Assetto Corsa Private Lobbies Have Been Delayed

Those who purchased the console version of Assetto Corsa for either the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One knew this was coming at some point, but finally seeing it manifest itself in a Facebook status update is surely the aspect of it all that’ll sting the most. Kunos Simulazioni spent several weeks, maybe even months, implying the long-awaited implementation of private lobbies would be arriving in the forthcoming update for Assetto Corsa, but as you can probably infer from the screenshot above, the release of that update has now been pushed back an undisclosed amount of time.

Shipping with a comparatively minimal amount of features and functionality when pitted against other current generation racers, Assetto Corsa was deemed to be an extreme disappointment by the majority of those who purchased it, yet the hardcore sim enthusiasts pledged their allegiance to Kunos Simulazioni in the hopes that one day, the console iteration of the popular racing simulator would offer the same type of overall experience found in the original PC counterpart. Though consoles typically aren’t the ideal platform for serious organized multiplayer league races, games like the Codemasters’ F1 series, Gran Turismo, and Forza Motorsport have proved that an equally dedicated group of sim racers call these platforms home, and were hoping to use the figurative playing fields of Assetto Corsa for future online racing seasons

Unfortunately, their patience and good-will continues to be put to the test, with no clear reward in sight – only to be hounded by fellow forum for not exercising even more patience. As a sim racing developer who rose to prominence through the 2014 calendar year by building an indie racing sim that skyrocketed in popularity thanks to a wave of over-zealous fanboys helping to perpetuate their eternal science project, Kunos were warned quite aggressively by third parties who could see the game for what it is that the console crowd would simply not stand for some of their more questionable development choices; ones that prioritized a steady stream of downloadable content over implementing functionality seen in games from previous console generations. This talk was at one point deemed libelous, and the individuals responsible for the controversial postings as “notorious trolls” who “irrationally hated” Kunos, but at this point it’s pretty hard not to call these predictions anything but brutally accurate; with Kunos continuing to fumble console updates and provide no tangible timeline as to when console owners can expect to have a game that resembles the vastly superior PC version, the company’s reputation has taken a pretty severe beating.

All kinds of colorful rumors have tried to explain the botched console release and subsequent shoddiness, from Kunos staff members not being entirely on-board with the console release from the get-go, or a rival coder supposedly hired to produce the work output from Stefano Casillo (and reduce the message board hostility), but unfortunately we’ve never gotten a clear explanation that accurately conveys why the same company held in such high regard by a number of sim racers could put out a woefully inadequate counterpart on another platform.

These delusions of grandeur also appear to stretch to the development team themselves, as Kunos staff members can be seen appearing at Codemotion Rome 2017 to discuss the process of preparing Assetto Corsa for current generation consoles as if the game was an excellent example of how to successfully accomplish this task, when in reality the team are consistently botching or outright delaying essential updates the community have patiently waited months for – not to mention the horrendous launch which saw both consoles unable to run the game smoothly for several weeks. It’s hard not to label what’s going on in Italy as a virtual cult of personality, as it seems there’s a pretty big detachment from how Assetto Corsa community members feel about the title and key developers, versus what’s actually happening from a basic consumer standpoint. Facebook “fans” have loaded the offical Assetto Corsa page with praise, thanking Kunos for the vague news on what in layman’s terms is an extremely shitty delay, but those who don’t need internet brownie points from fellow sim racers know you certainly can’t keep sitting around waiting for a product you bought eight months ago to add rudimentary features it should have had at launch.

It’s really just a bit old fashioned mess at this point, and in hindsight I’ve often wondered why Kunos even bothered to conceive a console variant of their simulator in the first place. The team weren’t exactly known for their strict development schedule even in the PC version’s Early Access phase, and before the game achieved 1.0 status was already being blasted by mainstream sim outlets for a lack of functionality. I have no idea why a company would intentionally and knowingly bite off far more than they could chew, especially with such a large chance that it would backfire and expose their incompetent traits on a significantly larger platform. Yes, we all know the answer to the question is “money” – plain and simple – but in the long run, is it really worth shitting a severely hampered version of your PC sim out into the wild for a few million?

The answer, quite simply, is no. Even if Assetto Corsa 2 is on the cards, every single potential customer is going to remember how it took eight months and counting just to add private lobbies to the game, and instead of purchasing the game out of curiosity like they did for the first title, they’re going to outright avoid it – especially with stuff like Gran Turismo Sport, Forza Motorsport 7, and DiRT 4 on the market offering a significantly more comprehensive overall package.

I’m under the impression that this delayed update is part of larger problem; the ship is sinking, and we’re merely starting to see the first cracks – though the losers who support Assetto Corsa like a rogue religion will only continue to demand more patience, and like Scientology, encourage you to contribute… er… support Kunos by buying both present & future DLC packs. My question is, when do these blind apologists also give up hope? Kunos sold an abhorrent game on consoles, and eight months later, it’s really not that much better aside from minor FPS improvements. When is reality going to set in that it’s just not working out, and they’re kind of a shitty company for putting out such a half-baked game when compared to the other products on the market?

