in the game for contact or bad driving, there’s nothing much lost by trying to force my way into the lead in the first few turns.

Why race so recklessly to the front against terribly easy AI? When I’m trying to finish a single-player career, sometimes I just want to run clean laps without facing contention. I’ve earned enough credits using minimal assists that I don’t feel a need to prove anything in Forza Motorsport 4 anymore. The point isn’t having a good race, the point is finishing and winning the remaining races quickly so that I can be done with the game’s content.

…that actually sounds rather pathetic, but I’m sure other people have written about the achievement/trophy/100% completion urges to the point that there’s pieces of a well-beaten horse in a field somewhere, slowly rotting. For the sake of this whole series, let’s assume there’s some merit in wanting to complete games entirely and leave those pieces of dead horse in their stupid field.

This is not professional driving, and among friends, I shouldn't have to think twice about this kind of awesome.
This is not professional driving, and among friends, I shouldn't have to think twice about this kind of awesome.

I’m nowhere near completing the single-player in Forza Motorsport 5, despite most of the races being shorter than Forza 4 and the requirement for gold only being a podium finish in most circumstances. The latter change is very good, don’t get me wrong – having to win every race has always been unrealistic and silly – but every time I run a race I might not be prepared for, or a race where I feel a need to force myself to the front so that I can run some clean laps and just complete the race, that will reflect in my AI as my friends take on my Drivatar. They’ll face a wild, aggressive, and reckless driver who’s not afraid to scrap, and in a lot of ways, that kind of sucks for their experience, even though it’s way more human. I received a lot of messages during the early weeks of Forza from people who were experiencing frustration with my Drivatar’s behavior.

Here’s where the whole scenario of recklessly rushing through a race has consequences: When you become the AI.

This is not all bad, mind you. I’m actually a huge fan of the Drivatar system, and overall it’s created a much more realistic and human experience in single-player. It’s trying to humanize those metrics so that they aren’t so much a static metric and more a challenge similar to the kind we’d face in a multiplayer race. That helps the immersion, and although we’re still lacking the immediate feedback for poor behavior by either player or AI, it’s an interesting step in the right direction. It’s reminding me to execute proper passes and race more realistically against AI whenever possible. The cost of more refined, realistic, and professional driving, however, is extra time spent battling AI of any difficulty, focusing more on side-by-side racing with an opponent than a time trial. Again, it’s not all bad, and for a normal race, this is far more realistic, but from a completionist perspective, it can be a nuisance.

With that in mind, it would be nice to tell the Drivatar system to look away once in a while.

Even if there was a cost involved, such as car tokens or in-game credits, sometimes I’d like to race just to get through a series, and how I’m driving isn’t necessarily representative of how I want to take on human opponents. This includes the sillier races I take on with my friends during Race Nights with intentionally ill-handling cars. Driving Jeeps with excessively bouncy suspensions is fun in a sick way with friends, but that’s not exactly something I want communicated as who I am for Forza 5’s single-player mode.

In that sense, there are real consequences for not taking a race seriously in Forza Motorsport 5 and beyond. Some people might not care about these consequences, and that’s fine, but I’d rather my AI be a challenge to other players by its driving, rather than its willingness to want to force its way to the front or pick silly cars. It’s a trade-off as the Forza series moves forward, putting more of an emphasis on clean, serious driving. Maybe I’m overstating the issue this causes for those of us who just want to rush through old content, since we’re kind of an outlier at this point, but I’m less comfortable jumping into Forza 5’s races than an older game like Forza 4, which doesn’t have the Drivatar system. Every bad move is another problem I’ll create for another player, friend or otherwise.

Progress in Forza Motorsport 4 as of August 9th, 2015.
Progress in Forza Motorsport 4 as of August 9th, 2015.

(Forza Motorsport 6 supposedly has a method for reigning in bad Drivatar behavior, but I’ll withhold my thoughts on this feature until I’m able to try it out in about a month.)

Thankfully, I’m still enjoying Forza 4. There are no consequences for racing fast and wild for fun, and it’s still some of the most enjoyable driving the series has ever offered. The remaining races on my event list will hopefully be completed soon, though they are all 20-25 minute affairs, and there’s about 32 races remaining, by my count. I’ve been down this road before in the last few years where my resolve and patience break down before I knock the remaining races out.

It would help if I got back to that racing rather than writing, anyways. I’ve been watching my Lotus Evora run cooldown laps around the Nurburgring GP circuit for the last half hour or so.

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Five Years of Giant Bomb Forza Race Night

No Caption Provided

The first weekly edition of Giant Bomb Forza Race Night started up on November 5th, 2009, and since then, every Thursday has contained some combination of racing, wrecking, tag, and absurdity from Forza Motorsport 3, 4, 5, and Forza Horizon 2.

Seriously. We haven't missed a week. It surprises me sometimes.

This Thursday marks our 262nd running of Forza Race Night, and as always, we'll be rolling along with a bunch of random races and events in the latest Forza title. Nothing stops Race Night, after all. It doesn't matter if the majority of Giant Bomb thinks we've long faded away. Thursdays nights, the party gathers up, and we start driving. The event rarely matters. We prepare for anything, because Race Night ends up being a random jaunt through the strange, the serious, and the silly. We've always pushed Forza's rulesets as far as they'll allow us, so long as the end result is entertaining in some fashion.

Sometimes that fashion's a little sadistic. A common rule of Race Night is that even the worst ideas on paper need a shot in reality, because on occasion, they end up becoming brilliant mainstays of our gatherings.

It's becoming difficult to remember a time in my adult life when Thursday nights didn't involve jawing at friends over the Internet while enjoying a bunch of random games of Forza. Sometimes I worry what that says about me, but then I remember all the friendships I've gained over these years. Since we started, I've started attending the Detroit Auto Show every year with my first in-game rival, Keval. I've met several competitors and regulars at PAX. One year at PAX East, Wormious and I stole a screwdriver intended for Jeff Gerstmann and downed it after a few celebratory shots of Tequila. I've given Slowbird shit over his love of Ford, set up laptops of random games with Craig on half-drunken whims, and hell, I bought Dethfish passes to a PAX Prime one year and still somehow managed not to meet him in person.

