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.

Reader Submission #126 – Stop the PR Madness!

ams-2016-11-26-18-53-45-90Earlier in the week here at, I published a short piece on iRacing’s Pablo Lopez, who was given the opportunity to enter an invite-only Mazda Miata cup time trial challenge traditionally reserved for real world SCCA drivers thanks to his performance in a sponsored iRacing tournament. As anyone with a functioning brain was able to predict, Lopez didn’t fare so well, adding his name to an elusive group of sim racers whom iRacing has propped up as these online racing Gods, only to struggle when given a shot in a real car funded by iRacing, because the simulator didn’t teach him jack shit and in many ways actually ingrained a number of bad habits into his driving style, habits he was unable to shake while turning laps at NOLA Motorsports Park.

Saturday night’s Reader Submission comes from an individual who has written to us before – though he wants to remain anonymous in this instance – regarding how absolutely stupid these publicity stunts are, and how developers such as iRacing could adjust their marketing pitch to continue with the same concept yet make them more effective in the long run.

ams-2016-11-26-18-58-15-63Hey PRC. Do what you can to hide my identity, I really don’t want to associate my name directly with this piece.

I was reading your last article about how companies such as iRacing try to put sim racers into a real life race scenario – and often failing – and it reminded me about how absurd the concept is of taking people who have never raced in reality and putting them into a situation like that is.

I want to stress first of all that, yes, I know the people who have won past GT Academy competitions can race pretty well in reality and have made great careers for themselves in the motorsport business because of it. However, most of those who have been on GT Academy have had racing experience before, but at an amateur level. For example, before he appeared on GT Academy, Josh Muggleton had competed in a few amateur sedan races in order to get his racecraft and techniques dialed in, before he took part in the filming of the show. Lucas Ordonez was also a semi-professional kart racer before appearing in GT Academy; his karting career only put on hold due to a lack of funds.

While those, including myself and James, who have got some kind of racing license at a NASCAR or even a local level, are ineligible to compete in the contest, those who are in GT Academy aren’t just teenagers that happened to be really good at Gran Turismo; they had some prior practice in real racing, even if it was only just going to a local indoor kart track every week with mates.

What irks me the most about these publicity stunts, is that people are somehow shocked that the sim racers don’t do as well in real life as they do on iRacing or Project Cars and what not. This is because, in reality, the sims that are publicly available don’t actually teach you how to race in real life. Sure, you can learn about racing lines and how to race clean side-by-side, but once you’re in a real race car, that all changes dramatically. Sims don’t allow you to feel the suspension compressing and the car bottoming out and going light over the hill at Eau Rouge or Radillion like it does in real life, they don’t replicate the wind and g-forces knocking you and the car around and the debris that flies around. Because that shit is scary. And race car drivers know this, though they don’t admit it. 

The difference is, however, that both amateur and professional racers have learned to overcome the fear. They still get nervous before a race, but they know how to block it out and get on with the job. They can go wheel to wheel with someone and not think about the consequences of touching or colliding, which is another thing sims can’t replicate. They can feel and react to what the car is doing and how to work with each reaction. Sim racers simply don’t have that. The ones that get thrown in without any experience apart from “oh, they won an iRacing NASCAR League a couple of times” have never had to feel the initial anxiety of overtaking a real car without wrecking themselves and costing themselves a lot of financial stress, they have never felt the car lose grip and start sliding with the g-force being so strong that you have to fight the wheel to get it back in control and no amount of a Logitech G27 vibrating like a sex toy is going to prepare you for that. 

And before someone in the comments points it out, yeah, the real life racers use iRacing and rFactor in their time off. But it’s not because the default version of those games are super realistic and helps them find setups to use in the real races. They basically only use it to practice hitting apexes,  and racing against other humans. That’s not really that groundbreaking in the scheme of things, it’s only really keeping the basics of racing fast refreshed. And in regards to teams using purpose built sim, they usually commission a software company like Image Space Incorporated to provide a specialized sim for them that is far more realistic, and in turn harder for mere mortals to handle. 

So, in conclusion, the advertisement that a sim is so realistic it can make any sim racer a racing superstar is really just public relations fluff that isn’t true in the slightest. What needs to happen in the long run is for companies like iRacing to stop putting people who are not actually qualified to drive in a real racing environment for the sake of tooting their own horn and prancing around how great they are. If they did something similar where an up and coming racer is having a MX5 Cup debut at Laguna Seca, and uses iRacing to help prepare and talk about some of the similarities he or she found, that’s fine, because they at least know what they’re doing. 

