Reader Submission #135 – The Use of Ballpark Figures

28724869973_b6587c4d8b_oOnly a few short weeks ago, the sim racing world was turned upside-down when Norweigan drifting personality and avid sim racer Fredrik Sorlie leaked a conversation between himself and Stefano Casillo of Kunos Simulazioni, in which the sim racer found himself on the receiving end of an aggressive virtual lashing from an otherwise respected developer within the sim racing community. While most of our readers rushed to take sides and either publicly blasted Stefano or accused Sorlie of being in over his head when it came to discussing tire behavior, lost in the community-wide argument was what the actual conversation centered around: tire behavior.

Casillo argued that the data and calculations powering the tire behavior in Assetto Corsa were the most important pieces of getting the virtual Ferrari on the screen to feel like a proper car driven to the edge of the tire, but Fredrik stated that his semi-random numbers inserted into the INI file – primarily the result of several trial and error experiments – produced a much more realistic range of vehicle dynamics on corner entry, which mirrored his own time spent blasting around the Nurburgring Nordschleife with his life on the line. Or, you know, something to that effect.

Today’s second Reader Submission comes from Richard Wilk, the in-house physics guru for rFactor’s Historic Sim Racing Organizationor HSO for short. The HSO website specializes primarily in full-length online races ahd championships held in machinery from an era of motorsports that placed speed over safety, either creating their own mods from the ground up, or re-building popular historic releases from the ground up to iron out their flaws. The website recently completed their highly competitive 1973 USAC championship to close out the 2016 calendar year, and are currently in the process of preparing for a 1980’s World Sports Car Championship event at Monza. Though these guys don’t receive much publicity on mainstream outlets, they’re busy as hell on their own little corner of the internet – consistently managing to acquire full grids for each and every event they hold.

ob_755803_cg1gkhAccording to Richard Wilks of HSO, you need more than just hard numbers – as Kunos Simulazioni have ruthlessly claimed when discussing tire behavior in private with real race car drivers – to create a convincing rendition of a virtual car, and it’s foolish to dismiss feedback from people who have driven the real thing, even if it goes against your own data. You’re building an experience, not a space shuttle.


1dac9a26393743cf75db3c55da1854146a8057d6Hello PRC! I’ve returned with another submission about the process of creating cars for all of your favorite simulators, but this time I’ve been a bit more outgoing than usual, and I’m finally comfortable revealing my name. You can read some of my past submissions HERE and HERE.

There was a lot of talk recently about Stefano Casillo from Kunos Simulazioni refusing to hear and even offending a guy with massive real life experience. To me, this is beyond unbelieveable. No, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to call names or question what Kunos are doing behind the scenes (though it may be a bit justified), but I’d like to explain to readers why this is all so preposterous to someone like me, who willingly spends his free time learning about cars, and creating a convincing set of physics for others to enjoy in a competitive setting.

As a physics modder, I can say that having a guy who not only drove the real thing, but understands how to be successful in a consumer simulator as well, and can flawlessly translate skills from one to the other, that’s pure gold. It’s already hard enough to find interviews or accounts from drivers detailing the real life experience because it’s not something auto racing journalists typically ask – they’re concerned about race strategies and other marketing things – so finding a guy willing to drive in a simulator for an excessive length of time  and even show you the way that the car behaves by modifying the files himself… I have to say I’m a bit jealous of Kunos that they have fans willing to go through that lengths to help the developers.

So for Stefano to shoot these people down… It’s very dumb. Honestly, incredibly dumb. But this gets much worse. You see, even if he believes he has his tire model numbers absolutely correct, he’s putting too much faith into two really dangerous categories:

  • That his physics engine properly translates those numbers into correct forces in all situations.
  • That his tire model is already perfect, or realistic.

Looking at point number one, I guess Stefano’s pride must have been hurt to lash out at Fredrik like that, so it’s no small wonder he doesn’t even question that his physics engine functions perfectly in all situations. But point number two is something he should very well question, because nobody, and I repeat nobody, can claim to have tires nailed in sim racing. And this is where feedback is most important.

When I sit down and work on a car for HSO, and this entails everything from helping with a scratch made mod our guys created down to every last lug nut on the wheel, all the way to tweaking an existing mod that people like but doesn’t drive very well, tires are the absolute last thing I mess with. You can do everything else right or get it somewhere in the correct ballpark, but tires? Its not just the grip. It’s the load sensitivity, the slip angles, or the relationship between front and rear slip angles, and how that all translates through the flawed or incomplete tire models we have, into car movements. This is a massive grey area, and you can’t rely solely on numbers, especially because those numbers powering other parts of the physics engine – or data that has to be extrapolated from other pieces of data – are not 100% reliable in the first place. This is where accurate feedback is crucial. Too many times I see things other modders have gotten wrong, because people just assume things about these cars, and never read or were bothered to ask people with legitimate experience.

