Elite Controller Round 2

9 11 2015

Late last week I received a second set of paddles from Microsoft and have fully changed over to using the back paddles for gear shifting.


2 short sticks. Speed Freek Apex on left stick. The D-pad disk doesn’t really offer any advantage or disadvantage over the standard cross in Forza. I have it on just because it’s different.


Here’s a comparison of the different control sticks. Elite tall on the left and short on the right. In the middle is the short stick with a Speed Freek Apex attached. I’d been using a Speed Freek since Forza 2. I find its less stressful on my thumb for steering and allows easier steering control. The Apex version uses an adapter to fit the old 360 Speed Freek “U” to the smaller diameter Xbox One thumbsticks.  I tried the Speed Freek on the Tall Elite stick and found it too tall to comfortably use and you can see from the photo the short stick with the Speed Freek attached is as tall as the Elite Tall stick.


Two sets of the short straight paddles installed. The left side paddles (right in the photo) are taped together with aluminum speed tape.  This is thick enough to be fairly rigid, but can be bent for fine tuning the alignment between the paddles. I know it doesn’t look pretty, but I was doing this for testing the concept than a final solution.

Forward paddles on both sides are clutch, rear paddles are gears. With this setup I use my right middle finger to hit both paddles at the same time for upshifts and my left ring finger hits the front paddle on the taped set to do downshifts. As I mentioned in my last post, I tend to hold the controllers where my left hand is further forward than my right, so the reach ends up being further to get to the paddles. Having the paddles taped lets me activate both paddle buttons with only hitting the forward paddle.

Sunday I ran through about 25 career races in the V8 Supercars and Can-Am sequences in the Stories of Motorsport using this set up. I’m not taking any damage from missed shifts in the races. The downshifts with the taped paddles are more reliable than my upshifts, sometimes I’m only getting the clutch on the upshift. My problem here seems to be the corner of the forward paddle sticks out too much. I need the corner shaved off so it follows the profile of the arms of the controller better than the stock paddles.

I played around with taping both sides after I took these photos with good results, but still haven’t decided if having a separate clutch and gear is needed for anything.

Elite Controller Review

2 11 2015

I pre-ordered one of the these as soon as I could. It showed up last week and I’ve played with it for several hours. There are several reviews around the web going over what a great controller this is, but there is one aspect I haven’t seen in reviews. I find it much more comfortable to use.

I’m approaching 50 and got arthritis developing in my right thumb joint and carpal tunnel is a concern. Using my right thumb continuously for anything more than about 30 minutes and it starts to ache. This prevents me from using the common X/A/B combo for shifting.  I use Layout 6 with index finger on the bumpers for shifts and use my middle fingers on the triggers for brake and throttle. I gave up on being able to use a clutch. This is the least impact on my arthritic thumb.  The problem with this scheme is that my grip on the controller is awkward and I had to start wearing carpal tunnel wrist braces to deal with it.

The elite controller does a lot to alleviate my discomfort using the controller for extended periods, but could be better. I set up my Elite Controller with the forward paddles being clutch and the aft (bent) paddles being the gears. This finally let me start trying to clutch and allows a more natural grip on the controller. It’s great on my right hand, but the position of the paddles relative to the stick on my left hand is a little off. The best position for steering has my left hand further forward on the left side and throws off the finger placement for the paddles.

The shape of the paddles don’t help either. They are too skinny and I don’t like the rounded tip. I want a bigger paddle that’s easier to hit. What I would like to see are aftermarket paddles available that are wider and more squared off like in the Ford GT inspired design exercise:


My dream paddles would be a single paddle on the left that hits both buttons for downshifts. I’d still want two paddles on the right so I could use clutch independently. Or, a set where the aft paddles overlap the forward paddles a bit. Allowing an aft press to activate both, but I guess that would be cheating.