Sorry for the long rant, but it’s just a frustrating concept that is so elementary when you look into it. I’d like your thoughts on the matter. Cheers anyways.

ams-2016-11-26-18-55-59-82I’m glad you started things off with mentioning certain GT Academy champions, because it’s a misconception I’ve wanted to address for the longest time here at, but didn’t really have the incentive from our readers to do so.

The more you research into who exactly the winners of GT Academy happen to be, a lot of times you find out they certainly aren’t random teenagers from around the world; as you mentioned with Ordonez and Muggleton, they were amateur racers with actual on-track experience, who happened to be talented enough to sit down and haul ass on Gran Turismo when the opportunity was presented to them. I personally wish more and more people other than myself would be willing to touch on this aspect of the GT Academy festivities, because if you talk about this stuff openly and don’t adhere to the narrative which Sony, Polyphony, and Nissan instruct web sites to push, it prevents individuals like the delusional segment of the iRacing crowd from getting lost in their fantasies and believing there are legitimate NASCAR scouts spectating random races on the service.

In short, if you as a video game company go out and tell the general public that random motherfuckers are getting pulled from their crusty sim cockpits and handed a professional racing career for merely being good at their particular video game, there are indeed many people within the community who will take that to heart. And we saw it last week when Jason Jacoby revealed to the world that he dropped a whole lot of money he didn’t have on a custom sim rig, complete with his own fire suit. When you don’t know that GT Academy is a bit of a smoke and mirrors show, or in Jacoby’s case, aren’t aware that NASCAR driver Josh Berry wasn’t just handed a JR Motorsports ride because was friends with Dale Earnhardt Jr. through private online NASCAR leagues over the years, you end up basing your knowledge of this world on quarter-truths and hearsay. Believe me, there are many people in the sim racing community who are like this, and hopefully if our boy finishes his homework in a timely fashion, we’ll have someone on willing to put his name out there and confirm some of the insanity I allude to.

ams-2016-11-26-18-57-28-99The next topic you bring up is how sim racers traditionally struggle with the physicality of driving a race car – otherwise known as fear of crashing – and to this, I have to partially agree.

I understand I’m a bit of an anomaly when it comes to crossing over from sim racing into reality; I’m that asshole who once tore up his own neighborhood in a Rotax kart just for something to do, but I’ll admit it: performance driving is a bit hectic, and you learn real quick if you’re cut out for it or not. Whether you’re out with friends at the local indoor karting complex, shitting up your local oval track, or at the wheel of an extremely powerful purpose-built race car, walls hurt. Hitting other cars also hurts – and even light contact is fairly loud and unsettling. Dancing on the edge of a tire, or willingly letting the rear end of your vehicle hang out on corner entry because that’s how you’re supposed to go fast in front wheel drive cars, is not a feeling most people are going to be comfortable with; there’s a fine line between getting it right, and getting it oh so very wrong. It takes a very strong mind to stay focused in that situation and continue to push.

I got over that portion of anxiety by reminding myself that driving in circles is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a toddler, walls only hurt if you hit them, and it’s not like I have a female companion expecting me to come home at the end of the day. That kind of positive self-talk may not work for others, but it worked for me. And of course, there will be people who comment things like “who are you to speak about this subject, you only drive indoor karts and shit boxes at some oval nobody cares about” – and to that I say it all evaporates into thin air when you’re strapped into something via five-point safety harness.

ams-2016-11-26-18-56-44-98Now for the last portion, I will contest your underlying point about racing simulator experience not transferring to the real thing aside from basic driving lines and race craft. I’ll honestly go out on a limb and say racing simulators are roughly 85% accurate, with the final 15% boiling down to sensory overload elements that no full motion rig can reproduce. I’ve talked about this in the past, but no sim setup will be able to replicate the PA system fading in and out depending on the part of the track you’re on, the smell of Hot Dogs in turn one, the bits of rubber bouncing off the windshield, or the broad range of vibrations you receive from every inch of the car. It’s just not happening.

But just like in a simulator, all you drive a car with in real life are a set of pedals and a steering wheel. In theory, provided the software itself is of particularly high quality, the same wheel & pedal inputs on a simulator should carry over to real life with one to one accuracy – also known as muscle memory. The reason iRacers have such trouble adapting to real cars is because the physics engine is still largely a work in progress project. From one month to another, iRacers are basically given brand new cars requiring a totally different driving style thanks to a constant stream of updates, with tires that most people on the service still can’t comprehend in the slightest, and weird weight transfer effects leading to bizarre tank-slappers that can destroy even the most talented of sim racers. What this does is royally fuck up the muscle memory sim racers acquire through practicing iRacing.

