Reader Submission #140 – Calamity Forces HSO to Re-Schedule Indianapolis 500

An incredible package of open wheel cars warranted an equally captivating online championship, but for the Historic Sim Racing Organization, things on the competition end of the spectrum just aren’t going according to plan.

A few months back, we here at PRC introduced our readers to the stellar CART 88 mod for the original rFactor, a download bundling every single vehicle variant and driver combination that took the green flag during the 1988 American open wheel season into a light-weight download for the legendary rFactor simulation. While many were blown away by the sheer challenge of pushing these cars to the limit, and borderline-autistic attention to detail that replicated engine improvements and chassis swaps across each event, CART 88 as an rFactor mod was only part of the complete sales pitch; HSO would conduct their own full-length, full-distance online championship throughout the 2017 calendar year, allowing hardcore sim racers to step back in time and subject themselves to the same challenges their favorite drivers faced depending on their car of choice – whether that meant limping an under-powered backmarker entry to the finish line, or repeating Danny Sullivan’s dominance.

Yet after only two and a half events, HSO’s CART 88 championship is being remembered not for the intense battles, crafty race strategies, and stellar displays of sim racing prowess, but instead for ineptitude on the part of its entrants. Today’s Reader Submission from an anonymous sim racer competing in the series is here to tell us that while the mod is amazing, the series it was built for, isn’t.

Hello PRC. As I’m sure most of you know, the long process of practicing, qualifying and eventually racing the Indianapolis 500 is well underway. To coincide with this, the Historic Sim Racing organization are holding their own virtual rendition of the event. Using their exceptional, in-house developed CART 88 mod, HSO are running a full season using the mod, with the Indy 500 event being the jewel in the crown. However, this race – the most notable on the entire HSO schedule – has been absolutely plagued by issues. It has been memorable for all the wrong reasons, as the Indy 500 was cancelled (and promptly re-scheduled, to the credit of HSO) without even reaching a tenth of the proposed distance, as ignorance from competitors reigned supreme.

The race was due to start at 20:30 CET, but was delayed for over half an hour due to connection issues experienced by the head administrator. Inconvenient, but very understandable that we’d be required to wait for the primary official, because that’s who is going to guarantee us a fair race. However, this would be the most minor of problems all night, as in my opinion it descended into anarchy.

HSO’s Indy race called on a total of four manual formation laps. The first one was to be completed in rows of two, the next two run in single file, and the field assembling in the iconic rows of three for the final lap. One may ask how competitors were to know when to get underway considering rFactor can only support one formation lap, and the answer lies in hiring a manual pace car driver to do the dirty work for the three additional laps, and then typing “green” as a way to indicate a live green flag.

This is where the first start faltered. After four formation laps, the pace car driver miscounted the laps. He didn’t type green into the chat, and was still on the course. Confused, an admin further back down the field gave the go-ahead. This was disastrous, as the pace car was still on the racing surface. Despite the driver’s best efforts to get out of the way, the field was flustered and a major turn one pile up ensued, with the race restarting.

From that point on, the race was unable to restart smoothly. Several drivers who had partaken in the first start now had connection problems and could not see any cars, as their games did not sync with the server. There were several attempts at formation laps, many of which resulted in additional crashes due to some drivers not being able to see anyone. This was an unwise decision as the people having connection issues could have their problems solved by quitting the server and rejoining.

A short break was taken after the race failed to launch in a clean fashion, with the event now running an hour behind schedule.

Unfortunately, things got even worse. There were more pile-ups on the formation laps, leading to more restarts. In some instances this wasn’t the fault of HSO or any admins;  some drivers just had incompatible internet connections yet still tried to race when they should have thought twice signing up for an online league knowing their internet can’t handle it. As a result, the last restart sealed the fate of the race. A caution was called during the start procedure, adding an extra lap before the start as more sim racers embarrassingly crashed on the formation lap. The race did eventually get underway, but the group failed to complete a green flag lap before the yellow flew again. One driver, who had caused full race restarts in the past due to poor internet, put his foot to the floor way earlier than anyone else. He plowed through stationary cars, taking out no less than ten drivers while somehow managing to remain undamaged thanks to shoddy netcode. This ended up being the final straw for HSO admins, who cancelled the event shortly thereafter.