What I'm getting at with all of this is that Race Night has become a formative staple of my life. Thursday nights are the high point of my week, and the joy I've had over hundreds of weeks will stick with me for my whole life. I doubt I'd be anything more than a quiet recluse in public, were it not for Race Night. It's done wonders for my otherwise-shaky confidence, for better or worse.

So, five years later, I thought I'd provide a quick history of how we survived through five years of Forza. It hasn't been an easy road, due to bugs and new consoles, but I'm confident we'll always have a chance, provided Turn 10 doesn't screw up Forza too much in the future.

No promises on that, honestly. The Cult of Greenawalt can be a finicky beast.

The Beginning

I always wanted to start a race night. I just never had the courage.

Sometime during the era of Forza Motorsport 2, I realized the potential of the multiplayer. More specifically, I realized that Buick Regal GNXs could be outfitted with horrible paintjobs and driven in destructive races for great amusement. This wasn't with a large group – only one other friend that I'd played a lot of Crackdown with – but at some point, I figured that a Regal Destruction League was something that I'd have to start up on a random site.

Starting a league takes confidence, however, and requires knowing a thing or two about organization. I had some experience with the latter, but it was also through a parody movement which caused me to be ostracized from a then-large sim racing community. Burned bridges aren't great for confidence, and I was bitter about the seriousness of most sim racing communities. To be honest, I still hate seeing sim racing gravitate towards overly serious events with no leniency for lesser drivers or fooling around.

Racing's about trying to win, sure, but when the majority of drivers will lose a race, I think there's more value in making sure everyone had fun in the process.

Anyways, that lack of confidence meant that upon the release of Forza Motorsport 3, I wanted to start a recurring game night of some sort, but didn't muster the courage to do so. Instead, another Giant Bomb user, Pax, started the ball rolling, organizing the first few weeks of Race Night before getting tired of working through Forza's multiplayer options and tossing the ball to me.

I knew I wanted demolition derbies. I wanted silly races to sit alongside the intense wheel-to-wheel affairs. Looking around other communities interested in Forza, I saw rallies along winding Italian coastlines in sluggish "F200" cars, and enormously overpowered cars smashed tiny Lotus Elans around an airfield in makeshift games of soccer.

These ideas were shamelessly stolen, and incorporated into our weekly Race Nights with a few other ideas that Forza's options helped accommodate, like virus tag, flagpole racing, and clunker pushing, in which heavily underpowered Datsun 510s were forced up a winding mountain road by torque-heavy supercars.

If there was a shortcoming to this era of what became known as Giant Bomb Forza Race Night, it was a restrictive player limit. In a lobby that could only hold 8 players, we often had 10-12 willing participants in several weeks. While this overwhelming interest was, in a sense, a good problem to have, having to sit people out each week hindered our growth somewhat in the long term. Still, we managed two years of intense and silly races, combined with two Giant Bomb GT championships and a few special events, including a tradition of endurance races on New Year's Day. It was a glorious time of growth, jokes, and joy for the Race Night crew, and the take-on-anything attitude of our regulars helped Race Night keep a great laid-back attitude, even during our most serious races.

Also, most American car horns beep in the key of F. Just thought you should know that.

The Explosions

In time, Forza Motorsport 4 arrived, and despite losing our favorite Italian coastline, the addition of clubs, a club garage, and a wide variety of new rules and tracks helped Race Night immensely. Also, lobbies could hold 16 players. That would solve all our problems!

Shame that, through all of Forza 4's incredible additions, it also introduced some very serious game-crashing bugs to our weekly racing. Have too many cars with custom designs racing in your lobby? Enjoy every race failing to launch after the first one or two succeed. The only way to correct this was having everybody restart their consoles.

Yeah, this sucked. Eventually the bug was fixed so that the custom design glitch only hard-locked Xbox 360s and didn't completely ruin lobbies, but by then any momentum we had hoped for faded. While 16-player lobbies were still very useful, we rarely pushed them to their limits, instead settling for 8-12 players on a weekly basis. The Forza 3 crowd was a reliable lot along with a few newcomers, thankfully.

Despite the initial glitches, Forza 4 had a bunch of robust game options that allowed for a bunch of really entertaining game modes. Car soccer was official now, and it came with a proper soccer ball that bounced in manners so bizarre that I kept referring to it as haunted. Club garages allowed for more nuanced fixed-setup races, and so bouncy and nearly impossible to drive jelly cars joined our weekly collection of traditions. At some point, stock car oval racing became even more popular than it had in Forza 3. I'm still not sure how that happened.

The real treat for Forza 4 was its completely bizarre car packs. I know that DLC is a controversial point of Forza's whole existence, but the addition of a Ford Transit van and a Smart Fortwo created the greatest series we've ever had, the Giant Bomb Super Series.

Honestly, if I could find a way to bring this magic back, I would. Video recaps do the races no justice. We had a dumb mix of cars, and a dumber mix of rules, and yet somehow the racing was both manic and incredibly intense in the best way possible. I even added a bonus points system for trying to get the Giant Bomb staff to talk about Race Night, creating teams named for them in the series. Taswell R+D won a lot of points in that regard, thanks to Ryan Davis's willingness to retweet just about anything.

Sadly, a poorly-planned Super Series II couldn't grab the magic with a different set of cars, and a glut of Internet issues on my end almost forced me to abandon Race Night. Were it not for a group of regulars who refused to let me walk away, I'm not sure if we'd still be going to this day.

Forza 4's still a bright spot in our history, just for car soccer and the Super Series alone. Never let anyone tell you a van and a mini econobox can't race competitively against one another. We have proof that they're the utmost bitter rivals.

Also, in a custom race, YOU make the rules. Yes, you.

The Struggles

Naturally, with a new console, Forza Race Night hit a few unexpected snags. Shame on me for thinking the transition would be smooth.