At the risk of sounding like a shill, other games prepare you in a more adequate fashion. One of the greatest things ever to happen to me in my sim racing career was receiving a lifetime ban from iRacing, because it effectively forced me to try out and get good at other simulators, titles actually drove like a real car.

ams-2016-11-26-18-55-00-01But even with the ability to branch out and try other games, merely owning a bunch of different simulators and jumping around to each of them isn’t the recipe for success. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by like-minded sim racers – some of which who write for the site – who were able to tell me things like “rFactor 2 gets this portion right, practice this car on this track in rFactor 2 to prepare yourself for element A”, or “NASCAR Racing 2003 Season models this correctly, practice this car on this track in NASCAR 2003 to prepare yourself for element B” Dustin jumping on Teamspeak and saying “Assetto Corsa sucks, but put in a ton of laps on the Lamborghini Muira because that will teach you proper throttle control” is valuable advice which helped me in my own journey, but it’s also advice that a lot of these iRacers simply weren’t getting prior to these marketing stunts.

And that’s what the team at iRacing really need to do – before Lopez or Alfalla or Huttu find themselves in a real life car with the cameras rolling and the entire world of sim racing watching, someone needed to pull them aside and say “here are the specific areas you need to practice on our simulator to prevent from embarrassing yourself.”

If their simulator isn’t up to snuff and teaches them bad habits, maybe get your fucking shit together and build a competent simulator before you go out and do all of this crazy PR stuff. Because in my experience, managing tire wear was indeed pretty damn close to how it worked on rFactor, and I let the rear end hang out on corner entry the same way I did in RaceRoom Racing Experience. These are developer teams operating on a tenth of iRacing’s budget, and I can safely say the WTCC cars in R3E made me pretty damn good at driving a shitty Cavalier in real life.

ams-2016-11-26-18-55-09-39Lastly, your views on how iRacing – as well as other sim developers – should change their marketing tactics are correct. I really don’t want to see these random online racers get a shot in a real car and proceed to establish themselves as a back marker, because any idiot can read between the lines and determine the simulator didn’t really help them at all. Go out and find talented drivers who race the simulator in their spare time, and talk to them about what elements help prepare them for the upcoming race weekend. Not only is it cool to hear about each individual driver’s training techniques, it reflects well on the community that you have these really obscure games actually playing a genuine role in the real world counterpart.

I agree that it’s frustrating to see these PR stunts fail spectacularly, time and time again. Maybe we’ll move on from them in the future once companies figure out it’s just making ’em all look like morons.

Reader Submission #125 – The Difficulty in Becoming a Sim Racer

2864417-launch_18Is sim racing a difficult, frustrating, and unwelcoming hobby to get into? That’s the question of today’s Reader Submission from Drako I., who outlines some of the challenges outsiders may face when deciding to dive head-first into a genre that can be as ruthless and frightening as it is enjoyable. While there are many elements he brings up that I don’t personally agree with, it’s an interesting discussion to hold here on – a place where internet points and strict moderators do not dictate who’s opinion is deemed to be correct. Partially related to our last article, while still branching off into its own subject, Drako has fed us a question that I encourage all of you to chime in on.

project-cars-03Why is sim racing so hard to get into? That’s a question that’s been bugging me ever since the release of… well, I’ll say this much. It’s not a racing sim that spurred my question, but rather reading about the man who decided for some reason to construct an entire chassis, and then throw an Oculus Rift in there, to experience his simulator of choice. That got me going off on a tangent and pondering why our beloved hobby is so difficult to enter in the first place.

Actually, let’s take a step back. We’ve all been there at some point in time, advising new players to rush out and purchase an expensive toy steering wheel – but has anyone ever really stopped to consider a tough question; am I scaring off a potential opponent or friend?

Nobody seems to stop and think about that. Instead, they recommend expensive wheels and pedal sets, caught up in a mindset that you must have a particular brand of wheel to get your feet wet in the hobby. Why? What’s the point at the end of the day? Not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a steering wheel, and if they do, they may not have the time to get good at it for whatever reason. Work, school, and relationships can get in the way.

