Reader Submission #131 – Illumimoblilsta

ams-2017-01-18-19-49-34-30Picking up a product from Reiza Studios is almost seen as a rite of passage within the greater sim racing community. Offering an all-around fantastic driving model that stretches the tried and true isiMotor engine to its absolute limit, both Automobilistaas well as its older brother Stock Car Extreme – provide a rock solid, no-nonsense sim racing experience free from many of the pitfalls currently affecting the genre. There aren’t any power tripping developers attacking their customers, overzealous fanboys defending the product at any cost, or delusional community members passing out fictional hero cards in Reiza’s neck of the woods; Reiza products are typically satisfactory racing simulators whose biggest flaws center around the fact that the technology powering them is tad bit outdated.

However, taking the plunge into what Automobilista has to offer isn’t for every sim racer. Though Reiza have made an admirable effort to flesh out the selection of content within their flagship racing simulator to appeal to international enthusiasts, the team have ensured the core focus of their software is essentially a love letter to the history of auto racing in Brazil. For every unlicensed Formula One machine that just barely skirts around copyright rules, or popular Grand Prix circuit operating under a fictional moniker, there’s an entire Brazilian series full of cars you’ve most likely never heard of, and every single obscure track on the schedule to go along with it. Yes, you can take an off-brand Holden Commodore around well-known locations such as Suzuka or Montreal, but a large portion of Automobilista’s content is intended to satisfy Brazilian motorsports fans first and foremost. Reiza took aim at a very specific niche market within an already niche genre, and merely allowed the game to speak for itself when curious international sim racers caught wind of it. Reiza didn’t necessarily care if people outside of Brazil liked the game, much in the same way EA Sports didn’t care if Europeans were gobbling up copies of the NASCAR Thunder series – it wasn’t built for them, anyway.

But has this approach paid off? Though Reiza have created an impressive racing simulator primarily for South American auto racing geeks – with a bone finally thrown to overseas hobbyists – today’s Reader Submission from Daniel Miquelluti paints a drastically different picture. Though Automobilista was created by a Brazilian developer and loaded with Brazilian content catering specifically to their fellow countrymen, in reality Brazilian sim racers are largely apathetic towards the title. Oops.

ams-2017-01-18-19-48-40-80Hey James (as well of the rest of PRC), greetings from Brazil! I want to talk for a little bit about the sim racing culture down here in South America, as I’ve noticed something that goes against what a lot of people probably assume about us. Here in Brazil, when some local YouTube personalities say they’re making the jump to a more serious simulator from either Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo, many of them go out and choose either Assetto Corsa or Project CARS. Automobilista, the simulator a lot of you probably expect to be popular down here, has almost never seen the light of day in Brazilian YouTube.

In Brazil, a simple wheel like the Logitech G27 costs upwards of $190 USD used, to $313 USD as a brand new package. Minimum wage, again converting to American currency so your readers have a better understanding, is $281 USD per paycheck. That should make things pretty clear as to why sim racing in Brazil isn’t the most popular activity – a steering wheel is not even on the radar for many people. Just to be clear, more than half of our population earns less than minimum wage. So, if you’re lucky enough to have money to buy a PC, Xbox One , or PlayStation 4 ($470) along with a compatible wheel, only then are you entitled to enter the sim racing world.

Now, let’s enter the problem of how much each title costs. A regular AAA game costs between $30 USD and $59 USD on Steam. At the moment, purchasing Automobilista with the complete season pass converts to $43 USD. By comparison, Assetto Corsa and Project CARS routinely go on sale for much less, to the point where I’ve seen Assetto Corsa retail as low as $17 USD – a very good price that obviously attracts a lot of people, because most Brazilians are forced to shop smart when purchasing entertainment. It’s not financially feasible for us to buy a game which supposedly embraces our national pride and appeals to us directly, because Reiza have priced Automobilista out of reach of their own target audience. So aside from the hardcore guys, which every country has their own small group of, Automobilista hasn’t actually caught on with us. We then factor in the stereotypical sub-par Brazilian workmanship we’re known for – don’t worry, we’re not blind to our own shortcomings – so a lot of sim racers here see a Brazilian simulator on the market and immediately ignore it, because the general consensus is that products from North America, Europe, Asia, or Oceania are far more competent, because that’s usually the truth.