I have a problem with one of the paddles. The controller uses magnets to hold the paddles in position. 3 of the 4 seat just fine with the paddle resting against the button on the bottom of the controller. The 4th droops, making presses less precise. It’s odd. Any of the paddles will fit any of the holes, but due to their shapes they are all intended for just one postition. The droopy paddle slots in fine in any of the other slots and any of the other paddles slot in fine in the droopy hole, but that one paddle in its normal hole droops. A piece of tape across the bottom fixes this, but for a brand new $150 controller it looks a little janky.

I was able to order a replacement set of paddles ($16.36) at the Xbox Online Service Center, but they haven’t shown up yet. This was to see if it would fix the droopy paddle and also give me some options for modifying some paddles to more like what I want.

Overall I’m happy with the purchase, now I just have to retrain my fingers for their different functions.

A different problem I’m having is that I moved the rechargable battery from my old Day One Controller to the Elite and it doesn’t seem to be charging. I don’t know if its an incompatibility or it was just time for the battery to die.  I’m finding I don’t need it really at all, where I play I leave the controller plugged in anyway and the connection to the controller is much tighter than on the old controller. I was just surprised when I got a pop up yesterday that my battery was low on charge.

I Hope Turn 10 went to COTA this weekend.

23 10 2015

Looks like the F1 race this weekend is going to be wet. Hopefully Turn 10 has some designers on site scouting out puddle locations to add a wet COTA track next time. I’ve been for the last 3 years and the worst last year had a practice session delayed due to fog, but it was usually sunny blue skies. I decided to skip this year and am really glad I did. Spending 3 days in the rain wouldn’t be fun.

After a month of FM6

16 10 2015

I can’t believe it’s been a month already. I’ve finished the guided first pass through the career and then went and finished all the Showcase events last weekend. A lot of these I just find annoying wastes of time. It’s like eating your veggies if you want desert. Just get it over with and go back to the fun stuff. Bowling, chases and passing challenges are arcade games and should go away. I’m also not a fan of autocross, but I know many are. Really the Top Gear tie ins could go away and I wouldn’t miss them, the show is dead to me even if they try new hosts.

Once the Showcases were done I returned to chipping away at the Stories of Motorsports. Chapter 1 is done and I’m into chapter 2. This got me back into to tuning somewhat. I didn’t worry about it too much about it on the first pass through career and just played at whatever difficulty I could podium with whatever I was driving which was usually pro but sometimes dropped down a level or two (especially in the rain). Some of the series I’m picking cars based on affinity rather than what I think would perform best and have really had to work on builds to be competitive against the Drivatars. I’ve put together a couple that I’m out running unbeatable Drivatars on pretty much any track.

I’ve done a little multiplayer, but still don’t feel drawn to dealing with the chaos. Every time I think about going online, I think, “just one more division …”. I also spent a day and went through the achievement list and jumped through the hoops to clear the simple ones. Gotta boost that Forza Rewards score.

