The Only Forza Horizon 3 Review You Need to Read

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I understand we’re extremely late with our review of Forza Horizon 3, as the game has been out for almost an entire month, but this isn’t due to our own laziness. At launch, none of us actually had the Windows 10 operating system installed on our PC’s, neither James nor Maple wanted to take the plunge on a controversial package that had been routinely making headlines for all the wrong reasons, and I personally had an exam that quite simply deserved a significant portion of my attention. When I finally did get around to purchasing Forza Horizon 3, both for my own enjoyment and to review on PRC.net, two consecutive patches released by Playground Games turned Forza Horizon 3 into an unplayable mess, to the point where the task of finishing the game felt more like a chore.

I really wanted to enjoy what Forza Horizon 3 has to offer, but Microsoft, Turn 10, and Playground Games have pushed out an unreliable piece of software that coughs, hacks, and stutters its way through a beautiful rendition of Australia’s Gold Coast – an experience that is simply unacceptable in 2016, and does not reflect the traditionally polished product one could expect when purchasing a Forza title in the past.

Landing simultaneously on both the Xbox One and Windows 10, Forza Horizon 3 was introduced to the gaming public on September 27th, 2016; the first time a major Forza release has been offered to PC gamers, as the franchise has spent the past decade operating solely as an Xbox exclusive. On Windows 10, Forza Horizon 3 cannot be purchased through retailers or in any third party online shops such as Steam, requiring you to install or upgrade to Windows 10, open the Windows Store app, navigate to the Forza Horizon 3 store page, and purchase the game through the dashboard. Horizon 3 is massively over-priced in the European Storefront – going for a whopping $76 US after currency conversion, whereas the North American version is the standard $59.99. I tried going the route of purchasing Horizon 3 through various other countries’ stores, but the application continued to give me an error message that said they could not process the payment, and I was forced to come to terms with the fact that I was paying a lot more than anyone else outside of Europe.

Downloading and installing Horizon 3 was a pain in the ass, as we’ve documented in detail here at PRC.net. The only way to download Horizon 3 was through the Windows store, which as an application is prone to frequent crashing, freezing, or randomly aborting downloads. It doesn’t display at what rate the files are transferring, nor does it inform you how much time it’ll take to finish the download. Sometimes the store is in the process of downloading an app – visible through the task manager or your Ethernet driver – but the progress bar is frozen, leaving you extremely confused. Choosing a simple install location is more or less impossible as well; you’re only allowed to choose the hard disk drive you want to download apps, and nothing else, which results in three or four different folders suddenly appearing in your home directory. Windows 10 doesn’t even create a folder in which it puts the different sub folders. Quite simply, it’s a mess.

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Forza Horizon 3 immediately lets you know that Microsoft and Playground Games have no idea what the fuck they’re doing on the PC, as the game opens in a windowed, borderless state – as do all Windows 10 games downloaded from the Windows Store. It is still currently impossible to run Forza Horizon 3 in true full screen mode. Now despite the automatic options analyzing my system and recommending me to select High visual settings, in reality this meant that I’d be subjected to a below-average 30 frames per second; less than ideal for a game intended to show off what my PC can do through the backroads of Australia.

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Initially, the performance of the game was quite good, apart from the weird, rubber-banding feeling you’d get through Horizon 3’s frame smoothing option when you arrived at a particularly detailed area within the game world. On highway segments and in races through the countryside, Horizon 3 remained locked at the 30 frames per second I told it to remain at, as unlocking the framerate would make the game feel like chewing gum. It was as if Horizon 3 was slowing down in order to compensate for the fluctuating framerate, and it was all sorts of fucked up to watch in motion.

The first of the three major patches seemed to increase performance and eradicate most of the framerate drops I had been experiencing – even getting rid of the weird rubber-banding effects in high traffic locations – but the two most recent updates turned Forza Horizon 3 into an unplayable mess for myself and many others. The second major patch introduced a bug that would break my explorer.exe process every time I launched the game, rendering the task bar absolutely useless and limit my ability to bring up the Start menu. The only way to fix this was to restart my PC, as simply shutting down the process and restarting it wouldn’t rectify the issue. The third update, which didn’t drop too long ago, was the final straw for myself, as the performance took a drastic nosedive, barely reaching 30 frames per second, stuttering all over the place, and reaching single-digit FPS values. I had to massively decrease my visual settings in order to make the game playable, which I find totally unacceptable given the game worked relatively okay after the first update.

The game also intrusively pushes something called the Groove Music Service on you during normal gameplay, trying to bait you into a free 14-day trial via the way of annoying pop ups, but thankfully in my experience I was able to click away from these and never had to deal with them again. Other people haven’t been so lucky.

