A Collection of Vaporware for your Viewing Pleasure

It’s a fact of life in the video game industry – things don’t always go in the manner which they were first intended. What may have seemed like a fantastic initial pitch might instead turn out to be a logistical nightmare when it comes to following through with the ordeal, thus leading to a situation where optimistic supporters of your upcoming release dating all the way back to the first reveal are suddenly asking an increasing array of blunt, abrasive questions. Known by the affectionate term of Vaporware to the greater gaming community, titles like Duke Nukem Forever attained widespread notoriety for their horrifically long time spent in development that ended up surpassing any critical discussion of the title itself – with gamers more focused on the story behind the software’s inability to launch as an example of what not to do in the industry. It’s like everyone’s watching a documentary unfold in real-time.

Yet due to the exponentially smaller community size, independent developers can get away with this behavior in the world of sim racing on a much more frequent basis. With significantly less potential customers to disappoint, as well as a cluster of websites covering these games aimed at the same group of hardcore enthusiasts rather than mass numbers of readers, any race car game that fails to materialize does not run the risk of alerting major gaming outlets that a developer doesn’t have their shit together – and thus fucking over the company’s reputation in the long run when they try to take on other projects; it all stays internalized, with the news articles eventually pushed into the archives.

So let’s dig them up.

Dirt Track Racing 2017

Though the recent frenzy surrounding iRacing adding a plethora of dirt oval racing content to the popular online simulator platform may sound like the developers had specifically taken aim at backwoods rednecks living in rural American trailer parks, the reality is that short track oval racing is an extremely popular discipline of auto racing on both sides of the pacific ocean, and Australians love their sprint car racing. Big Ant Studios, an Australian team who had worked on prior officially-licensed sprint car games for Sony’s PlayStation 2 – but had recently taken their talents to cricket titles – were hoping to revive Ratbag’s iconic Dirt Track Racing series of the early 2000’s with a crowdfunded dirt oval racing simulator. Elaborate plans for the simulator went live in early 2016, alongside an impressive video indicating preliminary work had already commenced on the game, so there wasn’t much of a need to be skeptical in regards to the project itself – the team were definitely capable of building what they were promising.

As this was all happening a few months before iRacing would eventually reveal their similar plans for dirt oval racing on April Fools’ day, there was admittedly a lot of excitement for what Big Ant were planning to deliver – with the help of the community, of course. Unfortunately, that excitement didn’t translate into a successful crowdfunding campaign. On March 1st, 2017, Big Ant were forced to announce that the $78,000 raised for Dirt Track Racing 2017 was only about a third of the initial funds needed for the base product to land on store shelves, and the game had been outright cancelled. Backers were given a complete refund of their donations – as per Kickstarter rules – and Dirt Track Racing 2017 will forever remain a two minute teaser trailer on YouTube.

Ironically, estimated sales figures from the release of iRacing’s dirt content project that if all 7,000 iRacers online during the day of release bought the complete array of cars and tracks available at launch (a price tag of $50 USD), they would have raised around $40,000 more than the $266,000 Big Ant were asking to make their dirt simulator into a reality. So it’s not a matter of dirt oval racing lacking a big enough audience to make a dedicated dirt game a worthwhile venture, it’s that sim racers are generally unwilling to take risks on products that don’t bare the iRacing logo. Though I can’t blame sim racers for being nervous about supporting a company whose claim to fame is cricket and PS2 sprint car outings, the alternative they’re forced to live with is a game featuring monthly subscription fees and per-content costs that may drive away the average fan before they’ve even tried signing up.

GT Legends 2

2016 appears to have been an especially bad year for vaporware sims, as alongside Big Ant’s failure to acquire enough funding for Dirt Track Racing, we were also graced with an announcement from none other than RaceDepartment that GT Legends would make a return under the command of ex-SimBin employee Simon Lundell and his new outlet, Tiny Feet Studios. We saw no screenshots, mock-ups, or renders of the project, which is generally par for the course when announcing a game – only a few select documents indicating the whole thing was basically an idea that existed in someone’s imaginationbut this did not stop RaceDepartment from publishing a high profile news article with Lundell’s blessing.

However, the official Facebook page for Tiny Feet Studios has not seen a single fragment of activity since the RaceDepartment article in February of 2016. Meanwhile, the homepage for Tiny Feet directs to a single splash screen that states “the legend will be back” – again with no footage, screenshots, or even assets to display. As far back as 2014, the brand can be seen looking for individuals with Unreal Engine 4 experience a move suspiciously in line with SimBin UK’s move to Unreal 4 with the upcoming GTR 3 but obviously nothing seems to have come of this in the meantime.

