Hey all. So it’s been about 18 months since I played this game in any detail. And this will probably be the last time I do any gaming for the forseeable future as in under 5 months my wife and I are expecting our first kid sooooooooooooooooo this may be the only opportunity that I got-
you better lose yourself in the music the moment you own it you better never let it goooooo
Who are you again?
I played Automation too much since 2014. Then when the Automation exporter to Beam dropped in 2018 I played with that altogether too much. I liked to drive fast cars fast in sims and was decent at it. Aside from real life, I dipped from the official Discord server when I stopped playing due to major engine updates breaking save files which taught me that I should probably not touch another hypercar project until my kid starts going to school
So now I’m very rusty and probably don’t know half of you. Or maybe I do because this kind of game is perfect for us neurodivergent nerds who hyperfixate LOL
Wait a moment, what about FM3, the Supercar round?
Still indefinitely on ice. After discussing it with some more current players, I’ve concluded that while the tyre model has advanced significantly, several issues with tyres, suspension, meshes with complex geometry and lightweight nodes etc. prevent exports of ultra high performance cars behaving with sufficient fidelity to make that project worthwhile. The development that’s been happening and the fact that we have a working vehicle exporter in a physics simulation is already nothing short of amazing, so one can hope! I also see that people have continued to make significant leaps and bounds in design capability and scope, far beyond what I now have the time and investment to achieve.
The biggest issue I’m having currently is that it seems that adjusting the tech level of wheels in Automation adjusts the rigidity of the wheel mesh in Beam, but this isn’t necessarily good for contact patch: the higher the tech level the less traction I seem to have. Hoping somebody else can advise me on that.
So this being said, I’m going to run something rather more focused to give me and hopefully all of us a bit more of an idea of the state of things.
Fite Me 4: The Sport Coupe 1990-2020
Some automotive purists opine, nay, insist that the FR is the purest form of automobile there is. Front engined, rear wheels driven, something something balance, something yadda yadda… Look, Enzo Ferrari thought that way once but then he eventually realised better. And I’m not one of those purists either, I drive a turbo FWD rice rocket and my FR experiences, namely in an MX-5 NB, a Dodge Challenger R/T, and a couple Holdens haven’t exactly lit up my dial.
And that’s precisely why I’m coming back to this as the main, actually make that exclusive focus for this iteration. My lack of appreciation for the FR format was not remedied by the initial release of the AutoBeam exporter, because of weight balance and tyre model issues that meant that most FR creations capable of spinning the rear wheels were slippery jittery slidey messes. FM2 made that painfully clear in the heavy performance discrepancy between their FF and MR counterparts.
But the game and exporter has been significantly refined since then. And we now have more control over weight distribution (though I know that it doesn’t translate well to Beam still, fear not I know the workarounds). So it’s time to return to the neglected sector, time to welcome the game’s prodigal son home.
What do I do? What do you do?
You give me a car (or more, I haven’t figured out how many yet) that fit within the parameters of this event, I review it briefly in Automation then do a more detailed review of its driving characteristics, as exported, across a range of tracks in Beam that will test dynamics, handling, and high speed performance. I will also report on seeming export infidelities and issues with bodies as I encounter them. Unlike FM2, this time it will be released in a hybrid form of text and video.
What am I competing for?
To be honest I can’t think of any specific prize this time. It’s more of an educational process for my benefit and for anyone else who’s interested in examining Beam export models. What I’ve discovered so far is that the cars of this spec are much more controllable than before but I also have a particular approach that optimises things, so collectively we can generate a more complete picture.
What kind of car am I making?
As you can see from the pics I’m looking for the classic FR sport coupe, mass produced, within “reasonable” budget, that’s driven mostly on the roads and sometimes on the track. There’s a range of sizes and performance profiles each with their own characteristic and I’m happy to explore that range.
What this means in terms of design requirements in the game (if not specified assume free choice):
Detailed Proposed Rules
- Model year 1990-2020 inclusive
- Body type: coupe (must have 2 doors only). Convertible is allowed.
- Engine position: Front
- Wheelbase: I recommend 2.3-2.7m but I’m not going to be super strict.
- Mod bodies? Honestly I’m so out of date I’m going to have to download everything by scratch. Try not to make it a total meme or an obvious racecar body, this is intended for mass-produced models as you can see from the pastiche.