I can understand modders getting this wrong, because Porsche or Ferrari haven’t given them free reign of their private garage, nor do they have the budget to acquire sensitive data or take these cars out to a track for firsthand experience, but developers themselves? A team who are supposed to know the inner workings of their software? It’s really inexcusable.

How can quality mod teams for Assetto Corsa exist, if the people creating vanilla content behave like this? They should be setting an example, not being yet another “I never sat in this car in my life, but I know better” autistic manchild.


1acfa9983bd05987f27314b3b2f1d1561e479838Even though we’ve sort of moved on from Stefano’s meltdown over Fredrik’s feedback and what it indicates about how Kunos Simulazioni operate, you raise an interesting concept that I’m sure the readers of PRC will appreciate (compared to a submission we posted earlier today, anyway).

When tires are still a bit of a black art that no single developer team – let alone real world car makers – have been able to master, why are Kunos behaving as if raw data and numbers they’ve set in stone are the answer to producing an authentic virtual recreation of performance driving? Consumer racing simulations – the ones we can buy off store shelves – are an approximation of vehicle dynamics using as much real world data that can be applied within the software, and then filling in the blanks with reasonable guesstimations. But physics engines themselves are an approximation of real life, using numbers to replicate the laws of the universe, so there’s no absolute guarantee the software powering these games is one hundred percent correct before we even place a car on the track.

Therefore, there’s no reason not to be open about feedback from avid sim racers with real world driving experience willingly plucking numbers into the game just to see what happens, because they might actually be onto something. And sure, let’s say after a ton of testing, their feedback results in experiments that are wholeheartedly inconclusive. That’s okay. It’s not a knock on you as a developer or as a person, it’s not them trying to undermine your years of obsessing over vehicle dynamics textbooks, it’s them saying “it doesn’t feel right to me, can we try going back to the drawing board so your software benefits me more on the real track than it already does?”

Unless there is something seriously wrong with your emotional state where even the slightest bit of feedback triggers immense hostility to anyone who crosses your path, this is how you improve the simulation value aspect of your simulator.

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Smacking the Console Children

analisis-assetto-corsa_6As the classic saying goes, “no good deed goes unpunished”, and the same appears to ring true on the official forums dedicated to discussing the popular multi-platform racing simulator Assetto Corsa. Ever since it was originally announced that the independent Italian driving game from Kunos Simulazioni would be arriving on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, there’s been a very tangible rift between hardcore PC sim racers which have adopted the title as their simulator of choice, and curious console gamers looking for a much more serious alternative to Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo. It’s a rivalry that doesn’t make much sense on paper, as more individuals abandoning mass-market military shooters in favor of something significantly more complex is one of the easiest ways to help the genre of driving games grow after a noticeable regression over the past five years, but this hasn’t stopped elitist PC sim racers from relentlessly attacking an audience with the potential to be every bit as passionate about these games as they already are.

As we’ve covered countless times before here on PRC.net, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of Assetto Corsa are vastly different games compared to what you can purchase from Valve’s Steam Marketplace. While the PC version is treated as this divine entity within several sections of the official forums constructed by Kunos Simulazioni to discuss their game, the Console Lounge paints a much different picture of the software – users frequently complain that features found in the PC version are non-existent, and what is present, isn’t always functional. To evoke a bit of colorful language, it feels as if there was an elaborate marketing campaign behind a shovelware title which aimed to sucker in as many customers as possible, and now those customers are sitting around wondering when – if ever – Assetto Corsa for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will ever live up to the buzz surrounding it.

c1ebd777With the Assetto Corsa forums allowing registered Assetto Corsa owners on the PC to freely navigate the entire board and jump into conversations at their own discretion – without restricting individuals based on which version of the game they own – many Assetto Corsa fans playing the game on their elaborate PC setup can be seen openly venturing over to the console side of the board and openly mocking owners of the inferior console version for no justifiable reason. Aside from many little features and functionalities missing from the console renditions of Assetto Corsa, the core driving experience itself is just as serious as the PC offering, meaning those who have signed up for the official forums are just as passionate about the game as hardcore PC sim racers. It’s not like the console game features power-ups stolen from Mario Kart, and the ability to rewind time to correct major driving mistakes – it’s still a racing simulator, just not a very good or technically sound one. As a result, this makes any instance of PC owners attacking console owners for “playing on the wrong platform” quite silly in nature, and basically demonstrates the theory that Assetto Corsa fans feel strangely obligated to act as a rabid cult hell-bent on spreading the gospel of Kunos Simulazioni.