After several patches, Forza Horizon 3 finally has decent wheel support, however this is one of the few racing games on the market that performs perfectly fine with a standard console controller as well. The application automatically detects both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers, so you aren’t even required to use a third party plugin like Input Mapper or DS4Windows as Matt Orr has talked about. You can change all sorts of deadzone values for your wheel, select the steering ratio, and a whole bunch of little oddities that are typically found in hardcore racing simulators – which was really nice to see. Horizon 3 also offers multiple sets of driving physics, but I found the Normal settings to be more realistic than the Simulation selection, as the latter suffers from an artificial decrease in tire grip that makes catching most simple slides almost impossible.

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With the settings you see above, Horizon 3 actually drives incredibly well for a casual-oriented mass market racing game. It feels extremely close to the Codemasters DiRT series prior to the ultra-Hardcore DiRT Rally, which in this case is quite the compliment. You can provoke slides and drift as long as you want provided you’ve got enough horsepower, different tire compounds make a tangible difference on how your car handles at the edge of the tire, and when it rains, there is a massive change in your driving style required to be successful. Horizon 3 packs an abundance of the almighty Simulation Value we often joke about here at PRC.net into what on the surfaces is a decidedly lighthearted package, and I really appreciate the overall direction this title is aimed in.

There are several kinds of surfaces in Horizon 3, such as wet sand, desert sand, gravel, tarmac, mud, and grass, and your car always behaves differently on each of them, but never in a way that’s canned or unrealistic. When going from tarmac to sand, for example, it becomes much harder to accelerate or corner, but at the same time, drifting becomes extremely easy. Unfortunately, the AI doesn’t appear to play by the same set of rules compared to the player car, as they’re virtually unbeatable on tarmac thanks to an excessive amount of assisted grip and the way Horizon 3 consistently places you far from the front row on the starting grid.

Gaps between yourself and the AI cars on Unbeatable difficulty are almost impossible to make up fairly, requiring you to smash and bash your way to the front – which doesn’t do any favors for the mentality of the average virtual racer when they test out online races. However, when the AI takes a trip off road, they’re absolutely fucking horrible, especially in lower class cars. You can easily stomp them by two or three seconds per lap, an insane amount of real estate compared to how they decimate you on tarmac, and this is really noticeable once you start fooling around in the numerous Hypercars and dedicated race cars offered in Horizon 3.

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Despite Horizon 3 offering a mammoth version of Australia’s Gold Coast to explore, the game doesn’t actually require you to do a whole lot of driving compared to other open world racers such as Test Drive Unlimited or Need for Speed Underground, as you’re given the ability to warp to the game’s festival sites – which serve as your garage, paint shop, aftermarket performance tuning center, and overall central hub at any given time. It’s a bit of an odd design decision; Horizon 3 gives you a sweet open world to roam at your desires, but couldn’t care less about you exploring it. The game also allows you to spend a lot of time messing around with in-depth tuning and upgrade options, but many “Quick Upgrade” buttons exist to simplify the process and really discourage players from diving deep into what Horizon 3 has to offer on that spectrum of the game. The livery marketplace returns from previous Forza titles, allowing you to apply a pre-made wrap from the community almost immediately after purchasing your car, though the entire customization process – whether we’re talking about the livery screen or upgrading your vehicle – is plagued by performance issues which make navigating these menus extremely painful and time consuming.

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The story of Horizon 3 is almost non-existent, but as this is an open world racing game, I don’t mind it at all – especially considering titles which have experimented with heavy narrative elements like The Crew and Test Drive Unlimited 2 haven’t been received very well. Unlike the previous games, where you’ve been competing in this sort of Soundwave-like street racing festival, Horizon 3 now assumes you’ve played the previous two entries and allow you to assume the role of organizer thanks to your veteran status, and for the first time in the series you’re able to customize your identity. Along with traditional circuit and point-to-point races, the offshoot events from previous Horizon titles focused on drifting, destruction, scoring style points, and competing against random gimmick vehicles have all returned, making for a very familiar experience. You essentially are given free reign of the map to complete events, purchase cars, and earn experience points – which the game calls “fans” – giving you the task of upgrading the numerous festival locations around the map in the way you see fit. It’s not a linear form of progression by any means, but it’s not a complete sandbox, either.

Australia as a game world is a lively one, with pedestrian traffic cars and fellow racers populating the world, though what really stuck out to me was the total lack of diversity in the traffic cars I was whizzing by in my travels – according to Playground Games, everyone in Australia owns a BMW X5, Abarth 500, or Holden Ute. This lack of diversity is also reflected in the “drivatars” – virtual representations of real players that roam around as AI vehicles in your campaign. I’m not sure whether it’s due to the abundance of teenagers playing Horizon 3, or if it’s a poor algorithm calculation, but nine out of every ten drivatars I run across are piloting a Koenigsegg when you’re sitting in a hypercar. The drivatars can also be quite scripted at times, as when you’re competing in an offshoot event like the aforementioned speed challenges or drift competitions, there’s a sharp increase in the number of AI traffic vehicles. You can circumvent this issue by going into a private online session – removing all drivatars from the game world – though it’s a pain in the ass on the end user.

