Where Does it End?

It isn’t enough that we know for a fact that Ray Alfala won iRacing’s DWC Series with a DFGT and Fanatec V1 clubsport pedals. Let alone the fact that we have good and reliable info that most developer’s personally use G25’s and G27’s when they develop and drive on their own.

Or should I add that mighty iRacing, with all of John Henry’s money and fortune backing them apparently doesn’t have a direct drive wheel? Yes that’s right! Forum members on iRacing are building Dave Tucker (peripheral and FFB guru at iRacing) a Direct drive wheel so he can use and test it out. It hasn’t been noted if they will accept or deny this gift from the members, however I think it is insanity and/or Stockholm Syndrome for the forum members who pay money for membership and content to provide a developer hardware. But that is another story for another time.

The quest to make sure everyone know that you cannot enjoy sim racing anymore without Direct Drive Wheels is the most ridiculous sim crusade. Second only to the people who swear they cannot make laps unless all graphics are turned off and they are running at 400fps ensuring no input lag.

At approximately 42:50 the the person testing out the wheel admits that iRacing felt about the same. When they used the custom FFB app that is provided with the Accuforce wheel there was a perceived input lag. Well this makes sense to me, if you are using software to translate iRacing’s(or any sim) steering rack force and physics through another program then to the wheel there will be some delay.

However that isn’t the best part. “…with the Accuforce, when I was sliding it still felt like I was on a sheet of ice..”  That is a symptom of iRacing’s unforgiving over the limit grip and complete loss of lateral grip when sliding. Not your “plastic” wheel and not because iRacing is too complex.

I thought that Direct Drive wheels fixed this? Oh wait, they didn’t turn the baby boomers who are just as dangerous as the 13 year old’s on Team Mommy’s MasterCard Motorsport’s into Ayrton Senna? iRacing suddenly didn’t become the ultimate sim because the physics are beign translated straight to the wheel and not getting lost in the cogs and belts of your “toy wheel?”

A while back someone suggested in the iRacing forums that sim racing will never advance unless developers stop making physics and wheels based off of toy wheels. I defended the developers. Specifically iRacing in this instance by stating that I cannot envision a developer alienating their userbase by making the game unusable to the average simracer with a $200 wheel budget. If they made something Direct Drive only, it would be for privateers to test on more than likely. Besides I would wager and say that upping the minimum system specs to remove the potato computer userbase and allow them to squeeze in more physics computations per second would do more for the sim than making it Direct Drive pnly.

As someone who has owned or tried the G25 ,G27, 911 GT3RS, T300 ,and Clubsport V2 wheel, let me explain something to you- not a single one of those are going to make you faster.

Payware Mods – For Better or Worse, it’s the Future

A while back, we ran an article on how there was a race to turn sim racing into Flight Simulator with a slew of payware mods. James is completely right with his take on the absolute insanity  of payware mods for Flight Simulator. A quick google search landed me on a webpage offering a Mod Boeing 747-8 for $26.68.

but at $26.68, some people may be able to simulate what would happen if it did. 

Now I don’t know about you, but $25 could feed a family of five, and it did tonight. My family cooked up some flat iron steaks with green peppers and some white rice with butter and cheese. This might seem hypocritical because I have defended $10 DLC packs, and later in this article I will defend a series of payware mods released by an Assetto Corsa user. However, $25+ for a single airplane is an enormous amount of money to be sent to basically fly in a straight line for a few hours simulating a trip from New York to Orlando.

On the other hand, I found guy who is offering up some highly sought after sim cars for $6 a piece. I asked him if he was interested in being linked directly and or reviewed, and he declined. He is concerned about the legal ramifications of his payware mods, and for good reason: The cars he is replicating have been the subject of legal debate before. I will not refer to the cars by name but you can probably take a guess, or find the webpage yourself.

The email and process of getting to pay for the mods is something that makes you feel like you are doing something way more shady than playing video games in your boxers.

Accessing the cars is very similar to the mystique surrounding the actual brand itself. You have to give the modder a whole slew of information about how you sim race and your views on several different aspects of sim racing, including your views on sharing payware mods. After this process, the man is still rather suspicious of your intents. I am not sure if it is because he cannot speak English very well and doesn’t understand some of the simple vernacular associated with American English.

This man does put a great deal of work in to the physics and his model (no, they aren’t ripped from Forza and he does it in a way that’s pretty crafty but we can’t disclose that). Just watching some videos on his work, I was itching to get my hands on it and give it a try. When I was finally approved to buy his cars, I dropped them in to my Assetto Corsa folder and got myself on the Nurburgring.