I have a hard time recounting our history in the last year, actually. It's been a struggle to keep Race Night alive in the world of Xbox One and Forza Motorsport 5. Car soccer was gone, clunker pushing was gone, club garages were gone, virus tag became unplayable, and so many of our beloved tracks and cars were no longer available. Thankfully, even in the wake of all this loss, jelly car racing was still an option, and our newfound collection of old and new regulars eventually came to accept that constant class and spec racing was OK for the night.

Then Long Beach came out, and we had a super-short track variant for me to screw around with. That, along with the eventual return of the Nurburgring, saved our butts. The options were still lacking for multiplayer races, but at least I had a few more toys to work with.

Oh, and there's that time I ascended, thanks to an awful netcode glitch.

The Future

Right now, we're continuing to thrive in Forza Horizon 2, since there's no way we could safely continue to exist while playing Forza Motorsport 5. While Horizon 2 lacks all of the options I normally enjoy tinkering with the make Race Night what it is, its frantic nature of racing to each event should allow us to continue surviving until Forza Motorsport 6 hopefully gets everything right again and brings back our racing to its former glory.

That's perhaps wishful thinking, if you hadn't noticed by now.

Still, over all the years, we've had countless Giant Bomb users join our ranks and races, helping with our clubs and contributing to our assorted competitions. We may not be a very well-known group on Giant Bomb, even after five years, and the only staff participation we've ever received is from a former engineer (Mike Horn, he's pretty cool like that), but unlike just about every other race night and game night I've been a part of on this site, Giant Bomb Forza Race Night has persevered. I have everyone who's ever joined us to thank for that. You all have my sincere and complete thanks for keeping this stupid and wonderful dream alive.

Put together a bunch of silly cars, races, and rules, and you'll attract a fun bunch of people. We aren't legit pro, unless you're talking about SushiXXX's jelly tunes. We aren't stubbornly serious like the average sim racing crew, and never will be. We believe that cars are fun, and we will always enjoy driving them. As long as Forza keeps their cars and racing dynamic and wonderful, we'll stretch their rules in new directions, creating unique, interesting, and sometimes flat-out stupid races. They're all fun for just about anyone with a sense of humor. We know that from experience. Trust us.

We are Race Night.

26 Comments

2014 Extra Life: Trace's Second Horrible Life Mistake for Kids

Some Background

A few years ago, I attempted to play Forza Motorsport 4 for 24 hours straight. This was during Extra Life, as might be expected, but it wasn't actually for Extra Life in that I didn't have a donation page. Rather, this was some sort of self-imposed challenge that I wanted to try for the sake of pushing myself. The endeavour, looking back on it, was selfish, stupid, and it ended in horrible failure, since I fell asleep numerous times during the final six hours. I'm sort of embarassed by how I handled everything, from terrible video footage to how I acted over Skype towards other people actually raising tangible funds for the children.

I want to try Extra Life again. This time, I'm going to do a better job at handling the 24 hours and (hopefully) bring in some money for team Giant Bomb to help sick kids get better. However, and perhaps unfortunately, racing games aren't ideal for my campaign this time around. Despite my best hopes and wishes, I don't have a racing wheel that can withstand 24 hours of use, so iRacing is out this year. The Xbox One and PS4's streaming options aren't great for someone who needs an overlay to tell people where to go to donate, so Forza and #DRIVECLUB are out. All other racing games wouldn't be watchable for such a long period of time.

With my favorite genre out, I decided the next most-entertaining option would be to take on one of my LEAST favorite kind of games: The horror genre. The scariest game I've completed is Eternal Darkness. I'd like to change that, even though I am terrified at the thought of games like PT, Silent Hill, or Resident Evil.

Yeah, I'm going to play scary games for 24 hours. This is a really bad idea.

DONATION LINK SHAMELESSLY INSERTED HERE

Here's the Rundown

I'm starting at 9 PM Eastern on Friday night. That's 6 PM Pacific, for those in need of a Giant Bomb west comparison. I will stream here (hopefully to be on Explosive Runs as well, but possibly not), and play some or all of the following games, depending on progress:

As noted above, I'm looking for suggestions on good scary games to fill in the noted gap. They have to be on Steam, and I'll not touch the original Amnesia or Five Nights at Freddy's, since I've been exposed to the monsters from both a little too often already, so the psychological torment wouldn't quite be as fun as the other games.

Naturally, I will be asking for donations, and there will be benefits for doing so. Mainly, you'll be helping sick kids at my local Beaumont Children's Hospital! It's a really great hospital, I can assure you of that.

DONATIONS GO HERE. All donations are greatly appreciated, and you'll be helping the Giant Bomb team as a whole.

Prizes

Anyone who donates $5 or more will have a shot at one or more Steam games from my long-standing pile of crap, via a raffle (so $5 a ticket, if you will). I MAKE NO GUARANTEE THAT ALL OF THESE GAMES STILL WORK, but they're either in my Steam or Humble Bundle inventory. I'll gladly give a selection of them to lucky donors on a random draw, first come, first serve. In all likelihood, everyone will have a chance at a game, unless I receive a huge amount of money. Consider it my small amount of thanks for donating a well-sized chunk of money to hospitals helping out kids.

