How to Clean Up Dried Piss (And Other Shit Sim Racers Say)

rfactor-2017-01-21-14-22-01-88With sim racing regressing into a state of general obscurity, and the majority of developers within this hobby churning out half-finished titles primarily intended for hardcore users, which lack any sort of elaborate financial backing to ensure they can bring a feature complete game to the market, one aspect of simulators that we’ve been missing for quite some time would be basic tutorials. Without naming any title in particular – because they’re all equally guilty of this – the process of sitting down for a rainy afternoon with a friend or family member and introducing them to the world of racing simulators is an uphill battle. They hit the track without a clue in the world as to what they’re doing, spin out a bunch of times, and both of you just sort of hope that eventually, they’ll figure it out. It’s not user friendly in the slightest.

Things used to be different, very different. SimBin’s GTR 2, released in 2006, shipped with a comprehensive driving school feature that taught you the basics of driving in a competitive environment with a license test system similar to what you’d find in Gran Turismo, and Papyrus were known for packaging entire novels with their officially licensed NASCAR series – including a 245-page whopper of a guide bundled with NASCAR Racing 3 back in 1999. Both GTR 2’s academy mode, as well as the lengthy bibles sent out by Papyrus, were fantastic ways to accommodate new players and veterans alike. You could take the NASCAR Racing 3 manual to the shitter after a bad order of Chinese food, and come out with a preliminary understanding of how to drive a stock car at each of the game’s thirty plus tracks. GTR 2’s school also demonstrated that driving high performance race cars wasn’t some black magic for a very specific group of people who were graced with the talent to do so at birth, but a skill that could be learned and refined by just about anyone who took the time to learn it and practice, like ice skating or snowboarding.

In short, this stuff made the newbies say “I understand what this is about, and I get it.” And that’s infinitely important in a genre of video games where no attempts are made to hold your hand whatsoever. There is no “Skip Mission” button to bail you out after you’ve hit a concrete wall fifty times in a row. If you don’t improve, you’re going to keep hitting that wall.

These guides gave you the tools necessary to improve, and actually enjoy the otherwise niche pieces of software.

bhktrkcSim racing developers have straight up stopped doing this. The same software creators who sit around for months on end, questioning why sim racing isn’t growing in popularity compared to other eSports, are doing precisely nothing to help new users who have purchased a modern simulator purely out of curiosity. When you boot up Assetto Corsa, Project CARS, RaceRoom Racing Experience, Automobilista, or rFactor 2, there is absolutely nothing to even point you in the right direction. Though they’re advertised in a flashy manner on Steam, with fancy artistic trailers showcasing all of the cars and tracks at your disposal, once you’re physically in the application, you’re expected to know what you’re doing. If you don’t, you’re left to your own devices to figure it out on your own.

In a quest to simply understand more about the games they’re playing, this is the point where most people take to either the game’s official message boards – or Reddit given its overall simplicity.  And this is where the majority of these curious users learn a very harsh reality: the sim racing community by and large is completely retarded, and most people have no fucking idea what they’re talking about to begin with. I don’t want to throw around words like misinformation or disinformation, but often times it feels like you’re in a beer league hockey locker room,  listening to a guy who hasn’t scored a goal in two months blame both his stick and pair of skates for his horrible shot accuracy.

If you’re new to the whole ecocystem, you won’t even know how or when to spot this stuff. And regardless of whether it’s a setup tip, feedback on a game that just came out, or hardware advice, getting shitty advice sucks. It helps to know when to spot it.

15936334_10155649921909951_6569696189209350299_oA lot of people claim you can outright avoid the toxicity and general stupidity of the sim racing community altogether, but as I mentioned above, none of these games feature any sort of tutorial mode or guide on how to be successful within them. At some point, unless you truly don’t give a fuck and are perfectly content with smashing into walls and calling it “racing”, you’re pretty much forced to head to any one of the several major sim racing forums – exposing yourself to some of the dumbest motherfuckers on the internet – just to have your question answered.

Today’s article features a collection of six different comments I’ve clipped from various sim racing forums that showcase how misinformed, contradictory, or downright retarded the general community can be, and why it’s increasingly hard to trust much of anything you read on any major message board. Sim racing veterans obviously know when someone’s being a complete retard and has no idea what they’re talking about, but we here at also have a lot of inexperienced readers who genuinely don’t know how to spot someone who’s totally clueless. This one’s for the latter group.

16215892_380735045629219_205047514_nPlease Don’t Piss Yourself During Endurance Races

Thought it wasn’t without a vast array of connection issues that ruined the experience for a whole bunch of people, iRacing wrapped up their 24 Hours of Daytona special event on Saturday evening. I’m sure I don’t have to explain this one in extremely simple terms, but yes, technology has advanced to the point where modern racing simulators can hold full-length endurance races, complete with legitimate driver swaps that see multiple sim racers piloting the same car over the course of 24 hours. It’s a fun diversion from the usual smorgasbord of events featured on iRacing; guys all hop on Teamspeak together, and drive in shifts of anywhere from two to eight hours at a time before pulling it into the pits and giving the keys to a buddy of theirs – just like real endurance racing.

Because endurance racing stints are measured in multiple hour segments, some guys get really creative and/or resourceful when nature calls. Though the jury’s still out on whether the above forum post is either the best satire we’ve ever seen, or one hundred percent truthful, don’t piss yourself for a video game. You’re not a real race car driver risking it all to win, and there’s no six figure payday from a team owner like Roger Penske or Chip Ganassi to cushion the embarrassment of pissing your fucking pants.

00f6ceea43cadf02724108b755d78918Ditto for piss jugs. Be a normal person and run to the washroom the moment you slide into your pit stall for a routine four tire stop. Real endurance drivers don’t even piss themselves , as aside from the obvious hygiene problems that are sure to arise from sitting in your own boiling urine, it’s disrespectful to both the next driver who has to sit in the cockpit, as well as the crew who have to take it back to the shop and rip the car apart.

