News Archive 1998

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Features | What's New | Tips | Current News | News Archive

  • Features
  • USB Modems
  • Driving Tips
  • Alison's Race Setups
  • Achim Trensz' Track Guides
  • Steve Smith's Advanced Setup Guide
  • VROC
  • Randy Magruder's Grand Prix Legends World Series
  • What's New
  • Tips
  • Features

    New! USB Modem Yields Sensational Improvement in Online Racing!

    12/5/98 - Uh oh! A reader has notified me that when running GPL on a Voodoo 2 card, having a MultiTech USB modem running in the background, even if it's not doing anything, has a detrimental effect on GPL's frame rate. I tried the same thing with GPL and a Voodoo 1 card and got the same result.

    I'm investigating, but meanwhile if you are running GPL on a Voodoo card you may want to hold off on getting a USB modem till we learn more about what's happening.

    12/3/98 - I've added some new information to my USB Modem evaluation, including a filter that allows me to connect at excellent connection speeds, a preliminary report of my results while hosting races in GPL, and links to two other reviews of the MultiTech USB Modem. It looks to me like a USB modem is the way to go, if you're racing GPL online.

    12/1/98 - After several days of using a MultiTech Universal Serial Bus modem for online racing in GPL, I am convinced that this new technology will prove to be an enormous boon to GPL online racers who must connect through an analog modem. All of the problems which I typically experience as a result of the serial port, including warping, giant warps (clock smashes), scoring problems, frame rate degradation, and disconnects are either completely eliminated or dramatically reduced.

    I'm able to run with many more graphics options turned on without degrading frame rate or compromising connection quality. It's amazing and often very dramatic to be able to see smoke and flames from crashes, tire smoke when I lock up the tires, and all the other graphical effects I've had to do without in my online racing with the old serial port modem.

    Even better, it's fantastic to be able to race wheel to wheel with other cars, without fear of a warp-induced collision.

    Read my USB Modem evaluation for an explanation of why GPL suffers so badly from the serial port, how a USB modem can help, and a report of my test results. Get that serial port out of your hair!

    New! Driving Tips

    11/21/98 - Read a new article entitled "Why Jim Clark had the Edge" by someone who closely observed Clark's technique in person. Also see the discussion section of Steve Smith's Advanced Setup Guide and my newly expanded Driving page for more new driving tips.

    New! More Race Setups from Yours Truly

    12/5/98 - I've added a collection of setups for the Murasama, the most powerful car in GPL. It's a blast to drive, and surprisingly competitive. I've won my share of races on VROC with it over the last few weeks, and the setups in my new collection are even better than what I was using then. Once you've mastered the Coventry, give the great white monster a try.

    11/17/98 - After running countless races on VROC, I can say one thing for sure: a lot of people are finding the Lotus, Eagle and Ferrari a big challenge, maybe a bit bigger challenge than they bargained for. For some GPL enthusiasts, the frustration level must be running very high.

    If you're like me, you'll find that it's a lot more satisfying and a great deal more fun to do a solid, mistake-free drive to the podium in the Coventry than to spend half the race extricating yourself and the Lotus from the weeds.

    Here are the setups to let you do just that.

    So now you have a choice: you can keep mowing the grass in the glamour-mobiles, hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of my transmission now and then. Or you can join me on the podium after a mistake-free race in your lowly Coventry, and enjoy watching a bunch of Lotus, Eagle, and Ferrari drivers steam and scratch their heads.

    New! Steve Smith Updates the Advanced Setup Guide

    11/25/98 - See Steve Smith's latest installment in his Advanced Setup Guide. Steve creates a new setup for the Ferrari at Zandvoort.

    New! Achim Trensz' Latest Track Guides

    10/19/98 - Achim Trensz' new track guide for Zandvoort is available!

    New! VROC Beta 3f!

    11/8/98 - Some minor but useful improvements have been made in VROC Beta 3f, including improved extraction of the local machine's IP address, which should eliminate the need for most hosts to over-ride their IP address in VROC. Read the VROC Announcements page for more details.

