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Realistic Driving Simulator Games? 130

modoquasi writes "I have a son approaching the age when it is legal to hurtle through the air at insurance-raising speeds. I would like to educate him to hurtle safely and legally as soon as possible, and not use my car to do it. I thought I would find a number of driving simulator/educators for teens at home. but all I found are the likes of GTA Vice City and Crazy Taxi. Though Big Mutha Truckers might educate him on correct parking procedures in tight spots, I don't think it covers four-way-stops and passing on a double yellow line. Do the readers of Slashdot have any clues where to find this type of software?"
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Realistic Driving Simulator Games?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Two words: Gran Turismo [].

    Get a good steering wheel, shifter, and pedals, and your son will be doing clutchless double-downshifts, lift-throttle shifts, and heel-and-toe driving in no time. I've seen nothing closer in realism for street cars. And it's a great way to learn how to react in "panic" situations.
    • by Thag ( 8436 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @12:26AM (#9426903) Homepage
      Sorry, but I actually drive a real car, and Gran Tourismo is nothing but a caricature of physics. Particularly where rear-wheel drive cars are concerned.

      And, yes, I've done power drifts in a real car (I was young and foolish then).

      Moreover, the LAST thing you want to teach a sixteen year old is how to drive fast. Because what a beginning driver really lacks is the judgement to know WHEN they can drive fast safely. Far better to teach them safe driving, and do the race car course next year or the year after.

      Jon Acheson
      • by photon317 ( 208409 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @12:59AM (#9427047)

        I think that where driver education courses fail our youth is in not teaching them the true handling characteristics of cars and what the limits feel like. In addition to the education they give today, I really feel they should delve deeper into the physics of car handling and traction, the differences between FWD/RWD/AWD handling. Similarly, they should add an extra day to the end of the practical driving where they let the kids break the wheels loose in various ways on wet and dry pavement to give them a feel for what happens, how to feel it coming, and how to prevent or correct it.
        • The trouble is, that the moment you give a 16 year old the smallest piece of information about something, he immediately assumes he is an expert, and is the only one on the planet informed enough to know the correct use of that piece of information.

          Whether it be the handling characteristics of a car, or how to use SSH.

        • Where I live (Denmark), all of that is mandatory (well, apart from driving an AWD vehicle). We spent a whole day on a closed track playing around in wet and dry conditions with and without ABS.

          In addition to being educational, it was great fun. And I feel that I really learned something about how drive in slippery conditions and what to do when you lose control.
        • It's not going to happen in the US. The insurance industry has a huge influence on auto safety policy, and they don't want advanced/high performance driver training. They really want to dumb us down into sheep. One of the claims I've heard from their safety propaganda is that for example police officers are highly trained in vehicle handling, and their accident rates (off duty) are much higher than average.

          The auto makers are happy to oblige by idiotproofing the cars. Powerful RWD like BMWs and Mercedes ca
        • My father has told me stories of his driver's ed. class in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the 1950's. If your parents were willing to sign a waver, the instructor would take you to a field outside of town, outfit you with a helmet, and let you roll a junker that had been equipped with a roll cage so the roof wouldn't cave in. The point was to give you an idea of what it felt like to roll a car, and what it took to get to that point, so that you would know never to go that far in real circumstances.

          Personally, I woul
      • by Glonoinha ( 587375 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:48AM (#9429723) Journal
        -And, yes, I've done power drifts in a real car (I was young and foolish then).

        Get back to me when you have done power drifts on a street bike (motorcycle.) There was one corner leaving the college campus that was perfect - a smooth left hander, always clean, tires still cold ... on a good day I could hang the back end out a good foot, foot and a half leaving a black scratch the shape of a massive parabola to mark my prowess. I will see your young and foolish and raise you a real young and completely stupid :)

        As for computer games, the last one I remember being even semi-real with respect to street laws, etc... was Corvette! It was a long time ago, but as I recall it accurately recreated San Francisco, had stop lights and stop signs, regular stock Vette and not a nitro methane fueled car with guns, and if you drove too fast or rolled a stop sign (or ran over a little old lady) the cops would come hassle you.

        You are right though - kids will teach themselves how to drive fast. Step in and teach them when to drive slow and you will be doing them a big favor.