Goddamn, why did I even have to talk about this in the first place? What grown man needs piss jugs to play iRacing?

screenshot_2017-01-18-06-14-27-1Max Verstappen is a Loser

This one comes from the largest sim racing group on Facebook; an outlet most people on the outset would believe to be a fantastic resource for information on our little hobby – a place to go if they had a question about something they didn’t quite understand. Somebody took a picture of Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen, the youngest Grand Prix winner in Formula One history, playing around with Project CARS on his personal PC setup in his spare time, just to show that “hey, these guys in Formula One, they nerd out just like we do, and that’s pretty cool.” In all fairness, it
pretty cool; Formula One drivers are some of the richest professional athletes on the planet, and here they are partaking in our little hobby rather than attending private parties and fucking members of the Pussycat Dolls.

Rather than discuss the fact that a Formula One phenom is a closet computer geek like the lot of us, members of the biggest sim racing community on the world’s largest social media platform instead attacked one of the best professional race car drivers on the planet under the age of twenty five years old, simply for playing a game they didn’t approve of. They then claimed that Formula One teams should be looking at the sim racing community for future F1 drivers, because Verstappen has no idea what he’s doing when it comes to computer games.

If this “warm and welcoming community” will attack professional drivers for merely playing a game they don’t approve of, and then aggressively demand multi-million dollar Formula One teams should offer F1 driving contracts to random computer geeks instead, how do you think they’ll respond to an average Joe asking a question about a computer game the community isn’t fond of?

screenshot_2017-01-17-09-13-00-1Paying Top Dollar for a Sub-Par Simulator

Let’s get the fancy introduction out of the way; iRacing is an online-only racing simulator which charges several times what other modern video games cost, by convincing both current and potential customers no other simulator on the market is more realistic than the experience iRacing offers. You’ll see words like “laser-scanned” thrown around to describe the accuracy of cars and tracks, while terms like “new tire model” and “new surface model” convey the years of research iRacing have put into mere portions of the game’s underlying physics model. Yes, you’re paying $99 per year for a base subscription, as well as $15 for each piece of content – leading to a situation where it’s easy to spend over $750 USD just to test out everything iRacing has to offer – but it’s supposedly going towards an experience that is miles beyond any other simulator you can purchase.

Or so the marketing campaign tells you.

Above, we can see a user stating that iRacing botched an update so badly, drivers were having to use the brakes during a virtual rendition of the Daytona 500. Daytona International Speedway is a NASCAR track where brakes are not required, and all cars are required to install a restrictor plate that’s mandated by NASCAR themselves, which helps to keep top speeds within a safe range. A piece of software hailed as the pinnacle of modern racing simulator development straight up failed at reproducing this on-track experience despite charging a premium, employing a former engineer at Richard Petty Motorsports as their head physics guy, and being on the market since 2009.

A moderator of the iRacing section on Reddit – someone in charge of removing disruptive posts – can be seen stating how much he enjoyed what was in reality a very broken game, and basically playing off an obvious problem with the simulator as no big deal. People spending top dollar on the supposed pinnacle of realistic racing games, don’t even give a shit if the product is as advertised. Do you think these people are going to help you if you run across a genuine problem and point it out in the forums?

Probably not.

screenshot_2017-01-17-10-12-55-1Realism Doesn’t Concern Me

As you can see in the example I gave above with Max Verstappen, the sim racing community will stop at nothing to attack you if you aren’t seen playing a simulator the majority of virtual automotive enthusiasts have deemed “realistic.” Fans of Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport, and Project CARS have all received a public lashing for supporting “arcade games”, as the whole point of the sim racing sub-genre is to accurately produce a driving experience on your computer monitor that’s as close to the real thing as possible. Games such as Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo, who place emphasis on amassing a collection of cars and upgrading them with flashy paint jobs and aftermarket performance parts, supposedly don’t aim to produce an authentic driving experience, though no hard studies have ever been done by members of the community to put this myth to rest.

Yet in a discussion on Reddit centering around a poorly constructed 2004 Williams FW26 Formula One entry for rFactor 2 – which saw the virtual version created by members of the community produce lap times eight seconds faster than the real thing one user can be seen stating he doesn’t actually care if a vehicle in a simulator fails to perform like its real-world counterpart. Several different developers have spent their entire professional lives in the pursuit of creating a piece of software that absolutely nails the behavior of one specific race car down to the exact shift points, tire life, and, subtle suspension nuances of the real thing, and yet the consumers buying said pieces of software are openly stating the accuracy certain developers are striving to achieve with their software doesn’t concern them in the slightest.

All while calling the youngest Formula One winner in history a loser for playing a game they’ve deemed to be unrealistic.

received_10206657853365499You Have No Right to Select Your Car!

A poor business decision in hindsight, Kunos Simulazioni ported over their most recent consumer release, Assetto Corsa, to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the summer of 2016. The simulator was universally panned by critics and fans alike – save for a suspicious group of Italian gaming journalists that just happened to attend a private launch party  held by the developers – for failing to include basic features seen in other games from fifteen or even twenty years ago. There were no time trial leaderboards in sight, no options to re-map the buttons on your wheel, and no functionality to create online races for just you and your friends. A lot of people were justifiably upset, because most racing games dating back to the days of Windows 98 let you select whatever car you wanted to when racing against your friends.

This meant that whenever they felt like racing online, console owners of Assetto Corsa were forced to select from a preset list of servers created by the developers themselves, and not all cars or tracks available in the game were thrown into the server rotation. Obviously, this caused some problems, as marquee supercars that a whole bunch of people wanted to race against each other and were seen as reasons to purchase Assetto Corsa in the first place – such as the Ferrari F40 – were nowhere to be found within the game’s online mode.

Upon a group of users rightfully complaining, an Assetto Corsa forum member by the name of Gary claimed people who had purchased Assetto Corsa had no right to demand the ability to select the exact car they wanted to race against their friends. Or, to quote him directly, “owning a copy of Assetto Corsa does not give you the right to decide which cars are available online.” In other words, a random consumer is literally bitching at other community members who are making justified complaints, and trying to make the argument that consumers are not allowed to suggest reasonable improvements to a product.

