Readers of PRC.net who are veterans of the sim racing scene are most likely aware of the third party modding team calling themselves IDT Simulations. Once on the path to establishing themselves as the Reiza Studios of the United States – working hard on an officially licensed Champ Car title during the late 2000’s – the group eventually cut back on operations after the title failed to materialize due to internal troubles, and slowly released their finished material in the form of free modifications for isiMotor powered software.
While most of their content centered around the various North American Open Wheel racing series at the height of their contributions to the world of sim racing, eventually the team struck up a deal with on-site simulator software for large-scale Grand Prix racing events. In much simpler terms, the simulator setups found inside the various “fan zones” at most IndyCar races would make use of the rFactor 2 platform, as well as one of many IDT third party tracks that other teams had simply never bothered to construct. Long Beach, San Jose, Las Vegas, Cleveland, and Toronto are just some of their creations, which were usually built to serve one of many different Champ Car, CART, or IndyCar mods they had released publicly.
And once again, for the 2016 Honda Indy Toronto event taking place at the Exhibition Place circuit, the simulators inside the Honda World attraction will be using IDT’s version of Toronto. The group’s Facebook page proudly proclaims this will be the fourth year in a row IDT is involved with Honda and SimXperience, but the accompanying screenshots bundled with the news are almost embarrassing. The version of Toronto for rFactor that was once deemed acceptable back in 2007 has simply not aged well at all, turning what can be a very competent and enjoyable auto racing simulator into a roblox-tier shitshow.
Many fans attending the Toronto IndyCar race are not sim racing connoisseurs by any means, and have only heard of this niche genre through word of mouth while playing Forza on Xbox Live. It is disappointing that our favorite genre, and a genre that is supposedly on a “higher level” than a lot of mainstream racing games, will be publicly represented by a criminally outdated piece of work. If I was just some random guy strolling through the festivities at the IndyCar race in Toronto, and my first impression of a full-blown hardcore racing simulator looked like this, I would have absolutely no incentive to even investigate what this world has to offer. Sure, at one point in time it may have blown people away, but given how far technology has advanced, I may as well be playing Andretti Racing for the PSX.
It’s a mess, and this is an extremely poor way to promote sim racing to the masses. I’m obviously hoping these screenshots aren’t reflective of what the SimXperience setup will have to offer fans at the Honda Indy Toronto, but given the fact that the two most popular pieces of IDT branded content are available on the Steam Workshop – Long Beach and Toronto – I can safely say that they don’t look a whole lot better when the graphics are jacked up to modern levels. Even more unfortunate, once you dig past the primary pieces of third party content for rFactor 2 that everyone claims to love – I’m talking about the EGT mod, a couple of Virtua_LM tracks that have survived the conversion process, and the 1987 Celica GTO – this is what you’re actually getting with rFactor 2, and this is the reason the game hasn’t caught on in the way the original did. The teams who didn’t build something from the ground up, but rather quickly converted their old content and just sort of hoped it would fit into the new piece of software, this was the result.I can’t say I’m all that compelled to jump on rFactor 2 and run some laps around Long Beach or Toronto when it looks this poor.
As someone who’s slowly gaining more and more of an interest in IndyCar, it’s really shitty to amass a partially roster of IndyCar locales, only to discover how out-of-place they are in 2016. And this is what’s happening to the dwindling rFactor 2 userbase. They really want to like the software, and yes, there are a handful of cars and tracks that are 100% worth racing, so lets give credit where credit is due. But as you explore, and maybe build your rFactor 2 install around a theme – be it GT3 cars, or Indy Cars, or American Stock Cars… You run into situations like this, where beyond the initial layer of quality content pushed front and center in various news articles regarding the software, pulling back the curtains reveals a bunch of unflattering conversions and half-finished content. It’s extremely disappointing, because rFactor 2 can be an exceptional piece of software under the right circumstances, but this kind of content simply doesn’t do the game any favors whatsoever.