For HSO to operate properly in races of high notability and of a large entry list, they really need good restrictions on the quality of their competitors’ connections, and begrudgingly bar anyone with connection issues. If you can’t see anyone or are lagging like crazy, you should have the decency to park your car, simple. I’m not placing the blame totally on HSO here, the competitors should have the sense to pull out if their connection is like this. However, the admins should regulate how good their entrants’ connections are. I hope there are plans to do so.

This is not a hit-piece on HSO. I compete in the league on a regular basis and wholeheartedly enjoy it. Their in-house mods are the stuff of dreams and most of their races (which are on a smaller scale in terms of entrants) are meticulously organized and go down without issue. However, I would like them to learn some lessons from this farcical occasion. They are a non-profit organization at the end of the day, however their recent gigantic success in the area of mod development has catapulted them into the spotlight, and they need to be giving off a better showing than this.

I agree some effort should be made to impose internet connection requirements not just in HSO, but as many sim racing leagues and clubs as possible. Yes, back in 2005, high speed internet was a bit of a luxury, and at the time it would slightly inappropriate to demand the average sim racer to fork over a pretty penny just to continue what were essentially “gaming nights with the boys,” but times have changed. It’s been twelve years since the original rFactor came out, and cell phones can now download high resolution pornography at light speed while sim racing as a genre has grown exponentially, so there’s really no excuse for dropping loads on pricey wheels, pedals monitors, and button boxes while simultaneously lagging all over the fucking place because your ass suddenly can’t afford anything more than Wal-Mart WiFi.

Call me a major asshole, but you’ve had twelve years and a few console generations to put some money aside so you can upgrade your internet. At some point you have to stop pandering to these people.

However, I will say that the old adage of “sim racers turning five off-pace laps in a historic car before running to the forums and bragging they’re unable to drive it” is a large portion of why the CART 88 series isn’t going the way many have wanted it to. Though we rightfully gave HSO heavy coverage for a phenomenal mod, myself and Dustin ended up backing out after just two races because it was becoming very apparent that only a fraction of the grid could handle these cars for multiple laps in a row. Not only was building a setup for these beasts extremely finicky, they were very difficult to master on warm tires – we’re talking Grand Prix Legends in fast forward. By comparison, most of the guys who signed up for the league weren’t capable of driving the cars in a safe fashion; they either grew up watching the cars, or had an interest in historic online racing. That combination works well in other HSO series that use big, bulky classic GT cars with the weight and general performance characteristics of a modern family sedan, but certainly not here with these speeds.

There is a silver lining to all of this: I’ve been told that HSO will re-schedule the race and do everything in their power to force their league members to prove themselves (and their internet connection) in a different class before moving up to higher-powered cars such as 80’s CART monstrosities, it just sucks these things weren’t figured out prior to the season starting.

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SRTC Silently Pulls “Million Dollar Championship” Service Website, Leaves More Questions than Answers

Back in early February, we here at PRC.net ran a rather perplexing article focusing on SRTC’s brand new online racing portal, which promised a structured sim racing environment for rFactor 2 that supposedly handed out extensive cash prizes for partaking in various championships making use of the game’s vanilla content – and a popular third party mod or two.

With the cost of membership exponentially higher than what one could expect from diving into the deep end of the iRacing pool, prizes said to reside in the four to six figure range, and even a couple of elaborate trips to exotic locales such as Las Vegas and Barcelona offered to the most talented sim racers on the service’s leaderboard, the whole thing seemed too good to be true; select broken English wording and vague advertisements that didn’t really explain much of anything were merely the icing on the cake in a shitstorm of confusion.

https://pretendracecars.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/pricing.jpg?w=1572&h=916

Though a representative from SRTC appeared in our comments section requesting to be interviewed so he could set the record straight, it was incredibly hard to justify giving him the time of day considering the website alone painted a very questionable picture in regards to the company’s intentions. Good, honest businesses looking to provide a useful online racing service to sim racers do not continuously ask for your credit card information and proclaim there is some sort of premium membership experience awaiting behind a paywall that asked sim racers to fork out around $42 USD per month for the highest level of commitment, when the entire endeavor consists of shoddy Google Documents that can be accessed regardless of whether you’ve paid the company money, and empty servers registered on LiveRacers that show staff members tasked with testing the service had failed to turn even a single practice lap.