        Stuff I wish my dad had taught me :
        If you hit an animal in the road, that animal doesn't die immediately and leave a red splat mark. That animal thrashes about for 20 minutes crying in pain dying - and watching that animal die a slow and painful thrashing death is a particularly horrible sight because you know you caused it. Those sounds will haunt you forever, even if it was just a cat.
        If you cause a little tiny fender bender in a parking lot with nobody looking, leave a note and follow up.
        If you are in an accident bigger than a door ding, call someome to handle it and keep your mouth shut. You are too emotinal to effectively deal with the situation, let someone else do it.
        If you are going to speed, speed. If you aren't going to shave an hour off your trip, drive the speed limit / flow of traffic. Trying to drive 67 when everybody else is driving 63 is stupid. Either slow down to 63, or calculate how fast you need to go to get where you are going an hour faster and drive that fast.
        Don't tailgate. The punishment for tailgaters varies from paying to have two cars repaired - to death.
        Don't be an asshole or drive aggressively. In some states that will get you killed, or your house burned down. No shit.
        The first two snows of the year are the worst because the roads haven't built up enough salt to keep everything all melted. Find a reason to stay home if you are a young driver.
        Buckle up.
        Drinking and driving is way more expensive than you could possibly imagine. You can't afford it. Don't even think about it.
        If you have alcohol in your system, don't sleep it off in your car. Punk ass cops will still arrest you for DWI even though the car isn't moving and you are in the back seat.
        You aren't even good enough to operate a car when you are concentrating on it. Forget about trying to operate a car and other personal electronic devices at the same time. If you need to call someone, pull over.
        Never confuse horsepower with manhood. Shredding the tires and speeding in a residential neighborhood is about as macho as sitting on the curb crying because you just totalled your car by causing an accident, knowing that your insurance is about to go through the roof.
        Four wheel drive adds nothing to your stopping ability in the snow / ice.
        You can't outrun the Motorola.
        If the cops have to chase you, they're bringing an ass kicking with them.
        If you are turning onto a road from a dead stop and a car is coming, let the car go before pulling onto the road.
    • by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) * on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @07:25AM (#9428120)
      I have a 14-year old son, and I have Gran Turismo with a force-feedback steering wheel/pedal setup. While GT does not provide a true driving model, I think it's the best simulator out there (particularly if you use a steering wheel instead of a PlayStation controller). I also once believed that my son would learn something valuable from GT. That belief turned out to be only partly true.

      Through the game, my son has picked up the basics of driving. He's learned a few things about traction, speed and cornering. But I've noticed that there are some things that he simply can't "get" no matter how much he practices and I coach.

      I think one of the biggest reasons for this is, as another poster noted elsewhere, GT may be the best driving simulator, but it's really not all that great when compared with the real thing. GT doesn't supply a big enough field of view, it doesn't supply G-forces or enough kinesthetic feedback, and it certainly doesn't make you scared of hitting things.

      The limitations of the gaming platform mean that, at best, Gran Turismo will remind an experienced driver of certain events/actions -- it doesn't provide enough feedback to provide that experience. For instance, if you're driving (in GT) a normal car with a loose suspension and brake hard, you'll see the car nosedive. You won't feel it nosedive, you won't feel the G-force pushing you toward the steering wheel, and you won't feel the sudden lack of those forces if your tires break traction. An experienced driver will see the dip in GT and know what it means, and react to it. To my son, it's just a visual effect.

      So, I plan to load my kid into my hopped-up '94 Integra and take him to a parking lot. That will probably provide a lot more real-world experience than Gran Turismo ever will.

  • A simple googling... (Score:4, Informative)

    by ^me^ ( 129402 ) * <michael...joseph ...> on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:35PM (#9426619) Homepage
    brought forth This beauty []. Now to dig deeper and find an OSS game or two...
  • Mafia: La Cosa Nostra actually has fair traffic rules and a good physics system... if you don't mind driving a Model T up a hill at 5 MPH. And getting shot at by a rival family. If you're just doing the driving, it's like GTA: Capone Edition.
  • by Billy the Mountain ( 225541 ) on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:40PM (#9426647) Journal what, specifically is wrong with GTA Vice City? I've actually learned a lot about driving playing that game. I guess the only advice I'd give is 1. if you collide head-on, you WILL die. 2. If you drive off the top of a building you will not land gracefully and earn $212.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:40PM (#9426650)
    Do the readers of Slashdot have any clues where to find this type of software?

    Yes, In an alternate universe where boring things are exciting and people play video games to fall asleep.

  • Gran Turismo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Beatbyte ( 163694 ) on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:40PM (#9426653) Homepage
    If you don't have your head in the ground, use this. It may be a racing game but the physics are extremely well thought out.

    Kinda hard to miss honestly
    • Re:Gran Turismo (Score:3, Insightful)

      by daeley ( 126313 ) *
      Kinda hard to miss honestly

      Kinda hard to miss this in the submission:

      I thought I would find a number of driving simulator/educators for teens at home.

      Gran Turismo isn't a driving simulator/educator and doesn't cover "four-way-stops and passing on a double yellow line." Gran Turismo is a racing game.
      • Re:Gran Turismo (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by Beatbyte ( 163694 )
        it has more realistic physics than any other game out there. period. and that is what really matters. the rest of driving is pretty obvious. stay in your lane. obey street signs.

        you're not going to find a game that has "check your mirrors, do a walk around of the car making sure all signals work, check your gauges, put on your seat belt...etc."
        • Re:Gran Turismo (Score:3, Interesting)

          by GTRacer ( 234395 )
          Actually, if you can play Japanese games, there's Menkyo wo Torou. (Get the License)

          It's done driving-instructor style with classroom reviews and driving tests, and you have to do a proper "pre-flight" check, signal, observe signs & signals, etc.

