Don’t Upload Videos of KartKraft

Let’s start the week with a bit of senseless controversy. Earlier this month, we stumbled upon brand new beta footage of KartKraft that had been linked to users at a French iRacing forum, and I promptly re-uploaded the three clips in an effort to ensure the original poster would not realize his unlisted videos were appearing on a sim racing news publication and take them down before anyone could see them. To Black Delta’s credit, the game looked pretty solid in action despite the in-game footage being a closed beta copy of the game, and most viewers agreed KartKraft looked great – though it still didn’t explain why the niche karting simulator had suddenly gone MIA; heavily implying we’d be playing it by the summer of 2016 on their official Facebook page, only to seemingly evaporate and give vague answers in regards to the title’s whereabouts.

It took a couple of weeks, but the leaked footage was removed as per YouTube’s copyright policies, filed not by the user who uploaded the closed beta footage, but by Black Delta themselves, the developers of KartKraft.

A non-story? That depends on how much you’ve been anticipating a playable copy of KartKraft, as it’s certainly an odd chain of events unfolding behind the scenes. Black Delta have demonstrated they absolutely don’t want rogue footage of KartKraft surfacing on popular social media outlets such as YouTube – evident by the takedown notice I’ve inserted above – but this is where they slightly contradict themselves. The footage we were able to obtain honestly didn’t show anything new that Black Delta haven’t already demonstrated themselves in both their own official trailers, as well as footage that’s publicly available on Steam – the three clips merely showcased a user turning one out-lap and one flying lap across three different locations. There were no blatant bugs appearing on-screen, and the game’s user-interface was at a satisfactory level of cohesiveness; in simpler terms, it was actually benefiting them to have the footage out there, as people were responding positively to it.

Furthermore, Black Delta can be seen touring around to independent electronics showcase events and letting the general public play unfinished versions of KartKraft – to the point where gaming journalists on websites such as Road to VR have been publishing detailed previews and hands-on impressions of the title as far back as August of 2015. Maybe I’m missing some sort of underlying point here, but it’s very strange that a racing sim developer would embark on such a large promotional tour and allow tons of different websites to provide coverage on the title, but the moment you upload physical gameplay footage originally recorded by a third party not affiliated with Black Delta, they come chasing after you with copyright claims. It’s oddly protective when they’re turning around and simultaneously showing off the software to a large audience anyway.

What makes this all questionable and turns it into a story, is how KartKraft missed it’s initial launch window on Steam’s Early Access platform, and we really haven’t heard anything concrete from the team since. There have been no official announcements that have come out and said “sorry we couldn’t get it out for the summer of 2016”, only the same calculated reply to users who bombard their Facebook page with questions about the existence of the game – it’s supposedly still in closed beta, but obviously people are getting antsy after footage of KartKraft in its current state first surfaced in 2011, and talk of the title first began in 2007. Of course, nobody has actually paid money for it, so there aren’t a wave of customers entitled to some kind of functioning product wondering what their cash went towards, but it’s one of those deals like Chinese Democracy by Guns ‘N Roses, where if you’re going to bother getting people all excited for a product, it sort of helps if that product materializes within a reasonable period of time, otherwise the story behind the project becomes as big as the game itself.

And that’s why the copyright strike may possibly hint at something else occurring behind the scenes. After several years parading around KartKraft, why would Black Delta suddenly not want footage of the title out in public, especially when the footage is basically a carbon copy of the content and gameplay displayed in their own trailers that have been circulating since 2011 at the earliest? Why would it be necessary to be this protective over an indie kart racing game’s publicity?

Only time will tell.

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Brand New KartKraft Footage Leaked

Just under a month ago, I had no problem calling KartKraft vaporware. A hardcore grassroots racing simulator that had been in development under multiple names dating back to 2007 – and whose development team went through just as many alias changes despite leading man Zach Griffin remaining in charge throughout the duration of the project – it was heavily implied the project would see a release on Steam’s Early Access platform at some point during the summer of 2016. Unfortunately, as last summer came and went, the project failed to materialize, with social media posts from Black Delta seeing a sudden shift in tone, from claiming an initial release was just weeks away, to regurgitating the same basic indirect public relations babble, month after month – failing to inform users what had happened to the game.

