Eurogamer’s Assetto Corsa Championship a Dud after Horrendous Opening Round

With lucrative brands such as nVidia, Sparco, and Thrustmaster footing the bill for what was supposed to be Assetto Corsa’s most important and prestigious online championship ever held in Kunos Simulazioni’s little simulator that could, today’s Eurogamer.it Assetto Corsa Championship race at Imola instead highlighted why the software itself has attained so many critics in the years since its arrival on Steam in the fall of 2013. Though the high-profile broadcast duo of Matteo Lorenzetti and Shaun Cole of The SimPit did their best to provide an entertaining auditory backdrop for the series’ first event on the calendar, exhibiting a very natural chemistry that was the lone highlight of the three hour livestream, we’re at the point where sim racing just isn’t working out as some sort of headline eSports event in the manner a lot of people expected, and on top of the numerous flubs of both technical and on-track varieties, the reasons many avoid using Assetto Corsa as a serious league platform were unfortunately on display this afternoon.

I was privileged enough to view this event in real time, but the Imola round of Eurogamer’s championship isn’t even worth a tape-delayed viewing for shits and giggles; this endeavor wasn’t bad in a comical sense, where a selection of memes will arise from the various oddities that popped up throughout the broadcast – it was instead a kind of XFL bad; nothing about the on-track product itself, nor the presentation, was enticing on any level. If this is the pinnacle of traditional online sim racing championships – none of this one-off Vegas eRacing stuff, but what we can expect to see from major sim competitions in the future not named iRacing – this simply isn’t going to ever catch on.

The driving standards were poor, the presentation was limited by Assetto Corsa’s lack of live/replay/live functionality, numerous delays left viewers waiting around for several minutes at a time, the commercials lasted far longer than what would be considered reasonable for an online stream, and the race itself wasn’t competitive in the slighest – a winner had been determined only a handful of laps into the event.

It just didn’t work. Back to the drawing board.

What you see is the opening shot all five hundred viewers were greeted with at the start of the broadcast. Generic EuroTrash electronic music blared over Matteo Lorenzetti and Shaun Cole’s lengthy introduction for several minutes, with the Twitch chat aggressively demanding the music to be turned off, effectively neutering any sort of proper reveal the broadcast team had carefully planned out. Instead, users were forced to merely take in the static shot of Imola’s main grandstand section, which had been plastered with an obnoxious amount of nVidia ads. Given this was a 1988 version of the San Marino Grand Prix, seeing the entire location re-branded with Sparco, Thrustmaster, and nVidia ads, looked absolutely silly. I understand that there was this weird retro-modern vibe the series was trying to achieve, pairing the Lotus 98T with a collection of historic tracks that had been given a make-over to appease the numerous primary sponsors, but in execution it gave the whole event this really strange atmosphere.

Every team in the field had also been given extremely radical liveries that directly contrasted the simplistic designs seen on the actual 1986 Grand Prix grid, so it was difficult to understand what was supposed to be accomplished here with the Eurogamer championship from an aesthetic standpoint. Here you had historical cars on historical tracks, but re-imagined with modern liveries and intrusive sponsorship branding, which of course was then hastily plastered on the Stream’s overlay – the giant billboards giving out Sparco discount codes obviously weren’t enough.

There was also seemingly a massive push by event organizers to make the trackside landscape appear more populated than their original releases as free add-ons for Assetto Corsa, though upon closer inspection – as you can see in the shot above – this resulted in a ton of identical safety marshals sporting bright orange jumpsuits copied and pasted just a few feet from one another.

After an introduction period that dragged on for far too long, and numerous lengthy advertisement breaks that quite frankly weren’t necessary, Qualifying eventually did get underway well after the advertised start time, prominently displaying a major issue with the broadcast itself. The Eurogamer stream exhibited a single-digit framerate for the duration of Qualifying, which made the action impossible to follow. I’m not trying to embellish or make things out to be worse than they really were for dramatic effect; the stream was comparable to illegal hockey or football streams you can get at FirstRow Sports. Halfway through the session, the chat had turned into a frenzy of people taking shots at the framerate, because the footage was basically unwatchable.

What you could see if you were willing to put up with the poor quality of the stream, simply wasn’t compelling. The overlay was blocky and unorganized, the action on the track showcased Assetto Corsa’s spotty netcode, with cars warping all over the place like hovercrafts and repeatedly glitching into the ground prior to the Variante Alta chicane, and driver images came with poorly photoshopped fake fire suits over each picture. For a major championship, everything about the viewing experience was decidedly amateurish.

Shortly before qualifying ended, the Stream was taken offline, only to resurface with an absurdly long advertisement break featuring repetitive Thrustmaster product demonstrations aimed at the Flight Simulator crowd, as well as a recycle of the series’ long-winded promotional trailer, which at this point had been played four or five times throughout the broadcast as filler material.

Upon finally returning to Imola, the gap between the end of qualifying session and the start of the race itself had stretched to almost thirty minutes of non-stop adverts – as if we’d been sitting through a real-world weather delay. Alas, we were told the wait would be worth it, as these were the top sim racers in Europe hand-picked by series organizers to compete for very expensive prizes, such as a top-of-the-line nVidia graphics card, Thrustmaster racing wheel, and Sparco racing seat, among many other rewards. Despite the technical hiccups and other miscellaneous delays, the on-track product – what everybody was here for – would supposedly speak for itself.

