Oculus ‘Drift’- the next big thing?
Oculus ‘Drift’- the next big thing?
By Nicole James
If you live in Arizona, or follow amateur drifting in any way, you have definitely seen or heard about the legendary 8-Bit Miata driven by none other than Bryan Young. This googlie-eyed Miata caught our attention back in January at Import Face Off (IFO) with Young taking home first place in the drifting competition. In the weeks that followed his seemingly-out-of-nowhere-win, CSJ had the opportunity to chat with Young about how he won the competition and we were blown away.
Young told CSJ a majority of his experience and seat time came from simulation driving. We had to ask what kind of crazy simulator was Young able to get his hands on, and we were even more surprised that this simulator was really Forza!
In May we were still head over heels for this unique car and fascinated by the driver, so we featured the 8-Bit as our Ride of the Month. Now we are taking a look at the method Bryan Young used to help perfect his drifting techniques. Please be advised, this method may not work for everyone but might inspire you to think outside of the box much like this driver has.
“I’ve been using Logitch Wheels since 2001 with the PS2 racing games. I saw all these racing games with drifting as an option, but can you really expect people to chase buttons on a wheel to use the clutch and handbrake? By this time I was into Forza 2 and the XBOX360.” Young said.
According to Young, back then, no one made wheels for drifting in mind. So naturally, he had to make his own modifications to add a clutch pedal, handbrake, and sequential shifter to the Microsoft XBOX 360 wheel so that he could drift a little closer like the real thing. “I even took a broken down old big rear projection TV, chopped it up and nailed scrap wood from Home Depot to it to act as my sim rig. Eventually I got the Fanatec CSR Elite and later the standard CSR for Forza 4 drifting, and ended up modding those wheels for drifting as well.”
In the Play Station 2 days of Youngs virtual drifting, “it was more satisfying than realistic” he said. With the modded Microsoft wheel it then became very satisfying and challenging at the same time. “I was very happy with how it turned out with the clutch action, sequential shifter, and handbrake. I was spending a lot of time playing Forza back then because I didn’t have a drift car of my own yet, but it was a big motivation to get started when the time came.”
So how much virtual seat time has Young clocked? “In my whole life? I have no idea. I will say I spent the better part of several hours a day from 2010 to 2014 working on and improving drifting for the wheel and Forza 4.” When Bryan is in the zone, he uses his simulation rig with bucket seat for any car game and sticks to the couch and controller of anything else.
Young prefers to practice his skills on Forza 4 because it is what was available to him, “There are more and more drift sim programs for the PC that are very impressive and has a very supportive community. When it becomes easier to just hop on and drift with friends, then I will make the jump to PC.”
According to Bryan Young, some of the biggest differences between the simulation drifting and the real thing are the G-forces and the reset button. “The simulation of G-forces has to be created in your mind since you are not actually moving through time and space, but stationary in a rig. How your mind simulates the G-Forces all depends on how mentally submerged you are into the simulation you are running. You know you are simulating G-Forces mentally when you physically react to a situation in the sim. For example, You are coming into a corner very fast sideways. You know you need to make a quick transition and drift into the following corner so by instinct to the simulated inputs received by your visual and audible stimulation; you lean into the corner as if you are fighting the real G-forces if it was a real scenario. I do this all the time. I am not actually experiencing real G’s, but my mind makes it real enough to instinctively react to keep my balance in the virtual drift car. The better the quality of the sim program, the easier it is to be submerged into the virtual physics you are drifting in. Another thing I never forget is no reset button. You can make mistakes in the sim and walk away, but you cannot make mistake in the real world and expect to walk away from anything that might happen. Some get lucky. I know from experience, but I never confuse the two.”
Keeping in mind that real life does not have a reset button, CSJ asked about the settings Bryan used to keep it real or as close to a real world scenario as he could. Young responded with saying that tons and tons of research went into his practice. He looked at everything from online tech websites focused on racing and drifting like MotoIQ, to reading books on suspension and drifting like Calvin Wan’s: Drifting Performance Handbook.
“I spent hours testing and testing with developing math formulas to convert real world numbers into the measurements used in the Forza 4 game. It took 4 months of daily 2-4 hours on the game just to come up with the first driftable version on the game while using the Fanatec wheel and mods. The video of the ‘April, 2012 Deathproof themed Chevy Nova drifting in Maple valley’ is an example of that. It was not perfect so I kept at it. Version two was filmed on Oct 2012 titled ‘NOVA vs KAIDO’ and it was a very noticeable improvement. I even tested it by drifting a 100% stock 240sx in the game to show how well the tune is working and I have a video of that posted too. The third version was released [as] the February 2012 ‘NOVA vs THE RING’ video. Through all this I developed a formula that will make a baseline drift tune that would be mathematically realistic using only stock grip tires and still hang with anyone out there, and feel very natural with its grip/slip feedback.” Young said.
“The only thing I still battle with is Microsoft’s random updates, and needing Fanatec to release a firmware update just to deal with it. It often collides, or crashed the wheel software; and it is a real pain to deal with, but once everything is working great then it is ultimately satisfying.”
As the 8-Bit has gotten more and more attention in the drifting community as well as the driver himself, Bryan Young, his simulation time has definitely changed. Bryan spends less time drifting virtually than he had been in the past, but he’s ok with that. “I put in enough time to know competition drifting in real life is what I want to do and that is more important to me than playing video games. When I do have time to get on, I like being able to just fire up Forza 4 and have fun, play on the NES, or play games with my Wife and my Dad both online and with the NES.”
According to Young, 8-Bit is more of a style then simply a processing power of a video game console. “It’s a community of retro gamers who are also intelligent and talented entrepreneurs as well as athletes that have been building here in the valley and I am honored to be a part of it. I am helping bridge the way for a new audience to enjoy drifting with someone they know and can cheer for. Bringing them to events they would not normally attended otherwise. Bringing these people together and face to face all having a great time is awesome to be a part of.”
“Everything I did is what worked for me. I can’t promise it will work for anyone else or if you play racing and drifting games that you will be good at the real thing. More or less, I got lucky giving it a shot and finding out I am good enough to see if I can make a future out of it. If you are a gamer and you want to drift or race, then buy a car and get proper instruction from experienced drivers who are willing to teach you the basics. They are out there at every event willing to help, if you ask. Real Seat time will always be better than simulation time, but it is unanimously regarded as the next best thing and a real tool in training race car drivers around the world. I don’t see why it cannot be the same for drifting.”
What can our readers and fans expect to see next with the 8-bit? Bryan says he recently got the Ksport Kontrol coilovers installed the night before the August Drag and Drift event and it was a major difference. “Without any alignment done to the car, just swapping them in, I was still able to keep drift even with the increased grip from a proper coilover setup. James Allen, the owner of 18FAB, did the installation and went over with me on what I should be aware of when drifting the car. He kept in touch with me during the event to make sure the car’s handling felt right. Before long I was able to adjust my driving style to make the car drift even faster and much better looking than before. Much more will be coming as we go through the growing pains of building a competition drift car.”