Private Lobbies? Nah.

It’s probably not the news console sim racing fans wanted to hear less than a week away from the launch of Assetto Corsa on next generation platforms. After several major online leagues pledged to make the jump from the ailing Project CARS to a title they perceived to be the superior multiplayer racing environment, it has been revealed on the game’s official Twitter feed that you will not be able to create custom sessions for your friends on the console version of Assetto Corsa. To combat the lack of online functionality, developer Kunos Simulazioni plan to open an abundance of servers for the public, ensuring there’s something for everyone to drive. Provided that those servers also rely on the same structure as the PC version, we’re looking at a future where a whole bunch of gamers will be dumbfounded that they can’t drive the Corvette they paid extra for because too many people are already in the Corvette.

Does this sound like it will be a complete mess? That’s because it is. Console racers are about to go from a land where they can plaster dicks all over their vehicles and host elaborate online championships, to a platform where you can’t even hold a private race with friends to avoid blatant online wreckers and talentless turn one heroes. This one is bound to sting quite a bit, especially after numerous fluff pieces endlessly praising the bastion of PC sim racing finally making the jump to consoles. People are going to be choked to discover an integral part of online racing has been left out entirely.

But to be fair, we saw this coming. After months of delays that were casually brushed aside by mainstream sim racing publications, a review embargo which prevented Billy Strange of ISR from commenting on obvious bugs during his preview videos, an aggressive fanbase given free DLC keys to attack users critical of the game, and a developer who labelled almost all individuals unsatisfied with the product as “mentally ill”, it’s only fitting that Assetto Corsa’s console release has turned out like this. Project CARS was just the pre-game show.

Your Magic Setup for F1 2016 is Here!

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I’m not a fan of taking a couple of days off from working on the site and leaving people hanging, but sometimes a mixture of shitbox racing on Saturday nights, as well as messing around with a new game get in the way of pissing off fanboys on a daily basis here at PRC.net.

It’s probably a good idea to start the week off by addressing the elephant in the room: Codemasters unleashed Formula One 2016 upon the world three days ago, and aside from some pretty catastrophic hardware issues that were quickly rectified with a pair of emergency patches, a whole bunch of sim racers have been pleasantly surprised with the title. This is a rare occurrence for the current group of individuals working under the Codemasters banner, as the quality of games released after their 2011 masterpiece, DiRT 3, have taken a tangible nosedive towards mediocrity. In particular, the licensed Formula One titles were typically met with scathing reviews by hardcore Grand Prix fans for an abundance of technical issues and lackluster artificial intelligence; the lone entry in the series worth playing (F1 2013) was merely saved by the inclusion of historic bonus content.

With Codemasters receiving a unanimous thrashing by both critics and fans alike for shipping an empty, shallow, and most notably broken game in F1 2015, the general consensus from multiple online communities is that Codemasters have redeemed themselves as a developer thanks to F1 2016. Ideally, we’ll have our resident Formula One aficionado Sev give the title a proper shakedown in the coming days, but for those wanting a final verdict right away, I can assure that it’s really fucking good. This is basically the vision everybody had in their minds when Codemasters acquired the license back in 2009; it’s just a shame it took so long to get to this point.

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Anyways, for those of you who’ve purchased the game and have spent the majority of the weekend turning laps, you’ve probably figured out that the computer opponents are absurdly quick on higher difficulties, and like all modern racing games, that final bit of pace will be picked up in the garage menu. However, the five baseline setups F1 2016 offers in the garage menu as a quick fix rarely warrant any on-track improvements, and since it’s a Codemasters game, you just know real-world setup tricks probably won’t work here. This is a game rooted in reality, but the physics have indeed been manipulated for mass market appeal. Personally, I don’t mind them one bit. The game drives a bit like the old FSOne mods for rFactor; much simpler compared to the other stuff out there, but in the context of a huge game with ruthless AI and a massive offline career mode, it’s nothing to complain about. I saw someone on reddit make the comment that the game is “70% simulation, 30% arcade”, and that’s a pretty accurate summary.

