I’m not entirely sure how to address this lengthy forum post by Stefano Casillo over on the official Assetto Corsa forums. A strange monologue highlighting some of the daily stresses faced by developers Kunos Simulazioni, and more specifically Stefano himself, the post functions as a brief glimpse of what might be occurring behind closed doors – and it’s not pretty. After a PC launch which saw a steady stream of hardcore sim racers blast Assetto Corsa for shipping and evolving in a way that didn’t meet their needs, and two next-generation console release delays blamed on… wait for it… football… it appears the stress of delivering a competent and complete product has overwhelmed the small Italian developer team.
If you haven’t been following the recent controversial ordeal as it has developed, Kunos shocked the world of sim racing earlier in the week by abruptly canning almost all discussion of third party mods within the official Assetto Corsa forums. You’re no longer allowed to post links to car liveries, tracks, vehicles, or even pictures of projects you’re working on – with RaceDepartment graciously allowing distraught members to migrate over to their forum instead.
Now this was a very prominent and confusing issue within the community, because Assetto Corsa was originally built to be a modding platform on-par with the original rFactor. After several years spent nurturing the game’s massive modding community within the official support forums, Kunos Simulazioni staff member Stefano Casillo basically kicked everyone out one day, said the forum “wasn’t being used for it’s intended purposes”, and blamed it on everyone’s ego – as you can see in the capture above. This was absolutely non-sensical, as the modding section was hand-crafted specifically for the modding community, and was even used to recruit talent to help build extra pieces of both vanilla and premium DLC for Assetto Corsa. Casillo stated on at least three or four separate occasions that this had absolutely nothing to do with bizarre Italian laws, and that he was simply tired of people using a certain set of sub-forums to feed their own egos. It was a mess, and forum members straight up called Stefano a liar.
Only after the widespread outrage, did fellow Kunos Simulazioni staff member Aris Vasilakos come to the rescue and offer a radically different approach, completely contradicting Stefano’s explanation. As a third party merely evaluating everything that’s been thrown at me, I don’t believe either explanation. These guys are coworkers and are on Skype every single day, yet they give two entirely contradictory statements over the sudden restructuring of a community they’d been helping to build and grow for several years.
It’s weird, to say the least.
But anyways, this screenshot appeared in my inbox early this morning – apparently Stefano went on a bit of a tirade. I’ll do my best to clean up the grammar & spelling for those who can’t view the full-size image, and then we’ll break it down like we usually do here for Reader Submissions at PRC.net.
Trust me, it breaks my heart to fail you guys. All of you that support us, those of you whom are called “shills” just because you enjoy something, those of you whom showed up at the streams with enthusiasm… But all the passion and excitement for this thing called Assetto Corsa has been slowly taken away from me.
I guess it’s time to accept defeat and for me, to move on to something else. I am very reluctant to even write this message because we are in a stage where whatever we say, it’s going to be used against us with violence that honestly baffles me.
And I am sure this message will end up with the same fate as the one’s before; misread, misused, and brought on just to confirm everybody’s bias.
It’s really not just about the last drama that is unfolding, it’s simply the last nail in the coffin for me. I just couldn’t believe I found myself looking for a button to un-register from my own company’s forum. A company that I started because I did NOT want to be part of that “way” of doing business. And today, after so many years of work and passion, I see me and my team described as “liars”… People saying we ruined sim racing, people happy to be somewhere else because “the devs cannot bother us here.” It’s honestly too much to take for me. I know I should not focus on the negative (Aris tells me that every day). I should focus on the amazing things that we are going to announce, and be happy and proud of what we created, but I can’t, and I am sorry, because I feel like failing twice by letting you down.
Sadly, I have a character that brings me to try to interact with people over the internet and enjoy my “obsessions” with me, so it’s impossible for me to be into something “half-way”. I either go “full in” or “full out” – Assetto Corsa has been my life for the past five years, gave me great satisfaction, but also showed me the nasty side of humans. Hate blogs dedicated 24/7 to bring whatever we did and said down, day after day. How can people find pleasure in hurting and pushing other people down is really beyond me… It’s a mind state I will never understand, an they’ll probably celebrate the event tonight- who knows?
It must be the by-product of this thing called the internet. I see around pretty much every single game, regardless of genre, has the same (actually often worse) kind of constant hate flow around – It looks like there is a basic incompatibility between “success” and the possibility for devs to interact directly with the userbase. It’s not a surprise developer studios simply employ Public Relations “parrots” to fill their support forum with endless streams of “thank you for your support”, or simply ignore the users altogether.
