Those who have hung around PRC.net for the long haul know a large portion of our Project CARS articles are composed by merely venturing to the game’s official forums, and taking a screenshot of somebody reporting a laughable bug that destroys a crucial element of the overall racing experience. Our consistent stream of articles chronicling the abysmal post-release state of Slightly Mad Studios’ multi-platform racing sim have been an ugly sight to behold; a melting pot of every bad decision a game developer can possibly make, paired with a community every bit as delusional about the product as the people who worked tirelessly to bring it to life.
In the past, I’ve focused primarily on the antics of studio head Ian Bell – a figure known to throw virtual tantrums and personally hand out bans to anyone who dares to question the quality of Project CARS while on their official stomping grounds. When we first began reporting on these strange outbursts, many Project CARS fans claimed we had an irrational vendetta against Slightly Mad Studios, and questioned our motives behind numerous articles slamming the game itself, as well as Ian Bell as an individual. In short, a lot of people thought we were legitimately crazy for publishing the articles we did regarding Project CARS. Yet with 2015 now firmly behind us, other sim racing websites have slowly aligned themselves with our controversial viewpoints, as not one but two major publications are listing the Project CARS disaster as one of 2015’s major stories. With access to the admin control panel here on WordPress, I can safely say that covering Project CARS in the manner we chose to is the sole reason PRC.net became successful among sim racers.
But for today’s Project CARS article, I feel it’s necessary to move in a different direction. We’ve talked about the WMD process that silenced criticism, we’ve shown you the abundance of glitch videos sending prototypes to Jesus, and we’ve picked apart Ian Bell’s tirades against random forum users, but we’ve never dove into a crucial element that causes so many sim racers to actively speak out against Project CARS: the community.
Some days when browsing any Project CARS-related message boards, whether it’s on Reddit or the official forums, I feel as if somebody forgot to pour me a glass of the poison Kool-Aid. Look, I was a WMD member at one point, I’ve torrented the game a couple different times after launch, and this Ruben guy writes us huge Reader Submissions once a month to tell us how fucked up whatever latest patch made things on his end. Objectively, Project CARS is easily the worst racing sim ever released, and we’ll still be talking about this cataclysmic failure into the 2020’s.
Yet, I go onto these forums where Project CARS is actively discussed, and it’s like I’ve stepped into a dimension previously accessible via the use of hallucinogenic drugs. These people can’t possibly be discussing the same Project CARS as the one myself and other reputable sim racers have shit-canned, right? The delusions, mental gymnastics, and outright denial exhibited by these waves of apologists make me question if there’s some secret version of Project CARS we’re all unaware of, or if a large portion of the community’s contributions were spent on viral marketers paid to praise the game on the official forums. It’s as if I’ve joined a cult, and during the introductory rituals somebody forgot to serve me the poison Kool-Aid.
I feel left out, but I’m unsure exactly what I’ve been left out from.
It’s Your Fault DRS Made the Car Explode!
About a week prior to Christmas, Slightly Mad Studios released the Formula Renault 3.5 Open Wheel racer in a pretty big Renault-themed DLC pack. Within mere hours of the premium DLC bundle going live, sim racers discovered a fatal flaw with the car’s drag reduction system. Basically, if you went around a gentle corner with the DRS system activated, your car would sink into the ground, flip, and explode. This isn’t how aerodynamics work. Hell, this isn’t anything close to what a single car spin should look like. This is obviously a bug. You can show this clip to people who don’t watch auto racing, and they’ll be like “what the fuck, is that a bug?”
When the issue was brought up on the official Project CARS message board, one user suggested to document all instances of this issue for the developers as if the customer was willing to sit down and act as a beta tester, while another claimed it was “user error.” That’s right, a glitch in a video game where the player’s car spontaneously flips and explodes for no justifiable reason is apparently the player’s fault.
Car Vaulting is Your Fault!
A genuine bug dating back to WMD beta builds of Project CARS is the ability to use your car as a ramp and launch opponents into the stratosphere. Slightly Mad Studios listed this as a genuine bug prior to release, and made a tangible effort to fix it as many Prototype and Ford GT40 races were ruined by AI cars doing this to each other.
In the video kicking off the thread, a player blows his braking point for a hairpin at Rouen and flies into the back of an Aston Martin GTE entry. The Aston Martin ramps off the player’s McLaren 12c like a toy and promptly retires from the race. Again, Slightly Mad Studios allegedly made every effort to fix this.
Yet, the OP who reported this issue is instead told to stop crashing into AI cars by several users. Obvious problems with the collision detection system are blamed on the player, when the player had done nothing out of the ordinary to warrant such bizarre crash physics. Contrary to the beliefs of the Project CARS apologists, drivers indeed do fuck up their braking points once in a while. It’s not an unrealistic expectation to wish for semi-realistic behavior in the event of heavy contact. Again, this is a genuine bug that has been around since beta builds of the game, a bug which Slightly Mad Studios promised to fix. Now that it hasn’t been fixed, rabid fanboys are placing the blame on the player.
It’s Your Fault the Wet Tire Compound is Faster in Dry Conditions!
We now dive into some of the more technical aspects regarding Project Cars, though I’ll do my best to keep everyone on the same page. Recently, the game’s tire wear has been all sorts of fucked up, as wet weather compound tires provide unreal lap times with virtually no degradation in dry conditions, and generic street tires are for whatever reason much faster and stable in heavy rain. It doesn’t take a genius to realize how completely backwards this is. I think the fact that this issue hasn’t received more attention tells a lot about who exactly are the individuals playing this game. For a game designed to be a hardcore racing simulation, how the tires behave within this allegedly realistic environment is quintessential to the racing experience, as managing the different tire compounds throughout an online race weekend is pretty integral to one’s success. With so few “sim racers” drawing attention to this issue, you begin to wonder if a majority of the userbase are opting to play Project CARS just to feel “above” the guys investing hundreds of hours into Forza Motorsport 6 – similar to the guys who claim to be hardcore FIFA fans but play with all penalties turned off.