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Visually, Australia is absolutely beautiful, and I’m really pleased with how diverse the map in Horizon 3 is compared to Colorado and Europe in the first two games. It consists of several different biomes such as the outback, the rainforest, a suburb, and even a major city, meaning there isn’t a central theme surrounding the game compared to the original Horizon’s reddish-brown hue that was present at all times. I personally wish a bit more effort had been put into fleshing out the game world in terms of fauna and Australian citizens roaming city streets away from the major festival sites, though I’m sure the lack of pedestrians is one of those things that had to be omitted for licensing reasons.

For the time I was able to invest in Forza Horizon 3 before my game became crippled with technical issues that shouldn’t appear in a flagship Microsoft product, I’m able to confirm that this is one of the best arcade racers ever made, and really brings me back to the days of Need for Speed Underground 2, where top to bottom the complete package offered an extremely enjoyable experience. The same enthusiasm I felt for Underground 2, and how perfectly the car physics had been massaged back then to appeal to multiple crowds, is how I feel about the raw driving experience in Horizon 3. Events are short, sweet, and enjoyable provided you stick with an AI difficulty level that doesn’t outright cheat, and the introduction of incredibly diverse biomes finally justifies the extensive roster of cars you accumulate throughout the campaign mode. Had the horrible patches not broke Horizon 3 for me, I’d feel comfortable giving this game PRC.net’s equivalent of a perfect score, but those who are on the fence about this game should continue to monitor the community message boards and Forza Motorsport Subreddit until there’s a unanimous consensus that everything has been fixed before taking the plunge.

Auf Wiedersehen

Breaking Down the Features of GT Sport

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As a follow up to the article James has published earlier this week regarding his thoughts on Polyphony’s new Gran Turismo Sport, I thought it would be a good idea to outline exactly what will come and change with the drastic new change of direction taken by Kaz and the team. I’d also like to offer some of my opinions on how this title will impact the world of sim racing, as let’s face it, the audience Gran Turismo can capture is exponentially bigger than the likes of iRacing, Project CARS, and Assetto Corsa both combined and multiplied.

A week ago, Polyphony Digital held a pretty sizeable press event to show off their latest iteration of the Gran Turismo franchise – Gran Turismo Sport. Sadly, most of the relevant footage has been taken offline now due to the standard DMCA complaints, so we’re instead left with a three hour raw feed video of what broadcasted online races – a big step for Gran Turismo – may possibly look like later this year.

Two weeks later, an increasing amount of information regarding Gran Turismo Sport has been released, translated from press releases written in the native Japanese language. Gran Turismo sport will arrive on Sony’s PlayStation during the middle of November 2016.

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The limited edition of the game will most likely retail for an additional ten dollars, and feature several pieces of bonus content compared to the standard version. The limited edition will ship with eight more cars unlocked from the start, said to include both a rally and “group 4” car, though the car classes haven’t entirely been outlined as of yet. You’ll also receive one million credits as a “head start” on the game’s career mode, but again, I’m unsure how much of an advantage this will provide to players. The limited edition package is rounded off via the inclusion of a premium GT Sport PlayStation 4 user interface theme, as well as 30 additional avatars for your PSN Network Profile.

Pre-Order bonus content comes in the way of the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, a modern Ford Mustang Rally Car, and the Toyota FT-1 GT3 already unlocked in the game. On top of these cars, 500,000 credits will also be sent to your account, allowing you to stack both the limited edition and pre-order bonuses if you choose to do so. However, portions of this bonus content, including the cars listed above, can be obtained via standard progression through normal gameplay, so this appears to be a light ruse on the part of Polyphony Digital rather than truly exclusive content. Usually I am against pre-order bonuses that lock content away from those who can pay extra, but Polyphony have appeared to take the safe approach here, and I respect that.

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Unfortunately, there will be no closed or open beta testing to take part in. Contrary to what was promised in late 2015, plans for small, isolated testing sessions have been scrapped, as Polyphony Digital claim it would add weeks – if not months – to the development of the final product. This sounds understandable, but considering Polyphony have already held press events with some sort of pre-release version, I don’t see why they can’t just release that trial version of the game as some kind of demo on the PSN network, and use places like GTPlanet to gauge feedback from their hardcore fans.

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Something I personally find ridiculous, is that you can earn a real racing license through GT Sport. According to Polyphony, if you complete several milestones and tutorials within the game, you become eligible to order a real FIA racing license if you live in any of the 22 countries that have so far agreed with this gimmick.