In somewhat of a disorganized order:

  1. Borderlands 2 w/ Mechromancer pack
  2. Dirt 2 (2 copies)
  3. Grid
  4. Monaco (2 copies?)
  5. Antichamber
  6. Aquaria
  7. Atom Zombie Smasher
  8. Bastion
  9. Bridge Project
  10. Brutal Legend
  11. Burnout Paradise
  12. Cave Story+
  13. Cook, Serve, Delicious!
  14. Cortex Command
  15. Crayon Physics Deluxe
  16. Darksiders
  17. Dungeon Hearts
  18. Dust: An Elysian Tail
  19. Euro Truck Simulator 2
  20. FEZ
  21. Gish
  22. Greed Corp
  23. Guacamelee! Gold Edition
  24. Hotline Miami
  25. LIMBO
  26. Little Inferno
  27. Nightsky (2 copies?)
  28. Orcs Must Die!
  29. Orcs Must Die! 2
  30. Organ Trail: Director's Cut
  31. Penny Arcade Something Something Adventure 3
  32. Red Faction: Armageddon
  33. Rock of Ages
  34. Sanctum 2
  35. Serious Sam 3: BFE
  36. Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter
  37. Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter
  38. Shank
  39. Shank 2
  40. Solar 2
  41. Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery
  42. Surgeon Simulator 2013
  43. The Bard's Tale
  44. That Binding of Isaac game
  45. Patrick Klepek's The Swapper
  46. Toki Tori 2+
  47. Tropico 4
  48. Universe Sandbox
  49. The Ship (2 copies)
  50. Some Payday Christmas Soundtrack Thing (3 insipid copies)

HERE'S A LINK TO THAT PLACE WHERE YOU CAN DONATE $5, MORE THAN $5, OR LESS WHICH IS TOTALLY COOL TOO

Hey, Peace Egg, screw that prize list, I thought you were a Car Guy, play Car Guy Games

If anyone's actually saying this, I have a final side challenge. Money must be put where the mouth is if you want any Trace-playing-racing-games this weekend.

The Bonus Challenge

If you mention one of the three following games in a donation comment...

...and at least one of these titles gets over $100 in donations, AND I get at least $200 in total donations, then sometime between my first 24 hours and the end of Sunday, I will devote a sizeable bonus stream of at least five hours to playing one of these games as non-stop as possible. Post-marathon exhaustion racing stream excitement! I will likely fall asleep and/or become ill on camera.

I'm saying at least five hours because I might fall asleep exhausted after all of the horror and wake up late on Sunday. I have work on Monday, so I can't be too crazy in a year where I'm out of vacation days, yo.

FOR THE KIIIIIIIDS

#TwoScoops2Scared

11 Comments

Giant Bomb Racing League Season 3 Preview

Giant Bomb. Season 3's here.
Giant Bomb. Season 3's here.

With E3 2014 basically over, it's time to focus on what really matters in life: Driving the ever-loving hell out of some fun cars in an intense racing sim.

OK, that's more my thing, but if it sounds like something you might be interested in and want to join fellow Giant Bomb community members in a bunch of races open to all levels of experience and skill, then we might have the league for you in iRacing.

Season 3 will be slightly shorter than season 2, but we've concentrated it down to the three series everybody enjoyed, running one for each day of the weekend. Here's the line-up, with the changes this season:

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Friday Nights are for BOMBCAR

BOMBCAR continues to be our NASCAR oval racing series, full of bullshit rules, caution flags, and intense bumper-to-bumper racing. This season, we've retired the Late Model, and with it threw away most of the short tracks. Now we rally forward with the Class B NASCAR cars, used in the Nationwide support series in real life.

With this upgrade comes a whole lot of new tracks. Unlike last season, every track in BOMBCAR this season is used in the NASCAR Sprint Cup. We'll start with the Daytona 125 presented by VinnCo, and through one road course, five more ovals, and four playoff races, decide our BOMBCAR champion at the Dover Championship Weekend powered by Patrick "Scoops" Klepek.

The full schedule is below:

Yes, the race names are dumb. Slowbird is in control. He's awesome like that.
Yes, the race names are dumb. Slowbird is in control. He's awesome like that.

Cautions and "Lucky Dog" free passes will be on, and to prevent abuse of said cautions, fast repairs will be limited to two during a race. Scoring is similar to NASCAR's system, save for being altered for a field of around 15, and after the Moonface, Silky the Fairy and Saucepan Man 105K at Phoenix, the top four drivers in wins will be joined by the top non-winner in points to form the Fast Five. While everyone can still participate in the races, only the Fast Five can win the BOMBCAR title.

Get ready for oval warfare.

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Saturday Night is Formula Duder

Our longest-running series gets a major facelift, as we move from the Skip Barber Formula 2000 up to the Star Mazda. It's way crazier to control, but it has more grip and more power. I hear you're into that sort of thing.

The Star Mazda's also really fun at certain ovals, so we'll be giving it two ovals to tackle this season. You're welcome.

Also, there will be team warfare. If you can find a teammate, and you and said teammate run similar paint schemes like those F1 fellas tend to, we'll score you as a team and determine the best pairing at the end of the season.

Formula Duder's schedule is as follows:

  1. 6/14: Summit Point Short
  2. 6/21: Watkins Glen w/boot
  3. 6/28: Bristol (oval)
  4. 7/5: Circuit of the Americas West
  5. 7/12: Okayama
  6. 7/19: Suzuka
  7. 8/2: Lime Rock
  8. 8/9: Sebring Club
  9. 8/16: Richmond (oval)
  10. 8/23: Mid-Ohio Short
  11. 9/6: Road Atlanta Short

This is going to be the craziest open-wheel racing we've done since the GB Indy 125. Speaking of that, expect to see it return with a DW12 exhibition during at least one of the off-weeks this season.

Finally, it's the series everybody loves.

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Sunday is Giant Bomb GT

RUFs that handle an awful lot like Porsches, McLaren MP4-12Cs, and BMW Z4s. It's a trio of GT3 cars that are insanely fun to drive without being overly difficult, and that's why we love them. The challenge, as always, is in the distance and fuel strategy. Races for GBGT this season are 45 or 75 minutes in length, with the final race at Road Atlanta being a 90-minute test of your driving ability, and we've limited the cars to the point they'll require one or two well-timed pit stops along the way.

It seems like a long time, but you'll be having so much fun those hours will melt away. Just don't let your fuel and tire strategy consume your soul.