    11/3/98 - Still more improvements have arrived in the latest edition of the Virtual Racers' Online Connection, Beta 3e. It's now easier than ever to find a race where you can jump into some good racing. Read the VROC Announcements page for more details.

    10/30/98 - A dramatically improved version of the Virtual Racers' Online Connection went live yesterday. The new Beta 3 version addresses two of the most pressing concerns: the lengthy time interval required to refresh the VROC race list, and problems with disconnections due to too many players attempting to join a given race.

    The new version allows hosts to impose a maximum player limit on races they host. This appears to have dramatically reduced the number of disconnections in races hosted over VROC.

    The new version also has eliminated the time-consuming GPL server query from the client, instead moving this function to the Unix-based VROC server. Race list refreshes are now typically very prompt and the information is quite timely.

    See the VROC Announcements page for more details.

    10/18/98 - The new Virtual Racers' Online Connection, a Web-based facility for finding other GPL online racers, went operational on Friday night. Initial results suggest that VROC will be a very useful and popular facility for online racers.

    VROC supports hosting and joining GPL races. VROC provides a list of races available and launches GPL when you choose to host or join a race. VROC also incorporates a chat mechanism which you can use to discuss possible race venues or whatever you wish outside of GPL.

    Some quotes from VROC users:

    "I tried VROC tonight. It is awesome. You guys did a great job...It was darn near flawless tonight."

    "Great work on VROC, it's a great place to meet new racers!"

    "I had 3 awesome races on Saturday Night."

    "Thanks for all the work and effort into VROC. I had a blast yesterday with all of the races I connected to via VROC."

    "I just finished 8th at a race hosted on VROC! My hat's off to you all for making this the best winter ever... er, a little ahead of myself, but with leagues and races...."

    "Everything VROC related appeared to work very well. The instructions were straight forward and got me up and running quickly. I was able to join in on three or four different races. I didn't experience anything unexpected."

    "Thanks for all the hard work that went into VROC - it's turned me into a Netscape user!"

    "Thank you very much for all of your efforts getting VROC up and running!"

    "From a professional perspective, you guys have done a terrific job of getting a beta of VROC out. There's always the debate of 'We know this feature and that feature don't quite work right but is it ready enough?' Anyway, just another hats off."

    Some VROC users have experienced glitches - often because they failed to read the instructions <grin> - but overall VROC is performing quite successfully. I've been monitoring VROC's racing room periodically since VROC went live on Friday, and there are almost always several races available or underway. Often there are several races being hosted on high speed digital connections, and races with over 15 players are not uncommon.

    We plan a number of enhancements, including automatic screen refreshes and Microsoft Internet Explorer support, but even in its current state, VROC is proving to be extremely useful.

    See my Online page for more information about racing online.

    See you at the track!

    New! Randy Magruder's Grand Prix Legends World Series!

    Randy Magruder has announced his new Grand Prix Legends World Series! This is an online racing series with three divisions, designed to accommodate a variety of skill levels. Randy will be hosting the races over his cable modem, and acting as series administrator. See Randy's Grand Prix Legends World Series for the rules, schedule, and results. Get yourself onto the roster now!

    10/25/98 - Randy held the first preseason event in the Elite division last night at Zandvoort. Stealth Racing teammates George Sandman and Art Axelrad finished one-two, with yours truly third, Nim Cross fourth, Ken Eisler fifth, and Doug Arnao sixth. Check out the complete results.

    What's New

    12/4/98 - I've added some new links to my Links page, including to Robin Lord's site with photos, information, driving guide, setup, and 8:10 hotlap replay of the Ring. Also some handy GPL setup cheat sheets by Keith Calsyn.

    11/17/98 - An elite group of experienced sim racers, including Michael Carver, Randy Magruder, and John Wallace, has agreed to answer questions about GPL and VROC.