All because people questioned why a video game in 2017 wouldn’t allow them race the Ferrari F40 against their friends, when it was available in other modes, and it was the incompetence of a developer preventing it from being used – not  a complicated licensing agreement restricting it’s activity.

tiresStraight Up Lying About an Incomplete Feature

Released in the spring of 2015 by Slightly Mad Studios, Project CARS was the first racing simulator to be funded primarily through private individuals. You essentially had the option of paying various amounts to become a beta tester of varying importance, and upon the game’s completion, you would be paid out based on how well the game sold – an advanced form of profit sharing. Though some individuals were dedicated to helping shape the game into the exact experience they desired, most ran around to as many sim racing message boards as they could find in an effort to talk up Project CARS, which would generate more sales, and therefore a bigger return on their original investment. In reality, for a period of years while the game was still in development, these people would create fake accounts on various message boards en mass, and attack anyone who didn’t have positive things to say about Project CARS for one reason or another.

I’ve demonstrated a pretty clear example of this above. On Reddit, I mentioned that the game’s tire model was incomplete, and Slightly Mad Studios were forced to reduce the complexity of the driving experience to appeal to a mass-market audience – significantly reducing the game’s overall simulation value and directly contradicting the team’s goal in creating Project CARS, which was to produce a no-nonsense modern racing simulator. Within ten minutes of me submitting my post, a user who by his own admission had financially contributed to the development of Project CARS, appeared to tell me I was wrong, the team was actually satisfied with the tire model, and no effort was made to appeal to a casual audience whatsoever.

The CEO of Slightly Mad Studios, Ian Bell, personally confirmed to us via Facebook that the team were indeed forced to inject blatant understeer issues into the core driving experience for Project CARS, primarily so a casual audience could enjoy playing it with a standard Xbox One or PlayStation 4 controller.

With 35,000 hardcore sim racers contributing to the development of Project CARS, how widespread do you think this problem of financial contributors outright lying about the product is? And if you were new to the sim racing community at the time, would you even know about this bias to begin with?

ams-2016-12-11-15-10-16-05The underlying point I’m trying to make with the six examples seen above, is that there’s a lot of misinformation within the sim racing community, and if you head to any populated message board with a simple question – whether it be about hardware or software – very rarely will you encounter an individual who can genuinely help you.

There are people acting like it’s okay to piss your pants during a race in a video game, financial contributors outright lying about their investment even when the CEO of the company says otherwise, users telling you that you have no right to select the car you want to drive for an online session, community members calling Formula One drivers losers for playing “the wrong game”, and so-called “hardcore simulator enthusiasts” saying they don’t actually care about the whole simulator part.

The best way to protect yourself against misinformation, is to explore the community for a bit, and learn who everyone is before diving head-first into discussion. Rather than take the diplomatic approach and accept advice from everybody, it’s important to swallow a bitter truth and realize not everyone has advice or feedback worth listening to.

Of course, this problem would be solved if our games had tutorials or strategy guides like they did ten years ago, but that’s apparently too much to ask in 2017. Hell, maybe someone will show up in our comments section and tell me I have no right to demand a better product in the first place.

How Far Delusion Takes You

13873169_934434709998557_5714062328692588093_nLooking back, I think my favorite memory of the Modern Warfare craze that was unleashed upon the gaming world about a decade ago was sitting down with my high school friends, and banging out lengthy legal documents over a late-night Pizza 73 order to determine ownership of our online clan. We had to enlist the help of several lawyers – paid for via paper routes and part-time babysitting jobs – to determine how our Hardcore Team Deathmatch squad would function outside of the Xbox Live servers, and it was a true test of both our friendship and our managerial skills when one of our best players was placed on house arrest after his role in a violent home invasion. The four letters next to our names in each Call of Duty lobby were not just a tag to indicate our group was a bunch of try-hards hoping to become professional CoD players and skip the grind of minimum wage jobs after graduating; we were a legitimate business – and we had the paperwork to back it up.

Sound like complete bullshit?

That’s because it is – well, aside from Greg’s shenanigans in Montana. During my time spent mucking around on GameBattles back in the days of friendly helicopters and glitching outside the map for easy kills, not one team we ever ran across treated an online video game as a legitimate business. As if divine intervention finally allowed us to play Cowboys and Indians with an unlimited supply of opponents, Call of Duty pitted your squad of dweeby teenagers jacked up on Monster against an equally dweeby set of kids from Kansas City. Or Davenport. Or Cleveland. And it was beautiful. Despite the allure of a mammoth payday for the top clans on the service, and the promises of getting flown out to highly lucrative tournaments offering more money than weekly shifts at Taco Bell would ever throw at you, the competitive Call of Duty scene during the height of its popularity in early 2008 still understood that at the end of the day, it was just some shitty modern military shooter where the spawns were fucked, and killstreaks sealed a victory.

Yes, there were Xbox Live party chat tantrums, clans fracturing at the center, and anally devastated campers protesting the results of a fair match in which you utterly dominated their group from start to finish, but nobody was throwing nine page ownership documents at you, just for saying “bro, we should start a clan on GameBattles.”

cap-1Operating under the name of NoXQses Racing, John Hammer’s squad of virtual drivers within the iRacing online service compete primarily within two of the several generic stock car championships found within the regular roster of events, open to any iRacer with the appropriate license rating. There are no cash prizes for capturing the overall championship in either the Class A Open series, nor the NASCAR iRacing Series, yet this has not stopped Hammer from supposedly registering his pretend racing team as a legitimate business in the state of Utah, and throwing lengthy legal documents at his “co-owners.”

Unlike the NASCAR Peak Anti-Freeze Series, which offers a $10,000 cash prize and a free trip to Homestead-Miami Speedway to the series champion – broadcasting each round of the season live on – the Class A Championship is part of iRacing’s regular rotation of events for members to partake in. The NASCAR iRacing Series turns the hardcore dial up to eleven – offering full length online events mirroring the real live NASCAR Monster Energy Series schedule – but again, these events do not pay or produce any sort of incentive to participate in them. They are no different in stature than booting up Call of Duty and jumping into a round of Hardcore Search & Destroy. It’s just sort of there for people who are tired of iRacing pandering to the casual audience and slowly reducing the length of other popular series on the service.