First impressions? Wow.

This wasn’t your run of the mill mod, this was about as close to what I was expecting the car to feel like as you could get. Numerous articles and Chris Harris videos described what I was feeling from the two cars this car was portraying. Each one uniquely different and accurate to their real life counterparts. For $12 I had myself another addition to my sim racing heaven also known as my Assetto Corsa folder. I do wonder if this goodness can be attributed to the underlying physics and tire model that Kunos gives modders to work with.

Am I making an endorsement for all payware mods? No. URD makes some fantastic mods and my nameless friends do too, but this is certainly not the case for everything. Most Assetto Corsa users are aware of the Russian guys ripping Forza cars slapping Kunos physics in them and selling them for like $10. This is not acceptable, nor should it be.

Mods take a lot of time and work to create for the individual or team behind them. Traditionally it has been a work of passion, however reality sets in more often than not and they seek payment for their labor. From what I have been told, modders with a donate button in their profiles maybe can make $100 in an entire year. Does this mean we should be sitting here ready to throw $26.68 at modders for a single car? I don’t think so but something in the $2-6 dollar range as a “suggested donation” would be a good deal for modders.

Modding in general is a legal issue. Many modders would rather not get involved in the added notoriety of having a payware mod and choose to release their cars for free. Free mods under fair use laws are the subject of many internet debates, it is not clear how this works as I am not a lawyer nor is your average sim racer. Free mods have been the targets of corporate lawyers too, Ferrari shut down a free to play browser game several years back. There is no telling how a far a corporate lawyer looking to justify his job will go when it comes to mods.

It’s just a coincidence that the Arthur Merlin looks like the car James Bond is notorious for driving.

I know my opinion is a little bit different than what most people have, Steam recently had a ton of backlash for their payware mod system. I hope that we see a nice healthy mix of pay/donation mods, and free mods. Mods have the ability to not only extend the life of our sims, but give exposure to car manufacturers that in my opinion is free and easy. Certain brands and models are not represented properly in sim racing for a variety of reasons, but there are passionate fans who support those auto makers and would love to live out their fantasy and pretend they are driving a car they might not be able to do otherwise.

Project Cars is the best racer ever – Except when it isn’t…

I’m having a hard time understanding why many articles about Project CARS say it’s the most amazing racing sim/game ever. Then, at some point, the writer says it isn’t.

Every review on Project CARS is similar to dealing with a used car salesman, and to see this in action, you only have to read the reviews yourselves:

I get chills down my spine at the thought of people actually giving this article more clicks than it deserves. Either way; Alex Lloyd is a racer gone journalist, which you would assume makes him more qualified to write articles than the staff writers at PretendRaceCars.net. Alex tries his best to hype up pCars, but if you read between the lines you will find pure marketing and mostly thank you for hooking me up with a copy of the game and wheel to try it out with:

Early in the review, Alex stated:

I’ve now spent many hours on the Xbox version using a Thrustmaster TX racing wheel and pedals, and there are problems where it occasionally hangs or the sound inexplicably cuts out.”

And later in the review:

“…but the attention to detail is where Project CARS wins out.”

So which is it? Did SMS pay attention to all of the minute details? Or did SMS release a game where the reviewer admits that the FFB cuts out on consoles and it has something to do with the sound – something that people have been reporting on forums for about two weeks now.

“But the open-wheel machines and modern sports cars are pretty much bang on — with the exception that the braking remains less forceful than in real life; it’s as if the Formula 1-equivalent in the game is using steel brakes from a Ford Focus”

Is it “bang on” or is it not? The second sentence negates the first.

“You’re submerged into a world that no game, including iRacing or any of those PC racing sims, can replicate…”


“Short of using iRacing or some other high-end PC racing sim, Project CARS is the most lifelike game around”

What am I even reading at this point?

And this isn’t just something we’ll pin on Alex Lloyd, no, even the big guns at PC Gamer are guilty of this:

“It’s the most polished racer I’ve played in a while, for sure.”

Only to say…:

“Playing with a Gamepad often borders on impossible…”

How is a game that ships with game-breaking control issues “polished?” How is a game supposed to display the developer’s insane attention to detail when it’s constantly crashing on the person trying to review it? Do they think we won’t notice this?

netKar Pro Goes Freeware

According to Stefano Casillo, netKar Pro will become freeware as Kunos will be ending official support for the title later this year.

What this means in terms of whether people will be able to look into the source code; the potential for third party mods and user supported multiplayer is yet to be seen. However, if you’re interested in trying out a decent sim that has above average physics and a tire model that is a close match to Assetto Corsa, now is your chance.