    All three have extensive sim racing experience and an excellent grasp of the many technical issues surrounding sim racing and racing online. John and Michael have established a tradition of being among the most knowledgeable and thoughtful participants in the newsgroup. Randy has hosted many races on VROC via his cable modem, in addition to conducting his own racing series, the Grand Prix Legends World Series..

    You can reach Randy, John, or Michael through the newsgroup or my email page.

    11/11/98 - New setup collections from Doug Arnao and Achim Trensz are now available on my setups page. Achim's setups are tuned for racing, rather than hotlapping, which should make a lot of online racers happy!

    11/11/98 - Due to philosophical differences, I've taken the difficult decision to resume responding to questions from readers myself. I thank Francois for his willingness to help me and for all the help he has given sim racers over the years.

    11/8/98 - Francois Menard has kindly agreed to answer questions from readers of these pages, to help offload some of the workload and allow me to concentrate on VROC development. Francois is extremely knowledgeable about many aspects of sim racing, and is a regular participant in the newsgroup.

    If you have a question about GPL, hardware, online racing, or sims in general, please read my help page. There you'll find many resources with information about GPL.

    11/5/98 - Craig Miller has revised his rather unfavorable review of GPL at The Adrenaline Vault. While it is still critical of many aspects of GPL, the revised review is much more balanced and Craig is better informed than he was at the time he wrote his original version.

    Craig says, "It you are looking for an ultra-realistic racing sim with great AI and nice graphics, but also realize that you will give away much of your time to a game just to become decent at it, then GPL is right up your alley. Go buy it. If you are not a real sim fan and are looking for some arcade action, stay away. Stay far away."

    I find it hard to disagree with that!

    11/3/98 - See Steve Smith's latest installment in his Advanced Setup Guide. For the special benefit of the compleat novice, Steve shows how to turn the unwieldy BRM into a marvelous instrument for learning how to drive a fire-breathing Grand Prix car.

    11/3/98 - Still more improvements have arrived in the latest edition of the Virtual Racers' Online Connection, Beta 3e. It's now easier than ever to find a race where you can jump into some good racing. Read the VROC Announcements page for more details.

    10/30/98 - A dramatically improved version of the Virtual Racers' Online Connection went live yesterday. The new Beta 3 version addresses two of the most pressing concerns: the lengthy time interval required to refresh the VROC race list, and problems with disconnections due to too many players attempting to join a given race. See the VROC Announcements page for more details.

    10/25/98 - Papyrus has released a newly updated Windows 98 compatible Watkins Glen demo with garage, a hot lap replay, and new graphics options. It's available at Papyrus and at AGN3D.

    10/25/98 - Papyrus has released a beta OpenGL driver for GPL, available at the Papyrus site.

    10/25/98 - Matrox has released a G200 driver for GPL.

    10/19/98 - A preliminary version of Dr. Paul Hoad's GPL track editor is available. Some simple editing features are implemented.

    10/19/98 - Achim Trensz' new track guide for Zandvoort is available!

    10/19/98 - Paul Fleck has reviewed GPL in PC Sports Games. Paul gives GPL five stars, and has this to say: "Grand Prix Legends goes beyond software; it's a tribute to the brave souls who raced these machines. It's not just a game, it is a work of art. Stop reading, get your butt down to EB, and buy the game."

    10/18/98 - Achim Trensz' new track guide for Kyalami is available!

    10/17/98 - Steve Smith's latest installment in his Advanced Setup Guide is here! Learn how to make the Eagle fly.

    10/16/98 - VROC goes live!

    10/16/98 - Steve Smith's latest installment on his Advanced Setup Guide is here! Learn how to tame the wild Lotus.

    10/16/98 - Edwin Solheim notes that he has announced four series for online racing in GPL, and has posted his preliminary rules at The Paddock. Sign-up for these series is now open.

    10/16/98 - My revamped Links page features a new section containing links to assorted hardware resources, and new links to sites with GPL-related books and videos. I've also added a link to the ultrafast Stealth Racing's team site. From my own experience, I can attest that these guys are among the fastest sim drivers on the Internet.