          The game is entirely in Japanese with lots of reading, and it's a very demanding test of knowledge. But it does do the little things too!

          - Need more Kanji!

          • are you offering to teach the man's son japanese too? ;-)
            • Nope - I would if I knew more. Hell, if I knew more Japanese I'd think about joining one of the many English-teaching programs over there.

              I only mentioned it because there's at least one game that goes to the nth detail with driving procedure, and because a number of /.ers know some Japanese or are interested in the language or culture.

              - Looking for cheap Densha de Go or Jet de Go

    • Driving in Gran Turismo is nothing like driving in real life, race or otherwise.

      - The car behavior (oversteer, understeer, etc.) is hugely exaggerated and simplified. There's virtually no weight shift when cornering. In my many hours playing the game I don't recall any torque steer from FWD or all too common counter skid from overcorrecting in a RWD car.
      - Real streets have varying road surfaces and obstacles that affect traction.
      - Most importantly, car controls (gas, brakes, steering, etc.) are not on

      • and yet still I see no recommendation?

        closest to real life = what?
        • Atari games. Hard drivin' was probably the closest for how a truly acts in a given situation. They also had pedals and force feedback.

          For instance, if you went into a long sweeper and started accelerating too early, the rear end would kick out and you'd go into a spin. I've never seen anything like that in Turismo, and I've played way more than 100 hours worth of GT.

      • what Gran Turismo were you playing?

        1. Weight shift is very well simulated in the physics model. RWD and FWD cars handle completely differently.
        2. Surfaces do affect your car control. Rain affects it. Obstacles do exist.
        3. The playstation and playstation 2 both have analog controls. On the playstation 2 controller, even the 'on/off' buttons are analog (pressure-sensitive).

        Thanks for your informed contribution.
        • 1. Just because the cars handle differently doesn't mean the handle realistically.
          2. I don't ever remember being able to play in the rain, but that's not what I was talking about anyway. Real roads have varying surfaces. Cement, blacktop, recycled blacktop, and so on, and they change on the fly. They also have obstacles like manhole covers, tar patches, and puddles. GT has none of this.
          3. You got me on the analog controls, but in my defense they're difficult to use because of their position on the cont
        • He's right. I've played GT, GT2 and GT3 and none of them are even close to the real thing. I spend about 10 days out of each year on real road courses pushing a 525 HP car to it's limits, so I do know a little about the subject.

          They're fun, but they aren't close to real. Right now I'd have to rate TOCA Race Driver 2 on the XBox as the closest to realistic, but that has seriously video-gamey aspects, too.

          They will NEVER be able to simulate the physical sensations which play into it -- a controller vibratin
          • I can accept that GT isn't close to the real thing, but the specific things the poster mentioned just didn't seem to make sense to me. The things you're talking about are a lot more logically connected to 'this is not real', to me.

            Either way, it isn't real driving, no question there.
  • by nes11 ( 767888 ) on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:45PM (#9426676)
    how bout you just spend some time with the kid & go teach him yourself? there will never be an electronic substitute for what a kid learns directly from his parents.
    • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @12:39AM (#9426963) Homepage
      Let me just second that comment.

      You want him to learn in a "real-world" settings rather than a video game - there is no "reset" button in the former. Along those lines, the local police almost always have a "drunk driver/accident" exhibit which shows what a car looks look after a crash - and may also have pictures of victims - yea, it's a SHOCK, but you really want to impress upon him that he has to be careful, not only for himself, but for others.

      And going out with him (again, in the real-world) might be FUN for father/son rather than sitting in front of a screen - he'll be leaving the house shortly and going off on his own, so you might regret not spending this time now.

      Finally, I still do something like this with my wife who's "worried" about driving in snow - I take her to a empty parking lot and have her drive around to see what it feels like to slide/brake/etc. in snow - highly, highly recommended with your son if you live where weather is a factor - slippery roads are a whole new ballgame. Make sure you emphasize the difference between pumping the brakes (for older cars) and anti-skid braking where you do NOT want to do this.

      Oh yeah, one more thing - tell him to watch out for Photo Radar [] - we don't need any more pictures like that one! ;-)

      • "Lazlo- Life does not have a reset button"
      • I hate Photo Radar. I don't watch TV so I never found out about the one they installed on New York Ave in DC and I got a ticket for going 15 over the limit on my way back from the Dream Theater show at the 9:30 club a while back.

        I hadn't seen any speed limit signs and everyone else was going 55 ... including the cop one lane over and a little bit in front of me.

      • I have to agree, and add : if the kid is 15 and the parent is just starting to think about it - it is way late and the parent has done a serious disservice to his child.