Giant Bomb GT's schedule is as follows:

  1. 6/15: Summit Point
  2. 6/22: Daytona Road Course
  3. 6/29: Lime Rock
  4. 7/6: Circuit of the Americas West
  5. 7/13: Watkins Glen Classic
  6. 7/20: Suzuka West
  7. 8/3: Laguna Seca
  8. 8/10: Sebring
  9. 8/17: Phillip Island
  10. 8/24: Mid-Ohio
  11. 9/7: Road Atlanta

I hope you're ready to join us for a great season of racing. This? This is it. This is what you've asked for, and I've turned the scheduling and series coordination over to @slowbird and @khann to ensure it remains spectacular from season to season. I'll be tossing out additional participation bonuses in the form of iRacing credits, but I'll announce any initiatives of that sort after the first week.

Let's find out who our next great champions will be, shall we?

10 Comments

Driving Men in Need of Giant Bomb Liveries

I have a request I'd like to ask of any or all the artistically gifted people on this site who might be willing to paint up a virtual car. Allow me to fill in the situation with a little background.

For the last two weeks, I've been waking up at 6 AM on Saturdays to watch NASCAR races in iRacing.

Ordinarily this is the sort of behavior best reserved for Formula 1 viewing, but I'm finding iRacing to be a rather entertaining way to wake up far too early on a weekend. The official series I'm watching uses the same schedule as NASCAR's Sprint Cup does, save for fixed setups and most of the races being half distance, both of which actually make it far more interesting. It's nice to have races where I can choose whatever camera angle I'd like, rewind if necessary, and generally get a better narrative of the unfolding race than I'm able to from the four-hour epics most real NASCAR broadcasts pump out. I also have the benefit of having a few drivers that I can cheer on, since they run in our Giant Bomb Racing League.

It's weird knowing that two of our best oval drivers are a Kiwi and a German.

Quick introductions:

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Here's @khann, from New Zealand. He's incredibly fast, but prone to misfortune. Give him an incident-free race, though, and you'll see him battle for the win in just about any type of car anywhere. Seriously, he's that good.

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This is @iron1c, from Germany. I'd compare him to Kyle Busch: He's extremely aggressive, and it either pays off nicely or sends him to the pits early. He's pulling off a sick drift here and not about to spin, I swear.

I have one major problem with both of these guys in their pictures: They're not repping Giant Bomb at all. Khann's sticking to his usual pink-and-black attack with a generic Trading Paints sponsor (that's the program that allows us to see custom liveries), and IroN1c races with some sort of Mountain Dew green label art camouflage. Given that there's the chance that more of us could be stepping up to race soon, this absent brand loyalty is a disappointing problem.

It would be nice to show all these iRacing users who we are and just how hard we can run in an official series, wouldn't it?

We could probably design bare-bones paint schemes on our own with some Giant Bomb logos slapped on every panel, but I'd like to enlist the community's help in making Giant Bomb racers look truly awesome on the track.

See? Bare-bones doesn't look cool. We can do better than this, right?
See? Bare-bones doesn't look cool. We can do better than this, right?

The Details

These cars are the same ones used in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, so there are three different manufacturers. I've linked .zip files with copies of templates below:

Any design can probably be transferred between these cars with little issue. There's only a few minor variations between the models, as far as I can tell.

The templates are 2048x2048 .psds with layer groups. They're generally pretty descriptive and will tell you what layers to turn off before saving a finished paint, most of which help show what the finished car will look like in-game and provide other assists like wireframes and number placement.

Numbers are separate from the livery. They're assigned automatically when joining a race and are layered on top of the design alongside NASCAR-required contingency sponsors. One of the layers in the .psds will indicate where they'll go. Colors and font styles can be recommended for numbers on designs, but that's about it.

Designs can't have any offensive language or imagery. That's iRacing's thing, since they have to be PG-friendly or so. Other than that, I'd say go for whatever Giant Bomb images/memes/shirt-based/friend-of-the-site stylings you want. B0nd07 already indicated to me that he'd be OK with users putting his winged bombwheel onto cars, and I'm sure other users who have made awesome work for the site wouldn't mind, either, be it a site logo, the VinnCo emblem, police sketch Jeff, or some other great logo/design.

Finished designs have to be saved as 24-bit compressed .tga files to work in iRacing.

Since not everyone has access to iRacing and this car due to its insane cost, I will gladly model any paint scheme and help point out any seam issues that may arise for anyone who wants to try their hand at creating art. Just let me know.

Help some duders out! Just imagine how cool this 1-2 run would look if they had Giant Bomb designs.
Help some duders out! Just imagine how cool this 1-2 run would look if they had Giant Bomb designs.

Help us spread the word of Giant Bomb to the masses of iRacing, won't you? You'll have our eternal gratitude. Thanks!

22 Comments

Giant Bomb iRacing League: Season Two Preview

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(This is just a blog post detailing season two's events. For details on how to join and a far more expansive league discussion, visit the Giant Bomb Racing League thread here.)

The Giant Bomb Racing League's inaugural season in iRacing concluded at the end of 2013, and with consistent fields of 6-15 drivers, I'd call it a success. We now have over 75 members in the league, so the potential growth in the league's races is huge. I'd love to see a day where Giant Bomb users of widely varying experience are able to race against each other in fields rivaling those of real-life racing events.

With that in mind, I've taken member feedback into account and planned over sixty races to run over the next four months. Season two of the Giant Bomb iRacing League is rather large and somewhat complex, so this blog will be covering all of the rules and series changes to help prepare anyone interested for a season full of (hopefully) exciting racing.

Our main races will run from Friday through Sunday, so I'll start with Friday's big series.

BOMBCAR

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  • 9:00 PM EST, Friday nights
  • Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS and Street Stock
  • 13 races, 10 ovals, 3 road courses, no drops
  • Final three races are playoffs
  • Full-course cautions with a wave-by on ovals
  • Only two fast repairs on ovals
  • Maximum fuel is halved

Friday Night Thunder was a not-all-that-serious series from season one, featuring ovals and figure-eight races galore, but its attendance was never great. The post-season survey basically revealed that people were sick of all the figure-eight silliness and wanted more ovals. They also agreed with my inadvertent realization that a NASCAR-esque series I pitched sounded more like what Friday Night Thunder should have been all along.