 

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A Lecture on Mediocrity

Though the speech is in Italian and you’ll need to head to the official Assetto Corsa forums for any kind of English summary, Alessandro Piva and Fabrizio Brugnaro recently made a fourty-six minute speech at Codemotion Rome 2017, in which they discuss in pretty great detail the process of taking Assetto Corsa – a racing simulator which had been built primary for the PC platform – and porting it to both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. We don’t have many native Italian speakers here, so the footage is admittedly of little use, but ZX636 has taken the time to translate summaries of each segment for those who still lurk the Assetto Corsa message board. It’s a long read and highly informative if you’re into the technical process of re-building a video game to be compatible with other types of hardware, but there’s one underlying theme about the whole thing that in my opinion makes this lecture a bit silly:

The console versions of Assetto Corsa were terrible, both from a technical standpoint, as well as a gameplay standpoint. Seven months after release, owners are still not satisfied with the product.

Maybe I’m being far too hyper-cynical for Good Friday, but it takes an awfully large set of testicles to give an entire speech on the process of successfully porting a PC racing simulator to current generation consoles, going into great detail about optimizing the application for use on inferior hardware, knowing full well the game suffered from substantial performance issues at launch, was universally panned by customers, and is now considered to be a sort of bastard child that should very well have been aborted thanks to the team’s inability to bring the console rendition of the game in-line with what’s available in the original PC variant.

Piva initially discusses how Assetto Corsa struggled to retain 20FPS in the early days of development for each console, but goes on to explain how they were able to use the architecture of the two primary consoles to achieve their goals. It’s funny how they conveniently didn’t address the game’s launch, which saw several console owners taking to YouTube and other social media outlets in frustration at the game struggling to maintain a stable framerate, not to mention the intrusive screen tearing which spearheaded an influx of returns and refunds. Arriving on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in August of 2016, by October of the same year, sim racers were still complaining of basic software issues that prevented smooth gameplay after several patches.

To me, it’s just flat-out goofy to read these guys talk about the steps in porting a game to consoles, knowing at the end of the day, their efforts were not successful in the slightest, and they bit off much more than they could chew judging by the quality of the final product. No, it’s not a crime by any means to give a lecture on an intricate process such as porting a video game from one platform to another, but typically you’d want to hear from someone who did it well rather than did it poorly, and whose game isn’t being blasted across all review sites not based out of the same country as the publisher. I mean, the transcript is still an informative read so I urge you guys to go through the full thing, but knowing how the end product turned out makes it all a bit moot.

Fabrizio Brugnaro then steps in and admits that the process of Quality Assurance – you know, testing a video game to ensure it’s not bugged to hell and works as it should – was new to the team. Brugnaro explains that the PC version of Assetto Corsa does not have any sort of dedicated Quality Assurance team, but rather relies on a “small group of sim racing enthusiasts” to hunt for bugs and other issues.

Dear God this is asinine. Though there are some knowledgeable folk that can be found within the sim racing community, letting a group consisting of random modders (who in some cases might not even have a driver’s license), fanboys who will kiss your ass religiously no matter how badly you botch an update, and shitposters with 10,000 forum posts give your $60 product a shakedown before being sold on a worldwide platform is just asking for trouble. I really shouldn’t have to engage in a full-on sperg-out to convey just how absurd this is, so instead I’ll say that this should give some valuable insight on the existence of longstanding AI troubles, poor user interface, and hilarious stuff like cars falling through the ground at Spa in a certain build of the game.

When it’s been publicly revealed that one of the main coders cannot take any hint of criticism without lashing out at the guy, do you really think the “sim racing enthusiasts” serving as the renegade QA team are little more than blatant ass-kissers? Nope, and the product suffers as a result. There’s your proof that Assetto Corsa on the PC doesn’t have any kind of formal quality assurance system behind it, but are instead just sort of hoping random people in the community with no Q/A experience whatsoever give it the thumbs up. This is fine for, like, a private rFactor mod, but certainly you’d think things would be treated with a significantly higher amount of professionalism when shipping a $60 video game on Steam, plus an array of downloadable content alongside it.

Now in regards to the console version, Brugnaro states it was the first time Kunos had ever assembled some kind of proper quality assurance team, and for a period of time didn’t have “methods” or “tools” for the developers to collaborate with the bug hunters – though this was eventually rectified and the process exponentially sped up. So while it can be forgiven that the “pro” quality assurance team missed some things due to inexperience, like a notification box in the setup screen that says your setup doesn’t meet the minimum ride-height requirements, I’d like to know how Q/A testers missed pretty blatant framerate and screen tearing problems, because these are elements you don’t need to be a professional race car driver or “sim racing enthusiast” to notice as he alludes to later – it’s like, basic “how a piece of computer software should work in 2017.”

I’m not happy with how the Q/A team is blamed by a member of Kunos for basically not being able to drive the car a few hundred feet forward and see that the game chugged significantly, or there’s a spot on the road in one track that basically fucks the car for no reason, or that the AI is supremely fucked beyond belief. These are all really simple things you don’t need to be a “sim racing enthusiast to spot”, and yet that’s the excuse we’ve been given – the Q/A team were so bewildered by a hardcore racing simulator, they could not find the “drive” button and actually play the game.

