Yes I have finally received my Fanatec Porsche Force Feedback Wheel woo yay woo
I have watched the thing travel the world by boat, travel Germany by road and now It's here after countless delays and setback the wheel I ordered in June -_-
I was expecting it in September.. no such luck it seems, some folk have had this pre-ordered over a year ago... anyway... what is this thing, this shiny technological masterpiece...
It arrived with good timing in one way as Dirt 2 just came out so I can play it first with my new wheel!! all the newness and awesomeness!
Here it is, taken at night so photos a bit grainy/blurry and washed out etc, but it still looks cool!
And here are some videos below in the links of me messing about with it in Dirt and Shift, I need to make a video of Richard Burns Rally which is by far the most fun despite It's age.
Naturally videos and pictures do little to convey the forces that are being applied to your hands as you drive, so use your imagination
Sure it was expensive, but it is the only wheel on the planet that supports everything, xbox, PS3, PC and looks good while doing it as a bonus.
It has immense force feedback, Rally Driving will jolt your arms all over if you are not careful, racing games will give you the subtle feedback as tyres are about to loose grip and when you need to counter steer a slide thus preventing a crash (they will at least if they properly simulate tyre deformation and contact patch which few do). Overall it provides a big deal of immersion into a game which may normally be a rather passive experience, suddenly you are drawn in and engaged and given extra sensory perceptions that not only make it more entertaining but easier to drive well.
It isn't as well made as a real porsche wheel, it has some defects, stitching is rough to touch, buttons have a bit of a gap and one button is really wonky to touch, the wheel is quite hard; theres no padding under the leather so it feels a bit hollow and hard, but compared to other gaming wheels.. it licks them all and it is a bit cheaper than a real Porsche wheel
This is It's closest competition:
hahahahah.. look at it... hah... get out of here, It's not any cheaper either really. Pedal Shifter on it are better though by the looks of it, which isn't difficult as the Fanatec's are so useless and rough I had to unscrew them and just use the buttons underneath, which work fine and I quite like them but it makes shifting while steering very difficult.
Biggest pest with this wheel is no game works with it properly by default, not the wheels fault as games are A. designed for retards who cannot drive, and B. are designed for weak ass regular geared wheels.
But you can always tweak and hack and disable all the dampening and aids to unleash It's power if you want.
Richard Burns rally needed a Max Torque tweak hidden away in some physics file which made the game... scary, I recommend using Drift Mode and a lower FFB if you do this though to simulate some kind of power assisted steering.
Below I shall detail how I went from a casual arcade gamer to full blown racing nerd with a wheel to proove it.
First racing game for me was really Need for Speed Underground, I don't count any games before that especially not the very first which would have been Burning Rubber on the Amstrad CPC+ shown below for amusement
It was a shit game then and it sure as hell is shit now
Anyway NFSU was a great introductory game, it was fast, easy enough to control with a keyboard, exciting stuff...
Then came NFS Most Wanted, which I felt was a great game too, nice graphics for It's time and this time I played on xbox with a analog controller giving much greater control over steering and acceleration.
Then came Forza 2, I tried the demo, thought it was an amusing insight into how real cars might handle, amusing in that they must all handle like ass thanks to It's overly difficult handling down to bad tyre physics.. ok the ewer not bad but they were on the sadistic side when it came to locking up.
I thought the game was bland and boring, and it is... really... but I changed my mind later...
I next got myself into Colin Mcrae Dirt, wow what a blast, it was fun but way more challenging than previous arcadey games I had played, still in the arcade realm though it is no sim.
The graphics also blew Forza out the water and still do, it looked the part and was a blast, so I splashed out on a Microsoft Force Feedback Wheel. Relatively cheap lil thing especially as I got %% off due to damaged packaging.
And it was an epic experience playing it with the wheel, took ages to get used to it, but once I had there was no going back. The level of immersion shot thru the roof, the fun, the swet on my brow... It's the best fun id had gaming in a long long time.
I then tried Forza Demo again and it came alive.. .suddenly it made sense with a wheel, what is the point of a car simulator if you then drive with a thumb stick... it makes no sense. With the wheel the feedback made the cars fun and drivable, it gave you a sense you would eventually just know and feel/untuit when a car was about to screw up and you would have already automatically counter acted it via the wheel.
