Codies Talk F1 Issues, Defend AI

By Jim Rossignol on October 1st, 2010 at 10:00 am.


About those confusing practice and qualifying AI results, they say this: “the AI times in such circumstances are calculated based on a ‘football management” style simulation model. Using this model all of the race factors, such as the car, driver, weather, tyres, engine, track conditions, traffic are all taken into account and a lap time is produced. These generated times are well considered and guided by a huge amount of data; they are not randomly generated. Nevertheless they remain simulated approximations using this model.”

And on race AI: “We have seen several email and forum threads which suggest that an AI car’s performance is determined by where they are positioned currently in the race, or where they are in relation to the player which absolutely isn’t the case.”

Nevertheless, there’s a patch on its way. Read the full thing here. (I’ve actually had quite a lot of fun with this, in the meantime. It’s a pretty good racing game…)

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29 Comments »

  1. Will says:

    Us humans can be funny, eh? Whether the AI is ‘real’ or not does not affect ‘fun’ of the game in any way as long as it is done well (it seems to be). Yet, somehow, I am just not as happy unless I feel that somehow the challenge is ‘real’ – a truly ludicrous notion when one considers how ‘virtual’ is really at the core of videogames.

    That’s why tourists aren’t happy unless they see an ‘authentic’ crappy village (see: Quinns’ Citizen Kane series), and why I won’t get a million pounds for a really high DPI print of a Van Gough.

    So what I’m saying is, I’m desperate to buy this game, but I won’t unless the AI really does compete (or, I suppose, unless I really believe the AI is competing, ha!), and I know that’s irrational, but this self-awareness does not affect my purchasing decision.

    • Matt says:

      Some games just demand a level playing field. No one really minds when a RPG boss has 100x the HP because the player is given other advantages and because the boss isn’t really representing a player equivalent. In games like Civilization or Starcraft, the player has no intrinsic advantages over the AI and the AI is presented as an equal so if it uses abilities that the player doesn’t have access to then we feel cheated. If they cannot create a competitive AI, then the game should at least make explicitly clear how the AI is cheating so the player isn’t mislead. It really burns when you spend a lot of time setting up a sneak attack only to find that the AI has omniscient vision.
      In racing games giving the AI a bonus to speed or faster nitro recharge requires the player to play better, but the best strategy is still a logical solution to the ostensible problem (I.E. I am a race car driver in a race against other cars). If the AI cheats by using rubber banding or teleporting then the best strategy often ends up being illogical relative to the games premise. The player might find that the first 95% of the race isn’t important and that they should just drive a safe reliable course while saving any boosts or weapons for the critical last 5%. This dissonance between the presentation and the game mechanics pulls the player out of the game and causes much of the game to become boring filler.

    • Michael says:

      It’s not just about the times. There was a video on Eurogamer in which a novice driver drove a practice session. He was slow as a dog yet the AI just lined up behind him in a big crocodile. No-one should be posting representative times in that scenario. Heck, no-one should have been on the track – it’s simply not something that happens in F1. For the sim to come back afterwards and give every driver a time that takes into account the fact the most of track was clear of traffic seems confusing at best.

      I don’t mind the times being generated like this. What I don’t like is the fact that during practice and qualifying any other car I see is just decoration, and my interactions with it are all meaningless.

    • Tacroy says:

      In games like Civilization or Starcraft, the player has no intrinsic advantages over the AI and the AI is presented as an equal so if it uses abilities that the player doesn’t have access to then we feel cheated.

      Exactly! The original Mario Kart always bugged the heck out of me for this exact reason – the AI karts would get special drops you couldn’t ever use (IIRC, for instance Peach would sometimes drop little mushrooms that would shrink you but you never got to use those). I always felt cheated because the AI had access to abilities I didn’t.

    • humpnik says:

      I guess the real question is: Why make a playable, real-time event if, in the end, the times are not based on anything that is happening during it but are rather generated from completely different data? It just feels strange. I can partially see how they ended up with this, maybe even with good intentions (using more data that reflects real-world outcomes). But you just can’t do that and “fake” the real-time action on top of it. Not in the year 2010.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Every other sim does pretty much the same thing if you end qualifying early (anything gMotor based in particular), so I think their explanation is pretty understandable.

  2. Baboonanza says:

    Personally I think it’s fine, the illusion is certainly good enough and I don’t really understand why people care that much about lap times of cars that aren’t anywhere near the player.

    I think it’s a really good game. The driving is really immersive and feels right, which is by far the most important thing.

    My main complaint is that there isn’t nearly enough difference between the performance of the different cars. There is no way I should be able to qualify in pole position in my 2nd race for Lotus (on hard but with some assists turned back on). I actually wanted to have the feeling of working through the pack over 3 seasons, but instead I’m racing right at the front from the start which is nothing like the way F1 actually works.

    • Baboonanza says:

      Oh, and not being able to change your tire strategy mid-race is moronic. It’s a feature I assumed was going to be there because it’s such a core part of F1. To leave it out is a serious oversight and annoys me quite a lot.

    • Kingofspain says:

      You can change your pitstops mid race. Not sure what you press on the PC (I’m playing it on the Xbox) but you can indicate when you want to come into the pits and what tyres you want.

    • Baboonanza says:

      Really? I knew you could signal to come in, but I haven’t seen any way to choose the tires. I guess I’ll have to read the manual :)

  3. Tei says:

    I could post something like this…

    “This is what I thought: for the most banal even to become an adventure, you must (and this is enough) begin to recount it. This is what fools people: a man is always a teller of tales, he sees everything that happens to him through them; and he tries to live his own life as if he were telling a story.
    But you have to choose: live or tell.”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre (Nausea)

    …and go full paul sartre about this. But I don’t think we really need existencialism here (but is a literal description of a singleplayer game).