While I personally am under the impression Lundell and Tiny Feet used RaceDepartment as a third party marketing outlet to try and generate interest in a GT Legends reboot, hoping to secure a publisher based solely on the reactions of community members writing hyperbolic comments about throwing money at the PC monitor, a different reason that explains the title’s inability to materialize was offered in March of this year. RaceDepartment have written that development of GT Legends 2 was suspended due to Lundell coming down with an undisclosed illness. There is of course talk of “alternative solutions being sought”, but this doesn’t explain why social media activity ceased immediately after the initial announcement in early 2016, and nothing so much as a single screenshot or tidbit of information has surfaced over a year after the fact.

Unfortunately, with how shady certain aspects of the sim racing community can be, I can’t really take this story at face value. I’m not quite sure what game studio just sort of stops operating entirely when their boss gets sick. Not only that, the premise of someone affiliated with SimBin starting a brand new studio that plans to use Unreal Engine 4 as a racing simulator power plant, offering no proof that the title exists aside from a single RaceDepartment announcement, has now been repeated two years in a row. This all looks really strange, and there’s probably a story here, but it’s one of those things where we’ll have to wait it out for more details.

KartKraft

You knew this one was coming, and it’s a very difficult story to follow. Originally announced in 2006 (no, this is not a typo) under the title of KartSim, the name of the developer changed no less than three times – first we called them Maschine Simulations, then Primer Interactive, and eventually Black Delta – though CEO Zach Griffin remained a constant throughout the project’s lifespan. The premise for this one is pretty simple; a team of enthusiasts were going to sit down and build the ultimate karting simulator using Unreal 4 as a base, as most modern simulator engines just can’t accurately convey the characteristics of an ultra-lightweight race car without the whole thing feeling like a poor rFactor mod.

A fantastic preview trailer was released, sporting out-of-this-world visuals, such advanced depth in the customization & configuration aspect that would solidify KartKraft’s status as the be-all, end-all kart racing simulator, and just for shits and giggles, the game appeared to have some sort of first person element that let you walk around and explore the facility as you would at a real kart circuit. It looks undeniably awesome, but now comes the time to remind you this was all revealed to the general public six years ago, with the title campaigning for Steam’s Greenlight platform in the spring of 2014. By 2016, the name had changed, and the game’s official YouTube channel had advertised that a Steam Early Access launch was imminent, but then it just sort of… vaporized…

RaceDepartment ran a piece earlier this year entitled “What Ever Happened to KartKraft?” – and the comments which followed are extremely telling. Some users who imply they were under strict non-disclosure agreements note the game was enormously buggy and was in no state to be released to the general public, even on Steam’s Early Access platform – which allows unfinished titles to be sold at a heavily discounted price – while others state they loved it and blamed the bugs on those with poor PC’s. Now, all games in development have a varying array of bugs, but for KartKraft to receive such a divisive reception from its own testers, an entire decade after being announced, it’s probably not a good thing.

To add fuel to the fire, the simulator’s official Facebook page reveals a pretty essential piece of contradictory information if you’re willing to dig that far back. On June 30th of 2016, which also happens to be the last day any sort of official post was made to the Facebook page, Black Delta wrote to a Facebook user known as Nicolai that KartKraft would be released on Steam’s Early Access platform within a few weeks time. However, the following nine months saw the team respond to all future queries about KartKraft’s release with the same vague PR babble regurgitated over and over again about encouraging users to continuously check their social media page for updates, bringing us up to present day.

I’m unsure how a team can go from publicly stating they’re a few weeks off a Steam Early Access release, to being by their own description completely unaware of when the game will come out at all, and then giving this same answer for a period of almost an entire year. It’s like they’ve somehow gone backwards. This is not what happens in sim racing, and it’s certainly not what happens in indie gaming as a whole unless there’s a major mess occurring behind the scenes.

Vaporware will always exist in some fashion – it’s just part of software development – but KartKraft, GT Legends 2, and Dirt Track Racing are the three most recent examples of racing simulators that failed to materialize. Will at least two of the titles see the light of day? I wouldn’t count on it. Dirt Track Racing was officially killed by Big Ant Studios, we haven’t seen a single shred of evidence regarding GT Legends 2 existing aside from a power point presentation floating on somebody’s hard drive, and while KartKraft did have a rough release date established at one point in time, their social media activity abruptly stalled, and their PR guy has been copy/pasting the same generic response for almost a whole year – which has gone against previous posts indicating they were ready to pull the trigger and put the thing up for sale.

If our readers have any information on the three games listed above, we’d certainly like to know what happened to them.