        First level driver : sitting on mommy's lap working the steering wheel when you are barely large enough to see over the dashboard and haven't even considered reaching the pedals yet.
        Second level driver : a beat up truck out in the country, or a farm tractor. Stay on dirt roads / fields.
        Third level driver : out in the country in a street le
      • Also, you might teach him that being courteous, even if other people aren't, will get him there and back safely more often than any other tactic.
        This includes timely use of turn signals, flashing your brake-lights before you have to actually clamp down, and generally keeping track of the drivers AROUND you and what they want to do.
        And, in a tight spot, NEVER expect the other guy to make the right move!
        • Oh man, yes. That, and be PREDICTABLE.
          When a car operates in a predictable manner, nobody runs into it. It's generally when you pull some wild move that someone decides you weren't being predictable enough and runs into you.

          Want the kid to learn to read other people's minds : get him a motorcycle. If he survives the first few years he will know what every car around him is going to do before they do it.
    • As mentioned in the post, most of the things he desires to teach are road rules. The physical mechanics of driving cannot be simulated on a console, but it'd be an excellent tool for learning right-of-way, keeping an eye on your speed, possibly even an introduction to basic shifting without "blowing the tranny" in a real car (like Danny Bonaduce and Eddie Murphy.)

      I've seen enough people stalling traffic at a flashing red light or all-way stop to know the general public needs a hell of a lot more edumacati
  • Driving school (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aridhol ( 112307 ) <> on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:45PM (#9426677) Homepage Journal
    Send him to a driving school. You get professional instructors and the use of their vehicles. You also get the most realism possible - all five senses in use, real controls, real motion.

    Not everything can be simulated. Not everything that can be simulated should be simulated.

    • by oskillator ( 670034 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @12:40AM (#9426969)
      ... all five senses in use ...

      "Watch out, I smell an oncoming truck!"

      ... can't think of a good one for taste.

    • Re:Driving school (Score:3, Insightful)

      by einTier ( 33752 ) *
      Bob Bondurant teaches a really good school for teenage drivers []. It's a bit pricy, but it will more than make up for itself, as it teaches real car control and accident avoidance, not what they teach you in driver's ed. Bondurant will intentionally show your kid where the limits are, so they won't find them accidently, and he'll make them exceed them so they know exactly what to do when they do cross the line -- and every beginning driver crosses the line at some point, some of us were just very lucky.


      • Alternatively, you could bring him to an autocross []. It will cost about $20 for the day and will not harm your vehicle, and your son (and you!) will learn more about vehicle dynamics in one day than he will learn in ten years of driving on the street or playing Gran Turismo on the Playstation.

        This is seriously good advice. Two years of autocross have taught me not only more about car control than I ever thought I would know but also how little I actually knew about controling a car befor

      • Note: The school for teenage drivers is not aimed at teaching people how to drive from scratch. They need to learn the rules of the road and the basics of driving in traffic first. The Bondurant class will be great to teach him how to handle an emergency, but doesn't teach things like what a double-lane line means.
  • by sjoplin ( 556514 ) <Slashdot.Org@ S p e> on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:45PM (#9426681) Homepage

    I learned in part with Sierra Driver's Education '99 software, which is no longer sold. It worked well, and included audio books of tutorials, multiple-choice tests, and a driving simulator of "Virtual City." I quickly lost seriousness and learned the finer points of running red lights and dodging traffic while going the wrong way on the freeway.

  • its not a simulation of real (street legal) cars, but its an excellent sim that includes many of the things you have to deal with in real cars.
    • The only thing I learned with the NASCAR series isthat going the wrong way at top speed and seeing the Replay is FUN

      That is, if my car doen't crumble before it's game over...
  • by Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:51PM (#9426715)
    Investigate advanced driving courses, road safety. Try and find an advanced driver to take him out as a passenger, road commentry, go/no go decisions etc.

    Track day, take him to a race track and pay for him to have a days instruction. Also pay for him to be driven round at speed.

    Buy one book for him. Roadcraft: the police drivers handbook. Quite simply the best manual for driving. It's a UK publication, has been going for 80 years with revisions.

    Make him buy the car and pay for the insurance. If you are going to pay for this make sure it goes through his bank account, so he has the money and has to write the cheques.

  • by sjoplin ( 556514 ) <Slashdot.Org@ S p e> on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:53PM (#9426726) Homepage

    I used driving simulators but never with a steering wheel and pedals. Instead I used a joystick, or even the keypad. This dampened my interest, and so I waited until behind-the-wheel training.

    No matter how realistic the software, the lack of a realistic input device destroys the idea of practicing.

  • Live For Speed (Score:2, Informative)

    by dchamp ( 89216 )
    An excellent racing sim - still "in development" but with very accurate physics... Live For Speed []. It's not OSS, and for Win32 only.

    For OSS racing sims, there's Racer [], or TORCS [].

