It’s really shitty to start the year off with multiple posts revolving around generic message board drama, but unfortunately this has become the norm within the greater sim racing community. It’s a never-ending nerd fight, and you’re all invited. Bring popcorn.
We closed out the year here at PRC.net with a rather surprising entry that caught many of our readers off guard. No, it wasn’t a paid advertisement, nor an intentional cease fire due to the rather convenient timing of the post – Christmas morning – Kunos Simulazioni really did knock it out of the park with Assetto Corsa’s flash 1.11.3 update. After some of our buddies had complained about handling oddities exhibited by the fleet of GT3 vehicles featured on the Assetto Corsa car roster, I was pleasantly surprised to re-install the simulator and discover a patch released only a few short hours earlier seemed to have killed all of the unwanted behavior I had been warned about. Checking in with those who first supplied us with the information, they too confirmed something drastic had changed practically overnight, and we posted a celebratory article that Kunos had recaptured the magic which made us fall in love with Assetto Corsa many years ago. It was a great deal of fun to kick back and enjoy the holidays hauling ass on the virtual track with friends, rather than picking apart deficiencies as is the norm here at PRC.net.
Yet even a genuinely positive article complimenting the work done by Kunos on the new update seemed to send the Assetto Corsa disciples into a tizzy. And once again, we’re reminded of why this hobby really fucking sucks sometimes. Everyone indeed has their role within the community, but a lot of times it feels like there are a whole bunch of people here to try and achieve a sense of belonging they could never quite capture out in the real world.
Some guy within the official Assetto Corsa forums created a thread under the admittedly hilarious title of “it was a good year after all for Assetto Corsa”, where he linked our article praising the stealth 1.11.3 update – as it’s sort of a big deal when the biggest online critic of your game gives you a shout-out for a job well done on Christmas morning. Despite a highly positive article, the thread instead descended into chaos, with many Assetto Corsa owners begging forum users never to link to PRC again, and for others asking the site’s URL to be automatically censored by the moderators. The first page of comments are mind-boggling to observe, because we literally came out and said “holy shit, this update rocks to drive, thanks Kunos”, and it’s like this short circuited an entire portion of the sim racing community.
Over the next four pages, there were a lot of shots fired at us, developers chimed in with their own two cents, and eventually a moderator had to come in and clean up the whole thing, because for a thread created to celebrate a positive article from Assetto Corsa’s biggest critic – us – it was anything but. People wanted links to PretendRaceCars.net outlawed, many were convinced we had some sort of irrational vendetta against Assetto Corsa, some suggested it was mere placebo effect and the positive article was the result of an underlying personality disorder I suffer from… It was pretty epic to see Assetto Corsa owners react harshly to a positive article, but at this point I expect nothing less from the sim racing community. It’s a whole bunch of people who have never belonged to anything meaningful in their lives, trying to belong to something. If you’ve got a registered forum account in their neck of the woods, head on over there and take a look. It’s worth a read regardless of whether you support us, or if you’re vehemently against us.
Now within that thread, there are a few posts calling us out which I’d directly like to respond to, partially because Sev thought it would be hilarious if I did, and he couldn’t be assed to cover this story from his point of view.
At some point, Stefano Casillo of Kunos Simulazioni chimed in with a lengthy rant picking our little operation apart to the very core; a portion of which we featured in a story last week where he had claimed the team did not encourage members of the gaming press to give positive reviews of the Assetto Corsa despite an overwhelming amount of evidence stating otherwise. Responding to an Assetto Corsa forum member inquiring about the long-standing animosity between PRC.net and Kunos Simulazioni, Casillo states we had simply chosen to lash out at the Italian developer for rejecting an interview request almost two years ago, as we were first getting started.
As much as I’d like to perpetuate the story and create a bit of cheesy entertainment for the sake of our audience, that tale simply isn’t true. We did send off an interview request along with ten fairly interesting questions, and it was rejected by Marco a few days later. However, the change in tone towards Assetto Corsa was not due to a personal vendetta – later that year, the AI cars were literally driving head-first into barriers during single player races, and this highlighted a long list of technical issues plaguing the simulator, some of which still remain to this day. I’m not in the business of sugarcoating bullshit to play nice with developers. If you’re selling a piece of software advertised as a racing simulator for sixty dollars, I think it’s well within reason to expect some sort of competent artificial intelligence to race against – not one which smacks into barriers as if they’re a small child learning how to ride a bicycle without training wheels for the first time. And if a year and a half later some of these issues still exist, yet suddenly there’s quadruple the amount of premium downloadable content available for the title which jacks up the price of the whole enchilada by more than double, yes, I’m going to write negative articles about your video game. The screenshots are worth a thousand words, or in the case of PRC.net, five thousand.