This should explain why Automobilista is not the most popular title by any means in its home country. The sim racers who do play the game absolutely love it, which can be seen in Brazilian reviews of the game from the avid fans, but according to Steam, Automobilista has only sold 5,000 copies here. By comparison so we have some proper metrics, Project CARS sold 13,500 on the PC alone – and that’s with a failing economy, where most can barely afford a nice PC or game console. So to summarize, very rarely can Brazilians afford a fancy wheel, Automobilista isn’t all that affordable compared to other racing games, and most of us believe international goods to be of a higher quality than what we ourselves can produce. Yes, I’m aware there are a few good private Brazilian communities. But by and large, Automobilista is nowhere near as popular down here as sim racers think.

czbfzbnuoaeiv8l-jpg-largeI’d also like to address another topic that I’ve seen brought up on PRC – the cultural problem, to be specific. Each new generation has an increasingly bigger problem with manners than the one before it. Some of the “rich kids” who can afford to sim race think they can do whatever they want, and when they go on the internet, it’s nothing more than an elaborate toy for them. It’s the perfect place for them to go wild and laugh at the expense of others. Sadly, a part of our online community is actually proud of the HUEHUEBRBR reputation, and play up on it for comedic effect – which doesn’t work well in sim racing, because most of these games require a base level of sportsmanship that our countrymen don’t always possess. In fact, the impunity culture seems ingrained within the country as a whole; you can rob or kill anyone and leave jail almost instantly in some situations.Yes, there are nice parts of Brazil, but the bad parts are very bad.  It’s why many people understandably protested our Olympic games this past summer.

Though I will say, if you get to know some of the hardcore guys, you’ll find some great people just trying to race clean and respect others drivers.

Thanks for giving me this platform to speak today.

superv8_automobilista_1Thanks for writing to us, Daniel. I’m very intrigued to see you’ve actually confirmed something I’ve written about in the past – the lack of any sort of tangible userbase for Reiza’s products. Automobilista’s Steam numbers are absolutely horrid given how many contributed to the crowdfunding campaign in 2015, and the abundance of people claiming to sink countless hours into the simulator on Reddit’s sim racing section.

amsWhen I’ve pointed this out in previous articles spanning PRC’s two-year history, some of our readers claimed there was this hidden group of Reiza supporters that simply hadn’t redeemed their copy of any Reiza game on Steam, but were rather operating on a traditional DVD they placed inside their disc drive – meaning they weren’t counted in the metrics – to the point where I began joking that sim racers were intentionally disconnecting from the internet and treating their love of Stock Car Extreme as some Illuminati-like club nobody was allowed to know about. It’s fantastic to know, straight from someone that’s involved in the Brazilian sim racing community, that I wasn’t missing out on top secret Illumimoblilsta meetings – even Brazilians by and large don’t care much for a game built specifically for them. Sure, there are private leagues like you said, but a group of fifty guys from one website all traveling from simulator to simulator over the years is just that – fifty guys.

Which is really shitty, because now we’ve had an additional level of confirmation stating a developer invested a solid chunk of their money and time into helping improve the state of sim racing, only for it to basically go to waste. Call me salty all you want, but I will never forget the absolute frenzy sim racers went into after Reiza unveiled the Holden Commodore V8 Supercar for Stock Car Extreme, only for three consecutive online leagues (two on Race2Play, one on RaceDepartment) to fold because nobody actually wanted to play Stock Car Extreme, and those who did could barely keep the vehicle under control. Throwing money at Reiza during their crowdfunding campaign was like this extreme hipster status icon in the sim racing community, because it turns out nobody’s actually playing their game in the end.

grab_158I also appreciate the explanation behind why Brazilian online culture as a whole has become so toxic. If the internet is only a toy for rich kids and wealthy families, I can understand how it’s essentially become a virtual high class suburb instead of a means of communication everybody uses for work and/or play. There simply aren’t enough people “logging on” (to bust out a term from the 90’s) for others to wise up and say “being a jackass is only funny in moderation, stop spamming HUEHUEHUE BRBRBR in the chat you fucktard.”

Though I will say, however, some of you motherfuckers are fast. It’s just shitty that an equal number of you wind up in EmptyBox videos as comedic relief.


Reader Submission #130 – And So the Censorship Begins…

maxresdefaultThough discussions of this story have remained primarily within private communities and message boards the average sim racer can’t access without an active iRacing subscription, the biggest online racing simulator currently in business has caused a bit of a stir as of late. Introduced only a few short days ago as an “oh yeah, before we forget” update, iRacing members not residing in the United States of America are now forced to pay a VAT tax on any pieces of content or subscription packages they purchase for iRacing. For almost an entire decade, iRacing have been able to cover the cost of these overseas taxes themselves – to the point where very few international iRacers were actually aware of what VAT taxes were to begin with – but the line in the sand has now been drawn, and it’s making several European members extremely uncomfortable. iRacing is already priced in a manner that requires acquiring each new piece of content to be a meticulously calculated purchase, and the surprise implementation of hefty taxes on virtual cars and tracks is creating a scenario where those otherwise satisfied with the service are starting to question its direction.

