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A Unique Concept

The Sim Racing world right now is chock full of great sims (which leads to QUITE a bit of debate). Despite this, we've never received the ideal sim. One with the physics of rFactor 2, the graphics and sounds of ACC, the modability of Assetto Corsa, and the online presence of iRacing. As critics, we often like to focus on the negatives, whether it be rF2's abysmal UI, AC's sometimes questionably macro physics, or iRacing's tire model and price (and before anyone says I'm an iRacing hater, it's my number 2 sim, and has been. But the tires are not it). An idea popped up in my head one day, and I've spent a lot of time brainstorming it. I am not a programmer, nor a designer, but the concept for a sim comes out of pure creativity, and I wanted to gain insight into whether I was alone in this idea.

My idea for the perfect sim is (among other things) to drop the licensing. Big car brands charge an arm and a leg to developers these days, often restricting them to only a few models, and any large scope of cars comes at a major premium. Not to mention car companies in some cases being resistant to seeing their cars damaged in simulators. Tracks are the same way. With so much demand for such a wide range of content, some of the developer's most major costs come from having to license dozens of cars and tracks. But in the age of 3D design that can come so close to reality, as well as simulation being of the utmost importance now, ditch the licensing, but keep it real. Focus on physics in a realistic sphere, without worrying about the costs of licensing and the parameters set by brands. This is where I really want to gauge interest.

My main idea would be to have a sim that ticks many of the boxes of popular racing today. While not having an official GT3 license, I'd still want designed vehicles that behave almost exactly like the GT3s of today. Concept cars could be designed by the prolific freelance 3D designers that many of us have seen, with real-world physics being added in order to provide a similar experience to the GT3s of today. This would save money on licensing, while also allowing designers to get their work out there without very specific design constraints. GT3-like cars are only the start. The entire open-wheel ladder could be easily designed, with ease compared to the restrictive licensing of the FIA. IndyCar, F1, F2 could all be brought into the game in a unique way, not licensed in real-life but with realistic ties and physics. More money could go to simulation versus paying licensing fees. WEC is another that would be easily brought in without licensing, as prototypes are some of the most commonly designed concept vehicles in the motorsport world. The possibilities are truly endless. Would some people be angry at the lack of licensing? Yes probably. But is it worth ditching licensing in order to be able to tick more boxes for what people want, focusing more resources on providing a good experience (and not on paying brands to use their cars)? I personally think so.

Kenny Paton

The idea has been muted before by @Durge Driven
LFS would be an early example. Much as I quite like the idea I think most people want to drive real cars on real tracks and that's going to require a licence.
The idea has been muted before by @Durge Driven
LFS would be an early example. Much as I quite like the idea I think most people want to drive real cars on real tracks and that's going to require a licence.
I think people want that for the most part, but would a better simulator (i.e. graphics and physics) be able to change that idea? Perhaps the question is, to what extent will people overlook simulation issues to get real-world things?
Thanks for the interesting reads everyone – only just found this thread. Glad to read something different from the 'same old same old' of thinking about how to do racing sims.

I think there definitely is potential for a banging sim with unlicensed content... if the driving experience is there, hell, I'm in, and I'd hope others would be as well. As Kenny says, LFS is an example, and certainly seems to have been quite popular once (although that's way before my time sim racing haha). You may be right though, Caleb, that people may well be willing to overlook sim issues to do another lap of Monza in another not-too-terrible real GT3 car or whatever.

Random recent example (sort of) of well-done unlicensed stuff – there's a fantastic "ICR" mod for NR2003 which is some kind of fantasy version of an iRacing NASCAR which can be skinned for all sorts of manufacturers (whatever the skinners are into, really). Interesting idea that is beautifully modelled and executed. I'd be up for a full ICR game if that was a thing!

The other avenue you could (theoretically!) get real-world content and features valuable to the community without arm-and-a-leg costs is a non-commercial open-source simulator. The community would produce content like it has for AC, plus the development of the game itself and its source code is also open and community-developed. Problem is that doing this would be a MONUMENTAL task – which is probably why it hasn't been done.