A few things

  1. I do not like the “random” nature of the spins. Leave it in Horizon, just set a fixed reward schedule like every Forza. I really liked being about to choose reward cars periodically in FM4. The biggest problem is the spins feel rigged. I think I’ve hit the 1 million payout once in the first couple spins, which seem to be what a lot of people report. Then I ran into a streak of always getting the lowest value on the board around level 40 (again which a lot of people report) and this still happens more frequently than winning any of the higher value prizes. Until recently every time there was a car in the center square (“A Special Spin” instead of a “High Level Spin”) I always won the car, but the last two times a car came up I didn’t win: Shelby Cobra and an old Mercedes. I should have kept track to compare notes.
  2. Endurance races are nice for what they are, but could have been so much better. Since you have to win vs podium like most races I check lap speeds after a couple laps and if I can’t match pace knock the AI a down a notch. I’m not got to waste several hours to just have to repeat it.  Also these are the only races I use rewind. Usually not for me making a mistake, but due to the unpredictable nature of the AI. Even with the easier difficulty, Spa was really the only one where I got seriously bored. Every other race had you catching slower traffic and negotiating traffic just a few laps after getting to the lead, Spa didn’t and I spent most of the race just hot lapping without a car in sight, I don’t like hot lapping. I’d rather come in second chasing the lead than cruise around with nothing better to do than improve a lap time that doesn’t matter because I used mods. I’ve done Indy at least 5 times and it always seems to go by quickly since you spend part of almost every lap dodging AI that take inexplicable lines around the track. Tuning should be possible even if upgrades are not allowed. Car choice should be anything that fits the race restrictions instead of the two or three options Turn 10 programs. I’ve run them all and used them to boost affinity for any make I can, but more options would be better. It would also be nice to be able to have name and positions above cars in the endurance races. I’ve often paused the game to check who I’m passing to figure out where I am relative to the field. Indy is especially bad with this since the field ends up scattered the entire length of the track and too many cars are in identical paint schemes.
  3. Free play is a waste of time if you want to recreate a specific type of race. Not being able to tune the race restrictions end up with joke races. What if I want to run a Indy 500? Can’t be done unless you want some LMP and F1 cars in there. Do a 60’s Trans Am endurance race? Nope.
  4. The only reason to do the passing challenges is to burn off Passing Boost Mod Cards. Getting 6 perfect passes under real race conditions is too difficult since you only get one shot at this for each car in front of you. So load up on three cards run 2 laps and bring in the credits.
  5. I’m okay with mod packs, but I wish there were options to just buy packs of a single type, like a boost only pack. Since boost mods are all single use, you constant need a new supply. I’m usually selling off mods unused unless its a super rare, or a boost that brings in credits. +% cards are the only mods I use on endurance races. Driver only XP or Credit get spent doing Indy 250 again and again. It’s seems to be the biggest bang for the shortest amount of time. I’m still waiting for a Back of the Pack dare mod otherwise I don’t want any more dares. I’ve blown at least $10 million trying to get this mod. The other two dare mods needed for achievements I got buying the 25K pack. It’s the only one that doesn’t sell boosts and they are not supposed to be rare.
  6. I’m torn on the painting rewards. It seems to take much less effort to make money, so why waste the effort on doing good work. In FM4 if you found something you liked you could go to the artists storefront and see if he (or she) had something else you liked and just get it. You could also search for paint for any car, not just the one you’re in. I used to spend a good chunk of my gaming week just painting one car with more time researching to identify logos, but I drew detailed replicas of real race cars and I filled the storefronts for two gamertags doing this. Now most of the stuff I’ve sold have been things I threw together in under an hour or two. I did a stupidly simple paint in about 30 minutes for the recent DLC ’39 Mercedes and had over 200 downloads in the first 24 hours and about 6 since then.
  7. I love the streaming to Windows 10 feature. I have a 9-5 job and my girlfriend is a bartender that works 3 nights during the week and a weekend day. When she’s at work is when I do most of my gaming and I’m not wasting this time painting. When she isn’t working we are usually doing something together, even if it’s just vegging in front of the TV. Streaming to my laptop has opened up this time for painting in front of the TV. If it weren’t for streaming I probably wouldn’t do anything more than put stripes on a car. FWIW, racing is really a no go over streaming. My network easily supports the highest quality settings, but there is too much going on to stream smoothly at race speeds.

Tonka Tuner for FM6 Available

8 10 2015

I’ve done a first pass at a Tonka Toy spreadsheet for Forza 6 download it at the right. I’m not planning to publish a full Kitchen Sink for Forza 6 unless I get a lot of requests and considering there is virtually no traffic through here I really doubt that will happen. For the most part I don’t use the full Kitchen Sink much, I’ve only got one computer with excel still installed at home and it’s not in the same room with my Xbox. I’ve got the Tonka Toy in a google drive that I use on an Android tablet more than anything.