Yet sim racers don’t care. There’s a stereotype of a gamer as somebody who never leaves the basement, and has no tangible social life. This also applies to sim racers to a point, and like all stereotypes it’s based loosely on truths that are difficult to swallow. There are indeed those in our community who never get out, but recent studies have shown more and more people are playing games as a whole, and of that statistical analysis, many are found be be fully grown adults.

Adults who have steady employment records and don’t have countless hours to sink into a simulator, night after night, and may not have the disposable income necessary to rush out and buy expensive plastic toys for their desks.

Yet again, the sim racers sneer at anyone using a keyboard, gamepad, or a lesser brand of wheel. Get a Logitech G27, they say, ignoring the fact that it costs a lot of money, and not everyone has space for a comprehensive wheel setup, let alone the time to get good with one. Get the fuck off this sim if you’re using a pad, they scream in message boards, ignoring the fact that a pad is just as valid of an input method as any other.

And that scares away people from sim racing. It’s a shame, because sim racing is a tiny, tiny niche genre in a genre that’s already suffering a bit on the popularity side. Compare the amount of players across the four biggest racing sims, and then look at the numbers games like FIFA or Counter Strike pull in. If that’s too much of a stretch for you, look at Euro Truck Simulator 2, which has a phenomenal userbase – and I know for a fact there are people out there rocking joysticks, mice, even keyboards, and they’re all having the same amount of fun. And nobody bitches about an input method on the forums or demands somebody to get a refund or stop playing the game because they don’t use a top of the line wheel and pedal setup.

So why is sim racing so hostile to new players?

I believe it to be fear.

Fear of new people coming in and showing up the old-timers. Fear of being shown up in front of their online friends by somebody with a cheap wheel; fear of finding out their precious $700 metal/plastic fusion isn’t as good as a $20 eBay impulse purchase. So they lash out and scream at people, basically because of what’s called tribalism.

Do you remember the bitching when iRacing allowed non-traditional controller options besides steering wheels? People were losing their shit; claiming iRacing had gone casual. It hadn’t, in fact. What it had done was smart. It allowed more players, and more potential revenue. From a business standpoint, it was a phenomenal call. Yet the hardcore sim racers continue to scream that you need an expensive wheel like the Logitech G27 or G29.

Lastly, it’s also fueled by anger. The anger of knowing that not everybody gets to be an astronaut in the end, or in this case, a race car driver. Anger at a chosen sim for being a stand-in replacement for a real racing career, anger at the new people for wanting to take their shiny toy away. It’s the same basic principle. Sim racers that are firmly entrenched in a community for a sim, do not want other people to show up and steal their thunder, so they lash out and demand others to play the exact same way as them, and throw a hissy fit when they see people playing it differently.

So what can be done? Can sim racing ever become mainstream?

No, or at least not yet. It will take a massive change in the culture for it to crack into the mainstream audience in the way Euro Truck Simulator 2 has, or even Flight Simulators.

As for the vocal hardcore people in their sandboxes hurling sand at everyone who stops to look at them playing and throwing a hissy fit about what controller somebody uses, it’s quite frankly, ridiculous. They can spout the complaint of “but you drive a REAL car with a steering wheel and pedals” argument all they like, but I for one have a counter argument for that. Alex Zanardi, one of the greatest drivers in the history of auto racing, has driven with hand controls since 2001 – and he wins races. Yet, the sim racing community as a whole plug their ears and carry on insisting people using alternative control inputs like Zanardi don’t race.

Until that changes, until sim racing becomes more tolerant of other input methods, of different people in their sandbox, sim racing will always be a tough sell to people who aren’t massively into cars.

2743_project_carsThere’s a lot you’re wrong about. Sorry fam, but I’ll try and deconstruct everything you’ve mentioned as best as I can. I caution you that others won’t be so kind, effectively proving your point about how hostile this community can be at times, so I’ll do my best to explain where this hostility is rooted in.

You’re right in the fact that you don’t need a wheel to play a racing simulator; there are guys who rock the Xbox 360 controller with mild success; others have dialed in keyboard settings almost perfectly, and I know a dude from 4Chan who’d bust out this obscure Namco neGcon – as the twisting portion in the center made for what he felt to be a perfect miniature analog steering wheel. I’ve kicked peoples asses in DiRT 2 with an Xbox controller, won online races in Monster Truck Madness 2 with the basic arrow key layout, and even ran in a NASCAR Racing 2003 Season league back in the day using an Interact Hammerhead. So I know that it’s doable.

