Last night, we here at PRC.net ran a story regarding the IndieGoGo campaign by Reiza Studios to raise money for the development of their upcoming racing simulators during the summer of 2015. A roaring success which raised $107,000 in a little over a month, my own questions in regards to the integrity of the campaign prompted me to contact IndieGoGo myself and ask for clarification. Now for starters, I like Reiza’s products, I’ve purchased Reiza’s products, and our official V8 Supercars league is run with Reiza’s products. I don’t actually want these guys to fail. I simply had questions regarding the crowdfunding campaign, and made that pretty clear in the inquiry Email I sent off to IndieGoGo. It’s essentially a short version of the article published last night. Same links, same screenshots, just dumbed-down so someone who isn’t a sim racer can understand things easier. I don’t want bad calls being made, but the entire email boils down to this question:
I don’t have a problem with Reiza integrating community mods into the base install of Stock Car Extreme and other isiMotor sims they choose to release in the future. It’s beneficial for them to do so, as rFactor requires certain elements that the community has created since the game’s release in 2005 to run on modern hardware. But as I’ve said last night, sites like IndieGoGo, KickStarter, and Patreon all have very specific rules regarding the content you’re allowed to raise money for. As a quick summary: the content you’re creating has to be yours, and if it isn’t, you have to at least disclose what you’re doing to potential financial backers.
For example, when I read the description of the Sim Racing Bonanza back in the Summer, Reiza made things sound like they were developing all of these new features in-house after “years limited by a hard-coded platform” and stating “we had only been able to add new functionalities to the game with plugins & code injection”, hence the six-figure budget required to get everything up and running:
Now, how many people would have still rushed to raise money for development if Reiza had come out and said they’re simply bundling a bunch of free rFactor mods together, as they’ve done in our comments section?
This is why I emailed IndieGoGo in the first place, as what Reiza is doing is beneficial for sim racers, but technically not what these sites normally allow, and I’d like to have someone check that over. After an automated “your ticket has been received” Email, a rep from IndieGoGo by the name of Brian sent me a notification that Reiza’s campaign is under review a few days later.
Renato from Reiza Studios graciously typed a lengthy response to the original article in our comments section, so we’ll throw it up here in full to ensure everyone is able to see it and it doesn’t get buried by that guy spamming Imgur links regarding a different game:
Renato’s response is friendly, and answers many questions with the utmost of confidence, so before we analyze what he’s written, we should thank him for taking the time to speak to the community in a mature and thoughtful manner, considering recent events on other public forums.
The first thing I’d like to draw attention to, is that Renato has shared with us the fact that people are indeed leaking legitimate information about the development of Stock Car Extreme and Automobilista. In his words: “a couple of suspects out there are intentionally sticking around so they can leak info and cause some trouble if given half the chance. That´s par for the course. Hopefully they find the excitement to be worth their money.” This gives a bit of credibility to the postings on NoGripRacing.
The description of the campaign says Reiza requires a fairly large budget to develop additional features after years of being limited by a hardcoded platform, but Johnny SimRacer doesn’t need any budget to find, download, and install the same plugins that Reiza is advertising as “new features” which allegedly require a bunch of time and the community’s money to develop.
Third, Renato indeed says “The guy who developed RFE also worked for us professionally over 2014 – at the time we did not have the source code for the engine and injecting via plugins was the only way we could add extra features to the existing products. He wrote code specific for us, most of which doesn’t relate to RFE plugin. The guy has not done any work for us for over one year now though, and his method is no longer relevant.” From what I understand, they were indeed using the RFE Plugin to simulate dynamic track conditions, and the guy behind it also helped them in other areas of the product not relating to RFE before taking off. Again, more credibility is given to the rumors on NoGripRacing.
As a sim racer, I don’t mind the use of community mods in a commercial product for the sole fact that it improves the end user experience. However, with Automobilista being a re-release of Stock Car Extreme with extra content and a few new features, clearly running on the isiMotor engine and not being in development long enough to see massive changes to the game engine, there is a very large chance Automobilista is using some element of the RFE Plugin in the same manner it uses RealFeel, SRPL Shaders, and the GID Plugin.
And if this is indeed the case, this might cause problems with IndieGoGo, hence why they are now reviewing the campaign. Crowdfunding platforms are designed for users to pitch in money to help create a new thing, not compile and tweak rFactor mods while calling it “development.” Again, from a sim racer standpoint, I don’t mind paying $30 for rFactor with a bunch of the best community plug-ins baked into the vanilla install. Ultimately, IndieGoGo decides what to do – if anything – from here. The future is a giant question mark.