My only word of warning, is that Codemasters appear to simulate turbocharger behavior by tying it directly to your own personal throttle input. With traction control turned off, you simply can’t roll on the throttle and still turn competitive times as you would in other simulators. It’s like the game engine intentionally ignores the kind of light throttle input you’d use on a similar car in Automobilista or rFactor, and amplifies anything over 50% pedal input to exaggerate turbo behavior. The result is that you more or less can’t modulate the throttle at all. I’m usually against turning on assists in any type of racing game, but F1 2016 is simply unplayable on a competitive level without turning traction control to the Medium setting. This still lets the car wiggle around a whole bunch on exit, and you’ll indeed need to wheel the thing to post a respectable time, but getting rid of traction control entirely in the pursuit of realism will straight up fuck you over from winning much of anything in F1 2016.

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As is the norm whenever I load up a new game, I went straight to F1 2016’s Time Trial mode as a way to figure out what kind of lines, setups, and driving styles are needed to be fast in this strange new world. The Time Trial mode in F1 2016 functions much like Forza Motorsport’s Rivals feature, where the game throws you the ghost car of a player just a few spots ahead of you each time you improve your personal best, and it’s a fun little diversion from the main meat of the game. As an added bonus, you can copy your rival’s setup for use in your car at the click of a button, and you’re also welcome to bust it open and make changes as you wish – something Forza doesn’t let you do. What you can probably deduce from the above screenshot of the Interlagos leaderboard, as well as the title of this post, is that Columbia University’s Mattress Girl is one hell of an F1 driver.

After about two hours messing around in Time Trial mode, I can safely say that real world setup techniques that you’ve used across other racing simulators indeed work in F1 2016, there’s just a limit to their overall effectiveness. Climbing through the leaderboards while left to my own devices, I was initially able to stick to basic modifications that I would use in other sims as well to earn a couple tenths here and there. So I can imagine someone who’s strictly an offline player actually enjoying the Career mode in F1 2016, as the adjustments you’ll make to your car in between sessions actually make sense. However, once I got into the elusive Top 50, all hell broke loose, and I pretty much had to load other people’s exploit setups to remain competitive.

Let’s take at what I adopted from CQR Takumi to snatch the record at Interlagos.

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I’m quite satisfied with the aerodynamic values you’re forced to use. The front wing setting can remain somewhere in the middle at 7, while the rear wing can be lowered to 5. This obviously makes the car a bit unbalanced given the fact that you’re generating more downforce at the front than the rear, but what you’re trying to achieve here is the magic number of 341 km/h in 8th gear while in a DRS zone. If for whatever reason you can’t hold on, you can run 6 or 7 clicks at the rear. Anything higher, and you’ll lose speed.

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You can get away with a fully locked differential while using the medium level of traction control. Again, these cars are basically unplayable at competitive speeds without TCS, so just throw these numbers at the car and be done with it. Don’t frustrate yourself when you don’t have to.

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Maximum negative camber at both ends of the car is the way to go, even on high speed tracks, as cornering performance is infinitely more important than tire temps or straight line speed.

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You’ll want to stiffen the front end of the car – both the sway bar and the springs to the maximum value – while the rear end remains as soft as possible, and I’m told this is close to what the real cars are running as well. Even though the values may appear absolutely crazy, this stabilizes the car to an extent you simply won’t receive with a conservative approach. Ride height numbers can be left at 5 clicks on each end; I’ve gone lower in my own testing, and it’s made me slower, presumably thanks to bottoming out.

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Brakes are actually quite integral to your success in F1 2016, and even though the tire model is incredibly simplified compared to the plethora of modern simulators available, the four wheel drift you want to achieve on corner entry still exists and is highly beneficial. You’ll want to leave the brake pressure at 73% and always give near-full pedal input at the 100 metre marker to slow the car down in time, though dialing the brake bias back to 57% lets the rear end of the car break free and points the nose towards the apex when you lift off the pedal on corner entry. While on-track, the game allows you to adjust the brake bias in increments of 2%, so use 56% if you’re confident in your driving abilities, and 58% for a conservative approach that won’t allow the car to slide as much. Yes, you can feel the difference between those two values. Pretty impressed at that, to be honest.