Blurring the Viral Marketing Line

Have you ever gone sleepless wondering how someone could possibly like Coke more than Pepsi?

Yeah, neither have I.

However, if you play video games, there’s a pretty good chance that you have ran across someone who has their favorite game embossed into their thought process to the point where the mere mention of a competitor will push them over the edge.

Call of Duty vs. Battlefield debates reign supreme among pre-pubescent Mountain Dew chuggers on YouTube and Facebook. Flaws are brushed aside, and the one or two specific things that make your favorite game better than the other are repeated over and over again in as many places you can. This makes sense when the only things in life of any importance to you are wondering if Stacy thinks your kill-streak montage you posted on Facebook is cool (she doesn’t, and she’s sleeping with your friend), or if your parents can hear you calling everyone you kill online a different racial slur.

Sim Racing, like many other genres, is no stranger to fanboys. Since the Grand Prix Legends days, people have been preaching their religious beliefs about how the more difficult a car is to drive in a video game, the more realistic it is. The general consensus is that concrete tires sliding across a road made of ice is a valid representation of how a race car handles.

When Project CARS opened their door for investors, we were led to believe that we would be directly influencing game design – primarily the physics aspect. We could create a sim based off of the way we know race cars work, not just being difficult for the sake of being difficult. I bought in and tried out several builds – it became more and more obvious to me that this game had a long way to go and that maybe one day it would be worth coming back to.

At a certain point, as James points out – 80,000 voices all pulling the game in a different direction, would eventually lead to chaos. Listening to the community provide input was no longer a viable option. This is where the change from assisting to marketing occurred. The most popular threads inside the WMD forums are centered around tracking down articles and comments posted on other websites, as well as a thread dedicated to heavily edited screenshots. These threads have counts far surpassing anything else in the WMD forums, and no threads exist like that for the physics aspect of the game, save for the detailed driver feedback where Ben Collins admits driving in the wet in pCars is completely wrong. Those comments were quickly swept under the rug.

Soon, forum talking points became focused on how to properly display screenshots and YouTube videos rather than how the tire model behaves in certain situations. A buddy of mine posted a YouTube video showing how the game looked and behaved giving bit of an opinion in the description. He was quickly bombarded by comments asking him to please remove the video or edit it becuase “it was not showing the game in a positive light.”

I guess screenshot threads are more important than proper bug testing?

A sim website I used to frequent for reputable information about every sim became the hub for Project Cars news. Major announcements from iRacing, Assetto Corsa and others would take a back seat to a heavily edited “reality check” video. News of delays and other major sim racing articles were followed by another screenshot or build update jumping to the top of the website.Even further, we’ve seen at least three independent driving game sites work hand in hand with the WMD community to display Project CARS in a positive light. Instead of objectively reviewing the game as your average person would play it, like we’ve managed to do for DiRT Rally, R3E, Project CARS, Game Stock Car Extreme, these formerly reputable sites suddenly became interested in what’s basically advertising the game.

I am sure this had nothing to do with them being big money backers of Project CARS, right?

What we have experienced from SMS and the WMD crowdfunding model is something that should be included in a collegiate marketing textbook. They have managed to not only harness the power of rabid fanboys, but added on the promise of return on investment (it’s still up in the air considering pre-order or sales numbers have not even been released to the backers) to create a viral marketing campaign the likes of which people have not seen, especially in a sub-genre like sim racing. You were given the privilege of paying to market for SMS.


There is an army the likes of which we have never seen waiting to pounce on anybody who dares question the game, or point out a flaw. iRacing and their user base has never even come close to this, and they for the most part have always adhered to letting the haters be haters however they please on Facebook and other forums.

Devs like iRacing, Kunos and Sector3 which actually put out exceptional products- where would they be if they some how harnessed this power?

What worries me is this; the bad precedent this is setting. I admire the passion and commitment to a developer that the SMS community has, and the togetherness they share. However,  I am worried that this blind and money-driven passion is allowing a hardcore genre to be weakened. We are accepting half finished features and arguably the most arcade physics in the genre to dominate the news on major gaming websites.

I  could go on and on about paid for reviews. We know enough about it, but Project CARS is an example of the benefits a big name distributor will get you when you send out review copies. PC Gamer’s review claims Project CARS is the “most polished racer I have ever played”, while in the same article the review points out that Project Cars is almost unplayable with a controller.

We cannot have a discussion about the game without hundreds of people piling on and trying to silence you. Opinions that don’t toe the line are dangerous.