This can – and probably will – put other people’s lives in danger, as we all know what happened when accomplished sim racers like Ray Alfalla or Greger Huttu stepped into a race car for the first time; they screwed up big time, and basically needed someone to jump in with them to help undo all of the nasty habits that sim racing had taught them. I really don’t want to know what happens when 3l1te_h4xx0r_88 decides he wants to go racing in real life, instead of sticking to his PlayStation. This concept might have worked with GT Academy, where all of Nissan’s resources were pumped into precisely one individual, but I can’t see it being a safe idea on a wider scale. In my own experience driving for various Amateur teams in Europe, some teams have shared horror stories with me regarding sim racers approaching them for a ride with a bit of financial backing to make it a reality, and every single time it ended in disaster.

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The game will be constructed in a way that resembles iRacing for the PlayStation 4. Kaz may say that this whole project is innovative and fresh for Gran Turismo, but many of the multiplayer features recently unveiled appear to have been taken straight from iRacing – and I’m not just talking about the safety rating portion. Your avatar, custom profile, racing suit, and the brand new livery editor will be much more than just diversions in the garage menu – they’ll serve a purpose and act as the hub for your online career.

In terms of multiplayer racing, GT Sport will have regularly scheduled events during the week, similar to how iRacing’s multiplayer format works. You can improve your safety rating – or excuse me here – “Racing Etiquette”, and earn points. If you’ve done well enough in a few races during the week, you’ll be invited to an invitational race on the weekend. This is something I look forward to immensely. If I wouldn’t have been banned for being friends with James, I’d definitely be playing iRacing for a few months by now, and Gran Turismo Sport will instead fill that void. The easy to use website, well organized multiplayer aspect, and the improved physics are certainly appealing to me, even as a restricted customer. If I can get the same things that iRacing offers without the political bullshit for being friends with someone they don’t like, sign my ass up immediately. And just like iRacing, cars will be split into different classes – Prototypes, GT3 cars, GT4 sportsman racers, Rally Cars, and street legal cars.

All of this is said to culminate in the official FIA sanctioned manufacturer and nations cups, with the best drivers competing against each other to find the best virtual racers in the world. As mentioned in the press event held in Japan, they will also hold an invitational 24 hour race with drivers who demonstrate exceptional talent and on-track discipline. This obviously looks like a step away from Polyphony’s cooperation with Nissan and the GT Academy program, but considering the winners will be officially recognized at the actual FIA awards ceremony at the end of the season, I can see future deals like test sessions with race teams or manufacturers happen – so long as these drivers are also amateur racers on the side using GT Sport to brush up their skills.

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The car count has dropped significantly, as have the tracks. This may come as a massive disappointment to many Gran Turismo fans, as the game usually included hundreds upon hundreds of automotive machinery, but I personally am glad that ever car in the game now serves a purpose. I never cared for the ten special versions of the Nissan Skyline R34 awkwardly shoe-horned into the game as a love letter to Japan, and neither should anyone else. A select few highly-detailed and mostly accurate racing cars are much better than 800 vehicles with PS2-quality visuals.

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All in all, you could say that Gran Turismo Sport will be a departure from traditional GT entries, but I think that is a step in the right direction. Content-wise, it will include everything sim racers can ask for, and if Polyphony can get the physics right, such as fuel and tire management for endurance races, then GT Sport will be the number one competitor to iRacing, and it might actually win in the long run. Games like Assetto Corsa or Project CARS will be left in the dust if GT Sport can release as a polished product, and we’ll have an amazing simulator in our hands. The only thing I can see ruining this, is if there will be no support for older wheels like the DFGT or Logitech G27, as this is  what a majority of Gran Turismo players currently own. Forcing them to upgrade to a PS4, purchase Gran Turismo, and then shell out the same amount for an entirely new wheel doesn’t seem like the smart thing to do, but we’ll see if the PS4 architecture allows it.

Auf Wiedersehen

 

What Happened to Assetto Corsa?

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The most recent update package released for Assetto Corsa – the version 1.5 patch – brought with it a fairly substantial change to the game’s underlying tire model.  As the 4Chan GT3 league that I have previously participated in from time to time is now planning a third championship, hoping to move on from the trusty yet dated isiMotor engine to the new frontier in Assetto Corsa, I thought to myself that it was time to start seriously practicing within the new environment. Word around the virtual garage area painted a very optimistic picture of the simulator, stating that online capabilities and the overall netcode has been drastically improved compared to when we previously dropped Assetto Corsa in favor of Stock Car Extreme. An Assetto Corsa league for the 4Chan group has been in the planning stages for over a year, but only now have organizers been confident enough in the online functionality to make a serious push to get things off the ground.