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Oh boy, tire pressures. This one’s pretty easy; the lowest possible tire pressures give the highest amount of grip. During my own personal testing, I played around with jacking these up a bit to increase straight line speed, but the lack of grip in the corners negated pretty much anything I’d attained during the speed sections. Drop them to the minimum value and be done with it.

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Lastly, we have the weight distribution, which again is a setting which relies on an extreme value. You’ll want to push all the ballast towards the rear of the car, so the back end doesn’t slide around a whole bunch on corner exit. This is a setting I do not recommend deviating from; I’ve tried values towards the center of the slider, and it just doesn’t work. The car handles like shit.

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In conclusion, setups in F1 2016 are pretty simple once you’ve tossed this baseline, record-holding setup into your game. You can run this configuration basically anywhere in the game, and be met with satisfactory results which place you well ahead of the competition, online or off. Some people will surely cry that this game lacks simulation value for how little work you need to do in the garage area, but in my opinion, it’s really no different than any other modern simulator in terms of developing a baseline before making minor adjustments. I’ve been using a similar theory to my setups in both Automobilista and RaceRoom Racing Experience, so this isn’t exactly unfamiliar territory.

When it comes to adjusting this setup for use in other locations, there are basically two things you need to change to accommodate the particular track you’re visiting.

  • You can leave the rear wing at 5 clicks on most tracks, I’d bump it up to 6 or 7 for places with a lot of technical corners – or if you can’t keep the rear end under you.
  • If you’re confident at a particular track and need a few tenths, lower the brake bias to 56% instead of 58%, and really attack the corners with both heavy/late braking & heavy/early throttle applications.

Enjoy the game, and we’ll have a full review up at some point. You can grab the setup for F1 2016 off the Steam Workshop by clicking HERE.

 

Marco Addresses the Community

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They’ve had an entire summer to get it ready, and in just a few short days, Assetto Corsa will finally launch simultaneously on both Microsoft’s Xbox One, as well as Sony’s PlayStation 4. It’s been quite a bumpy ride for the staff at Kunos Simulazioni, embarking on a console porting process full of hiccups and other miscellaneous troubles – some of which required an entire graphics engine re-write – but nevertheless, hardcore auto racing fans stuck with one of the two most prominent next generation gaming consoles will finally have an alternative to the shoddy Project CARS, underwhelming DriveClub, or casual-oriented Forza Motorsport. Assetto Corsa will be unleashed into the wild on August 26th or August 30th depending on the hemisphere of the globe you currently reside in.

With a little downtime on his hands after the product recently entered Gold status, Marco Massarutto of Kunos Simulazioni has chosen to directly confront arguably the biggest concern some Assetto Corsa fans have had with the direction of the title, as the Italian racing simulator has quickly evolved from a humble driving simulator on Steam to a multi-platform cult phenomenon. And this is kind of a big deal that a Kunos employee is speaking on the matter in such a detailed fashion. When it was first announced that Kunos Simulazioni had struck a deal with publisher 505 Games to bring Assetto Corsa to an entirely new audience, many believed that the title would be Forzafied in an effort to accommodate a set of gamers who weren’t quite ready for a hardcore racing simulator. Some were concerned that the handling model or individual car physics would be subtly simplified as a precaution to prevent new drivers from quickly growing frustrated with the experience, and we personally received info around this time last year that the team had been making concessions with certain historical cars (such as the Lamborghini Muira and RUF CTR Yellowbird) to improve their overall stability.

Marco has officially put those concerns to rest in a lengthy Facebook post, which you can view HERE, though we’ll also throw it up below for those who actively refuse to partake in the festivities of modern social media platforms. As English isn’t his primary language, I’ll do my best to clean up the grammar.