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52 thoughts on “A Collection of Vaporware for your Viewing Pleasure

    1. Ian Bell has been busy with his acquisitions as of late. I have word from a credible source that those three games in all their buggy glory will make an appearance soon with SMS’s logo plastered on the cover, Ian Bell will reveal this recycled IP in the near future.

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    1. Because sadly WSGT was vaporware from the beginning, Arnold Wong (one of the guys in charge of the 3D models) made tenths of cars and never released shit, instead he kept teasing useless “gaming rigs” running a copy of rF1 with ENB plugin and the SGT Toyota HSV-10 saying that it was his own game.

      After that, what once was the modding team’s own website slowly became another generic news website.

      But it’s okay, the Nissan 300ZX that cuck never released will soon be in pCARS2, which means that it will also soon be converted to other games.

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          1. Screw those, I want muh Toyota TS020 or R33 LM. Also why did this guy keep teasing stuff for like 6 years and then completely pulled the plug, it would be cool of him to leave these assets for someone else to finish.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. Kinda sad really. So many cars that looked pretty close to completion yet nothing to show for it at the end. Super GT, GT1, IMSA, GTO. All locked away on someone’s hard drive probably

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  1. “News” outlets and people in the sim community keep throwing shit at the current devs. Yet here you have companies that aren’t able to even release a game. Cherish more what we have instead of desperately trying to bring them down. You can also make your criticism constructively and supportively, without always entering the offensive and arrogant area. You don’t have to be an asshole when you point what isn’t working in a game.

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    1. Yeah, I have to agree with you. Sometimes it’s good to just pause and appreciate the devs who managed to push out less-than-perfect games and then refine them into excellence.

      My hat is off to Kunos in particular for never giving up. AC is a very enjoyable game as of April 2017, and Kunos have continued to develop the game, even though I’m sure it doesn’t make a lot of financial sense to do so. If they were like other devs (see below), they’d have stopped development a year ago and announced “All the non-working elements will be fixed in Assetto Corsa II!”

      And then you’ve got companies like SMS who tend to leave their games half-finished because they don’t see a profit in ongoing development. I hate these sorts of devs because they clearly have no commitment to quality or real enthusiasm for what they’ve created. Profit > Pride, as it were.

      I sincerely hope they prove me wrong this time, but I would strongly advise people not to pre-order PC2 and instead wait for reviews before buying. I also want to see if SMS supports their product with something besides DLC (and that would be a first for them) before I bother with anything else they develop.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The pre-order malarkey is something I’ve never understood. Reviews for racing games in particular being highly subjective. If someone out there thinks gtsport is the best thing since sliced bread, hey while I wouldn’t agree, that doesn’t make the opinion any less valid. So how do you get a measure for any newly released game? I’ll try any game and don’t feel attached to any title, inevitably if it’s a driving game I’ll probably pick it up on sale, even if it’s just curiosity. I also agree with you about Kunos, however the console release was shockingly poor and custom lobbys………

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  2. We can all be assholes when it comes to analysing his results in the “Team ShutTheFuckUpYoureRuiningMyIncome Chevrolet”.

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  3. Always checked for KK updates on the fb page its a pity indeed they cant get it right in time, just pay stefano to look over and fix this we badly need a proper kart sim dont let it die like this. Also this proves that AC is the best sim with the best dev meltdowns, luv ya all 😛

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  4. Did iracing buy that dirt track racing studio or their devs? I watched their video and the work there resembles what was done in iracing.

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    1. But SimRaceWay existed and had some of the finest tracks at the time. World of Speed, that Porsche game, and the Motorcycle Road Rash-ish IP from SMS could have been mentioned, as much as we may know the story of 2 of the 3 games.

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  5. Live For Speed could slip into this category with a certain car.

    Okay, Rockingham came out, fine, fine, but…..early 2009, anyone?

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    1. It’s a shame, it was the first sim I’ve ever gotten into, I wonder how it would be now had it been in development up until today. I couldn’t afford S2 license during it’s time, and now that I can very easily, it really makes me wish.

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    2. Now, I even wonder if their Volkswagen license is still valid. Part of the problem is there’s only one or two people working on it, and they’re now pushing for VR instead.

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  6. To Ian Bell,

    Please tell Andy Tudor and your WMD members to stop lying about all tracks being laser scanned in Project CARS 2.

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      1. Hi Ian,

        In this presentation do you think Andy’s claims about the Live Track 3.0 Technology in Project Cars 2 are all 100% accurate?

        Do you stand by his statement that “every single car you can imagine is in the game”?

        Why does he say you are using Nicholas Hamilton to provide feedback on the game and not as an obvious marketing tool?

