We Need Ghost Drivers at Press Events

1Now that the hysteria from the Project CARS 2 reveal has slightly subsided, I feel it’s time to finally to address a topic of conversation that was brought up by none other than the YouTube personalities it affected themselves. I have to admit, I failed pretty hard at addressing the point of discussion during its original period of relevance; I originally believed it would be an isolated incident that nobody would be stupid enough to repeat, but alas, two weeks later, here we are.

Both Project CARS 2 and DiRT 4 are easily the two most anticipated racing simulators of the 2017 calendar year. The latter serves as the ultimate culmination of an entire decade spent turning the Colin McRae Rally series into a mass-market off-road package, while the former promises to substantially improve on a product many hardcore sim racers felt didn’t live up to the monumental expectations and tornado of hype surrounding it. If you have even the slightest bit of interest in off-road racing, you’ve most likely wanted to know more about DiRT 4 since Codemasters hinted that they were moving on to bigger and better things from their 2015 release, DiRT Rally, and if you’re sick of Forza Motorsport and/or Gran Turismo spending too much time catering to their casual audience, you’ve probably been curious about the sequel to Project CARS as well.

It’s an objectively exciting time for hardcore simulation nerds, as rarely do the stars align in such a fashion where two major driving games are set to be released in a very short period of time, each of them focusing on a different auto racing discipline so as to not directly compete with each other. There won’t be any Project CARS 2 versus DiRT 4 debates because they each bring something totally unique to the table, so there’s really no reason you can’t have both on your shelf.

However, when the two mass-market racing simulators were unveiled to the general public for the very first time, each of them managed to share a very frustrating element; members of the gaming press tasked with covering the games lacked so much composure behind the wheel, us sim racers found ourselves clicking away from the videos almost as soon as they loaded despite waiting months for any nugget of information.

2Though their execution varied significantly, Slightly Mad Studios and Codemasters both invited a plethora of video game journalists and YouTube personalities to show off trial versions of their latest products. Codemasters loaded up a private room with various demo kiosks running an early build of DiRT 4, whereas Slightly Mad Studios invited as many accomplished journalists as they could to a Mercedes Benz testing facility in Sweden, allowing the press to test-drive a flock of German sedans on a frozen lake bed before migrating to a much warmer establishment for trial runs on the game.

It’s a pretty normal thing for bigger developers to do; though it has the potential to create a major conflict of interest if the review scores suspiciously skyrocket after an elaborate all-expenses paid vacation. Developers gather up a flock of journalists from major gaming outlets such as IGN and Gamespot, introduce their new game in a very controlled setting, and the developer then gets to see their game introduced to a combined audience of millions – a portion of which will eventually grow interested enough to buy the software – while each publication receives a nice bump in website traffic and advertisement revenue.

But when footage from both events finally surfaced on YouTube after the various embargoes were lifted, it wasn’t the happiest of times. The overwhelming majority of footage which made its way to YouTube as the first ever gameplay footage of a brand new video game revealed just hours earlier was beyond excruciating to watch for anyone even remotely interested in these two titles to begin with.

20-mphA pair of gamers flying under the name of Erased Citizens uploaded a fifteen minute uncut sample of DiRT 4’s raw gameplay to YouTube just moments after DiRT 4 was officially announced by Codemasters themselves, but they immediately received widespread criticism for several instances such as the one depicted in the screenshot above. The very first gameplay the world had seen of DiRT 4 was not of a talented driver flying through the Australian outback at a breakneck pace – showcasing the increase in simulation value Codemasters had worked tirelessly on since the release of DiRT Rally two years earlier –  but instead of a driver who managed to crash his car traveling at school zone speeds, or at least close to them. In another, shorter video accompanied by a proper voice-over, they also refer to a late 1990’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution – a factory-backed WRC entry that brought home several World Championships under the command of Tommi Makinen – as “a car that has been kind of modded for rally”, clearly bringing into question why they were even invited to a private press event for a hardcore rally simulator in the first place.

where-are-you-goingOn the tarmac side of the virtual motorsports spectrum, many privileged journalists who were privy to trying out Project CARS 2 early struggled to keep the nose of the car settled, with inexperienced sim racers blowing braking points, slamming into other cars, and having only a vague understanding of Fuji Speedway’s optimal driving line. The pinnacle of this ineptitude came when the team at PlayStation Access described online league races as “Matches”, further showcasing their complete unfamiliarity with auto racing. Again, YouTube comments begged each media outlet to find someone who could drive or just discuss the game with at least some background knowledge on the subject, though despite Slightly Mad’s own Yorkie065 putting down a pair of semi-competent laps at the ice racing facility away from the eyes of mainstream outlets, most had already seen enough.