    I think what we have here is players fighting a abstraction, different than the other abstraction these players expected. The one F1 seems to implement, is more these RPG’s where if you shot a fireball, the damage is not a emulation of fire burning flesh, but some dices rolling, based on tables and comparetivelly stats. F1 is a RPG game. At least the AI drivers are NPC’s with stats, and performing based on RPG calculations. Seems only the player depend on “player skill”. The gamers are right in that all these WTF’s sould have been removed, you can’t let the player be the first, and make the 3th with a better time. Thats just wrong.

    • Baboonanza says:

      I think you’re fundsamentally mis-understanding the problem or IMO non-problem.

      In Race AI: Always cars driving round a track. Lap-times are actualy. There is a bug that meant that first-lap times were being recorded incorrectly so that they didn’t correctly represent the position of the car (ie 3rd could have a faster time than 1st).

      Qualy/Practice AI: Simulated laptimes not based on on-track performance. This was done for practical reasons to enable the player to accelerate time and jump to a flying lap / particular sector. A worthy trade-off in my opinion.

      Frankly I don’t see what the problem is. I could understand if cars were not being properly simulated in the race but for qualifying it’s perfectly sensible. Afterall, what is the difference between simulating an AI car going round the track and simulating the lap-time based deterministically on what the Ai would have done? As long as the simulation is good enough I would argue that there is NONE.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      If you see something happen on the track you expect that to be reflected in the results, whether it’s a qualifying, practice or race session.
      What the developers failed to do was add code to decide whether to use these “simulated times” or the actual times, based on whether the player used time-skip or whatever.

  4. Ian says:

    “the AI times in such circumstances are calculated based on a ‘football management” style simulation model”

    Surely the difference is that in Football Manager and the like your own players are behaving in much the same way? Obviously you’ve given them the tactics and various other things so the player is chucking variables in there, but you don’t have direct control over the players unlike this where you are, obviously, controlling the car.

    • Baboonanza says:

      But again, it’s not like the AI dirvers are simlulated people who are put in the cockpit and told to drive the cars. The AI itself is an algorithm simulating a human driving a car and all they do for qualifying is simulate what the simulation would have done. Is that really a meaningful difference?

    • Wilson says:

      @Baboonanza – I would say yes. Perhaps not most of the time, but if they player does something which affects an AI driver, that should mean something. If you do something wrong and mess up an AI driver at the same time, it spoils the illusion if it makes absolutely no difference to them.

  5. Hogni Gylfason says:

    “It’s also important to note that in order to make the tracks as richly detailed as they are, we use far more textures than the consoles can physically hold.”

    I don’t give a shit what consoles can or cannot handle. Seriously. My Personal Computer is literally 14 times as powerful as an X360 in every way. Fucking use it devs, and stop regurgitating the excuse that consoles cannot handle this or that to excuse assfucking PC users at every turn.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Whoa.. whoa. Them’s just graphics, you know? More important, perhaps, is the fact that they find this so important in comparison to the AI. Im my opinion, of course.

    • Hogni Gylfason says:

      They’re just graphics, yes. If that were the end of it, no problem. Devs are using that as an excuse for the lack of running gap times, full race replays and opponent monitoring. That’s a problem.

      Aside from console-centric development processes retarding advances in personal computer utilization, primarily in graphics but also in physical and audio simulation.

    • Hogni Gylfason says:

      I’ve already voiced my opinions on the AI design of F1, and I tend to agree that is the larger issue, but to be quite honest, the race dynamics (AI included) are so broken in this game, they would require a full redesign to work.

      A racing game where practice and qualifying is more entertaining than the race itself… Please, let up, by aching broken heart.

    • skinlo says:

      I believe the phrase ‘take a chill pill’ is appropriate.

    • Ed says:

      What I don’t get is, what do textures have to do with anything?

      They only need to simulate a very simple world geometry model and a path-finding geometry for calculating the world.

      If F1GP on the mighty 7MHz Amiga with 1Mb of RAM (shared between graphics and main memory, don’t forget!) could accurately simulate 25 off-screen opponent drivers in 1992 without ANY issues at all, it’s simply not a valid excuse.

      Dear oh dear. So much for Code Masters.

  6. lolfang says:

    HA! I THINK THESE GUYS AREN’T REALLY MASTERS OF THEIR CODES!

    There, I said it. I might deserve a place in the pun-based titles, on a non-foreseeable future.

  7. piphil says:

    We’ve all been somewhat spoilt by Geoff Crammond. When’s Grand Prix 5 due…? :-P

  8. Javier-de-Ass says:

    poor geoff. remember how much shit he got back in the day for the release state of gp4 or the 2000 season expansion to gp3?

  9. Navagon says:

    Codemasters actually are going to patch one of their games? Truly the end of days is upon us.

  10. Jason Moyer says:

    I’d be happy if they’d simply make the AI significantly faster in qualifying, because right now I can take pole by a decent margin at every track in the Lotus while in the race the AI is much more competitive (although still kind of slow, even on Legendary). I can’t even imagine how silly this game seems to people who are actually fast, when someone of my skill level is destroying the AI.

  11. Erzeal says:

    I’m having an absolute blast with the game on my PS3 so this doesn’t really bother me. It’s mostly stuff they can patch and doesn’t take away from how much fun it is or how great it looks for me.