I’m finding that tuning isn’t really much different than Forza 4 other than the camber angles are higher. The biggest difference is that Turn 10 seems to have defined more “categories” of default settings for the cars. It used to be there were production cars and 3 race car types. Now I’ve added a “Supercars” category and renamed what used to be “NASCAR” to “Touring” since there are no American NASCAR type stock cars in the game.

I’ve also found a grouping for the early F1 cars without wings in it’s own grouping with really soft settings that I’ve not bothered breaking out in the estimator. I spent last night driving one through career and really preferred moving it to the stiffer Touring category over it’s default setup.

Did Turn 10 confirm weight bias tuning?

2 10 2015

I’ve collected data on about 35 unique cars, mostly race cars so far, and one of the interesting things to fall out of the statistics is that the published balance is more of a fiction than any version of the game I’ve bothered to examine. This is the balance the game gives you on the screen with horsepower, torque and weight.

When you look at the default suspension settings for cars with an adjustable suspension you can calculate a suspension balance. I have stats covering a published range of 35-64% but the suspension balance range for these cars is only 48-55%. Usually anything outside this range is pulled in to the edges of the range but still maintains a forward or aft bias. Looking at the numbers, I’ve even found a couple cars with an aft bias running a 52% forward bias suspension. Both were what I would consider supercars.

The most interesting aspect of this change is that it used to be that you could trust that anything considered a race car had a suspension balance that matched the published balance. Now not so much, if the published balance falls in the 48-55% range the suspension usually agrees, but every car I’ve looked at outside that range is pulled back in. My data set includes samples of each of the open wheel types since 1960, various LMP & GT types and a V8 Supercar as well as any of the gift or DLC cars with adjustable suspension. I’ve only bought and tuned maybe half a dozen cars I didn’t get for free.

You may ask, so what? A friend of mine, Blooze (RIP) noticed way back in FM2 that the published balance didn’t seem to accurately represent the center of gravity of the car like it should. Setting the suspension to whatever balance you wanted seemed to move the center of gravity. Back then a lot of the cars were set up with pretty odd balances that rarely matched the published values (except for the race cars which always matched). We started moving the balance to the 52-54% range and the cars became easier to drive. It seems Turn 10 is following this advice and is setting up their cars to be easier to drive across the board by keeping the balance closer to 50%.

I wouldn’t be surprised if FM5 was the same way, but I never bothered to look.

Forza 6 Review

21 09 2015

Even though I said I’d never preorder another one, I broke down and pre-ordered the Ultimate Edition for digital download and have been playing since the early release let me. I didn’t read any pre-release hype at all. I only just saw a trailer for the game last week. My only source for news on Forza has been when something popped up in one of my RSS feeds and I think Major Nelson is the only exclusively video game related feed I follow.

My first impression is generally favorable compared to Forza 5. How could it not be better that FM5? Really its closer to the game FM5 should have been two years ago. In comparison to FM4 it’s still lacking content, short around 50 cars and 30 ribbons in the base version at launch. However, wet and night racing have been introduced as well as several tracks new to the Forza franchise. I don’t think any were dropped this time.