But as an accomplished sim racer who’s won in basically every of class of car to win in – including a Baja 500 victory earlier today – here is the honest to God truth: you’re much faster and infinitely more consistent with a wheel. This does not mean you’re not allowed play simulators with an Xbox 360 pad; in fact, some guys willingly give away their controller settings in various forums to make this a feasible option if a wheel just isn’t in the budget. Go dig into Project CARS and run laps to your hearts’ content – nobody is stopping you.

However, when you jump online into something like iRacing, or any kind of organized league racing in a rival simulator, there’s a base level of respect your competitors expect from you. You’re expected to pilot your car in a manner that isn’t detrimental to the experience of other drivers. If you’re showing up with an Xbox 360 pad, mouse steering, or some kind of alternative input device, there is a large chance you will be all over the goddamn race track and a rolling hazard for everybody else. That’s not to say there aren’t people out there who haul ass with a keyboard or an Xbox controller, but they are so few and far between they become statistical anomalies. Your average online race in something like iRacing outside of rookie classes, most people are putting up a genuinely competitive pace, and a gap of even a few tenths of a second between you in an Xbox controller, versus your opponents with a standard Logitech G27, is going to cause serious problems in traffic. They will run you over, because a wheel provides that much more precision, and therefore more speed. You know how driver training teaches you that someone driving under the speed limit is just as dangerous as someone driving over the speed limit? This is what they’re talking about. With a controller, you are effectively becoming the grandma doing 45 in a 60 zone, occasionally crossing over into the other lane and giving your comrades miniature heart attacks. It’s not fair to subject others to this, and then turn around and question why sim racers get so angry when they find out you’re not using a wheel.

Now as to why sim racers “angrily scream” to go purchase expensive steering wheels, that’s because these games are actually built primarily for those who do own steering wheels. You have to understand, developers like Sector 3, Studio 397, and iRacing (to an extent), have essentially taken aim at a fraction of a fraction of a very broad genre and said “we’re making a game just for you guys.” These games are built to be race car simulators for race car nerds, and most race car nerds own toy steering wheels because that’s how cars are driven. This isn’t Euro Truck Sim 2, where you’re idling on an expressway behind some minivan; you’re dancing on the edge of a racing slick for an extra tenth of a second. Keyboard buttons and Xbox 360 pads don’t allow you to execute the advanced car control maneuvers required in this environment with routine precision.

Think of it like the Guitar Hero series. Yes, you can technically play those games with a standard Dualshock controller; I think it maps the green note to A or X (depending on the console), and the rest of the notes to the shoulder buttons. And yeah, you can plug through the campaign mode with a Dualshock just fine. But to actually play the game where it’s enjoyable and you’re getting something out of it, it’s built for the plastic miniature Gibson Xplorer. And it’s the same with sim racing. Yes, you can go out and run ten seconds off pace in an Xbox controller, maybe getting to the point where you can post a time that’s two seconds behind the leader on a simple track. But when you’re physically in an iRacing server and the green flag drops or the lights go out, more likely than not you’ll be a legitimate hazard because a controller or keyboard doesn’t grant the kind of consistency required to not be a nuisance. Again, you’re not cruising like in Euro Truck Simulator 2, you’re racing. And people don’t want to spend their free time dodging someone who’s not adequately prepared to race. You’re right that most people just sort of get angry and can’t articulate it like this, but that’s why they’re getting upset.

Willingly becoming the aforementioned Grandma doing 45 in a 60 zone because “buying a wheel is too expensive” is disrespectful to your competitors who have joined an event alongside you and were hoping to pull off a clean race. It’s not very fun for the others if there is always that one car who’s getting in the way and becoming a nuisance by his own choice.

Now you bring up Alex Zanardi’s hand controls as proof that you can be successful with something other than a Logitech G27, right? I hope you’re aware of what these hand controls actually look like. It’s still a steering wheel; essentially the same setup as the Thrustmaster T2 from the 1990’s, where the throttle was on the wheel itself, in place of the shifter paddles.

And there’s actually a drift car out in my neck of the woods that rocks the more traditional set of hand controls seen in passenger cars.

I’m really hoping I’m missing something, because your point about disabled drivers using hand controls is essentially moot – they’re also using steering wheels, just the way they apply pedal inputs is modified. At work we have a few units like these, and they’re quite enjoyable to wheel around – really easy to pick up, logical to drive, and you can see how it’s not much of a change to adapt to.