What was once deemed to be a quality service priced at a premium, is now slightly out of reach for several hobbyists, and it’s changing how they feel about the game itself.

To explain why several are choked about this, most iRacers purchase pieces of content on the service in bundles of three or six, as the simulation offers a discount on bundles as opposed to single cars or tracks. For residents living outside of America, these already pricey packages – thanks to currency conversion – have now been slapped with roughly an additional $20 USD in taxes, promptly sending the cost of running just four weeks in any official series skyrocketing. Essentially, iRacing members subjected to VAT rules are now paying the cost of two additional cars or tracks in taxes, along with the cost of their original order of content – which can vary depending on world currency. After conversion, a single month of iRacing for those living in the United Kingdom is now 20 GBP or $32 CDNdownright unreasonable for anyone who has browsed the Steam marketplace out of boredom in search of other racing simulators. As one user on Reddit writes, iRacing became around 25% more expensive for the rest of the planet overnight, and it was already expensive to begin with. It’s not good.

But it’s the way iRacing have handled the backlash which caused iRacing member Daniel Fletcher to send in a Reader Submission about this today. Now that the service is slowly becoming difficult to afford for the average sim racer thanks to these sudden changes in the purchasing process, those who once defended iRacing as an elite club of hardcore hobbyists are a bit disappointed to see the service isn’t progressing in a manner that justifies the enormous cost.

1Hi PRC, I have something for you guys that you may or may not find intriguing. As you’re probably aware of by now, iRacing recently started to charge a tax on top of the base subscription and content costs for international sim racers. This made me take a real hard look about what was going on behind the scenes and the direction iRacing is taking, because obviously if you’re asking a bit more for the product, the quality of the product should justify the increased costs. Currently, the focus is on pushing out content, while the tire model is still a work in progress project, and there are some pieces of content which receive announcements yet have still failed to materialize after many years.

vat-thread-postI first made a post in the VAT thread, stating my displeasure with the emphasis on content rather than quality, and it seemed I was not alone. So rather than the post getting buried in a debate about the VAT, I started a new thread in the general off-topic discussion section. Within 30 or 40 minutes, the thread vanished.

img_0030I then made another thread asking why my original thread was locked, as I could see no justifiable reason for it. As you can imagine, it was met with the usual crap of silly memes and people claiming I was ripping iRacing to pieces, which was totally false. After a comment from Steve Moore stating iRacing doesn’t like the truth, that thread was locked as well. Receiving private messages asking what my original thread contained and requests to start another one, I went ahead, this time keeping screenshots as proof. I couldn’t remember exactly how I worded the first, but the new thread was basically a mirror of the first one. Again, the usual forum idiots had their say, and it too was met with a lock. Five minutes later, iRacing unlocked it.

img_0046As the day went on, other people started to voice their concerns. it was a reasonable debate. I tried answering everybody, one by one. I never insulted anyone, or broke any rules that I was aware of.

img_0076After getting accused of trolling for the crime of answering too quickly, staff member Shannon Whitmore arrived to say I was just arguing with people, and that the thread was locked. My post history is clear for all to see. I don’t insult people. I hardly ever use the forums for that matter. But instead of starting again, I just voiced my opinions in other threads, on topic of course, which were threads about issues anyway.

img_0086This morning, it appears I’ve been banned from the iRacing member forums. I can’t see where I’ve broken rules, I just raised issues that many people have within the service. Maybe I’m just being butthurt, which is what people are telling me… but silencing the critics seems to be a real issue on the forums. Maybe this is just pointless… I’m not sure, but I thought I’d send it in regardless.

tumblr_odq83smsp61rdfljoo1_1280Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’m sure a large pack of iRacers will quickly make you out to be delusional or mentally ill for using PRC as a platform to voice your concerns – or even contacting us to begin with – but I have to make it very clear that you’re not wrong. The service (God I hate calling it that, it’s a fucking online racing game) isn’t where it should be after eight years in operation, and the staff indeed hand out suspensions and bans like Halloween candy. It’s important to note that most of iRacing’s forum administrators were merely handed the job thanks to their role in the NASCAR Racing 2003 Season ecosystem many moons ago, so the emotional hemophilia and rash decisions you see leading to speedy bans are the result of semi-retired guys with little patience being paid to monitor the forums all day, but it’s not an excuse for how they operate. Just an explanation. When they have to deal with Lance Gomez Jr. shitting up the forums with Reddit-tier memes, I can understand from their point of view why they keep the majority of members on a short leash.

