Hey guys, I’m Maple, one of the two new contributors to PRC.net. Previously, I’ve helped collaborate on an article with James breaking down the history of setup exploits in iRacing.
The final Reader Submission of the weekend comes from none other than Steve Smith, who has written to us before about his background in Sim Racing, real racing, magazine editing, and his dislike for the User Interface in Project CARS. Today, Steve has chosen to write an Open Letter to Kunos Simulazioni addressing many different issues within Assetto Corsa.
I see by a head-count of the online racing leagues that Assetto Corsa is not nearly as popular in the U.S. as it is in Europe (and, as ever, in Brasil). I guess that one of the reasons may be because AC seems to be largely ignoring Stateside content (and, for that matter, Japanese content, like the Super GT series). If you guys want to make it here, may I humbly suggest that you offer at least some of the following:
Essential North American road racing venues like Sebring, the Daytona RC, Road America (aka Elkhart Lake), Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen, Laguna Seca, Barber, Long Beach, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Sears Pt., Summit Pt., the Indy RC, Mosport and Montreal (all of which–except Long Beach–are available as 3rd-party add-ons; a few well done, most not so much), and the quintessential gone-but-not-forgotten Riverside. They don’t have to be laser-scanned, they just have to be better than what’s out there; to look and feel like the real thing.
A nod to the stock-car racing fraternity would also be nice, too: not just the Steam Punk machinery (past and/or present), but also the major roundy-round circuits: Daytona, Indy, Talladega, ‘Lanta, Pocono, Phoenix, Michigan, Charlotte, Bristol, Darlington, Texas, Trenton, Nazareth, et cetera. I’d settle for an alliance with Stock Car Brasil. Some Indy Car/Champ Car action would also be welcome; anything from the Roadster Era to the current Crapwagen content.
Finally, we Yanks do make other road-racing machines than the Corvette. Yes, URD offers some excellent add-on cars, but few players seem inclined to pay for them. How about Chevy’s Camaro, Chrysler’s Viper, Ford’s GT and/or Mustang, Dodge’s Challenger, the Plymouth Barracuda of yore, Ray Caldwell’s Formula Vees and Skip Barber’s charmless training wheels…never mind classic ‘specials’ like Jim Hall’s Chaparrals, Dan Gurney’s Eagles, Lance Reventlow’s Scarabs, Carroll Shelby’s King Cobras, Bill Thomas’ Cheetahs, Bob and Bill Riley’s Daytona Prototypes, Joe Huffaker’s Genies, Clint Brawner’s Hawks, Max Balchowsky’s Old Yallers, Don Nichols’ Shadows, Andy Granatelli’s turbines, Howard Hanna’s Howmet turbine, Ken Miles’ Flying Shingle, Pete Lovely’s Pooper…. Come on! I know you can’t undertake them all, but how about one or two? Please?
And don’t give me that guff about licensing fees! Instead of going to manufacturers, hat in hand, and begging, “Please, sir, may I have some more?” you need switch up your approach to that of the producers of movies like “Transformers,” who say, “You want participation in this venture? It’ll cost ya!” Think ‘Product Placement.’ If you can’t convince them with metrics like ‘indirect traffic,’ ‘zero bounce rate,’ ‘share of mind,’ ‘time on site,’ ‘number of views’ (astronomical in a sim!) and ‘cost per view,’ you don’t understand marketing (I spent 20 years in that particular salt mine and I know whereof I speak).
Hello again Steve, thanks for another great submission. I’m also a huge fan of the SuperGT series and I’m always looking for a good game that has Japanese content. Sadly, only Forza has fulfilled that need at this point, and some good rFactor mods like Formula Nippon for example. The truth is, the Sim Racing market has always been predominantly European to begin with, so it makes alot of sense for a European company like Kunos to be biased towards what they’re familiar with, and then slowly branch out from there. Especially a lower budget game like what started with NetKar Pro. At least Stefano seems like a guy who is passionate about the genre, and AC has constantly been expanding outwards.
The big problem I see here is all the companies who know marketing are not going to be making hardcore racing games. Let’s be honest, most sim racing developers are in it because they are passionate about racing and want to see it done properly (Neils with GSCX for example), or are new to the game industry and think they found a dry market genre with little competition, and put out a giant turd that has no appeal to the true hardcore race fans anyway (Codemasters or SMS, which learned very well from EA here).
Project CARS and their crowd-funding bullshit was a great scheme to get people to pay you to create a game of whatever quality (not very good) you feel like spending into it, after you already know what your profit margin is going to be at minimum. The marketing side of any game has always been skewed to what will make money the quickest, and they have been getting away with continually worse products; especially in the low competition sim racing market, and licensing has always seemed to come down to who is willing to pay more, and car companies know this! Hence all the racing games in the 90’s like original Need for Speed games that had exclusive licensing and created monopoly situations, and/or Automobili Lamborghini.
Early Access has become so big, companies can get people to PAY THEM to be alpha/beta testers instead of having to pay a proper Q/A team to do it. Gamers are shitting in their own beds by not seeing the grand scheme of greedy companies and then actually paying them just so they can play a broken version of the game quicker. Without proper beta testers you end up with a broken finished product that leads into what we end up with PCARS or AC AI. The majority of players never play the game again after they get bored of the game throughout Early Access, as seems to be industry standard (see COD) for the lifespan of games these days probably due to the short attention span and instant gratification society breeds into people these days.
The sad part is, the standard for licensing has already been set over the last 20 years. (not to mention costs for all the equipment and flights to get what people demand must be laserscanned tracks) even though Zandvoort, for example, was very high quality without laser scanning. The marketing in the past has hurt us again here and tricked people thinking that exact laser scanned maps are far superior and therefore nothing else is even worth looking at (thanks iRacing). The truth is, you will never feel the difference through a consumer wheel and computer anyway, the technology is nowhere near good enough to give a true realistic experience even with a DD Wheel or Motion cockpit.
As far as NASCAR content, iRacing has a major monopoly here, with official licensing an actual pay structure for high level racers (sadly not worth it for the amount of work put in) rFactor 2 is of course working on their own unlicensed content and I’m hoping it finally will fulfill my need, as a touring Late Model driver, to have realistic oval content for once. To oval race properly is mostly about the competition itself other then racing the track as you know, and a company like AC is not even going to look to get into a battle with iRacing when they don’t even have there multiplayer at a respectful level yet to compete with the oval juggernaut that exists currently.