Back to the original point, as I’ve said before, what you may possibly be failing to realize is that racing simulators don’t fall under the same umbrella as Euro Truck Simulator 2. Trucking games are more or less leisure applications that combine traditional motorway driving with light role-playing elements, bundled in an admittedly well-rounded package. Throughout most of the game, you are idling in a straight line at a set speed limit, where the truck simply can’t get away from you, and only minor corrections to the steering, throttle, and brakes are needed. Purpose built race cars, on the other hand, can sometimes be one degree of steering input away from sending you into the wall at 230 km/h. I don’t know why you would willingly want to pilot a machine like that with an arrow key on the keyboard, or your thumb on a gamepad, because it’s objectively not precise enough. And unless you’re an absolute wizard on the Keyboard or Xbox 360 controller, it’s going to be a mess if you enter any sort of organized race.

So on the control input front, it has nothing to do with elitism. People use steering wheels, and advise others to buy steering wheels, because it’s the right tool for the job. Nothing to do with fear of being shown up by new kids on the block; it’s simply not practical to try and race with anything other than a steering wheel. Unless you’re a freak of nature who’s busting out incredible times right off the bat, what ends up happening 99% of the time is that you’ll get run over, cause a bunch of accidents because you can’t keep the car under you, and people will get mad because you’re wrecking more than everyone else – the kid at the go-kart track who just can’t figure out what it takes to go fast.

maxresdefaultYou do have a point in that sim racers don’t need to push high end wheels on the average community member. Look, most of the people that buy these wheels are what some call “sim dads” – older gentlemen who throw copious amounts of money at their hobby because that’s what they feel like doing. Most of these guys aren’t very fast drivers to begin with, and so the misconception of a wheel improving their driving ability spawns from their online discussions, leading to an abundance of misinformation floating around. You can’t always tell how fast people are from message board posts, so what happens is that many of the discussions from people claiming to have gotten faster after buying a Direct Drive wheel are actually guys who sucked to begin with. That’s just something you learn from experience, however.

13886924_950612808380884_804333304988597299_nWe’re getting to the controversial part of the article now, and that is the sim rig which inspired you to send in this submission. Look, it’s very important to make this clear – this project came about largely in part due to the overall intelligence level of iRacing’s community. With how much iRacing’s marketing team like to talk about real drivers using their software, a lot of individuals have wrongly interpreted this as believing some sort of NASCAR driver will “discover them” on iRacing and put them in a real car sight unseen – as if iRacing is a legitimate substitute for having some kind of amateur auto racing career.

I wish I was kidding about that, but because no professional driver has actually taken the time to outright dispel this myth, you have quarter-truths floating around as fact, perpetuated by entire groups of people who either aren’t old enough to understand that this isn’t how things work in the world of auto racing, or haven’t been exposed to people who can snap them back to reality with the other three quarters of the story.

This sim rig isn’t proof that the sim community aggressively pushed him into building something so preposterous with money he didn’t have just to play iRacing, but rather displays an online environment where so much misinformation had been floating around, several people who could have told him he was being ridiculous, didn’t, because they also believed in those quarter-truths.

ams-2016-11-08-16-43-52-76Will sim racing ever be mainstream?

No, absolutely not.

With games like Euro Truck Simulator 2, at their core they are very simple experiences that don’t require much knowledge of absolutely anything related to the trucking industry to get a fair bit of enjoyment out of it. When it comes to traditional racing simulators, however, the basic act depicted in the software is not idling in traffic, but rather driving a high performance race car – a skill that you don’t just pick up overnight. I’m not sure why you’d ever believe people would just suddenly figure out the art of performance driving as easily as they’d pick up Guitar Hero or Halo. Up here, people can’t even drive the speed limit when it snows without a spontaneous date with the nearest ditch; what makes you think the average Joe will flock to this when forced to approach the same situation at three times the speed?

League of Legends is popular because everyone and their computer illiterate friend can pick it up for free, click around, and possibly win a few matches once they understand the core concept of the game. But in race car simulators, unless you go into it knowing full well what’s expected of you when behind the wheel of a purpose built race car on a closed circuit, you’re going to crash, and the game really doesn’t give a shit. There aren’t ways to make this easier for outsider users curious about the subject matter, because physics engines quite frankly don’t give a fuck if you aren’t using a wheel or are unsure of what the proper braking technique is. And they shouldn’t have to – sim developers know what their target audience is, and that’s who they build their games for.

Can the community be less retarded? Absolutely, though the examples and reasoning you’ve provided have been admittedly quite poor, though I’ll let our readers chime in on this one.