Two games hardcore sim racers have waited months for any bit of info to satisfy their anticipation, and they’re clicking away from the footage almost as quickly as they clicked on it.

Oops.

With angry comments regarding the obvious lack of driving skill and the pair’s inherent omission of basic rally racing knowledge taking precedence over any discussion about the actual game on display, Erased Citizens eventually put out a response video to the immensely negative feedback on their exclusive DiRT 4 footage, titled “Does Your Opinion Count If You Aren’t Good at Games?” In a clip lasting about six minutes, the duo try and argue that you don’t need to be an expert about the video games you’re covering when in the role of a journalist, and that games are merely to be enjoyed by anybody who wants to play them, before basically brushing off their own ineptitude and poking fun at their viewers for expecting any sort of decent coverage to begin with.

Now I’m not really sure why you’d want to laugh about being bad at your job and start criticizing your audience for merely wanting proper insight regarding a game they’d like to know more about, but let’s break down their argument instead of calling them names like most already have.

dirt4_largeI actually agree with their points about some games not requiring any background knowledge or skill to talk about, as certain genres are designed in a way where people of all skill levels can show up and have a good time.

Yes, you can use Grand Theft Auto V’s online mode to host semi-legitimate street races with knock-off Group C cars based on the Mazda 787B, but you can also roam the fictional rendition of Los Angeles at your own discretion and just sort of blow shit up whenever you feel like it – and it’s still an incredible amount of fun. iD Software’s DOOM series is another good example; I’m honestly not as good at first person shooters as I was during the Modern Warfare days when basically every kid at school owned a copy of the game and tried to make it big on GameBattles, but what I lack in aiming accuracy doesn’t necessarily detract from the actual run-and-gun experience; it’s still one hell of a thrill ride with a cleverly crafted backstory.

However, auto racing is a bit different. Racing simulations are primarily skill-based, competitive video games centered around what’s very clearly a skill-based, competitive sport away from the computer monitor. These games are only at their best when playing them in their intended fashion. Unlike Grand Theft Auto, where you can just sort of muck around and the game will still be every bit as compelling as flying through the title’s high-production value campaign mode, racing games aren’t very fun if you’re not good at them. The AI isn’t designed to play bumper cars, they’re designed to race. The damage model isn’t designed to split your car down to its last molecule after a heavy accident, it’s designed to merely exist and convey authentic mechanical damage behavior under realistic scenarios. And the driving physics, the most important part of the simulator, are created to nail the art of driving a race car to its limit of adhesion. If you can’t bring the car to that point – or at least somewhat close to it – you’ll never understand what makes these games so special to the people who play them.

Being a skill-based game also means that watching other people play these games – or better yet, talk about them – is only enjoyable or informative if the people know their shit. You wouldn’t have a guy who can’t skate reviewing a hockey stick, a guy who’s never played organized football try to break down why the Atlanta Falcons lost Super Bowl LI on a technical level, nor would you task someone who can’t play the guitar with reviewing a new model of guitar, because there’s no possible way it could be helpful or informative to those who genuinely want the solid information you’re claiming to advertise.

And it’s the same when it comes to racing games. These pieces of software aren’t designed for mass market appeal, they’re created for hardcore auto racing fans who understand the minute technical aspects of a very difficult and demanding sport. In the very same it was extremely difficult for European football fans to watch Ali Dia stumble around the pitch for a match, it’s hard for auto racing fans to watch somebody who sucks at driving a race carwhether that car be a real piece of equipment, or a virtual rendition on a computer monitorbecause it’s a skill based competition where a primary portion of the spectacle comes with watching someone who’s exceptionally talented at what they do.

This is why it’s important to have somebody who knows what they’re talking about – and good at the games itself – cover skill-based pieces of entertainment. There’s no comprehensive story to get sucked into over in our neck of the woods; driving a race car is a skill, and if you suck, it’s not very enjoyable to watch. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s also not very informative, therefore making your entire coverage pointless if you can’t deliver on either of the two concepts.

dirt3_game_2012-06-03_21-14-08-578However, I will say it’s retarded on the part of the publisher, such as Bandai-Namco or Codemasters themselves, to stop inviting these plebians to private press events. Listen, I know a lot of you guys love what PRC represents and are already advocating for certain developers to have us at their little shindigs in place of these clowns, but the reality is that the traffic numbers we produce compared to a mammoth gaming entity such as IGN or GameSpot would make that proposal utterly ridiculous. From a raw business standpoint, I’d want my game covered by website boasting an audience of several millions, rather than a website known for ripping everything apart and only bringing 650,000 individuals to the table.

