Daniel “Dahie” Senff has come up with several exciting ideas for new community web projects that could make the sim racing community a nicer and more productive place. Daniel is not just part of CTDP, he’s been active in our community for over ten years, enjoying the Grand Prix series and rFactor.
The ideas presented in this series of articles are free to picked up by everyone who feels like it, you´re very much welcome to leave your opinion and discuss the ideas in the comments area as well. Below is part 5 of his series, make sure to check out the first, second one, third one & fourth one as well if you haven’t yet.
By: Daniel Senff
Creating mods is not just about technical skills, a lot of time is consumed for research of pictures and even more for technical documentation of components. The best Mod physics are not created from vacuum and the values aren’t just guess work, instead Modders spent a long time and hard effort to retrieve technical specifications and telemetry to compare. Physics engines give you a template of variables which need to be filled with the correct values. Having good sources is the key for these values is the key and quite a challenge.
Technical data collection
The idea presented today is a more idealistic one, not difficult from a technical point of view, but from an organizational.
The proposition is a website for sharing, validating and discussing Modding research sources.
A community of Modders and volunteers builds an extensive database of technical specification of cars. Bringing together as many sources as possible, discussing contradicting material. Crowdsourcing the efforts of research no matter if it’s for topical mods or for historic ones. Shared picture-archives, technical data on car upgrades ran at every GrandPrix – the list and dreaming may continue forever, if it weren’t for many practical problems.
The solution could be done in different ways. It certainly has similarities with a Wiki-Software, however most Wiki-Software suck and suffer from bad usability as it is tough to combine communication, semantic and structured data. Something like the late Google Wave could have been a starting point to address this, but except for starting from scratch, I didn’t find a suitable comparison.
Another organizational problem of such a database is, that you need to get the data, which often aren’t publicly available. Sometimes car manuals are released months later, but for very topical series, you end up creating quite a valuable database of technical specification depending on the extend, the detail and accuracy. And to be of use it needs to be detailed! So you end up in one of two situations:
1. The technical data collected will either be very superficial and of doubtful use.
2. The data will be very detailed, useful and probably classified, leaked or from other anonymous and doubtful sources.
It happens, good mod teams have people on the inside to get their questions answered. This platform would encourage to share these information, which can create problems in case of classified data.
There is another element that makes this proposal unique for this community.
This idea is about sharing your research, your technical data, the basics on which a modder is creating his work. Sharing this means to give away a big part of what he believes will make his mod unique and “the best mod out there”. Many modders have a strong sense of secrecy and are protective about their work, ideas and their sources. There is a lot of potential in sharing, smaller communities like GrandPrix4 make little fuzz about exchanging sources accross projects. For this idea to work it would require a change in attitude. Gone the protective thinking, towards a collaborative vision in which the bits of data you have are enhanced by the pieces other people from the community provide. In this case it’s not just the Modder giving up time to research data, but also gains when other people also invest into this effort.
This is what Open Source is about. Making your sources accessible, free for review and for sharing, for changing and therefore supporting a pluralism which leaves room for many people following their interpretation of “the perfect car physics” based on the best collection of technical data available.
This is a little utopia, but without having a utopian goal, you wouldn’t know which dreams to pursue.
In our last article, we go crazy and have a look at what Modders could be dreaming about.