In conclusion, what we can say about the Codemotion Rome 2017 lecture, is that Assetto Corsa was simply not a game that should have been released on consoles. The team faced a Mount Everest-like climb to prepare the software to work on inferior hardware, using trick after trick just to achieve a semi-playable framerate that took many months of patches after release to satisfy the customers whom had purchased it. And even when the game did get whipped into a playable state, the quality assurance team were simply incapable of shaking down the game properly, to the point where some of what they missed is so stupefying, many will undoubtedly be under the impression they simply checked to see if all of the menus worked as they should, not once hitting the track to examine basic gameplay and performance elements. As an added bonus, we also have confirmation that the PC version of the game outsources Q/A testing to random people who lurk the forums, the credentials of which are questionable at best.

While the original variant of Assetto Corsa is slowly being turned into a somewhat okay racing simulation after years of Kunos being pushed by the community to flesh out the game with additional features and functionality, I am left bewildered by the console counterpart, which was obviously created as a quick cash grab. The man hours dedicated to learning all of these tricks and shortcuts just to get Assetto Corsa to achieve more than 20 FPS on the PlayStation 4 could have easily went to fleshing out the PC version people already had fallen in love with, rather than building a product for another platform that most people would return in the first week thanks to glaring technical problems. The quality assurance team could have then been tasked with refining the PC version, allocating an appropriate level of bug-hunting tasks exclusive group of fanboys… er… beta testers rather than placing the whole game on their shoulders.

Yet because of the above decisions, Assetto Corsa is merely okay on the PC when it could have been great, and Kunos now have to explain why there’s this awkward console version a portion of their fanbase are clearly upset over, instead of establishing themselves as one of the leaders in PC simulations.

Currently Under Changes: The Perplexing Story of Josh Martin Continues *UPDATED*

Update: Martin’s personal web page has been wiped entirely, with only the text Site Under Maintenance displayed.

Only a few short days ago, we here at PRC introduced our readers to the curious case of eSports personality Josh Martin. Boasting seventeen world records in Assetto Corsa alone, as well as fifteen online championships and over five hundred individual race wins, the twenty year old Scottish chap had been aggressively marketing himself for a number of years as a virtual racing phenom who had landed the opportunity to campaign a real race car thanks to his eSports accolades – until we performed a thorough background check and discovered he had a lot of explaining to do. A disservice to top level sim racers such as Greger Huttu, Bono Huis, and Olli Pahkala – stand-up individuals whom act as ambassadors for sim racing to the rest of the eSports world & motorsports community – we revealed that Josh Martin’s online career, sponsorships, and even partnerships with legitimate race teams, had been built upon extremely liberal interpretations of the truth, stretching into fraud-like territory that certain entities may possibly be able to pursue legally, but we’ll leave that up to them.

The fifteen eSports titles were attained primarily via competing against mates from school in unsanctioned Codemasters’ Formula One 2013 leagues for the Xbox 360, a far cry from sanctioned, licensed eSports events such as the $10,000 iRacing championships sponsored by automotive brand PEAK Anti-Freeze, and the $1,000,000 Visa Vegas eRace that come to mind when one is to mention eSports competitions. Likewise, the seventeen world records Martin was using as proof of his raw speed in simulators were discovered to be just as invalid, as in several of the leaderboards that deemed him to be the world record holder for a given car on a particular track, he was the only participant whatsoever. And though it was difficult to find evidence of his five hundred victories, results from the Eurogamer Assetto Corsa Championship held this spring depict him to be a bust unlike any other – Martin’s self-proclaimed title as the #1 sim racer in Scotland (of which no ranking exists) does not match up with his on-track performance, in which he is seen to be four seconds off pace and was most recently disqualified from an event for reckless driving.

Since our expose on Martin’s misleading eSports statistics, as well as another sim racer taking time out of his day to beat all seventeen of Josh’s records quite easily, Martin has now drastically reconfigured his personal webpage to delete any mention of the bogus statistics in favor of red text that reads Currently Under Changes, though previously uploaded YouTube videos of his have allowed us to preserve the outright misleading information in some fashion.

So your next question is understandably to ask why this all matters, as the sad reality is that sim racing attracts many teenagers and man-children alike by allowing them to live out their failed childhood dreams of becoming a race car driver. It’s certainly not uncommon to run across people in the community who believe NASCAR scouts are paying attention to their iRacing results, or Formula One teams are interested in their offline F1 2016 career mode progress, so yet another sim racer taking their delusions of grandeur to the extreme and opening a website to portray themselves as a professional eSports personality with incredibly impressive statistics full of more holes than swiss cheese, should be par for the course in a sense.

The problem here, is that Martin is actively marketing himself to both media outlets and potential sponsors under these same false pretenses that most sim racers can easily see through, and in some cases, these entities are handing over money, time, and real cars in return for exposure they aren’t actually getting, because Martin isn’t who he says he is, and isn’t doing what he said he would.

A post in January of 2015 by Josh claims he has been offered an actual racing contract to drive in the United Kingdom’s highly popular Formula Ford series, with a smilar story appearing on the Codemasters community blog, and is a “big sim racer” who is sponsored by Thrustmaster to compete in eSports competitions.

There is no record of Josh competing in any prominent eSports competitions such as iRacing’s World Grand Prix Series, the iRacing NASCAR Peak Anti-Freeze Series, or the Formula E Visa Vegas eRace, the three biggest simulator competitions of our time. Josh’s personal website does not depict him driving the Formula Ford entry from Gwyn Richardson, but merely attending one of the races as a paddock guest, a fact reiterated by another publication. Furthermore, we have been supplied screenshots of a private message exchange in which Josh asks his acquaintances to fabricate emails that would increase the likelihood of Thrustmaster supplying him with sponsorship funds after they initially rejected his offer.

