Oval Racing Confirmed to Arrive in Project CARS 2

1484529879164Though it wasn’t marketed specifically as a hardcore NASCAR or IndyCar simulation, a major reason many owners of Project CARS felt betrayed by Slightly Mad Studios when the title finally hit store shelves in the spring of 2015 was due to the complete omission of oval racing within the simulator. Despite WMD preview builds containing partially constructed versions of Daytona, Charlotte, Bristol, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway to compliment the assortment of dedicated oval track cars within the vehicle roster, and an announcement claiming the Indianapolis 500 would be present within career mode, the game we could actually go out and purchase failed to include any of this content whatsoever.

It took several months for Ian Bell and the team at Slightly Mad Studios to address this issue directly, and when they did, it basically came out that the game’s artificial intelligence simply couldn’t handle going around in circles. After a very difficult launch which saw sim racers running out of patience during the process of waiting for routine title updates provided by Slightly Mad Studios, it certainly wasn’t something the average Project CARS owner wanted to hear.

ian-comment-ovalsAccording to a recent leak spotted within a very specific 4Chan thread, it appears Slightly Mad Studios have made it their mission to include oval racing in Project CARS 2. Texas Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Daytona International Speedway are all appearing within the track roster, most likely selected thanks to each venue accommodating multiple racing disciplines. All three feature infield road courses used by a multitude of sports car series, and all three serve as stops on both the NASCAR Monster Energy Series schedule, as well as the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. So while European road racing fans will undoubtedly scoff at the inclusion of stupid American ovals, it’s not like these tracks will be completely ignored by all but North American owners of Project CARS 2.

1484530227541That being said, many questions still linger about the quality of oval racing in Project CARS 2. The original version of the crowdfunded racing simulator was not known for its complex artificial intelligence, as my own experience with the game across several different platforms warranted numerous situations where the AI cars were unable to complete a full-length event without falling victim to pathetic pit stop strategy or basic pace issues. Oval racing is an entirely different beast compared to road racing, with multiple lines each serving a unique purpose, pack dynamics not always producing an instant “this route is faster” option, and complex tire strategies radically changing the pace of one car with each passing pit stop. These are advanced computer opponent behaviors that were far beyond what the original game could ever hope to accomplish, so I definitely find it hard to believe these hurdles are completely in the rear view mirror.

Online racing, however, might be decent – though we’re unsure if safety cars will appear in Project CARS 2, meaning users might have to conduct their own caution laps.

1484529245926Regardless, it’s a meaningful piece of info that displays while some have every right to be on the fence about Project CARS 2 given the shaky state of the original game, combined with the reputation Slightly Mad Studios have earned within the sim racing community over the past few years, it’s nice to see photographic evidence of the developer taking aim at something they simply couldn’t get right in time for the first game. The Daytona road course is fantastic and deserves to be in much more than just Forza Motorsport 6 as default content for a mass-market video game, Indianapolis will complement the inevitable inclusion of modern IndyCars, while Texas will give the stock car guys among us a stereotypical cookie-cutter circuit to unleash both eras of NASCAR-spec sedans.

 

How Far Delusion Takes You

13873169_934434709998557_5714062328692588093_nLooking back, I think my favorite memory of the Modern Warfare craze that was unleashed upon the gaming world about a decade ago was sitting down with my high school friends, and banging out lengthy legal documents over a late-night Pizza 73 order to determine ownership of our online clan. We had to enlist the help of several lawyers – paid for via paper routes and part-time babysitting jobs – to determine how our Hardcore Team Deathmatch squad would function outside of the Xbox Live servers, and it was a true test of both our friendship and our managerial skills when one of our best players was placed on house arrest after his role in a violent home invasion. The four letters next to our names in each Call of Duty lobby were not just a tag to indicate our group was a bunch of try-hards hoping to become professional CoD players and skip the grind of minimum wage jobs after graduating; we were a legitimate business – and we had the paperwork to back it up.

Sound like complete bullshit?