Yet somehow, this warrants a nine-page team ownership document. As someone who actually understands how the whole iRacing ecosystem works, the NASCAR iRacing Series championship is one hundred percent meaningless. It’s basically the iRacing staff saying “on the Friday evening before each real life Monster Cup race, we’ll have our own full-length race for you guys to participate in.” The Class A Open setup championship on the other hand does indicate who can enter the iRacing Pro Series – a feeder series for the massive Peak championship iRacing constantly advertise through their social media – but some of the drivers for NXQ don’t even posses a high enough iRating to find themselves in the highest split of each event, making it virtually impossible to compete for a title given how iRacing awards more points to those in the highest split of the event.

Just looking at some of the results on their website, these guys clearly don’t have a shot at any of iRacing’s premiere leagues – in some cases, they’re actually getting beaten by sim racers using a setup downloaded off the forums and having a wank under caution. For NXQ to run around behind the scenes and throw all sorts of silly legal documents at people merely frequenting the same Teamspeak as them, it’s as if your buddy went out and got a professional photographer to shoot his beer league softball team in action. These guys have totally lost the plot.

cap-2But it just goes to show the kinds of people currently on the iRacing service, and how the sim racing community has drastically changed over the years – creating a climate where delusional behavior is almost encouraged rather than squashed. Look man, I love my video games. I enjoy the process of creating a car, developing setups with my bros, and all joining some kind of private league together, because top level sim racing can be really fun if everyone’s in a similar state of mind. You forget about a good Call of Duty match five minutes after the time limit has expired, but a solid league race stays with you for a few days, and there’s nothing wrong about diving head first into the positive vibes sim racing can produce.

This, however, is absolutely absurd. Here you have a team that’s not even competing for cash prizes – just entering the standard set of races available on the service – and they’re throwing these bizarre PDF’s at people just to take partial ownership of a pretend racing team. This is like, actually nuts. I don’t even take my own goddamn website seriously despite all of the shit we’ve accomplished in roughly two years of operation, and here you have the absolute definition of random iRacers trying to run their Teamspeak group as some sort of registered professional eSport operation – despite the rest of their competition basically showing up to races with a bag of Doritos and some tissues next to the toy steering wheel.

cap-3Now some of you are probably thinking there’s like a team creation element to iRacing, where you have to pay extra to establish a new team on the service, and subject yourself to a monthly fee just to keep it operational – which would somewhat justify the legal babble you see inserted into this article. You don’t. It’s literally a process off filling out a bunch of name fields, and then inviting your friends. It’s a bit flashier than the same concept was back in the days of IndyCar Racing II, but the premise has remained effectively unchanged since 1996. Fill out the field indicating your team name, and congratulations, you’re a team!

Does the above video look like it warrants a nine page legal document? Of course not. And it never has. If you’re just getting into the world of sim racing, and a couple people have invited you to join their crew or start an online racing team – only to throw ridiculous PDF files at you – run the other way. This isn’t what sim racing is about. These people have lost it. There is simply no reason you should ever be required to sign one of these when taking your online league participation endeavors to the next level. At the end of the day, you’re playing an online video game with slightly more realistic physics than Gran Turismo, not some sort of officially sanctioned world where each virtual racing clan has a legal consultant on standby.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just created a team in IndyCar Racing II, and have to ring up my lawyer.


Get That Arcade Shit Out of Here

screenshot_2017-01-12-08-29-45-1What you’re looking at above is the ultimate display in sim racing elitism. As of today, Facebook’s largest group for discussing our little hobby – over 7,500 users strong – have voted to ban all discussion of both the Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo series, with users who create posts featuring either of the two titles in the future to have their submissions removed at once, and potentially banned from the group altogether after repeated infractions. The latest in a string of incidents which prominently showcase how toxic our community can be to those who refuse to blindly worship obscure PC simulators and broaden their horizons with software constructed for mass market appeal, a survey completed by just 1% of the Facebook group has effectively told a significant portion of our hobby that two perfectly competent simulators are taboo topics because they’re too successful.

Or something.

Earlier this week, I published an article stating I believed the downfall of sim racing was due to iRacing convincing the community that the hobby should be treated as an exclusive online country club rather than a $60 video game, and it appears some of my sentiments are being reflected in how these online groups are being moderated. I feel this is complete bullshit for the community to act in this manner. Both Forza Motorsport 6, as well as Gran Turismo 6, are virtually no more or less hardcore than titles such as Project CARS, Assetto Corsa, and iRacing; refusing to even acknowledge their existence or label them as “arcade games” is pretty hilarious when you actually pick apart the technical aspects of each console release.

Gran Turismo 6

Let’s start with Gran Turismo 6, because I really want to ruffle some feathers off the bat in this post. While many sim racers got their first real taste of the racing simulator genre with the third and fourth entries in the series on the PlayStation 2 before moving onto the Windows gaming platform, Gran Turismo 6 enters the ring as Polyphony’s flagship modern simulator.

The Gran Turismo series, dating all the way back to its inception on Sony’s original PlayStation, has been all about car collecting and JRPG-style grinding, with the core driving experience taking a back seat to garage management and progression elements. Aside from the endurance championships near the end of each game, most races are three lap sprints against an underwhelming artificial intelligence, which are placed well ahead of your starting position to generate a challenge that otherwise wouldn’t be there on a proper starting grid, so it’s certainly not an authentic Le Mans Prototype experience until the final portions of Career mode – and that’ll indeed make some believe it’s an arcade racer.

But there are ways to turn Gran Turismo 6 into something significantly more recognizable as a hardcore sim nerd. Each vehicle in the game comes with tires that are simply too sticky to be realistic, and Polyphony automatically enable most of the driving assists by default – meaning the Gran Turismo 6 most of you have played out of the box is vastly different than a hardcore sim racer’s custom GT6 profile. Taking thirty seconds out of your day to configure your steering wheel, turn off the numerous driving aids, and equip a harder tire compound than the car’s default, Gran Turismo 6 produces a driving experience on-par with most PC simulators. Lap times at Brands Hatch in the GT3 Spec BMW Z4 mirror what the rFactor 2 Endurance GT Payware mod cars are capable of, and the virtual recreations of locations such as Spa, the Nordschleife, and Laguna Seca are phenomenal.

gran-turismo-6-online-3-e1386199093439-638x360Yes, there is a problem with some of the car setup options in Gran Turismo 6 – running no camber at all generates an instant boost in speed when this would instead destroy your tires in real life. However, this exact same bug is present in Project CARS, a game which was financially aided by 35,000 hardcore sim racers. And though the single player events are designed to fuck with gamers via unfair AI head starts and bogus sprint races that almost never bring tire wear or fuel into account, the robust online functionality of the title offers hardcore sim racers the ability to conduct their own events, with proper practice & qualifying sessions, and a traditional rules package that can make use of standing or rolling starts upon the request of the user. Assetto Corsa, on the other hand, currently does not allow PS4 or Xbox One owners to host their own custom lobbies; they are at the mercy of whatever configurations Kunos Simulazioni have put into the dedicated server rotation.