As we’ve discussed yesterday, the current issue plaguing the Xbox One version of Assetto Corsa – sent in by our boy Vernon S. via Reader Submission – is the widespread corruption of save data. Let’s be very clear here, save data corruption isn’t something that can be passed off as an objective complaint of varying importance from user to user – this is a base-level functionality problem with the software itself. In a modern video game centered around the art of driving cars around a track and refining them in the virtual garage area, having your custom setups wiped, your unique player settings corrupted, and your single player event progress undone virtually every time you exit the application, is a pretty big deal. This is the kind of base level functionality flaw that, upon implementing spreadsheet software with a similar issue in their store on a lazy Monday morning, would see CVS Pharmacies drop after roughly an hour’s use. There isn’t really any reason to just bend over and accept the same disruptive gremlins in a piece of entertainment.

Xbox One owners have been reporting this issue on the appropriate section of the forums since Assetto Corsa launched in August of 2016, but it still hasn’t been fixed or even directly addressed by 505 Games customer support reps, and Assetto Corsa enthusiasts on the Xbox One were extremely happy when we covered it here at PRC.net, because we were literally the only outlet willing to acknowledge that yes, this is a problem. That alone speaks volumes; it’s pretty sad that customers are so frustrated with the quality of a product,  and fed up with silence from the developers, that they’re forced to contact a news blog in the hopes that someone will listen to them and feed them more than a generic “contact customer support” response, the same they’ve been receiving for around five months with no tangible improvement to the product itself.

Upon celebrating our article finally covering the save corruption problem on the Xbox One, like clockwork, PC owners of Assetto Corsa arrived to immediately scold the console gamers for being “entitled crybabies who enjoy hating on things” before stating “sometimes the adults need to get up and come over to the kid’s table to smack some manners” into them.

lol-at-prcThere is a fundamental problem with how Assetto Corsa operates as a piece of software, which currently leads to a situation where the application frequently wipes data off of the Xbox One’s hard drive, and PC owners of the game are basically laughing at the fact that Kunos Simulazioni sold a defective product to a portion of the game’s audience for no justifiable reason other than they’re playing the simulator on a different platform than their own. Rather than ponder what a major technical issue such as save data being obliterated at a moment’s notice could indicate about the work ethic and general competence of their favorite sim racing developers, PC owners are using this opportunity to flex their invisible muscles and bully other sim racers when the situation doesn’t even call for it in the first place.

go-play-forzaThis behavior isn’t just exhibited by one user in particular upset that his favorite driver wrecked out of the 24 Hours of Daytona prematurely and desperately needing to take out his anger on someone innocent, but a collection of individuals genuinely trying to chase out fellow virtual auto racing enthusiasts solely based on their platform of choice. Assetto Corsa forum user P73 can be seen above aggressively telling the original poster to “go play Forza Motorsport” if he feels “a few missing features” are ruining Assetto Corsa before labeling all console players as “spoiled brats” and “crying babies”, totally ignoring the initial complaint actually revolves around save data frequently being corrupted by the application itself.

Save data corruption is not a matter of personal preference; it’s the sign of a faulty product, plain and simple. Yet as you can clearly see above, you have examples of two individuals in one thread alone basically celebrating the fact that Kunos Simulazioni released a defective product for their customers on the Xbox One, and then attacking those who drew attention to the issue in the first place by claiming they’re throwing tantrums like spoiled brats. Yes, it’s unreasonable to ask a team of roughly seventeen people to include a four-digit car roster within their simulator, complimented with a comprehensive career mode that features official licenses from all major racing series around the globe. That’s ridiculous But on the other hand, it’s certainly not unreasonable, or “entitled” as some call it, to demand a product that retains your personal data from one session of gameplay to the next. This is like, basic software functionality.

generic-pc-autistAnd responses like these are why console owners have been openly asking Kunos Simulazioni to restrict who can access what areas of the forums for months on end – effectively preventing PC elitists from aggressively confronting frustrated console owners – but like the aforementioned save data bug, Kunos have not acted on what’s a very legitimate problem. And while owners of the console version are not permitted to enter PC-specific sections, PC owners are allowed to traverse the forum freely, indicating a very clear bias towards PC sim racers over their console brethren, who are every bit as entitled to a functional Assetto Corsa experience as PC owners. Instead, they aren’t even allowed to see what the PC version of the game entails, despite PC owners ruthlessly venturing into console specific threads and dismissing any valid criticism of the game.