Despite the moderate coverage of Josh’s acquisition by Richardson Racing, including a television interview with STV, there is no record of Josh Martin piloting Gwyn Richardson’s Formula Ford. Martin himself made no effort to inform those following the story that the deal did not materialize, and continues to use choice shots of the Richardson car on his website to subtly imply to the untrained eye he had at one point driven it.

Two years later, in October of 2016, Martin resurfaced, returning to media outlets and sim racing message boards alike to proclaim he had signed with a hobbyist squad, ProRaceUK, to drive their BMW 3 series race car. The snazzy pre-season photographs and media frenzy culminated in an interview with two outlets, one on BBC Radio Scotland, and another on BBC Radio 5 Live, in which Josh again attempted to tell the same story of landing a professional racing gig through his eSports exploits – albeit with a tintop team instead of a Formula Ford operation. Failing to inquire why an earlier, identical deal had fallen through, media outlets ran the story anyway.

However, as the date of the first race approached, and sim racers were eager to see how eSports personality Josh Martin would fare on a legitimate track under competition speeds despite his misleading accolades, it was discovered that the same operation that had taken part in his aggressive self-promotion, were actually selling the car he had posed with on their public Facebook page, and despite a very thorough marketing push heavily implying Josh would be driving for them in 2017, did not even list him as the potential driver.

As someone whose schedule is loaded from May to October driving two very different race cars, I don’t know of a single team owner who would willingly take elaborate press photos with one specific car & driver combination, complete with the guy’s name and number plastered all over the bodywork, go through the trouble of promoting it on a pretty large scale to the point where the driver was being interviewed by the Goddamn BBC, only to get rid of the car weeks before the season was set to commence. This is very strange, and it is simply not what auto racing teams do on any level whatsoever.

After our original article on Josh Martin went viral, ProRaceUK’s own Craig Harper appeared in our comments section to both belittle and insult anyone who dared to question why the heavily promoted 2017 plans with Josh Martin failed to materialize in the exact same manner as the Formula Ford deal mentioned earlier. Harper’s meltdown spanned over three hundred comments, and you can read the entire chain by clicking here, but even when confronted with proof that Josh’s sim racing accolades the media had been so quick to run with were bogus embellishments mocked by legitimate eSports personalities, Harper claimed these comments were from angry, bitter individuals made out of jealousy, and he felt what had already been debunked as misleading, fraud-like eSports statistics from Josh were instead a “strong, marketable package.”

It’s easy to feel sorry for Mr. Harper at first; a real mechanic had simply been taken advantage of by a crafty twenty year old due to his understandable lack of knowledge when it comes to simulated race cars and the eSports kingdom, but after three hundred comments, the other side of the story was able to materialize. A Facebook video featuring Josh Martin & Craig Harper has surfaced, in which they gleefully boast about Josh’s now-debunked sim racing statistics before joking about Josh taking all of Craig’s money, and needing additional sponsors to field the car for the upcoming season.

It’s easy for some to dismiss this video as off-beat British Humor that may go over the heads of North American readers, but comments from Craig Harper appear to convey that all jokes aside, Josh’s 2017 drive that was promoted so heavily across the BBC and even sim racing websites, is indeed hindered by financial issues.

This is where I stop playing nice.

In the world of auto racing, you do not announce a very specific season plan via relentless promotional material unless it is 100% going to happen, and if it does fall through for one reason or another, you make that shit public right away to not mislead people, current sponsors, or potential sponsors. Financial issues never arise at the eleventh hour; there is no such thing as “oops, we went through all this trouble of spending money to prepare a car, and now that its done, can’t afford to race it” unless you are mind-boggling levels of retarded. What dumb motherfucker poses with a race car, hits up the BBC and several other media outlets to talk about his race car, and tells the sim racing community about his race car, when he knowingly won’t be able to afford driving the race car, and the team is actually in the process of selling the race car?

For example, when preparing to campaign the #2 Chevrolet SS for this upcoming season, our complete internal budget spreadsheet was completed prior to receiving the sponsorship money from Slightly Mad Studios. Our entire 2017 season, including but not limited to parts, travel, fuel, tires, potential damages, setup software, and other miscellaneous items we could purchase to ensure we could race the car for at least seven events, had been meticulously calculated to ensure the venture was both affordable with the funding we were provided with, and ready to be put into action on the day of the money changing hands. And after causing a miniature riot among some of our 650,000 readers with the season announcement, adding an entire Team PRC tab to our website that listed our tentative schedule, creating a Facebook page for the team, we certainly did not list the car on RacingJunk.com.

I refuse to believe that a team competing at locations such Silverstone International Raceway were so ill-prepared for the financial aspect of running a race team, and the financial problems crept up so quickly, they were unable to inform their sponsors, supporters, and the press who had covered them, that the endeavor would not be going ahead as initially advertised.

Martin’s personal web page still heavily implies he will be competing in the BMW Compact Cup, giving off the impression that the venture is still moving forward. Nowhere on his web page does he list a tangible schedule, nor that he was forced to miss the opening round of the championship and will instead be competing in a partial schedule, or that the car he posed with has been sold by the team he lists as a partner. ProRace UK’s Facebook page contains no announcements that explain the stark contrast between what the press articles say about Josh’s alleged racing career, versus what’s actually happening. I am confused as to why none of the parties would make an effort to clear up any discrepancies given how much media attention their story initially received. People are going to start asking questions at some point, why not just get it out of the way?