    Realistic racing sims like LFS are a great tool for teaching a new driver, IMHO, because they'll teach respect for control of your vehicle. and that there are consequences to bad driving... unlike some of the "arcade-y" driving games where it's not even possible to get go off the track.
    • I'd second this one. The physics model (Suspension effects, grip / no grip effects, etc) is very realistic and some of the beginner cars are almost street stock. The only thing missing at the moment would be a "real world" course - Surprisingly enough, it's all race-tracks (and two donuting type playgrounds)
    • Both the Racer binary (couldn't compile: "ar: q3ddlg.o: File format not recognized") and TORCS (compiled fine) freezed my X completely, and I had to hard-reboot (ctrl-alt-backspace does not kill X on my cheap mobo, the machine enters sleep mode instead). Ah, and it's a GeForce2 (nVidia driver 1.0-5336), kernel 2.6.6.

      An other (unrelated) problem I have here is that many OpenGL apps seems to run in software mode (< 5fps, depending on the game). Note that, for instance, Quake3Arena runs with decent (> 5
  • Gran Tursimo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NeuroKoan ( 12458 ) on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:55PM (#9426743) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure lot of people will recomend Gran Turismo (1, 2 or 3). And while it is an amazing simulator, there is one big issue that might not help your son learn how to drive. Mainly, that there is no damage modeling. You hit a wall at 120mph+ and you bounce backwards, perhaps spin a little. There are some benefits to the game, but I don't think it'll be the best way to teach someone how to drive.

    I learned to drive at 16, and didn't play GT2 until I was 20 or so. I already knew how to 'drive' (commuting wise, not racing wise), so in a sense, it helped fill up my driving dictionary, rather then helping me to start writing it. I really don't know how much GT would have helped me if I played it before I was 16. Further, I've found that any time I drive after playing a racing game, I tend to drive too fast on the streets. Maybe its the adrenaline, but I also sometimes fool myself into thinking that driving that fast is 'safe', because if I crash nothing will happen (or at worst I have to hit the reset button).

    All in all, I really don't know if there is any better experience then real experience behind the wheel of a car. The fear/excitement/etc I remember the first time I sat in the drivers seat has never been matched by any virtual enviroment.

    I really think GT (and other simulation based racers) really helped teach me about the differences between FWD, RWD, AWD, understeer, oversteer, driving on ice, rain, mud, snow, etc. In that sense, I found GT very helpful, but I bet sitting behind a wheel helped even more.
  • Really, track lessons (as in slolam) teach you a lot about how a car handles. and more importantly, how a car handles before and after you've lost control. Put some extra pressure in the tyres of the family car, join a club and go to the track with him once he's gotten his license. Make him into one of those arrogant pricks who laughs at the rice boys doing burnouts. As in, "haha, look at that dork losing all his energy and adding extra seconds to his time doing a burnout."

    Aside from that you might want to
    • PS: Once he's doing his track lessons, he'll be able to outrace a souped up prelude driving a yugo. and it's a good bet that he won't do anything really stupid, if he lasts through the boring (for the "ahh comeon I wanna go drive fast" ricer crowd) lessons he'll have the patience to use his brain and only drive fast where it's safe.
    • Or try SCCA [] Solo-2 "Autocross". Autocross is a good way to learn how to control a car - it emphasizes control and handling over speed. You can do it with just about any passenger car (as long as it's in decent mechanical shape) and the cost is minimal.

      Prior to getting your driver's license, younger drivers are restricted to go-carts... so this might not be exactly what you're looking for.

      I think it would be good idea to get a good grasp on the basics before doing either a track event, or autocross.
  • Hard Drivin' (Score:5, Informative)

    by almaon ( 252555 ) on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:58PM (#9426762)
    Originally, if I remember the story correctly, this game was used for Law Enforcement/Student Drivers due to it's very realistic physics and force feedback. Later adapted into a game by Atari since there wasn't a huge market for it.

    One of my favorites and was a good way to understand how to drive a clutch 'n stick.

    There was some bus driving game from the Dreamcast in Japan, never played it myself. But who knows, might be a close approximation.
    • I totally agree with this. I played it a lot when I was in my late teens and learned a pretty big appreciation for what happens when you go into a corrner too fast. Unfortunately it's probably outside the price range of the poster.
    • The game was/is called Tokyo Bus Driver. You have to drive a bus around the city and make all your stops on time. You also can't run into people or break any traffic laws.

      It sounds really really boring, but it's suprisingly fun.

      Still, I wouldn't recommend it for someone learning how to drive. If you want to learn to drive, get a learner's permit, get some insurance, and then get in the car with someone who is willing to teach you how to do it.
    • There was some bus driving game from the Dreamcast in Japan, never played it myself. But who knows, might be a close approximation

      Tokyo Bus Guide. Description here [].

      I have it, but haven't played it yet. Had far more experience with the city bus in Midtown Madness (and actually winning some contests with it (!) ).

      "Cruise" mode in MM is somewhat like a "driving simulation" in that you have no set goal, just drive around interacting with traffic. But the CPU-controlled vehicles plow into each other far to

    • That game ROCKED! Excellent physics. I used to be able to play for hours on a quarter.

      Looks like $2k used. []

      I wonder how hard it would be to get MAME to use a force feedback wheel?