The graphics were still horrendous and the gameplay was still dreadful, but the driving was fun with all the nuances you would expect.
I quickly realised the wheel I had while good for It's price, was no match for the high end wheels that only worked on PC and PS3.
I looked at PC Car Sims and thought of buying a wheel, but all the PC sims looked dull... lifeless even more so than Forza.
Then I heard Need for Speed were doing a 'sim' racer, and Forza 3 was coming.. and Dirt 2... and I danced, oh how I danced
Dirt 2 above... in game.. no really in game, graphics so good It's actually sexier than real life, I could lick it
How crap does Forza look now.. this is Shift looking very nice indeed
NFS Carbon had came and gone and had been shit, NFS Pro Street had came out, was a piece of shit, NFS Undercover had came out and was a piece of shit... pattern forming stuff... fortunately NFS Shift was by someone else entirely, and they have done a brilliant job, it feels like pretty damn good sim under the hood especially after some hacks. And the graphics and immersion are way above what anyone else other than Codemasters has been able to deliver.
Anyway, I heard of this Fanatec wheel when Forza announced they were supporting it shown below with a motion rig.. and i'm like finally!
Forza 3 looked really good too (from a distance), the wheel looked like a must have... then I saw the price... thought harder about it... and decided what the hell, I earn money to spend it and have fun, and this definitely looked like a top top quality product not only in aesthetic thanks to the Porsche styling genuine leather and paint and genuine badge... but more importantly it was quality gear inside that only the likes of the Logitech G27 can come close to... and man that wheel looks like a toy POS to me.
Anyway Forza 3 then came out, I bought it, turned out to be ok, but still ugly and dull as sin compared to what NFS and Codemaster were putting out, but it was all forgivable-ish as the handling was huge leaps better and it was class leading before. They have now full tyre modelling for deformation which is a big deal in how it affects the car handling and tyre slip/grip.
Forza is a driving game, Shift is a racing game.. big difference. Driving around on your own in a nice car in Forza is actually a pleasure on the few scenic road tracks it has.
Forza still has a plasticy look to it down to the bad car shaders which they could get away with better if they did any post/color correction or even get basic exposure right. They should really use normal maps on the cars instead of high poly as you can see dings and dents in them which could be easily avoided and make it fast enough to have more cars on track., another huge huge let down as It's limited to 8 cars a race.. ugh what a waste of time driving round a 10km track with 8 cars thinly spread over it.
Looks pretty good above sure, but in game and on older tracks especially it looks pretty sad at HD res.
Sorry for the rant/history lesson, but I want to show how I went from casual arcade racer to full blown top of the line limited edition force feedback wheel. I'm even looking at some of the hardcore PC car sims that I previously wrote off as ugly and dull. Got into outdoor 60mph karting And thinking how I can realistically buy a Lotus Elise to do the real thing-ish...
And theres also GT5 to look forward to on the PS3, which looks better than Forza, but it still looks like it might be quite sterile and dull in gameplay... though who knows, I shall wait to try it before judging, I commend them on the amount of content the game will have and if they add weather and day/night I will have to have some pretty bad gameplay to not still be a great game.
Ok another GT5 preview article just came out and the thing looks outstanding on paper, they are adding weather and night racing... yay oh yay! finally! ooh and damage-to what exact extent i'm not sure but they even say they have interior damage for 100 or so cars'
How such a major part of racing has been left out of most.. nay all games, I don't know. All you ever hear about during F1 races or Rally or GT or anything is how the weather effects the tyres. My only hope now is for some real endurance race type stuff, but to have the computer pick the tyres for yo.
Which reminds me of another point I love that in Forza you can go in a tweak the car's setup and parts, it has It's own fun to it, but I'd also like to be able to forget about that entirely and just be a race driver sometimes too and have an expert team behind me setting all the stuff up and leave me to racing and trust my car is ALWAYS competitive, in Forza I feel like half the time I loose is cuss my car is junk... yah It's alll the cars fault
And that above is all I've got to go on right now regarding the night racing
You'd have thought being given a world exclusive they would have put bigger images in -_-
So is this wheel worth the money... yes, and if you want a longer answer to that... yeeeeeeesssss
it was worth my money, whether it is worth yours depends on how much you value your money and how much you would enjoy racing games really.