But I’ve dug through what you’ve sent me, and I honestly can’t see any problems with what you or others have written in the threads that were locked and eventually deleted. iRacing is getting old, they’re prioritizing content releases over improving physical elements of the simulator, and in your case, the prices have now been jacked up exponentially overnight. You have every right to question what you’re receiving for your money, especially since promotional material paints the service out to be this be-all, end-all solution for online racing when it clearly has some flaws that need to be ironed out. As I said about a week ago, it’s like iRacing intentionally went and created a country club-like atmosphere where members are encouraged to join with the mindset that it’s somehow not a video game, but instead avirtual online career – as if this somehow prevents it from being criticized like a video game. You’re not wrong, they need to get their shit together when it comes to certain elements.

I also definitely get a kick out of the big spenders trying to brag about how much cheaper it is to sign up for iRacing, than to go racing in real life. Sim dads who can barely work a computer aside from navigating to the iRacing member page have no right to try and say the ludicrous four-figure cost is somehow reasonable compared to something like Project CARS, just because a set of tires for their weekend warrior is $600; especially when most of iRacing’s competitors retail for $50 and provide roughly the same on-track experience in terms of driving model competence. As a member of the younger generation of sim racers – people who have been steadily hitting up Best Buy or Steam for new video games – we know that $750+ USD is simply not reasonable for a piece of software unless you’re offering a phenomenal service, which iRacing doesn’t.

So as I said, you’re not wrong to question what you’re getting for the money you’re putting down. Don’t let the sim dads shout tire costs at you. At the end of the day, it’s pretend racing on a computer monitor, and we should compare it to other video games that allow us to drive race cars on the computer monitor.

maxresdefaultNow, in terms of censorship, I’m going to open a mammoth can of worms here. iRacing indeed censors people, or at least makes the lives of sim racers who criticize the service difficult. In late 2016, I published a relatively awkward piece on telling our readers about a private phone conversation I was able to have with iRacing’s Tony Gardner, and implied a line of communication had been opened between us here at PRC, and the boys over at Basically, I dropped hints indicating  a few iRacing staff members had been monitoring our neck of the woods given the specific sim racing personalities that had come out in support of us, and they were taking the concerns brought up in our interviews with real world late model drivers quite seriously. Some of you were pretty happy to hear this information.

I would like to take a moment to apologize to our readers for posting a dishonest article – that’s not what we discussed. During the brief ten minute phone conversation, it was heavily implied I had indeed been removed from the service outright, and then ignored for eighteen months by iRacing’s customer support staff members, solely for publishing what they believed to be “unfair articles” about the simulator. It’s very important to note Tony personally apologized for this behavior on the part of iRacing as a company and did everything he could to rectify the situation in a manner that was satisfactory – so don’t pile on him and call him an asshole or anything – but it left me very unhappy that in a simulator boasting over 60,000 user, staff members will absolutely point to a single individual in the userbase and say “fuck that guy.” So I’m not surprised that for “lesser offenses”, guys are receiving the ban hammer just for talking about the direction of the software after a price hike.

untitled-3It really draws the credibility of every YouTube personality and sim racing journalist who covers iRacing into question; do they genuinely enjoy iRacing, or is there a metaphorical gun placed against their head, with personalities knowing full well the consequences of negative social media postings about iRacing? Sure, in my specific situation, I was able to get things resolved in just under two years, but it was an arduous two years full of iTard fanboys screeching that I’m mentally ill and supposedly harboring an irrational vendetta against the service. That’s the cost of speaking your mind about iRacing, so I’m not exactly surprised that other users are now starting to report censorship issues as well for doing the same, just on a smaller level

What I’m more concerned about, however, is who turns into the next Austin Ogonoski. Does Joe Nathan start his own website in 2019 after a successful string of YouTube videos, and become public enemy number one and wake up one morning to find out he’s locked out of his account, and support emails go unanswered? Does Daniel Fletcher randomly receive a two month ban for a petty infraction, only to be piled on by the community and unable to post on the message board when he returns?

Only time will tell, because as you’ve seen above, some users are already approaching that horizon.