I was excited to turn laps in the new build of Assetto Corsa, but that excitement quickly turned to disappointment once I made it out onto the track. Recent changes to the tire model have completely robbed the game of any enjoyment for myself. I’ve obviously heard the rumors from a few different sources – some good drivers, some not – that Assetto Corsa had been simplified for the console audience, but I never expected it to be this blatant. A friend of mine owns a retail copy of Project CARS, we’ve played it for a giggle at his place, and I’d honestly say Assetto Corsa’s quality has somehow managed to sink below the Slightly Mad Studios offering. Last year I called Assetto Corsa the most authentic driving simulator for the PC. A year later, everything has changed. This is really bad.

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There is not a single hard compound tire on the planet that will take over three laps to build an adequate amount of heat, but this seems to be the norm for Assetto Corsa’s GT3 cars. Our practice server is currently set to Silverstone – a track with a bunch of flat corners that immediately put stress on the tires – and it would take anywhere from two to four laps to generate proper operating temperatures. In real life, GT3 cars are so heavy that they’re able to build the correct heat within a single lap at maximum. This was just all kinds of wrong, and I wonder how Stefano was able to boast that they’ve refined the way tires generate heat. It obviously isn’t working.

The cars I tested out at Silverstone were the Glickenhaus SCG 003, the Lamborghini Huracan GT3, and the McLaren 650S (the screenshots here are from the time James spent on-track because I am a pleb). Now admittedly, I’m not very good at Silverstone because it’s not a track I drive all that often, but any potential success was immediately hindered by the adjustments made to the physics engine – whatever they were. All three cars are virtually impossible to spin out, even with bogus setup changes designed to maximize the obvious shortcomings in the refined car physics.

You can be in first gear, coming out of a tight hairpin, and put the throttle to the floor with no repercussions whatsoever. A lot of sim racers talk about this phenomenon when discussing the flaws in Project CARS, but now the same thing is happening within Assetto Corsa. No matter what I tried with the setup, I couldn’t get these cars to stop exhibiting blatant understeer tendencies. The only way I could force the car into an oversteer situation, was to set the brake balance to the rear of the car and enter the corner like a genuine retard. It feels as if Kunos not only introduced a hidden traction control feature, but the hand of god steps in to prevent the car from rotating too much through a corner. I first noticed the hidden traction control-like feeling in the BMW M235i when it came bundled with the first Dream Pack DLC, but now it seems to have been ported across the rest of the cars in Assetto Corsa.

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When I first purchased Assetto Corsa and sunk many hours into the simulator, the game honestly felt incredible. I had no problem stating that publicly. Even though I was aware of the meme spread by some of our resident trolls which states “Assetto Corsa has no simulation value”, I personally felt that the cars I’ve driven in real life – cars also available in Assetto Corsa – were as close as a modern simulation developer could get to reality. Version 1.5.X, as well as the miscellaneous other changes have been made behind the scenes, have made me reconsider my stance on this product.

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In terms of fairness and objectivity, the times I were able to post on the league’s practice leaderboard weren’t as competitive as they could have been, but there is a genuine reason for this. I tried my hand at real world racing before I dove into the virtual environment of sim racing. I am only familiar with how real cars feel, and my driving style in simulators is based around applying real world techniques to my toy steering wheel. I have not been bred to exploit the physics flaws of each individual simulator as James has been. I needed the cars in Assetto Corsa to drive in a somewhat realistic fashion to take advantage of my skill set, and Assetto Corsa simply feels backwards. In my opinion, it’s as if Kunos purposely tweaked underlying elements of the physics engine to accommodate an audience who would otherwise grow frustrate with a hardcore racing simulator. This may help to ease newcomers into the title on the Xbox One and Playstation 4, but Assetto Corsa was designed to be a highly authentic simulation, developed at a real race track with the input of real drivers. Now, real drivers such as myself are left scratching their heads.

Auf Wiedersehen

Reader Submission #75 – A Word About the Reiza Campaign

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Happy New Year everybody, and welcome to 2016! I know PretendRaceCars.net hasn’t started the year off on the brightest note for some of you, but a reputable rFactor modder who wishes to remain anonymous has shared some insight on a story James posted on New Years Day about Reiza Studios. After James’ article criticized Reiza for elements of the Sim Racing Bonanza campaign that appeared to be dishonest, we’ve received a very long Email supporting those feelings. As a third party who was originally skeptical of the angle James chose to cover this story from, I will re-analyze the information with these new findings and see if my opinion changes.


 

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If you decide to publish this, please erase any information that might identify me. I don’t want people to know who I am. Sadly, there is nothing which can be considered 100% proof, so this submission may be useless for you, but still. I received the information I’m about to tell you from a fellow modder, and he had a chance to take a look at what Reiza were doing with Stock Car Extreme before the IndieGoGo campaign became a big thing everyone wanted to give money to.