Sponsorship and financial issues which would keep a driver sidelined are not problems that arise the week before an event, they are learned of several months in advance – especially considering the 2017 racing season just began over in Europe and you have all the time in the world to figure shit out during the winter months and announce if things aren’t going according to plan. Therefore, it is to the best of my knowledge that Josh Martin and Craig Harper appear to have been aggressively self-promoting their endeavor while knowing full well Josh would probably not be racing in the first place due to a lack of sponsors. This makes the pair look dishonest, despicable, and is a black eye to our hobby in particular when a sim racer is at the center of it all, in part using dishonest, now-debunked accolades to get this far in the first place.

I do not place the blame on Craig, as typically it is the driver’s responsibility to bring sponsors to an operation. After investigating Josh’s previous sim racing exploits, in which he forges emails to bait sponsors into supporting him, and greatly misleads others with exaggerated eSports statistics that operate on technicalities and clever wording while embarrassing himself in legitimate events, I am under the belief he promised ProRace UK he could bring sponsors to the operation, but of course, wasn’t telling the truth, and nobody at the organization was well-versed in the world of sim racing to figure out they were dealing with a bullshit artist.

In 1996, an amateur soccer player by the name of Ali Dia prank called Southampton manager Graeme Souness, and disguising his voice as 1995’s World Player of the Year, recommended himself to the Southampton club before being outed as a fraud during his first and only appearance with the team. In 2017, a low-level sim racer by the name of Josh Martin fabricated an entire website dubbing him to be the #1 sim racer in Scotland despite no such global ranking system existing, and used these fabricated, misleading accomplishments to land a partnership with a real race team before being outed as a bust thanks to his tall tales failing to materialize because race cars cost money to operate, and a couple sim racers taking a serious look at his few publicized eSports results. Josh Martin is sim racing’s Ali Dia.

Since the story first went live over the weekend, all of Martin’s seventeen world records have been snatched by random sim racers in pursuit of a hearty giggle, while the home screen of Josh’s official webpage has been drastically altered in what many will no doubt see as an admission of guilt, though his Twitter page claims the article was fake news, and the tagline on his web page still lists him as a “professional racing driver.” Comments have been disabled on select videos seen on his primary YouTube channel, and while to his credit Josh has attempted to provide us with “proof” of the Caterham F1 team being genuinely interested in his eSports accomplishments…

…it’s hard to believe a the message was little more than a polite response to a superfan, as Mercedes AMG Petronas can be seen publicly joking about receiving such an email on their own Twitter feed – indicating the source of the lighthearted tweet may have been rooted in reality, and we’ve merely figured out the original inspiration.

The entire saga is as unfortunate as it is incredibly absurd. Though we only tend to highlight the bad apples here on PRC.net, the sim racing community is full of stand-out individuals who could act as phenomenal ambassadors for our hobby on a much larger scale, and it is incredibly disappointing to see someone giving sim racers an incredibly bad name to the world of auto racing by actively working to deceive the press, sponsors, and even real world motorsports personnel. It is frustrating to be made aware of such an individual wreaking havoc in two distinct communities, but now that the story is out there, hopefully steps can be made to rectify any behind-the-scenes destruction & deception.

Sim Racing’s Ali Dia

On the surface, Josh Martin’s rise to eSports prominence – and eventually a shot in a real car – is a story for the sim racing landscape that’s nothing short of meteoric; a preview of sorts as to the role sim racing might play in the motorsports landscape not too far from present day. After becoming infatuated with Kunos Simulazioni’s Assetto Corsa racing simulator as a teenager, the Scottish lad – who according to news clippings does not own a passenger car for day to day transportation – progressed through the Assetto Corsa world rankings in such an absurdly quick fashion, major auto racing teams took a profound interest in the twenty-year-old’s virtual career, with Martin’s online exploits helping him to secure vital sponsorship that eventually landed him the job title of “professional race car driver” at twenty years old. With fifteen championships, seventeen world records, and over five hundred wins to his name, Martin’s online prowess is the stuff of legends – feats even more impressive when you consider this has all been accomplished in just the three years since Assetto Corsa’s release.

His personal website lists an abundance of high profile sponsors, his publicized sim racing statistics are simply mind-boggling, many news articles list him as an up-and-coming phenom recruited from an unlikely environment, and the kid indeed seemed to get a real world ride out of his virtual accomplishments – with ProRaceUK preparing a formal press event to announce Josh’s transition into a real car, the ultimate goal for any sim racer wishing to turn their dreams into reality. Move over Greger Huttu, there’s a new kid on the block, and his name is Josh Martin.

But what if I told you the feel-good sim racing success story – the story of a nerdy sim racer going out and getting it done to legitimize the hobby as a valid training tool – was the exact opposite; a sham that will make individuals involved in the motorsports world wince at the mere mention of sim racers?