That’s because it is – well, aside from Greg’s shenanigans in Montana. During my time spent mucking around on GameBattles back in the days of friendly helicopters and glitching outside the map for easy kills, not one team we ever ran across treated an online video game as a legitimate business. As if divine intervention finally allowed us to play Cowboys and Indians with an unlimited supply of opponents, Call of Duty pitted your squad of dweeby teenagers jacked up on Monster against an equally dweeby set of kids from Kansas City. Or Davenport. Or Cleveland. And it was beautiful. Despite the allure of a mammoth payday for the top clans on the service, and the promises of getting flown out to highly lucrative tournaments offering more money than weekly shifts at Taco Bell would ever throw at you, the competitive Call of Duty scene during the height of its popularity in early 2008 still understood that at the end of the day, it was just some shitty modern military shooter where the spawns were fucked, and killstreaks sealed a victory.

Yes, there were Xbox Live party chat tantrums, clans fracturing at the center, and anally devastated campers protesting the results of a fair match in which you utterly dominated their group from start to finish, but nobody was throwing nine page ownership documents at you, just for saying “bro, we should start a clan on GameBattles.”

cap-1Operating under the name of NoXQses Racing, John Hammer’s squad of virtual drivers within the iRacing online service compete primarily within two of the several generic stock car championships found within the regular roster of events, open to any iRacer with the appropriate license rating. There are no cash prizes for capturing the overall championship in either the Class A Open series, nor the NASCAR iRacing Series, yet this has not stopped Hammer from supposedly registering his pretend racing team as a legitimate business in the state of Utah, and throwing lengthy legal documents at his “co-owners.”

Unlike the NASCAR Peak Anti-Freeze Series, which offers a $10,000 cash prize and a free trip to Homestead-Miami Speedway to the series champion – broadcasting each round of the season live on iRacing.com – the Class A Championship is part of iRacing’s regular rotation of events for members to partake in. The NASCAR iRacing Series turns the hardcore dial up to eleven – offering full length online events mirroring the real live NASCAR Monster Energy Series schedule – but again, these events do not pay or produce any sort of incentive to participate in them. They are no different in stature than booting up Call of Duty and jumping into a round of Hardcore Search & Destroy. It’s just sort of there for people who are tired of iRacing pandering to the casual audience and slowly reducing the length of other popular series on the service.

Yet somehow, this warrants a nine-page team ownership document. As someone who actually understands how the whole iRacing ecosystem works, the NASCAR iRacing Series championship is one hundred percent meaningless. It’s basically the iRacing staff saying “on the Friday evening before each real life Monster Cup race, we’ll have our own full-length race for you guys to participate in.” The Class A Open setup championship on the other hand does indicate who can enter the iRacing Pro Series – a feeder series for the massive Peak championship iRacing constantly advertise through their social media – but some of the drivers for NXQ don’t even posses a high enough iRating to find themselves in the highest split of each event, making it virtually impossible to compete for a title given how iRacing awards more points to those in the highest split of the event.

Just looking at some of the results on their website, these guys clearly don’t have a shot at any of iRacing’s premiere leagues – in some cases, they’re actually getting beaten by sim racers using a setup downloaded off the forums and having a wank under caution. For NXQ to run around behind the scenes and throw all sorts of silly legal documents at people merely frequenting the same Teamspeak as them, it’s as if your buddy went out and got a professional photographer to shoot his beer league softball team in action. These guys have totally lost the plot.

cap-2But it just goes to show the kinds of people currently on the iRacing service, and how the sim racing community has drastically changed over the years – creating a climate where delusional behavior is almost encouraged rather than squashed. Look man, I love my video games. I enjoy the process of creating a car, developing setups with my bros, and all joining some kind of private league together, because top level sim racing can be really fun if everyone’s in a similar state of mind. You forget about a good Call of Duty match five minutes after the time limit has expired, but a solid league race stays with you for a few days, and there’s nothing wrong about diving head first into the positive vibes sim racing can produce.