So the compromise I offer to keep everybody happy is quite simple.

Keep doing these little events with the same people. Let them show up, learn about the new game, allow them talk to the developers and the other miscellaneous individuals appearing on behalf of the developer to ask questions for their inevitable articles… Business as usual. It’s their job to attend these events, let them keep their job and do their thing. It’s a numbers game, and they’ve got the numbers.

But when it comes time to capture footage for each individual outlet, allow them to put their hand up and say “I’m not very good at race car games, can someone sub for me?”  Hell, when you email out the event information in the first place, boldly state that “if you’re not experienced with race car games and the task of capturing decent gameplay footage for your publication feels a bit daunting, we will have several ghost drivers on-site if you wish to obtain the best possible gameplay clips to compliment your coverage.”

Easy.

Plug in the capture card, throw Ben Collins, Nic Hamilton, or even Yorkie065 into the seat instead of the bozos from PlayStation access who can barely keep the AMG GT3 in a straight line, and press record. Everyone wins. The media outlets still have articles to publish and videos to upload based on their time at the press events, you as a developer still get your game out to an audience of several million, but the content of said videos consists of people tearing up a track and showing off the game performing at its absolute best – therefore engaging viewers and getting them excited about the product rather than pushing them to navigate away from the video – instead of loons stumbling around a virtual world they obviously can’t comprehend and clearly have zero background knowledge or interest in it.

It’s that simple.

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60 thoughts on “We Need Ghost Drivers at Press Events

  1. This has nothing to do with the article, but I noticed Fuji was mentioned! So…

    Please Lord Jesus, let PC2 include a full roster of SuperGT cars, to go along with Fuji.

    Have you guys seen some of the onboards from this series on YouTube? It’s fucking awesome.

    Like

    1. Do they have it subbed or commented in English yet?

      Super GT will fucking explode in popularity as soon as they do

      There was a guy uploading and subbing in English but I think he got banned for asking for donations in the description or some such shit

      Like

  2. I could add to this article than video game teasing should not resume in just a video trailer without explaining the features. I mean :
    – This is not a movie wich you take some attractive part while not revealing the (entire) story. Game trailer should include the entire functionnality.
    – The quality of those above trailer are very hardware dependant. And for more than 90% people (except maybe on console) unreachable.

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  3. HARDCORE SIM FANS AREN’T STUPID ENOUGH TO BELIEVE THAT EITHER DIRT OR PCARS ARE GOING TO BE SIMS….THERE’S THAT THING CALLED PHYSICS THAT MAJOR RACING GAMES NEVER FAIL TO DOWNGRADE.

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    1. James says they are sims and of very high quality, I believe his word. Hardcore sim fans are as easy to manipulate as casual sim fans. Being casual or hardcore has nothing to do if you are gullible or impenetrable. People with actual common sense, experience, and knawledge are capable of judging what sim is pretending and which isn’t, or which one is failing at it, especially after driving it themselves (although driving on a race track is different to city or highway, you push the car in different ways, in most cases harsher on a race track; so when you do it in a sim it will feel even weirder when you never did on a race track irl). People revolted with the system are as easy to manipulate as people following the system. Both are easily influenced, be it casual or hardcore sim fans.

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      1. If you rely on Austin’s word to tell you which games have the highest simulation value why aren’t you playing Brick Rigs or sitting on a console playing arcade games with a controller?

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      2. YOU SOUND LIKE A GULLIBLE FOOL, INCREDIBLY EASY TO MANIPULATE, AND ALSO ONE WHO CARES NOTHING FOR RELATIVELY ACCURATE PHYSICS.
        PCARS WAS AN ABSURD JOKE FOR PHYSICS AS WAS DIRT3, SO THE IDEA THAT ALL OF A SUDDEN BOTH OF THESE NEW TITLES WILL BE OF PEAK SIMULATION VALUE IS STUPID BEYOND BELIEF.

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  4. This is a genious proposal… I think that it will clash with the ego of the journos a little, however…

    On a semi-unrelated note, I think Pikes Peak is actually a big deal… I only got now what I meant to say then, a couple of days from your entry, but I’ve watched Climb Dance, and I bet anyone who has whatched it at least once will want to drive on Pikes Peak right there and then, even if they’re not as half as good as Vatanen (I can be really embarassing with a wheel, even though I enjoy pretend driving).

