I first played Wipeout on July 31, 1997 - the day Psygnosis released Wipeout XL for PC. For the last 12 years and 29 days, I often played XL and the various sequels, remakes, and addons including Fusion, Pure, Pulse, HD, and Fury. Out of those 4412 days, only once did I notice a tie, IE a race where at least two competitors share a finishing position. I suspect that the game applies the criterion that two ships must cross the finish line at exactly the same time, a measure limited by the accuracy of either the game clock or the wall clock provided by the OS.
From coding efforts many moons ago, I learned that timed interruption via WM_TIMER messages is accurate to only about 110ms on a PII 400 in Windows NT. If you are currently executing, you may be able to determine the current time with greater precision, perhaps to some tens of milliseconds if you call out to the OS for the current time. That being the case, there are at most 100 different distinct intervals every second during which a ship could complete a race.
Close races in Wipeout have always been common. However, Wipeout HD is the first version of the game that apparently adjusts AI performance dynamically. That is, if you run a 2:05.100, the top AI ships might run 2:04.200, 2:04.300, and 2:05.600. If you retry the race and run 1:56.000, expect to see the AI run 1:55.700, 1:56.900, 1:57.400. Because opponents tend to remain closer to you, most of the competitors travel in a pack, finishing together and compressing the race time distribution, increasing the likelihood of a tie.
Labels: gaming, wipeout