Reader Submission #124 – Vaporware Status Achieved for 90’s Arcade Racer, Daytona USA 3 Announced

largeThough the glory days of titles like Sega Rally, Daytona USA Deluxe, and Virtua Racer are firmly behind us, replaced by massive franchises that favor an overall experience centered around hyper-authenticity and obsessive car collecting as a means of progression, a Kickstarter project led by a user under the name of Pelikan13 hoped to spawn a throwback of sorts to a much simpler time for both the PC and Nintendo’s ill-fated Wii U. Operating under the working title of 90’s Arcade Racer, the acquisition of funds for what ended up being a fully functional game behind closed doors began sometime in 2013, though with the 2017 calendar year steadily approaching, there still isn’t a finished product both potential customers and those who helped finance the project can go out and purchase. Today’s Reader Submission comes from our longtime contributor and our unofficial Twitter account operator fmecha, drawing attention to the fact that what’s occurring with 90’s Arcade Racer is turning into a bit of a mess for those who contributed to the Kickstarter campaign.

arcade-racer-nintendoenthusiastGood afternoon, PRC. It has been a while since I’ve sent something into you guys, hey? And this time, we’re dealing with a Kickstarter-based arcade racing game: 90’s Arcade Racer, aka 90’s Super GP. An arcade racing game designed as a modern take on SEGA branded arcade titles such as Daytona USA and Sega Super GT.

The Kickstarter project took off around 2012 to 2013, collecting roughly 16,000 GBP, most of the donations coming from the hardcore Sega arcade cabinet fandom. Wii U and PC, as well as the iOS/Android mobile devices, were touted as platforms, and this was seen as a huge positive for Wii U owners considering they had little in the way of racing games to select from. Everything honestly looked quite promising for those into these kinds of simple racing games; everyone in the community was watching the project with the utmost of attention. Kickstarter progress reports were delivered on a steady basis until November of 2015, though the game was originally intended to be released a year earlier in November of 2014. For the majority of this year, the developers of the title remained silent, never giving any updates, causing every arcade racing fan emotionally and financially invested in 90’s Arcade Racer to become anxious about the fate of the game.

This anxiety was compounded by the fact that another Kickstarter-based game Mighty No. 9 – a Mega Man clone by one of the original Mega Man developers and heavily supported by diehard Mega Man fans – shipped with an abundance of bugs and was poorly received by virtually everyone even the least bit interested in it.

The developers of 90’s Arcade Racer finally broke their silence in their most recent Kickstarter update earlier this year, mentioning that they’d actually moved on to a different game called The TakeOver, and claiming that their time spent on 90’s Arcade Racer had concluded and was ready to be handed off to a publisher. However, in May 2016, Nicalis, the publisher, seemingly moved 90’s Arcade Racer away from the original intended platforms to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – a decision absolutely nobody supported, though in hindsight now makes sense thanks to Nintendo’s introduction of their new console, the Nintendo Switch.

Aiming for a Fall 2016 release date, which is right now, we still don’t know anything about the status of 90’s Arcade Racer. It should be noted that Nicalis itself is a publisher with a poor track record of announcing ports of random indie games that often go unreleased, such as the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Legend of Raven, a fighting game that eventually was released as a PlayStation Vita exclusive. They also infamously cancelled the international WiiWare release of La-Muluna, though the game was eventually picked up and published by EnjoyUp Games instead.

And thus, a sad story of a crowdfunded racing game that the Sega arcade racers fandom – including, full disclosure, myself – eagerly awaited, but ended up being vaporware. It’s probably not coming out.

a9a0766804a84675ef92dd6c173340f8_largeAt the risk of triggering you and ripping apart your love of driving games inspired by eastern market video game trends, I have a feeling the title’s demise has something to do with the actual subject matter. Look, the trailer for 90’s Arcade Racer sent a lot of gamers on an enjoyable nostalgia trip, but these games as actual products people can buy are little more than a heavily dated snapshot of the mid 1990’s, rather than a compelling release gamers would willingly want to spend money on and sink time into. I can tell from the gameplay footage that it’s not like 90’s Arcade Racer was an inherently bad game – it’s basically the driving physics of Outrun 2 in a closed-circuit experience (which if I remember correctly was how the unlockable tracks in the home console version operated), but 90’s Arcade Racer isn’t something many people want badly enough to purchase.