BOMBCAR takes Friday Night Thunder's spot on most weeks, and it features the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS late model. There's also a Street Stock option for users that don't want to buy a car, but I must warn that it's not nearly as fun as the late model. The Monte Carlo has more grip and power overall, though it also wears out tires much faster.

BOMBCAR's key element is that it shamelessly rips off of a lot of NASCAR's bullshit rules. There are 13 races – ten ovals and three road courses – and after the tenth race, the top four in points will be joined by a wild card, the next-best remaining driver with the most wins, to form the Fast Five. They'll be the only ones who can win the BOMBCAR Cup, as their points are equalized for the final three races.

Full-course cautions are in effect for all oval races, including a "Lucky Dog" wave-by to the first car not on the lead lap during any caution period. To prevent repeatedly-damaged cars from contending for the win too easily, only two fast repairs are permitted during oval races. After that, all repairs will take much longer. This is a departure from our usual standard of unlimited fast repairs, but with the wave-by rule in effect, I'd like to avoid a scenario where a user that causes several accidents can continue to contend for the win without consequences.

Oh, and the maximum fuel load's been halved for both the late model and street stock. That means you'll probably have to pit during most races.

BOMBCAR Points System

  • 1st: 27
  • 2nd: 24
  • 3rd: 23
  • 4th: 22
  • 5th: 21
  • 6th: 20
  • 7th: 19
  • 8th: 18
  • 9th: 17
  • 10th: 16
  • 11th: 15
  • 12th: 14
  • 13th: 13
  • 14th: 12
  • 15th: 11
  • 16th: 10
  • 17th: 9
  • 18th: 8
  • 19th: 7
  • 20th: 6
  • 21st: 5
  • 22nd: 4
  • 23rd: 3
  • 24th: 2
  • 25th: 1
  • 1 bonus point for leading a lap
  • 1 bonus point for pole
  • Playoff "Fast Five" boosted to 500 points at playoff time, plus one point per win

Formula Duder

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Formula Duder was easily our most successful and popular series last season. To make its racing even better and more accessible, it has taken over Saturdays with three separate races.

The Formula Duder EuroCup

  • 3:00 PM EST (8:00 PM GMT), Saturdays
  • European servers
  • Miatas and Skip Barber Formula 2000s, multi-class
  • Best 10 of 12 races, grand prix scoring

The starting times for almost all of our league races are really terrible for European residents. I feel bad about that, and want to make sure everyone around the world has a chance to participate. This race should be friendly to Europeans (and any interested North Americans), so it's a test to see if my guilt is well-placed.

The EuroCup is set up to run like Formula Duder season one, only with a more consistent schedule. If it has a good turnout throughout the season, we'll expand the Euro-friendly offerings for season three. Otherwise, I'll assume they can stay up late to join us.

VinnCo Miata Challenge

  • 7:00 PM EST, Saturday nights
  • Miatas only
  • Shorter races, less premium tracks
  • Best 10 of 12 races, grand prix scoring

So here's the biggest problem we had during Formula Duder's first season: The Miata class was lonely. Newcomers would join us with Miatas, unsure about buying the Skip Barber Formula 2000, and they'd be lucky to have one opponent on the track. Racing alone with a bunch of faster cars lapping you constantly isn't all that fun, as you might imagine.

Given that there's no good reason to encourage people to race Miatas in a multi-class Formula Duder race, we're splitting the Formula Duder classes into two separate races. While this does mean users without the Skippy won't be able to spectate the main Formula Duder race, it also means Formula 2000 drivers will be able to join the Miata fray and bolster the field numbers.

Also, Miatas pushing it to the limit seems like a Vinny Caravella thing, so I tacked VinnCo onto the name.

As a bonus, and since I expect the top Formula Duder drivers will participate in this series as well, anyone who wins a Miata Challenge race and doesn't own the Formula 2000 will earn themselves credit towards purchasing one. Prove yourself against our finest, and you will be rewarded with the opportunity to compete at the next level.

This will also be the one race I stream only as a spectator, in the hopes its coverage will be more awesome with me outside of a car.

Formula Duder (The Main Event)

  • 9:00 PM EST, Saturday nights
  • Skip Barber Formula 2000s only
  • Best 10 of 12 races, grand prix scoring

Formula Duder is currently the top series in the Giant Bomb Racing League. The Skip Barber Formula 2000 is a car that's rather easy to tune, daunting to master, and is capable of very competitive racing with ease. This season will feature slightly longer races, more premium tracks, and shorter qualifying periods. I'm hoping the larger fields will also make it more exciting for everyone.

Participation Bounty

Speaking of participation, I have a challenge to throw down. Our best race last season featured fifteen drivers at Road Atlanta. Every time we beat that total, I will give a random participant credit towards a car or track of their choice.

Giant Bomb GT

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  • 7:00 PM EST, Sunday nights
  • RUF RT 12R Track and Cadillac CTS-Vs
  • 11 longer races, mostly premium tracks
  • Time-limited races more than laps
  • Slightly-limited fuel loads to force conservation or pit stops

Using the name of our most serious Forza Race Night series, Giant Bomb GT is the most taxing series thus far for our iRacing league. Many of the races are 45 or 60 minute mini-endurance races, featuring two GT cars that are both aggressively fast and reasonably controllable. This series is just as much about being consistent as it is about being fast, as long races will make errors far more prevalent.

If GBGT gains traction this season, it will begin to work towards a proper endurance race schedule. iRacing is supposedly working on allowing for driver swaps and longer-distance races, so I'd love to have full-blown endurance races on a quarterly basis mixed in with a series like Giant Bomb GT, including, perhaps, a 24-hour race for the next Extra Life charity event.

Additional Series

While BOMBCAR, Formula Duder, and Giant Bomb GT will dominate the weekends this season, there will be occasional appearances from the following series, which will both run throughout 2014.