Gran Turismo 6 has been deemed to be an arcade racer and not worthy of discussion by the same community who financially contributed to a different game exhibiting the exact same camber bug as Gran Turismo 6. This same group of people also neglect Gran Turismo 6 despite offering more functionality for hardcore sim racers than a game whose tagline is Your Racing Simulator.

v8supercarsford5falconfgwmforza6Moving on, let’s look at the other title wrongfully thrown under the bus, Forza Motorsport 6. The Forza Motorsport series originally launched in 2005 as Microsoft’s answer to Gran Turismo, but since it’s introduction to the scene a little over a decade ago, most people believe the Forza series has objectively become the better game. The car roster is a great deal more diverse than the fifty different Nissan Skylines and Mazda MX5’s taking up needless space in Gran Turismo, the livery customization elements, auction house, and setup building marketplace have added a virtual Barrett-Jackson element to complement the racing experience, and last but not least, there’s an enormous amount of shit to do in the game.

Like Gran Turismo, but directly addressing GT’s shortcomings, Forza Motorsport gives users several different ways to play through the game – though most of them are intended to appeal to a casual audience. Online races are short and sweet, perks or handicaps can be applied each race to exponentially increase your post race rewards, thus allowing you to accumulate a comprehensive collection of cars, and some of the engine swaps can get pretty absurd. It’s very easy for a hardcore sim racer to become turned off by the flashiness of Forza.

But it’s just as easy to ignore it all. Buried within the career mode are several Endurance racing events which can be entered with only light progression through the main experience – which most wise sim racers will partake in anyways to dial in their wheel settings and explore some of what Forza 6 has to offer. A pretty solid selection of multiple hour endurance races can be attempted using a vast array of modern racing machinery, with the game’s Free Race feature allowing you to configure your own races with virtually any piece of content in the game – which also pay out cash prizes and continue to your career progression. There is nothing stopping you from configuring a 14-lap race at the Nordschleife in any of the historic Formula One entries available in Forza Motorsport 6 to bring Grand Prix Legends into 2017, and if IndyCar is your thing, 50 laps at Long Beach may not be full race distance, but it’s more than enough.

forza-6-enduranceThe aforementioned perks and handicaps can be disabled entirely, and you can even select the number of mandatory pit stops for each race, generating a Forza Motorsport 6 experience decidedly different than the dudebro culture-infused mainstream gameplay you’ve probably seen demonstrated in various videos from annoying YouTube personalities.

Behind the wheel, it’s also not terrible to drive. A good friend of mine owns Forza 6, and I’ve logged many laps with his Logitech G920 exploring everything the game has to offer because that’s what you do on a Friday evening before raceday. Truthfully, it resembles how Assetto Corsa felt about a year ago. The cars are just a hair too planted in all situations, and though it’s something I can forgive considering the scope of Forza and how it’s intended primarily for mass-market appeal, I find it hilarious when Assetto Corsa owners knock Forza Motosrport 6 for somehow being “less serious” of a racing simulator – in this particular case, an arcade game. Forza, as it stands right this minute, drives how Assetto Corsa did on the PC in the spring of 2016. Unless you’re a phenomenally inexperienced driver who cannot possibly begin to diagnose car handling discrepancies, or just that ridiculously determined to become part of some exclusive PC sim racer club because you desperately need something to belong to, I’m a bit lost at how Forza Motorsport 6 is being labeled an arcade game when it feels roughly the same as Assetto Corsa once did.

Especially given some of the other bells and whistles found in Forza Motorsport 6. The Long Beach Street Circuit still hasn’t been completed for iRacing – instead being sold as an unfinished tech track with barely any scenery – and if you see it in YouTube videos by any chance, it’s a bit embarrassing. On the other hand, operating on inferior hardware compared to modern PC’s, the Xbox One version of Forza Motorsport 6 boasts a beautiful rendition of Long Beach, as well as the 2016 aero kits for the Dallara DW12, while iRacing still operates using an outdated 2012 model. Forza Motorsport 6 also includes in-game functionalities for livery and setup-sharing, whereas iRacing members are forced to download a third party program and manually browse the forums just for a whiff at custom content. And though the game does not ship with a safety car, caution flags which serve a purpose, or the ability to jump the start, the first two features are not functional in Assetto Corsa. Instead, owners of Forza Motorsport 6 get to play in the rain as compensation – a weather variant only found in rFactor 2 and Project CARS.

This somehow warrants Forza Motorsport 6 being labeled an “arcade game.”

maxresdefaultIn conclusion, it’s frustrating to see the elitists of the sim community deem perfectly decent alternatives to hardcore PC racing sims as arcade games that are against the rules to talk about in very large sim racing communities. Forza and Gran Turismo are solid titles, both of which I personally enjoy, and while I’ll obviously stick to my isiMotor stuff for competitive league racing, there’s nothing inherently wrong with what Forza or Gran Turismo bring to the genre. Both series make a genuine effort to accommodate the hardcore users alongside the casual audience, and it’s very bizarre to see sim racers outright ignore these elements.

Gran Turismo 6 has infinitely more online functionality than Assetto Corsa, generates the same lap times as rFactor 2, and exhibits the same bugs as Project CARS, yet Assetto Corsa is the game sim racers are masturbating over, Project CARS is the game they’re throwing money at to help develop, and rFactor 2 is what they’re shitposting about on every message board that hasn’t banned them for their viral marketing efforts, all while calling Gran Turismo an arcade game.