Instead, we had to restart the event three separate times.

The first accident took out the field before a majority of the cars had even crossed the start finish line, warranting a complete restart. It was a virtual re-enactment of the U.S. 500, CART’s disaster at Michican in 1996 during their attempt to create a rival event to the Indy 500, which saw nearly the entire field involved in an incident on the pace lap.

The second restart produced a very similar accident playing out just after the start/finish line, with only five cars making it to the Tamburello curve within striking distance of the leader – the rest once again involved in a growing cluster of wrecked Lotus grand prix entries.

The third and final restart produced similar results, though a decision was made by race control to continue with attempt number three of the event despite a car in the top five completely blowing the Tamburello curve, ping-ponging off the external concrete barrier, and flying back onto the racing surface before taking out a number of cars, which you can see behind the pause menu in the picture below (look just under the word Corsa in Assetto Corsa).

Instead of being granted a slew of hilarious replays depicting the opening lap chaos, the commentary team of Matteo Lorenzetti and Shaun Cole instead had to awkwardly tell viewers that limitations of Assetto Corsa simply did not allow them to show replays to the audience and then snap back to real-time as they would in a simulator like iRacing or rFactor 2, basically admitting that the software they were using for the Championship was inadequate for online broadcasting purposes.

Not only were there no replays to speak of, the pair also had to make quite clear that any on-board footage – where dashboard gauges were clearly visible – were not representative of the actual car’s performance at that very moment; limitations in Assetto Corsa do not accurately transmit rev counter, turbo dial, or speed indicator data when spectating an opponents’ vehicle, so those watching the feed in an effort to learn how to take a certain corner like the best sim racers in Europe, couldn’t actually learn anything.

Two laps in, another wreck takes place, this time among some of the front runners. The best sim racers Europe had to offer – hand-picked to partake in the series – were mostly incapable of driving these cars, instead opting to just monster truck over the massive kerbs and simply hope for the best – which became increasingly apparent as the laps clicked off and more drivers fell victim to their own lack of talent. Many drivers would run wide in certain corners or make what appeared to be very amateurish mistakes, with competitors often embarking on impromptu lawnmower impersonations, which led viewers in the Twitch feed chat began to make comparisons to public lobby racing.

The continuous mess playing out behind him allowed notable Assetto Corsa personality Hany Al-Sabti to literally walk away from the field, building an enormous gap between himself and second place while lapping everyone up to sixth throughout the sixty lap affair. Polesitter Tuomas Tahtela was a non-factor in the event and crashed multiple times, unable to keep the Lotus 98T under him, while Jakub Charkot – who qualified just behind Al-Sabti in third – spent the majority of the Grand Prix trailing Al-Sabti by several seconds, never once coming within striking distance.

With Hany Al-Sabti seemingly the only entry on the grid who could click off multiple competitive laps in a row, the snoozer of a race became even more insufferable when it was revealed that Al-Sabti’s decision to select medium compound tires had allowed him to complete the full race distance without a pit stop, as opposed to the majority of his opponents who were pitting for fresh rubber. I’m not trying to take away from Al-Sabti’s victory here, as he obviously came prepared and absolutely deserved to win the event with his performance and strategy today, but as a viewer, I would have liked to seen a race of some sorts. This was not a race in the slightest; it was a parade of virtual cars that was over well before the contest had reached the half-way mark.

And I can’t say I’m the only one who feels this way, either. When the Eurogamer Twitch feed suddenly cut out at lap 24 of 60 and was offline for about thirty seconds, the live audience dwindled to just 289 viewers once we got going again. nVidia, Thrustmaster, and Sparco have a non-existent return on investment in sponsoring this championship – those are horrible numbers for any sort of online event broadcast.

In the coming days, Eurogamer – which seems to be a major European gaming outlet – will obviously talk up their Assetto Corsa Championship as some resounding success with “a few first-timer issues”, but as you can see from the recap above, the event itself was anything but. There were plans to have weekly round-table discussion shows, massive sponsorship participation from high-profile companies, and an ultra-competitive group of sim racers helping to push the series forward into the realm of eSports, but today’s Grand Prix of San Marino was honestly brutal.

The massive sponsor banners were far too intrusive for what little purpose they served. The race itself needed to be restarted three times because the best sim racers in Europe could not drive straight for more than a hundred feet without wrecking. One guy walked away from the rest of the pack and nearly lapped the whole field. The commentary duo had to explain on several occasions that shortcomings of Assetto Corsa didn’t let them present the race in a manner that would be appealing to viewers, despite the website giving a glowing score of 90 to the PC version of Assetto Corsa. Technical issues created major delays in programming, with the longest reaching an elapsed time of almost thirty minutes, on top of several smaller breaks with excruciatingly long advertisements that simply weren’t justified given the audience of around five hundred at its absolute peak. Does this sound like something a vast array of gamers would willingly watch in their free time? Of course not.

We’re running out of attempts to get these endeavors right, as companies like nVidia, Thrustmaster, Visa, Peak Anti-Freeze, and Sparco aren’t going to stick around for long if they continue to throw a whole bunch of money at people to organize this stuff, only for the result to be so underwhelming and downright boring.

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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.

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.