This, however, is absolutely absurd. Here you have a team that’s not even competing for cash prizes – just entering the standard set of races available on the service – and they’re throwing these bizarre PDF’s at people just to take partial ownership of a pretend racing team. This is like, actually nuts. I don’t even take my own goddamn website seriously despite all of the shit we’ve accomplished in roughly two years of operation, and here you have the absolute definition of random iRacers trying to run their Teamspeak group as some sort of registered professional eSport operation – despite the rest of their competition basically showing up to races with a bag of Doritos and some tissues next to the toy steering wheel.

cap-3Now some of you are probably thinking there’s like a team creation element to iRacing, where you have to pay extra to establish a new team on the service, and subject yourself to a monthly fee just to keep it operational – which would somewhat justify the legal babble you see inserted into this article. You don’t. It’s literally a process off filling out a bunch of name fields, and then inviting your friends. It’s a bit flashier than the same concept was back in the days of IndyCar Racing II, but the premise has remained effectively unchanged since 1996. Fill out the field indicating your team name, and congratulations, you’re a team!

Does the above video look like it warrants a nine page legal document? Of course not. And it never has. If you’re just getting into the world of sim racing, and a couple people have invited you to join their crew or start an online racing team – only to throw ridiculous PDF files at you – run the other way. This isn’t what sim racing is about. These people have lost it. There is simply no reason you should ever be required to sign one of these when taking your online league participation endeavors to the next level. At the end of the day, you’re playing an online video game with slightly more realistic physics than Gran Turismo, not some sort of officially sanctioned world where each virtual racing clan has a legal consultant on standby.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just created a team in IndyCar Racing II, and have to ring up my lawyer.

indycar_001

iRacing, We’ve Talked About This…

roarI’m starting to feel like the parent of an abnormally bratty child, because they just can’t get their shit together. For several years in a row, iRacing have made a tradition out of occasionally deviating from their official series’ respective schedules, hosting massive full-length online events within the service mirroring their incredibly prestigious real-world counterparts. Dubbed iRacing’s World Tour, the one-off hardcore exhibition races spread throughout the calendar are not counted as part of any standard iRacing championship, but instead serve to bring the community together for a virtual automotive festival once every month or so.

It’s a very cool concept in theory – getting everyone to partake in the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans or Daytona 500 – but unfortunately, the team in Bedford have a habit of rarely getting it right. World Tour events are often plagued by server outages that crash the entire website, and prevent all but a handful of lucky users from finishing their races – some of whom have practiced weeks to do so. Like clockwork, each World Tour weekend is eagerly anticipated by the community, only for the servers to shit themselves just as things are getting underway due to the sheer volume of users getting in on the action, obviously pissing off a whole bunch of sim racers who have supposedly paid top dollar to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen.

euro-mx5-daytona-lead-packAs of tonight, the 2017 iRacing World Tour calendar has been no exception. This evening’s Roar Before the 24, a significantly slower event preceding the 24 Hours of Daytona featuring entry level road racing cars found within the iRacing service on the Florida Superspeedway’s Infield Road Course, predictably brought the servers to a screeching halt; booting everyone from the game and making anyone’s genuine practice efforts a gigantic waste of time.

untitled-5On the outset, it’s really not much of a story – once again, iRacing shits the bed when it comes to a World Tour event, and those who thought things would be different this year after the chaos which unfolded during the 2016 event are made to look extremely foolish for being unnecessarily optimistic. But to iRacing’s defense, servers do fail under excess capacity from time to time, and every major online game, from Rocket League to Call of Duty, have dealt with online userbases exceeding what the server farm can accommodate. It happens, and it’s usually a sign your game is kicking ass in the eyes of the public. If people are literally swamping your game with connection requests, it’s kind of a compliment.

Except that’s not what happened here; not in the slightest. Only 297 iRacers signed up for the 2017 Roar Before the 24 – compared to the thousands of iRacers who attempt the Daytona 500 or Indianapolis 500 later in the year – indicating something is very wrong over at iRacing’s headquarters.