It’s very disappointing to see a sim racing developer completely unable to comprehend why someone might write bad things about his video game – chalking it up to a perceived vendetta rather than blatantly obvious screenshots of show-stopping technical issues. Many Assetto Corsa owners log onto the official forums each day and report bugs in the hopes of them being fixed. Comments like this – where a developer chalks up legitimate criticism accompanied by numerous screenshots as an irrational vendetta – sure won’t give them any faith that the product will improve in a meaningful way if they take the time to report obvious problems with the software.
But we’re just getting started.
I’m not the only one calling the shots here at PretendRaceCars.net, though by my own admission I do end up writing most of the articles – and that’s okay, I enjoy this stuff. The supplementary writing staff of this little outlet consists of Dustin Lengert, a former ASA OK Tire Series driver-turned-crew chief, and Severin Austerschmidt, an amateur German racing driver who lives about an hour from the Nordschleife. While the lot of us on TeamSpeak know Sev as that guy who loves Breitbart and Pepe the Frog memes, away from the keyboard he’s a actually fairly accomplished amateur driver – successfully testing for both Audi’s TT Cup driver development program, as well as the BMW M235i class within VLN endurance events after a fairly stout partial schedule in a Formula Renault 2.0 – a car many of you have driven within iRacing.
In April of 2016, Sev penned a piece for us questioning what had happened to the driving model featured within Assetto Corsa, stating the GT3 cars had received an increase in overall grip that did not reflect how a racing slick behaves under duress. As someone with real world racing experience in a car found on the Assetto Corsa vehicle roster, Sev basically wrote an article telling our readers that from his point of view, he was unsatisfied with what Kunos had done to the tire model of the various GT-spec cars based on his own seat time, and wished it would revert back to a previous version from around a year earlier, when we initially conducted a lengthy interview with him.
Though Kunos Simulazioni often reach out to real drivers at the Vallelunga circuit for feedback on how Assetto Corsa reacts behind the wheel, Sev unwilling to sugarcoat his opinion to keep the developers happy warranted Stefano calling him a *****, and claiming Sev doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It made a lot of us behind the scenes stop and contemplate what happens behind the scenes at Kunos headquarters; are other real-world drivers not satisfied with the tire behavior promptly called names and belittled on the official forums as well? Getting this kind of feedback from someone with proper seat time – whether positive or negative – is basically the holy grail of racing simulator development. What dumb motherfucker lips off a real world driver who took thirty minutes out of his day to give his feedback on a tire model update for your game because he didn’t blow sunshine up your ass?
So a Kunos Simulazioni developer calls our resident European road racer and overseas Donald Trump supporter names on the official forum for writing his honest opinion on the tire model based on his real life experience. Business as usual, right? Sometimes Stefano gets mad and does this stuff. We’ve learned to accept it.
Kunos then roll out a fundamental tire model update six months later, directly addressing Sev’s exact complaints. You know, after they told him he was an idiot and didn’t know what he was talking about. According to Aris, the cars are “more agile, move around more, bounce a bit more., and need more inputs to go where you want them [to go].” Stefano has no problem belittling a real-world European race driver for ripping apart their tire model and stating “thousands of people are telling him he’s wrong”, but six months later Kunos boast about redoing the tire model for the precise cars and in the precise manner Sev had made negative comments about earlier in the year.
What real-world driver would willingly give these guys feedback in the future if all they’re going to do is attack you on the forums, and then begrudgingly implement your suggestions? What’s so hard about hitting up Sev and saying “hey man, thanks for your writings, can you go into a little more detail for us, we haven’t had someone make these comments before?” Why does there need to be so much emotional hemophilia over a real-world driver not endlessly praising your software?
It’s just absurd, man. It’s not needed, especially when input from real drivers is highly sought after by all developers within this genre.
Yet despite the recent tire model update – Version 10 to be exact – suddenly modifying the rubber behavior to fit Sev’s very specific wishes (and of course, this is only a coincidence, nothing more), and a user even agreeing with Sev’s assessment of a prior build, Assetto Corsa disciples still go on about him being wrong in regards to the perceived abundance of grip – blaming his lack of faith in the tire model on the PRC gang’s inability to switch off traction control. I mean, this Berry dude on the right side of the capture above straight up says he wasn’t cool with how the cars drove in certain builds, but then immediately snaps back to the hivemind mentality and claims it was all in his head and to not question
dear leader the physics. This totally does not resemble a cult or anything of that nature.