- Panel material: definitely no full CF, we’re not that bougie
- Chassis Type: be sensible. This isn’t a truck
- Chassis Material: again no CF
- Engine Placement: Front Longitudinal only
- Suspension: whatever you want within reason, though I’ll probably insta your car if I see a front solid axle
- Engine design: has to be stress free, run on unleaded and have a cat converter. Max loudness 60. You get a tech pool maximum of +5 points with no more than +2 in any one part. I still haven’t decided whether subtracting tech should give you extra (I would prefer not but I can be persuaded otherwise)
- Trim tech pool: Also a maximum of +5 points with no more than +2 in any one part I guess? Also subject to discussion.
- Drive Type: Longitudinal RWD (you get the idea by now)
- Differentials: open, except no Locker Diffs unless you can point me to a car in this segment in the relevant era where it came factory and how your car is similar to it
- Tyre Type: Radial
- Tyre Choice: Sports Compound ONLY
- Tyre Width: for Balance of Power purposes I have a whole formula for this that is a composite of the vehicle year and mass, let’s discuss and refine it later and then I’ll include it on a Google Sheet guide or something
- Tyre Profile: I would recommend not going below 35 under any circumstance (I’ve driven 30 in real life and bumps can really clang off the rim… in Beam the tyre model may get compromised). Keep in mind that sports car tyres in the 90s were more like 45 profile.
- Tyre Quality: MUST BE 0
- Brakes: whatever you want within reason, just remember that pad type makes a huge difference as to the maximum temp they handle and I’m going to be doing some HEAVY braking.
- Undertray: be reasonable, in other words I’m not expecting an Offroad Skidtray or a Race Diffuser
- Active Aero: forbidden, because it isn’t implemented in the exporter
- Seats: At least 2 in front row. May have a rear row if available.
- Interior: ideally either Standard, Premium or Sport
- Entertainment: try to match it, I’m not really looking for the “Type R S spec infotainment delete Nür-spec” model built specifically to break Nordschleife records because your rival used carbon fiber parts
- Traction Aids: whatever the country of manufacture required at the time, which for most will mean at least ABS. I will be driving without the TC and ESC anyway but the ABS stays because 1) it’s a real hassle to turn it off in most cars 2) my brake pedal bump stops are really janky so I don’t have a particularly progressive pedal feel.
I haven’t looked at how all the production calculations etc. have changed but I would suggest not exceeding 100ET for either the engine or the trim. You’ll see in the picture that I’ve included a C5 'vette but the SLS AMG’s V8 generates nearly 600hp and weighs more than a bus, which is a bit much for the scope of this challenge. And that’s why I’m basing the maximum tyre width mostly on total car mass. Currently after checking the specs of several real-life cars across the decades, I’ve worked out that most production sport cars seem to more or less follow a line of best fit formula something like:
Tyre width (mm) = vehicle mass (kg)/6 + (2020 - model year)/2 + 15
It’s probably only fair that I add in a bit of padding but in general, the above will be a recommendation.
How is this going to be judged
Depends on how many entries I get. But the honest answer is “slowly”, with a deadline of late September.
What I will say is that 30 years is a big span and the FR sport car evolved a lot over that time. Generally became a lot heavier too. So I will be dividing the cars per decade first, so 1990-1999, 2000-2009, and 2010-2020. I’m probably going to have to cap entries at no more than 8-10 per class if I want to get this done anytime before kid is born. If I get more entries in a class I’ll have to rank them somehow. Problem is I don’t know how yet!
- I will not be judging aesthetics.
- The driving part I’ll do similar to my previous judging on a composite metric of how fast is it vs how hard can I drive it vs how much fun does it let me have and how much bang for my buck is it
- The courses I will drive the cars on, at present, will be 2 laps each around West Coast USA Street Course 1, Mountain Course, and Bathurst - Mount Panorama
- Other than that suggestions welcome
What’s the Timeframe?
Let’s try and get ruleset finalised this week, then I’ll start accepting entries for, say, 2-3 weeks. I am going to be almost completely offline in the latter half of June for travel, otherwise I’ll hopefully slowly dribble things out and try to get it mostly sorted by the middle of August. For now I just want an indication of interest.