Russian Modders found a way to get Motor City Online running offline

A huge throwback today, and there may be quite a few of you who don’t remember this game:

MCOWikipedia writes that Motor City Online was a massively multiplayer online racing game released by Electronic Arts on October 29, 2001. The point of the game was to buy classic cars (mostly American muscle cars) ranging from 1930’s to 1970’s models, customize them, and race them against other players. The game was taken offline on August 29, 2003 so EA Games could focus on their current online game at the time, The Sims Online. Originally conceived as part of the Need for Speed series under the title Need for Speed: Motor City, all single player elements that may have been developed for the game were discarded in favor of an online-only model. The game featured some RPGlements, such as leveling up after completing tasks, and a functional, supply and demand economy for players to get involved in.

It was an online-only version of Need for Speed High Stakes, with classic muscle cars, a Forza-like storefront, and when it went offline, you couldn’t play it anymore. Customization played a huge role in Motor City Online – with over 2,000 authentic and licensed styling and performance parts, each player was tasked with building their car from the ground up, sometimes mixing and matching parts like one would do in Forza nowadays to prep the car for a certain class.

For those who still have the original CD kicking around, allowing you to try a portion of the game, sans MMO elements of course, on a modern PC. While you won’t be able to customize your car, buy upgrades, join car clubs, or participate in 90% of the activities which made Motor City Online unique, being able to check out the full roster of cars and tracks in Quick Race mode serves as a nice throwback to a title that paved the way for much larger MMO racers such as Test Drive Unlimited and Forza Horizon.

Ultimately, the online-only format lead to the game’s downfall. This was the early 2000’s, where lag was a major issue in all online games, and despite a reported peak of 36,000 active subscribers (a huge amount for an experimental title that deviated away from standard racers at the time), the game was killed off, with active members rewarded with a membership to either The Sims Online, Ultima Online, or Earth and Beyond.

Thanks EA.

Reader Submission #22 – We’re getting an FIA GT3 game from Polyphony Digital

Huge news for GT3 fans all over the world – we’re getting GTR 3, and it’s made by Polyphony Digital.

Gran Turismo 6

Originally, we received a Reader Submission today from reader Kurei informing us that the staff of are fully aware of the reasons why the Course Maker feature has been strangely absent from Gran Turismo 6, though they refuse to publish what’s kept the mode from the latest version of the world’s biggest racing sim franchise. He sources a comment on a news article where one well-informed user admits GTPlanet are afraid to release the details behind the absence of the feature because it would tarnish their relationship with Polyphony Digital.

GTPlanet is essentially the home of the Gran Turismo community, and officially endorsed by the Gran Turismo team. Leaking certain news would indirectly violate certain NDA’s and get members of the dev team fired – GTPlanet obviously get their info straight from Polyphony, and publishing the info about the track maker would mean someone at Polyphony violated an NDA and talked about something they shouldn’t have.

The comment also says that Polyphony Digital are very busy and don’t have time to support Gran Turismo 6 in a proper manner post-release, or supply meaningful, non-NDA violating pieces of news to GTPlanet – instead working on numerous projects at once, such as GT7, GT Sport, a standalone FIA GT game, and Tourist Trophy 2.

Wait, a standalone FIA GT game?

We don’t know about this.

GTR3This explains the FIA partnership announced last summer – obviously something has to come of this “long term agreement”, and it would only make sense that we’d see some sort of a game based around a large FIA series to kick things off. The classic Gran Turismo game is about car collecting, hardly something that would show off a license with the FIA.

I’m unsure as to what platform this’ll come out for, but given that it was mentioned alongside three other, very real projects in an effort to explain someone’s viewpoint on a completely different issue, and a Google search doesn’t warrant any previous results about a GT3 game from Polyphony Digital aside from the licensing partnership above, the cat’s out of the bag – prepare yourself for GTR 3.

Gran Turismo 6

Codemasters and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Game

Old news is exciting, and Codemasters’ release of Colin McRae Rally HD is something that we should probably take a look at, because it’s the lowest you can sink as a developer.2615476-4200889790-ss_94The Codemasters of Old were known for landmark Playstation titles in the late 1990’s, putting out a series of fantastic simcade tarmac racers with ToCA Touring Cars (later evolving into Pro Race Driver/GRID), and an equally astounding selection of games that forced you to play in the dirt with the Colin McRae Rally series. For a lot of Europeans, these two sets of games got people into auto racing. The McRae titles were released at the height of the McRae/Mäkinen duels of late 1990’s WRC, and the ToCA titles dropped during the golden years of the British Touring Car Championship.

But the landscape of video games changed in a way Codemasters wasn’t entirely prepared for. Forced with adapting to the confusing, often contradicting demands of customers and trends within the industry, the ToCA series evolved into a story-driven jack-of-all-trades racer, rally titles no longer carried the Colin McRae namesake or appealed to hardcore WRC fans, and the newly-acquired F1 license lead to a string of games only marginally better than each of it’s predecessors. By the time 2013 had ended, Codemasters were forced to use a generic demolition derby game with the DiRT name and a GRID sequel that had been stuck in development hell as their two most prominent recent releases.

In the background, mobile games had become increasingly popular among casual gamers, with the average smart phone able to produce a gaming experience a step above the pricey Playstation Portable a decade earlier. To cash in on this new trend, Codemasters quickly built a generic Colin McRae Rally title within the Unity engine and released it during the summer of 2013 for three dollars. I personally dislike mobile gaming altogether, but there’s an audience for it, and they didn’t mind it.

Yet, after this release, the situation over at Codemasters became even more dire as we progressed into 2014. The lack of success from GRID: Autosport meant the team needed something, anything, to keep the cash flow coming so the studio could stay afloat, and ToyBox Turbos, an unlicensed Micro Machines game designed around the original titles that built up the initial reputation of the studio prior to the Playstation simcade era of ToCA and Colin McRae, failed to catch on.

Codemasters believed the solution to the studio’s woes was to port Colin McRae Rally HD, a mobile phone game with four cars and a mere handful of tracks, to the PC, and deliberately mislead people about what was included in the title in order to earn some quick cash. At the time, Steam did not have any sort of refund policy, and the immensely damaged reputation that would inevitably result from this move was seen as a necessary evil to keep the studio afloat.

What followed was sheer outrage. The game was advertised on Steam as an HD Remaster based on content from Colin McRae Rally 2.0. To most people, the description sounded as if Codemasters released a high definition mod for Colin McRae Rally 2.0, regarded by longtime fans as the best game in the series, omitting some of the cars and tracks due to the obvious licensing issues that have risen in the fourteen years since CMR 2.0 had been released.

adIn reality, it was a poor port of a mobile game they sold for three dollars the previous summer:

Fans were rightfully pissed, and loaded the game’s storefront page with negative reviews, until Codemasters began offering refunds, something completely optional as Steam’s refund policy was still several months away from being implemented.

reviewsIs this the shadiest move ever pulled by a professional game development studio? Probably.

D-Series Displays the Flaws of Early Access

Not many people know about this one, but D-Series is a grassroots attempt at an Off Road racing sim within the Unity game engine, an engine previously used for the abomination that was Colin McRae Rally. Released on Steam in Early Access format, for the not so low price of $17.99, the title has seen virtually zero improvements in a year and a half since EmptyBox covered the title in January of 2014:

Jimmy Broadbent took a look at the game for his YouTube channel a few months ago, and the game is practically unchanged:

Whoops. Don’t make racing games on the Unity Engine, and don’t contribute to titles made by a one-man dev team because sometimes they’ll just straight up abandon it.