  1. The digital pre-order with background downloading is my preferred way to buy games now. I had it ready to go as soon as I was allowed to play vs waiting most of a day for UPS to show up and then waiting hours for the disc to install and then download the day one patches last time.
  2. I love the new real world tracks. More is always better. Even some of the tracks available in older versions of the game have new ribbons available. I’ve always preferred real world tracks to Turn 10’s fictional tracks. The fictional environments (with the exception of Maple Valley) all seem to be missing something to me.
  3. Rain and night racing are very welcome. I’ve seen people complaining online about how unrealistic the puddles are, but they seem spot on to my experience of driving a Miata with bald tires in a heavy downpour. A drying track would be an interesting variation, one with no rain, but a dry race line and damp off line. The only disappointment I have with the rain is the rooster tails are rather insignificant for the amount of rainfall, similar to the weak smoke effects that have always been in Forza.
  4. Mods are an interesting way to vary the career and add a method to tune the game difficulty. It would be nice if mods that didn’t affect performance wouldn’t automatically dirty your laps.
  5. AI with the aggression limiter turned on is better than FM5’s drivatars. There are problems on the tighter tracks until the pack has had a chance to spread out, but I’ve also had cases where I’ve made it through the pack without any contact. I can’t imagine going through 2 or 3 wide through turns in a previous Forza without the AI sideswiping me. Going through career I started on average AI difficulty because I was really rusty since it had been over a year since I’d spent any time in a Forza Motorsport game. Each time the game suggested a more difficult setting I went with it. I run with Pro Drivatars being my norm unless the car I’m driving just isn’t competitive. I’ve run into this a couple of times on ovals where my chosen car just can’t go fast enough to keep up even running a power build. Rather than buy a better car I’ll just dial down the AI and play with Mods to keep it competitive.
  6. Career race length is just about perfect to me. I’ve hated the 3 lap sprints around a 1/2 mile loop in previous games where the only way to win was to bash your way to the front. I usually use a Dare to start in 20th. Even with one Drivatar dominating from the front, I can usually work my way through the pack to chase him down sometime in the last lap. It also doesn’t really matter. Getting on the podium is good enough. I think I’ve had 3 races where I just couldn’t podium and eventually had to dial down the AI. Twice were in the rain and once was on Daytona.
  7. Physics don’t seem that different from FM5, if anything it seems a little more forgiving. In FM5 camber settings doubled over what was needed before and that still holds. I didn’t spend any time analyzing FM5 to update my tuning tools and just used the ones from FM4 if I bothered at all. I started gathering data from cars that have adjustable suspension and found some surprises. The general trends I’ve always seen are still present and not really that far from the values I had in FM4, but where I noticed 3 distinct groupings for different types of race cars, now I have at least 4 and maybe 5 if you group the high ARB production cars as their own group. But, I have a limited set of cars that I’ve been able to check so far. The surprises were that default ARB balance is always 60% forward no matter what car or published balance. The spring & damping balance follows engine location. On Forward engine cars the balance I calculate from the suspension settings agreed with the published values but all the mid-engine cars were at 48% regardless of the published value.
  8. Most of my menu organization gripes with earlier versions of Forza have been fixed. I find the game menu better organized. The only exception is that shared content is still scattered all over the place where something similar to the old storefronts would make more sense.
  9. Importing decals and designs from FM5 and FH2 is available. It doesn’t do much for me as I didn’t spend time painting in either game.
  10. The economy is better. Cars aren’t as ridiculously priced as FM5 and Turn 10 kept DLC cars as being free to add to your garage.
  11. You can see your stats on what you share, but it’s buried. The lack of feedback on designs and the shitty browsing experience were the primary reasons I quit painting racecars in FM5. I only got into painting as a revenue stream so I could afford to buy cars. I’m still not that excited about painting as I have next to nothing to import and I still hate the browsing experience.
  12. Leaderboards seem a little better, but it’s still missing a local leaderboard filter.
  13. I love being able to stream to a windows 10 PC. Most of my data gathering has been while streaming to a laptop watching TV. I’ll probably eventually do some painting this way.
  14. Endurance races are sort of back. It’s a showcase event where no tuning is allowed and the car choices are a limited. I’ve done 2 of them. Atlanta went about how I’d expect with a fuel stop at the halfway point and I had gas for another lap or two beyond that. Catalunya I ran out of gas midway through lap 17 of 35. It’s definitely a 2 stopper, but the AI didn’t pit until lap 20 well beyond the range I could have covered.
  15. Sticky grass is gone, and replaced with extra walls to curb corner cutting. Either would ruin a race, but it’s easier see a wall than know which patch of grass is going to grab your car.