please-helpI find this behavior absolutely appalling, and it’s part of the reason why both myself, as well as many outsiders, believe the Assetto Corsa fanbase – on the PC, at least – to operate in a cult-like manner. Here you have an entire group of people viciously going after fellow enthusiasts for merely experiencing a software defect, and basically celebrating the fact that Kunos released a product that destroys your own Xbox One hard drive data after a session of play solely because “lol you bought an Xbox.” Nevermind that these people may soon turn into talented virtual race car drivers themselves, or indulge in the hobby on a level similar to the passion PC sim racers exhibit in this hobby, Assetto Corsa fans don’t even try to hide the fact that they take pleasure in their favorite developer royally botching the release of their favorite game to an entirely new audience.

Not only are they stunting the growth of an otherwise extremely small genre by bullying those with legitimate complaints and chasing away individuals with genuine interest in the genre, they’re basically telling Kunos it’s perfectly fine to release a piece of software with obvious technical defects. I have to ask, what kind of precedent does this set? You’re indicating to a game developer backed by a major investment firm and publishing company that in a category of video games highlighted by precise attention to detail, that it’s totally okay for them to push out a product that damages a user’s files at random.

With this kind of apologetic attitude from their diehard fans even in the face of monumental software gremlins, what incentive would they have in the future to polish their product in the slightest?

stef1

Reader Submission #133 – Corrupted Save Files in Xbox One Edition of Assetto Corsa

asseBy now, we’re all well aware of the fact that Assetto Corsa on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 simply isn’t anywhere close to resembling the product which originally landed on the PC in the fall of 2013. From neutered menus to a complete lack of certain options found within the version of origin, Assetto Corsa for current generation consoles is certainly a shadow of its already sketchy former self – and while there are indeed a number of users completely satisfied by the core driving experience, there are an equal amount of console-based sim racers wondering what in the hell all the fuss surrounding this game is about.

And that’s before we address what we’ve been notified about in today’s Reader Submission. Coming to us from Vernon C., there’s a fairly crippling bug in the Xbox One version of Assetto Corsa preventing even the most apologetic of Kunos Simulazioni supporters from progressing through the game in a meaningful manner. Assetto Corsa’s save data frequently corrupts itself, and neither 505 Games nor Kunos Simulazioni have outright stated they’re looking to rectify the situation. In fact, the issue hasn’t even been addressed in their high-profile monthly blogs, with the team continuing to push out DLC packages that they can’t even get right the first time – as special events that were intended to come with one of the several Porsche bundles are still “being worked on.”

For a game centered primarily around building and refining car setups thanks to a rather dull single player campaign mode, Xbox One owners are pretty pissed off that this data is occasionally being wiped, there’s nothing they can do to stop it, and Kunos are basically ignoring their concerns.


24138837879_bdfc3a4b8a_oHey PRC. First I’d like to say that I’m a silent admirer of your work, and have been monitoring this place for quite some time. I have never written to any gaming journalist previously, and have never really had a reason to do so before now.

I know that you guys are primarily PC gamers, and that’s where the majority of your focus lies, but I feel that maybe by bringing up the issue here, you might be able to shed some light on something that Kunos are attempting to sweep under the rug and continuously sell us DLC, all while failing to address a pretty substantial issue.

As you may or may not be aware, the Xbox One version of Assetto Corsa has a very nasty bug within the game – it basically doesn’t support save data. Games like Assetto Corsa heavily rely on the ability to save a setup or even save your progress after completing events in single player. Again, I know the Xbox One may not hold much significance to you, but there is a large community of us, and even though we aren’t hardcore PC simulator nerds, we still read PRC and support you guys for the work you do. We feel like we do not have a voice on the official forums to let people know about the game save issue that is plaguing Assetto Corsa.

help-usThe community manager, otherwise known as AC_505, consistently tells us to submit support tickets whenever we encounter the save game corruption issue. We’ve been doing this every single day since the game was first released back in August. Instead, we’ve been told to sit down, shut up, and just be happy with what we have. It’s things like this that take the steam away from the love of sim racing.