Yet despite their insistence that the SRTC service was a real, genuine effort to compose some sort of valid alternative to iRacing – the enormous prizes helping to offset the ridiculous entry fees – it appears our expository piece warranted some kind of action after the dust had settled.

SRTC have scrubbed the internet of their dubious One Million Cash Prizes service, with leaderboards linked in the original piece now issuing a classic 404 Error, custom mods they’d released on Steam to ensure a fair playing field no longer available, and the home page now re-directing to a generic splash page. Devoid of any references to the structured online racing service that was once advertised, we’re now told there’s going to be some sort of SRTC community meet-up at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and that an online championship called the SRTC Pro Series will receive an accompanying website on June 17th, 2017.

Just like that, their entire endeavor has vanished into thin air.

But the internet doesn’t forget, and it has only made me dig even deeper.

The league’s Twitch account has just one follower and no recent activity, while their Facebook page is ripe with links to sub-leagues, such as SRT Poland and SRT UK, but these too lack natural activity you would typically see from an online league – most posts by the administrator have zero likes and zero comments. Furthermore, once advertised as the primary broadcast partner of SRTC, BenjxMotors have not covered an SRTC event since January of 2017. Though I’m not disputing the existence of Sim Racing Track – which appears to be a simulator cafe powered by rFactor 2 located just outside of Paris – I’m under the impression that something seriously fucked up happened to this whole creation between the time we first reported on SRTC, and, well, today.

Now you may be wondering why a random sim league suddenly closing up shop and killing their website is a big deal, as several grassroots leagues rise and fall with each passing month within the sim racing community; it’s really nothing new by any stretch of the imagination, just how our ecosystem tends to work. However, the shocker here is that a French sim racing blog was able to interview Oliver Floyd in person, and he has revealed some kind of a partnership between SRTC and Studio 397, which means this could have potentially been rFactor 2’s actual planned solution to organized, competitive online racing that they discussed a few months back – which would make Studio 397 look extremely retarded if they were at one point indeed willing to go along with this level of delusion exhibited by the SRTC camp.

Either that, or Floyd is about to get sued for implying SRTC and Studio 397 are linked professionally when they’re clearly not.

Extending through several different interviews that all reiterate the same basic rhetoric, six and seven figure cash prizes are liberally thrown around in the same paragraphs as the label of “professional sim racers” is; SRTC having their heads firmly in the clouds regarding their vision of a world-wide sim racing championship using rFactor 2. Preliminary marketing documents have also surfaced, discussing some sort of major television partnership, custom driver suits, and the chance to “drive our race cars”, turning SRTC’s pie-in-the-sky plans into the stuff of legends. You can read the two documents – one for team owners, another for drivers – in the following links:

http://simracingtrack.com/images/Boost-your-career-racing-driver
http://simracingtrack.com/images/Team-PRO-EN

It’s beyond confusing, though it makes perfect sense that this stuff suddenly went *poof* one day and disappeared; there’s no way a small outlet such as SRTC would be able to ensure all of this would materialize in the intended fashion.

So instead, they’ve upped the ante, because this is sim racing after all.

Within the past month, SRTC have signed some sort of partnership with the Trans-Am Euro Series, what looks to be the European counterpart to the highly popular SCCA Trans-Am Championship that has thrived in North America over the past fifty years under a variety of different rule changes. Alongside their SRTC Pro Series – an online championship we still don’t know much about and hasn’t been broadcasted since January, a pathetic race that included just eight cars on the grid – SRTC will also offer an accompanying virtual Trans-Am series, the winner of which will supposedly win an entire fully-funded season in the 2018 campaign, with podium finishers receiving track day driving experiences, and VIP guest passes to select race weekends.

This is alongside the aforementioned SRTC Pro Series, which will suposedly be broadcasted on Motorsport.TV and consist of several Top Gear-like segments that are so absurdly beyond what a little sim racing league is capable of, I’m genuinely shocked this hasn’t been reported on any sooner.