Reader Submission #129 – A Corkscrew Too Far?

assetto-corsa-laguna-secaThere have long been rumors swirling around about Kunos Simulazioni regarding their trigger-happy approach to scooping up unauthorized third party conversions and injecting them into Assetto Corsa without the public’s knowledge, but this has been something that’s been incredibly difficult to prove. We know for a fact that Kunos indeed do lurk the modding community supporting Assetto Corsa, and occasionally recruit talented individuals or teams to help build pieces of content for future Downloadable Content packs – such as Virtua Simulazioni – but the concept of Kunos accidentally paying for a stolen creation is more of an urban legend than anything else. There’s a chance it could happen, but we’ve always assumed Kunos are smart enough to tell when they’re dealing with a genuine model up for purchase, as opposed to a shady individual.

If today’s Reader Submission is any indication, this might be much more than just an urban legend, which could have very interesting ramifications on the future of Assetto Corsa. Numerous pairs of eagle eyes within the official Assetto Corsa forums have spotted that Kunos Simulazioni are using what appears to be a hastily ripped version of Laguna Seca in their official on-location Porsche simulators, from a content “creator” notorious for ripping models from other popular racing simulators, and selling them as third party payware add-ons for Assetto Corsa. Based on what has been presented to us in the submission, this is a pretty big oops on the part of Kunos. I don’t want to outright confirm this one because I don’t want to believe no developer is truly this stupid, but it’s really not looking good.

unnamedGood evening, PRC!

If there’s anything Kunos Simulazioni seem to be proud of, it’s their new relationship with Porsche. Some weeks ago, the Italian developer organized several trackdays, borrowed cars from the Porsche museum, and invited Porsche employees, as well as gaming journalists, to this lucrative press event, which seems to be par for the course with Kunos as of late. The overall theme of this party was something like “Porsche and Assetto Corsa – We Belong Together.” And at first glance, there is little to contradict this. Kunos are the first developer to bring Porsche sports cars to their game without paying Electronic Arts a substantial fee for a long time, though I guess we’ll never know the details of the Turn 10 thing for the Forza Motorsport Porsche Expansion packs.

Anyways, for this event, Kunos built special simulators for the sports car company, powered by Assetto Corsa, and these simulators are what I want to talk about today.

The picture above shows one of these simulators in action, so yes, it was a very fancy event, all kinds of Porsche stylistic details to enclose the cockpits, that sort of thing. But what’s interesting is what’s on the upper screen. If you scale up the monitor’s display, you recognize the pit lane exit of Laguna Seca in Monterrey, California. Now we all know that Laguna Seca was more or less announced to come to Assetto Corsa sometime in 2017, so I just assumed these employees were given an advanced version of the track to play around with. It seemed absolutely normal that Kunos’ major customers are the first to enjoy this track, as Black Cat County was used in Maserati promotional gigs before becoming official content in a free update.

2But then people on the official forum discovered that the virtual reproduction of the California race track used in the commercial simulators has a whole bunch in common with a popular yet supposedly illegal third party modification of Laguna Seca for Assetto Corsa. And if that wasn’t enough, another user proved that this exact version of Laguna Seca is actually an unauthorized conversion of a track originally released for rFactor many years ago, converted by a user who has been profiled in the past on for selling ripped content – aspec7878. Go to his homepage and you’ll see what I mean; his entire store is nothing but ripped content from Project CARS and Forza Motorsport 4, locked behind a paywall. The same guy busted trying to sell the 3D model of Assetto Corsa’s Maserati Levante is the one to contribute a track used in a public simulator which Kunos was obviously paid for.

1What do you think is going on here? This looks to be a major slip-up on the part of Kunos; accidentally using an illegal conversion in a commercial display. My mind is blown that this may indicate some of the rumors about Kunos might be true, I can’t believe they wouldn’t have any foresight here.

maxresdefaultAlright so let’s back up a bit and trace what we know about this version of Laguna Seca, because this story gets monumentally more hilarious the deeper you dig. The first rendition of the track, created by Com8 for rFactor all the way back in 2006, was originally converted from TOCA Race Driver 3 – and I’m not pulling this out of my ass, you can literally go back to rFactorCentral, and it’s the first line in the description. So while I’m not saying Alex Hummler didn’t do a good job on his conversion, the roots of this virtual rendition actually lie in an old Codemasters game, which Alex certainly didn’t get permission for back in the day, but hey, that’s rFactor circa 2006 for you.

rf-ripA user by the name of aspec7878, who as I mentioned is notorious for taking ripped Forza Motorsport 4 models and charging for them as if they’re premium payware mods, hastily converted this decade-old version of Laguna Seca into Assetto Corsa. Now as many of you who play Assetto Corsa on the PC have found out, yanking a track from rFactor and dropping it into the Kunos Simulazioni title produces all kinds of fucked up shit; the road mesh simply doesn’t transfer over properly, and it’s like driving on giant blocks of concrete. In fact, many users on the RaceDepartment forums – as well as on the tracks’ resource page where you can leave a proper review – actually complained about the quality of the track aspec7878 had converted, with the obligatory Kunos drones showing up to berate anyone who criticized what was obviously a hastily ripped mod.

Generic Assetto Corsa defense force comments aside, this essentially shows you why eyebrows are being raised at an aspec7878 rip being used in a commercial event. His content – if you could even call it that – just isn’t very good.

lel3So what I’m trying to convey, is that the official Porsche simulator, powered by Assetto Corsa, was using a ten-year old rip of Laguna Seca from TOCA Race Driver 3 to show off their new licensing agreement in front of members of the gaming press during a private promotional event. Not only that; the track was converted for use in Assetto Corsa without any sort of fundamental quality control, and uploaded by a guy who currently sells one hundred percent illegal payware mods for Assetto Corsa – which use entire assets from other simulators, and passes the cars off as his own creations.

Yeah, that’s a bit of a disaster.

But is this the fault of Kunos? That’s a very difficult question to answer, and I’m sure this article will travel far enough for someone like Stefano or Marco to comment on the matter directly. There is a chance that the guys working the Porsche Experience merely hit up RaceDepartment prior to the event commencing, and downloaded as many popular tracks as they could so the journalists were provided with a significantly greater list of locations than what’s available in the default package. But given how much of a stink has been made about this high profile licensing deal, and how “official” everything has been made out to be – including the event itself – it’s hard to imagine Kunos just sort of threw a bunch of Assetto Corsa Steam keys at the Porsche organization in charge of putting on the event, and said “go nuts.”  With how protective Kunos are of their baby in situations such as this one, it’s certainly out of character for them to give the thumbs up on something like this.

Don’t run over to the official Assetto Corsa message board with pitchforks just yet, but this looks really bad on their part.

Reader Submission #128 – The F1 2016 Tire Wear Scandal

f1_2016_hungary_32It appears as if there’s a bit of a PRC Curse floating around the world of sim racing. After praising Stock Car Extreme and trying to host our own league with the generic V8 Supercar Reiza Studios had built for their customers as a free piece of bonus content, the team had their newest title taken off of the Steam Marketplace for a short time due to skirting dangerously close to the official Formula One brand. Upon partnering with Race2Play as our lone official sponsor and publishing an article stating the financial status of the company – including revealing a potential deal which would have seen them pocket a six-figure paycheck from SimRaceway – the online racing hub is instead set to close up shop at the end of the 2016 year. We deemed DiRT Rally our Game of the Year for 2015, but afterwards discovered a set of physics oddities that essentially let you fling your WRC-spec Fiesta around each of the game’s twelve stages with reckless abandon; highly against the spirit of a hardcore racing simulator. And now, the curse has affected Formula One 2016, a game I singled out as the benchmark for the future of racing simulators.

There’s a lot to like about Formula One 2016, so I’ll spare you the details of the full quasi-review published earlier this year and offer a brief summary: the game Formula One fans had been wishing Codemasters could ship since they acquired the license in 2009, finally materialized. It’s not the most accurate simulator, but it damn well gets the job done, and surrounds the core driving model with an impressive career mode that’s much more than just progressing through the current F1 schedule, season after season.

But today’s Reader Submission blows everything wide open. There are fundamental problems with how tire wear is calculated by the EGO Engine powering the Codemasters F1 series, an exploit so horrendous it’s basically broken the competitive element of the game – and Codemasters haven’t addressed the community at all for months.

f1_2016_silverstone_15Hey PRC, I’ve sent in a few submissions about F1 2016 before, and again I want to stay anonymous because of how controversial this glitch is. I’d prefer if people didn’t know I cheated my way to a bunch of wins thanks to an exploit Codemasters seem to have no intentions of patching.

Basically, there is a game-breaking glitch in F1 2016 first discovered by the community in mid-October, and the glitch revolves around a major part of the racing strategy in modern Formula One – tire wear. People have found that the tire wear in Formula One 2016 is determined by the compound you’re starting the race on. If you start on the softest available compound, your tire wear will be through the roof – almost impossible to adequately manage – but if you begin the race on the hardest compound you’re allowed to select from for that particular event, every single tire at your disposal will hardly wear, and you can more or less push at maximum attack for the duration of the race.

What this means is that in league racing, all drivers who start outside the top ten and receive the free tire choice, as per F1 rules, are favorites to win the race, because they can pit one or even two stops less than the front runners, whom are forced to start on the softer compounds. This glitch completely ruins every competitive league in F1 2016, and the fact that Codemasters haven’t bothered to do anything against it in over two months demonstrates that their promise of taking a different approach to F1 games and listening to the community has gone out the window.

forumsThe thread discussing this problem on the official forums is huge, with almost everybody agreeing that it is indeed a major issue that desperately needs to be patched, and many are reporting it has already affected the outcome of their private leagues. You simply cannot play this game competitively anymore. One of the top F1 2016 players on the Xbox One platform, Seiyariu, has created a nice video to demonstrate all of this stuff in action, and his accompanying description is a sign that Codemasters desperately need to intervene to save the F1 2016 community.

As a beta tester for Formula One 2016 myself, and someone who is really involved in the F1 community, I’m quite shocked to be honest. Codemasters rolled out seven patches for the PS4 version in quick succession, and really tackled the problems which would pop up each week just from people sinking so much time into the game and accidentally running into stuff. But for some reason, as you can see from the community manager’s post history, they’ve gone completely silent from October onward. I know that they’re most likely shifting the focus to F1 2017 behind the scenes, but this type of glitch turns a really solid racing game into a bad experience, because I cannot contend for a victory fairly on the highest possible level, knowing my online competitors have basically half the tire wear I’m subjected to.

infoI think the average player might not even notice this glitch, but if you race against some of the best players in the world via private leagues, and victories are stolen from you because someone exploited a flaw in the game to receive substantially less tire wear, then it’s a massive piss off.

ss_2bef4823dbe3cde1d644e806c050a8cbd9eb62c0-1920x1080Thanks for sending this in. I really like these kinds of pieces because they highlight just how passionate some sim racers are to be digging apart a game they otherwise love, and it also sheds light on some of the little tricks that top online racers use – which usually have little to do with the racing itself. I’m sure a lot of F1 2016 owners will be breathing a heavy sign of relief after getting raped in an online league and not being entirely sure why.

My assumptions about why this issue came to be, is that the EGO engine doesn’t natively support tire wear. Remember, when this new game engine first came about, Codemasters had been working on the original DiRT and GRID titles for the Xbox 360 – both of which were games light on simulation value, and instead looked to capitalize on the weird middle ground between Forza and Need for Speed, where people wanted the race cars found in Forza but couldn’t commit to any sort of serious physics engine. I don’t recall DiRT nor GRID featuring tire wear, as most of the races were designed to last around five minutes or so, leading to the theory that the concept of rubber degradation was tacked on after the fact for the F1 games, and they’ve re-written the coding for it every few iterations.

I’m not trying to make excuses for Codemasters, because for it to affect the results of a race in this fashion is exactly as you described it – game breaking – but it’s a starting point to explain how a bug so severe could manifest in the first place. Remember, even DiRT Rally – a so-called hardcore simulator – doesn’t have the ability to adjust tire pressures in the garage menu, or monitor tire wear in each service area; it’s grouped into the all-encompassing “wheels” category. So I’m under the impression that tire wear and the behavior of different compounds is something Codemasters injected into the EGO Engine they use for all their games, and they simply did it in a fashion that royally fucks up the online playing field.

So I guess you might not ever see a fix for this, but I do indeed advise you to continue pestering them on the official forums, because this is like, pretty fucking bad if people are running the exact same compounds, setups, and as close to a conservative driving style as they can, yet receiving drastically different tire readouts. I mean, people are banned from rFactor leagues for using third party ram hacks to accomplish what appears to be baked into F1 2016 by default, so hopefully Codemasters shows up and rectifies everything.


Reader Submission #127 – Black Friday Ruined R3E

cywssvkw8aawy_lFor the dedicated fans of Sector 3’s free-to-play simulator RaceRoom Racing Experience, late November traditionally marks a frenzy of increased activity within the game’s online servers. Thanks to the Swedish development team adopting the practice of heavily discounting every piece of content available for the title, keeping in line with Black Friday festivities celebrated by North American-based developers, those on the fence when it comes to diving head first into the spiritual successor to GTR 3 are able to indulge without any sort of substantial hit to their wallets.

The cost to add the complete collection of RaceRoom Racing Experience content to your library is temporarily reduced from a couple hundred dollars, to around the cost of a standard PlayStation 4 disc – a much easier pill to swallow for those of us who still remember the days when you could find GTR 2 on the shelves of Best Buy. Now it’s not all sunshine and lollipops – there are still obviously some major flaws with the game, such as the outright inability to set tire pressures – but the point I’m trying to make is that a whole bunch of sim racers pull the trigger on RaceRoom Racing Experience if they haven’t already when November rolls around.

That is, however, until the wave of new customers wreak havoc on the game’s online servers. Today’s Reader Submission comes from an anonymous subscriber of Reddit’s simracing community, outlining the complete disaster that has been R3E’s 2016 Black Friday sale. Despite the fact that we receive press access to the game and have effectively been given every piece of content R3E has to offer, free of charge, it’s our duty to cover this story.

rrre-2016-11-29-15-22-16-85Good afternoon, Just wanted to start things off by saying you’ve got a great thing going, and I love how it makes some people go batshit crazy over simple facts about their beloved games, like some religious cult. Now I can sort of understand how Jim Jones could get his followers to follow him in death back in 1978.

I just wanted to report that RaceRoom Racing Experience is absolutely unplayable online right now after the latest patch. Many people, myself included, went all in on their Black Friday sale and bought content like crazy. I actually went out and bought their PRO PACK bundle, which gives you 100% content ownership for a fixed rate. But guess what? We can’t play with our new toys online, because the servers won’t work.

rrre-2016-11-29-15-23-12-63I have played RaceRoom for a good two years without major problems and lately it is the only sim I’m playing. Great force feedback, nice feeling cars, good amount of content and decently populated servers online. So I know how good this game can be when it’s firing on all cylinders. But I had a race with you a couple of days ago, and I think you could see the problems for yourself: massive ping rates, disappearing cars, intrusive stuttering, and framerate drops to the point where the game isn’t playable.

What bugs me and others is the complete silence from the developers at Sector3 Studios. Are they working on a fix, or have they gone completely underground?

rrre-2016-11-29-15-27-14-78Thanks for pushing me to cover this story and get away from the madness that’s occurred in our comments section over the past few days. I personally enjoy RaceRoom Racing Experience, and hopefully Jean-Francois won’t crucify me for mentioning to our readers that we occasionally shoot the shit over Facebook, but you’re absolutely goddamn right – R3E is a bloody mess right now, and I’ve included a few screenshots of the races you’ve alluded to throughout the article as proof that shit is going seriously haywire.

rrre-2016-11-29-16-16-26-28This game is utterly solid online when it works as it should, but I tried to enter a couple of servers over the weekend at my own leisure, only to leave prematurely in outright disgust. As you mentioned, cars were warping everywhere, framerate issues popped up when this has usually been the most stable application on my PC, and collision detection woes were off the charts – some guy in a Corvette was the victim of a lag shunt from me even though on my screen, I was nowhere near him. It was so brutal I actually retired from the GT3 event at Spa despite nursing a hefty lead after lap one, as the heads up display reported me to be residing in fourth place, trailing an alleged doppelganger of myself that was said to be 0.000 seconds ahead, with last three drivers incorrectly reported as first, second, and third.

Jean-Francois immediately asked to look at my log files once I notified him of my experience, indicating they’re more than aware of the situation unfolding on their servers, but I can’t answer anything on behalf of the team considering I don’t actually work for Sector 3, regardless of what the inevitable trolls in the comments section claim. I assume they’re not happy that a slight increase in server traffic warranted such disastrous results, but that’s unfortunately the price they have paid for relying on R3E’s bizarre free-to-play model, as opposed to a classic offline format.

Even though our relationship with Sector 3 is quite good, I have to warn our readers that it’s probably best to stay away from RaceRoom Racing Experience until these problems are completely eradicated, so do your best to stay informed and keep monitoring the official message boards until you see a unanimous consensus from active users that everything has been taken care of. Make no mistake, I was genuinely mad at what I saw out my virtual windshield over the past weekend, especially since I’ve enjoyed many exciting online races within R3E prior to the Black Friday update and subsequent influx of new users that their servers obviously can’t handle. Here’s to hoping the next major Sector 3 release will put this ludicrous always-online bullshit six feet under, because I really don’t want to deal with online servers that chaotic ever again.