I’m not very good at doing this, but can you PLEASE help us out? We are simple gamers/sim racers who are really hoping you’ll hear us out – even though we’re from a “lesser platform” – and create an article or do something to bring attention to this issue. Obviously, the developers are not listening to us on the channels that they are advising us to let them know these problems exist in the first place.

To display what I mean, here are just a few of the Forum topics discussing the issue (the one’s that haven’t been deleted):

Please help us.


Here, let’s drop a bit of a harsh reality on everybody.

Not all Kunos Simulazioni staff members were on-board for a console version of the game in the first place; it was merely a venture to “establish the brand” and see if console owners would welcome a new, hardcore alternative to established franchises such as Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport. Obviously Kunos Simulazioni aren’t going to explicitly come out and say this was their cunning plan of sorts, but actions speak much louder than words ever could – hence why your variant of the game isn’t up to snuff. You and I both know that the console version of Assetto Corsa is inferior to what’s available on the PC, to the point where users openly state in their AC forum signatures that they don’t take kindly to the console crowd. And the developers themselves echo this mentality.

get-a-pcI’m not trying to make excuses for Kunos Simulazioni, just confirming that your assumptions about the developers not caring for the console version and any of its unique problems are largely correct.

I can’t personally snap my fingers and rectify the save data problems you guys on the Xbox One are experiencing, but I can indeed at least put the information out there, so those on the fence about purchasing Assetto Corsa for the Xbox One can be at least a little bit more informed than they were previously. It’s very shitty that this is the approach Kunos have taken with the console version of Assetto Corsa, and maybe it’ll make people think twice about supporting a company who seem to willingly shaft an entire portion of their audience for merely playing on the “wrong” platform.

The Rebirth of #ForzaCorsa: Kunos Simulazioni Has Been Sold!

ac-soldWell, this is a bit awkward.

The 2016 calendar year over here at PretendRaceCars.net was incredibly successful for us both as sim racers and shitty amateur journalists, though it wasn’t without one major blemish to our reputation. Acting solely on the word of a prominent third party modder within the Assetto Corsa community supplying us with what I believed at the time to be genuine top-secret information which wasn’t supposed to see the light of day, I pushed out an article claiming Kunos Simulazioni were in the process of being completely acquired by Turn 10 Studios, potentially as a means to help create a hardcore variant of the Forza Motorsport franchise for dedicated PC sim racing enthusiasts – as Dan Greenawalt did announce during an interview at E3 that they were working on a third Forza experience. We turned into the laughing stock of the community within twenty four hours, as Kunos Simulazioni staff members, and even other sim racing outlets, publicly roasted us and claimed we were mentally ill for even daring to post such a ridiculous story in the first place.

Fast forward nine months into the future, and it turns out the only thing we got wrong was the name of the company. Revealed earlier this afternoon – much to the dismay of dedicated Assetto Corsa fans who hoped Kunos would remain an independent entityReuters is reporting that Kunos Simulazioni have been purchased by an Italian investor group known to the world as Digital Bros, a partner of 505 Games. The group of Kunos Simulazioni staff members are no longer a wild bunch of sim racing rebels doing their best to push the genre forward by any means necessary, but rather puppets tasked with adhering to the strict demands of their overlords at Digital Bros, in exchange for a hefty payday of course.

Stefano Casillo and Marco Massarutto will remain with Kunos Simulazioni in their current positions for the time being, though with the transfer of ownership also comes the transfer of power. Kunos Simulazioni as a company is now owned and controlled by an investor group, and they have the power to remove Casillo and/or Massarutto if they aren’t satisfied with how they’re handling the company on a day-to-day basis. They can even even change the entire direction of the franchise if they see a justifiable reason to do so, or kill it outright, as we’ve seen happen to entities like Criterion Games or Maxis when taken under the wing of Electronic Arts.

It’s undoubtedly a difficult pill for fans of Assetto Corsa to swallow. Kunos Simulazioni have spent several years amassing a following of loyal supporters since Assetto Corsa’s humble beginnings in 2013, and the sale to Digital Bros – which hands control of everything to an investor group playing by cold, hard numbers – does not bode well for a game living in an already niche environment. Let’s be honest with ourselves, developers don’t get into sim racing to make money; they do it for the love of virtual auto racing, and passion isn’t something that can be analyzed in a board room by a group of Italian suits obsessing over pie charts and other metrics. Because of this, it’s certainly hard to imagine a situation where Assetto Corsa 2 continues on the path created by the original. These games don’t make a whole lot of money.