First, they’re promising a $1,000,000 sim racing championship (or $400,000 depending on the interview you read), yet their entire online racing platform was governed by Google Documents that could be accessed regardless of whether you were a member or not. Second, they promised a chain of sim racing tournaments in exotic locales, and this huge structured online racing community supposedly supported by Studio 397 themselves, but one day the entire thing is taken down without warning – extremely bizarre considering they were openly asking for sponsorship and affiliates with an equally perplexing and vague affiliate program, which you can still apply for as of this writing. All of this by itself is highly questionable on its own.

But now they are back, unable to launch a simple online racing service without coming across as an outright scam and having to trash the thing overnight, but in the same breath planning to launch some sort of television show with segments that will rival the production cost of Top Gear, as well as conduct two major world-wide sim racing championships, one of which will award the winner with a full time ride in the 2018 Trans-Am Euro series. If you can’t figure out why this sounds ridiculously fishy, may I suggest an Internet Safety course for seniors?

Older gentlemen plagued by wishful thinking and highly unrealistic pipe dreams are a cancer to our hobby. If you gave money to these people for any reason whatsoever, I advise you to get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible. I would love to be proven wrong and have a sweet rFactor 2 Trans-Am league to participate in, but given their already sketchy track record, I expect that too, to vanish into thin air.

Studio 397 Stumbles Out of the Gate with Poor DirectX 11 Open Beta for rFactor 2

Not only was it underwhelming, it somehow made things worse. The resurgence of rFactor 2 back into the sim racing community spotlight was set to begin early this morning, as Studio 397 rolled out the first open beta of DirectX 11 support for rFactor 2 – marking the initial phase of a comprehensive re-working of the software since wrangling away the project from notorious slackers Image Space Incorporated. Unfortunately, things have not gone anywhere near according to plan, and sim racers for the most part have been left scratching their heads after months upon months of blog posts proclaimed that this would somehow be the absolute final boost rFactor 2 needed to become a worthwhile product. We can’t completely write things off as of yet considering the build’s open beta status, but watching this unfold from a third party standpoint, I can’t help but think it’s just better to let the software die. This isn’t funny anymore.

So let’s get it over with.

The primary focus of today’s open beta build was to improve the visual fidelity and overall performance of rFactor 2, finally taking advantage of the DirectX 11 platform. Studio 397 have been posting an abundance of high resolution screenshots on their social media accounts (such as the one at the top of this article) that depict rFactor 2 in a very attractive manner, sporting a similar visual style to Assetto Corsa compared to the drab, faded art style we’ve come to know and loathe from rFactor 2 over the past four years. However, upon prominent YouTube personality DigiProst getting ahold of the DirectX 11 build himself and conducting a proper DX9 versus DX11 comparison as it would appear from an end-user standpoint, I can’t help but think Studio 397 called on the magic of Photoshop for their promotional pictures.

Simply put, there’s been no tangible step up in visual fidelity; rFactor 2 still looks brutal, albeit now there’s an aqua-colored filter placed over the whole environment, shadows are darker, and panes of glass are now covered in an ugly blue film like we’re in some sort of comic book from the 1970’s. It’s arguably even worse to look at than it was before, and when compared to something like Automobilista sporting a generic post processing filter, the differences are virtually negligible – or equally shit, depending on your choice of words.

Though the rFactor 2 fanboys will undoubtedly fill up message boards far and wide with praise towards Studio 397, the reality is these guys spent months getting rFactor 2 to look like a game based on software from 2006 – and Automobilista certainly isn’t winning any awards for its graphics. This is just horrendous to see a developer dedicate so much time to improving the game’s visual prowess, only for the end result to be so exponentially underwhelming. rFactor 2 still looks appalling, but now there’s a light blue filter over everything instead of a light brown/grey haze. I’m sorry, but it’s no better or worse than the previous build, and that’s unacceptable when you’ve been telling people it’ll be a vast improvement.

So of course, we get to the part of the article that centers around performance. Up until today, rFactor 2 was fairly easy to run on pretty much any modern PC, as the game was – to put it kindly – released many, many years ago. However, today’s build was bundled with crippling performance issues, meaning those who could once run the software at triple digit framerate counts, were now experiencing frame drops so severe it was the equivalent of trying to play Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit on mom’s work computer back in the late 1990’s. Reports of rFactor 2 unable to achieve even 30 FPS are spread across both RaceDepartment and the official Studio 397 forums, a situation made even more comical by the fact that some of these users are sporting literal supercomputers built with the best hardware money can buy. If you have a graphics card that retails for almost four digits at launch, and you’re still unable to run a title from 2013 at 30 FPS, let alone 60, 90, or 120, when the previous build was locked at 150, something is very, very wrong.

