Happy New Year everybody, and welcome to 2016! I know PretendRaceCars.net hasn’t started the year off on the brightest note for some of you, but a reputable rFactor modder who wishes to remain anonymous has shared some insight on a story James posted on New Years Day about Reiza Studios. After James’ article criticized Reiza for elements of the Sim Racing Bonanza campaign that appeared to be dishonest, we’ve received a very long Email supporting those feelings. As a third party who was originally skeptical of the angle James chose to cover this story from, I will re-analyze the information with these new findings and see if my opinion changes.
If you decide to publish this, please erase any information that might identify me. I don’t want people to know who I am. Sadly, there is nothing which can be considered 100% proof, so this submission may be useless for you, but still. I received the information I’m about to tell you from a fellow modder, and he had a chance to take a look at what Reiza were doing with Stock Car Extreme before the IndieGoGo campaign became a big thing everyone wanted to give money to.
There is something wrong with Renato’s answers in regards to certain dates he’s mentioned when asked about the implementation of rFE. When the rFE Weather Plugin was still fairly new, I was personally approached by a guy from rFE asking if me and my team were interested in becoming an official “sponsor” of the plugin, by making our mod natively support it. After an internal debate, we decided not to work with the rFE team because it would not benefit our mod in a way that would justify the effort needed to implement it. Not to mention the tracks themselves in our track pack would have needed extra work to be compatible with the plugin. We just didn’t see the point.
I do not recall when we were approached by the rFE guys, and I can’t check because I’ve since changed my email address and can’t find the conversation I had with the rFE dev. I think his name was Marco, and the conversation was between late 2013 and mid 2014.
What I do remember, is that at the time I still had Windows 7 on my machine, and I was about to switch to Windows 8. In one of the emails with the rFE guy, I directly asked him about Windows 7 support for the plugin. He told me they were still actively working on it, but development was very slow because of both how Windows 7 worked, and how rFactor interacted with it.
You may think I am rambling and that this has nothing to do with Reiza. It does.
If the developers of rFE were still struggling to work on their mod for rFactor in 2014 due to Windows 7 causing unforeseen problems, how were they able to work on Stock Car Extreme in 2014 as Renato claimed? They were struggling just to implement changes on their own work due to problems with the operating system, but somehow they have no problems on a commercial project? I guess you could say that since rFactor and Stock Car Extreme are the same thing, working on the former and then converting the plugin for Stock Car Extreme would have been fairly easy for them, but still… In my honest and simple opinion, something is not right. But nothing matters anymore, as the whole team either disbanded or simply disappeared because there haven’t been any updates in over a year.
My friend and I talked about the whole Reiza-rFE connection only once, and when we did, according to him it was very fresh news. Which means that the first version of the Reiza-rFE partnership came in the Spring or Summer of 2015, and not sometime in 2014 like Renato said.
Of course, some of this is pure speculation, but it still puzzles my mind when I consider the dates. Reiza says they stopped working with the rFE team in 2014, yet in the summer of 2015, my trusted friend told me that the rFE-Reiza partnership was fresh news, and said it was rFE at work in the video published on July 10th, 2015.
To be fair, I don’t think Reiza meant to act in a bad manner and keep secrets from the community, but for some reason they didn’t publish any information until recently, when users started questioning the need for Automobilista other than the license problem.
It’s like they are not even trying. I mean, if there weren’t any problems (and if the whole situation surrounding all the different plugins used was legit) why did they wait until the last few days when you guys started stirring up drama left and right, and myself and others on NoGrip did the same? Why didn’t they reveal all of this sooner?
Then you have The Lonely‘s reply, where he literally told someone to fuck off. That’s Ian/Stefano level right there. But if the two mighty studio heads know their games are broken and feel the need to go out and insult users who ask questions, why would The Lonely do the same? If everything we wrote on NoGrip was just a bunch of bullshit, why did he overreact like that? That’s the sign I’d focus on. If you have nothing to hide and if your work was all done as you’d advertised it, you don’t need to get so defensive on a public forum by insulting your own potential customers.
Look, I’ve known that guy for years. Not personally, but as a fellow modder. His name, and especially his work, were always attributed to top-notch quality in the rFactor community. He was a track maker if I recall, so it’s no wonder why the Stock Car Extreme tracks were so good. He’s worked for ISI as well, so his background is legit. But to lose his shit that way? Something’s wrong here.
Sorry if I derailed again, so I’ll travel back to the main topic of discussion.
If there is something shady going on behind the scenes, I don’t know. What I do know, is that if you advertise a product and part of it was not 100% made by you, you have to put the original author’s name right there, either on the main poster or somewhere else the potential customer can easily go and read by himself.
Using the rFE Plugin example, it doesn’t matter if you reworked 99% of the code by scratch. If the original work is still based on something made by someone else, that person or group of people still deserve credit. And in the Automobilista advertising posters, as well as the crowdfunding thing on IndieGoGo, Reiza fails to mention the authors of the various plugins their work is based on. There is nothing to be ashamed of in writing “Dynamic Weather and Track Conditions made possible using heavily reworked code and assets based on rFactor’s rFE Weather Plugin Modification” – and so on for everything else.
As I’ve said previously, I don’t think they meant any harm with this, but it sure as hell backfired on them. And if they had nothing to hide, they could have crowdfunded things more openly without having people running around wildly on NoGrip angering The Lonely.
I think it’s finally time I weigh in on the debate, since apart from one comment in a previous post, I haven’t said anything about this matter. Iit’s probably a good idea to give the readers a different and unbiased explanation of everything that happened.