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  5. “Now that the hysteria from the Project CARS 2 reveal has slightly subsided”

    Remember when PRC didn’t mention Project Cars 2 in every article they wrote?

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    1. How is mentioning a game that everybody already knows about considered shilling?

      He didn’t even say anything positive or negative about the game.

      Like

  6. Face it it will be crap as PC1 is, it also looked so promising from the graphics side but physics wise it gets rekt by every other sim INCLUDING LFS

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    1. This is obvious to most people already, but James won’t see it coming of course. He will spend months after the games release ranting about how unbelievable it is that they fucked it up just as badly as the first one.

      Like

  7. But when it comes time to capture footage for each individual outlet, allow them to put their hand up and say “I’m not very good at race car games, can someone sub for me?” Hell, when you email out the event information in the first place, boldly state that “if you’re not experienced with race car games and the task of capturing decent gameplay footage for your publication feels a bit daunting, we will have several ghost drivers on-site if you wish to obtain the best possible gameplay clips to compliment your coverage.”

    A rare sign of James offering a sensible solution, I agree with this suggestion.

    I recommend you email SMS/Codemasters etc. and pitch that idea to them, they might take it on board for their next round of coverage.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It looks like you missed all the mockery directed at Polygon for their godawful Doom gameplay.

    https://blowinmycartridge.com/2016/05/14/what-the-hell-is-going-on-with-polygons-doom-gameplay-video/

    “Apparently unable to grasp the basic concept of using dual thumbsticks for movement and camera positioning, the video is almost painful to watch as the viewer has to contend with watching the player, presumably a paid employee of the site, incompetently line up the targeting reticule and then run around until it lines up with an enemy rather than using it to target foes like any normal person would. At one point they even aggressively attack a medikit for a few seconds before realising that it’s not a threat to them.”

    “The level of clumsiness clearly evident in this video raises a few interesting questions, first and foremost reigniting the argument about whether there should be a minimum level of gaming aptitude necessary for one to be taken seriously as a reviewer.”

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    1. Polygon is trash. They couldn’t release their review of Nioh on time either because “the game is literally too hard for us to play it”.

      Like

  9. Dirt and Project Cars are simcade games, so it only makes sense to market them using some clueless driver that reflects perfectly your average Dirt 4/Shift 4 customer.

    Like

  10. “nor would you task someone who can’t play the guitar with reviewing a new model of guitar”

    Yep this pretty much sums it up, i do watch allot of music gear stuff, generally you get impressed by watching what the talented expert can do with it & it completely sells it.

    Still these videos are clearly not for us, when its nearer release & the physics is closer to completion we will hopefully see some better stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Name the sporting gear brand – motocross bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, snowmobiles, tennis rackets, golf balls, pool cues – and there’s at least one pro athlete paid to use the gear and make it look good (whether it actually is or not). Cars too – every commercial uses a “professional driver on closed course.” But not racing sims, *noooo…*

      Like

  11. Can someone please explain to me when kids making youtube videos became journalists? Last I checked, you had to go to school to become a journalist, not make some shitty youtube video of yourself playing some random game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is PRC, anyone who writes something on the internet that fits Austins agenda is a valid source, at least he’s not using facebook comments for his latest shit show.

      Like

    2. If this blog is sim racing journalism, so are those youtube channels video games journalism. Or better yet, not even pretend journalism. This is a blog, and those are vloggs. This is basically James writing a diary, but sharing his frustrations with the world instead of just writing “articles” for himself and keeping his frustrations to himself as well.

      Like

  12. I give this article 10 out of 10, it simply point out the problems of those 3 kind of people- publisher/developer, journalist and sim racer~

    And it simply give out the best solution to make all these people happy and positive, brilliant!~

    Keep going PRC, i love this kind of article.

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  13. Quote from OP- “I have to admit, I failed pretty hard”
    What! James admitting to… fucking up!!
    As far as James’s standards go he has really fucked up not one uttering or slagging of Assetto Corsa, Kunos or Stefano in this post.
    Is there hope yet? …..I would think as much hope as there is for Trump coming down to earth.

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  14. why you use James as pseudonym dont you like your real name? Maybe write an article about that aswell and how it affects your objectivity

    Like

  15. Is this article real?

    They want to sell their product. > To sell their product they need visibility, > Media has viewers. > They invite the media to cover their product.