  • tall order... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Polo ( 30659 ) * on Monday June 14, 2004 @11:58PM (#9426764) Homepage
    Although you would think that a driving simulator should help a kid to drive, I'm skeptical.

    I think driving simulators lack a couple of things that are very important to teaching the kid:

    - 360 degree vision
    - true depth for depth perception and focus at a distance
    - actual control sizes and distances (to pedals)
    - true control feedback (think steering feedback, brake and especially clutch pedal feedback)
    - g-forces and motion

    Having worked on flight simulators and knowing what goes into a real training simulator, I would expect you would end up with negative training (training for something that will actually be different in real life that you will have to un-learn)

    Real flight simulators have merit, but they have actual aircraft controls and instruments, have hydraulic motion bases, collimated visuals, meet exact standards for control and visual feedback (both force and timing), etc... ... and they don't come anywhere close to the forces you regularly experience in a car.

    My advice: rent or borrow an actual car. Teach him on backstreets or in empty parking lots. Maybe use a car with a parking brake lever between the front two seats... and keep your hand on it! ;)
    • Maybe use a car with a parking brake lever between the front two seats... and keep your hand on it! ;)

      Yeah, and whip it on when they're goin round a corner. :-)

  • I challenged my dad to a game of "Test Drive", or some other typical car-racing game. I thought it'd be a good test of experience (him) vs. reaction time (me). Of course, my dad obeyed all the speed-limit signs. Which was really frustrating, because he never got into an accident, or pulled over by the cops, or anything. Meanwhile, I repeatedly drove off the side of the cliff or had head-on collisions with oncoming trucks. In the end, I think our times were pretty similar.

    Yeah, you can learn a lot from your dad....

  • I will of course be spending hours with him behind the wheel once he reaches permit age (I will wear a blindfold and have my will up to date), and hopefully even some before on acceptable roads. My hope was to give him additional--above and beyond--schooling in signage, lights, rules and the like well before that time. thanks everyone
    • Don't know what the process is like where you are, but surely there is a standard book with the applicable rules?

      Here we have 'The Road Code', which after studying the learner should have no trouble passing the written & oral tests required to get a learners licence.

      After that then there is no substitute for just doing it, hire a professional instructor with a dual control car, it should only take a few hour long lessons before you are happy to let the learner drive your car (with you).

      But DON'T go d
  • Take him out and drive with him, several times a week for an hour or so at a time. The best places are large, empty parking lots. Take it slow, and work on the basics like starting and stopping, parking, parallel parking, and learning where the boundaries of your car are.

    This will be worth ten million videogames to the both of you.

    Jon Acheson
  • The only necessary "skill" that video games can teach is the idea of controlling something indirectly, through controls. Other then that, you can't "simulate" driving any better, as you'll just be teaching how to drive a car with a joystick or a keyboard, not useful skills.

    Forcing him to "play" stupid "games" will just strain your relationship for no gain.
  • You're welcome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cookiepus ( 154655 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @12:47AM (#9426996) Homepage
    You're seeking the wrong solution. Using a computer isn't going to teach your son a damn thing about driving.

    Why don't you take him out to an empty parking lot show him the basic controls? Have him drown around a bit w/o even touching th gas pedal (presumably you have an auto trans and the car gets rolling as soon as your foot is off the brake). Teach him how to gently use the break to keep the car from going too fast w/o stopping it all together. Once he learns how to work the brake gently, teach him how to do the same with the gas.

    Once he's good at making circles in the empty parking lot in a controlled fashion, do not take him to the street - even though he's ready. Get some orange cones or something, set them up in a box and have him park in the box. Teach him to park backwards and forwards, and force him to use the mirrors to do so. Teaching him to use the mirrors before he ever gets onto the street is the best thing you can do. Once he's been driving around the streets, he's going to see the mirrors and the whole parking thing as an annoying hastle. But if he learns to park and use mirrors first, he'll have a better appreciation for the dimensions of the car before he is ever out on the street.

    Now take him on an empty road. Teach him that if a car gets behind yours, to signal right and pull over a bit so the car can pass. This will let your kid drive around on a real street but without having to worry too much about other traffic. Teach him to do stop signs, making sure he understands the right of way in the various situations.

    As he gets more experience and confidence, you can take him into roads with higher speed limits, red lights. Teach him how to make left turns. Go out with him in the middle of the day and tell him which turns to take. Without him knowing it, take him onto the freeway (do pick a time when it's likely to be empty) and guide him through merging. This is what my dad did when I was learning. He didn't make a big deal out of it, we just "ended up" on the freeway, and he's like "you just did what is probably the hardest aspect of driving - merged into freeway traffic"

    In general, use your brain and have patience with your kid. Make sure he knows that cars are dangerous. Explain to him that hitting pedestrians and byciclists is an expensive amusement. Tell him that if the brakes ever fail, aim to crash into the cheapest car rather than the shiny new Benz.

    No video game is going to replace your having to go through it with him. Do use your car. Start off in a completely safe area. Let him get a feel for the controls and the dimensions of the vehicle. Then take is gradually from there.