At first glance, Josh Martin’s personal web page appears to resemble that of many fellow amateur racing drivers who are slowly making their way up the motor racing ladder. Sections dedicated to biographies, supporting sponsors, and photos of both Martin’s real life exploits, as well as his simulation endeavors, have all been carefully crafted to convey an air of professionalism – in some cases surpassing the often ragged, unfinished mess of amateur North American auto racing teams. To the untrained eye, he is a budding Jann Mardenborough or Lucas Ordonez – a young driver walking the planet as living proof that video games are a legitimate path to a professional racing gig, he just hasn’t landed the sweet GT3 ride as the aforementioned drivers, but most would have the impression that he’s on the way there.

Martin’s Press & Media section also weaves an extremely compelling tale to potential advertisers and rival team owners as well. A marketing machine away from the race track, Martin’s face has been spread around several different media outlets big and small as the world’s first virtual driver turned pro, with links to a bundle of articles depicting him to be a phenom that has been scouted by a variety of professional teams, and his rise to international fame is said to begin in a hobbyist BMW class – which by all accounts is a reasonable entrance into the world of auto racing for a sim racer who doesn’t even own his own car, and that in turn makes the story all the more believable. He’s not getting a shot at Formula One, he’s being thrown into an entry level car to partake in a sort of driver development program.

Listing nine different sponsors on his dedicated sponsor page, Martin is said to have backing from both Thrustmaster and Aird Motors – a local Subaru dealership – indicating there are a lot of people in this for the long haul, hoping to one-up the highly popular, Nissan-backed Gran Turismo Academy process by basically funding the whole goddamn thing themselves, and praying their investment in Josh will pay off in the long run. Up to this point, it seems like a pretty admirable story – an independent spin-off of GT Academy, where all sorts of little companies, individuals, and businesses have placed their faith into one prominent sim racer to “make history”, as his own website suggests.

But this is where the party stops.

Basic fact checking and inconsistencies with reality on Josh’s own website indicate many, many people, have failed to ask this guy rudimentary questions that would raise obvious red flags about the entire operation, and therefore prevent their names from being dragged through the mud in such a profoundly absurd manner – whether it be as sponsors, business partners, or third party journalists reporting on the story. It appears Josh is not a massively talented eSports superstar on the path to a professional auto racing career as his website suggests, but merely another delusional sim racer with far too much time on his hands, and far too many enablers around him to put a stop to it.

Inconsistencies and downright wishful thinking begin on Martin’s eSports page, in which he claims that Thrustmaster had sponsored him after his incredible performance in a private Codemasters Formula One series online championship just for Northern Scottish Players, despite these games not traditionally holding broadcasted tournaments of any sort, his own YouTube videos from those races reeling in less than a hundred views – and thus exponentially lessening the chance of brands like Thrustmaster hearing of him to begin with. Martin then claims this sponsorship, the authenticity of which is already doubtful (though I’m not opposed to be proven wrong on this front), allowed him to develop a “working relationship” with both Sauber and Force India – two mid-pack Formula One teams who are far more interested in phenomenal real life GP3 and GP2 drivers than a guy playing Assetto Corsa or a Codemasters F1 game.

Martin then makes a massive error by mentioning that the Caterham F1 team had been scouting his online performance at the time of being signed by ProRaceUK. Formula One fans will note that the Caterham Formula One entity only existed for three seasons – 2012 to 2014 – missing the final three events of the 2014 Formula One calendar altogether. I find it hard to believe that an F1 team we haven’t seen on the grid in three years and whose assets were liquidated is actively monitoring the driver development of a random sim racer, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.

We now move into discussing Martin’s online racing prowess, as his promotional material (above) claims he is in possession of seventeen world records on Assetto Corsa – no small feat for any sim racer, considering the application used to track world hot lap records is traditionally downloaded by a small fraction of the userbase intent on competing against the very best, as opposed to casual Assetto Corsa players. However, upon closer inspection, all of Josh’s seventeen world records are absurd car/track combinations that are completely meaningless from a competitive standpoint – he is intentionally taking the game’s open wheel race cars to drift tracks, drag strips, and layouts not typically used by Formula One machinery, such as the GT3 layout of the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit, which essentially means many of these “world records” are anything but, as in some cases he is the only person to register a time on that combination to begin with.

When tasked with a normal leaderboard challenge, Josh struggles to crack the top one hundred – a lowly 104th place at Spa-Francorchamps in the Ferrari F138, and 39th at Imola in the Formula Abarth, directly contradict his claims of being one of the top sim racers in the world.

Now personally, I cannot track down all of Josh’s league results to confirm the authenticity of his five hundred race wins and fifteen league championships given that his leaderboard records have been called into question, but what I have discovered is that he is listed as a driver in Eurogamer’s Assetto Corsa Championship, which is put on with help from Sparco, nVidia, and Thrustmaster. Those results are available, and they paint a picture drastically different from Josh’s personal website – despite being paired on a team with race winner Hany Al-Sabti, Josh is statistically the worst driver in the championship, qualifying some four seconds off pace for each round, and even being disqualified for reckless driving at the Montreal event.

The more you dig, an increasing amount of discrepancies slowly float to the surface. News articles of Josh Martin being invited to drive a Formula Ford for the 2015 season are proudly displayed on the Codemasters community blog, yet in other articles, this Formula Ford gig is referred to as merely a pit pass, with a team owner inviting him out to the track as a special paddock guest.