Forza Motorsport 6 admittedly does slightly more to cater to the casual players, but all of these little diversions to the core experience can be set to off, and you can still play Forza as a modern substitute for GTR 2 or Assetto Corsa – with plenty of hardcore endurance events to select from, as well as your own custom races even counting towards your profile’s overall progression. Yes, there are stupid perks, three lap sprints, prize wheels, and a whole bunch of assists enabled by default. You can scrap all of those and run three hundred laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway, or 50 laps at Road America if you’d like.

Yet nobody ever dares to mention any of this.

It’s as if I wasn’t kidding when I said sim racers want the genre to be an elite online club so they can finally feel like they belong to something, rather than a selection of driving games which require a slightly higher base level of skill to be successful at.

Gran Turismo 6

In Response to EmptyBox (What Ruined the Sim Racing Community?)

indycar-2-victoryFive short days ago, the sim racing scene was graced with a lengthy opinion piece from prominent sim racing YouTube personality Empty Boxotherwise known as Matt Orr – which over the course of eleven minutes addressed some of the extreme levels of toxicity that have popped up within the community as of late. Truth be told, it’s simply not a good time to partake in the hobby known as sim racing, as the increased reliance on building connections via online message boards, and multiplayer events taking the spotlight away from developers creating robust single player experiences out of the box, has basically forced people into mingling with a whole bunch of intolerable nerds they otherwise wouldn’t give the time of day. This perfect storm has created a situation where routine in-game chatter is now full of immense hostility, while participating in any online forums to share your passion with other sim racers around the world instead requires extensive knowledge of the various personalities, biases, and eccentricities to keep your sanity intact.

It’s a multi-dimensional nerd fight that doesn’t seem to end, and occasionally even the developers jump in on the fray, exhibiting behavior towards customers that would more or less get them fired in any sort of physical storefront setting. And when things appear to have settled down for an evening, there always ends up being that one guy who stumbles into the forums and makes an ass of himself – taking a genre of obscure video games far more seriously than what they require to be enjoyable.

Orr’s video places the blame for this nuclear wasteland of an environment solely on an overwhelming amount of sim racers who statistically appear to have stopped racing altogether for whatever reason, opting to sit on the message boards and immerse themselves in the ongoing drama rather than hitting the virtual track. While there is some truth in what Matt says – a portion of the more notorious shit-disturbers don’t even own a wheel yet still spam praise for rFactor 2 anywhere they’re allowed to – many people were actually left underwhelmed by his thoughts on the subject, because his entire piece boiled down to “stop being a fanboy and start racing.”  Anyone could have made this conclusion.

Matt didn’t address how these fanboys came to be in the first place, how the sim racing community as a whole turned into this horrifying mess of partially-delusional auto racing nerds, and what we can do as a group to reverse it.

Thankfully, I know the answer. And it’s a very ugly truth not many will want to hear.

iracing_com___mclaren_mp4_gt3_battle_by_firemikecreations-d5ooqtzI’m going to begin this piece by saying something extremely controversial, but I want our readers to know that there’s a legitimate reason behind my views – not an irrational vendetta. If you want to understand why the majority of sim racers appear to be such confrontational, delusional elitists, the answer is quite simple: iRacing played a major role in the sim racing community’s descent to hell. Now before you all go hunting for your pitchforks, I want to make it very clear that this is not an attack on the staff members in Bedford, because in this instance they haven’t actually done anything wrong, nor will I sit here and shit on the game’s partially completed tire model as is par for the course here at None of what I’m about to say has anything to do with the technical aspects of the iRacing software; it’s all about the mentality iRacing represents.

maxresdefaultStepping into our PRC time machine and traveling back to the true golden age of sim racing, when websites like Blackhole Motorsports and Race Sim Central were both operational and buzzing with activity, racing simulators as a whole were viewed in a very different manner than they are today. Games such as GTR 2, Richard Burns Rally, Grand Prix Legends 2004, rFactor, and NASCAR Racing 2003 Season were basically regarded as these obscure alternatives boasting massive third party content support, primarily intended for motorsports enthusiasts who wanted something more hardcore than Gran Turismo 4. That’s it.

While the communities weren’t free from drama by any means, everyone sort of understood that these were just $60 video games they all picked up from Best Buy on a Friday night after work. Some guys bought Logitech wheels and heavily invested themselves into the racing portion, while others dove into the modding element, and as a whole, people just sort of hung out and sunk a whole bunch of time into games they loved. They raced in leagues, and had their buddies create cars and tracks. Sometimes they got bored discussed which game had the objectively best set of physics, but those debates never turned into the outright shit-slinging we see today. That’s really as far as it went, and looking back, it’s all we needed. The games were getting progressively more advanced with each passing year, but the ideology fueling the community was fairly simple: hang out.

iracingsim64-2015-02-09-21-44-50-58-bmpiRacing came along in 2008, and suddenly told these sim racers – who had spent several perfectly happy years doing little more than racing, building mods, and hanging out – that elitism was suddenly in style. During a relatively simple period in the genre, where you bought a game for $40, joined a league, or scooped up some mods from rFactor Central, iRacing introduced the idea of sim racing being an elite online club, rather than a quirky piece of software for those who had gotten tired of Gran Turismo’s shortcomings. Sim racing was no longer this obscure genre, it was now an exclusive country club – but only if you purchased an iRacing subscription – and putting down the cash to sign up was advertised almost as a badge of honor within the community. You would no longer be just a guy who loved GTR 2 and played it every evening with his mates, sometimes cranking out a livery or two for the fun of it, you were now an iRacer.

From the jacked-up pricing model, the mandatory use of real names, and the lengthy terms of service, all the way to promotional material dubbing it a virtual career, iRacing pushed a lucrative country club-like atmosphere and treated the product as if it somehow transcended its existence as a video game, during a time when every other developer within the genre was perfectly fine cranking out relatively simplistic releases.

And a lot of people bought into it. Not just financially, but emotionally as well.