    Next thing you know he'll be able to do the 500 mile drive from Cleveland to NYC all on his own, a week after getting his licence, like I did.

    If he DOES do that, do teach him how to parallel park first. Because I had to figure it out on my own once I got to Brooklyn :)

    • Tell him that if the brakes ever fail, aim to crash into the cheapest car rather than the shiny new Benz.

      Might I suggest you teach him to crash into the car that is moving slowest relative to his own speed rather than choose based on expense? If he's going 70 mph and loses his brakes, you'll want him to choose to hit a Mercedes that's traveling at 35 mph in the same direction as he is rather than a Ford that's parked or a Hyundai coming at him at 70 mph!

      Don't EVER put the thought of the cost of the

    • Do this in the UK and he'll get repremanded by the driving instructor on his first lesson. Here, you MUST reverse by looking over your shoulder - Otherwise, you have NO vision behind you. You could reverse straight into anything.

      Mirrors are for when you're moving and CAN'T look behind - Or dangerous, lazy people.
  • by jakoz ( 696484 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @01:33AM (#9427159)
    Translation: I have a son. He will soon be able to legally destroy my car. How can I make a token effort to avoid this with the least effort possible?

    Here's a hint: the rules of the road are boring That's why I keep getting speeding fines. Who in their right mind would make a video game full of them?The games will give him quicker reflexes. That's about it.

    Fork out for an advance driving course if you really want him to learn something.
  • GTA? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Feztaa ( 633745 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @02:37AM (#9427367) Homepage
    I don't see what's wrong with Grand Theft Auto. Just make sure to stand next to him as he plays it and repeat regularly "and if you ever do that to my car, I'll kill you"
  • First buy several acres of grassland, then git a ridin' mower... put your son on it with the blades ridin' high... let him have fun... he'll get the basics of steering, braking, throttle, accelerating, etc. Then take him out in a beat-up mercury on some dirt roads and teach him how to maintain speed while going up and down hills... then a two lane road where he will have to pass slow tractors only when there's a broken yellow... then a four-way stop with no stop signs, then a highway with big ditches on the
  • I'm a huge huge fan of arcade racing games. I've played them all. Everything from Pole Position to the rare Virtua Racing 2. There are exactly two racing games that I would rank as the most realistic.

    1) Ferrari 355 Challenge. This is a rare game to find indeed. You can recognize it because of its 3 monitors and bright red ferrariness. This is a large expensive arcade machine and they usually charge like a buck to play. But its as close to a Ferrari as you can get without shelling out $200K.

    Here it is []
  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @07:20AM (#9428109) Journal
    Over here the typical driving instructor's car has brake pedals on the instructors side, so the instructor can slam on the brakes if the student does something stupid/dangerous. A handbrake just doesn't cut it, if your kid really sucks.

    And if your kid adds some "unusual wear and tear" on the car it isn't to your car.

    That's what my parents did - they sent me for about double the typical hours of instruction - just to gain real road experience - even though my driving instructor was a bit unconventional - for the later part of my driving lessons, much of the time was spent driving my instructor from place to place as he did his errands (buy groceries, send them to his mom, miles away) - even driving in rush hour traffic. It kinda worked out - I passed first try.

    Go look at the plane flying scene - after you learn the basics (and are in less danger of killing yourself or others), it's the hours of flying time that count. Of course you could go for the advanced driving stuff - that's useful too.

    Most people where I am try to go for the minimum number of lessons to save money, but what happens is they can pass the tests, but they can _barely_ drive safely.

    Heck I know a few kids who've crashed their family cars soon after passing their driving tests. And I wouldn't trust their driving. They treat it like it's a _game_.

    So I'm not sure if a "game" would be good.

    After the instructor is done with them, you can teach them how to be safer.

    Try stuff like distracting them whilst they are driving (in safe+controlled conditions)- drop something on the mat, if they should NOT get distracted overly by that. I mean something dropping on the passenger side mat is unlikely to be a bomb or anything dangerous.

    If you're travelling at 100km/h, or 80km/h in heavy traffic, if you spend one or two seconds looking at the floor, it could be your last few seconds of your life as a fully abled individual.
  • There'll be a lot of "learn the rules" software out there (your local driving instruction department may be able to list one that's applicable to your country), but bear in mind that having a good rules basis is only part of it.

    Like previous posters, I'd also heartily recommend titles like Gran Turismo 3, Burnout 1/2, Driver, GTA 3/VC, as these (wierdly enough) teach driving skill. Now bear with me here, I'm not wierd :)

    In order to be successful in any of these games requires the driver to be spatially aw
    • There'll be a lot of "learn the rules" software out there

      Yeah, I remember one ca. 1997 called simply Drivers Ed or something like that. No vehicle dynamics at all, just follow the rules of the road.