Now, being an open beta, people will undoubtedly scream at me that this is not the final product, it’s an optional download, and of course there will be problems. Here is my issue: open betas are held when a product is 95% done and doesn’t exhibit any major warts, but simply needs a bit of fine tuning here and there. The Gran Turismo Sport beta was a perfect example; the game is more or less done, Polyphony just needed feedback on tire behavior and vehicle balance. I wasn’t a fan of it, but there weren’t any technical problems – the software worked.

An aqua-colored smear over the screen, and in many cases a triple digit drop in performance, is much more than a little niggle. If you as a company are comfortable in putting something like this out to the general public, you’re making a statement that the product is functional, playable, and near-completion. What I’m seeing above is not even close to near-completion; it’s a bad joke, and goes against basically everything Studio 397 have been saying in their blog posts over the past few months. You’ve neutered the performance so severely that nobody can play the game, and a major selling point of the update – the new DirectX 11 support and enhanced visual fidelity you’ve advertised via carefully crafted screenshots – is now up for question, as the raw comparison videos are horrid.

I’m sorry guys, this is a telling sign after months of hype; it’s only a matter of time before the rabid fanboys also get off the bandwagon and move on to something else. No consumer should be waiting around for a competent product over the span of four years, only to have simple things taken away from them such as steady software performance after they’ve been told not to worry, and that the game will receive a massive boost of support from a brand new team.

 

Could ISI Bring Back Sports Car GT?

Though Studio 397 have been given the keys to drive rFactor 2 off into the sunset, that doesn’t mean the original developers of the simulator – Image Space Incorporated – are about to rest on their laurels anytime soon. We’ve heard from several sources, including an email exchange with Tim Wheatley himself many months back, that the team are hard at work on an upcoming project; one that will “use” the isiMotor engine rather than “develop” it, so it’s certainly hard not to let speculation run wild – because if there’s one thing all sim racers love to partake in regardless of their preferred discipline of motorsports, it’s playing the waiting game for either a new simulator, or an update for a sim they haven’t touched in several months.

Last year, I predicted this secret project would manifest into an officially licensed IndyCar simulator. Image Space Incorporated appeared to have an excellent relationship with both Dallara and the Verizon IndyCar Series, to the point where Indianapolis Motor Speedway was included in rFactor 2 as default content, and they were sharing data about the current spec aero kits with third party mod teams working on other games, so it wasn’t a stretch to assume things would be kicked into high gear with a fully-licensed IndyCar simulator sometime in the future. ISI achieved worldwide recognition for their fantastic open wheel simulator F1 Challenge ’99-’02 over a decade ago, so an IndyCar sim would almost be a sort of homecoming celebration for them; it’s not quite Formula One, but after years upon years spent developing multiple sim racing sandboxes with heaps of unlicensed content in the base package, it would be a return to their roots to create an open wheel sim with the blessings of a major racing series.

The biggest problem with this hypothesis, however, lies with IndyCar itself. Featuring only twenty two drivers on the grid for the 2017 season, all of whom pilot cars that are generally regarded as the worst looking vehicles in the history of auto racing, IndyCar isn’t just a shadow of its former self; the series is on life support. People aren’t going to the races in person, they aren’t watching the races on television, about half of the drivers on the grid are regarded as washed up stars of yesteryear, and I’ve read stories of Indianapolis residents not even knowing IndyCar was a championship series; they just thought the Indianapolis 500 was a one-off special event. While many sim racers would no doubt love a hardcore IndyCar game because of the variety the series provides – visiting temporary street circuits, ovals, and purpose built road courses all within just a few months – it’s probably not feasible on the IndyCar side of a potential deal. These guys can’t put their own fans in the stands for $50, so who’s left to buy an IndyCar video game most of them won’t be able to complete a lap in for $60?