Even though the issue of tires being modeled incorrectly has been actively discussed for almost a month, also appearing in our Formula Renault article over Christmas Holidays, the OP of this thread is convinced by other apologists that it’s just his fault for not being able to get the tires up to a proper operating temperature, even as other users in the thread are blaming the tire bug.
We Won’t Actually Fix It, We’ll Just Tell You We’re Fixing It!
A common mindset among the apologists residing in the Project CARS forum is their constant desire to police users who give any sort of negative feedback. Any time an unbiased user shows up to rightfully criticize an element of the game that is outright broken, they are told to create a topic in the appropriate technical issue sub-section, and give the developers at Slightly Mad Studios as much feedback as possible in order to replicate the specific bug, exploit, or glitch that has been discovered. Essentially, demands are placed on paying customers to jump through more hoops than a dolphin at Sea World, just to report that a portion of the game outright doesn’t work. This is usually the final straw that turns people away from the official Project CARS forums, as they did not pay $70 to become a beta tester when the quality assurance testing concluded over seven months ago, but alas, there are some people that buy into this concept and go through great efforts to notify Slightly Mad Studios of a crippling error. In this case, forum member NemethR reported that the pit stop procedure is utterly broken on multiple full-length circuits when using the SuperKart. The thread documenting this bizarre glitch was posted on July 5th, 2015.
On January 7th, 2016, NemethR made another post, noting that the glitch was still causing problems despite an SMS developer confirming they had found the bug and are working on a fix seven months earlier back on July 7th, 2015. Even when attempts are made to jump through every hoop in order to report a very serious bug to the developer team, nothing actually gets done about it.
They Hate Us Because They’re Jealous!
I think this thread wins the award for the most delusional group of posts on the Project CARS official forum, hands down. To start things off, a user with only 20 posts and a profile with virtually no information posted a thread asking why Project CARS is bashed so often on various sim racing sites, while stating he feels “spoiled” and “amazed” by how good the title is each time he loads up the game. The kid obviously has a right to his own opinion, but the responses that follow are nothing short of bewildering.
The first reply to the thread by a user named Lewis Puppy (which has since been edited) claims that Assetto Corsa had been on store shelves since 2011, and Assetto Corsa fans were on a crusade to discredit Project CARS because they were essentially jealous of how good of a game Project CARS was compared to Assetto Corsa, not to mention the incredible popularity Project CARS had achieved while Assetto Corsa was regarded as a niche title. This just goes to show how delusional these Project CARS fans are, as SteamCharts displays the exact opposite trend occurring. According to the raw data available to us, Project CARS bombed in spectacular fashion. And as the popularity of Project CARS dropped, Assetto Corsa’s popularity increased, indicating some neutral sim racers were abandoning the crowdfunded racing sim for the small title Kunos Simulazioni had built specifically for PC users.
This thread obviously derailed in spectacular fashion. Eight whole pages of fanboys were allowed to drum up crazy conspiracy theories in regards to why there is such a negative reputation for the sim developed with the help of 30,000 diehard sim racers, but when a user shows up to offer genuine insight, the topic is promptly locked.
It’s as if these guys intentionally live up to every label the sim racing community has given them, and are completely oblivious to the game they bend over backwards to defend on a daily basis. Now I found all of the above threads in about ten minutes of casually browsing the Project CARS forums while at work, so I can’t imagine there has been a time where things could have been considered better. Reading each of these threads from front to back is a surreal experience. Multiple sim racers genuinely concerned about the quality of the game they’ve just purchased bring up multiple issues that should have been rectified before the game landed on store shelves, and they’re told it’s all their fault. Every. Single. Time. Even when these issues have been labelled as problems by Slightly Mad Studios themselves, they are bullied into submission by fellow users with nothing to gain by doing so; a by-product of the weird cult-like atmosphere.
As a customer who has been around this “scene” since the late 1990’s, and played my fair share of truly awful racing games, nothing matches the level of Stockholm Syndrome of which I have seen on the official Project CARS message board. This is a game that is not only demonstrably broken, the developers themselves confirmed the game lacked Quality Assurance testing, and yet individuals go out of their way to blame fellow customers for fundamental problems that are the sole responsibility of Slightly Mad Studios. With the WMD program warranting such an insignificant Return on Investment for all but the biggest of financial backers, there is little to no reason for this behavior. It just makes people look really fuckin’ crazy, and explains why EmptyBox has stopped covering this game altogether.
Even armed with the knowledge that several people had a financial stake in the success of Project CARS, the level of delusion shared by the community surrounding the game is out of this world, making the Project CARS forums an extremely surreal read. It’s as if a portion of the members received a super-secret private build where every issue had been rectified, and you’re left wondering how they obtained it. The abundance of users attacking fellow sim racers for merely reporting bugs is so asinine, it makes you question if a portion of them are part of a viral marketing campaign – the likes of which Electronic Arts and co. embark on for major fall releases. I feel left out for not being able to understand what so many rabid pCars fans are seeing in such a horrid excuse for a racing sim. And I’m not sure I ever will.
One thing is for certain: We will be taking about the Project CARS disaster for a long, long time.