16111555_993032800840889_1386933663_nAfter finally implementing VAT taxes to their online purchases, sending subscription and content costs skyrocketing (a single month on the service is now 20 GBP, or $32 CDN), iRacing’s servers proved they couldn’t handle three hundred people signing up for one event on a dull Friday night, when barely anybody was on the service to begin with. Despite signing both Ferrari and Porsche to the simulator, and supposedly reeling in an enormous amount of revenue thanks to the largest number of active members in the history of the service, iRacing is brought to it’s knees by three hundred people. Not thousands, as was originally the case in years past; three hundred.

Any sim racer not blinded by post-purchase rationalization and hasn’t yet been forced into silence by the resident iRacing forum bullies, should be speaking up and asking the tough questions here. Where, exactly, is their money going? The service is allegedly growing in leaps and bounds, to the point where I believe 2016 was the first year the brand turned some kind of profit, but the experience for the end user is objectively getting worse. The website was slaughtered not by a mass of hungry sim racers desperately mashing buttons in an effort to tackle the Daytona 500 with their friends, but three hundred people wanting to race shitty little Mazda MX-5’s for a few hours. That’s absolutely pathetic given the manner in which iRacing is marketed. You’re paying a premium price for a game that can’t handle three hundred people signing up for a race, when there are supposedly something like sixty thousand active members.

A genuine server failure? Possibly. But this is an issue iRacing have never once managed to fix. They go out and advertise these massive full-length online races, only for them to have a failure rate greater than 70%. And while these incidents were typically reserved for ridiculous waves of people all trying to click the drive button at the same time during heavily promoted events, we’re now at a point where the website crashed even when it should have damn well been able to handle a comparatively small group of people.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And if you aren’t asking questions, you’re part of the reason iRacing continues to charge an insanely jacked up price while selling renting users an experience that doesn’t even work when it damn well should.

Three hundred people, guys. Come on. That’s just sad. We’ve talked about this.

Get That Arcade Shit Out of Here

screenshot_2017-01-12-08-29-45-1What you’re looking at above is the ultimate display in sim racing elitism. As of today, Facebook’s largest group for discussing our little hobby – over 7,500 users strong – have voted to ban all discussion of both the Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo series, with users who create posts featuring either of the two titles in the future to have their submissions removed at once, and potentially banned from the group altogether after repeated infractions. The latest in a string of incidents which prominently showcase how toxic our community can be to those who refuse to blindly worship obscure PC simulators and broaden their horizons with software constructed for mass market appeal, a survey completed by just 1% of the Facebook group has effectively told a significant portion of our hobby that two perfectly competent simulators are taboo topics because they’re too successful.

Or something.

Earlier this week, I published an article stating I believed the downfall of sim racing was due to iRacing convincing the community that the hobby should be treated as an exclusive online country club rather than a $60 video game, and it appears some of my sentiments are being reflected in how these online groups are being moderated. I feel this is complete bullshit for the community to act in this manner. Both Forza Motorsport 6, as well as Gran Turismo 6, are virtually no more or less hardcore than titles such as Project CARS, Assetto Corsa, and iRacing; refusing to even acknowledge their existence or label them as “arcade games” is pretty hilarious when you actually pick apart the technical aspects of each console release.

Gran Turismo 6

Let’s start with Gran Turismo 6, because I really want to ruffle some feathers off the bat in this post. While many sim racers got their first real taste of the racing simulator genre with the third and fourth entries in the series on the PlayStation 2 before moving onto the Windows gaming platform, Gran Turismo 6 enters the ring as Polyphony’s flagship modern simulator.

The Gran Turismo series, dating all the way back to its inception on Sony’s original PlayStation, has been all about car collecting and JRPG-style grinding, with the core driving experience taking a back seat to garage management and progression elements. Aside from the endurance championships near the end of each game, most races are three lap sprints against an underwhelming artificial intelligence, which are placed well ahead of your starting position to generate a challenge that otherwise wouldn’t be there on a proper starting grid, so it’s certainly not an authentic Le Mans Prototype experience until the final portions of Career mode – and that’ll indeed make some believe it’s an arcade racer.

