From old to new FFB (Tips & Info)

Discussion in 'Knowledge Base' started by Thomas Jansen, Jun 23, 2021.

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  1. Thomas Jansen

    Thomas Jansen KW Studios Developer Beta tester

    Apr 5, 2018
    +563 / 0 / -0
    Transition to the New FFB
    It's finally time for everyone to get their hands on the new FFB in RaceRoom! As we have explained in the announcement in May, it is a complete rebuild of how the FFB is calculated. Combined with knowing the shortcomings of the old FFB, it is not so surprising that the FFB has changed significantly towards a much more intuitive, accurate and consistent feeling. However, we understand that many of you will be very used to the old feeling, which might make the updated FFB feel strange at first. This is why we want to take the time here to give some tips, explain some of the differences you will notice, why we made certain choices and why we are convinced that the new FFB is a (huge) step forward. If some other questions pop up we may expand on those in this post as we get to them.

    Controller profiles
    Let's start by talking about the changes to the controller profiles. We have made it so that all your existing wheel profiles get updated with the new FFB settings, and if a default profile exists for your wheel it will use the default settings tuned specifically for your wheel. This will not affect any of your keybindings or other settings, so it will be a completely smooth transition. If your wheel does not have a default profile, it will simply give you the back-up default settings. Those settings should work without any issues, but they will not be tuned to your specific wheel. Make sure to let us know in this case, so we can add a default profile for your wheel and have a look at the FFB Quick Guide on the forum or in the FFB Menu in-game for recommended settings!

    The most significant change to the controller profiles is that all the available FFB settings are accessible through the menu. There is no need to dive into the controller profile file (.rcs) anymore for hidden FFB tweaks. This makes the process of setting up the FFB much simpler and clearer.

    The first drive
    As your existing wheel profiles are converted to the new defaults for your wheel automatically when launching the game, you can immediately jump in a car and drive. We really recommend trying out a couple of different cars and spending some time getting familiar with the default FFB settings. Here are a few suggestions of different car types to try, that really highlight the improvements and dynamic nature of the new FFB:
    • Updated open-wheelers: F4, FR3, FR2, FR90
    • FWD cars
    • Modern GT cars
    • Classic touring cars
    • High-powered classic cars
    • And any of your other favourite cars!
    The only setting you should worry about at first is the 'FFB Strength'. For most wheels this starts at 100% and you should only need to change it if you find the FFB a bit too strong on your wheel. For high-torque DD wheels, the 'FFB Strength' starts at 50%, so depending on how you have your wheel set up you might want to increase or decrease this. The way to understand this setting is that you set it to the percentage of the torque range of your wheel that you want the game to utilize on average. When set to 80%, the spikes in the FFB can still go all the way up to 100%, so it does not limit the output, it only scales the FFB output.

    The 'FFB Strength' setting scales the global FFB strength, so it has an effect on every car. The resulting FFB strength of each car is controlled by the combination of the global 'FFB Strength' setting and the per-car FFB Multiplier. So if there is one car in particular that feels too heavy or too light, you can tweak this with the per-car FFB multiplier, accessible in the car setup menu or via keybinds. To do this effectively, we recommend keybinding the following:
    • FFB Multiplier +
    • FFB Multiplier -
    • FFB Meter
    Open up the FFB Meter while driving and keep an eye on what it looks like during a lap, particularly in highly loaded corners. You can then use the FFB Multiplier +/- keybinds to increase or decrease the FFB multiplier for this car while driving and immediately see the effect in the FFB Meter.

    The FFB Meter for a good FFB Multiplier will look something like the picture below in a highly loaded corner. It should be close to the clipping (red) line, but on average hover around 10-20% below it to avoid clipping and losing detail. Some peaks from hitting curbs or compressions may exceed the clipping line, but this is not something you have to avoid at all costs. It is better to sacrifice some of those peaks to have a stronger and more detailed feeling overall.
    FFB Graph with an optimal FFB Multiplier

    The second picture shows an example of what the FFB meter looks like when there is plenty of headroom left to increase the FFB Multiplier. This is actually completely fine for a strong DD wheel where you don't want to use the full torque range anyway, as this completely avoids clipping. However, On a wheel where you want to use every bit of torque that the wheel has to offer, a setting like this costs a lot of detail and might feel very light and numb. So make sure to increase the FFB Multiplier if you feel that it is too light and the FFB Meter shows that there is headroom to do so.
    FFB Graph with the FFB Multiplier set (too) low

    The third picture shows what the FFB Meter will look like when you set the FFB Multiplier too high. The FFB signal exceeds the clipping line very often and all the information in the red parts of the graph is lost. Definitely make sure to reduce the FFB Multiplier if you see this behaviour!
    FFB Graph with the FFB Multiplier set too high

    The most important thing is to avoid excess clipping like in the third picture, this can really ruin any detail in the FFB and only leave you with the numb, heavy steering everywhere. As long as you are staying below the clipping line (some peaks exceeding it is not a big issue), you can tune the FFB Multiplier up or down based on what feels best to you.