        Does Austin prefer to be a bottom or a top?

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        1. It’s ok laser scanning the tracks for 100% bump and hollow accuracy, but if the finish line st Donington is still 200 yards further down the track than it should be, it’s all been a waste of time and coin.

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          1. Donnington should move their finish line if it’s not in the same place. If Ian bell says it should be there, it should be there. Project Cars is 100% authentic.

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  7. Get your facts right. Using a well known engine like Unreal and calling it unable to handle simulation physics is just not true. If all, I would call big engines like Unreal the best plattform to handle that.
    What do you think BeamNG did with BeamNG drive? Do you think Torque3D was able to handle the physics out of the box? No. But they included their own physics engine in the Torque3D engine like it will happen with Kart Craft or GTR3 and Unreal. All of these developers already had working and performing physics engines. The engine change often happens when the in-house-engine isn’t modern and powerful enough to fit actual expectations.
    Yes, that can be done if you own a developer license and full SDK packages.

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  8. Now I finally understood why James says GT6 is more realistic than GTSport. I watched a video on youtube comparing the gameplay of these two games with the same car and track and in GT6 practically every corner had oversteer and you could just keep turning and the car would never understeer. The GTsport side had more natural understeer in and out of corners and moments where you needed to work the car for the corner.
    For that reason James says pcars2 is very realistic, because from the videos I saw of pcars2 it behaves like GT6. Confirmed that James is a physics expert. Good acquisition Ian Bell.

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    1. Don’t tell me you can’t check the trajectory of a car without driving it. Don’t tell me you can’t see if a car oversteers or understeers without driving it. You can analyze a lot visually before even needing to drive yourself.

      Besides James, Sev, Dustin, who considers driving more realistic in GT6 than in GTS?

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      1. Your alright fella, doesn’t appear to be any telling you about anything, you’ve got it all figured out. Keep up the awesome detective work, I’ll keep playing games as I’m obviously not of your caliber when it comes to YouTube interpretation.

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        1. I’m not interested in playing any of these gt6, gtsport, pcars2 games. But is very easy to look at a comparison video and see how a car/tyres behave between gt6 and gtsport.

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  9. Looking back through old issues of PC Zone magazine, the ran a feature on a World Sports Cars title that was planned but never saw the light of day, IIRC the West brothers were invovled, and…of course…Racing Legends is the epitomy of vaporware for racing sims….

    However, trawling Youtube, I came across a sports car/IMSA game for…the 3DO, never saw the light of day but from the footage had a 333SP in it among other choices. Looked pretty damn good for a 3DO game really…never saw the light of day though just like WSC and RL.

    Also, amusingly enough, there was a rumor of a sequel to the underrated and awesome Xtreme Air Racing, a….plane racing sim from the turn of the millennium, it was way ahead of its time, and you needed to have nerves of steel to be good at it, and IIRC it’s the only game* to feature the fully licensed Reno course and actual aircraft.

    * Yes I know FSX had something like it in its addon but that wasn’t the full experience.

    Also, vaporware I hear you say, well…..the Moto1 Trans Am game, the only things I found were screenshots online and no mention of it ever being released so I’ll class it as vaporware.

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  10. About Simraceway I think there is an interesting story behind to be covered,the game was officially dead on 2013 (not sure) and now it is already online as open-beta,we know they spent a lot of money from sponsors on it but nothing happened,even users on the forum… are 2-3 guys but no devs between them…

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  11. SRW’s Indycar stuff was covered on PRC earlier AFAIK, they had a massive, massive push around that time. SRW was weird and some of the pricing models were….how to put this…..strange.

    That being said….I would love to see James’s opinions on Levll R, or the Invictus online gaming thing they had/have/probably died off, thing, going on. It was a strange little thing really. Also, ACR was bizarre too.

    Since BIker Bash (the motorcycle thing SMS were doing at some point), World of Speed could/should be considered vaporware too.

    Also, dug out that PCZ article, the game sounded stunning and had little details that made it sound incredible….and it had (going by screenshots) Monza and a Panoz in the pre release stuff. Never got to release though did it?

    Also, for literal vaporware, since Racing Legends got mentioned, and LFS, and a few others, the rumored MCO reboot./revival/whatever it was and whatever happened to it.

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  12. Meanwhile in “real news”, Lord Kuntos has just silenced a legit question in his forum about the expected eta of the next console update. He’s made himself look a right mardy twunt again. Less surprisingly, his favourite arse licker “SlimCharles” just cannot resist temptation to “Like” every bit of bile that spills from his lordship’s gut.

    Like

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