There is something wrong with Renato’s answers in regards to certain dates he’s mentioned when asked about the implementation of rFE. When the rFE Weather Plugin was still fairly new, I was personally approached by a guy from rFE asking if me and my team were interested in becoming an official “sponsor” of the plugin, by making our mod natively support it. After an internal debate, we decided not to work with the rFE team because it would not benefit our mod in a way that would justify the effort needed to implement it. Not to mention the tracks themselves in our track pack would have needed extra work to be compatible with the plugin. We just didn’t see the point.

I do not recall when we were approached by the rFE guys, and I can’t check because I’ve since changed my email address and can’t find the conversation I had with the rFE dev. I think his name was Marco, and the conversation was between late 2013 and mid 2014.

What I do remember, is that at the time I still had Windows 7 on my machine, and I was about to switch to Windows 8. In one of the emails with the rFE guy, I directly asked him about Windows 7 support for the plugin. He told me they were still actively working on it, but development was very slow because of both how Windows 7 worked, and how rFactor interacted with it.

You may think I am rambling and that this has nothing to do with Reiza. It does.

If the developers of rFE were still struggling to work on their mod for rFactor in 2014 due to Windows 7 causing unforeseen problems, how were they able to work on Stock Car Extreme in 2014 as Renato claimed? They were struggling just to implement changes on their own work due to problems with the operating system, but somehow they have no problems on a commercial project? I guess you could say that since rFactor and Stock Car Extreme are the same thing, working on the former and then converting the plugin for Stock Car Extreme would have been fairly easy for them, but still… In my honest and simple opinion, something is not right. But nothing matters anymore, as the whole team either disbanded or simply disappeared because there haven’t been any updates in over a year.

My friend and I talked about the whole Reiza-rFE connection only once, and when we did, according to him it was very fresh news. Which means that the first version of the Reiza-rFE partnership came in the Spring or Summer of 2015, and not sometime in 2014 like Renato said. 

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Of course, some of this is pure speculation, but it still puzzles my mind when I consider the dates. Reiza says they stopped working with the rFE team in 2014, yet in the summer of 2015, my trusted friend told me that the rFE-Reiza partnership was fresh news, and said it was rFE at work in the video published on July 10th, 2015.

To be fair, I don’t think Reiza meant to act in a bad manner and keep secrets from the community, but for some reason they didn’t publish any information until recently, when users started questioning the need for Automobilista other than the license problem.

It’s like they are not even trying. I mean, if there weren’t any problems (and if the whole situation surrounding all the different plugins used was legit) why did they wait until the last few days when you guys started stirring up drama left and right, and myself and others on NoGrip did the same? Why didn’t they reveal all of this sooner?

Then you have The Lonely‘s reply, where he literally told someone to fuck off. That’s Ian/Stefano level right there. But if the two mighty studio heads know their games are broken and feel the need to go out and insult users who ask questions, why would The Lonely do the same? If everything we wrote on NoGrip was just a bunch of bullshit, why did he overreact like that? That’s the sign I’d focus on. If you have nothing to hide and if your work was all done as you’d advertised it, you don’t need to get so defensive on a public forum by insulting your own potential customers.

Look, I’ve known that guy for years. Not personally, but as a fellow modder. His name, and especially his work, were always attributed to top-notch quality in the rFactor community. He was a track maker if I recall, so it’s no wonder why the Stock Car Extreme tracks were so good. He’s worked for ISI as well, so his background is legit. But to lose his shit that way? Something’s wrong here.

Sorry if I derailed again, so I’ll travel back to the main topic of discussion.

If there is something shady going on behind the scenes, I don’t know. What I do know, is that if you advertise a product and part of it was not 100% made by you, you have to put the original author’s name right there, either on the main poster or somewhere else the potential customer can easily go and read by himself.

Using the rFE Plugin example, it doesn’t matter if you reworked 99% of the code by scratch. If the original work is still based on something made by someone else, that person or group of people still deserve credit. And in the Automobilista advertising posters, as well as the crowdfunding thing on IndieGoGo, Reiza fails to mention the authors of the various plugins their work is based on. There is nothing to be ashamed of in writing “Dynamic Weather and Track Conditions made possible using heavily reworked code and assets based on rFactor’s rFE Weather Plugin Modification” – and so on for everything else.

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As I’ve said previously, I don’t think they meant any harm with this, but it sure as hell backfired on them. And if they had nothing to hide, they could have crowdfunded things more openly without having people running around wildly on NoGrip angering The Lonely.


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I think it’s finally time I weigh in on the debate, since apart from one comment in a previous post, I haven’t said anything about this matter. Iit’s probably a good idea to give the readers a different and unbiased explanation of everything that happened.

First of all, let me explain some things before I go into the actual content of this submission. As I wrote in my comment, I initially disagreed with what James did about the whole Indiegogo thing. I say I initially disagreed because now, knowing the whole story, I am leaning more towards agreeing with James.

