New here; I posted this in the Automation subreddit but this forum seems to have a more technical auidence on first glance so thought I would share this here to see if it piques any interest.
I’ve recently discovered Automation after watching Jimmy Broadbent doing a few YouTube streams where he created a car and then tried to get the highest top-speed or the quickest 1/4 mile time with it in BeamNG. I’d first like to acknowledge how frickin awesome it is that you can create a car from scratch, tweaking every detail of it, and then use that car in a racing game (BeamNG) - fantastic work by the Automation team on this.
Minor fanboy moment aside I couldn’t help letting my imagination run away with this idea.
I’m a lifelong racing fan and I’ve recently got into sim-racing on the PC - I’ve been impressed with how you can pretty much take any real-life car and track combination and replicate the experience from the comfort of your own home thanks in no small part to a wide community of modders who do some incredible work. This got me thinking about the type of content that gets modded into games and, for the most part, it is replicating real-life cars and tracks. This makes a lot sense as this is generally “what the people want” - you see real-life racing and you want to be able to replicate it. Though there are a few notable exceptions there doesn’t seem to be much emphasis on creating “original” content.
This is where I feel Automation potentially opens up a world of possibilities with respect to this original content; you have to make cars within the bounds of a simulation of real-life. I was a huge fan of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) in the 90’s when I was growing up and I can’t help but think how awesome it would be to be able have fictional Automation companies creating cars that could be used to race against each other in a similar sort of competition online. You could mandate some specifications that the cars had to adhere to e.g. Engines must be 1.6L Turbo or 2.0L N/A with some kind of budget cap much like the challenges on this forum. You’d then have another dimension to sim-racing, it wouldn’t just be about the best drivers, it would also be about the best teams and car/engine designers. I can imagine a car with a peaky turbo engine with a narrow-power band competing against another car with lower peak power but more drivability - some drivers will be able to extract more out of the turbo but some would be faster in the more consistent car.
Before I get completely carried away I’ll consider the current state of play with regards to what we can currently do with the cars created in Automation. We can currently export to BeamNG which, while amazing, isn’t yet ready for multiple cars racing against each other online. I know there is a challenge on the forums that seems to use the BeamMP mod but I’m not sure BeamNG is ready for true sim-racing (I’m no expert here so feel free to correct me on this). The Automation development team have mentioned that they were looking into exporting cars to “another sim racing game” prior to getting their BeamNG export working but had to abandon those plans because they didn’t get enough support from the developers of this mystery game. The team now appear to be fully focused on making Automation a more complete stand-alone game (through their campaign mode) which I fully respect as I think they have something here that is more than good enough to stand on it’s own two feet.
I’ve started looking at what sort of sim-racing coud be thrown together with what we currently have available.
The first thought is hill-climb type competitions in BeamNG a-la Jimmy Broadbent - I suspect people are already doing this sort of thing and I imagine it’s pretty fun but it doesn’t quite capture my imagination in the same way as having cars racing against each other directly. There is also the fact that BeamNG doesn’t look like it is quite there yet in terms of driving physics - don’t get me wrong it looks like it may not be far off but I think there are still a couple of iterations needed.
My next idea was to look into how mods are made for other sim racing games. Assetto Corsa seems to have the biggest modding scene so that got my attention. I spent a few days fishing through the files that represent cars in Assetto Corsa and Automation and decided to try and get a proof-of-concept together. My first aim was to be able to take an engine created in Automation and put it into a car in Assetto Corsa. I think this has been done by various people in the past but I couldn’t find anything about this process outside of changing a few files manually. I thought I’d have a go at creating a python script to do it. A bunch of learning about car engines and a few “I have no idea what I’m doing” memes later I’ve managed to get something working - the maths needs some double checking but think it roughly models the key specifications. I’ve stored my code in a GitHub repo here - the calculations I’ve used can be found on this page
I was thinking this work could form the basis for setting up a sim-racing races/league in Assetto Corsa which uses a single chassis and teams enter a car with their own Automation designed engine. There’s a number of finer points that would needing working out to bring this into reality but before going down that road is there anyone here would be interested in something along these lines? Would be pretty cool to have to Automation manufacturers become the next online Ferrari or Mercedes; engine designs winning races as well as a drivers.