There have long been rumors swirling around about Kunos Simulazioni regarding their trigger-happy approach to scooping up unauthorized third party conversions and injecting them into Assetto Corsa without the public’s knowledge, but this has been something that’s been incredibly difficult to prove. We know for a fact that Kunos indeed do lurk the modding community supporting Assetto Corsa, and occasionally recruit talented individuals or teams to help build pieces of content for future Downloadable Content packs – such as Virtua Simulazioni – but the concept of Kunos accidentally paying for a stolen creation is more of an urban legend than anything else. There’s a chance it could happen, but we’ve always assumed Kunos are smart enough to tell when they’re dealing with a genuine model up for purchase, as opposed to a shady individual.
If today’s Reader Submission is any indication, this might be much more than just an urban legend, which could have very interesting ramifications on the future of Assetto Corsa. Numerous pairs of eagle eyes within the official Assetto Corsa forums have spotted that Kunos Simulazioni are using what appears to be a hastily ripped version of Laguna Seca in their official on-location Porsche simulators, from a content “creator” notorious for ripping models from other popular racing simulators, and selling them as third party payware add-ons for Assetto Corsa. Based on what has been presented to us in the submission, this is a pretty big oops on the part of Kunos. I don’t want to outright confirm this one because I don’t want to believe no developer is truly this stupid, but it’s really not looking good.
If there’s anything Kunos Simulazioni seem to be proud of, it’s their new relationship with Porsche. Some weeks ago, the Italian developer organized several trackdays, borrowed cars from the Porsche museum, and invited Porsche employees, as well as gaming journalists, to this lucrative press event, which seems to be par for the course with Kunos as of late. The overall theme of this party was something like “Porsche and Assetto Corsa – We Belong Together.” And at first glance, there is little to contradict this. Kunos are the first developer to bring Porsche sports cars to their game without paying Electronic Arts a substantial fee for a long time, though I guess we’ll never know the details of the Turn 10 thing for the Forza Motorsport Porsche Expansion packs.
Anyways, for this event, Kunos built special simulators for the sports car company, powered by Assetto Corsa, and these simulators are what I want to talk about today.
The picture above shows one of these simulators in action, so yes, it was a very fancy event, all kinds of Porsche stylistic details to enclose the cockpits, that sort of thing. But what’s interesting is what’s on the upper screen. If you scale up the monitor’s display, you recognize the pit lane exit of Laguna Seca in Monterrey, California. Now we all know that Laguna Seca was more or less announced to come to Assetto Corsa sometime in 2017, so I just assumed these employees were given an advanced version of the track to play around with. It seemed absolutely normal that Kunos’ major customers are the first to enjoy this track, as Black Cat County was used in Maserati promotional gigs before becoming official content in a free update.
But then people on the official forum discovered that the virtual reproduction of the California race track used in the commercial simulators has a whole bunch in common with a popular yet supposedly illegal third party modification of Laguna Seca for Assetto Corsa. And if that wasn’t enough, another user proved that this exact version of Laguna Seca is actually an unauthorized conversion of a track originally released for rFactor many years ago, converted by a user who has been profiled in the past on PRC.net for selling ripped content – aspec7878. Go to his homepage and you’ll see what I mean; his entire store is nothing but ripped content from Project CARS and Forza Motorsport 4, locked behind a paywall. The same guy busted trying to sell the 3D model of Assetto Corsa’s Maserati Levante is the one to contribute a track used in a public simulator which Kunos was obviously paid for.
What do you think is going on here? This looks to be a major slip-up on the part of Kunos; accidentally using an illegal conversion in a commercial display. My mind is blown that this may indicate some of the rumors about Kunos might be true, I can’t believe they wouldn’t have any foresight here.
Alright so let’s back up a bit and trace what we know about this version of Laguna Seca, because this story gets monumentally more hilarious the deeper you dig. The first rendition of the track, created by Com8 for rFactor all the way back in 2006, was originally converted from TOCA Race Driver 3 – and I’m not pulling this out of my ass, you can literally go back to rFactorCentral, and it’s the first line in the description. So while I’m not saying Alex Hummler didn’t do a good job on his conversion, the roots of this virtual rendition actually lie in an old Codemasters game, which Alex certainly didn’t get permission for back in the day, but hey, that’s rFactor circa 2006 for you.
A user by the name of aspec7878, who as I mentioned is notorious for taking ripped Forza Motorsport 4 models and charging for them as if they’re premium payware mods, hastily converted this decade-old version of Laguna Seca into Assetto Corsa. Now as many of you who play Assetto Corsa on the PC have found out, yanking a track from rFactor and dropping it into the Kunos Simulazioni title produces all kinds of fucked up shit; the road mesh simply doesn’t transfer over properly, and it’s like driving on giant blocks of concrete. In fact, many users on the RaceDepartment forums – as well as on the tracks’ resource page where you can leave a proper review – actually complained about the quality of the track aspec7878 had converted, with the obligatory Kunos drones showing up to berate anyone who criticized what was obviously a hastily ripped mod.
Generic Assetto Corsa defense force comments aside, this essentially shows you why eyebrows are being raised at an aspec7878 rip being used in a commercial event. His content – if you could even call it that – just isn’t very good.
So what I’m trying to convey, is that the official Porsche simulator, powered by Assetto Corsa, was using a ten-year old rip of Laguna Seca from TOCA Race Driver 3 to show off their new licensing agreement in front of members of the gaming press during a private promotional event. Not only that; the track was converted for use in Assetto Corsa without any sort of fundamental quality control, and uploaded by a guy who currently sells one hundred percent illegal payware mods for Assetto Corsa – which use entire assets from other simulators, and passes the cars off as his own creations.
Yeah, that’s a bit of a disaster.
But is this the fault of Kunos? That’s a very difficult question to answer, and I’m sure this article will travel far enough for someone like Stefano or Marco to comment on the matter directly. There is a chance that the guys working the Porsche Experience merely hit up RaceDepartment prior to the event commencing, and downloaded as many popular tracks as they could so the journalists were provided with a significantly greater list of locations than what’s available in the default package. But given how much of a stink has been made about this high profile licensing deal, and how “official” everything has been made out to be – including the event itself – it’s hard to imagine Kunos just sort of threw a bunch of Assetto Corsa Steam keys at the Porsche organization in charge of putting on the event, and said “go nuts.” With how protective Kunos are of their baby in situations such as this one, it’s certainly out of character for them to give the thumbs up on something like this.
Don’t run over to the official Assetto Corsa message board with pitchforks just yet, but this looks really bad on their part.