The case for a new ‘Versatility Rating’ in Assetto Corsa Competizione
In my preferred community (MrGit’s discord), there is a common complaint when it comes to multiplayer racing. This complaint is not unique to ACC. It was prevalent in Assetto Corsa and probably in games such as rFactor and Raceroom as well. If you think about it, is a logical consequence of having dedicated servers.
What is this problem you ask? Well, it is the lack of people racing in varied conditions on diverse tracks.
We’ve all seen the popularity of Monza servers. You might even have entered a server with some friends trying to race something different for a change, only for no one to show up.
In this post, I propose a new rating variable which I dub the Versatility Rating to tackle this inconvenience. Before I explain what my proposition entails, let’s dig deeper into the root cause of this problem.
As I said, this problem is a logical consequence of having a game with static, dedicated servers. But, it is also caused by the players themselves, and understandable reasons they have for doing so. People like to do the things they are comfortable doing, and that is fine. If they are having fun doing the things they know, that is fine.
However, there is currently no incentive for people to come out of their comfort zones to explore new things they might find equally enjoyable. This leads to multiple problems, which are further exaggerated by the quick-join button (rightly) preferring populated servers.
Problem 1: only a handful of tracks have servers.
Tracks like Monza and Spa are by far the most popular. This is easy to understand, as Monza offers the best racing for the least amount of effort. It is an easy track to drive because it contains mostly straights. Spa on the other hand, is popular because it is a hard track to race.
The other tracks are either somewhere in the middle (like Paul Ricard and the Nurburgring), or are not widely known enough to attract a large fanbase (like Kyalami).
Create a Spa or Monza server and populate it with a few friends, and people will jump in either through the server browser or the ‘Quick join’-button. Create one for Kyalami or Zolder and people who enter via the button immediately leave in search for a Monza server. This, in turn, means that people who are open to driving Kyalami or Zolder and join the server, encounter an empty server without people to race against.
An incentive for people to at least try a different track might just give a server the necessary base amount of players to attract others for a fun race.
Problem 2: people don’t like to drive in adverse conditions
ACC offers excellent weather and day/night simulation. Even grip-levels are simulated. Still, the most popular servers have a few things in common: the weather is sunny, the race start time is 14:00 and the grip-level is optimum.
Simulate a night race and a lot of people turn on their heels. The same for a wet race. I know: racing in the wet or at night is harder. But, these systems offer unique challenges and oftentimes equally unique experiences. My most memorable and fun races had the toughest conditions imaginable.
Part of the fun in ACC is that everyone has the same level of trouble with these conditions, meaning that results are often unpredictable.
Again, an incentive for people to at least try racing in adverse conditions might just give a server the necessary base amount of players to attract others for a fun race.
Problem 3: GT4’s are vastly underutilized.
I get it. Driving a GT4 among GT3’s can be scary as hell. I’ve been there. Oh. I’ve been there.
As someone who preferred racing Italian F4’s in AC, or hell, B-class in Forza, I’m one of those drivers who actually like slower cars because it is more about executing perfection over raw power. However, picking a GT4 in most ‘multiclass’ servers can be a very lonely ordeal.
If, however, the usage of GT4’s is encouraged by an incentive, people might learn to appreciate the finesse with which you need to drive these cars.
One downside to this: you’d be locking an incentive behind a paywall, since GT4’s are a paid DLC (which, btw, is more than worth its full price if you ask me).
The proposition I made earlier for a Versatility Rating could incentivize people to try things outside their comfort zone. This rating would come on top of the existing seven ratings (track competence, consistency, car control, pace, safety, racecraft and competition).
Before I explain how I imagine it would work, a small disclaimer: I am not a programmer, not a mathematician, nor do I know how Kunos’ code works under the hood.
I imagine any race result file could assign values to variables for the game to read, if this doesn’t do it already. Variables would include:
- The track itself (A-P);
- Whether it had rain (1 for sun, 1.5 for clouds, 2 for rain), and
- Whether it had night racing (1 for day, 2 for night).
The rating would look at the last 20 races the player did. For each race, it would substitute the letter for a base value, for example 5. A race on track A in the sun during the day would give 5 * 1 * 1 = 5 points. I hear you thinking: but 20 races of this would still give 100 points!
But here’s the trick: if the letter for the track has been used before in the 20 races before, it subtracts 20% of the point score. So doing the same race twenty times, would only give 5+4+3+2+1 (+15 * 0) = 15 points for your Versatility Rating.
This way, you can still do five races on four tracks each and still reach a 60 rating for your score.
However, if you do one wet night race on a different track, you can already score 20 points, making it easy to score over a hundred points (which, ofcourse, will be hard-capped to 99 like all other ratings).
To top this all of: what if driving a GT4 gives an additional 1.2 multiplier to your points, making it easier to ‘farm’ your versatility score?
Will it work?
If this will work is hard to say. There are a lot of people who are attached to their ratings and like to have them as high as possible. However, since there is no direct way to compare ratings between yourself and someone else, these numbers ultimately have little meaning. Save ofcourse for the Track Rating and Safety Rating which are direct thresholds deciding whether once is allowed to enter a server.
Dota 2, a game I used to play religiously as a student, also has ratings for it’s players. These ratings are directly visible on the player’s profile which other people can view. Dota even has a versatility-rating, which shows how often a player chooses a different hero. This shows whether someone is a hero-spammer or if he’s a versatile player.
Making one aware of ones lack of variety in choosing servers may play into their ego, and entice someone to go out of their comfort zone. The formula above greatly rewards players who occasionally choose to race on a different track, on non-standard conditions, without openly punishing people who choose not to.
Even if it doesn’t significantly contributes to a more spread-out player distribution, it could still entice those looking for a challenge to try something out of their comfortzone.
Update: One thing I didn’t mention: using different cars. Many people stick with one car. I do want to incentivize people picking different cars, but in this solution it could open a whole heap of holes in my proposed solution. People would just keep driving at Monza but with different cars.
The only real downside is the fact that I don’t know how hard this would be for Kunos and Minolin especially to implement. Since this isn’t a real problem per se (more of an inconvenience), this wouldn’t have priority on their list of things they want to add to the game.
Still, I’m very interested to hear your opinions on my proposition. Write a comment below, hit me up on twitter or discuss this post on reddit!