But there are ways to turn Gran Turismo 6 into something significantly more recognizable as a hardcore sim nerd. Each vehicle in the game comes with tires that are simply too sticky to be realistic, and Polyphony automatically enable most of the driving assists by default – meaning the Gran Turismo 6 most of you have played out of the box is vastly different than a hardcore sim racer’s custom GT6 profile. Taking thirty seconds out of your day to configure your steering wheel, turn off the numerous driving aids, and equip a harder tire compound than the car’s default, Gran Turismo 6 produces a driving experience on-par with most PC simulators. Lap times at Brands Hatch in the GT3 Spec BMW Z4 mirror what the rFactor 2 Endurance GT Payware mod cars are capable of, and the virtual recreations of locations such as Spa, the Nordschleife, and Laguna Seca are phenomenal.

gran-turismo-6-online-3-e1386199093439-638x360Yes, there is a problem with some of the car setup options in Gran Turismo 6 – running no camber at all generates an instant boost in speed when this would instead destroy your tires in real life. However, this exact same bug is present in Project CARS, a game which was financially aided by 35,000 hardcore sim racers. And though the single player events are designed to fuck with gamers via unfair AI head starts and bogus sprint races that almost never bring tire wear or fuel into account, the robust online functionality of the title offers hardcore sim racers the ability to conduct their own events, with proper practice & qualifying sessions, and a traditional rules package that can make use of standing or rolling starts upon the request of the user. Assetto Corsa, on the other hand, currently does not allow PS4 or Xbox One owners to host their own custom lobbies; they are at the mercy of whatever configurations Kunos Simulazioni have put into the dedicated server rotation.

Gran Turismo 6 has been deemed to be an arcade racer and not worthy of discussion by the same community who financially contributed to a different game exhibiting the exact same camber bug as Gran Turismo 6. This same group of people also neglect Gran Turismo 6 despite offering more functionality for hardcore sim racers than a game whose tagline is Your Racing Simulator.

v8supercarsford5falconfgwmforza6Moving on, let’s look at the other title wrongfully thrown under the bus, Forza Motorsport 6. The Forza Motorsport series originally launched in 2005 as Microsoft’s answer to Gran Turismo, but since it’s introduction to the scene a little over a decade ago, most people believe the Forza series has objectively become the better game. The car roster is a great deal more diverse than the fifty different Nissan Skylines and Mazda MX5’s taking up needless space in Gran Turismo, the livery customization elements, auction house, and setup building marketplace have added a virtual Barrett-Jackson element to complement the racing experience, and last but not least, there’s an enormous amount of shit to do in the game.

Like Gran Turismo, but directly addressing GT’s shortcomings, Forza Motorsport gives users several different ways to play through the game – though most of them are intended to appeal to a casual audience. Online races are short and sweet, perks or handicaps can be applied each race to exponentially increase your post race rewards, thus allowing you to accumulate a comprehensive collection of cars, and some of the engine swaps can get pretty absurd. It’s very easy for a hardcore sim racer to become turned off by the flashiness of Forza.

But it’s just as easy to ignore it all. Buried within the career mode are several Endurance racing events which can be entered with only light progression through the main experience – which most wise sim racers will partake in anyways to dial in their wheel settings and explore some of what Forza 6 has to offer. A pretty solid selection of multiple hour endurance races can be attempted using a vast array of modern racing machinery, with the game’s Free Race feature allowing you to configure your own races with virtually any piece of content in the game – which also pay out cash prizes and continue to your career progression. There is nothing stopping you from configuring a 14-lap race at the Nordschleife in any of the historic Formula One entries available in Forza Motorsport 6 to bring Grand Prix Legends into 2017, and if IndyCar is your thing, 50 laps at Long Beach may not be full race distance, but it’s more than enough.

forza-6-enduranceThe aforementioned perks and handicaps can be disabled entirely, and you can even select the number of mandatory pit stops for each race, generating a Forza Motorsport 6 experience decidedly different than the dudebro culture-infused mainstream gameplay you’ve probably seen demonstrated in various videos from annoying YouTube personalities.

