No, the SA-rating isn’t broken.
Explaining an often misunderstood system.
One of the most heard complaints on Assetto Corsa Competizione’s forum or subreddit is about the game’s SA, or Safety, -rating. “Is the SA-rating bugged?” or “It is currently too hard to gain SA-rating” are near weekly threads. The question, in 99% of the cases anyway, always boils down to a core misunderstanding of the inner workings of the rating itself.
I’ve often written long explanations as a response to try to explain how it works. With this post, my aim is to definitevely explain the way SA-rating is calculated in order to simply link this instead of writing my comments out. So, if I just linked you this: don’t take it personally and I hope this answers your question!
Please note: if I use any exact numbers in this explanation, these are only used for illustrative purposes. My general understanding is that these numbers are often subject to change (based on data only available to Kunos) and the ones I’ve seen mentioned by devs might not be true at the time you read this. The basic premise will still be true, and has been confirmed by one of the developers.
SA-rating: the basics.
If you look at your ratings page in your profile (see picture above), you can see SA consists of two components:
Trust (represented by the green bars) is gained in two ways: you can gain Trust by driving closely to other cars. This can be against real players, or against the game’s AI. The other way to gain Trust is to finish the race, for a bonus proportionally to the duration of the race.
OBWP (the red bars) are also gained in two ways, but are two sides of the same coin: you can either hit other people or get hit by other people. In other words: OBWP is obtained through contacts.
The SA-rating is ultimately calculated as a ratio between your Trust-score and your OBWP-points over your last X-number (around 750) kilometer driven.
Now that you have a basic understanding on how the basics work, lets dig into the deeper mechanics which influence how the SA-rating is actually calculated.
As stated above, you can gain Trust by finishing races and by driving closely to others. The closer, the better. However, there are deeper mechanics at work which also need explaining.
In order to gain Trust, you need to get close to the car in front. There is a certain treshold within which you need to get in for your Trust to go up, which is around half a second. Once you get within this threshold, Trust will continue to be gained until your drop below a different treshold, which should be about a second.
This means you don’t have to be within half a second all the time while driving behind somebody. You can visualize this as a rubber band: once you get close enough to hook your rubber band on another car’s bumper, you can stretch it a bit. However, stretch it too much, and the rubber band will snap.
Likewise, you will gain Trust if you are driving in front of somebody else. The mechanics are the same as following someone, it’s just that the range within which you need to be to receive Trust is shorter, making it a tiny bit harder.
What also makes it harder to generate Trust, is your Car Control (CC-rating). Drive too slow behind someone and your Trust-generation will dwindle. Likewise, if you overdrive the car, you won’t get the same level of Trust you would otherwise.
I said earlier the most recent 750 KM driven count toward your Trust. I kinda lied for simplicity. The most recent 500 KM count fully towards your Trust-total, after which your gained Trust (and OBWP) start to fade. This means that effectively, the most recent 750 KM counts. If that makes sense.
OBWP are penalty points, the less OBWP you have the better. There are certain things you can do to avoid contacts, like observing your mirrors or braking a bit earlier than usual when trailing someone closely. This post is not about that, though, but about the workings of these ‘contacts’ with other drivers. If you want some tips on driving standards, read my ‘ACC for Dummies’-post.
So. Contacts. Not every contact is the same, nor are they handled the same. Beside your regular contact, there are other types:
Light contacts won’t get you any OBWP. Did you brush someone on the side while driving on the straight? You won’t get a penalty for that. Rubbing is racing. However, if you give someone a clear shouldercheck, expect your OBWP to increase regardless. If either party either loses significant time, goes off track or loses control after a slight contact, OBWP are applied.
Repeat contacts will not give you any OBWP, unless you are part of the initial contact creating the mess. Everybody knows the powerlesness you feel when there’s a whole field of cars heading towards you. Meanwhile you’re sitting backwards on the racing line with nowhere to go. Resulting in you becoming a pinball thrown through the field as cars hit you left and right. Rest assured: if you end up in a Spa ’98-like situation, your SA will be safe.
Getting hit will also result in gaining OBWP. This might seem unfair at first. However, creating an algorithm or system which is able to assign blame with 100% accuracy is practically impossible. If getting hit doesn’t give a penalty, malicious parties could exploit this by giving brake checks to unsuspecting drivers. However, there are certain measures to mitigate this. For instance, if the car behind is going faster than they should (by braking too late), the car that gets rear-ended is free from blame.
This is a simplified explanation to how you get OBWP. There are many other modifiers working under the hood which dictate if and how many OBWP you receive. You’d only know all of these if you could get a close look at the source code. Which I haven’t, and if I had I probably wouldn’t be able to interpret it anyway.
Keeping your SA high
Situations might arise wherein you, a clean driver, entered the wrong server. Said server doesn’t have the best driving standards, leaving you with 10 OBWP after a race. You might enter the wrong server three times, gaining 30 OBWP. Suddenly, your SA goes from 99 to 85.
In order to recover your loss, you enter a cleaner server. You drive three races perfectly clean. However, your SA is still only 88. Surely, the SA rating must be broken, right?
The last mechanic I listed under ‘basics’ above is the deciding factor in this. Your SA is calculated as a ratio between Trust and OBWP over your last driven ~750km. Seeing how those unfortunate races are still within your history, they act as a hard limit to how much SA you can get.
This is because, as you drive cleanly trying to recover SA, you are at the same time losing cleanly driven kilometers at the other end of your history.
You could try to recover it by ‘farming’ SA. You could start a race against the AI and drive closely behind them for an hour. It’s not exciting, but it’s a possibility. Do note that this offers diminishing returns. If your SA is over 60, the amount of Trust you generate is throttled. Meanwhile, the risk of receiving OBWP is effectively greater since the AI is less likely to make the mistakes leading to contacts, assigning blame to you instead.
‘Farming’ SA is something I would highly discourage. Not only is it time-consuming and boring as hell, the system is meant to teach you not to go for a move that only has a minute theoretical chance of succeeding. If you let the system do its job, you’ll become a better driver for it, in turn making it easier to keep your rating up.
When you play this game enough to care about the SA-rating while not being able to maintain a good (70+) rating, you might need to reconsider your driving style. Instead of complaining how the rating works or how much effort it takes to game the system, reflect on your driving. Watch your replays. Is it really that person braketesting you, or did you accidentally overshoot your braking point? Did that guy ram into you, or did you move under braking?
It is easier to point the finger than to acknowledge the system might be right. Because, save for some unaccounted for anomalies, the system is right. Especially when seen in the larger context of your most recent 750-ish kilometer.
Likewise, if your SA-rating drops from 95 to 92 because of a few bad races, why should you care? You’ll still be able to enter the same servers, you’ll still be able to race against the same people. Sure, it hurts your ego a bit (I know it does mine) but ultimately, your experience won’t change. And, if you keep driving safely enough, those blemishes on your record will soon be gone.
If your SA is over 80 you shouldn’t worry about SA-rating, because it won’t limit you in any way. Especially when your SA-rating is 90+, it’s just dick-measuring.
Now go out and enjoy racing (cleanly)!