But regardless of the IndyCar situation, ISI are still making some sort of undisclosed project, and the language used to describe it implies the software won’t be some kind of eternal science project, but a feature-complete simulator you’ll be able to purchase, install, and play without worrying about things like developer blogs, road maps, new builds, and all of the garbage that has infected sim racing as of late. And looking at the types of sim racers who still play rFactor 2 religiously, there’s basically one move ISI could make that would win virtually everybody over and generate both the most amount of buzz, and highest number of sales across the entire planet while still remaining true to their sim racing roots.

Resurrect Sports Car GT.

Released in April of 1999 and published with the help of Electronic Arts in an era long before they were known as the world’s worst company, Sports Car GT was ISI’s first major racing simulator, centered primarily around North American multi-class GT racing as sanctioned by IMSA. Though the game included a slew of fantasy circuits to diversify the track roster, sim racers were introduced to locations such as Lime Rock Park, the Las Vegas Infield Circuit, Sebring International Raceway, Road Atlanta, and a high-quality version of Laguna Seca that blew away what Papyrus had built a few years earlier for IndyCar Racing II. Not only was the vanilla release extremely well-received by major gaming outlets, bundling impressive graphics with equally robust physics and a simple career mode that allowed you to buy, upgrade, and sell cars, Sports Car GT’s third party mod community promptly exploded in popularity. Absolutely everything went right for this game.

Fast forward fifteen years, and GT racing is even more popular than it was in 1999, with the added bonus of being financially stable; limits being placed on car development to prevent costs from launching into the stratosphere and prototype-like machinery from dominating each event via liberal interpretations of the rules package.

On the software side of things, sim racers have been begging for an all-GT oriented sequel to GTR 2 after the company now known as Slightly Mad Studios won several awards for what was on paper a very obscure simulator based on the European FIA GT Championship. With the cars being relatively easy to learn yet difficult to master, and brand loyalty playing an integral role when it comes to on-track dick waving, many sim developers have thrown top level GT cars into their software to satisfy the needs of sports car racing fans, though being inserted into a diverse smorgasbord of content just isn’t the same as firing up a piece of software with menus, features, and functionality as elegant and focused as the Ferrari’s, McLaren’s, and Porsche’s it features.

But this is where resurrecting Sports Car GT in that fashion, makes perfect sense.

rFactor 2 is a great simulator, but only in very specific circumstances. The Stock Cars ISI tried to implement a few years ago in an effort to woo the oval racing crowd are still woefully inadequate, with the AI unable to provide a compelling oval racing experience. There are plenty of open wheel cars to mess around with, but all of them allow you to beat and bang with your opponents as if they’re bumper cars at the local summer festival. And yes, while the game welcomes third party mods with open arms, most of them just aren’t very good – either quick conversions from other platforms, or beautiful 3D models with objectively poor physics. This has created situations where a lot of people end up buying rFactor 2, only to wonder what all the fuss is about.

And then there’s the endurance racing content by UnitedRacingDesign.

The popularity of rFactor 2 in certain sim racing circles has skyrocketed thanks to what’s basically two mods from the same payware modding team, as URD’s unlicensed GTE and Prototype packages show off the isiMotor engine in the absolute best possible way. With several leagues – including the prestigious VEC – making use of both mods in an online endurance racing format, events are long enough for the dynamic track to naturally evolve in the intended fashion, the tires behave in such a way that those who drive the cars understand why rFactor 2’s thermonuclear tire model is such a big deal, and the 24-hour lighting cycle, driver swaps, and weather patterns play an actual role in the event as opposed to being features the large majority of rFactor 2 users will never touch.

What I’m getting at, is that the major new features that make rFactor 2 a technological masterpiece which so many hardcore sim nerds can be seen masturbating over on the official forums, are actually made use of when it comes to GT and endurance racing content. So it would make sense for ISI to reboot Sports Car GT and make that type of racing their primary focus, as it puts the level of detail and functionality they’ve spent years working on at the forefront, rather than hiding it in options menus to be neglected by a large portion of their customer base.

Licensing is also made significantly easier for Image Space Incorporated by choosing to pursue GT & endurance racing. With so many series and sanctioning bodies around the world running under the same basic set of rules and specifications, there isn’t actually a need to go out and license one exact racing series directly, such as Blancpain, IMSA, or the World Endurance Championship.