11The private golf club-like atmosphere of iRacing certainly offered some sort of permanent solution for public lobby races that often descended into chaos, but it also came with a set of unintended consequences. Let’s be real here, a lot of us within the genre are hardly party animals, and the elite online club iRacing created gave introverted computer nerds a very tangible sense of belonging – one they weren’t able to successfully achieve with community sports teams, high school cliques, or workplace social outings. On paper, there’s nothing inherently wrong about this, but the very specific environment iRacing built allowed the negative aspects of this endeavor to sprout fairly quickly. Because iRacing was now viewed as part of an individual’s identity rather than just an updated version of an old NASCAR game people paid a whole bunch of money for, iRacers grew very attached to their simulator of choice, and were personally offended when it was criticized.

The criticism, obviously, was bountiful, but the specific complaints regarding the iRacing software aren’t important here. What is important, is that a whole bunch of sim racers got on board with the concept that sim racing could be more than just obscure driving games – they liked the fact that they were part of an elite internet club, because it gave many a legitimate sense of belonging they hadn’t experienced before.

xfinityAs iRacing continued to evolve, iRacers became even more attached to the country club atmosphere than they were before, and the developers themselves let it get to their heads. Prior to iRacing’s inception, an article on GameSpot actually sat down and went through all of the previous releases by Papyrus, painting out David Kaemmer to be little more than a quiet enthusiast who used his talents to push out a string of critically acclaimed indie racing simulators throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Fast forward to present day, and any one of Mr. Kaemmer’s posts on the official iRacing forums are met with hundreds of members slobbering over his every word, and implying any criticism over his current rendition of the iRacing tire model is somehow an attack on his life’s work – even though it’s clearly not.

It’s as if you’ve shown up to a local golf course and asked why the karts and fairways are in such poor shape, only to be told by the regulars you’re simply expecting too much from your membership, and need to cut out that instant gratification bullshit mentality.

15935312_10100195473337132_740333997_oBut because the sense of belonging created by iRacing’s intentional elitism was so strong – outweighing any clear negatives in the eyes of their members – soon, this mentality began to seep into other fanbases as well. The resident computer nerds among us wanted every racing simulator to become an exclusive club, simply because it made them feel like they were a part of something meaningful, and that their long hours in front of the computer monitor were going to a legitimate cause. Suddenly, it wasn’t just iRacers who had an air of elitism surrounding them – it was now mirrored by the fans of rFactor 2, Project CARS, and Assetto Corsa.

Soon enough, concepts once seen in iRacing suddenly popped up in adjacent communities. The fanfare over David Kaemmer has been mirrored not once, but three times, with Stefano Casillo of Kunos Simulazioni, Ian Bell of Slightly Mad Studios, and Renato Simioni of Reiza Studios. iRacing were the first developer to really start speaking in tire models, and now suddenly every major virtual auto racing release mentions a tire model upgrade like it’s a marketing buzzword rather than a genuine gameplay improvement. And of course, who can forget Assetto Corsa locking down a majority of their official forums for the longest time, only accessible to those who had purchased a copy of the game on Steam, and connected their message board account with their Steam profile. All of these examples are not coincidences; iRacers merely migrated to other titles which captured their interest, and eventually the concepts once pushed by iRacing were integrated into other communities as well.

This lead to a situation where anyone who dared to go against this elitist club mentality was promptly faced with immense backlash from the virtual country club members. So to answer the first of three questions, the toxic sim racing community – whether it be the aggressive fanboys angrily shouting at everyone for a conflicting view on a highly contested topic, or the cringeworthy pieces we lovingly document – is the result of iRacing arriving on the scene and implying it was okay for computer nerds to treat a video game traditionally retailing for $60 as a ticket to an exclusive online country club that transcended video games altogether – and then sim racers kept doing it on their own for every racing game that managed to catch their eyes.

Only now have people started to clue in that shit has gone way too far.

nr3So, for the sanity of the community, how do we reverse this?

You can’t.

Each individual game or community is now a part of the identities of many sim racers. Just like how you can’t just walk up to a thirty year old and mockingly inform him he’s no longer the starting linebacker for the Sacred Heart Prep Gators high school football team, there isn’t a surefire way to snap the fanboys out of their intense devotion to their simulator of choice. It’s a part of who they were, and who they are. What you can do, is instead enact basic social moderation skills, and hope those on the fence take heed to your advice don’t lose themselves in what at the end of the day are just video games – and some of these video games aren’t even all that great. In fact, most of them are obviously half-assed on shoe-string budgets.

If you’ve got a buddy on Teamspeak with no job, he’s let it slip in the past that he’s not doing well financially, and yet he’s got something like ten thousand forum posts on the home of his favorite simulator, that’s the precise time to tell him to get his shit together rather than sitting around on message boards picking fights with people who don’t like his favorite game. If you see someone on the forums going on about a thermonuclear tire model teaching physicists the laws of the universe via rFactor 2, that’s the correct time to try and one-up each other with tire model jokes rather than get into a hostile pissing match. When someone tries to make you sign a legitimate contract to be part of their pretend iRacing team, laugh at them and leak the contract to some place cool, like Reddit. And when someone tries to make excuses for a game that’s objectively buggy or unfinished by standards from over a decade ago, don’t engage in a Buddhist temple-like philosophical discussion questioning what constitutes as a complete racing game – ask why a customer should be willing to put up with unfinished crap.

The current crop of sim racers, honestly, are lost. The idea is to instead set things up for a better tomorrow. I think in two years, if everyone makes a tangible effort to denounce this cult-like atmosphere when it’s exhibited by other members, it’ll go a long way to cleaning up the community.


Why I’ve Cut Back on Sim Racing

2Good morning, readers of PRC.

For those who maybe haven’t been around this place since the very beginning, but rather found this blog within the past few months or so, and after several articles that seemed to mirror your own concerns with the genre added it to your bookmarks – my name’s Chris. I’m the guy responsible for introducing Austin… er… James… to the darker side of sim racing. Many years back, when iRacing were first experimenting with flexing their muscles and silencing criticism from people such as James on the official forums, myself and a few of my real life friends were the ones whom reached out to him, and confirmed he wasn’t the only one the service had started to push around. A few years later, we started PRC, killing otherwise uneventful winter nights with podcasts and message board surfing to counter-act the staleness of the genre. I’m stoked to see this place is still going strong, and I know he’ll kill me if I drop any hints, but you won’t believe what’s in store for this year.