If there’s an Assetto Corsa 2 to begin with, that is…

ac-is-doneWhat you see above is the third time I’ve received this information in the past month, though I originally held off on posting it the first time after consulting Stefano directly, who warned me that Assetto Corsa fans are still trying to fuck with PRC by submitting fake news. This obviously says a lot about Assetto Corsa fans to begin with, as viral marketers and obsessive fanboys are making it their mission to ruin some sim racing blog’s credibility for giving their favorite game a bad review, but given we were nine months early to reporting the sale of Kunos Simulazioni after everyone and their dog called us crazy, I feel it’s the correct time to bring it up, because there’s a chance this is in the ballpark too.

Assetto Corsa 2 might not come at all. According to our source, who again may not be entirely factual, supposedly once every piece of downloadable content planned for release in 2017 is out on the marketplace, support for Assetto Corsa as a franchise is finished, and I was told by another sim racer that “unless someone puts down the capital to make it happen, they’re done, as they mortgaged their homes to make the original Assetto Corsa, and they certainly don’t want to go through that process all over again.” There will allegedly be no new modes or additional features that fans have been requesting for several years – which is sure to sting those patiently waiting for Kunos to polish up Assetto Corsa to the level of other simulators in terms of functionality.

I’m not saying this is accurate, but I’ve heard it about a month ago from somebody I trust, and now I’m hearing it again from an entirely different user who resides in a totally different section of the community. All of the time you’ve spent waiting for Assetto Corsa to become more than an elaborate supercar hotlap simulator – whether you’re playing it on the PC, or current generation consoles – will potentially go to waste.

ac-porscheNow that we’ve got the news portion out of the way, it’s time for me to elaborate on how I feel about this whole announcement.

Though it wasn’t the exact brand we claimed nine months ago, Kunos Simulazioni as a company was indeed just sold off to an investors group. While everybody was calling us crazy last spring for daring to suggest Kunos were even thinking of “selling out” to begin with, we had the balls to say “hey guys, this might be happening.” And it just did. Like, right now.

These kinds of endeavors – with millions of dollars and ownership of an IP on the line – don’t just happen overnight; they take months, maybe even an entire year of careful consideration and meticulous planning, especially given Kunos Simulazioni are a team of professional software developers, as opposed to a single guy making a shitty 2D indie game in his apartment. Suffice to say, they’ve been working on a deal to sell the company for a while.

One theory that has been run by us, is that Turn 10 indeed approached Kunos Simulazioni to acquire the company, but backed out when it suddenly became front page news on several sim racing websites – which would explain Stefano’s immense hatred of us; there’s a possibility we inadvertently screwed them out of a jaw-dropping acquisition. Digital Bros offered ’em four million dollars; I’m sure Microsoft and Turn 10 could easily generate a deal that eclipsed that figure, hence the animosity. It’s public knowledge that Turn 10 shopped around for a developer to create the original Forza Horizon back in 2012 before settling on an all-star lineup of at-the-time jobless racing game developers now known as Playground Games, so this isn’t much of a stretch. I’ll let that ruminate with y’all for a bit.

ac-gt-cupBased on the multiple people who have said Assetto Corsa is finished, I believe we’re not seeing AC2. However, if the franchise does continue on, it’ll certainly be met with a shift in direction. I wouldn’t mind for them to try and recapture what Enthusia Professional Racing did on the PlayStation 2, but any deviation away from what a PC simulator represents will most likely be met with backlash from the community, effectively destroying any fan base this game currently has, therefore making the hypothetical AC2 the last in the series because nobody bought it.

I can see Stefano taking the money and getting out of this altogether; the guy can do the work of ten people when it comes to coding, but he’s demonstrated time and time again that he can’t maintain any sort of positive customer relations, and that’s sort of essential in the current gaming world. People are going to come to your official forums, and some of them aren’t going to treat you like a Rockstar, nor will they find your nickname of Lord Kunos all that funny. You can’t routinely cuss these people out, and given how much of a problem these outbursts have been for him during Assetto Corsa’s lifespan, I can see him throwing in the towel. It’s nothing to be ashamed of in this case; it’s for the best.

15502-1920x1080But in the grande scheme of things, if we distance ourselves from just Assetto Corsa and take a look at Kunos Simulazioni as a whole, I’m beginning to question why this company managed to achieve such a positive reception within the sim racing community in the first place. The acquisition of Kunos Simulazioni by Digital Bros is basically the final nail in the coffin for their credibility, which dates all the way back to 2006.

