Friday, November 18, 2016

EA Makes Real Attempt To Make Amends Following Real Racing 3 Update Uproar

Photo Credit: Real Racing 3/EA

Earlier this month, there was an uproar over the virtual racing app Real Racing 3 as the publisher made some controversial changes during a recent update. Many users complained on social media that aspects relating to the vehicle handling has been altered drastically. As someone who plays Real Racing 3, I concur with the comments there were noticeable changes to the driving dynamics in the game namely more aggressive brake assist and more contentious AI of competitors.

Last week, a video link was added to Real Racing 3 related to what is called the R3 Version 4.7 McLaren update.  In the message, a producer for Real Racing 3 described the changes to the game as unintentional saying it was meant to be limited to a specific component of the racing experience that leaked into updated game. Although the producer's comment on the vehicle controls has not been consistent with what is currently experienced, he did acknowledge a change in the AI. Within the video (the YouTube clip is provided below), a pledge has been made to improve the gaming controls and to make it up to Real Racing 3 players.




In my case, I immediately noticed Real Racing 3 gifted me the McLaren 675LT with a 75 percent off upgrades. Provided for me several days after a challenge concluded where the new tedious controls arguably impacted any major success, I assume the McLaren 675LT was either the mentioned apology or part of the attempts to win back favour with users.

Now the happy owner of a new McLaren supercar, handling issues are still present in the game. The brake assist option continues to be overactive with the 4.7 update. The last time I drove through the bus stop section of the Daytona International Speedway road course, the brake assist is kicking in so early and so hard that the AI competitors will promptly sail by or ram my vehicle. There were also times where in the past I could count on going nearly flat-out in some corners and make up track position. The recent update increase the braking even on 'low' setting to the point the advantage is rendered unavailable. In fact, many races I have found braking anywhere on tracks is enough where a gamer doesn't even need to apply additional brakes. The one advantage of this situation is finding out I can win some events without assists provided my tablet's touchscreen reacts to my finger.

As for the AI changes, I welcome a challenge in playing Real Racing 3. What would be nice is if the winnings at the end of an event could be adjusted to reflect the reward of victory. In the past, I would rerun some easier but well-playing events such as endurance races just so I can compile enough in-game currency to upgrade a car so I can finally complete stages.

Real Racing 3 has not been without its issues. In addition to this recent game-affecting update, the cost of completing through its 'free-to-play with in-game purchase model' (typical with many current apps) proves expensive. However, the driving simulation delivered through Real Racing 3 has remained a fun app game I continue to pick-up regularly. With a tight-lipped announcement for a new addition to the Real Racing 3 game hinted in the video, I will look forward to seeing what virtual automobile I may be driving into 2017.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Real Racing 3 Adds Experimental McLaren MP4-X Concept

Photo Credit: Image from Real Racing 3/Electronic Arts



A recent update of Real Racing 3 has spawned some good and bad traits for the popular racing app.

Starting with the good news, Real Racing 3 is currently offering players to gain access to new McLaren-branded vehicles. Production-based 570GT and 675LT have been added alongside a radical concept racer. The most stunning ride introduced to the app racing game, the McLaren MP4-X was concocted as an extreme example of a Formula 1 car matched with the limits of real-world technology.

Sculpted as an advanced hybrid race car last year as an exercise of McLaren Applied Technologies, the MP4-X's electrical power system consists of generation through typical means such as braking as well as through solar cells. Electrical power is stored in thin batteries orchestrated around the vehicle for weight optimization. Although Formula 1 is already exploiting hybrid race car technology, the McLaren MP4-X's application is beyond the extent currently used in the series.


Photo Credit: Image from Real Racing 3/Electronic Arts


Beyond propulsion, the McLaren MP4-X's dazzlingly sleek appearance is entirely functional for achieving great speeds. Active aerodynamics features electrode-laden wings that electronically adjust the bodywork of the car for track conditions transitioning from high downforce for cornering to a low resistance appearance for straightaways. Although, McLaren developed the MP4-X with grand prix racing in the future in mind, the covered cockpit, fendered wheels and ground effects largely outlaws the car under current Formula 1 rules.

Through a wide array of sensors, almost every aspect of the McLaren MP4-X is monitored. Data from the tires, chassis and even the driver of the race car can be assessed. For the pilot of the MP4-X, gesture controls and holographic instruments would create an operating compartment where no physical steering wheel exists. A heads-up display and a 360-degree augmented reality-like display provides an unprecedented level of awareness.  


Photo Credit: Image from Real Racing 3/Electronic Arts



Bringing the car to a new form of virtual life, Real Racing 3 has given the car specifications. Initially, the McLaren MP4-X's top speed is 250 miles per hour, can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds, brake from 60 in 47 feet and features 4.0 g cornering grip. Upgrades offered in the game will enhance these performance attributes further.

For the moment, I am unsure of the price of the McLaren MP4-X to purchase in the game but it is currently available as a prize in a 8-day special event.


And now for the bad news...