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I’d just like to post some thoughts of mine, and answer a few of the theories I’ve read on various message boards about the launch of Assetto Corsa on consoles, the future of Assetto Corsa, and the never-ending questions of if we’re going to simplify the handling model to appeal to a larger audience that comes with a console release

Usually I’m not bored enough to read the hundreds of threads asking the exact same questions about our game, as I understand that a lot of people are hearing about Assetto Corsa for the first time each and every day. But when the same people are asking the same questions, or they continue to bring up the same topics of discussion, sometimes it can be boring. Especially because no one needs to take our word for it, the game will be out soon enough, and you will see we haven’t changed anything when you’re physically playing the console version.

Will the Console Version of Assetto Corsa be simplified?

Since the beginning of this year, a lot of  YouTube users have been uploading footage of the console version, and they’ve always played it using a steering wheel. We demonstrated our game during the European gaming convention tour, as well as during the Vallelunga event last May, and it’s always been the same response from both players and journalists: “it feels like the PC version”.

What is the most talked about and appreciated characteristic of Assetto Corsa? It’s car handling, and the raw feeling of driving. What’s the primary reason as to why console gamers may decide to play Assetto Corsa, rather than Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo? The number of cars? The graphics? Nope. I would say the fidelity of the simulation, the unique handling, the laser-scanned tracks, and the depth of which a PC simulation can perform. If we subtract these elements, Assetto Corsa can’t compete with the other titles, because it couldn’t offer something more in terms of game modes and features.

So with that out of the way, I’d like to confront a rather annoying question we sometimes receive: Now that Assetto Corsa is ready for release on consoles, is going Kunos to simplify the PC version?

The console version of Assetto Corsa was officially announced in mid 2015, but our team started to work on it in late 2014. Since then, the PC version has been constantly improved, updated, expanded with 7 major builds, several new tire models (now we are at version 10 – TEN) adding features asked from SIM racers, and now we are going to release the Version 1.8 on August 26th to coincide with the console release. The popularity of AC on PC is the highest it’s ever been, it’s often in the top charts on Steam. People love the game and enjoy it everyday, and they support us each time we release new features and content. Please give me a logical reason why we should change this, after over a year of HUGE development on the PC version after the initial 1.0 release. Simply put, there is no reason why we should do this. So, ask yourself: In the last 18 months, strictly talking about the PC version, did we convert Assetto Corsa into a simcade driving game, or did we give it even more depth?

We decided to bring Assetto Corsa out on consoles to answer our own question: Is there any room the on console market for a simulation like Assetto Corsa?

Asa company in the business of developing racing simulators, we have to know the answer to this question. And we’ll know it soon. The only way to answer this question, is to bring on console the same experience people appreciate so much on PC, to the best of our ability. Period. So keep calm, don’t worry. The only way we can change the soul of our most successful creation is to make it even stronger. And you know why Assetto Corsa will feature officially licensed Porsche cars before any other racing simulator out there? Because Porsche has chosen Assetto Corsa for its applications, due to the quality of the overall package: graphics-physics-care of details-handling -track accuracy. So, there’s no way for us to change our DNA.


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Again, I edited Marco’s grammar a bit to ensure the writing sounded a bit more natural.

I’m sure a lot of people will expect me to launch into full-on attack mode as I traditionally do with a lot of Reader Submission-like entries, but in this case I don’t really feel the need to. We know that concessions have been made with Assetto Corsa behind the scenes, however they are primarily tied to specific cars of the historic variety. I might have to go back and look at some of my old posts from last fall when we began talking about this on a regular basis, but it’s really small and specific stuff – an increase in braking efficiency here, a bit more grip there, and individual car physics choices that remained on the side of caution to minimize end user frustration. If a car didn’t handle all that well with the data supplied by the manufacturer, or an older car was beyond the capabilities of most moderate sim racers, minor adjustments were made to that specific car – not the entire handling model. However, I will say that a title approaching ten different tire models and almost treating it as an accomplishment, isn’t exactly something to be proud of.