Behind the wheel, it’s also not terrible to drive. A good friend of mine owns Forza 6, and I’ve logged many laps with his Logitech G920 exploring everything the game has to offer because that’s what you do on a Friday evening before raceday. Truthfully, it resembles how Assetto Corsa felt about a year ago. The cars are just a hair too planted in all situations, and though it’s something I can forgive considering the scope of Forza and how it’s intended primarily for mass-market appeal, I find it hilarious when Assetto Corsa owners knock Forza Motosrport 6 for somehow being “less serious” of a racing simulator – in this particular case, an arcade game. Forza, as it stands right this minute, drives how Assetto Corsa did on the PC in the spring of 2016. Unless you’re a phenomenally inexperienced driver who cannot possibly begin to diagnose car handling discrepancies, or just that ridiculously determined to become part of some exclusive PC sim racer club because you desperately need something to belong to, I’m a bit lost at how Forza Motorsport 6 is being labeled an arcade game when it feels roughly the same as Assetto Corsa once did.

Especially given some of the other bells and whistles found in Forza Motorsport 6. The Long Beach Street Circuit still hasn’t been completed for iRacing – instead being sold as an unfinished tech track with barely any scenery – and if you see it in YouTube videos by any chance, it’s a bit embarrassing. On the other hand, operating on inferior hardware compared to modern PC’s, the Xbox One version of Forza Motorsport 6 boasts a beautiful rendition of Long Beach, as well as the 2016 aero kits for the Dallara DW12, while iRacing still operates using an outdated 2012 model. Forza Motorsport 6 also includes in-game functionalities for livery and setup-sharing, whereas iRacing members are forced to download a third party program and manually browse the forums just for a whiff at custom content. And though the game does not ship with a safety car, caution flags which serve a purpose, or the ability to jump the start, the first two features are not functional in Assetto Corsa. Instead, owners of Forza Motorsport 6 get to play in the rain as compensation – a weather variant only found in rFactor 2 and Project CARS.

This somehow warrants Forza Motorsport 6 being labeled an “arcade game.”

maxresdefaultIn conclusion, it’s frustrating to see the elitists of the sim community deem perfectly decent alternatives to hardcore PC racing sims as arcade games that are against the rules to talk about in very large sim racing communities. Forza and Gran Turismo are solid titles, both of which I personally enjoy, and while I’ll obviously stick to my isiMotor stuff for competitive league racing, there’s nothing inherently wrong with what Forza or Gran Turismo bring to the genre. Both series make a genuine effort to accommodate the hardcore users alongside the casual audience, and it’s very bizarre to see sim racers outright ignore these elements.

Gran Turismo 6 has infinitely more online functionality than Assetto Corsa, generates the same lap times as rFactor 2, and exhibits the same bugs as Project CARS, yet Assetto Corsa is the game sim racers are masturbating over, Project CARS is the game they’re throwing money at to help develop, and rFactor 2 is what they’re shitposting about on every message board that hasn’t banned them for their viral marketing efforts, all while calling Gran Turismo an arcade game.

Forza Motorsport 6 admittedly does slightly more to cater to the casual players, but all of these little diversions to the core experience can be set to off, and you can still play Forza as a modern substitute for GTR 2 or Assetto Corsa – with plenty of hardcore endurance events to select from, as well as your own custom races even counting towards your profile’s overall progression. Yes, there are stupid perks, three lap sprints, prize wheels, and a whole bunch of assists enabled by default. You can scrap all of those and run three hundred laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway, or 50 laps at Road America if you’d like.

Yet nobody ever dares to mention any of this.

It’s as if I wasn’t kidding when I said sim racers want the genre to be an elite online club so they can finally feel like they belong to something, rather than a selection of driving games which require a slightly higher base level of skill to be successful at.