Trust me, it’s really hard to invest so much into something you love, and see it trashed by ignorant people with lies without replying… Very, very hard.
Sometimes, if you love something too much, you end up ruining it for you and everybody else. That’s how I feel right now, and it’s pretty sad when you start thinking that taking a step back might actually make your company and team better.
Regarding the latest event, I can’t believe how people that hardly made more than a couple eternal WIP projects dared to behave like that, and write what they are writing against us. YES, you can disagree with our decisions, YES, you can be disappointed. But how on earth can you have no respect at all for those people who have spent every single second of the last five years of their lives to give you what we gave you – the chance to do what you are doing in the first place? It’s beyond me. It truly hurts, and the more we try to explain, the more we are called liars – to the point that I started to wish we really did all of this for the console release, or for some angry brand, or all the other nonsense I’ve read. It would make my suffering less painful. Somehow, it would be better to say “oops, they caught us” than go “do people really think this about us?” It’s like one of those slaps that hit you right in the face.
I had a terrible dream last night. I went to get my old 500 Abarth to go back home and I could not find it, I ran back and forth on the road trying to find it. I was sure I parked it here, then I saw a group of guys with hammers and they were trashing it, reducing it to pieces while I was screaming “no guys, please!” I woke up horrified to how this was really telling of what’s happening.
I’m going to take a big break from social and forums that will hopefully bring back a little bit of light… Hopefully the future will bring us something good for all of us.
Alright, I’ll try to go through this, piece by piece. Detailed analysis will obviously come from our readers in the comments section below, but for now, I’ll offer my take on some of the things mentioned by Stefano in his lengthy good-bye.
- “Trust me, it breaks my heart to fail you guys. All of you that support us, those of you whom are called “shills” just because you enjoy something…”
Diehard Assetto Corsa fans are labelled “shills” by hardcore sim racers, because virtually every online comment critical of Assetto Corsa is met with several users embarking on a witch hunt to discredit the author of said comment, as we’ve discussed here. This behavior is typical for online viral marketers – individuals tasked with spreading false positive feedback about a product.
- “And today, after so many years of work and passion, I see me and my team described as “liars”… People saying we ruined sim racing, people happy to be somewhere else because “the devs cannot bother us here…”
No sympathy from us here. 2015’s Christmas Season began with Kunos Simulazioni developers telling forum users to “have fun or get out” – the line used to justify an increase in message board moderation. Mere hours into 2016, Stefano visited RaceDepartment to pick fights with users unsatisfied with Assetto Corsa. And just recently, a sound modder was banned from the official Assetto Corsa forums for comments he made on a private Facebook group. This isn’t “passion” in the slightest – it’s a developer being an asshole.
As for the “liars” comment, it’s pretty easy to see why people are labeling Kunos with such a name. They spent years nurturing a modding community, canned them overnight because of “ego” problems, and only after the completely justified backlash, announced it was due to strange Italian laws – though Stefano explicitly stated it wasn’t.
Alright, so onto the next subject he mentions:
- Assetto Corsa has been my life for the past five years, gave me great satisfaction, but also showed me the nasty side of humans. Hate blogs dedicated 24/7 to bring whatever we did and said down, day after day. How can people find pleasure in hurting and pushing other people down is really beyond me… It’s a mind state I will never understand, an they’ll probably celebrate the event tonight- who knows?
It’s not my fault I booted up Assetto Corsa more than a year after the game’s “Version 1.0 Release,” and multiple AI cars promptly drove straight into a wall – rendering the entire single player portion of the game useless. I haven’t been given an all-expenses paid trip to Italy so I can drive supercars at Vallelunga; I can say what I want about this game. If I find a game-breaking bug, I can talk about it. If that bothers you, make sure this kind of stuff doesn’t make it into the consumer release and we won’t have this problem.
And maybe my grasp of the English language is a bit different compared to that of an ESL-speaker, but if a developer uses PR fluff to brag about delaying their game due to summer holidays and football matches, that’s not hate speech – that’s pointing out a developer gave an utterly bogus reason as to why their buggy game is being delayed yet again. But, maybe that’s just me, and I’m mentally ill or something – as is supposedly everyone who doesn’t mindlessly praise Assetto Corsa while ignoring obvious faults.
- It truly hurts, and the more we try to explain, the more we are called liars – to the point that I started to wish we really did all of this for the console release, or for some angry brand, or all the other nonsense I’ve read.
Wait, so is this guy calling the explanation Aris gave, “nonsense?”
I’ll leave it at that. You guys figure out where to go from here.