Unless that’s done specifically to expand the dongs of hardcore sim junkies who have fully bought into the iRacing style of New ____ Model buzzwords. If so, kudos to Kunos for that strategy. It seems to have worked.

So the ultimate hardcore racing simulator it most certainly isn’t, but compared to something like Gran Turismo 6, where entire groups of cars have been half-assed by Polyphony Digitial, Assetto Corsa sits somewhere in the middle. I will let you explore your own personal needs from a simulator to determine how you feel about this while moving to an entirely different topic.

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I personally believe Assetto Corsa fans have every right to question how the console release could impact the Steam version of the title, and the above image is a pretty solid tangible example as to why. Vehicles introduced to the PC version of Assetto Corsa as free updates given to all owners of the game have now been locked away into a separate pre-order bonus pack for console users. This right here is pretty shitty, and had the same situation occurred with a rival game like Project CARSPC owners forced to pay extra for cars found in the vanilla console version – message boards would be set ablaze by angry customers. It’s not like Assetto Corsa has been in Early Access for the past three years, and the entire userbase knew full well that Kunos would take out some content seen in WIP builds, only to release it later as part of a Season Pass program. Nope, Steam-based Assetto Corsa owners can fire up their retail game right now and rip around in the 2015 Ford Mustang or Audi R8 V10 Plus at no extra charge, but those who plan on purchasing the game for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One will have to shell out a little bit more.

If stuff as basic as the immediate availability of certain cars has changed from platform to platform, it’s really not a stretch to question what else has been tweaked that we aren’t aware of.

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So on that note, let’s talk about the new and improved user interface that PC owners won’t receive – and this has been confirmed by Kunos=. While the PC version of Assetto Corsa features a basic, rudimentary in-game heads up display, along with a laggy front end which has seen much better days, the console version of the title will ship with an exclusive, totally re-designed interface. The whole thing looks beautiful and truly captures the kind of atmosphere Kunos are trying to present with their selection of exotic cars and world-class locations, yet PC users will never receive this. After three years of helping grow Assetto Corsa into a sim racing powerhouse, they have been told the unfinished placeholder graphics are the most they’re ever gonna get, and the fancy stuff has been reserved for the console masses.

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Again, if something as rudimentary as the heads up display varies wildly from one platform to the next, it’s not exactly a wild conspiracy theory to speculate how much has changed under the hood as well. And now that our boy Los Santos Sheriff has uploaded a video detailing six elements of Assetto Corsa that have been improved in the console version compared to the Steam release, we can conclude that the console version really isn’t the identical product Kunos would like us to believe.

For those strapped for time, you’ll want to skip ahead to the 2:35 mark in the video I’ve linked. Sheriff mentions that the multiplayer component has been totally rebuilt from the ground up, specifically for the console versions of Assetto Corsa. Now, in most racing simulators, this wouldn’t be an issue that would warrant much discussion – the console audience is obviously much different than the hardcore PC sim crowd, and they have an entirely separate set of needs required to be me. However, the Steam version of Assetto Corsa has routinely been roasted by both leagues and casual players for it’\s lack of user friendliness. The booking system simply did not catch on in the way Kunos intended, the server browser was polluted with inactive rooms, creating a session just to run laps with your friends had to be done through an external program that didn’t always work, an abundance of DLC strategically splitting cars from popular classes across multiple packs segregated the community, you could be locked out of picking the car you truly wanted to drive, and you couldn’t even select your livery. Sheriff notes the console version has abandoned the awful online component of the PC version altogether in favor of a traditional peer-to-peer gaming experience, though obviously this will ruffle some feathers.

After years spent complaining about Assetto Corsa’s online component in the Steam version of the title, PC sim racers will still be complaining; their suggestions on how to improve certain online elements will be implemented into a version of the game other than the one they currently own. Please explain to me how this makes any fucking sense and isn’t a giant middle finger to the community, and for a third time, if an entire half of the game has been re-built from the ground up, is it really a stretch to speculate in regards to changes that may have been made under the hood as well?

