When playing Race Driver: Grid, I've noticed that it can be very hard to completely shake the AI cars, they always seem to be able to catch up somehow. Now I'm far from the greatest driver, so at first I thought this was due to lack of skill on my part, but then I also noticed this happening on long straights (like the Mulsanne Straight in the 24 Hours of Le Mans) where I couldn't possibly be going any faster. Regardless of which car I'm driving, I can see competitors (including those driving the same type of car as me) visibly gaining on me, even if they spun out earlier and simply should not be able to catch up this quickly. And if I don't actively block them, they will eventually overtake me, which means they must have at least 20-30 km/h on me, even on long straights where I'm driving at full tilt in the exact same car.

I've observed a similar effect in Touge events, where the AI drivers seem to be getting much faster times when competing against me, compared to against other AI drivers. The difference can be as high as 30 seconds, e.g. two AI drivers in the quarter final both finish around the 2:30 mark, the winner then races against me and inexplicably finishes around 2:00 like me. It seems completely unrealistic for a driver to have that much variation in his performance. Plus they never seem to do this when racing against another AI driver.

So, does the AI in Grid cheat? Specifically, is the AI drivers' performance somehow scaled to match that of the player, in order to provide more of a challenge? If so, how is this affected by the difficulty setting?

In case it matters, I'm playing on a PC with an Xbox 360 controller, mostly on Normal difficulty.

  • Sounds like rubberband AI, which - in my experience - is really a very common "feature" in racing games. (In which case, yes, the game is cheating to make sure you actually experience some degree of challenge) – Michael Madsen Jun 25 '14 at 12:03
  • Grid 2 has it to a degree, I dont see why Race Driver: Grid wouldnt. Its quite frustrating... but helps when you fall behind too (they will slow down) – eyeofthehawks Jun 25 '14 at 14:54
  • @MichaelMadsen I hadn't heard the term "rubberband AI" before, but looking it up, it seems to explain what I've experienced in the game. If you want to expand the comment into an answer, with maybe some relevant links, I'd be happy to mark it as accepted. – Indrek Jun 25 '14 at 15:20

While I have not played this particular game, your description makes it seem like a textboox example of rubber band AI.

Rubber band AI is an example of dynamic difficulty adjustment - it allows the game to provide a player with a suitable challenge regardless of their skill level, by speeding up opponents behind you and/or slowing down opponents in front. Essentially, it works as though there is a rubber band between you and your opponent; when you're getting far apart, this rubber band exerts more force on both of you to decrease the distance.

It is a very common feature in racing games, particularly those that take place on closed tracks (e.g. Mario Kart), but there are games without it, and the basic principle of dynamically adjusting difficulty exists in other genres too (e.g. Left 4 Dead).

(For further examples, see TV Tropes.)

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  • Mario kart's rubberband is the items mechanic. The AI is consistent. – Rapitor Jun 25 '14 at 15:43
  • @Rapitor Isn't mario kart infamous for BOTH methods of rubberbanding? Items are more for player "rubberbanding" I'm all but certain AI has always, or at least since N64, rubberbanded in speed too – Ben Brocka Jun 25 '14 at 15:47
  • @BenBrocka sort of, but not much. The AI is "tiered" more or less. They will almost always finish in their designated place (which is why you always have that same 1 or 2 rivals for first in the N64 version) Rubber band in other racers just move the whole blob of AI cars. – Rapitor Jun 25 '14 at 15:51
  • I'd encountered dynamic difficulty adjustment before in other games, but not in racing games (of which I've mainly played the Colin McRae series). Thanks for the explanation! – Indrek Jun 25 '14 at 16:39
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    @Indrek: It's entirely possible - some games have their rubber band implementations only affect people who are behind, and some of those games only allow CPU players to benefit from it. All rubber band implementations do tend to have limits built in, though, so it's also possible you just didn't do well enough to make use of the effect :P – Michael Madsen Jun 25 '14 at 23:01

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