    And why they sucking or not at the game doesn’t matter:
    Your modal consumer will want to know if it’s entertaining and accessible.
    If IGN says: I crashed three times but it was really fun feeling like you were IN A REAL CAR!
    That’s enough,

    You don’t need a sperg-ridden fuck with a $1000 set wheel and seat wearing gloves and helmet at home saying:
    Well their tire model is wrong, I’m no physics modeller, I’ve never driven cars at a track, but I feel it in my virgin guts.

    Your average normal, mentally healthy person ignores weirdos.

    And as far as the developer is concerned they already have professional and enthusiastic input in their official forums.

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    1. All I asked for was somebody to demonstrate the game to the general public without crashing into walls and other opponents.

      You wouldn’t get someone to introduce a new guitar model if they can’t actually play the guitar.

      Like

      1. You asked for the “normal press person” to take a seat while “Ben Collins” plays for them.

        A videogame is foremost an interactive entertainment product. That’s why seeing your average person experience represented has importance. It’s relatable and understandable.

        They probably will or have already contacted the “specialized media” like Team VVV or ISR as well, if they weren’t at the media event.
        They are aware these venues have their own unique viewers (as this website has), so they can sell their product to people “who KNOW you need to be good at racing games to have FUN” or whatever.

        And to the surprise of no one, all that does not stop them from coordinating with racing professionals to advertise their game as you believe to be the fittest. They have done it in the past.

        I’ve said it before, but you gotta scrub yourself out of that sim-racer disease. It has no mental health value.

        Like

      2. But are these people supposed to introduce us to the technical driving of sim racing? I see them more just as casual video game players doing gameplay previews and giving some information about the game. Nothing more than publicity.

        Just like Jombus said above, you’re not even supposed to be looking at those sort of youtube channels if you’re so into sim racing. They do publicity for other type of gamers, not seasoned sim racers. You’ll find gameplay previews in sim racing channels, but this time the publicity, in terms of gameplay previews, is for new folks, not for people who know everything about sim racing.

        Fuck the ghost drivers, that is just fake. Just like ghost writers.

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        1. So what is the point of their video? What is the point for publisher/developer to let them show such a gameplay?

          “PC2/DiRT4 is suck because it is hard to be played for newbie”?
          “PC2/DiRT4 is not playable”?
          “PC2/DiRT4 is a game to everybody because newbie can crash their car”?
          “PC2/DiRT4 is not arcade because newbie can jump in and play well”?

          Journalists are pointless, developers can’t show what they want to, and viewers are clueless about the game. What a big win.

          Sure, improvement is not necessary for anyone, we can still use a rock to open a coconut or something, but just like what you said, PRC writes article for sim racers who want to know the truth or at least want ideas to make sim racing scene better, not for people who think people continue to do pointless things are great.

          Like

          1. Truth from this place? lel

            Those youtube channels that promote any video game no matter their skill to play it (in this case pcars2), are also telling the truth about the game in their own way. Their gameplay videos are truthful as well, just because you know how to drive better doesn’t make them less competent for showing the gameplay or game info. Aren’t more or less the same kind of players as the authors of those youtube videos that will pick up pcars2? So you don’t really need any expert to show them a flawless driving or racing video.

            And about promoting the game to dedicated sim racers, other channels and ways are used for it.

            PRC is giving us ideas to make sim racing scene better? lel

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  16. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA YOUVE LOST ALL CRED, MORE SHAMELESS SHILLING AND HYPE FOR SMS AND PC2, AS PREDICTED YEARS AGO FOR PRC, HOW FUCKING SAD, PRC’S HAS OFFICIALLY SOLD OUT AND BECOME EXACTLY WHAT THEY HAVE ATTACKED OVER THE YEARS, PATHETIC AND SHAMELESS

    Like

      1. Sorry, but isn’t that attitude you created? Lets call shills and fanboys to those who like the sims you don’t, to those who have a positive word and see everything from a different perspective. As they don’t follow your circlejerk they are shills and fanboys.

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            1. It’s been going on for years at this point, but maybe you’ve been living under a rock as well. It’s been over a decade since Sony got caught red handed trying to disguise their PSP marketing as honest opinions from game enthusiasts and people have only become more and more paranoid since then. Nowadays simply talking about a new game at all gets you branded as a shill: if it is a AAA game you are a paid shill; if it is some unknown indie you must be the developer or one of his friends. The best thing to do is to not take those comments too seriously and try to have fun with it.

              Meme doesn’t mean “internet joke”. Behaviors and ideas transmitted between people are memes.

              Like

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