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It’s now the point in the article where I’m supposed to summarize my feelings, and in this case, it’s pretty easy to do so. For the most part, I believe Marco when he says that Assetto Corsa as it appears on next-generation consoles is fundamentally the same game as the one many of you have been playing since the final portion of 2013. It would indeed be a pain in the ass for them to have a console-specific tire model just to appeal to a casual audience who will probably put the game down in a week anyway. The changes we’ve been told about under the hood have nothing to do with appealing to the new audience, but rather increasing the overall stability of some cars in general whom either desperately needed it, or have been altered at the request of a manufacturer due to their lackluster performance with real-world data. As I’ve said earlier, how you feel about that kind of subtle tampering is up to your own personal expectations of Assetto Corsa. In my eyes, “McLaren bitched at us to make the MP4-12C less of a shitbox, so we did” isn’t fully living up to the simulator tagline, but others will cut them some slack given how difficult these licenses are to obtain in the first place.

However, in some aspects, Assetto Corsa on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 clearly isn’t the same game as the PC version you’ve got installed on your hard drive. The new graphics engine probably won’t be noticeable, but the rebuilt online component, restructuring of the car roster, and brand new interface are much more than just simple cosmetic changes. I personally believe the discrepancy between the numerous versions is kind of a dick move to the longtime fans of Assetto Corsa who have stuck through the growing pains of the title dating all the way back to 2013. These guys, for lack of a better word, built the game into what it is today.

They were the ones spending hundreds of hours driving the shit out of all 90+ cars, creating third party mods that were eventually implemented as official DLC, talking about the game online and spreading the word to areas which would usually pass over it in favor of another franchise, writing fuckhuge guides fueled by their sheer love of the game, and coding applications to help improve the shoddy online component… and they’re rewarded with the developers building a definitive version of Assetto Corsa for an entirely different group of people that will bitch, moan, and drop the sim in a week because you can’t buy cars, the career mode is basically that of a mobile game, and there’s no livery editor.

That’s kind of shitty.

These Shills Are Getting Lazy

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Viral marketing. It’s a topic which needs no introduction here on PRC.net, so it’s not going to receive anything elaborate. With how popular and influential social media has become in the 21st century, companies involved in crafting a wide spectrum of goods, services, and entertainment have figured out that they can plant fictional positive feedback smack dab in the middle of many ground-level online communities, a cheap yet effective way to drum up additional interest in their product. Sure, it can backfire spectacularly when a video game developer cannot make a quality experience to save their lives, and the false reception in no way reflects the application contained on the BluRay disc, but a large majority of the time, nerds aggressively labeling each other as shills via internet message boards is a quick way to paint themselves out to be nothing more than amateur conspiracy theorists. Aside from, you know, all of those times they were proven to be right.

So again, we’re talking about the Project CARS franchise by Slightly Mad Studios, and again, I’ve got to make this one quick – if you’ve been on PRC.net over the past year, you’ve heard it all before. Upwards of 30,000 hardcore sim racers, video game journalists, and other miscellaneous investors were instructed to spread the gospel of this rather underwhelming mainstream racing simulator prior to release, resulting in an extremely large number of units sold across all three platforms, only for the massive audience to discover the game wasn’t really finished or subjected to proper Quality Assurance testing. Those who quickly grew frustrated with the title’s obvious lack of polish were belittled by developers on the official forums, and deemed shitposters in other areas of the Project CARS community not governed by Slightly Mad Studios. It was a total mess, and while it was fun to cover as the editor of a sim racing blog, this certainly wasn’t the direction sim racing needed to be heading in. Shills shouldn’t outnumber the genuine community members.

Now with this game being a little over a year old, most of the message boards have quieted down. The official Project CARS forums have seen a huge decrease in activity, with only the hardcore fans sticking around to continue discussing the game. Reddit’s home for Project CARS has been more or less deserted, with the odd thread appearing to ask if certain problems have been fixed, if more downloadable content will be arriving in the near future, or what the company’s plans are

And then there’s this guy.