Now who wants to buy me the full setup for Christmas? I want to nerd out!!!!! they have a motion rig coming soon too... I need more money for this hobby
And before you say that the 3 screens is overkill, It's actually quite a big deal with car games, as without periphery vision you can't make tight turns as accurately as you can't see the apexes or see cars to your left and right that you may drive into. Aaand you judge speed from your peripheral vision, stuff whizzing by on your far left and right really makes you feel and see the speed you are doing which is why sims feel like you are driving slow and to the 200mph you are doing in game, try driving with a box on your head and a slot for your eyes... tunnel vision is not cool to be race driving with.
Just playing with materials in vray for c4d... why are there no good standard or 'open source' Material preview scenes?
Maxwell has a real nice one, so I thought id have a go at finding one... turns out you can't nick maxwell as It's LOCKED and I found one for Vray for C4D that has copy protection written all over it... so erm... what's the deal guys? you spent an aftertoon making a material test object and you don't want to share it with others?
So I've taken the Vray4C4D one as a starting point and improved it a bit. Reason being it was full of glitches... the sort of thing you do not want for material tests!!!
As an exercise I recreated the main ball shape in Rhino for Mac, only just started using it took about 2 hours from first starting it to do.. not too bad for a first model!
Here it is inside Rhino all nurby and infinite resolution... mmmm infiniiite
I unlike certain others, welcome you to the original files so you can adjust and tweak it for yourself.
Just playing with using Brute Force GI + Light Cache, renders fast enough for stills with pretty near perfect quality, no artifacts. Worst case you get a bit of noise... which I quite like even!
Ignore the glitching on the right, My normals were flipped on that one side.. oops!
Experimenting with SSS Sub Surface Scattering... wow this takes long to render:
Yes both renders are incomplete and crapped out at exactly the same point... (ok fixed it now) not happy! something in those unfinished squares was pissing it off something rotten as I left it for houuuurs and it didn't budge...
Ok after some investigation I found a big error on my part, one of the parts of that sphere was duplicated over itself, which Vray's SSS apparently dislikes intensely.
The highlight on the ball is pretty bad looking, horrible pinkish dull highlight... oh well otherwise It's looks very delicious!
Oh and now just for kicks, I've been thinking about displaying my renders in a more 3D manner, holographics/rabbit holes, stereo vision glasses, panning via animation, parallax mapping etc etc
So here is a simple render for red/blue glasses:
Or if you like your color intact and you can cross your eyes and focus independently (takes some practice) you can cross your eyes at this:
Hah, fancy that, youtube has built in 3D support:
You can choose to view certain videos in variation of different methods such as red/blue or cross-eyed. How very cool, now if only I had a monitor capable of polarization then we'd be cooking.
Look what using Adobe Flash has done to my keyboard:
I was cleaning my keyboard and noticed an odd scuff on my S key, trying to figure out what caused it and it dawned on me!! I constantly and rather habitually tap command-s now all the time, especially when using Flash because it has trained me by It's constant crashing.
My C key is also looking a bit scuffed too (Command-C for copy)
I love Stars: a Very Nice/useful tool to show current playing iTunes songs Rating in Stars in the menubar:
It's the best one out right now, simply click on the star and it will rate it as such very elegant, uses almost no cpu and it vanishes when iTunes isn't playing.
Link: www.macupdate.com --- i-love-stars
Also of note is Unsanity's Menubar MemoryCell
Which shows the frontmost programs memory usage which is great for spying on Adobe apps followed by the inevitable drop of jaw and gasp of 'how much!!?'
Link: www.macupdate.com --- memorycell
I've been googling long and hard for a way to effectively create OSX Icons with the proper size variants. As OSX Icons are made up of several sizes so that an icon may use a different image for different sizes, reason for this is so that a small icon is still readable/legible and remains sharp and iconic.
And I'm pretty much there, It's a bit of a dark art to do it really.
Firstly generating an icon is tricky enough as you need to generate an .icns file from several images.
And then you need to get that .icns onto an actual icon! which turns out to be quite tricky -- till you find the right tools
A list of tools and sites regarding this will be linked at the bottom:
The end result is I can now generate my own icons dynamically and apply them pretty damn fast.