Merely acquiring ten or twelve of the most popular GT entries, along with a handful of prototypes and a decent selection of major racing circuits is enough to get things off the ground, as regardless of whether it says Blancpain Endurance Series above the windshield of a McLaren 650s, or a fictional World GT Championship moniker, the physical on-track product isn’t any different. This is what they appear to have done Sports Car GT, as I can’t find anything on the packaging or in-game track signage that states it’s an official IMSA product of any sort – it just has an ass load of various GT cars on tracks that just so happened to be on the IMSA schedule, as well as a few international tracks like Donnington Park and Hockenheim thrown in for good measure.

We’ll obviously learn in time what ISI are up to behind the scenes, but I’m under the impression they are resurrecting Sports Car GT with an updated set of cars and tracks, using the isiMotor 2 platform as a base. Sports car racing is the absolute best way to make use of all the new additions to the isiMotor engine first implemented in rFactor 2, the popularity of sports car racing is at an all time high and people are desperate for some sort of modern game primarily focused around GT racing, and it would be a sentimental returning-to-their roots story for a company many have thought lost their way with the haphazard development of rFactor 2. There’s basically no reason for them not to do it at this point.

Outer Space Donations

Holy shit, what fucking timeline are we in?

With no prior post history and little in the way of recording equipment, an rFactor 2 supporter by the screen name of Matador667 has appeared on the official Studio 397 forums, attempting to raise money from other devout rFactor 2 fans that would be put towards recording real audio samples from the historic Cosworth DFV engine that was a prominent staple of Grand Prix grids back in the 1970’s. Sporting a Geocities-like web page, the endeavor aims to pick up some of the slack that Studio 397 simply aren’t able to execute on their own by attaining real engines sounds for upcoming content – something Studio 397 aren’t able to do on their own given their already busy schedule morphing rFactor 2 into a relevant product.

It’s an admirable effort for community members to self-fund an aspect of development for their favorite game – a step beyond iRacing fanatics purchasing pizza for the staff members after key software updates – but in execution, Matador667’s project raises several red flags.

Broken English, vague details, and a donation button linking to the address of matador667@mail.com highlight wishful thinking from a non-English speaker at best and an outright scam at worst, though what is already looking extremely shady takes a turn for the bizarre on the official Studio 397 message board. Matador outright admits he has no idea what he’s doing, cannot tell sim racers on the rFactor 2 message board who will be managing the project, what equipment they will be using, who will be mixing the sound in the end, what car they will be using as source material, or the most important part of all – how much it will cost.

He does, however, continuously ask for donations. A lot.

Matador sends himself into hot water fairly quickly by becoming combative against anyone with a functioning brain whom dared to question him, as well as admits there has been no planning done on the project whatsoever, before claiming he has somehow raised exactly 21% of the money needed to progress to the next step.

Uh, guys… ?

With zero background information on the modder in question, and absolutely nothing on the table when it comes to a tangible plan to record the sounds, we are subjected to lengthy posts dubbing those asking basic, simple questions about the crowdfunded sound recording project to be “spies” from other games trying to sabotage rFactor 2.

It’s easy to get swept up in the madness of just one inexplicably bizarre message board story on the Studio 397 forums, but I feel this might be the time to talk about rFactor 2’s strange tendency to attract the vollpatients of the sim community into vigorously defending the software as if it were their first-born child. Slowly but surely, stories have come from all over the place in regards to rFactor 2 owners acting as a grassroots Scientology cult of sorts, believing to be in some kind of war with other sim racers who are actively working to bury rFactor 2. Messages such as the one below in my inbox appear quite frequently, with one anonymous user claiming he was unable to leave an honest Steam review about rFactor 2 without being brigaded by a rabid rFactor 2 supporter who worked tirelessly to dismiss the user’s opinions of the software.

This behavior, combined with Matador667’s tangent in which he explains you should donate to his objectively sketchy sound recording project to somehow fight back against the spies and saboteurs from other simulators, makes me genuinely question what subliminal messages Image Space Incorporated have inserted into their track side television monitors – this shit is absolutely whack. I shouldn’t have to say this, but in case you’re new, we might as well cover it anyway: Don’t give money to Matador667; his crowdfunded Cosworth engine recording project is most likely a scam, and it’s not cool when sim racers fuck with each other in a monetary fashion.