The evidence of this is in a title many of you will remember being on the shelves at Best Buy or other preferred video game stores about a decade ago, Sega Rally Revo. Now if I’ve got to jog your memory a bit, Sega tried to reboot the Sega Rally franchise for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but the game as Sega built it just didn’t stack up to what else was being offered at the time – namely Project Gotham Racing 4 and Forza Motorsport 2, which were these mammoth experiences you could play for weeks compared to the shallow waters of Rally Revo. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nicalis felt the same way about 90’s Arcade Racer, and merely picked it up as an asset they could use to release when they felt they needed funding for something else in the future. It’s obviously a shame a fanbase for an extremely specific sub-genre essentially got fucked over to that extent; contributing money to a project that never saw the light of day after four years, but that’s the gamble you take on Kickstarter campaigns.

It looks nice, but quite frankly I wouldn’t play it, and it’s hard to imagine there’s an audience for it.

Now another piece of the puzzle may be insider knowledge of Sega’s recent announcement to revive the Daytona USA brand and push out a modern arcade cabinet game. Sure, the world has been told Daytona USA 3 is coming, but we’re not 100% sure if that will extend to consoles at some point just yet, and it makes me wonder if Nicalis knows something we don’t, and is considering scrapping the project entirely. I mean, if Daytona USA is back on the market, what would drive people to instead purchase a knock-off, right?

Reader Submission #123 – Poor Post-Release Support for WRC 6

wrc-6-screenshotIt’s a rally themed weekend here at, and while our post on Saturday celebrated the overwhelming spontaneous spike in DiRT 3’s Steam activity thanks to a fantastic deal over at Humble Bundle, we’re shifting gears for Sunday morning to talk about a rally title on the other end of the quality spectrum – Kylotonn’s WRC 6. Though the boys at Team VVV have praised WRC 6 as the best officially licensed piece of rally racing software in a long time, in reality those who have actually purchased the title and not been invited on a tour of the studio are more vocal than ever before about the title’s shortcomings. Today’s Reader Submission comes from Oliver T., who is frustrated with the way Kylotonn have handled the launch of WRC 6 – basically ignoring the legitimate complaints customers have made about the game.

wrc-6-screen-ps4-5-1024x576Hey PRC. I just want to point out the fact that WRC 6 still has no proper wheel support, and there has been complete radio silence from Kylotonn since the 18th of October – shortly after the game came out. I have a Logitech G27 with a TH8A shifter, yet because I don’t use the stock G27 side piece, I can’t use my wheel with WRC 6. It’s supposedly required to make the game register my G27 as a supported wheel. Take a look at the Steam forums, there are many people complaining about the various controller issues – eighteen pages worth!

One of the more comical problems people have found are scoring loop issues in the Super Special stages; you know, the ones where it’s a head-to-head crossover duel like the Race of Champions events? Even if you intentionally lose to the AI driver you’re pitted against, you can actually still win in the overall times at the end of the event, and I’ve created a video to demonstrate this.

There’s also a bug where French voice clips are inserted into the English co-driver pack, so as you’re driving your co-driver will randomly spout French phrases.

drunk-copilotWRC 6 isn’t that bad of a game, in fact I’d say it’s actually improved a lot compared to the trash we received last year, it’s just that some of the issues above – including lack of support for all but the most basic of steering wheel setups – serve to really ruin the experience.

9694_wrc6-yaris-2016_001_896x504Not surprised by any of this, to be honest. I remember back when I bought WRC 5, I noticed that the AI seemed to be heavily scripted, and regardless of how fast I thought I was going, I always ended up being a few tenths ahead of the field provided I ran a clean stage. I believe Kylotonn have structured the AI in a way where your finishing position is directly related to how many off-track excursions or incidents you have over the course of a single stage, and nothing else. For example, if you bounce off five barriers, the game detects you’re having a shitty run, and predetermines your finishing position to be third before you’ve actually crossed the finish line. Shady? Yes, but when you’re a company operating on a shoestring budget like Kylotonn, you don’t have the option of coding proper AI behavior.

I’d honestly like to see someone test this by sitting stationary at the starting gate for a good five minutes before going on an absolute tear, and seeing how the game scores their finishing position. If it still awards you with the win, it’s clear that WRC 6 doesn’t feature any actual artificial intelligence to speak of; just random times generated by the player’s performance.

As for the other issues, welcome to shovelware. That’s really what we’re dealing with here, and I’m still genuinely curious as to how these guys landed the World Rally Championship license in the first place.