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I played the latest VDrift release, but not for long. You see, I'm representative of your average gamer - I haven't a clue how to drift.

Most people looking at VDrift are looking for a racing game. The fact it's geared around drifting is coincidental.

So, when I go to turn corners and fly off the road every single time, it's not long before I'm leaving VDrift for another game.

My suggestion: do not make VDrift "yet another racing game" but remember the new player; cater to them first because an experienced player or somebody who knows about drifting will be able to quickly find that. The new player, who wants to just race, will find it harder going to sort out a basic arcade racing mode.

So, I suggest you have different game types with different default set ups. Have an introduction to drifting, give rewards for completing drift-based races, but at the most basic level keep it really simple for us simple people who have not yet discovered the joy of drifting.

Start game -> Quick Race -> Arcade -> FUN Big Grin

(In my opinion, the greatest challenge of any open source game is player retention. In general, the more players that play the game, the bigger the community, the more successful the project becomes. First time players lose interest _very_ quickly. Once interest is attained, people tend to stick around, even if they have to learn new things.)
The problem isn't drifting -- it's realism. The default settings don't give you any help like you get in an arcade game. The cars (as far as I know) aren't tuned for drifting.

Maybe we can make the default settings more forgiving? Traction control, abs, a super-sticky-tire setting might help.
Hi Charlie, good to hear from you again.

You raise some valid concerns. Joe has talked about adding a sort of setup wizard that will guide you through your first time running VDrift, and write your VDrift.config for you, since there are so many options for a first time user it is difficult for new users to play with every option when they first try the game. At this stage I think this is possible, using the menu system the game already has. Maybe some slight modifications will be needed to accommodate the menu making conditional decisions based on the user's input.

The idea of a drift-training mode has also come up before. I don't think it would be terribly difficult to set up. However, a training mode would need a training track, set up specifically for the training steps we want to put the user through. We'll need to think about what kind of things we want the user to learn, and someone will need to build a track based on that.

As for a more arcade-oriented feel, we already have some driving assist options available. Perhaps the setup wizard would help users make better use of these features. What other kinds of driving assistance can we add?

It is true that player retention is important to an open source game project. However the focus of the project has been realism and accuracy first, and usability second (the thinking is that it's easier to make a realistic game usable than it is to make a usable game realistic). When I came to the project I decided to make the game more usable by implementing a more flexible menu system. Maybe it's time we start thinking about usability more heavily again, and not just in the context of user interface, but also gameplay.
I'd love to spend some time increasing the usability. I don't want to dumb down the physics too much, but I would like it to be easier for users to learn how to drive in vdrift. What form would you suggest the introduction to drifting take?
Any training should almost certainly involve a video that plays back showing the car going around the track and the control inputs that go with it - so they can see _we_ aren't taking corners at 150 mph, and how much small inputs really matter.
I have started a thread about training tutorials which describes a tutorial system. Please move all discussion about this aspect of improving usability to that thread...and give me some feedback on these ideas.