We start with Stefano’s numerous netKar Pro meltdowns, which eventually resulted in a situation where users were abandoned with a broken game because the team literally weren’t in the mood to work on it. The netBikes experiment which followed failed to gain any sort of traction, all while the netKar Pro community grew frustrated with Kunos over their lack of support, whom eventually did return to fix netKar Pro a year later. Ferrari Virtual Academy, while enjoyable, was a glorified hotlap simulator that didn’t give anybody hope that Kunos could put out a complete racing simulator experience compared to other titles on the market. Kunos had built three games, and hadn’t proven they could finish any of them.

Finally, we reach the whole Assetto Corsa debacle. The game honestly had so much potential, but got lost in development and fell into the lure of big money. During the height of Assetto Corsa’s popularity, Kunos Simulazioni were spearheaded by a good coder couldn’t handle anything but being pampered with the finest grain baby talcum powder and maybe couldn’t further develop the game, a good marketing guy nabbing the licenses, and a physics developer who is poorly perceived by the expert sim racing modders. At what point do we as a community look at this situation unfolding and say “okay, maybe these guys don’t have their shit together in the slightest, and relied on a cult of personality to get them this far?”

Oh, right. It’s the point where they sold off the rights to their operation to some Italian investors group. And that point is today.

Another Year, Another Stefano Meltdown

screenshot_ks_ferrari_sf15t_monaco_20-12-116-17-20-43An old mentor of mine once used the term “terse eloquence” to describe what I should aim for in articles here on PRC.net, and for this entry I believe it’s the perfect time to challenge myself with an alternative writing style. There will be no fancy introduction, no elaborate set of links to older articles of ours, and no recap of events which have transpired over the past year or so. Once again, Stefano Casillo of Kunos Simulazioni has done irreversible damage to his company’s reputation by aggressively attacking an Assetto Corsa owner simply for suggesting an alternative approach to the game’s complicated tire model, and the whole thing gives some credibility to the rumor that Kunos simply surround themselves with yes men who shower the developer team with praise, rather than challenge them to create the best product possible.

The Assetto Corsa owner in question happens to be Fredrik Sørlie, a Norweigan stunt driver, former Porsche & AMG performance driving instructor, amateur drifter, and sim racing enthusiast; an automotive personality who has spent the past three decades as a professional driver while also taking up the modding side of sim racing as a hobby dating back to 2003. Not only is this guy a complete wheelman in adverse conditions – as evidenced by the video below – he’s also a mammoth computer nerd; the absolute best kind of person to give feedback on a modern racing simulator. With Porsche, Mercedes, Hollywood, and sim racing’s own Niels Heusinkveld coming to Sørlie for advice, Fredrik is an anomaly within this niche genre. This is someone who has not only dedicated their entire life to the art of driving an automobile to the breaking point, they fucking love video games, too.

Within the official Assetto Corsa forums are numerous sub-sections dedicated to ripping apart the game in a fashion that the Kunos Simulazioni staff can use to evaluate and improve the Assetto Corsa experience as it travels through its post-release lifespan. In a thread dedicated to discussing poor steering response in corners, as well as the process of creating his own modification for Assetto Corsa, Fredrik mentions that there are indeed some irregularities with how tires in Assetto Corsa behave under certain conditions as a whole. To readers who aren’t all that concerned with how Assetto Corsa operates under the hood, it’s obviously an extremely boring discussion between hobbyists splitting hairs in the name of realism, but for modders, this is the kind of stuff that tickles their fancy.

fredFredrik also makes a quick one-liner about needing to use values other than the digits Kunos have provided when it comes to their tire physics file for each car, as they don’t always produce accurate on-track results. A seemingly insignificant piece of banter, Stefano Casillo promptly arrives to claim Fredrik Sørliea professional performance driving instructor employed by both Porsche and Mercedes – knows nothing about vehicle dynamics, and has been writing:“dogshit” on the message boards for the past several weeks. All for suggesting to try a different set of numbers in a very specific physics file, because to a professional driver, those values produced an experience that aligned more closely with real life than the default values.

dogshitThe thread instantly descends into chaos, with Casillo being verbally abusive to Fredrik while the Assetto Corsa army religiously upvote all of Stefano’s posts berating the professional driving instructor. I encourage you all to check out the thread for yourselves; there are some absolutely astonishing quotes in there once things pick up. Halfway through the second page, Casillo has already labeled Fredrik Sørlie as a delusional individual – no insult is off-limits.