But I’m here to get something off my chest. Even though I visit PRC a fair amount during the week, and spend a small portion of my day shit-talking with fellow hobbyists disillusioned by the state of the genre, I haven’t been sim racing as much as I used to. After going back to college (again) and pursuing a career path in the healthcare field (no jobs in business, lel); forcing me to attend class five days a week, or physically be at the hospital for four in the morning, there hasn’t been a lot of time for sim racing before bed. My passion for racing is as big as it always has been, however, my passion for sim racing has been tested, and I’m sure this is the case for others as well. There hasn’t been a single “what the fuck” kind of moment that made the entire hobby of sim racing wear on me, but a collection of smaller events that continued to mount until I subconsciously kind of switched off, and didn’t feel the need to fire up my PC and race.

I’m aware I repeat this comment over and over again, but it’s still extremely relevant to the topic at hand: I would have laughed my ass off if in 2009, you told me that sim racing would become worse over the next decade, rather than better. That’s the first year I really got into PC simulators, and as a raw customer I felt there was so much potential. Loading up a practice session and losing two or three hours was something you couldn’t wait to do. Actually participating in some of the high ranked iRacing events when the service was still aimed at an extremely niche group of hardcore drivers, it brought a rush of anxiety unmatched by any other video game. As lame as it sounds, I personally would feel my heart race when I was in a position to win a meaningful event, or prove I could hang with some of the best in the world. I was genuinely having a lot of fun.

But over time, to me it began to seem like there was this massive cult of personality issue cropping up with each individual game. Having any sort of criticism became a major issue to the fanboys and developers alike. No matter how respectful you are, you’ll find yourself banned from a forum – more times than I can count – for basically doing nothing other than asking why something wasn’t the way it was advertised.

I don’t think we need to recap specific events, as PRC with their current lineup of personalities have done an alright job of documenting this ecosystem over the past twenty four months. I will, however, address more of the cringe and growing uncomfortable feelings that I’ve begun to feel since slowly distancing myself in favor of my career. It’s not normal, as a grown adult who is aware that video games are just a form of entertainment, to see other fully grown adults take out payday loans to build a sim rig while delivering pizza at Domino’s. It’s not normal to see someone so enraged over their pretend race cars, that they call the human resources department of a “hater” and try to get them fired from their real life job. It’s not normal to discredit the opinions of someone else over a video game, just because they don’t have a doctorate in physics or computer engineering. In my (new) profession, you better listen to every single point of view, because even the part time transporter may notice or see something that will hold the key to saving a life.

1Since I don’t feel this need to partake in the circus known as sim racing as much as I have in the past, I’ve been spending my time playing a few other games, most notably FIFA, Rainbow Six; Siege, and the remastered version of the first Modern Warfare release. You can call me a filthy casual or whatever, but it’s me who is having the last laugh. When I play any of the games mentioned above, something amazing happens. Can you guess what that might be?

These games all more or less work as advertised, and are feature complete.

I have never booted up FIFA 17, and found out that there are no stadiums in the game, and you just get a field of grass to play football on. Oh, and by the way, kits selection is coming soon, all the players are in their underwear for now, they’re a small team doing the best they can! No, none of this ever happens in FIFA 17, and I love it.

I also love the fact that I don’t have to see the FIFA equivalent sim dads having a philosophical debate in the forums over what constitutes as a feature complete football game. Nobody is telling me that I should just be happy the game exists in the first place, and to take comfort in the fact that the software even turns on at all. I don’t see any fedora tipping developers looking to have a debate on their terms when they should have released a solid product in the first place. I fire up FIFA 17, I get to play a whole bunch of soccer on my terms, and it’s awesome.

axaltaAnd it’s also up to the players to keep the developers honest. If we aren’t buying what they’re selling, it’s up to them to change or be forced to die off. Last June, a YouTube personality found a glitch in FIFA that affected the way certain upgrade cards worked in Ultimate Team – you know, that mode where little kids are spending thousands from their parents’ credit cards on pretend European football cards. EA Sports responded by saying thanks for bringing this to our attention, and patched the game a week or two later. In sim racing, this same scenario would result in a 55-page thread consisting of fanboys telling the YouTube personality with hard evidence he is insane, delusional, a loser, someone who needs to leave the house, or that they’re mentally unstable. The developers would then ignore it, give a long winded explanation as to why it’s not wrong, lock the thread, ban the person, or rant about how they’re the victims somehow.

iRacing and Assetto Corsa have done an objectively poor job of managing their community and product. Imagine how the situation mentioned above would have been handled. They have often made rash decisions about how to handle criticism, and continuously fiddle with their tire models even when most people can agree it’s in a good to acceptable state for the time being.

We have been waiting forever to do things from 1998 in both games. There are no animated pit stops in iRacing, you can’t pick the color of your car in Assetto Corsa’s online races, and apparently those who own the console version of Assetto Corsa can’t even host a private session to race with their friends… in 2017, sixteen years after games like Project Gotham Racing established this as a normal feature. Releasing dynamic tracks, and then dynamic tracks are broken the next build – and left for another – is nothing short of typical for iRacing. A certain nation that Empty Box enraged is still notorious for causing chaos in online races. The same shitheads who were ruining races in 2009 are still ruining races today, and the same sim dads are still sitting on the forums waiting to lecture you for not slobbering all over the developers. I can see why games like DiRT Rally are as popular as they are; it’s a big change of pace for the community to actually have a game that isn’t a clusterfuck.

nascariv_l1To summarize, it gets very tiresome looking at the black hole this community has become. It is tiresome waiting for developers to get it right. It’s like we’re the abused spouse, believing for the 90th time that the abuser will change and get their shit together. Just give them a chance!  Even if it means restricting my passion for auto racing to solely spectating major events on television, I think I will stick with my casual games, because to me it’s just not worth putting up with the bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great guys in this community, I have both bought and sold a lot of things from the forums, and have never had a bad experience. Fanatec were also kind enough to let me test their latest wheel, and I can assure you it’s a beauty. There are good guys in the world of sim racing, but I am shocked that number hasn’t grown in the way I expected it to.

If this community doesn’t shape up, and if a developer or two don’t get their act together, this community will shrink rather than grow, and we’ll approach Flight Simulator levels of obscurity.