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The brief post history of Reddit user Le_Kinnuen is a stunning example of a viral marketer who is downright brutal at their job. The key to viral marketing is to be subtle and appear as if you’re a genuine member of the community voicing a unique opinion that can be informative to other users, only to be secretly under instruction from your masters to spread their desired ideology. This guy right here has some work to do. Slightly Mad Studios does not have a rock band aura surrounding them, nor does the sim racing community have nicknames for Ian Bell and company such as “Wookie Games” and “beard man”; they’re a portion of the team that helped put together the iconic GTR 2 back in 2006, and that’s how most people will refer to them. Hardcore sim racers, the kinds of people who would populate a Subreddit dedicated to Project CARS, would never refer to a racing simulator as a “PC car game”, nor the company as “Slightly Mad Games.”

But we can go even deeper. Project CARS was built specifically because the two Need for Speed Shift games created by Slightly Mad Studios were notorious for their inability to provide a satisfying end-user experience. The driving model was butchered beyond all recognition, after claims that this would serve as a spiritual successor to GTR 2 thanks to the FIA GT license. “Getting the controls right,” as our resident viral marketer writes, was basically impossible without the use of numerous community modifications only available for the sequel – not for the original. In fact, it’s absurd to see any sim racer praise the original Shift release, as virtually all of the effort spent by the community on making a Shift title playable and enjoyable was saved for the sequel judging by the extensive list of modifications available at NoGripRacing.com. The total list of downloadable modifications for Unleashed doubles that of the original game. Nobody in their right mind would install the first game over the second.

Oh, and what’s this “Phoenix” that both the viral marketer and the moderator of the Subreddit are talking about as a “different subject altogether?” Nothing on the official Slightly Mad Studios website discusses a game named Phoenix, and Google turns up some Space Invaders clone. What the hell is going on here?

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I fired a quick message to Ian Bell, and he had no problem revealing Phoenix was simply the internal code name for Project CARS 2. Therefore, this basically confirms the random guy on Reddit blindly praising the work of Slightly Mad Games and the entirely forgettable Need for Speed Shift (2009) was actually a guy from the Project CARS 2 team – or at the very least, a financial contributor to the title.

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This particular exhibit of viral marketing is a classic example of what not to do when resorting to guerilla marketing tactics in the electronic entertainment industry. Our boy Le_Kinnuen fails to understand the history and prior reception of the company’s products, uses incorrect and out-of-place lingo for his intended environment, accidentally refers to the company by the wrong name, and reveals both an in-house nickname for an upcoming title that average sim racers wouldn’t know, as well as a pet name for the boss of the entire operation. It’s a poor performance that will most likely see him benched for next week’s assault on the sim racing message boards, and we here at PRC.net would like to wish the owner behind the Reddit account of Le_Kinnuen the best of luck in his future endeavors. Wookie games all day long!

Real Data?

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Yep, we’re going to make it three articles in less than a month regarding the tire physics in Assetto Corsa.

Dating back to the title’s original release on Steam’s Early Access platform in the fall of 2013, a big selling point of Assetto Corsa one which captivated many sim racers across the community – were the claims Kunos Simulazioni had made in regards to how each car had been developed. Assetto Corsa was said to stray from the formula that allowed enormous car counts in both Gran Turismo and Forza, instead focusing on real data to ensure the driving experience of each and every car was as authentic as possible. Even though the double digit vehicle roster was overshadowed by both triple and quadruple digit lists found in the mainstream car collecting titles, the lack of diversity was allegedly a trade-off for the most accurate physics ever seen in a consumer racing simulator. And for a period of time, many of us believed them. Virtual lap times were fairly accurate, setup techniques mirrored what had been occurring on the real race track, and the game was for the most part a genuine pleasure to drive.