Gran Turismo 6

Another Year, Another Stefano Meltdown

screenshot_ks_ferrari_sf15t_monaco_20-12-116-17-20-43An old mentor of mine once used the term “terse eloquence” to describe what I should aim for in articles here on PRC.net, and for this entry I believe it’s the perfect time to challenge myself with an alternative writing style. There will be no fancy introduction, no elaborate set of links to older articles of ours, and no recap of events which have transpired over the past year or so. Once again, Stefano Casillo of Kunos Simulazioni has done irreversible damage to his company’s reputation by aggressively attacking an Assetto Corsa owner simply for suggesting an alternative approach to the game’s complicated tire model, and the whole thing gives some credibility to the rumor that Kunos simply surround themselves with yes men who shower the developer team with praise, rather than challenge them to create the best product possible.

The Assetto Corsa owner in question happens to be Fredrik Sørlie, a Norweigan stunt driver, former Porsche & AMG performance driving instructor, amateur drifter, and sim racing enthusiast; an automotive personality who has spent the past three decades as a professional driver while also taking up the modding side of sim racing as a hobby dating back to 2003. Not only is this guy a complete wheelman in adverse conditions – as evidenced by the video below – he’s also a mammoth computer nerd; the absolute best kind of person to give feedback on a modern racing simulator. With Porsche, Mercedes, Hollywood, and sim racing’s own Niels Heusinkveld coming to Sørlie for advice, Fredrik is an anomaly within this niche genre. This is someone who has not only dedicated their entire life to the art of driving an automobile to the breaking point, they fucking love video games, too.

Within the official Assetto Corsa forums are numerous sub-sections dedicated to ripping apart the game in a fashion that the Kunos Simulazioni staff can use to evaluate and improve the Assetto Corsa experience as it travels through its post-release lifespan. In a thread dedicated to discussing poor steering response in corners, as well as the process of creating his own modification for Assetto Corsa, Fredrik mentions that there are indeed some irregularities with how tires in Assetto Corsa behave under certain conditions as a whole. To readers who aren’t all that concerned with how Assetto Corsa operates under the hood, it’s obviously an extremely boring discussion between hobbyists splitting hairs in the name of realism, but for modders, this is the kind of stuff that tickles their fancy.

fredFredrik also makes a quick one-liner about needing to use values other than the digits Kunos have provided when it comes to their tire physics file for each car, as they don’t always produce accurate on-track results. A seemingly insignificant piece of banter, Stefano Casillo promptly arrives to claim Fredrik Sørliea professional performance driving instructor employed by both Porsche and Mercedes – knows nothing about vehicle dynamics, and has been writing:“dogshit” on the message boards for the past several weeks. All for suggesting to try a different set of numbers in a very specific physics file, because to a professional driver, those values produced an experience that aligned more closely with real life than the default values.

dogshitThe thread instantly descends into chaos, with Casillo being verbally abusive to Fredrik while the Assetto Corsa army religiously upvote all of Stefano’s posts berating the professional driving instructor. I encourage you all to check out the thread for yourselves; there are some absolutely astonishing quotes in there once things pick up. Halfway through the second page, Casillo has already labeled Fredrik Sørlie as a delusional individual – no insult is off-limits.

Fredrik, just wanting Assetto Corsa to be the best simulator it can possibly be, brushes this horrid encounter off and contacts Stefano in private, the results of which are nothing short of legendary. Fredrik properly introduces himself to the Kunos Simulazioni coding master, and dives deep into his own discoveries with Assetto Corsa’s tire model calculations after detailing an extensive automotive pedigree. Citing past collaborations with sim racing physics guru Niels Heusinkveld, Fredrik explains the very specific changes he had made to the tire physics files in Assetto Corsa, and while fully acknowledging the numbers weren’t one hundred percent correct when used in the current algorithm created by Kunos, they produced a satisfactory driving experience which mirrored his experiences in a real car, and he wanted Stefano to look into why his guesstimated numbers improved the simulator’s tire behavior.

