Vomit Comet

dc-vrThis is how the general public will be introduced to virtual reality in racing games. The folks at Digital Spy have gotten their hands on the Virtual Reality-only re-release of DriveClub for the PlayStation 4 – taking advantage of the brand new PSVR headset – and dear God has the entire thing blown up in the face of Sony Entertainment and the group formerly known as Evolution Studios. It’s one thing to enable virtual reality support in a niche PC racing simulator, to be used only by hardcore sim racers who have adequately prepared their systems for the massive performance requirements, yet it’s a completely different ballgame to try and make this peripheral compatible with a console whose performance specifications simply aren’t quite there yet.

DriveClub VR, at least according to Digital Spy, is a mammoth disappointment. Not only does the game suffer from numerous technical issues, playing the game for any length of time physically makes you sick. Oops.

2680482-hdpvr2_20141005_212435The story behind DriveClub doesn’t exactly establish this casual-oriented racing game as a system-seller to begin with. Originally created by Evolution Studios (of Motorstorm fame), the arcade racer was a re-imagining of the Project Gotham Racing series, with Evolution actually welcoming aboard a handful of former Bizarre Creations employees for the PlayStation 4 launch title. DriveClub suffered numerous delays before eventually being pushed on the public in an unfinished state, resulting in rather justified atrocious initial reception. To their credit, Evolution indeed busted their asses to continuously update the game after release and bring it in line with their initial vision, but despite genuinely improving the product in the eyes of dedicated DriveClub fans, Evolution Studios were closed within the past year; the team absolved by rival racing game developer Codemasters.

So before PlayStation VR was even on the horizon, DriveClub had basically been written off as a completely average driving game with no captivating elements by the masses – unlike it’s older step brother Project Gotham Racing. Sony Entertainment believed this was the perfect candidate for a Virtual Reality launch title.

The Digital Spy review draws attention to two key problems plaguing DriveClub VR, and it’s almost hilarious to see how many poor decisions were made when creating this game for the VR sub-platform.

First, the game looks like garbage, and runs poorly. Satisfactory performance is a huge factor in determining how long you can keep the headset on without needing a break, and instead Digital Spy notes that several staff members who were involved with evaluating the game threw the fuck up during their trials. I mentioned when I tried the Oculus Rift DK2 that your head feels a bit funny at firstyet you can eventually get used to it after warming up to the sensations – but DriveClub VR was actually making people sick. That’s not cool. Nobody is going to buy a game that makes them run to the washroom after a few laps.

Second, the vanilla DriveClub release, and DriveClub VR, are not associated with one other. They are two separate games, though owners of the DriveClub Season pass DLC can purchase the VR title at a discount. Not only is this a ridiculous rip-off, there is allegedly no way to transfer your progress from the original game into the VR re-release. You’re forced to start from scratch – a major problem considering how big of a game DriveClub has turned out to be after all the post-release additions.

These two factors add up to a game that is simply not worth your time, and that’s a pretty big problem when trying to push a revolutionary piece of new hardware on potential customers. When I got the chance to try the Oculus Rift DK2 many moons ago, I noted that the experience itself wasn’t bad, but there are an abundance of hurdles for developers to overcome. Unfortunately, Sony Entertainment have simply not managed to prepare the hardware for large-scale consumption upon release.

 

Another Day, Another Delusional Developer

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Our final entry over the weekend here at PRC.net was a Reader Submission focusing on the Italian developer Milestone exhibiting a complete detachment from reality – a team of over 100 employees claimed RIDE (2015) was a critical and commercial success despite scathing reviews from around both the industry and the community. As a response to the submission, I also included examples of two other sim racing developers who blatantly refused to believe their products had nagging issues, individuals who literally stick their fingers in their ears and invent their own story to satisfy their fragile egos. Today, we can add another developer to the list of delusional entities – Codemasters.

If you haven’t caught the announcement by now over at any one of the different mainstream sim racing publications, Codemasters have straight up hired the entire staff of Evolution Studios. The team that brought you WRC: Rally Evolved, Motorstorm, and DriveClub will now be flying under the Codemasters banner, and as a result the next few Codemasters releases will feature an added level of depth thanks to the studio effectively doubling in size. The Codemasters press release published earlier today on their official blog obviously tries to portray the potential of a bright and prosperous future, but it wasn’t long before the same old bullshit set in:

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Codemasters CEO Frank Sagnier claims Formula One 2015 was a successful title which allowed them to expand the company. This could not be further from the truth. Blasted by casual Grand Prix fans and hardcore sim racers alike, F1 2015 was the worst of Codemasters’ Formula One efforts by a significant margin – shipping with an insane amount of yet-to-be rectified technical issues that warranted a current user score of 3.7 over on Metacritic (the picture below was taken in October of 2015).

F1 2015

I’ll honestly just ask the same question I did over the weekend in regards to Milestone: On what planet is a title like this considered a success?

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The most refunded Codemasters title ever to be released on Steam is deemed a success by the company’s CEO. This is how detached software companies have become from their products – they’re substituting reality with their own delusions of grandeur. But we’re not done yet, as the press release then goes on to praise Evolution Studios for their previous work, basically writing that the new supergroup of developers will go on to make fantastic products:

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A monumentally talented group of people, eh? Then why, if I search up news articles about DriveClub – the last release by Evolution Studios – are gaming sites blasting the title?

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Let’s sit and organize the things said about DriveClub in the above article in an easy-to-read list, because maybe the pretty picture of the Koenigsegg distracted a few people:

  • The PlayStation 4’s biggest embarrassment.
  • [Reflects] badly on the PlayStation 4
  • A Jumble of Broken Promises
  • Unfinished Features
  • Broken Features
  • Mediocre Gameplay
  • Failed Online Experiment
  • Ambition has [gotten] way out of hand

Alright, so not only does the CEO of Codemasters claim their worst fully-priced retail release of all time was a success, the blog entry tries to generate excitement over the fact that all employees from a company who’s last game was described as “The PlayStation 4’s biggest embarrassment” have now joined the crew – and this will somehow serve to benefit the company in the future. How can anyone hit the Publish button on something so ridiculous? You know, maybe if Formula One 2015’s only flaw was the lack of a career mode, and DriveClub wasn’t described everywhere as a “failed online experiment”, I’d at least give Codemasters the benefit of the doubt – but this is going into an entirely new territory. Aside from DiRT Rallywhich was admittedly really fucking good – you have two companies figuratively shitting out games and pretending like joining forces is somehow a good thing.

Now I’ll take things a step further and churn out a portion of a press release much more grounded in reality – because pretending you didn’t ship multiple trainwrecks during the 2014 and 2015 calendar years is really fucking stupid:

We here at Codemasters have taken note of the situation surrounding former employees at Evolution Studios, and have made the decision to welcome the entire team to the greater Codemasters family. Evolution Studios have spent multiple Sony console generations dedicated to producing a variety of mass-market auto racing titles, and we are excited at the potential this new opportunity brings us into 2016 and beyond. The increased size of the new and improved Codemasters team will allow us to embark on large-scale projects we could once only dream of, ideally serving to re-capture some of the classic Codemasters magic of the late 1990’s.

Was that so hard? No false promises, no fictional interpretations of reality, just a reasonable announcement that doesn’t set any unrealistic expectations other than “our games will hopefully get better with more manpower behind us.” Flesh this general babble out into a few more paragraphs, and you have a very down-to-earth announcement. I don’t see why this approach was neglected in favor of outright boasting about positive reception that basically didn’t exist.

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