Friday Night Thunder

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Thunder's not dead! It's just taking over the Fridays BOMBCAR is off. This will continue to be a grab-bag series, featuring special cars (one free car, two free cars, or one free and one premium car) at various tracks we otherwise wouldn't race. RUF RWDs and CTS-Vs around Daytona? Legend cars and sprint cars around a tiny oval? Those dreaded figure-eight races? Nothing is off-limits. So long as it sticks to the car criteria, we can race it.

Points will be loose, and the racing will be looser. Don't expect anything too serious here. Also feel free to jump into the main league thread with suggestions, because that's where I'm taking ideas for most of the races.

GBF1

On the other side of the seriousness spectrum, expect a toned-down version of the GBF1 series we tested once a month on Sunday mornings. We'll be using Star Mazdas each month at a track that F1 has visited at some point in its history, usually something we're already running in other series. I currently use 25% of the race distance of the last F1 race to run at the track, but that's subject to change based on timing and feedback.

I'll also avoid interfering with the F1 calendar, but this is a series that runs at a time just after some F1 races. That may mean waking up early or staying up late for some of us. Such is the life of Formula 1 fandom.

This will also probably be the only year we run this series, as the IndyCar DW12 should be available for races sometime this year, and once that's out, we'll have a proper Ricker Cup.

Streaming

Most of these races will be streamed live from my perspective at twitch.tv/pseg. Unlike last season, my upstream speeds are much faster (6-10 times faster), so you might be able to make out a car or two while I'm racing.

No, seriously, it's so much better. I tested it earlier this year with the GB100 Endurance Race, and it's far easier to watch.

I'll also be tweeting out at @PsEG right before any streams, so I apologize to those of you who follow me and don't care about iRacing.

Calendar

Finally, for a better perspective of how all the races will be stacked up, here's a calendar from Mouse. Times are subject to change, so always check the league page on iRacing.com beforehand if you plan to participate.

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Finally, thanks to aurahack and B0nd07 for all the badass logos above. They're amazing dudes.

13 Comments

iJump Back on the Wagon – iRacing Battle Log, Day 159

Day 159: October 30th, 2013

I certainly haven’t abandoned iRacing, but in a sense, I fell off the wagon for a while there.

Between vacations I had already scheduled and devoting free time to the Giant Bomb Racing League, I let my first full-length official season in fall apart. It doesn’t even matter when I finished in the Skip Barber Race Series points, since I ran a fraction of the races I should have for a proper season.

Anyways, that needs some correcting. Before then, though, I feel it’s necessary to discuss what went right and wrong before renewing my battle with iRacing:

What Went Right

  • I’m a C license now

Thanks to an extraordinarily safe time in the Miatas at the start of my career, followed by a handful of slow-yet-adequate races in the Skip Barber last season, I've earned a C license with relatively little effort. This gives me access to a couple of new series that are rather interesting, including the Star Mazda championship, V8 Supercars, and what was once my end goal, the Grand-Am Series.

There’s also Grand Prix Legends with the deadly Lotus 49, but that’s a level of insanity well beyond my tolerance.

The logical next step beyond the Formula 2000 is the Star Mazda, since it’s a modern open-wheel car with more power and grip than its little Skippy brother-from-another-mother. It doesn't have iRacing’s newest tire model, though, and frankly, I didn't complete a full season in a D license series. That eats away at me somewhat.

Still, I’m beginning to think my goals in iRacing are changing.

  • This Giant Bomb League thing’s actually kind of working out

The most significant sign that iRacing is no longer just about me on this site can be seen pretty easily in our League roster. We have 63 site members signed up.

Seriously. I know the Forza clubs have had hundreds, and there’s thousands in the Steam groups, but this is iRacing. It’s like racing DotA 2, except you have to buy the stupid hats and swords to progress. I expected we might have about 20 people join our ranks, and we've tripled that number.

Not only do we have a bunch of people, they’re incredibly talented. Not counting the wonderful logos B0nd07 and aurahack have donated, our members put together great videos and guides. I’m still floored every time I watch DavyC412’s Formula Duder promo video:

  • I’m getting hooked on this streaming thing

A nice side effect of both this blog and the flourishing league is that I’m becoming more experienced with using XSplit, streaming to Twitch, and talking into a camera pointed at my skull. While I don’t ever expect it to take off on any grand level – my highest viewer count was 22 after an unexpected Rorie TweetZone plug – I do hope I can build my streams and videos into a nice resource for people who don’t care to spend the crazy money on iRacing but still want to see what it’s all about. Plus, XSplit allows me to throw together a bunch of graphics and video to improve my production quality, and that’s a thrill for me in itself.

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Hell, I’m listening to music these days and thinking, “Hell, I bet I could use this as a theme for a series without getting in copyright trouble.” It’s dangerous thinking.

One unfortunate limitation of my current situation: My “turbo” Internet is awfully slow. My upstream bandwidth is 1.15 Mbps, which severely limits the quality of what I can stream, most especially when I have to ease off the limit so that my car doesn't warp around the track for my fellow competitors. I’ll hopefully be able to fix this in the next month or so, but I’m not looking forward to visiting my cable company and reminding them that I already own a cable modem that can handle your fastest bonded speed just set it up already I have the money geez

  • I have an awesome livery for my Formula 2000

Oh, and DavyC412 didn't just make an awesome video for the Formula Duder series, he made this really cool livery for my Skip Barber Formula 2000.

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It’s just the bee’s knees, you know? I’m definitely fond of it, and I’ll be using it for all of my Skip Barber races from now on. A full season’s worth, even. Seriously.

What Went Terribly, Terribly Wrong

  • Somebody forgot to practice

Practice leads to confidence, and confidence leads to results. Unsurprisingly, my lack of gusto in putting forth the necessary laps each week killed me. It’s not fun arriving at a Saturday, Sunday, or even a last-chance Monday race and not knowing the track well enough to run a decent lap. That leads to panic about safety rating, since the easiest way to destroy my new C license is to spin or crash several times in a race.