Essentially, an accomplished professional driver with a thirteen year background in sim racing modding came to a member of Kunos Simulazioni and said “hey man, I love your game, here are all of my real world credentials, I made some unique changes to the tire file, I know they don’t make a lot of sense, but to me it feels more realistic than what you guys had by default. Can you look this from your end? It might help.” Whereas most racing drivers will spout random crap about any racing game in pursuit of a paycheck, here we had a driver modding the game. That kind of customer loyalty doesn’t come around all that often.

Rather than responding with a simple “thanks for the feedback, your fix isn’t realistic but it might highlight a problem in our simulation, I’ll check it out sometime this week when I have a moment,” Stefano proceeds to cuss out Fredrik for the next hour, because this is a totally rational thing for any developer to do.

open-a-fucking-book-and-readIt’s a truly impressive piece of post-modern art. The holy grail of racing simulator development is receiving feedback from real world drivers, as data and numbers don’t always manage to convey the sensations a human being experiences pushing an automobile to the limit. Yet after marketing campaigns which saw Kunos constantly mention their Vallelunga offices allowing them to pick the brains of professional race car pilots fresh off the tarmac by placing them in their simulator for feedback, and partnerships with Ferrari, Porsche, and Lotus ensuring the team would model each vehicle as close to the real thing as possible, the above screenshot paints a vastly different picture when it comes to how Kunos Simulazioni operate behind closed doors. In reality, Kunos are actually berating real race car drivers, telling them to get lost, and that only the numbers matter.

It’s extremely fucked up, to put it lightly. Here you have a developer bragging about all of the feedback they’ve received from professional pilots who endlessly praise the quality of Assetto Corsa’s driving model, but in the span of an hour or so, one guy is able to provide evidence to the contrary – Kunos Simulazioni not only become emotionally compromised over a single sentence joke buried deep within a thread surrounding car physics, they’ll aggressively attack you on their own message board for merely providing any sort of feedback whatsoever – and then let their fanboys pile on for good measure. Keep in mind, these verbal sparring matches with genuine fans of the game span multiple hours and take legitimate effort to participate in, when virtually none of this was necessary to begin with. What’s so hard about telling a guy “thanks for the feedback?” Why is there a need to instantly shit on him and make him out to be this delusional autist who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, when his YouTube channel clearly demonstrates he might have a clue?

And that’s the scary part. Rather than busting their asses to improve their game, members of Kunos Simulazioni are sitting around on the forums monitoring every last thread for even an ounce of criticism, promptly pouncing on those individuals regardless of their real world credentials. That’s where their time is being allocated, if you’re curious about when certain future updates will be released.

Personally, I’d like to know how some of the bigger brands featured within Assetto Corsa feel about this behavior. Auto makers such as Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren don’t exactly fuck around when it comes to how their brand is represented in the public eye. Are Porsche even aware that the game developer they just partnered with and made a whole media circus about throw autistic shitfits and lash out at their own customers when real drivers giving feedback on the simulator make a joke on the forums? This is the kind of shit that would get you fired from any commercial storefront job, and cause sponsors to back the fuck out of major partnerships.

Better yet, what real driver would be willing to work with Kunos Simulazioni after seeing this? They’ve made it explicitly clear that unless you blow sunshine up the asshole of Stefano, they will just sit around and call you names until you eventually leave out of disgust.

screenshot_mclaren_mp412c_gt3_ks_nordschleife_20-12-116-19-56-13The whole thing is downright embarassing for Kunos Simulazioni, and further reading on the subject can be seen on Fredrik’s official Facebook page, the SimRacing subreddit, and RaceDepartment, all of whom have spent the better part of today discussing Stefano’s childish antics. Regardless of how you feel about Assetto Corsa, this is simply unacceptable behavior for a developer to exhibit. And I wouldn’t be surprised if more people come out of the shadows to reveal their own absurd encounters with select Kunos Simulazioni staff members.