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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
After a couple of frantic weeks of trying to wrap up my work, turns out that I thought I was flying to Japan a day earlier than I was, so that gives me just enough time I need to finalise the rules and open entries!
- Engine Tech Pool Total: 30 points
- Car Tech Pool Total: 45 points
- Model year 1990-2020 inclusive
- Body type: sedan (4 door) or coupe (2 door). Convertible is allowed.
- Engine position: Front
- Do not use motorsport/race car bodies, or novelty bodies like golf-carts, lawn-mowers etc. (as the former may suffer significant damage when driving the street track, and the latter are more often than not undriveable in Beam)
- Panel material: no full or partial CF
- Chassis Type: no ladder or light truck monocoque
- Chassis Material: again no CF
- Engine Placement: Front Longitudinal only
- Suspension: no solid axle in the front, no pushrod anywhere
- Engine design: has to be stress free, run on unleaded 91-95 and have a 3-way cat. No tubular race exhaust or race intake manifold. Max loudness 60.
- Aerodynamic fixtures: a maximum of 1 wing/1 spoiler AND 2 lips. The wing/spoiler must be placed on the rear of the vehicle
- Drive Type: Longitudinal RWD (you get the idea by now)
- Differentials: no manual or auto Locker Diffs
- Tyre Type: Radial
- Tyre Choice: Sports Compound
- Tyre Profile: an absolute minimum of 35 (my intuition is that handling may get iffy if too low)
- Tyre Quality: MUST BE 0 WITH 0 TECH POOL
- Brakes: set the pad to exactly 70. They must also have 0 fade in Automation. The reason for the exact pad figure is that it will require you to build in sufficient brake cooling whether by size of disc or ventilation such that I don’t cannon off the end of Conrod straight.
- Undertray: no Offroad Skidtray or Race Diffuser
- Active Aero: forbidden, because it isn’t implemented in the exporter
- Downforce: rear downforce must be at least equal to or greater than front downforce. Lift is fine, that’s more the norm for most of these vehicles until more recently
- Seats: At least 2 in front row. A rear row is optional if available.
- Interior: no Basic
- Entertainment: must have a period-appropriate device equipped
- Traction Aids: 90s, free choice. 00s, at least ABS. 10s, at least ABS and TCS (which I will be turning off anyway lol but this is for realism)
- Springs: standard or progressive ONLY (the rest don’t operate in Beam)
- Dampers: no adaptive or semi-active
- Sway bars: no off-road or active
- Wheelbase: 2.3-2.75m
- Panel Material: full Aluminium will incur a small penalty
- Chassis Type: space frame and semi-space frame will incur a penalty
- Chassis Material: Glued aluminium will incur a penalty
- Engine ET: I recommend no more than 100
- Power output: 180-450hp across ALL decades
- Tyre width: up to a maximum of
Tyre width (mm) = vehicle mass (kg)/6 + (2020 - model year)/2 + 25
- Staggered widths are allowed, staggered diameter also allowed where difference between front and rear is a maximum of 1 inch
- Downforce: no more than 10kg@200km/h on the front, and no more than 50kg@200km/h at the rear
- Suspension tuning: it is recommended to tune for between drivability and sportiness, leaning towards drivability. I will not penalise for the rates as this will be part of the tuning contest
- Total weight of car: 90s: 950-1500kg 00s: 1000-1550kg 10s: 1050-1600kg
- Power to weight ratio: between 180-360hp:metric ton
- Approximate cost: between 90s: 15000-25000, 00s: 18000-30000, 10s: 21000-35000
- Tech point excess for either engine or car: cumulative sum penalty points i.e. 1 over = 1 point, 2 over = 3 points, 3 over = 6 points, 4 over = 10 points and so on
- For every cm above or below the wheelbase limits: 1 penalty point
- full Aluminium panels: 2 penalty points
- Semi-space frame: 5 penalty points
- Space frame: 10 penalty points
- Glued aluminium: 10 penalty points
- Solid axle rear suspension: 1 penalty point
- Engine ET: for each ET above 100: 1 penalty point
- Power output: for each 2hp above/below the range: 1 penalty point
- Tyre width for each mm above the recommendation as given by the formula: 1 penalty point
- Total weight of car: for each 5kg outside the range: 1 penalty point
- Power to weight ratio: for every 5hp:metric ton outside the range: 1 penalty point
- Downforce: for every kg front or rear over the recommended limit: 1 penalty point
- Approximate cost: for each 100 dollars above budget: 1 penalty point
Name your submission in the following format. Do not deviate from this scheme or I’ll probably lose your entry!
The name of your car
You can name the engine whatever you want.
- I will not be judging aesthetics, aside from requiring that it has sufficient fixtures to look like a real production car, because I’m going to put them in a video. I might making comments about general appearance. But I urge people to, if they haven’t already made it, go easy on the interior because…
- I will be matching the weight distribution and weight of the cars in Beam as they appear in Automation. However I can only reduce the node weight in Beam so much (by about 9% tops) before the model falls to pieces.
- The window for submission is now to 11:59pm the 9th of July, GMT+10.
- You may submit up to ONE vehicle to each decade category i.e. a maximum total of 3
- You must submit these entries to my DMs on this forum, or I’ll lose your entry
- In your DM, it would be good for flavour if you could include a brief description (up to 100 words) of your vehicle and company lore, including nominating what car in real life yours is based on/would rival, but this is optional.
- If a car breaks a mandatory rule, it will be insta- and there will be no resubmissions due to time constraints on my end.
- After assessing my timetable, if I receive more than eight entries in each decade, I will cull their numbers down, first by the highest number of penalty points accrued on that vehicle, then by how far their performance parameters deviate from the recommended range.
The courses I will drive the cars on will be: West Coast USA Street Course 1, West Coast Mountain Course, and Bathurst - Mount Panorama. I’m just going to set it to open session and once I’m confident I’m consistently maxing out the performance I’ll record the best time. While I’m not really looking to crown winners and boo losers here, there are a few ways to rank the vehicle so I will be rating them on a number of metrics.
- Outright pace
- Time versus a performance index which will be based on a product of power to weight ratio and outright power
- Bang for buck: pace vs the nominated price of the vehicle, which isn’t something you should take too seriously if your vehicle is not purely focused on a sporting drive
- Driving factors: speed vs control vs fun
I will have benchmark cars of my own, not optimised but rather 3 different vehicles that represented each decade in different ways. They will be:
- 1997 Mazda RX-7 Spirit R (with a 1.3L 3cyl instead of a 13B rotary): 278bhp, 1275kg
- 2002 Honda S2000 AP1: 247bhp, 1274kg
- 2020 Toyota Supra A90/J29 DB02: 389bhp, ~1520kg (haven’t worked this out fully yet)