In racing games, how do the developers determine which cars get the ‘best’ stats? Do they try to emulate real life as well as possible or do brands pay them for inflated stats?

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In racing games, how do the developers determine which cars get the ‘best’ stats? Do they try to emulate real life as well as possible or do brands pay them for inflated stats?

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There should already be a lot of data about those cars. Test results, racing data, manufacturer data etc.

There’s a huge amount of variables that go into car performance in modern racing games. Back in the mid 2000s with games like Need for Speed, it was pretty much just guesswork and arcade physics. But in games like Forza Horizon 4, you can go into the stats page and see a ridiculous wealth of information about cars. They go as far as to model things like suspension travel, hundreds of different types of surfaces, even tire width, all in the name of getting performance as realistic as possible. They also work closely with most manufacturers to get as close as possible to reality.

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Do you have a particular game in mind? Different games will tune cars differently.

Something like Forza will emulate real-world performance as closely as possible, while something like Grand Theft Auto will just arbitrarily change the few variables to make different cars feel different.

Everyone who has any interest in racing will already know what cars are better than others, so if they play a game where (to use a Formula 1 example) a Haas car leaves a Mercedes in the dust, they’re going to complain how unrealistic it is and tell their friends to not buy it. Developers like their games to actually sell, so they’ll try to get the cars as realistic as possible. They might fail at that, but that’s a different kettle of fish.

There is usually a distinction between racing games and racing simulators. A racing simulator will try to replicate the exact stats of the cars they are simulating. Car manufacturer may share their data from the design, especially for a car that have not been launched or is otherwise unavailable. However racing simulators prefer getting their hands on the actual car and race it around with instruments so they can measure the actual characteristics of the car.

Racing games on the other hand allow themselves to change the simulator model for the cars to get a better gaming experience. It is usually no fun racing around if all the cars behave the same except that some are just faster the others. So they tend to make the cars have more similar lap times but make them more different in other ways. They might change the handling characteristics, how fast they corner versus high speed, how hard they are to set up, how much fuel and tyres they use, etc. This tends to make for a more engaging gaming experience on the cost of accuracy.

Donut media do a great video on this have a look on their YouTube channel for a video called getting cool cars into racing games

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I have no idea how arcade racing games do it.

Racing simulators will try to model each car and it’s physics as accurately to real life as possible. Someone on /r/simracing would probably love to give you a much better answer to this than I can.

Simulators will try and achieve realism with complex physics models and feedback from drivers and engineers. F1 teams can give their drivers a decent idea how their non-existent-yet car will drive. That requires a lot of work. Commercial simulators can get pretty close even without insider info, because these physics models are really good math. Theoretical math is so good rockets fly successfully, after all parts are tested separately, but still the day you launch it, it’s the day you test it all, so given the successful launches of the last years I’d say it’s very good math.

Unfortunately good sims can be: a) not a lot of fun to “play with”. b) cpu intensive. For these two reasons simcades and arcade racers will water down the physics to make the game more engaging. And it will run on a 500$ computer.

To answer your question I don’t think devs or car makers interfere with the speccing of the virtual cars, some hard specs (0-60, weight etc) are known and grip is generally increased for all cars in impure sims to make them fun, so perhaps there isn’t much wiggle room.

Last but not least the more arcade a game the more likely it is to implement “handicap”. As a racing fan I don’t mind Hamilton disappearing until it’s podium time, but racing alone is lame to most people (is it time trials or matchmaking failed me again?). So games try to pack the race by decreasing the speed of the leader and increasing the speed of the followers. This is why specs in Mario kart are hardly important, and blue shells exist. In other games it won’t be as evident but it’s there.

It may be counter intuitive but with a correct physics model, following actual car and parts specs / dimensions makes life easier since you don’t have to tweak everything by yourself to get a good result.

For arcade games, you may have the same physics as a base and then tweaks on top of it to make it more entertaining.

Cars are the easy part though.
Tires are where the fun begins, along with different road types and weather.

Now for the original question, it’s up to the devs and for games that are level locked you will have arbitrary limitations or boost ups for different levels. (Especially pay to win games)

Lastly you also have IAs and usually in arcade games they are not following the same limitations and can defy the physics (need for speed, gran turismo etc…).

I have just started learning game dev. I do not know what the AAA Devs actually do. They can just do some research. But if it was upto me, I would identify several factors like acceleration, top speed, breaking, how well it turns.
Then I would give an importance level to these, like acceleration is 5, breaking is 2, top speed is 6.
Then I would add them up in a formula like
Weightage*stat = final rating.

Eg. The Ferrari has 90/100 acceleration, 75/100 breaking
Then the final rating would be 0.9×5 + .85×2 = 5.2

If you want to know how they would get the number 90/100 for acceleration, that is research.

>**or do brands pay them for inflated stats?**

Actually, you have to BUY a licence to use their brandnames in your game. This is why you see a lot of games with Whamborghini’s and other recognizably fake names.

Dude racing games seem dumb to me. Is there even any point to racing against bots? How much RNG can you put into a cpu player?

I mean wheres the difficulty there?
Now racing against players is awesome! But singleplayer?