But of course, people started finding shit. Third party modding teams in the process of building open wheel cars for Assetto Corsa began running into physics engine issues, with rumors of Kunos personally calling them and requesting the teams to keep quiet about obvious shortcomings on the official forums, which had once been an open resource for discussions. Individuals curious about how Kunos were able to pump out DLC packages featuring brand new GT3 cars so quickly ended up discovering many key components and unique geometries of certain cars had been hastily copied and pasted from one vehicle to another. Certain work-in-progress mods that were once advertised as a free download from a talented sim racer would disappear without any explanation given, only to resurface as official Kunos content in a future paid downloadable package. Slowly but surely, the smoke and mirrors show Kunos once used to push Assetto Corsa as the definitive PC racing simulator began to fade away, revealing a product vastly different than what their marketing department had described.

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Two weeks ago, I penned a pretty basic article discussing something that your average Assetto Corsa player might not know about in regards to car setup – Optimal Tire Pressures. Despite all of the hype surrounding Assetto Corsa’s continuously evolving and highly complex tire model – which will be updated to Version 10 in the coming weeks – the internal files for each car told a much different story. Busting open the tyres.ini file for any car residing within your Assetto Corsa folder allows you to hunt down a value labelled PRESSURE_IDEAL, and this number dictates the exact air pressure you want in your tires while the car is turning laps on track, as it’ll help you achieve the maximum grip possible from each tire.

It’s not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination, and most modders already knew about this, so it’s not exactly a revelation either, but what it did do was significantly cut down on the amount of time spent fiddling with tire pressures in the garage menu. If a car’s ideal pressure was 33 PSI, you worked backwards and adjusted your cold pressures inside the setup menu to ensure once the tires would warm up from driving, it would hit exactly 33 PSI. I’m aware there are a few third party setup applications that convey this info in a much more user friendly manner, but at it’s core, it’s equivalent to looking up the answers in the back of your math text book. Forget about feel, forget about heat cycles, forget about anything you’ve learned from watching real life auto racing and how teams find the right pressures to run for each track, just look up this number and adjust accordingly.

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So during my afternoon spent decrypting the content in Assetto Corsa created by Kunos Simulazioni themselves, and building a mini database for the article, I discovered that all GT3 cars in the game – regardless of the year they first hit the track – essentially ran a spec tire that used 33 PSI as the ideal pressure value. And I didn’t really have a problem with this, as it ensured fairness among all the cars. Sure, the cold setting was definitely on the edge of what both Michelin and Pirelli suggested to be safe values, but I can’t exactly get mad at a single PSI difference. However, this was only one piece of the puzzle. Pirelli and Michelin gave us the minimum value to ensure a customer’s safety. Nowhere on their website did it list an ideal operating pressure for their respective racing slicks, so naturally I assumed Kunos must have gotten this magic 33 PSI number straight from a GT3 team – falling in line with their whole “we use real data for each car” thing.

I was pretty shocked when I hit up the team manager of GAINESCO/Bob Stallings Racing Terry Wilbert, and received a much different value.

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A one or two PSI difference between a modern PC simulator and the real thing is fine, as even the most advanced computer software can’t replicate everything down to the final near-insignificant detail, but a 7 PSI difference is way off the mark for a simulator which has claimed to use real world data. And obviously, there are questions which arise from this discovery. I don’t doubt that Kunos Simulazioni obtained legitimate data for some of the cars featured in Assetto Corsa, but this is a pretty big gap.

So I’d like to know what’s going on here, and obviously I’ll leave this up to the readers of PRC.net to discuss. It really wasn’t all that difficult to pick a North American GT3 team at random from the most recent set of results, visit their website, find an email address from somebody vaguely related to the team, and fire them a quick email both introducing myself and inquiring in regards to what tire pressures they’re running in their GT3-spec McLaren 650s. Physics don’t change when you cross state lines, nor do they change when you run races on different continents, so I’d like to know how a developer who made their access to real data a selling point, ended up being 7 PSI in the wrong direction. Is it a European thing to over-inflate your slicks? Was the team Kunos received data from experimenting with a drastically different setup approach? Or, in a situation that will upset the Assetto Corsa fanboys, is the real data advertised by Kunos just a marketing gimmick operating on a technicality or two?

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