Partway through last season, after dropping a few weeks, I realized just how problematic this was going to be. I jumped into a late-week practice session at Mosport, having never driven the track in any game before. I figured I could pick it up well enough and run reasonable enough lines to run mid-pack in a split somewhere in the middle of the skill range.

Then you crest a hill like this not knowing what’s beyond it, and realize you have absolutely no clue what you’re doing.

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Yeah. It’s a fast turn, but learning to take this quickly and safely in the span of an hour before a race? It wasn't going to happen, and my inability to jump into practice in a timely manner gutted my chances of having an opportunity to race. I’m not going to put myself out there and screw over my safety rating because I don’t know what I’m doing, after all.

With that in mind, I’m going to have to keep reminding myself to practice as many days as possible. Devoting full nights to practice isn’t necessary, either, so it’s not like I’ll have to take away time from other games I have to play. Instinct for tracks and breeding familiarity with braking points, racing lines, and car control nuances tends to solidify somewhat over nights of sleep, anyways.

Just don’t make it too many nights of sleep like I did last season. That’s a great way to solidify an excuse about being rusty.

  • The league could still be more active

I’m being picky, but despite 63 members, our biggest race so far has only featured around a dozen participants. I know that there’s no way we’ll get everyone together for one gigantic and amazing race, and I may be starting slow in the number of races we’re offering, but I certainly feel that I owe everyone in the league a chance to enjoy themselves among fellow duders. I’m going to keep working on increasing participation, regardless of the cost.

Hosting five races a week is still cheaper than most fast food meals, anyways.

  • I spent way too much money on cars and tracks I don’t need to use…yet

I’ll leave this discussion for another time, and the specifics of what iRacing has cost me thus far.

What Lies Ahead

For now, my mission is intentionally simple:

Repeat the Skip Barber Race Series, run a full 12-week season this time, and keep the Giant Bomb Racing League rolling.

Once I’m back to using the Skip Barber regularly and have my safety rating over 4.00, I think it’s best for my purposes to jump into a C-level vehicle like the Star Mazda and run time trials. These aren’t great fun, but successfully completing four trials while above 4.00 would boost me up to a B license and open up just about every official road event available. If time and luck are willing, I could repeat this process to reach an A license, which is just about the best I can possibly hope for at this or any other point.

That’s not to say I’m going to rush up the pseudo-career ladder in iRacing. Rather, I intend to take my time working up through the various series, and I’m hoping to record various practice and race sessions live, even if I don’t stream them. I think showing off what I’m going though in the moment of action is far more interesting than attempting to narrate a race afterwards.

I’m ready. I’m back on the wagon. My battle with iRacing is nowhere close to over.

Let’s keep fighting.

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iStart a League of Our Own – iRacing Battle Log, Day 97

Day 97: August 29th, 2013

The only thing separating me from Seattle and PAX Prime is a short night of sleep and an early trip to the airport.

My schedule’s been somewhat busy as of late, filled with trips and sequence breaks from the usual Monday to Friday work week. While it’s no excuse, and it certainly hasn't kept me away from iRacing entirely, it has forced me into some rather hasty, last-minute races.

Somehow, I’m still emerging from these events without absolutely ruining my safety rating or even iRating. It’s a bit surprising.

I had no right to run an incident-free race at Watkins Glen, much less a race where I almost finished in the top five. I had run about six laps earlier in the week, fraught with spins and crashes. They were messy and overly aggressive, attacking turns I had yet to witness anybody run properly and paying dearly for foolhardy mistakes.

Somehow, I convinced myself not to give up the week, but rather take on the last time slot for the weekly race. A quick video of a fast lap was my retraining for the race, along with a recommended setup. Two sketchy test laps later, I entered the race and expected the worst.

I’m not sure how I managed to piece together what I had seen into twelve clean laps, but it happened.

Despite my limited experience, when the Skip Barber Formula 2000 is tuned reasonably well, it’s responsive. Once it’s there, the handling profile remains roughly the same: Smooth inputs, careful steering, and quick corrections in both the wheel and pedals for any slides in the event a corner is over-driven. It’s a case of patience with the car, and while it’s tempting to want to push for faster lap times, often this aggression leads to the sort of spins and wrecks I found myself dodging early on in my race.

Somehow, I’d found a happy balance between cautious driving and attacking the turns. It might not have been a winning effort, but it felt good.

In the meantime, another effort’s been brewing in the world of iRacing.

Spreading the Sim Infection

I mentioned it in my last log, but the Giant Bomb Racing League now has 46 members. That’s way larger than I ever expected, and it creates an interesting situation where we have the potential to go beyond small league races into large fields of drivers not usually seen in official races.

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The lack of an official designation helps ease any tension in these races, too. Safety rating and iRating aren't on the line in league races, so there’s less fear of penalties for going off-track or losing control. While this occasionally leads to more aggressive battles on track, it also allows a pleasant amount of experimentation outside of the usual boundaries. Less popular cars can be brought into events and paired with beginner-friendly cars, and oddball weather conditions, including more realistic weather, can be implemented.

My favorite part of these events is how condensed they are from start to finish. For official races, you have a week to practice, qualify, and pick a race that runs every one to two hours. It’s a lot of time to panic and fret about whether you’re good enough to compete or not. In league and hosted events, there’s a few hours to utilize for practice, qualifying, and a single race. Typically, unless you’re the type to enjoy endurance events or long practice sessions, you stick to the minimum two hours. Having just 40 minutes to practice, 20 to 25 minutes to qualify, and a 30 to 40 minute race all in one stint really grinds out the practice and the laps for a track. If you’re not used to a car, it’s an intense way to become familiar. Not used to a track? It’ll help, at least. iRacing may not be as malleable as games like Forza when it comes to customization and options online, but it’s a damn fine way to devote a few hours to a track and car.

For someone who’s falling way too deep into the sim racing hole (again), this is a grand experience. It will be explored further…and perhaps with a little chaos thrown in. Can’t be too serious about our racing, after all.

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Side Notes

Here’s a few recaps of our test races in the Giant Bomb Racing League, if you’re interested.

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