At first the problem for me was that I didn’t understand why exactly James did this, and I only saw it as pointless shit-stirring, the way many of you probably saw it as well. After the publishing of the article and the overwhelming negative response to it (way more negative than usual), I talked with James about it again and only then did I begin to understand the whole picture; It all started with him reading the NoGrip thread and wondering if there was any substance behind the accusations and – if true – what implications this could have, or would have had, for the Indiegogo campaign of Reiza. He researched the ToS of several crowdfunding platforms just to get a basic understanding of what you can and can’t do. After having done this research and having read the NoGrip thread James concluded that Reiza might have infringed upon Indiegogo’s Terms of Service. James wrote an email to Indiegogo to tell them about his findings and whether Indiegogo could tell him if Reiza had done something wrong or not.

And this is where everything went downhill: Indiegogo answered and said that they will investigate the claim, however they will not let James know of the outcome of the investigation, no matter whether Reiza was guilty or innocent. Initially James had planned to write about the matter after he received a definitive answer from Indiegogo, something which was impossible now due to Indiegogo’s secrecy about the outcome of the investigation. Left with no other choice other than not doing anything, he started writing up an article about what he had found out so far and that he had reported his findings to Indiegogo. He failed however, to properly disclose in the article that by doing this he wasn’t out to hurt Reiza just to stir shit up, but to satisfy his curiosity. The headline and the article themselves were worded quite aggressively which made it seem like this time he had an actual vendetta against a developer, where actually the opposite of it was true. I think we all know what happened in the comment section, when finally Renato from Reiza publicly replied in the comments section in order to explain things and put everything into perspective. All of this has culminated in this Reader Submission and my subsequent answer to this submission.

As our anonymous reader tells us, apparently there is a slight discrepancy between Renato’s statement and the insider information that our reader has supplied us with. At first look, it might seem like Renato has told an outright lie, as he publicly stated here on PRC that they had an RFE guy work together with them in 2014. This coincides with the statement of the user The Lonely over at the NoGrip forums who states that someone worked with them about 18 months ago – just after our reader was apparently approached by the RFE guys to work together on their mod. Now, in the private Facebook conversation between Anon and his friend, we learn that apparently Reiza hasn’t been working together with the RFE guys in 2014, but actually in 2015. This obviously is a direct contradiction to Renato’s and The Lonely’s statements about their work together with RFE.

I however have a different theory. When the two Reiza guys mention that they worked together with someone from RFE in 2014, The Lonely also reports that after working with them for a short time, the guy went AWOL (absent without official leave), meaning the guy simply disappeared without ever replying back. This could have several reasons, such as him losing interest or – and this is another one of my theories – the guy worked on this with Reiza without the knowledge of the rest of the RFE guys, so he either got cold feet or someone found out and forced him to cease all communications with Reiza. What I think happened next, is that even though Reiza’s main guy from RFE left, they still wanted to have all the features of the weather plugin, but this time they had to go through the right channels to get what they wanted. Whether Reiza knew that the sole RFE dude was working with them “legally” or not is not up to me to decide, but they knew that this time they had to officially license the plugin with the RFE guys in order to be able to use it in their sim, or straight up hire some of them to work for Reiza.

It probably took them a while to gather the required funds to do this (they are Brazilians working on a very tight budget after all), so by the time the crowdfunding campaign started, the people working on the weather plugin had already been well-integrated into the team working on GSCE.

Now, if my theory is correct at this point, then officially the weather plugin isn’t something that they just fed into their platform anymore, but actually either a licensed product added to their code or a whole rewrite/continuation of the plugin, now officially worked on by Reiza employees and implemented into their engine.

If this is true, then Reiza did not breach any ToS paragraphs of Indiegogo (to my understanding), and what this whole ordeal yielded was both a lot of hate for PRC, but also shed some light onto the internal workings of Reiza.

In my opinion, Reiza could have been more open about how they implemented their features, as this would have prevented a lot of the outfall that our articles generated. Some of the things mentioned in this Reader Submission don’t play any role at all in my eyes, such as the whole Windows 7 thing. Just because it didn’t work properly in rFactor it doesn’t necessarily have to do the same in GSCE. They are, after all, two seperate games with different file structures and code (demonstrated by the fact that you can’t simply use an rFactor1 mod in GSCE without some changes to it), so it might just be that the plugin can easily be coded to work without any issues in GSCE under Windows7, but not in rFactor.

The issue with not properly disclosing who has done the work is also solved by the fact, if my theory is correct again, the RFE guys officially work for Reiza now, so no special mentioning of RFE will be necessary, just like any outsourced cars for Assetto Corsa done by MAK-Corp aren’t really credited to them as long as they are official content. As long as you own the license to it, it doesn’t matter whether you actually did the work yourself or had someone else do it. If Reiza owns the license to the weather plugin now, they don’t have to disclose where they got it from, as this is how these deals work.