  1. The intro to the game is too long. Give me one race, point me at the career and let me play the game. My biggest gripe with this was the controller options were locked out during the intro, somehow I missed setting up my controller like I’ve been using since FM2 and had issues shifting gears that I couldn’t fix until the intro was over.
  2. Why is it that no matter what group of cars I’m racing the Drivatar paint schemes always look the same?
  3. Free play doesn’t have the configurability of earlier games. For example, there’s no way to restrict cars to a given division like 1970’s Grand Prix or Can Am cars.
  4. Please add saving the user’s last choice when it comes to sorting choices in menus. I usually sort Mods by type and look at my garage by class. The default options on each are about the least useful choices of the ones the user can choose.
  5. Damage still seems to be all or nothing, but it seems to take more to trigger damage than in FM5, so a little rubbing has no effect at all. However, if you get engine engine damage it’s race over, as there’s no way to get back to the pits.
  6. Rain and time of day is not dynamic like Horizon and it’s probably related to limitations with Forza’s lighting model. Turn 10 models a static environment to simplify computing. The sun doesn’t move, rain falls or it doesn’t, puddles are always in the same place. It’s not that big of a deal to me other than I hate the glare in some of the environments.
  7. The Drivatars need a puddle avoidance algorithm. On Silverstone in the rain it’s especially bad. I started lapping the field (on Pro difficulty) in 3 laps on a 6 lap race because the AI hydroplanes into the wall at Vale almost every lap.
  8. All my visual gripes with FM5 still apply: jaggies, lens flare, unrealistic sun glare are all still around.
  9. Not all my gripes with the menu were fixed. Access to some car information was dropped in FM5 and is still not available. There was a method in FM4 that let you see info on car family, body type, engine displacement, peak HP and RPM number, etc. It’s was accessed while in your garage for sorting the garage. Some of that info was available to the player nowhere else in the game. It makes precise calculations for tuning a bit more difficult.
  10. The message center took a step backwards. I don’t understand the harm in allowing the user to delete messages once read. Used to be you could delete some of them like rivals notices, now it’s I haven’t found a delete button available for anything.
  11. A storefront like interface would be better to manage your shared content than having it scattered all over the place. Related to this, when you search for designs, you don’t see the description entered by the creator. Also the tune search if fucked. You get full info on a handful of tunes and little to no information on most of the results.
  12. Tuning and upgrades are exactly the same as every earlier release. Per wheel setups would be very useful for oval track racing since we actually have some ovals in this release. Also it would be nice to sort the wheel rims by price or weight reduction. The aspiration glitch is still present. Sometimes if you download a tune on a stock car that had an aspiration conversion you can’t equip those parts if you break the lock on the tune.
  13. Again several achievements require online commitments that I’m probably not going to make. There are at least 3 that look like you will only get through random chance. I had the lowest Gamerscore in the series on Forza 5 and it’s probably not going to be much different on this one. Hopefully more DLC will add achievements that I can use to max out the Forza rewards for this game. I left a lot of points on the table in FM5.
  14. Apparently there are already glitch cars banned from posting times online, so patches and leaderboard wipes are coming.
  15. Around level driver level 40 I noticed the random spin for a level up prize doesn’t seem to be so random. I confirmed it to myself yesterday when I did an endurance race with an +XP% mod and jumped about 8 levels at once and every spin resulted in the lowest valued award. Once or twice in a row I could see as a coincidence, but not 8 straight.  It didn’t hold, I started getting some better spins again later, but the spins don’t seem to be truly random with a definite bias to lower value payoffs.
  16. This is more of a Microsoft gripe, but I miss my chatpad from the 360. I’ve preordered one but it won’t be here until November. There can be a surprising amount of text entry in this game and a chatpad would make that a lot easier. I don’t know why it took 2 years for M$ to realize release a new version chatpad. I tracked down a wireless keyboard I grab when needed.
  17. Forza Rewards went weekly. What a pain in the ass. I like the rewards, but I hate Turn 10’s buggy website that seems to be down as often as its working. Down below is my normal view of the rewards. It means I have to spend even more time there and give Turn 10 four times the chance of fucking up.Rewards


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