Across his personal website, there are many shots of Martin in a paddock area that depict him to be an amateur racing driver, wearing undergarments and a racing suit loaded with sponsors, but upon closer inspection, they appear to be part of a $170 USD karting suit designed after the Caterham F1 team. While some might see this as giving a bit of weight to Caterham allegedly monitoring Josh’s eSports “career”, these karting shots were uploaded to Facebook in 2016 – two years after Caterham’s departure from Formula One, and this is also a suit that anybody can go out and buy on eBay. Most photos of Josh in the paddock appear to come from one 24-hour karting event put on for teams of university students.

Info supplied to us by a third party has revealed that while some of his sponsorships are indeed legitimate, they have been seemingly attained under false pretenses; in this example, a group of sim racers can be seen discussing a way to fabricate emails that would convey to Thrustmaster – who was initially unwilling to spend money on sponsoring Martin – that Josh was a highly sought-after eSports personality being pursued by a rival company.

But the biggest contradiction of them all comes from ProRaceUK’s own Instagram page. At the top of this article, I displayed a picture and links to several articles talking about Martin supposedly signing to drive an entry level BMW touring car as part of a driver development program with ProRaceUK – which again, sounds reasonable on paper, and was actually covered by a fair amount of media outlets – enough to give the story some credibility. However, ProRaceUK have uploaded a photo two weeks ago of Josh’s car – with his name still on the window – advertised as being for sale.

Another shot has been uploaded just one week ago, displaying the car undergoing a “for sale wash”, implying the car has been sold.

The BMW Compact Cup that Martin was advertised to be competing in does not hold their first event until April 9th, 2017, though these photos indicate the car he was alleged to drive under the ProRaceUK banner was sold from the team to a private individual sometime in March – meaning the media frenzy appears to have been all for nothing, as it was for the Formula Ford arrangement a few years earlier. It seems the meteoric rise of Josh Martin from bedroom Assetto Corsa fanatic to professional racing driver – one which actually managed to dupe quite a few news outlets into running the story – has been built on the back of a delusional sim racer far too intelligent for anyone in contact with him to figure out that none of it was real to begin with.

First of all, there is no such thing as an international Assetto Corsa ranking system, meaning Josh’s title of #1 sim racer in Scotland is completely made up based on a hotlapping app that only a fraction of the community uses, but I cannot fault news outlets for not picking up on that. Second, Josh’s seventeen world records are largely the result of him cherry-picking tracks that have never been driven on before with a specific car, meaning he isn’t a world record holder in a traditional sense, he’s just the very first dude to ever race that track with that car, and it’s often nonsensical layouts, such as a Ferrari Formula One entry on a circuit intended for drift competitions, making his lap times beyond meaningless. Third, while I can’t find extensive history of his online racing exploits, for a sim racer with over fifteen online championships, his performance in the Eurogamer Assetto Corsa Championship – a collection of the best sim racers Europe has to offer – is astonishingly poor and directly contradicts his alleged credentials. These are all portions of Martin’s story that nobody aside from a fellow sim racing autist would ever be able to piece together.

Fourth, I find his statements about being scouted by the Caterham F1 team to be ludicrous, as that particular Formula One entity ceased operation before the conclusion of the 2014 season & liquidated their assets in February of 2015, whereas Martin has implied the team was paying attention to his journey up until he was signed by ProRaceUK in late 2016. Fifth, the team he was said to have signed with in October of 2016 can be seen selling the exact vehicle he posed with as of one week ago on Instagram, and in a similar fashion, nothing appears to have materialized with the Formula Ford arrangement he announced many years ago – using the exact same story line of a sim racer transitioning into reality after being noticed for climbing a non-existent world ranking leaderboard. Oops.

The whole thing is absolutely mind blowing; how nobody asked very specific questions and allowed this level of delusion to progress to this point is beyond words, and once again, we all look like retards lost in childish fantasies to the real life motorsports community.

Reader Submission #139 – The Official Mazda 787B

You’ve probably heard much rejoicing as of late from the Assetto Corsa community, as the PC version of the game has recently received a substantial software update that has been long-overdue for what has otherwise been a very incomplete racing simulator. Bringing with it proper pit stop strategy configuration screen as opposed to a Mario Party-like pit stall mini-game, the rudimentary implementation of driver swaps, and even a couple of new free cars from completely opposite ends of the spectrum – Mazda’s Miata and 787B Prototype, it appears the sim racing community have finally won out in the end. After years of staff members from Kunos Simulazioni angrily berating their users for “expecting too much” and “not understanding the purpose of Assetto Corsa” the team from Vallelunga are now slowly beginning to insert specific features and functionality sim racers have been requesting for years on end, indicating individuals the developers at one point labeled incessant whiners may have had actually had legitimate complaints about the direction of the simulator.

Regardless of how we’ve gotten here, I’d like to extend a thank you to all Assetto Corsa owners who risked multiple forum bans and being blacklisted by rabid fanboys for being very vocal about what the simulator lacked; it took a while, but Kunos’ recent additions to the simulator confirmed you guys were much more than just “trolls” and “haters.” Because of your diligence, Kunos are actually getting to work on making Assetto Corsa a much more feature complete piece of software. Good job!

However, with every twist, a turn. We have heard for several years that Kunos Simulazioni build cars within their simulator using an abundance of real data, often times pushing this element of Assetto Corsa to the forefront as a way to compensate for the shortcomings of the simulator – sure, there’s not been a lot to do until recently, but at least the cars are incredibly accurate, right?