    Keep in mind that there are many different corners and tracks, so you might want to have the graph open on a couple of different tracks to dial in the perfect multiplier, This will really help you get the absolute most out of your wheel!

    Getting used to the new feeling
    We hope that everyone is as excited as we are about the new FFB after spending some time getting familiar with the new feeling. We really want to emphasize that it's a good idea to clock in a good number of laps with a bunch of different cars before reaching for any of the other FFB settings. The reason for this is that FFB is a bit like a language that describes what the car is doing to you in a certain way. Different languages can convey the same information but in very different ways. Similarly, the car physics behind our old and new FFB are exactly the same, but they communicate this same information in a very different way. We are absolutely sure that the new FFB is a much more intuitive, accurate and consistent 'language', which makes it much easier to understand what the car is doing than before. However, if you are used to interpreting a certain language (the old FFB), then it might take some time to learn how to interpret and understand a new language (the new FFB). So make sure to give yourself some time while you get used to it, we are certain that everyone will appreciate the improvements we have made once you get past this learning phase. For many people, this learning phase will probably not even happen, as the new FFB is much more intuitive and easy to pick up.

    Further FFB tweaking (optional)
    Once you've developed a decent feeling and understanding of the new FFB, you might be interested in which options are available to tweak. The main FFB Guide will have a lot more details about what each setting does, so we would advise taking a look there before starting to change anything. If you are interested in purely realistic FFB (so only the steering forces you would feel in the real steering wheel), then the main setting to try out is the 'FFB Linearity'. This setting can really help make the FFB feel more consistent on wheels with limited torque (<5Nm).

    The settings you use in your specific wheel driver can also have a big impact on how the FFB feels, so here are our recommendations for those:
    • Allow damping effects on your wheel! We do not use any damping effect for the FFB besides the stationary friction, so it will not make any difference during normal driving
    • We recommend setting any interpolation or smoothing filters to 'Minimum' or 'Off', you can use them if there is any unwanted graininess or roughness in the FFB.
    • We recommend turning any added damping or friction effects off, or keep them at minimal values if you prefer that. For DD wheels, it makes sense to add a small amount of friction.

    If you are also interested in adding some more immersion effects, you can have a look at the 'Engine Vibrations', 'Bump Amplification' and 'Gearshift Effects' settings. Just be aware that these settings do not give you any useful information about what the car is doing, they are simply there to enhance the 'experience' of driving the car. This does mean that using them can sacrifice the informative nature of the FFB a little, which is also why we have decided to keep these effects off by default. We would advise to be especially careful with the Bump Amplification, as its effect is quite similar to bump steer, which can really affect the handling of the car.

    Moving away from 'Effect-based FFB'
    The old FFB heavily relied on artificial effects to convey certain car behaviour, such as the understeer and slip effect. If you used those a lot, you will definitely notice a big difference moving to the new FFB. These artificial effects are simply not needed in the new FFB, as all the information that you need to feel the behaviour of the car already comes directly from the physics calculations. Moving away from these car behaviour effects is a huge step forward. The purely physics-based approach not only gives you more accurate information, but also allows you to apply what you learn as a driver in RR, to other sims and even driving in real life much better than before. So while some may miss the old effects at first, we are confident that the new approach is better for everyone in the long run.

    To go into a bit more detail about the understeer effect from the old FFB, this effect made the steering weight drop off drastically after a certain steering angle. While this does happen slightly with a real car, it is nowhere near as extreme as it was with that effect, so that means that this difference is also noticeable going to the new FFB. More importantly, it is a common misconception that this drop-off in steering weight in the wheel is a direct indication that you are past the peak slip angle of the tire and therefore should not turn any more. This is not the case, the peak slip angle and therefore the peak grip of the tire is actually often somewhere past this initial drop-off in steering weight. The drop in steering weight is caused by something called 'pneumatic trail', which is one part of the contact patch movement that is now properly simulated in the new FFB. How noticeable this drop-off becomes is completely dependent on tire parameters and steering geometry, so it can vary a lot between cars. The most important thing to keep in mind is that this drop-off is not a magic way of feeling where the peak grip of the tire is, so you are not missing out on any useful information if a certain car has very little drop-off of the steering weight. In fact, the steering weight being more consistent will help you stay in control of the car even better!

    Similarly, the kerb effect from the old FFB is also not used anymore. This will be another significant difference that you will feel, but an important step for us. What the old kerb effect did was simply put out a pre-determined vibration whenever you have a wheel touching a kerb. The problem with this is that kerbs vary massively in shape and height, some are even just painted on the track, so they shouldn't all feel the same. As our tracks have proper 3D-modeled kerbs where they should be, this artificial effect is no longer necessary. The 3D kerbs will come through the physics into the FFB as you would expect, and the flat kerbs do not. So while this might change the feel of some tracks with flatter style kerbs significantly, it is all changed towards a more realistic and coherent experience.
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    Last edited: Jun 27, 2021
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