This is pretty much the perfect example of how bizarre sim racing forums can get; Assetto Corsa fans state the three of us, all licensed race car drivers, are too dumb to figure out how to disable TC in a genre of games we’ve been playing since we were kids, when some of us actually hold world records on the RSR live timing leaderboards. You can’t achieve these kinds of ridiculously quick times by limiting power to the rear wheels, but what you’re looking at are the professional-caliber mental gymnastics exhibited by simulator nerds who cannot fathom that maybe PRC.net is occasionally more than tabloid trash. Kunos have re-engineered the tire model to address Sev’s exact complaints, and some of us have posted the times you’re aspiring to knock off the top of the ladder, but nope, we supposedly just had traction control on the whole time and it was clouding our judgement of the game. Yeah, no.
If anything, this should teach you to always question the advice you receive on various sim racing message boards.
And you should always question the shills, as well. Upon publishing the piece praising the Assetto Corsa version 1.11.3 update, in which I claimed a small hotfix was the final piece of the puzzle needed to truly make Assetto Corsa handle like a dream, many anonymous sim racers arrived at PRC to claim the article was little more than the result of the placebo effect. Truth be told, I hadn’t turned laps within the simulator for a while, so it was possible that I’d forgotten what the game felt like as a whole, and was re-discovering it all over again.
But as you can see above, mclarenF1papa came out and mentioned that the 1.11.3 update fundamentally changed how any car which produced lift handled. Basically, not only did damaging the car make it faster – an incredibly amateur mistake for Kunos to make – the weird loose-off tendency of the Mercedes AMG GT3 reported by our boy Ethan was allegedly generated by fucked up aerodynamic values, rectified by the 1.11.3 hotfix pushed out Christmas morning.
So our bad, it wasn’t a minute change to the tires that dialed out the strange ice skating behavior, it was an aero adjustment. Oops. Sorry guys. We got it wrong.
I received word that in one of his more reserved comments within the thread in question, Stefano Casillo of Kunos Simulazioni mentioned he would enjoy sitting down for a one-on-one sim racing debate of sorts, and citing my refusal to talk to Ian Bell as proof that I’m a “total pathetic loser where he answers to himself posing as readers.” So, I mean, I shot him a message to see what was up.
Aside from the fact that he clearly missed our interview with Ian Bell, there’s a very real reason I can’t commit to a spectacle like this. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on the complete opposite side of the globe as Italy or the Netherlands, and don’t own a webcam. I know a lot of people love to circulate the story that I’m some fatass sitting in a dingy basement with no job because it admittedly makes reading PRC even more hilarious than the vanilla experience, but I’ve unfortunately been a slave to a popular rental car company for over three years, and it’s not practical for me to wake up at three in the morning so some developer can yell at me via Skype.
Hell, let’s backtrack for a second: this is sim racing, not an Atheism versus Christianity debate. There’s no purpose in challenging someone to a debate with your superior intellect; the root of the discussion is virtual race cars, not an existential crisis. And this goes out to all devs; I don’t have an issue sitting down for ten minutes and firing you a set of questions that directly take aim at topics you want to address, no matter how controversial they are. I enjoy that sort of thing, it’s why I run a shitty sim racing website people read while on the toilet at work. The whole process of putting together articles that ruffle feathers, editing reader submissions, and helping my bros on TeamSpeak to become better writers is fun for me. I’m not some pseudo intellectual trying to prove the existence of God to an atheist, we’re just here to talk about race car games.
Without the PRC hat on, it’s very frustrating to take part in a community like this, and fairly eye-opening as well. Developers throw hissy fits if real race car drivers don’t sugarcoat certain pieces of feedback, challenge you to debates that are much better suited for Atheism versus Christianity circles, and claim you have an irrational vendetta if your valid criticism gets under their skin, which makes me question why these individuals are propped up to be the supreme overlords the average sim racer makes them out to be. On the other hand, the community itself will literally agree with any justifiable complaints you voice, but then convince themselves you’re wrong anyway, and later in the day question why sim racing isn’t growing at the rates of other genres. It’s a really shitty environment to be a part of.
Unless I’m wrong, and this is all just restricted to the following of on particular title.