      Like previous posters, I'd also heartily recommend titles like Gran Turismo 3, Burnout 1/2, Driver, GTA 3/VC

      I agree with those and I'd add Grand Prix Legends and Netkar []. Netkar is an interesting story. It's a free (beer) simulator created by one guy in his spare time. It's obviously a labor of love. The ph
  • ...we just went to an large vacant parking lot(school, mall, etc.) on the weekends and drove around. Simple, safe, and educational. It's better than any video game...
  • Most realistic driving physics I've found thus far in a driving game (and I'm a car geek).

    Also, don't be one of those god awful parents that doesn't teach their kid to drive stick.
  • this game has good feedback in steering and brakes and is the closest to driving a real car I've ever tried. see This Page []
  • Get them a gocart, helmet, seatbelt.
    Let em tear up a field a couple weekends a month from 8 - 16. By 16 they will be a skilled go-kart driver ready for drivers ed.
    I can say owning a gokart as a kid has kept me out of at least 2 accidents, quick reaction time and get out the way of trouble. On the other hand I have trouble following speed limits(40+ tickets).
  • Best car racing game ever []. You get bonus points for driving as dangerously as possible, and the crash mode has you try to flip and smash your vehicle at an accident blackspot so as to cause the maximum possible carnage.

    I know, +1 Funny, but Akklaim have a page about how "Burnout 2 saved my life []".

    • I don't know how much instruction you can get from Burnout 2, but it is the most addictive video game I own. After purchasing it, I think my friends and I beat it in a week and still play almost every week more than 6 months after I bought it.

      I just found two copies online for others that have played it at my house. Burnout 2 is a highly recommended game.

  • I had a go kart as a kid and I credit it for me accident free driving record (knock on wood) for the 7 years I've been driving.

    On the other hand I did crash the go kart numerous times and unlike the new models I paid for it. My go kart had a steering wheel support bar that went up between your legs and no seat belt. The new models seem to have no such bar and ample seat belts.

    So, if you can find a go kart with a crotch bar you kid will learn what happens when he takes turns too quickly and ends up in a

  • Karting! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperChuck69 ( 702300 ) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @12:34PM (#9431160)
    Why not introduce him to karting?

    There are karting facilities all over the country (my local one is F1 Boston []). Not only is it a fun experience (and you can experience it TOGETHER), it is a great introduction to motorsport.

    In addition to open racing, most facilities have leagues in which your son could compete (league racing is much more economical than open racing).

    While you're at it, drop Going Faster! [] in his lap. This is a fantastic book which brings driving down to a science. Maybe he can even use it to counter all the crap they teach you in Driver's Ed (IMO, driver's ed causes as many accidents as it avoids).

    Okay, so I know. "I don't want my kid racing!" Tell you what. Do a survey of race drivers at all levels vs. soccer moms. Drivers are fully aware of the dangers of driving and are by FAR more knowledgeable in how to deal with not only standard driving situations, but also extraordinary situations.

    I've always had problems with people who DON'T know how to race, because they don't understand the dynamics of taking a turn (racers maximize the radius of a turn, allowing more speed in a race situation or more "wiggle room" in a street situation) or how to deal with a problem (most drivers hit the brakes, as they were taught to do in drivers' ed., usually resulting in a lock; brake lock = no traction, race drivers recognise the situation, adjust their driving line, and just keep on keeping on). Ever notice that screeaching brakes often ends in a THUD? Those people never learned to race.

    And for the love of God, teach him to put down the goddamn phone!

    • My experience (based on the few kids in my highschool four-ish years ago getting their licenses) is that kids with racing or karting experience generally total their cars, injuring someone, and assuming they are still capable of operating an automobile, destroy their parents cars.

      Not that _you_ are necessarily a bad driver, just that experience differs. And I'll happily admit that my data is not statistically significant. But teenagers are idiots for their first year or so behind the wheel, I wouldn't want
  • Driver (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eykd ( 218920 )

    The game " Driver []" might be a good choice. It's got realistic traffic, a damage model that's at least more realistic than most games out there, and a freeform mode that you could put to use for some dry runs before you actually take him out to play in real traffic. You can find it for the PC on most $9.99 racks, it will run on an older machine, and it's been ported to a number of video game platforms as well (YMMV). All this, and it's a fun game, too.

    Also, if you don't like the getaway driver/true crime

  • ok, i'ts old now, but for about $10 you should be able to pick up Colin McRae Rally 2.

    Now, after playing Gran Tourismo 3 to death, I thought I'd got car control down, like Formula 1 quality cornering - I was cocky. BUT - the thing CMR2 taught me that should be useful to any driver is that safe driving and avoiding damage makes you win. Playing CMR2 I learnt to drive much more carefully and under much better control, because every time you touch the scenery some aspect of your cars performance *suffers*.

  • how to race cars, not drive them. The racing line is probably not the most useful thing to know unless you want to blast round a hairpin at 90mph.

    But if you insist then i'd point at:

    Anything by Geoff Crammond
    Sega F40
    Gran Turismo

    But they aren't helpful to learn much about driving, and especially real world driving.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie