Reader Submission #136 – Picking Up iRacing’s Slack

2What if I told you there’s a way to unfuck some of iRacing’s most blatant shortcomings? That’s the theme of today’s Reader Submission here at, as an anonymous member of the service’s private Winstel Cup Series – a championship created to re-live the glory years of NASCAR’s fourth generation body style – has written to us explaining how the group of drivers were once under the spell of iRacing’s disastrous driving model, only to successfully experiment with key variables in the garage menu to produce an on-track product superior to the vanilla iRacing experience.

The result has been nothing short of spectacular; to this cluster of sim racers attempting to re-create Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fantastic string of seasons flying under the Budweiser banner, iRacing has finally lived up to the enormous subscription and content costs the brand asks its users to continuously fork over each year. But it wasn’t without some work that really shouldn’t have been necessary in the first place, and today, we get to learn how they pulled it off.

3jpgHey PRC, I’ve decided to write this article for you guys because I feel like the community should know about what we’ve found within the iRacing software that makes it significantly better than the default game most of the users play.

I’m involved in a league called the Winstel Cup Series, which runs the K&N Pro Series car at large speedways to sort of emulate early 2000’s top level NASCAR events. On paper, this probably sounds like a surefire disaster, as iRacing tries this same kind of combination in the official mock K&N series every user can access by default provided they have the appropriate license level, but there’s a reason behind why these events are so brutal. Most of the fixed setups iRacing uses for this low-level series are above 53% cross weight, which makes the car handle like a dump truck. Usually, you have no front tires after about ten laps, and the car plows into the wall. This creates a nightmarish situation for anyone looking to have a good time from the car, and it gives drivers who have no clue what they’re doing, far too much confidence.

After our first season in the league, we switched to much looser setups that rewarded raw driving talent, and to our surprise, the average number of cautions each event dropped from a hefty six, to just three. The trickier setups also created much better racing, with the average amount of leaders and lead changes seeing a tangible increase as well.

We also discovered that tire wear within the iRacing software accelerates dramatically with hotter weather. In some cases, it’s downright unrealistic, completely contradicting the service’s goal of a highly accurate simulation. At the season 2 finale in Atlanta, in which we ran weather conditions of 90 degrees and clear sky,  we saw lap times drop off by three whole seconds in just ten laps. This is incredibly unrealistic, especially because iRacing’s scan of Atlanta Motor Speedway is from 2006, due to what the track logos are.

However, with this tire wear, we actually generated proper multi-groove racing. Atlanta, Charlotte, and Rockingham all lent themselves to a racing environment where every lane worked at both ends of the track, and during the closing laps at Atlanta, we had seven cars battling for the lead; everybody being able to use their own groove. However, four out of the seven cars still chose the bottom line, proving iRacing’s new surface model works, but not as well as they would like it to.

The next thing I’d like to address is the iRacing draft model. It’s broken to no end, and there are several problems that we could not fix to what we’d like, as it’s a problem with the sim itself. Some of these include side-drafting speeding the host car up instead of slowing it, and the last car in line falling out of the pack no matter how much draft there is. These problems can be reduced with the changes we’ve made, but they’re absolutely ridiculous in the context of a simulator. First, we put a 2.90 final drive gear in the car, which helped the racing tremendously. It seemed to be more like the 2001 NASCAR restrictor plate package than anything else, and we were able to have a good race, rather than the single file events iRacing usually puts on at Daytona and Talladega. Secondly, we added 250 kilos of weight penalty, which helped the last car in line not lose the draft as easily. We also kept the weather at 90 degrees and clear, which wore out the tires to about a second of fall-off, making the outside the dominant line during these races, and thus more realistic.

What we have done proves iRacing can be what iRacing promotes itself as, but it’s an oddity and takes a lot of work to make it right. You’re much better off picking up a sim like ARCA Sim Racing if you want something out of the box that works as intended, and makes it easy to find a league. However, I didn’t write this just to bash iRacing, it’s still the best sim racing service in the world, it just needs a lot of fine tuning.

urlThis sort of falls in line with what I’ve heard about iRacing’s atrocious default setups. Because of how many updates each car goes through, and how many cars there are on the service in total, plus all the different tracks which sometimes require alternative configurations, there’s simply not enough time for the staff members to create solid baseline setups for every single car to ship with every new build. The setups iRacing do churn out are often rudimentary configurations just to get new drivers around the track without spinning, occasionally carrying over from a previous build even if certain cars have received fundamental changes under the hood.

It’s very frustrating to deal with as an end user, as you’d think there would be some effort made to point people in the right direction – especially with how complex the garage area can be regardless of any mechanical experience you may have under your belt. And as a large majority of the popular oval racing series on iRacing rely on fixed setups rather than the ability to adjust your car in the garage area, only a fraction of iRacing members get to see the true power of the software.

I’m unsure why iRacing would intentionally cripple themselves in this department, and instead ship out god-awful baseline setups that are borderline retarded in a competitive setting ,when even their own users are figuring out how to work with the software, not against it. Their entire marketing gimmick is aimed at a hardcore audience who want something more demanding than literally every other racing game every made in the history of home computers, and people are paying top dollar (plus VAT) to say “I’m an elite sim racer.” So with such an influx of so-called hardcore sim racers who in theory should know their way around a pretend race car enough already to wheel a proper setup, why are they instead bundling the cars with configurations that are legitimately detrimental to the racing experience?

This is too stupid to be intentional; you seriously can’t tell me a bunch of guys in a private league somehow figured out how to make the on-track experience infinitely better, but then again, we’ve seen time and time again with iRacing staff that some of them don’t know what they’re doing, and are merely there as a reward for their time spent with NASCAR Racing 2003 Season.


Reader Submission #135 – The Use of Ballpark Figures

28724869973_b6587c4d8b_oOnly a few short weeks ago, the sim racing world was turned upside-down when Norweigan drifting personality and avid sim racer Fredrik Sorlie leaked a conversation between himself and Stefano Casillo of Kunos Simulazioni, in which the sim racer found himself on the receiving end of an aggressive virtual lashing from an otherwise respected developer within the sim racing community. While most of our readers rushed to take sides and either publicly blasted Stefano or accused Sorlie of being in over his head when it came to discussing tire behavior, lost in the community-wide argument was what the actual conversation centered around: tire behavior.

Casillo argued that the data and calculations powering the tire behavior in Assetto Corsa were the most important pieces of getting the virtual Ferrari on the screen to feel like a proper car driven to the edge of the tire, but Fredrik stated that his semi-random numbers inserted into the INI file – primarily the result of several trial and error experiments – produced a much more realistic range of vehicle dynamics on corner entry, which mirrored his own time spent blasting around the Nurburgring Nordschleife with his life on the line. Or, you know, something to that effect.

Today’s second Reader Submission comes from Richard Wilk, the in-house physics guru for rFactor’s Historic Sim Racing Organizationor HSO for short. The HSO website specializes primarily in full-length online races ahd championships held in machinery from an era of motorsports that placed speed over safety, either creating their own mods from the ground up, or re-building popular historic releases from the ground up to iron out their flaws. The website recently completed their highly competitive 1973 USAC championship to close out the 2016 calendar year, and are currently in the process of preparing for a 1980’s World Sports Car Championship event at Monza. Though these guys don’t receive much publicity on mainstream outlets, they’re busy as hell on their own little corner of the internet – consistently managing to acquire full grids for each and every event they hold.

ob_755803_cg1gkhAccording to Richard Wilks of HSO, you need more than just hard numbers – as Kunos Simulazioni have ruthlessly claimed when discussing tire behavior in private with real race car drivers – to create a convincing rendition of a virtual car, and it’s foolish to dismiss feedback from people who have driven the real thing, even if it goes against your own data. You’re building an experience, not a space shuttle.

1dac9a26393743cf75db3c55da1854146a8057d6Hello PRC! I’ve returned with another submission about the process of creating cars for all of your favorite simulators, but this time I’ve been a bit more outgoing than usual, and I’m finally comfortable revealing my name. You can read some of my past submissions HERE and HERE.

There was a lot of talk recently about Stefano Casillo from Kunos Simulazioni refusing to hear and even offending a guy with massive real life experience. To me, this is beyond unbelieveable. No, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to call names or question what Kunos are doing behind the scenes (though it may be a bit justified), but I’d like to explain to readers why this is all so preposterous to someone like me, who willingly spends his free time learning about cars, and creating a convincing set of physics for others to enjoy in a competitive setting.

As a physics modder, I can say that having a guy who not only drove the real thing, but understands how to be successful in a consumer simulator as well, and can flawlessly translate skills from one to the other, that’s pure gold. It’s already hard enough to find interviews or accounts from drivers detailing the real life experience because it’s not something auto racing journalists typically ask – they’re concerned about race strategies and other marketing things – so finding a guy willing to drive in a simulator for an excessive length of time  and even show you the way that the car behaves by modifying the files himself… I have to say I’m a bit jealous of Kunos that they have fans willing to go through that lengths to help the developers.

So for Stefano to shoot these people down… It’s very dumb. Honestly, incredibly dumb. But this gets much worse. You see, even if he believes he has his tire model numbers absolutely correct, he’s putting too much faith into two really dangerous categories:

  • That his physics engine properly translates those numbers into correct forces in all situations.
  • That his tire model is already perfect, or realistic.

Looking at point number one, I guess Stefano’s pride must have been hurt to lash out at Fredrik like that, so it’s no small wonder he doesn’t even question that his physics engine functions perfectly in all situations. But point number two is something he should very well question, because nobody, and I repeat nobody, can claim to have tires nailed in sim racing. And this is where feedback is most important.

When I sit down and work on a car for HSO, and this entails everything from helping with a scratch made mod our guys created down to every last lug nut on the wheel, all the way to tweaking an existing mod that people like but doesn’t drive very well, tires are the absolute last thing I mess with. You can do everything else right or get it somewhere in the correct ballpark, but tires? Its not just the grip. It’s the load sensitivity, the slip angles, or the relationship between front and rear slip angles, and how that all translates through the flawed or incomplete tire models we have, into car movements. This is a massive grey area, and you can’t rely solely on numbers, especially because those numbers powering other parts of the physics engine – or data that has to be extrapolated from other pieces of data – are not 100% reliable in the first place. This is where accurate feedback is crucial. Too many times I see things other modders have gotten wrong, because people just assume things about these cars, and never read or were bothered to ask people with legitimate experience.

I can understand modders getting this wrong, because Porsche or Ferrari haven’t given them free reign of their private garage, nor do they have the budget to acquire sensitive data or take these cars out to a track for firsthand experience, but developers themselves? A team who are supposed to know the inner workings of their software? It’s really inexcusable.

How can quality mod teams for Assetto Corsa exist, if the people creating vanilla content behave like this? They should be setting an example, not being yet another “I never sat in this car in my life, but I know better” autistic manchild.

1acfa9983bd05987f27314b3b2f1d1561e479838Even though we’ve sort of moved on from Stefano’s meltdown over Fredrik’s feedback and what it indicates about how Kunos Simulazioni operate, you raise an interesting concept that I’m sure the readers of PRC will appreciate (compared to a submission we posted earlier today, anyway).

When tires are still a bit of a black art that no single developer team – let alone real world car makers – have been able to master, why are Kunos behaving as if raw data and numbers they’ve set in stone are the answer to producing an authentic virtual recreation of performance driving? Consumer racing simulations – the ones we can buy off store shelves – are an approximation of vehicle dynamics using as much real world data that can be applied within the software, and then filling in the blanks with reasonable guesstimations. But physics engines themselves are an approximation of real life, using numbers to replicate the laws of the universe, so there’s no absolute guarantee the software powering these games is one hundred percent correct before we even place a car on the track.

Therefore, there’s no reason not to be open about feedback from avid sim racers with real world driving experience willingly plucking numbers into the game just to see what happens, because they might actually be onto something. And sure, let’s say after a ton of testing, their feedback results in experiments that are wholeheartedly inconclusive. That’s okay. It’s not a knock on you as a developer or as a person, it’s not them trying to undermine your years of obsessing over vehicle dynamics textbooks, it’s them saying “it doesn’t feel right to me, can we try going back to the drawing board so your software benefits me more on the real track than it already does?”

Unless there is something seriously wrong with your emotional state where even the slightest bit of feedback triggers immense hostility to anyone who crosses your path, this is how you improve the simulation value aspect of your simulator.

Reader Submission #134 – The Honeymoon Phase is Over

ken-blockistanIt appears a single half-decent car on the iRacing service hasn’t been enough to convince users that the eight year old simulation is making a tangible leap forward to justify the increased cost. Released with no prior build-up to iRacing members about a week ago, the 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup was the first car on the service to implement everything the team have learned from their time spent trying to accurately produce dirt oval racing, and at first, reception to the vehicle was overwhelmingly positive. While most cars available in the online-only simulator at a price of $15 per-vehicle exhibit strange handling behavior at the limit of adhesion, even iRacing’s toughest critics were convinced that the 911 GT3 Cup was an incredible step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, today’s Reader Submission from Charles H. notes that while the car itself is indeed fairly enjoyable, the rest of the platform still has some catching up to do.

seb-loebHey PRC, I’m just writing to you as a way to share my experiences with the new Porsche Cup car. I’m honestly feeling a bit retarded at my decision to re-subscribe after hearing such glowing feedback on the first day rather than waiting it out for more critical, well-rounded pieces to surface.

A bit about myself: I quit iRacing back in 2014 (God, I make it sound like an addiction) because of the tire model woes, service issues, and the price needed to advance my B license. So many users claim iRacing is a worthwhile substitute for a real racing career, but it cracks open your wallet as frequently as a real career does. This week, I decided I would re-subscribe and at least try out the new Porsche GT3 Cup car.

I was first greeted by a small price increase of $13 per month instead of $12. No big deal, I thought after shelling my shekels for the Porsche and the Nurburgring circuit. And after some practice, I decided to partake in an Industriefahrten Fun race, since I could at least bust out consistent 6:43’s in the Mercedes AMG GT3 at the ring and hold my own in an online race. Well, I ended up beating second place by a solid minute or so in my first race back, without too much effort – leading to what I thought would be a free increase in iRating and Safety Rating.

But after an hour and a half of waiting, the race results still weren’t in. I assumed the race was affected by some bug that made it not count, so I signed up for another hoping they’d eventually appear on the website – which as of this submission they still haven’t.

When this next race started, I encountered the extremely common “Starting the Sim” bug, where the simulator hangs on the loading screen and eventually crashes. After a restart of my PC, I was finally able to get into the race, but I had to start from pit lane as is the case with all late entries. I was already pretty bummed at this point, but figured if I can win by a minute, I would be able to catch up the ten seconds or so that I’d lost with a less than ideal starting position.

The first few corners were fine, but then as I exited the first sector, iRacing suddenly decided to fuck up the calibration of my controls, or at least my brakes. I put more pressure into my T3PA pro pedals than I’ve ever put in before, and only registered about 50% input. I was unable to stop the car because of a software calibration bug and binned the car into the barriers. A ten minute tow pretty quickly established the fact that this race was a write-off.

A race doesn’t count, a common and still unfixed bug ruins my race start, and a sudden calibration error ended it four corners after I took the green flag. On top of that, the tire model on cars other than this divine entity with the Porsche logo is still trash to put it bluntly. The real kicker is that as of this Email hitting your inbox, it has been about three hours since I’ve completed the first race, the results still aren’t in, and probably never will be. I posted a condensed version of this submission within the complaints department in the forums. Whether you give a shit or not, I’ll let you know if I’m banned for it.

I’m a sucker for paying $13 per month for this.

1This is why it’s very important for iRacers to be as vocal as they can possibly be about gremlins in the software. New content for an aging simulator doesn’t mean jack shit if there are underlying software issues that are being swept under the rug by a userbase who are more than happy to hold hands with staff members on the forum and sing kumbaya in unison. iRacing will sit in a stagnant position without a mass of voices demanding the quality of the product to live up to the amount they’ve invested into it. Of course, there are people who are fine with what iRacing offers as a racing simulator in January of 2017, but as you’ve written above, sometimes these problems get in the way of actually enjoying what the game does do well. A loss of wheel calibration and failing to register statistics in a piece of software all about tracking statistics is like, basic software functionality far more important than tire heating patterns or which licenses they’ve acquired this month.

The approach you’ve taken to reporting the problem is the correct action. Yes, it’s fun to come to PRC and blow off steam in our comments section; either shitting on the developers or arguing with brainwashed fanboys, but when you want to get shit done, bombard the forums with error reports. Make developers very aware that their product isn’t up to snuff. They’re not your friends, they’re not your co-workers, and they’re not your family members – they’re a company who sold you a product. It’s your duty to tell them when it’s broken, not make excuses for them and apologize for their mistakes.

It’s indeed disappointing that iRacing suffers from such widespread technical problems despite almost a decade in operation and obsessed fanboys throwing hundreds of dollars at them, but that’s what you get when there’s a cult-like mentality infecting the official forums and people are treating it more like an elite social club than an overpriced video game constructed from the ashes of an obscure NASCAR simulator. If you’re a developer and the majority of your audience shower you with praise as some sort of revolutionary figure in what’s admittedly a niche genre, what incentive do you have to listen to any sort of criticism, even if it’s valid?

Reader Submission #133 – Corrupted Save Files in Xbox One Edition of Assetto Corsa

asseBy now, we’re all well aware of the fact that Assetto Corsa on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 simply isn’t anywhere close to resembling the product which originally landed on the PC in the fall of 2013. From neutered menus to a complete lack of certain options found within the version of origin, Assetto Corsa for current generation consoles is certainly a shadow of its already sketchy former self – and while there are indeed a number of users completely satisfied by the core driving experience, there are an equal amount of console-based sim racers wondering what in the hell all the fuss surrounding this game is about.

And that’s before we address what we’ve been notified about in today’s Reader Submission. Coming to us from Vernon C., there’s a fairly crippling bug in the Xbox One version of Assetto Corsa preventing even the most apologetic of Kunos Simulazioni supporters from progressing through the game in a meaningful manner. Assetto Corsa’s save data frequently corrupts itself, and neither 505 Games nor Kunos Simulazioni have outright stated they’re looking to rectify the situation. In fact, the issue hasn’t even been addressed in their high-profile monthly blogs, with the team continuing to push out DLC packages that they can’t even get right the first time – as special events that were intended to come with one of the several Porsche bundles are still “being worked on.”

For a game centered primarily around building and refining car setups thanks to a rather dull single player campaign mode, Xbox One owners are pretty pissed off that this data is occasionally being wiped, there’s nothing they can do to stop it, and Kunos are basically ignoring their concerns.

24138837879_bdfc3a4b8a_oHey PRC. First I’d like to say that I’m a silent admirer of your work, and have been monitoring this place for quite some time. I have never written to any gaming journalist previously, and have never really had a reason to do so before now.

I know that you guys are primarily PC gamers, and that’s where the majority of your focus lies, but I feel that maybe by bringing up the issue here, you might be able to shed some light on something that Kunos are attempting to sweep under the rug and continuously sell us DLC, all while failing to address a pretty substantial issue.

As you may or may not be aware, the Xbox One version of Assetto Corsa has a very nasty bug within the game – it basically doesn’t support save data. Games like Assetto Corsa heavily rely on the ability to save a setup or even save your progress after completing events in single player. Again, I know the Xbox One may not hold much significance to you, but there is a large community of us, and even though we aren’t hardcore PC simulator nerds, we still read PRC and support you guys for the work you do. We feel like we do not have a voice on the official forums to let people know about the game save issue that is plaguing Assetto Corsa.

help-usThe community manager, otherwise known as AC_505, consistently tells us to submit support tickets whenever we encounter the save game corruption issue. We’ve been doing this every single day since the game was first released back in August. Instead, we’ve been told to sit down, shut up, and just be happy with what we have. It’s things like this that take the steam away from the love of sim racing.

I’m not very good at doing this, but can you PLEASE help us out? We are simple gamers/sim racers who are really hoping you’ll hear us out – even though we’re from a “lesser platform” – and create an article or do something to bring attention to this issue. Obviously, the developers are not listening to us on the channels that they are advising us to let them know these problems exist in the first place.

To display what I mean, here are just a few of the Forum topics discussing the issue (the one’s that haven’t been deleted):

Please help us.

Here, let’s drop a bit of a harsh reality on everybody.

Not all Kunos Simulazioni staff members were on-board for a console version of the game in the first place; it was merely a venture to “establish the brand” and see if console owners would welcome a new, hardcore alternative to established franchises such as Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport. Obviously Kunos Simulazioni aren’t going to explicitly come out and say this was their cunning plan of sorts, but actions speak much louder than words ever could – hence why your variant of the game isn’t up to snuff. You and I both know that the console version of Assetto Corsa is inferior to what’s available on the PC, to the point where users openly state in their AC forum signatures that they don’t take kindly to the console crowd. And the developers themselves echo this mentality.

get-a-pcI’m not trying to make excuses for Kunos Simulazioni, just confirming that your assumptions about the developers not caring for the console version and any of its unique problems are largely correct.

I can’t personally snap my fingers and rectify the save data problems you guys on the Xbox One are experiencing, but I can indeed at least put the information out there, so those on the fence about purchasing Assetto Corsa for the Xbox One can be at least a little bit more informed than they were previously. It’s very shitty that this is the approach Kunos have taken with the console version of Assetto Corsa, and maybe it’ll make people think twice about supporting a company who seem to willingly shaft an entire portion of their audience for merely playing on the “wrong” platform.

Reader Submission #132 – Vaporware Cars in Asphalt 8

maxresdefaultI don’t think it’s appropriate to sit here and pretend as if we care about mobile phone games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne here at, but today’s Reader Submission brings up a fairly interesting topic regarding some of the fastest cars in what’s becoming a very popular franchise among casual gamers. The Asphalt series is more or less a low-quality knock-off version of Criterion’s old Burnout franchise from an entire decade ago, though there’s an increased emphasis on micro-transactions and other modern bullshit designed to reel in a userbase who maybe don’t possess the memories of superior arcade racers on the PlayStation 2 – ones which didn’t intrude your wallet.

FMecha has taken a break from running our unofficial but totally hilarious Twitter page to let us know of an interesting situation regarding Asphalt 8’s extensive car roster. Elaborate licensing deals have seen various vaporware supercars establish themselves as some of the best vehicles available in the game, despite some of these cars being little more than a hyperbolic art project for a ragtag team who couldn’t possibly build a car to the specifications they’ve claimed. And diehard Asphalt players – yes, they exist, and there’s a lot of them – are growing tired of what’s essentially product placement for cars created by middle eastern sheiks. I mean, everyone knows Asphalt 8 is simcade and has no simulation value – that’s the whole point of an arcade racer – but even the most simple-minded gamers can see what’s happening.

screenshot_20160206-153104Hey James, I’m here with a Reader Submission about a game that most of the readers at PRC probably won’t care for, but I think it’s a unique topic. I’m here to talk about Asphalt 8: Airborne.

Seeing it’s a mobile game, I’ll chose not to talk about the pay-to-win shenanigans, since complaining about that is like living in Chicago and complaining about heavy snowfall – it’s just part of the deal. Instead, I want to discuss something plaguing the game’s car lineup: vaporware cars by no-name startup car makers. Some of those car makers brak about being a “boutique” car maker, and may (or may not) produce their car in very limited numbers. They also like to make outlandish claims that may rev up automotive journalists’ bullshit meters, and may also end up only as a render – without any real, functioning car scooting around in real life. Sorry, engine-less shells don’t count.

I’d like to draw attention to an article from CheatSheet that partially inspires what I’ve written today.

csThis article basically highlights those no-name supercar companies going for a horsepower (and technology) arms race with promises of four-digit horsepower numbers (after what Bugatti did with the Veyron), and tells it is foolish for those startups to create over-ambitious cars, warning that they may reek of scams, as well. Out of the cars mentioned as “never going to happen” in the article, the Trion Nemesis (a top-tier car in Asphalt 8), Falcon F7, and Devel Sixteen Prototype (the devilish 5000+ horsepower car that seriously revved up the bullshit meters of automotive journalists, although it’s engine builder did manage to actually build one example of Devel’s engine) are in Asphalt 8. The Lykan Hypersport is also mentioned, as in Asphalt, as well as Project CARS, but I don’t list it here since they apparently have sold three out of the seven they’ve built, including one variant to Abu Dhabi’s police force.