    10/14/98 - Mike Pelkey informs me that a new driver for the PDPI L4 will be available today at the PDPI site. I installed a PDPI L4 in my P2-350 the other day with excellent results.

    10/14/98 - Jeffrey Hunsberger has created a superb page detailing the exact function of each gauge in each of the cars in GPL. Great work!

    10/13/98 - Check out an excellent Digital Sportspage interview of ace driver and setup expert Doug Arnao by electronic racing journalist supreme Randy Magruder. Doug Arnao was a consultant and beta tester on the GPL project, and brilliantly explains some of the more subtle points of driving 1967 Grand Prix cars. This is a must read!

    10/12/98 - Steve Smith's first installment on his Advanced Setup Guide has arrived! Read all about how to set up the wonderful Ferrari and enjoy its marvelous handling - and delicious sound.

    10/12/98 - Achim Trensz has completed his new track guide for Silverstone!

    10/12/98 - VROC is performing successfully in open beta testing and is expected to go public in a matter of days.

    10/12/98 - Two reviews of GPL have been published electronically:

    Randy says, "Grand Prix Legends is a masterpiece of a car simulation. There is simply nothing better for capturing the ultimate driving and racing experience. [However,] the game feels somewhat incomplete, with a gameplay structure that is hostile to novices, and virtually non-existent driver development, saved mainly by the wonderful strategy guide."

    Scott says, "I have no problem with saying GPL is the finest piece of software I have ever experienced. Highly recommended for any serious simulation racer."

    10/12/98 - Dr... Paul Hoad has begun preliminary work on a GPL track editor. Dr.. Hoad played a key role in the development of a shareware track editor for Microprose GP1/GP2, which has led to the development of over 100 tracks for these sims. The prospect of a track editor for GPL is an exciting one indeed!

    10/9/98 - I have received word from readers that GPL has been released in Australia and Germany. I believe it is available throughout much of Europe at this time. Inside information indicates presales of 75,000 copies in the US, and 225,000 copies in Europe!

    10/8/98 - A new track guide for Rouen has joined the track guides for Monza and Spa. These are written by the sim world's superfast German, Achim Trensz!

    10/6/98 - I've begun to flesh out the Driving and Online Racing pages. Special thanks to Peter Gagg for his driving tips, and thanks to the folks who joined me in all those transcontinental / transatlantic races!

    10/1/98 - GPL is available mail-order for $34.99 from Electronics Boutique via a special offer. Another page, which was indicating that GPL was temporarily out of stock, now says it will ship within 24 hours. You could also try calling your local stores, and ask for "Sierra Sports Grand Prix Legends;" if you ask for just "Grand Prix Legends" they may not find it in their listings.

    10/1/98 - My race report of the Monza event in the exciting Papy Cup series is complete and available. This sensational series is being run using Grand Prix Legends, and features as many as 18 drivers racing together over the office LAN at Papyrus.


    Getting and Running GPL

    I got my copy of GPL from my local Electronics Boutique on October 1. If you don't have yours, run - don't walk - to your nearest retailers.

    For those of you outside the States, rumors have GPL being released internationally on October 10. Hang in there!

    On the newsgroup, there have been a few gripes from folks with computers in the low end of the performance range, P-166's through P-233's. Most people, however, seem to understand that in order to run a new, state of the art sim well, fairly up-to-date hardware is required, and many folks are scrambling to upgrade their computers.

    GPL is unique among Papyrus releases in that on the date of its release, it is possible to purchase a computer which can run it with all graphics options on and a full field of AI cars, and still get maximum frame rate. Such a computer can be had in the States for under $1500! My own P2-350, which runs GPL superbly, cost about $1200.

    See my Hardware FAQ for details about GPL and hardware.

    Other Tips

    The Monza circuit is available for the original GPL demo. Go to my Links page for sites where you can download it; it's well worth the download time!

    For information on controllers for GPL, see my GPL Hardware FAQ. See my Thrustmaster GP1 page for tips on how how this controller can be configured to utilize GPL's unique analog clutch.