On an ALMOST related note, it might be interesting to have some kind of option which, when selected, would have the cars - when qualifying was over the pace car comes out, everyone catches up, and ON THEIR OWN everyone lines up at the start line in the position they were given - instead of just being reset to the correct spot. Might be fun. Once everyone is set, THEN it resets so as to bump your car into perfect alignment and spacing for the green light.
we had this in 2 seasons of lfscar league and NO in most times it did not work:
reason 1: the pace-car driver was not there sometimes when he was needed (toilette, eating, ...)
reason 2:. pace-car driver can make mistakes or lets say it polite: wrong decisions (we had a red flag due to a unclear situation of the pace-car causing a mass crash and a complete restart in a 120 laps race)
reason 3: someone has to sit and wait for 2 hours without doing something
reason 4: if the pacecar driver was the admin at the same time, he could not watch whats going on behind him
reason 5: subjective decision when a pacecar driver is coming out (maybe this could be solved with lfs-lapper)
reason 6: pace-car driver did not know the track or had wheel calibration problems during his laps
if there are humans involved, mistakes can happen, and this is the least thing you want to have in a caution/safety car situation. at least the pacecar should be predictable and 99,999% sure of what he is doing which can only achieved by an automated system. i've tried the human way in more then 20 races and in most races at least one Safetycar-phase did not work out as it should because of the above mentioned reasons.
a much safer and better solution is the use of an AI driver. this is now possible with the latest patch Y with the command "/ai PACECAR" "/spectate PACECAR". but we need a working system for checking if people hold their positions or if they are speeding and stuff like this.
i know someone who is working on an insim application for this. not sure how far he is. the last thing i've heard was: "its ready for testing"
BUT yes in general: +1000 for a serverside option "flying start", "start with formation lap" and +1000 for server-side AI drivers to be used as pacecar drivers (+100 for the possibility to set the fuel of an ai driver or a "pit after 5 laps" option for the AI).
There's no reason an AI driver shouldn't be able to run as a pacecar. They don't need to be aware of their surroundings or overtake, and they don't need to drive fast.
It seems like it would be fairly simple to have them start in the pits and just wait until the admin command brought them out. Or maybe have them automatically react to certain criteria, like multiple yellow flags at one point on the track.
I'd want to give them infinite fuel too, because otherwise you'd have to find a way of filling them up on long races, and that would need a bit of tinkering - you sure as hell wouldn't want them using up a pit spot.
And obviously the pace car's lap count and position would not appear on the final race summary either.
But I think it would be a good idea to have two options - one for an AI pace car and another for a human-controlled one. That would give an extra level of command to admins.
There is one problem with this - non dedicated servers cannot run AI drivers. Maybe that could be added, although the dedi would need to run physics. Or maybe get a currently spectating player to run the AI for the SC
Basically, we need the following commands
/rollingstart - Wether the race has a rolling start or not.
/autoSC - SC will be deployed automatically, if it's already out it does nothing.
/deploySC - Manually deploy the SC, if it's in the pits it does nothing.
/exitSC - Get the SC to come in next lap.
And an InSim packet to be sent when the SC is deployed.
Really depends if you want LFS to stay realistic or not. Especially for (for example) the STCC. If the pace car simply appears on the track, you risk it being on top of someone, you risk it confusing the hell out of any driver maybe a lap behind, and it would look awful. If it appears in the pits that's not so bad, but it seems silly to disallow telepitting and then force a car to use the same thing.
And if it simply disappears afterwards it's going to look terrible. Pace car, pace car, pace car, no pace car. That'd suck.
Better would be a dedicated spot in the pits where a pace car gets added automatically at the start of the race. It'd wait there with constant 100% fuel refill until needed. So it comes out for a rolling start and waits for the drivers to line up behind, or it waits until there's an admin command or big incident. People can see it in advance and plan accordingly.
we tried out the pacecar program today. it looks very promising.
what it does (most of the times) at the moment is: starts an automated pacecar, checking positions, checking if someone is speeding, checking if someone overtook before green flag. and gives out penalties, lets the pacecar drive into the pits, starts race with green flag.
but it is more a prove of concept at the moment, but... its working