asphalt_8_airborne_25_10_2015_20_21_29Some other suspected vaporware cars in Asphalt 8 include the Kepler Motion (a hybrid supercar limited to 50 models that was supposed to begin delivery in 2014), the Lucra L148 (from the makers of the Lucra L470 kit car that does indeed exist), and the Weber Faster One (widely ridiculed as an ugly car).

maxresdefaultThe nanoFlowcell electric cars in the game – Quantino and Quant FE – the latter widely ridiculed by Asphalt 8 players as “The Boat” due to how bad the car handles in-game, is something so big I have to separate them from the list above. The nanoFlowcell cars rode on the alternative power sources bandwagon by utilizing new technologies; salt water battery and flow cell system that leads to an outlandish claim – not large horsepower, but rather large amounts of efficiency and electrical range. This also leads to inevitable skepticism by not only car journalists, but also scientists. Of note, Nunzio Laveccia, the supposed technology founder, is apparently a musician without any experience in engineering, either.

vector-w12_w8lm-editionIt really bugs me about how and why those questionable cars made it into the game. Looking long-term, those questionable cars can create a legal problem; for instance, the Vector cars, also widely labeled as a vaporware car maker, are the big blockade that prevents any re-release of Gran Turismo 2 (in fact, the description for the Vector M12 in the game says that Vector’s company history would make a good movie plot. Well, at least Gameloft didn’t bother adding the highly questionable Lyons Motor Car LM2 Streamliner.

asphalt8_rev_02I agree that the influx of vaporware cars in modern arcade racers is a bit silly, especially when their appearance in Asphalt 8 establishes them as some sort of marquee vehicle at the top of its class. People are eventually going to find out the real thing is literally just a giant full-scale model that doesn’t exist as a functioning vehicle, thus leading to a situation where both the developer of the game, as well as the car maker, look quite stupid in the end. Now, it’s one thing to have preposterous cars like these as an end-of-game reward – Electronic Arts and Bizarre Creations had these sorts of vehicles locked away in older Need for Speed & Project Gotham Racing titles for the player to earn – but Asphalt 8 are going a step further and not just charging a premium for them; they’re the best cars in the game. That’s shitty.

Let me explain why.

506As you explored Project Gotham Racing 3 and naturally acquired certain Kudos point milestones just by progressing through the game, you were rewarded with a whole bunch of these vaporware concepts – and from what I remember, about half of them were from Ford. What Bizarre Creations did right, unlike GameLoft with Asphalt 8, is that they were not essential pieces of your car collection that you absolutely needed to have. The Ford Indigo and GT90 were awesome looking remnants of the nineties, but when you went online, they weren’t the be-all, end-all leaderboard cars you were required to unlock before you even stood a chance online. And not only that, the overall attributes of cars such as the GT90 weren’t space-age figures that left everything else in the dust; they fit right in with the other twenty or so cars in their respective classes. Rolling up to the grid with a GT90 was more of a way to get everyone reminiscing about the good ol’ days of Windows 95-era Need for Speed rather than an indication you were about to stomp everybody.

That’s good game design.

maxresdefaultElectronic Arts took things a step further with Need for Speed II, but there was a method to the madness. EA openly acknowledged the theme of the vehicle roster was primarily homologation specials mixed with 90’s hypercars and one-off concepts, with entries such as the Indigo and GT90 establishing themselves as natural additions to a list populated by vehicles such as the McLaren F1 and Elise GT1 rather than being absurdly over-powered bullshit cars that guaranteed an easy victory. In fact, part of what makes Need for Speed 2 so special was the atmosphere EA had created – the elaborate art projects from Ford and other design firms were treated as “just another vehicle” with their own sets of strengths and weaknesses, giving a sense of legitimacy to their inclusion. Again, good game design.

At the end of the day, however, we’re discussing Asphalt 8: Airborne, a game primarily built to make money off of idiot kids who have been given unrestricted access to mom’s credit card. Unlike classic Need for Speed titles, or the amazing yet short-lived Project Gotham Racing series, this isn’t a game that has been built with any sort of passion or cohesive direction. What you’re looking at with cars such as the Devel Sixteen appearing in Asphalt 8 is nothing more than product placement that puts some $$$ in GameLoft’s bank account.