The Return of GT Legends

The best kept secret in sim racing has finally been let out of the bag, as Tiny Feet Studios have announced through RaceDepartment that the brand new developer team is working on a spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed historic touring car racing sim GT Legends. The project will spearheaded by ex-Sector 3 Studios staff member Simon Lundell, who left the Swedish developer during their bankruptcy/restructuring process in 2014.

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Released in 2006 and powered by the trusty isiMotor technology that provides a solid foundation for many modern racing sims to this day, the original GT Legends by Blimey! Games was a hardcore PC racing sim based on the modern-day FIA historic touring car series, one which features restored cars from the 1960’s and 1970’s on prominent European auto racing facilities. Judging by recent photographs from the 2015 season, several cars available in GT Legends are still actively taking part in these nostalgia festivals – even being driven by some of the same pilots on the GT Legends roster.

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GT Legends as a game renewed the interest of many sim racers in historic auto racing, as the incredibly steep learning curve featured in the fabled Grand Prix Legends by Papyrus was nowhere to be found. With relatively little power and excessive weight, driving competitive laps in GT Legends brought the joys of hobbyist racing to personal computers – something the Papyrus sim failed to accomplish due to the dangerous and unpredictable nature of 1960’s Formula One entries. Though the online netcode and server browser left much to be desired, many sim racers who were around this hobby a decade ago fondly remember their time spent with GT Legends, so there is an understandable amount of hype in regards to a sequel – even if it’s made by someone else.

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As is the norm here on PRC.net, anytime there’s some information reveal about an upcoming game, it’s our job to point out the potential dangers of becoming too emotionally invested into a product prior to the game’s release. So let’s analyze some of the early details and speculation regarding this newly-announced title and see what we can find. Already, I think there’s a few things we should talk about.

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It’s another isiMotor game. The chances of a brand new developer team showing up with a completely new game engine are slim to none. Realistically, we’re looking at another retail racing sim powered by what’s essentially rFactor. And some people, myself included, are going to be okay with this. Look, I can get rFactor to a point where I’m satisfied with what it does for me as a racing sim, and Reiza Studios have done a wonderful job combining all of the great community plug-ins into Stock Car Extreme, but not everybody wants to “downgrade” and keep playing rFactor. There are a group of sim racers – some of my friends fall into this category as well – who basically won’t touch anything powered by isiMotor technology because it physically feels like traveling back in time to 2008. And I understand their plight. If you pulled me aside in middle school and told me that I’d still be playing rFactor by the time I was 23 and had a full-time job, I’d ask what the fuck is going to happen to sim racing. Then I’d probably get grounded for swearing. The point is, we’re looking at a scenario where a game released in the summer months of 2017 feels more than a decade old the minute you boot up the .EXE for the first time. It’s not something we can really do much about, but that’s where we’re at in sim racing right now.

Tiny Feet Studios looking to the community for feedback may cause problems. I think any developer who subjects themselves to what the sim racing community collectively have to say about their product deserve a round of applause, but so far nobody has actually maintained this kind of relationship without causing major problems in the sim racing community. Slightly Mad Studios essentially paid thousands of blind sheep to shit up sim racing forums far and wide while praising the gospel of Project CARS – only for the game to come out an incomplete, buggy mess. Kunos Simulazioni routinely invite prolific forum posters into their beta program, users who then run around and verbally attack other forum users who rightfully criticize Assetto Corsa. The last thing anybody wants is for a huge flock of GT Legends 2 fanboys to claim that this release will revolutionize the sim racing world and degrade anyone who dares to compare it to Automobilista or Stock Car Extreme, only for it to launch in a year and have something like 73 people playing it simultaneously.

Speaking of atrocious player counts, despite the overwhelmingly positive support for a GT Legends successor as seen on places like Reddit, VirtualR, NoGripRacing, and RaceDepartment, no hard data indicates this will even resonate among pretty much anybody. The physical copy of GT Legends shipped with something called Starforce; software drivers used by many different developers in an effort to combat widespread piracy plaguing the PC gaming world at the time. On newer operating systems, installing a program featuring Starforce actually corrupts your Windows install and forces you to perform a lengthy system restore. I learned this the hard way with ToCA Race Driver 3.

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Others have dealt with this when trying to play GT Legends.

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The only workaround to combat this crippling issue was for people to register their GT Legends CD Key with Steam, and download an updated copy of the game sans-Starforce through Steam.

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Essentially, everyone who owns and is still interested in playing GT Legends on their current setup has registered their copy of the game with Steam – meaning they’ve been tracked by programs such as Steam Charts whether they like it or not. They didn’t really have a choice with this. Also, those who didn’t own the title previously yet were still interested in the hype surrounding the Blimey! Games release had several opportunities to buy the sim at a discounted price.

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GT Legends is almost always on sale, included in several affordable driving game bundles, and generally a low-risk purchase.

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Yet if we head over to SteamCharts and check out how this game has been doing in terms of popularity, more people have upvoted the announcement of GT Legends 2 on Reddit than have played the game simultaneously over the past four years.

steamcharts.jpgLastly, let’s move on from popularity and talk about licensing. GT Legends featured several iconic racing cars from both Ferrari and Porsche, one of which is currently under an exclusivity deal, and another which demands high prices and very specific car performance adjustments. Even the mighty Turn 10 studios, creators of the highly successful Forza Motorsport franchise, are forced to wait a year and instead release hefty Porsche Expansion Packs for their titles on Microsoft’s line of home video game consoles. In this environment, sim racers have every right to ask what’s going to happen to the admittedly small developer team of Tiny Feet Studios. You can’t just not include one of the most successful sports cars of all time, the Porsche 911, in a game centered around historic sports car and touring car racing. If modders are forced to fill out the gaps, you’ll run into a situation where people will soon start to say things like “why pay for this game when HistorX or Power & Glory are both free and feature more content?” As many more brands start to¬† play hardball with sim racing developers, a relatively patchy car list will be more than just noticed by sim racers – it’ll be detrimental to the overall game.

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It’ll be a while until we see any kind of media regarding the GT Legends sequel, but those are some things to keep in mind as the hype train leaves the station.

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