Fredrik, just wanting Assetto Corsa to be the best simulator it can possibly be, brushes this horrid encounter off and contacts Stefano in private, the results of which are nothing short of legendary. Fredrik properly introduces himself to the Kunos Simulazioni coding master, and dives deep into his own discoveries with Assetto Corsa’s tire model calculations after detailing an extensive automotive pedigree. Citing past collaborations with sim racing physics guru Niels Heusinkveld, Fredrik explains the very specific changes he had made to the tire physics files in Assetto Corsa, and while fully acknowledging the numbers weren’t one hundred percent correct when used in the current algorithm created by Kunos, they produced a satisfactory driving experience which mirrored his experiences in a real car, and he wanted Stefano to look into why his guesstimated numbers improved the simulator’s tire behavior.

Essentially, an accomplished professional driver with a thirteen year background in sim racing modding came to a member of Kunos Simulazioni and said “hey man, I love your game, here are all of my real world credentials, I made some unique changes to the tire file, I know they don’t make a lot of sense, but to me it feels more realistic than what you guys had by default. Can you look this from your end? It might help.” Whereas most racing drivers will spout random crap about any racing game in pursuit of a paycheck, here we had a driver modding the game. That kind of customer loyalty doesn’t come around all that often.

Rather than responding with a simple “thanks for the feedback, your fix isn’t realistic but it might highlight a problem in our simulation, I’ll check it out sometime this week when I have a moment,” Stefano proceeds to cuss out Fredrik for the next hour, because this is a totally rational thing for any developer to do.

open-a-fucking-book-and-readIt’s a truly impressive piece of post-modern art. The holy grail of racing simulator development is receiving feedback from real world drivers, as data and numbers don’t always manage to convey the sensations a human being experiences pushing an automobile to the limit. Yet after marketing campaigns which saw Kunos constantly mention their Vallelunga offices allowing them to pick the brains of professional race car pilots fresh off the tarmac by placing them in their simulator for feedback, and partnerships with Ferrari, Porsche, and Lotus ensuring the team would model each vehicle as close to the real thing as possible, the above screenshot paints a vastly different picture when it comes to how Kunos Simulazioni operate behind closed doors. In reality, Kunos are actually berating real race car drivers, telling them to get lost, and that only the numbers matter.

It’s extremely fucked up, to put it lightly. Here you have a developer bragging about all of the feedback they’ve received from professional pilots who endlessly praise the quality of Assetto Corsa’s driving model, but in the span of an hour or so, one guy is able to provide evidence to the contrary – Kunos Simulazioni not only become emotionally compromised over a single sentence joke buried deep within a thread surrounding car physics, they’ll aggressively attack you on their own message board for merely providing any sort of feedback whatsoever – and then let their fanboys pile on for good measure. Keep in mind, these verbal sparring matches with genuine fans of the game span multiple hours and take legitimate effort to participate in, when virtually none of this was necessary to begin with. What’s so hard about telling a guy “thanks for the feedback?” Why is there a need to instantly shit on him and make him out to be this delusional autist who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, when his YouTube channel clearly demonstrates he might have a clue?

And that’s the scary part. Rather than busting their asses to improve their game, members of Kunos Simulazioni are sitting around on the forums monitoring every last thread for even an ounce of criticism, promptly pouncing on those individuals regardless of their real world credentials. That’s where their time is being allocated, if you’re curious about when certain future updates will be released.

Personally, I’d like to know how some of the bigger brands featured within Assetto Corsa feel about this behavior. Auto makers such as Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren don’t exactly fuck around when it comes to how their brand is represented in the public eye. Are Porsche even aware that the game developer they just partnered with and made a whole media circus about throw autistic shitfits and lash out at their own customers when real drivers giving feedback on the simulator make a joke on the forums? This is the kind of shit that would get you fired from any commercial storefront job, and cause sponsors to back the fuck out of major partnerships.

Better yet, what real driver would be willing to work with Kunos Simulazioni after seeing this? They’ve made it explicitly clear that unless you blow sunshine up the asshole of Stefano, they will just sit around and call you names until you eventually leave out of disgust.

screenshot_mclaren_mp412c_gt3_ks_nordschleife_20-12-116-19-56-13The whole thing is downright embarassing for Kunos Simulazioni, and further reading on the subject can be seen on Fredrik’s official Facebook page, the SimRacing subreddit, and RaceDepartment, all of whom have spent the better part of today discussing Stefano’s childish antics. Regardless of how you feel about Assetto Corsa, this is simply unacceptable behavior for a developer to exhibit. And I wouldn’t be surprised if more people come out of the shadows to reveal their own absurd encounters with select Kunos Simulazioni staff members.