GTR (2003) and GTR 2 (2004) were landmark sportscar racing simulations that helped bring racing simulations into the new millennium. Fully licensed by the FIA, easily moddable, and featuring an incredibly robust online format, the two GTR games became both financially successful and critically acclaimed. As developer SimBin branched out into the RACE: The WTCC era of games, long-time GTR 2 racers wondered when a sequel would be released to take advantage of current PC gaming hardware and recent rule changes within the FIA GT Championship. A third entry in the series was never released, in favor of exploring the path that the RACE era of games led SimBin down. Sim racers still speak fondly of the GTR 2 days, still pestering what is now Sector3 Studios for a sequel.
Earlier in the week, RaceDepartment published an open letter to Kunos thanking them for Assetto Corsa, but blasting the title’s lack of online functionality. Originally, I wanted to write a “me too” response, as I think Bram raised some incredibly solid points, but then I realized I really didn’t have anything to elaborate on either. It would have been pointless.
And instead it got me thinking – if Assetto Corsa doesn’t pan out in the online aspect, what other options are there? iRacing is expensive and flawed, rFactor 2 is a ghost town, rFactor is outdated, Project CARS may never reach its full potential, and R3E just doesn’t have the userbase given the game’s shoddy, controversial launch as a free-to-play simcade racer in early 2013.
The current crop of racing sims all have glaring flaws, and I think that’s mighty disappointing considering the amount of time we’ve all spent waiting for various games to release new builds or game-changing patches. We’ve done more waiting and praying than we have racing in recent years. First it was waiting for iRacing to finish their tire model. Then, it was waiting for R3E to move out of beta. Then, it was waiting for rFactor 2 to move out of beta. Then, it was waiting for version 1.0 of Assetto Corsa. Then, it was waiting for multiplayer to be added to Assetto Corsa. Then, it was waiting for Project CARS to be released. Then, it was waiting for the Dream Pack DLC for Assetto Corsa to be released.
Meanwhile, we are tolerating poor tire dynamics in iRacing, intrusive microtransactions in R3E, poor optimization in rFactor 2, a lack of race modes and online functionality in Assetto Corsa, and constant troubleshooting and bug fixing in Project CARS.
None of this sounds very fun. Only a decade ago could we run entire offline seasons with the 1995 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, or begin our rise to the top in Formula One: Championship Edition on the PS3. Both games also had a solid online component. You cannot even select your own livery when racing online in Assetto Corsa without manually contacting the host of the server and having them select it for you.
Instead of incessantly complaining for developers to fix their game, I thought I’d offer my own thoughts on what I’d like to see from a racing simulation in 2015.
This is my realistic take on what GTR3 might look like, if Sector 3 Studios chose to pursue reviving the franchise. Had I been given the keys to Sector 3 for a week, this is the game I’d begin production on. Many people beg Sector 3 to drop R3E altogether and “just make GTR 3”, although nobody bothers to suggest exactly what that revival may look like. With some free time on my hands, I dreamed up a rough outline of something I feel could be a reasonable pitch for Sector 3’s next project.
This includes shady micto-transactions tactics and blatant shit-talking of other racing sims, but as I said, if I were given the keys to the kingdom and told “don’t fuck up too badly because we still need to make money“, this is what I’d present to the team: