Unsurprisingly for a car club there is a strong follow of racing games in the SELOC forums – many fans of the popular console Gran Turismo and Forza series, but also a smaller sub-set who delve into the more ‘hardcore’ PC simulations.
So when the Italian KUNOS Simulazioni, developers of the netKar and Ferrari Virtual Academy titles, announced that not only were they working on a new title – Assetto Corsa – but that they had secured the official Lotus Cars license it certainly caught some of our members attention.
The team have been posting regular updates on the titles development on their Facebook page, but Production Director, Marco Massarutto, kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of our members questions and queries about this exciting up and coming simulator.
Assetto Corsa and Lotus
How extensive is the licensing agreement with Lotus?
Can we expect to see many more cars from the companies back catalogue of model making it in to the game beyond those shown, and will the Hethel test track be included in game?
Marco: Our licensing agreement with Lotus includes all the models produced by Lotus Cars, theoretically we could reproduce all of them.
There are some factors to consider however:
1. Considering our limited resources, we’ll include in 1.0 version some of them, and we’ll consider to produce some DLC also basing our decision on the response of simracing enthusiasts and gamers. We don’t consider Assetto Corsa as a 3-months life videogame, it’s our intention to support it on long term.
2. Assetto Corsa is an accurate simulation, therefore we’ll give priority to those models with exhaustive technical data available: it’s not easy to collect data for vintage models, and we need to measure a lot of mechanical parts, expecially the suspension system: and, as you can wonder, some old models are not easily available for our needs.
Historic F1 cars are part of our agreement with Classic Team Lotus. The Type 49, 72 and 98T will be included in the first release of Assetto Corsa and we plan to add the Type 25, 33, 49C later. In terms of street cars, we plan to at least reproduce the Lotus Elan.
Wondering which Lotus models will be included in Version 1.0? The Evora S, 2 Eleven, Exige 2012 and probably an Elise SC. The Evora GTE and 2 Eleven GT4 will follow shortly after and depending on Lotus Cars commercial strategies for the mid-term, we are intentioned to reproduce DLC for some of the companies future models.
I would like to include the Hethel test track in Assetto Corsa; but considering the limitations in using it and costs involved in the Laserscan needed to reproduce it, we need to give priority to other official tracks. Anyway, this opportunity is not excluded at all, in case Lotus Cars ask us to reproduce it.
What were your impressions of the company during your visit to Hethel, and what kind of information were you able to gather from testing the cars with them? How open have they been in terms of sharing data on the cars and have you had any input from the likes of Matt Becker?
Marco: The support received from Lotus Cars is simply great. We visited the factory, the assembly line, the R&D department (that was simply stunning, probably is the only other job I would like to do apart mine), and Lotus guys shared with us a lot of information, in a very good and relaxed atmosphere, dedicating us all the time needed, and I can tell you that this rarely happen.
In terms of car data, not only we have received everything we need to reproduce each model at its best, but we had the chance to test cars on track personally, on the Hethel track and at Vallelunga track – the Italian track where we are based. This allows us to compare all data and telemetry between our simulation and the data taken on track, during test sessions, and we are very satisfied of the current result. We didn’t meet Matt Becker on that occasion.
The press have made a big deal of the Lotus DPM system as fitted to the latest Exige S, particularly the Race Mode. Are systems such as this accurately modelled in the game, or do you use the standard traction control, stability control and other driver aids featured in many racing sims?
Marco: We are very well aware of the new Lotus DPM system and we had the opportunity to test the latest Exige S on the Hethel test track. There are a couple of problems implementing this system in the sim however.
First of all, while Lotus is very proud of it, and rightfully so, they are also a bit tight lipped on how it really works, in terms of what data and how it elaborates this data the on-board computer that controls the system.
Secondly we think that the new Exige S in a perfect racing track, with great grip, has such great handling and so much potential, that the new system doesn’t really give you that much of an advantage if you know how to push the car. In slippery conditions though, as in a wet track or maybe B roads, it would be a fantastic addition.
Our main aim is to recreate the Exige S pure handling as well as possible, and then try to add the new system. In Assetto Corsa all driving aids are not “magic hands” but modeled on their real-life counterparts as closely as possible. On other cars the physics engine goes as far as to accurately model the vibration on the steering wheel from the old, low frequency, ABS systems.
In addition if your community can help us with more information regarding this system, we will be happy to try and implement it even better.
Will the title be purely multiplayer focused, or will there be AI included for offline racing?
Marco: Assetto Corsa can be considered a ‘standard’ video-game for what is related to the game-play (AI, single races, race weekends, practice, and so on), with a very advanced physics model, plus Laserscan tracks and officially licensed cars.
Of course, it will also support multiplayer. Anyway, this time we want to give to sim-racing enthusiasts a product they can play as they prefer, instead of limiting it to online racing only.
Will users be able to share things such as car setups in-game?
Marco: This is something we really like and hopefully we will be able to implement. It’s not on the high priority list at this point, but as we getting closer and closer in the release date, we might be able to include it in Version 1.0. Otherwise it will have to wait for an update of Assetto Corsa as we will keep working on this project, hopefully for a long time.
Additionally Assetto Corsa’s user interface is made in a way that permits total customisation, so maybe a talented modded will surprise us in adding features like this.
Pricing, Specifications and Launch Dates
What pricing structure are you planning for the simulator? Will we see a single all inclusive price, a basic price + additional cars available at extra cost, or a subscription service like iRacing?
Marco: There will be a standard price for the initial release and we plan to add DLC at a later date. Some of these might be available for free, others at a small charge. The DLC policy will depend on the initial sales and by the response of gamers. We have no plans to use any kind of subscription.
Will there be any way for players to get involved in playing or testing the game prior to the full release?
Marco: It’s our plan to release a “technology preview”, that will consist in a playable benchmark demo, nothing more: one car and one track.
This is because Assetto Corsa is powered by a new DirectX 11 engine which that doesn’t share a single byte with our previous productions. Therefore we need to test it with as many configurations as possible before releasing the game. This will not represent a demo of Assetto Corsa however, that will be released once the full version is available. We’ll take a decision on a beta-testing program along the way.
What kind of DirectX 11 effects can we expect to see and will you be including support for multi-monitor gaming?
Marco: Motion blur, HDR, Time of Day, Depth of Field, smoke, dust and spark particle effect, a new reflection model, random clouds and so on. Assetto Corsa already supports multi-monitor gaming, and it will support any kind of hardware game device, including Track IR for head tracking view control. We are also working on other remote devices, but we prefer to keep this a surprise.
What are the minimum system requirements?
Marco: It’s difficult to say yet – the optimization process hasn’t started yet. Assetto Corsa natively supports DirectX 11, therefore will not be compatible with Windows XP and with DirectX 9 or 10 graphics cards, but will work with DX10.1 hardware. But I’m talking about hardware produced 4 years ago or before. Assetto Corsa is compatible with my ATI 4800 Series that I bought in early 2009.
Are you still aiming for a 2012 release?
Marco: Yes, late 2012.
SELOC would like to thank Marco Massarutto for taking the time to answer our questions and we look forward to seeing the games release later this year. If you want to find out more on the title be sure to check out the games Facebook page, along with our forum thread.