The situation frustrated sim racers, as with so many young amateur karting personalities also dabbling in the world of sim racing, a game that seemed tailor made for their exact needs was instead appearing to be an elaborate ruse, stringing people along for almost a complete decade with little to show for it. Aside from carefully crafted preview videos released back when the Atlanta Thrashers were still a professional hockey team, KartKraft was turning out to be one of those projects that can only exist in the world of sim racing; vaporware ever so obscure enough for people to completely forget it existed in the first place.

Today, we can add another chapter to the story. Buried deep within an obscure French iRacing community lies three unlisted YouTube videos depicting the latest beta build of KartKraft. Initial impressions of the title from the user behind the three short gameplay clips are fantastic, claiming the closed beta experience surpasses KartRacingPro, which is seen as the definitive Kart racing sim currently on the market. The videos on the French message board are unlisted, so I’ve taken the liberty to mirror them on YouTube to ensure as many people can see them as possible; obviously someone’s going to get in a lot of shit with this article going live considering strict non-disclosure agreements are said to be in place.

Three videos totaling about six minutes in length depict three different karts on three unique Australian circuits, and it seems as Black Delta have even managed to nail some of the subtle leg moments that I’m sure everyone’s familiar with after tossing themselves around in a kart. It honestly looks really good, but so did the preview footage released in 2012.

At this point, however, I’m still left with more questions than answers. It’s fairly obvious this game still exists and is actively being worked on considering YouTube footage of KartKraft is being uploaded today, but it’s confusing as to why Black Delta have been so secretive about telling people what’s been going on with the project as of late after missing their original release window, and how visually the software still looks as it once did in 2012.

Regardless, if you’ve been looking for evidence that KartKraft is still a thing, there you go. It’s just a mystery as to why it’s taking so long to land in the hands of the public.

Footage of KartKraft is Here!

If this is the future of sim racing, this is pretty sweet. Blending modern visual effects with rock solid driving physics, and an entire game aspect to give structure to the whole experience, Black Delta’s KartKraft will soon be hitting Steam’s Early Access program as yet another sim for avid virtual drivers to follow throughout the project’s development. Seventeen minutes of footage has been uploaded to YouTube by H&A Tech & News against the wishes of the developer – and most certainly violating some sort of non-disclosure agreement – though for the average sim racer, it’s a glimpse into what racing simulators could and most certainly should be. I’m not a kart guy by any means, but this looks pretty fucking awesome for a game that isn’t anywhere near completion.

Much secrecy has surrounded this title aside from an early preview trailer and rather ambitious goals, though now we’ve got a chance to look at what Black Delta will strive to offer, it’s safe to say that at least some of what they’ve promised will absolutely be delivered. The footage opens by demonstrating a GoPro like experience while using the game’s nose-mounted cam, displaying advanced visual effects simply not seen in current titles on the market which are powered by aging engines. As the user swaps through the range of camera views and exits the introduction race to explore the various menus, elements of XP acquisition and general customization features can be seen in brief moments, indicating KartKraft may possibly be much more than just a bland sandbox simulator with an active player count struggling to reach triple digits. Black Delta want to do everything in their power to keep you playing KartKraft past the initial honeymoon phase, rather than having the title collect virtual dust on your desktop alongside a plethora of other simulators.

The raw driving experience appears to resemble PiBoSo’s Kart Racing Pro, something many real world kart racers among us will be highly enthusiastic about as the impressive visuals will be bundled with an equally captivating physics model. However, as this footage has been uploaded against the strict terms of a non-disclosure agreement, there are clearly aspects that aren’t meant to be seen on display in this video. In one instance, the anonymous player drives head on into a makeshift barrier just to see what would happen, only for the kart to sink into the ground and exhibit a Project CARS-like seizure before flinging the rider out onto the tarmac. This doesn’t take away from the raw driving experience when playing the game properly, but it’s clear this is a title still largely under development, and the release on Steam’s Early Access platform quite a ways off.

It’s neat to see these things finally materialize, and while there hasn’t been an official date given that I can find, KartKraft will be available on Steam at some point in the near future.