Today’s Reader Submission notes that is not the case.

Hey PRC. There have been some posts on various forums about issues with Assetto’s quality of physics, or more specifically, the quality of the work pushed out by Aris under the Kunos banner. The fanboy army led by Stefano and his buttlickers seem to jump and try to dismiss legitimate discussions or questions. We have seen with many people, from banned users to the guy trying to find information for his mod based on his real life car. Having read a few of those hammered posts, I picked up on some aspects of what to look for thanks to the detailed info provided by the gurus and the nagging questioning brought up by certain users, including guys who DO release mods for Assetto. 

The Porsche from DLC pack 3 got postponed due to Kunos needing info, stuff missing, real life correlation, etc. Their words paraphrased. Well, how much of it is actually true? Do they really have the manufacturers go through everything and actually inspect the car? I call bullshit. That’s some yellow propaganda. Then to see them acquire mods and re-release them as holy grail content, as if the original mod wasn’t good or even superior, seems unfair. So with that information, the recent update and the possible flame coming up from the questions on the Porsche and the Mazda, I checked the following on the Mazda since it was freely available before. Note that all measures of CL and Downforce are in KG at 200km/h.

What you see in the picture above is the 787b with highest downforce achievable before the stupid loss that takes place. I’ve no idea how Aristotelis comes up with his stuff.

Next, we have the maximum downforce achievable while maintaining less shitty balance (still rubbish), so theoretically this is roughly the max downforce possible with 35% forward aero balance.

Third, I will compare everything to the other official prototype car, theCc9 they made which is Le Mans-specification. And remember, the 787B is supposed to NOT be Le Mans. Roughly this is the max downforce in a straight line.

Lastly, I will do the same as with the 787b, giving it a more functional 35% balance. The car actually makes a corner like Eau Rouge instead of just understeering off like a wooden box.

The value we have to look at is TOT CL: x.xx in the bottom of the app on the screen (I left the HUDs to be informative). The max for the 787b (1st image) is 2.8, the usable max is just 2.5cl. The C9 is 2.54 and the usable max is 2.39cl, so the range between the two cars (one Le Mans spec and one supposedly not) is 0.4CL at 200kmh, which equates to roughly 154kg of downforce.

Nowhere is an interesting thing that seems to relate to what the people are moaning about. The drag coefficient (CD) is much higher on the 787b than the C9 BUT the difference is the same as the downforce difference at ~0.4 CD (which = the .4cl range of downforce difference). With this drag you can say the car is not the LM-spec but if you go HERE and HERE (one of them was a link posted in the forums, I found the other from there. Great site!), the story looks wrong. There you find the downforce levels of comparable sprint-spec cars of the time. The C9 has cl of 4.47 @ 241km/h in 1989, the C11 has a cl of 5.36 at 241km/h in 1990. So the issue that follows is how the hell is the Kunos 787B, from 1991, performing at less than half of a car from the year before and much less than a car first developed 3 years prior?

So the main problem highlighted here is the downforce. The 787 is within .4cl of the Kunos C9 Le Mans specification but it is listed as a standard, non Le-Mans spec. So it is much closer to the C9 Le Mans spec than it is to the data suggested by the websites linked above showing the C9 Sprint (non-Le Mans) and C11 Sprint. Do they really pursue and get the information for the cars? If they do, why is it off in the game? What the hell are they doing to the cars to recreate them this way? I wrote all this for the Mazda but imagine the can of worms from the 2017 Porsche, being so different to real life according to mclarenf1papa? How can we trust that developer when they are consistently caught out with “alternative facts”?”

Kunos, in my opinion, likes to spin their information around with support from their fanboy army to portray an image that their content is always better, including the free mods they acquired. Their stance on waiting for data and a data sheet appears to be bullshit because you can right away check the downforce levels of the cars and how the diffuser makes no sense. Often the ratio varies wildly with higher ride heights generating over 100% of downforce. So when you feel the car understeer weirdly it’s because it went below the magic ride height number.

I personally doubt they have numbers for the latest Porsche as they made the claim. They probably had the company give the green light on the model and maybe engine, nothing beyond that. Meanwhile, modders get access to team manuals with legitimate air tunnel data and measurements. They are actually able to recreate the aero map very well (credit where it’s due) but Aris has no clue (modders words) about what he is doing. I don’t have time right now but if you extract the ACD from the cars, you’ll see the optimum heights and how it makes no sense how the downforce relates. Aris makes the diffuser have the wrong impact and instead of letting it stall at some point, it makes it not work.

People are circle-jerking over the latest update but I’d not doubt the 787B is much worse now than before IF they actually went over the original numbers made by the best guys. The Le Mans C9 had that issue of going below the magic ride height and losing nearly 100% of downforce. Now, the main thing we all know is you want the car as low to the ground as possible, just before scraping…. Not in Assetto.

Thank you for your very in-depth research, I must admit I’m a bit over my head here, but what you’re saying, as well as the data (and real-world tables) makes sense. I’d like to know as well how Kunos are claiming to have real data for cars, but the sprint variant Mazda 787b inserted into Assetto Corsa with the recent update has roughly the same downforce levels as the Le Mans spec Sauber C9. Obviously, it’s not right, and I hope it gets rectified. It also calls into question what other phantom numbers have been thrown into other cars, but we knew they did that already.