During the last major download that included the MP4-X as well two McLaren road cars, I noticed a different driving dynamic to many of my races. Now, the brake assist on low is far too aggressive to the point it's overreacting. Some of you may mock the notion of me maintaining this in-game braking nanny on but I leave it at the 'Low' setting since there are occasions where my tablet doesn't realize my finger when I want to brake. For me, the most blatant examples of over-braking my experienced was on chicanes at Melbourne and the bus stop chicane on the Daytona International Speedway road course where I slowed so much I felt like a sitting duck at exit. Initially, I wondered if I had truly turned dreadful when events where I won are a struggle to get a podium but I later reviewed the Real Racing 3 Facebook page as well as Google Play reviews. It was on those sources that I noticed a multitude of comments citing similar changes to the driveability of cars. Another changes appears to be the driving habits of the AI competition. It seems that competing vehicles has been reprogrammed to drive dirtier than I recalled through past experiences.

Too bad Real Racing 3 would be choosing to modify that aspect of their game rather than improve the almost constant times you need to repair one of your vehicles after just a few events (longer races or endurance events often depletes a complete health of a car). It would have also been nice if they can improve the monetary system so a Richard Petty Motorsports NASCAR stock car didn't require 3,000,000 of in-game currency. Of course, the game publisher Electronic Arts want us to infuse real money into Real Racing 3 where a 2,000,000 in-game requires $69.99. If you want to buy Gold pieces (a second in-game currency), the purchase of 183 Gold coins amount to $27.99 and only affords you a handful of lower-tier vehicles. I understand game developers want to make money from free-to-play apps like Real Racing 3 but there has to be value.

With driving dynamics bordering on game-breaking, myself (as well as a number of other long-time enthusiasts of the racing app) are wishing that Real Racing 3 can at least restore the real fun with the game.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Laser Light Show Comes To US With 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus Exclusive Edition


Photo Credit: Audi AG

It's been more than two years when the beam of some vehicle headlights gained intensity in Europe. In 2014, the first use of laser lighting technology debuted on a pair of niche vehicles (the European BMW i8 and a limited 99-car run of the special edition Audi R8 LMX. Generating a powerful white illumination using an indirect shine of a laser (a laser is projected through a mirror into a phosphorous lens), laser automotive lights may represent the next progression beyond LEDs as a high-beam source. As this lighting concept is slowly becoming a potentially bright opportunity for greater driver visibility during the nighttime, North America has not been involved in the efforts to highlight the use of laser lights. The prohibition on laser lights served as a reminder towards decades where the North American standards for vehicle lighting tends to lag behind European rules. Uncertainty with the technology has prevented its availability at the initial release of the latest 2017 Audi R8 supercar. However, unlike the European-style, body-integrated headlights that took decades before American highway laws permitted the use, Audi has placed the introduction of laser lights on an express track to roads in the United States.

Making its scheduled public debut at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show occurring later this month, a limited edition version of the Audi R8 will feature a full LED headlight system aided by a high intensity laser module. The 2017 Audi R8 V10 plus exclusive edition will consist of just 25 examples retailing at a MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) of $229,200 US (equating to more than $306,000 in Canadian dollars).

The showcase feature on the special version of the Audi R8 supercar, laser lighting on the exclusive edition will utilize a laser module using four diodes beaming at a wavelength of 450 nanometers (a wavelength resulting in a blue light) into a phosphor converter. The end product is a pure white light that will shine when the R8 V10 plus exclusive edition model is travelling at speeds above 40 miles per hour (64.374 kilometer per hour) depending on driving conditions. In addition to laser lights, dynamic front turn signals will be equipped on he limited release R8 becoming the first Audi product to feature this combination of advanced lighting.


Photo Credit: Audi AG


Captivating in darkness, laser lights' first application on an automobile sold in North America does a lot more to be noticed. A prestigious form for an already exotic quattro all-wheel drive, ten-cylinder engine propelled supercar, the 2017 Audi R8 V10 plus exclusive edition's is visibility identified in the light by a Quantum Gray exterior paint colour with a carbon sideblade and Signal Orange accenting the cars's outer surface. Treated with a high-gloss anthracite, 20-inch diameter wheels incorporate a 10-spoke Y-design pattern. carbon ceramic brakes, carbon fiber rear diffuser and a fixed rear wing spoiler have also been included with the appearance of the 25-car run of the R8 V10 plus exclusive edition.

Decked-out with a long list of Audi exclusive details such as leather door sill trim and an Alcantara headliner patterned with a diamond-stitching, the special R8's full leather interior mixes Black and Signal Orange colouring. The 2017 Audi R8 V10 plus exclusive edition's Titanium Black-optic exterior package provides a silky smooth performance sensation for the vehicle's driver as well as the passenger as they sit in racing shell seats.

Based on the limited 25-vehicle production of the 2017 Audi R8 V10 plus exclusive edition, there appears to be little chance that automotive laser lighting technology will be arriving to counter Canada's nighttime for the interim. Audi's ability to champion laser lights into North America represents a major step forward that could likely see adaptation to more broadly offered models.