We’ve all heard the ridiculous stories of Ferrari sending a team of mechanics out to oversee track day competitions for popular automotive publications, but I’d never imagined this sort of behavior would be replicated within the comparatively small world of virtual auto racing. Today’s Reader Submission wishes to remain anonymous, but has some extremely important info regarding the performance of certain vehicles within Assetto Corsa. As the email’s sent to me aren’t exactly anonymous, I can confirm this info as accurate because the person who sent it in is trustworthy, I just don’t want their ass to get sued over a very real non-disclosure agreement.
Since you’ve been posting about Assetto Corsa’s physics flaws, I have some stuff for you that might be better than mindless forum dribble. I’ve been a community beta tester since Kunos first started yanking members from the forums to do their dirty work. I stopped actively participating at the start of this year, school and all, but so far nobody has noticed my absence. Either that, or they do not care. I know of at least one Sim Racing site that begged for beta access for all their staff members, but never used it a whole lot, and nothing happened to them. The active beta members are (mostly) Kunos apologists, so my input wasn’t all that valuable to them anyhow.
Anyways, I saw some, shall we say, neat little forum posts from the Kunos guys during the periods I frequented the beta forums each day.
The “first draft” of the McLaren MP4-12C road car was really bad. This wasn’t their fault. Kunos built the car based on the exact numbers they were given by McLaren, and the result was a poor supercar. I can’t remember if the Early Access members got as many drastic changes as the car went through in the hands of Kunos, but I do remember hating the car one build, it’s like it didn’t drive properly or the on-board computer systems didn’t work, and loving it a few months later.
This was because of pressure from McLaren. In a moment of frustration, and other beta members will be able to back me up (if they choose to), one of the Kunos guys posted a pretty long rant in the beta forum about the MP4-12C. He said he was struggling to fudge the numbers to get the car to drive in a way that would satisfy McLaren. Kunos described how brutal the car was in real life, and it’s the reason the new 650 models exist in the first place. When it came to putting the car in Assetto Corsa, McLaren wouldn’t let Kunos portray their car in a realistic manner, because realistic would mean almost everyone would hate it.
The same thing happened with the Ferrari 458 Italia, though it wasn’t accompanied by any sort of long venting session. I think the people who were in Early Access noticed this one a lot more. The first build it was available, a lot of guys had problems driving it. A patch or two later, a ton of threads popped up saying things like “I’ve fallen in love with this car all over again!”
There’s a bit of a pattern here. Ferrari is even more anal about how their cars are depicted in video games. I’m sure you know about the whole Forza/Gran Turismo style games lacking significant car damage, because companies ask the game developers not to show their cars getting too beat up. Well, Ferrari goes to the extreme.
As part of the licensing agreement, Ferrari demanded their new LaFerrari to be faster than McLaren’s P1 at certain tracks in Assetto Corsa. It wasn’t as long of a tirade, to be honest I can’t remember if it was just info circulating among beta testers via word of mouth, but again Kunos were forced to fudge numbers in order to comply with Ferrari’s wishes. The agreement literally said the LF had to be faster than the P1 at X, Y, and Z tracks. Even though the proper numbers said the P1 was the overall better car, the agreement forced Kunos to fudge numbers and hope enough people wouldn’t notice. I don’t think they have, I haven’t seen it discussed anywhere.
I’m not sure how many other cars this was done for. I don’t think Lotus is as concerned with their video game cars as Ferrari is. Lotus was actually one of the first manufacturers to let Kunos run wild with the car selection and include as many as they wanted, from all eras.
Not the first time I’ve heard this rumor in regards to Kunos tweaking some numbers as requested by the manufacturer, and not really all that surprising.
I know the first time car damage was really a topic of discussion was when Forza Motorsport 2 was released for the Xbox 360 in 2007. A lot of people thought that with the new (at the time) console, there’d be a huge upgrade in visual car damage effects, and of course when people got their hands on the game, you couldn’t even roll your car. Through lots of whining on the community’s part, it indeed came out that a good majority of the manufacturers didn’t want their cars displayed as “potentially unsafe” or some other bullshit reason.
This problem also popped up in the most recent Need for Speed games. Built on Criterion’s Burnout engine, the previous four or five Need for Speed titles have these massive crash sequences reminiscent of the hit Acclaim series, but the players’ car always drives off with only a slight scratch.
The most recent case of this strange brand reputation management came in Test Drive Unlimited 2. Ferrari was really strict when it came to the game’s customization features, and some players immediately took notice. You couldn’t paint the car any color aside from the official Ferrari colors, and you couldn’t even buy performance upgrades, meaning some Ferrari’s were entirely useless when racing online.
In this situation with Assetto Corsa, it’s extremely disappointing as a sim racer. One of the biggest draws of Assetto Corsa is simply running laps in isolation, because most of us were under the impression that the Ferrari or McLaren they were driving on a track by themselves was an authentic recreation, not just a Forza-level approximation. The fact that not one but two manufacturers have stepped in to control how their vehicles behave in a racing sim via paperwork is not a direction this genre needs to go in.
With Forza, I can deal with an approximated Ferrari 458, because there are something like 550+ cars to choose from that are sort of in the ballpark of their real life counterparts, an entire Career Mode can be explored at my own free will, ranked online races in a plethora of different classes guarantee I’ll always have someone to race against, and near limitless upgrade options turn the game into an automotive sandbox. Assetto Corsa isn’t Forza; the primary selling point is the car meets road experience, and accuracy of what is included in the game. Letting manufacturers step in as if this is a Road & Track 2016 Car of the Year Competition… Yeah, this just makes each of the brands look far more asshurt than a multi-billion dollar car manufacturer ever should be over video games.