To conclude: Do I still think James was wrong to inquire about all of this? No, I don’t think so anymore as all of this has shed some much-needed light onto everything. I still think however, that the way all of this was done could’ve been done in a different way, with less aggressive wording from our side, but also a more honest and friendly approach from Reiza employees, because as our Anonymous source said, simply telling someone to fuck off is straight-up Ian Bell / Stefano level of communication, something with no publisher should strive towards to. I really hope that readers who get angry with us about all of this will not turn their back towards us, and maybe someone from Reiza can contact us to confirm or deny my theories about what happened so every doubt that arose can be erased.

Auf Wiedersehen

Reader Submission #67 – iRacing’s Destruction Derby of Champions

In what has become a yearly tradition over on the iRacing.com servers, as many real world race car drivers as possible are lumped into a private session for a charity pickup race dubbed the iRacing.com Pro Race of Champions. While not taking away from the fact that the event is hosted for a good cause, PRC.net reader Anthony P. has written to us explaining that the actual racing portion of the program is absolutely dreadful.


DD1Hey guys, thought I’d give a coverage suggestion.

The iRacing Pro Race of Champions just concluded (if you’re not aware, it’s a charity race featuring real-world pro drivers) and like last time, it was a bit of a mess. Not only was the driving terrible (by the end of it, only 6 drivers out of 25 finished on the lead lap) but the coverage itself was horrible. Terrible video quality, terrible audio quality, terrible commentary, they even made mistakes trying to do iRacing adverts like saying that there is an Aston Martin GT3 car in the game (sorry I can’t link to a time stamp, can’t sit through that mess again). 

It also featured a not-so talked about bug with the new PopcornFX system where in replay mode all PopcornFX related sounds (tire sounds, kerbs, gravel noise, etc) play directly near you no matter how far away the camera is. This means insanely loud kerb/tire noises during the race coverage. 

Readers of your site who are also iRacing members can read up on the kerfuffle here.

Anyways, just a suggestion. iRacing has been pushing this type of coverage a lot recently with their site re-design, and more often than not it’s absolutely terrible. 


Hey Anthony, thanks for your submission.

I didn’t even know about this event until I saw a news article about it on a not-PretendRaceCars website earlier today. After watching the footage from this year, I can only say that with this kind of broadcasting iRacing will never break through and appeal to the masses. I’m sorry to say it, but the main moderator sounds very obnoxious and sometimes doesn’t seem to realize how loud he is when commentating, or rather shouting. Other than the volume of his voice, he does a pretty decent job though.

What’s bugging me the most is what you already mentioned in your submission, the constant sounds of the kerbs, off-track excursions, etc. You obviously don’t notice it when they switch to the on-board camera of a specific car, but when you have the normal TV camera position and you suddenly hear the noise of the car driving over kerbs even though you are physically a hundred meters away, it’s very confusing and for me it really destroys the immersion.

Some of the iRacing related advertisements were a little overboard. For example, during the broadcast they advertised for the recently published Nürburgring + Nordschleife track pack as “They released the Nürburgring. I mean, they released the Nürburgring, but not the GP – I mean the GP track as well – but the whooooole thing. The whole Nordschleife!!!”. He praised it as the second coming of Jesus Christ (sorry, that spot is already taken by our lord and savior Donald Trump), even though Kunos published their version of the Nordschleife (albeit a visually much less impressive one) about nine months earlier.

commentatorWatching the race was actually kind of funny, because it seems that most of these people have never driven in a sim, let alone iRacing. While watching the race, it felt like watching a race of the 4Chan GT3 league that I drive in from time to time. There was one wreck on the pace lap, a wreck in Turn One, and then many more during the race. Most of these were really quite embarrassing, like Kelvin van der Linde (a quite avid R3E sim racer, actually) spinning himself coming out of Turn 1. Some people didn’t know about iRacing’s penalty system (Nick Tandy for example), which hurt them quite hard during the race.

The thing I enjoyed most about the race was how CXR Simulations and iRacing partnered up to allow Sam Schmidt, a paraplegic IndyCar driver, to run the event by utilizing a purpose-built simulator for him. He crashed out once or twice during the race but his pace was only about 2 seconds off the lead, which is very impressive considering he was only able to use his head, eyes and mouth to control the car.

The winner of the race was Richie Stanaway, a professional racing driver and Aston Martin factory driver who at the moment drives in both the WEC and the GP2 feeder series. By winning the event, he made a $2500 donation to the Justin Wilson Children’s fund in honor of Justin Wilson, who sadly passed away this year due to a heavy accident at Pocono Raceway. His margin of victory was around 5 seconds, which considering it was a 20 lap race is a considerable margin.

Auf Wiedersehen