You could use this for example to change the actual Icon color for folders/files based on label color
Change folder icons based on how many items are inside
Make folders dusty if they haven't been used in a while... etc
I have also made my own Icon template in Photoshop for generating stamped folders, and a photoshop action to go with it so that with one keypress it extracts all the different sizes and outputs them to a folder as separate image files
The Photoshop template:
And this allowed me in minutes to generate these label colored icons for folders.
It took a few more minutes to write a script that finds all the labelled folders in a specific location and change the icon to match the color of the label it has on.
I can also generate folders based on the contents, I have a script that takes the first image it finds in side a folder and applies it to the folder icon like so:
Or if it finds an image inside the folder called ICON, it will use that and make the image file invisible so it doesn't get in the way.
I use it for my work folder to help me navigate and make it look spiffy:
And while I'm talking about this, I just improved my application switch script. I hate the Dock, It's useless for application switching. So I instead wrote a small script that leverages DragThing to draw a ApplicationSwitcher with favorite folders and apps inside it also.
The main advantage are it has more room and make better use of space.
It can be triggered by a mouse button press, so you hold down a button on your mouse to show it and let the button go over the item you want to open.
Your mouse typically will be in the middle of the screen and so is this dock, unlike the built in dock which is all the way down the bottom of the screen making it further to travel. Fitts law and all.
Heres what it looks like when It's triggered:
Along the top left are some statistics that only show when my AppSwitcher is showing, they help me see stats like how much disk space I have, how much VM I\'m using and the list of application shows me how much time I've spent and in what programs I've spent it today/
The menu bar is also dimmed using 'Menu Eclipse'
And on the right is Adium, the program I use for Instant Messaging with AIM/Yahoo/MSN etc.
The text list next to the Trash icon is my todo list. And applications that are open that are not part of my favorites are shown next to the trash:
I also just wrote a script to help create folders and empty documents
This has always annoyed me, when you are in list view in the Finder and your half way down a long list of nested folders opened up infront of you, and you want to create a folder inside the one you have selected, press the new folder keypress creates one at the top level of the window!! not much help! so I wrote a script to create a folder in the current selection and remapped it to replace the normal new folder keypress.
Also If I press command-alt-N it creates an empty text file in place which I find handy.
And another pet peave is when in icon view you can select a file/folder and press command-delete to throw it in the trash, but when you have throe away everything in side a folder there's no way to throw away the folder your in, so I made a script that checks if the folder your in is empty if so it trashes it when you press the same command-delete shortcut, It's really handy actually.
And yes I did have a fair bit of time to kill, Spring cleaning and tidying up in general have been my dedication for the past few days... I spent about 2 days sorting through my sort folders.. not sorting what's in them just sorting all the different sort folders
And reorganizing my infinite todo list with some much needed prioritization
Links to ICON related gear:
The tool I use to generate an ICNS file from multiple images (using code from IconFamily)
Link: www.amnoid.de --- makeicns
SetIcon is part of osxutils and It's a command that lets you copy an icon from one file/folder to another
And if you use the -d option you can set a file/foldes icon to the contents of an icns
Link: sourceforge.net --- osxutils
A not quite fully functional command line tool:
Link: www.macgeekery.com --- setting_an_icon_from_the_cli
A web based system for making Icons:
Link: www.eisbox.net --- iconvert
IconFamily: is a Cocoa/Objective-C wrapper for Mac OS X Icon Services
And here is a link to a live working interactive version which you simply drag on with the mouse from left to right to rotate the model:
Link: helios.mine.nu --- Grey
Note: it requires unity plugin, but don't worry; it downloads fast, installs fast and you don't have to quit your browser, once the install is finished the site will just load the content without any interaction required.
Also worth noting is that it will scale to fit the browser window and if you right click, you can go Fullscreen.
The Lighting and shadows are all baked/frozen onto the models texture. This model is 50,000 polygon and has 5 1024x textures. I could probably reduce It's size and complexity by about 6x with various optimizations and use of normal maps. And that's exactly what I'll be trying out next.
And as a side note I've just updated my folder icon generator for Leopard icons, bit late, It's been generating icons in the old fashioned perspective format up till now, now it looks like:
It looked like this before:
It's an apple script app you drop Folders onto and it generates the icons from any images it finds inside and then puts the generating icon onto the folder all in one go. Powered by ImageMagick and the built in SIPS to a degree. I still like, almost prefer the perspective icons, but they do look dated now and they look awful in most places such as in Docks and in Coverflow because of the fake perspective.