First of all, let me explain some things before I go into the actual content of this submission. As I wrote in my comment, I initially disagreed with what James did about the whole Indiegogo thing. I say I initially disagreed because now, knowing the whole story, I am leaning more towards agreeing with James.
At first the problem for me was that I didn’t understand why exactly James did this, and I only saw it as pointless shit-stirring, the way many of you probably saw it as well. After the publishing of the article and the overwhelming negative response to it (way more negative than usual), I talked with James about it again and only then did I begin to understand the whole picture; It all started with him reading the NoGrip thread and wondering if there was any substance behind the accusations and – if true – what implications this could have, or would have had, for the Indiegogo campaign of Reiza. He researched the ToS of several crowdfunding platforms just to get a basic understanding of what you can and can’t do. After having done this research and having read the NoGrip thread James concluded that Reiza might have infringed upon Indiegogo’s Terms of Service. James wrote an email to Indiegogo to tell them about his findings and whether Indiegogo could tell him if Reiza had done something wrong or not.
And this is where everything went downhill: Indiegogo answered and said that they will investigate the claim, however they will not let James know of the outcome of the investigation, no matter whether Reiza was guilty or innocent. Initially James had planned to write about the matter after he received a definitive answer from Indiegogo, something which was impossible now due to Indiegogo’s secrecy about the outcome of the investigation. Left with no other choice other than not doing anything, he started writing up an article about what he had found out so far and that he had reported his findings to Indiegogo. He failed however, to properly disclose in the article that by doing this he wasn’t out to hurt Reiza just to stir shit up, but to satisfy his curiosity. The headline and the article themselves were worded quite aggressively which made it seem like this time he had an actual vendetta against a developer, where actually the opposite of it was true. I think we all know what happened in the comment section, when finally Renato from Reiza publicly replied in the comments section in order to explain things and put everything into perspective. All of this has culminated in this Reader Submission and my subsequent answer to this submission.
As our anonymous reader tells us, apparently there is a slight discrepancy between Renato’s statement and the insider information that our reader has supplied us with. At first look, it might seem like Renato has told an outright lie, as he publicly stated here on PRC that they had an RFE guy work together with them in 2014. This coincides with the statement of the user The Lonely over at the NoGrip forums who states that someone worked with them about 18 months ago – just after our reader was apparently approached by the RFE guys to work together on their mod. Now, in the private Facebook conversation between Anon and his friend, we learn that apparently Reiza hasn’t been working together with the RFE guys in 2014, but actually in 2015. This obviously is a direct contradiction to Renato’s and The Lonely’s statements about their work together with RFE.
I however have a different theory. When the two Reiza guys mention that they worked together with someone from RFE in 2014, The Lonely also reports that after working with them for a short time, the guy went AWOL (absent without official leave), meaning the guy simply disappeared without ever replying back. This could have several reasons, such as him losing interest or – and this is another one of my theories – the guy worked on this with Reiza without the knowledge of the rest of the RFE guys, so he either got cold feet or someone found out and forced him to cease all communications with Reiza. What I think happened next, is that even though Reiza’s main guy from RFE left, they still wanted to have all the features of the weather plugin, but this time they had to go through the right channels to get what they wanted. Whether Reiza knew that the sole RFE dude was working with them “legally” or not is not up to me to decide, but they knew that this time they had to officially license the plugin with the RFE guys in order to be able to use it in their sim, or straight up hire some of them to work for Reiza.
It probably took them a while to gather the required funds to do this (they are Brazilians working on a very tight budget after all), so by the time the crowdfunding campaign started, the people working on the weather plugin had already been well-integrated into the team working on GSCE.
Now, if my theory is correct at this point, then officially the weather plugin isn’t something that they just fed into their platform anymore, but actually either a licensed product added to their code or a whole rewrite/continuation of the plugin, now officially worked on by Reiza employees and implemented into their engine.
If this is true, then Reiza did not breach any ToS paragraphs of Indiegogo (to my understanding), and what this whole ordeal yielded was both a lot of hate for PRC, but also shed some light onto the internal workings of Reiza.
In my opinion, Reiza could have been more open about how they implemented their features, as this would have prevented a lot of the outfall that our articles generated. Some of the things mentioned in this Reader Submission don’t play any role at all in my eyes, such as the whole Windows 7 thing. Just because it didn’t work properly in rFactor it doesn’t necessarily have to do the same in GSCE. They are, after all, two seperate games with different file structures and code (demonstrated by the fact that you can’t simply use an rFactor1 mod in GSCE without some changes to it), so it might just be that the plugin can easily be coded to work without any issues in GSCE under Windows7, but not in rFactor.
The issue with not properly disclosing who has done the work is also solved by the fact, if my theory is correct again, the RFE guys officially work for Reiza now, so no special mentioning of RFE will be necessary, just like any outsourced cars for Assetto Corsa done by MAK-Corp aren’t really credited to them as long as they are official content. As long as you own the license to it, it doesn’t matter whether you actually did the work yourself or had someone else do it. If Reiza owns the license to the weather plugin now, they don’t have to disclose where they got it from, as this is how these deals work.
To conclude: Do I still think James was wrong to inquire about all of this? No, I don’t think so anymore as all of this has shed some much-needed light onto everything. I still think however, that the way all of this was done could’ve been done in a different way, with less aggressive wording from our side, but also a more honest and friendly approach from Reiza employees, because as our Anonymous source said, simply telling someone to fuck off is straight-up Ian Bell / Stefano level of communication, something with no publisher should strive towards to. I really hope that readers who get angry with us about all of this will not turn their back towards us, and maybe someone from Reiza can contact us to confirm or deny my theories about what happened so every doubt that arose can be erased.