DiRT 3, while sadly no longer available for purchase on Steam, is a great game that plays very well with a wheel. Unfortunately, because of its age, it doesn't natively support newer wheels like the Thrustmaster T248. I couldn't even manually bind the controls with this wheel.
Luckily, you can add native support for these wheels by editing a few text files. This lets you drive and control all the menus directly from the wheel. Once you do this and set the proper values for the control settings, you will never know the wheel was unsupported.
In this guide, I will show you how to add native support for these wheels, and then what settings to use to get the best force feedback in game.
Device Action Map Files
Every supported input device has a file (called the action map) that defines it and its button bindings. In order to add support for new wheels, we need to make a new action map file for the device.
Device Action Map
Download the device action map file:
Place it into: Steam Library\steamapps\common\DiRT 3 Complete Edition\actionmap
Action Map Paths
Just adding the action map file isn't quite enough. We need to tell the game to use this new file. In the actionmap folder, edit the file actionMapPaths.xml.
Add a new "xmlreader" line near the bottom of the file (above the line
<xmlreader processor="ActionMap2" filename="actionmap/tm_t248.xml" map="UPDATE" pool="UPDATE_TEMPORARY" /> </dataset>
DiRT 3 doesn't have a Soft Lock feature, so even if you limit the steering rotation in-game, the wheel will still turn past the actual steering lock. We can fix this by just setting the rotation on the wheel itself.
FORCE at 4 bars with FFB at 1 creates a perfectly linear force feedback response with no clipping, which is the ideal for any racing game.
|TM Control Panel Setting||Value|
|Overall Strength of all forces||65%|
|Auto-Center||by the game|
Rotation and Overall Strength are identical to the ROT and FORCE wheel settings, respectively. Changing it in one place overwrites the other. I recommend changing these on the wheel and ignoring the values in the Thrustmaster Control Panel.
Spring and Damper are not used by DiRT 3, so the value actually doesn't matter. Some games require them to be on for their force feedback to work, so I keep these at 100% as a general rule.
BOOST should always be turned off. For an in-depth look as to why, see my BOOST Force Feedback Analysis.
DiRT 3 Settings
In Options > Controls:
Choose the preset for the Thrustmaster Advanced Mode Racer. Until you do this, the game may not navigate the menus using the wheel.
In Options > Controls > Advanced Wheel Settings:
In Options > Vibration & Feedback:
|Vibration & Feedback||On|
Vibration Strength controls the vibrations you feel when driving on different surfaces.
Wheel Strength controls the actual force feedback forces.
Wheel Weight gives just a little weight to the wheel.
While DiRT 3 certainly isn't a full simulator-style game like Dirt Rally, it is still tremendous fun and feels really nice with a properly set up wheel. I still go back and play this game quite often. It's a great arcade rally game. If you have a VR headset, you may be interested to know that DiRT 3 works surprisingly well in VR using VorpX.
Let me know if you have any comments or questions.