A Frustrating Discovery

In Which I Discover that all this time the DLC add-ons I thought I was adding to my games on the Xbox One were not actually added to the games!?

The world of games and gaming is supposed to be an orderly one in which the tech that makes up the primary vehicle for gaming is reliable and trustworthy and functions like clockwork.  When you purchase a DLC expansion pack or item, or you grab a free one, you expect that after it downloads it WILL be added to your game, and you WILL be in a position – at the appropriate time – to take advantage of and use that new content or item, right?  Right!  No, WRONG!

Well, it should be Right – but it turns out at least in the case of the Xbox One to be all wrong.  And very frustrating.

rocket69

I first became aware of this due in no small part to another potential disaster that I am in the process of correcting – that being the sudden realization that I was out of storage space on my Xbox One.

What happened was the game I was playing suddenly started acting all strange – with stuttering video.  It got worse when I tried to apply a new accessory pack and it went V-E-R-Y freaking S-L-O-W.

A brief check revealed that my Internal Storage was down to less than 10 percent free.  So I tried to move some games over to my very spiffy and totally reliable external storage — a 2TB Western Digital My Book USB 3.0 external storage device.  Which I discovered I could not do because it was down to less than 5% free space!?

How did this happen without me being aware of it??  Why did the Xbox One not WARN me that I was running out of room??  Will little Stevie be rescued from the bottom of the well in time??

Okay well as for Stevie, it’s a coin toss.  And I never liked that kid anyway.  But as for the rest, well, the reason the Xbox One failed to warn me is mostly because the wizards at Xbox and Microsoft never thought to add that sort of alarm to the system.  I sent them an email suggesting that they do so – because hey mates, I got your back!

gowj0

Had Ta Get Some New Sto-Sto!

Understanding that my position was precarious – and that I would not be able to continue playing games, let alone working on any of my writing projects (which at the moment means working on the Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 Walkthrough and Guide for NeoSeeker – which is a game I am very excited about guiding) – I understood instinctively that it was time to get more storage.

That meant deciding on HOW to do that.  I had several options – though replacing the Internal drive was not one of them as this is an Xbox One, not a PS4.  Fortunately just as I was sinking into deep and dark depression fate stepped in and graced me with her presence in the form of the code for the game that was provided by my editor being for the PlayStation 4 edition of the game and NOT the Xbox One edition.  Catastrophe averted!

But I still needed to get more storage on my Xbox One, and here were my choices:

(1) Buy a new drive and add it to my Xbox.
(2) Buy a larger drive and replace the 2TB My Book with that.

In their wisdom the blokes at Xbox opted to add support for TWO external storage devices for the Xbox One, which by the way has a total of three (3) USB 3.0 Slots on it.

Logically that is a good thing because it means that, say for example I wanted to upgrade to a larger storage device, I could attach it to my Xbox and then transfer all of the content to it that had filled up my orginal drive, no worries.  So that seemed like the way to go – and then in the future depending on the cost per TB of storage hardware I may do the same thing or, based on my experience this past week, just add a second larger drive (more on that later) instead.

So I decided to go with replacing the WDMB with a larger unit.  Initially I thought to go with a larger Western Digital My Book – say a 4TB model.  But when I went pricing the drives I discovered that I could get a nearly identical external storage device from Seagate (it too is a 7200 RPM USB 3.0 AC-powered unit) but, if I opted for the Seagate model I could get a whopping six (6) TB for the same price as a 4TB My Book!

Naturally I went with the Seagate 6TB model.

When my honey brought the new drive home – along with a 1500VA / 900W UPS for my main system whose RAID Array does NOT like being suddenly without power at all – I was very happy as I installed it and began transferring the contents of the My Book to it.

game on

There Was Trouble…

But that is when I ran into trouble.  Not storage trouble mind you, but the trouble that has prompted me to write this post.  See as I was moving the contents of the old drive to the new I discovered something that both shocked and disturbed me.

If you are a gamer you know that the modern games environment is a very different one from what we used to have.  Today you need lots of storage because while the games consoles still use the original media for a game to verify you own the license and should be able to play it (that’s for RBE games – digital titles come with a digital license that is saved on your console), they also tend to have lots of DLC-based expansion content, be that new maps, missions, story content, weapons, or kit.

Okay that’s not a problem – so far.  But during the process of moving the data files and games from one device to the other, I accidentally discovered something I was previously ignorant of.  For a LOT of the games I owned, not ALL of the DLC and expansion content had actually been installed!

Understand this – the content – the DLC packs – had been DOWNLOADED.  They just had not been INSTALLED!?

For games like Just Cause 3 or Hitman if that happened it would be obvious – because the content would not be present in the game.  No, for those titles the DLC was faithfully downloaded, installed, and properly licensed for my games.  I noticed nothing wrong.

But in the process of moving the games I had to perform the following specific steps:

  • Open the Settings Option from the Xbox One Main Menu;
  • Select All Settings from that menu;
  • Select System and then Storage from the Settings Menu;
  • Select the device to move the games FROM (Internal or My Book);
  • Select View Content for that device;
  • Move the cursor to the desired game I needed to move and select Manage Game;
  • Select Move All for that game then select the Destination (my new device);
  • Confirm that I want to Move All.

Sounds simple enough, right?  Yeah, but here is the thing – in the process of doing this I accidentally moved the cursor to the Ready to Install option on the side menu, and there, where it should NOT have been, was the following in that selection for the game Gears of War 4:

  • Brothers to the End and Vintage Del Gear Packs
  • Crimson Omen LE Controller Content Pack
  • Map: Blood Drive
  • Map: Checkout
  • Map: Clocktower
  • Map: Diner
  • Map: Drydock
  • Map: Glory
  • Map: Hotel
  • Map: Impact Dark
  • Map: Old Town
  • Map: Slab
  • Map: Speyer
  • Map: War Machine

Are you freaking kidding me!!??!

Wolfenstein-3D-1

When I had originally obtained all of that DLC I SAW it download and I just ASSUMED it was installed into the game.  Big Mistake.  BIG MISTAKE!

NONE of it had been installed.  I just never noticed.  And when I checked I found that in one of every four or so games this was ALSO the case.  Expansion content and DLC I had bought and downloaded had simply NOT been installed by the system.  What the hell?!

So as I moved the games and any content that HAD installed over to the new device, I then had to INSTALL the stuff that had been downloaded but never actually installed.

I was pissed.  Very angry.  I seriously considered writing an email to President Trump to warn him about this because I knew that HE would be pissed.  After all he owns and plays an Xbox One – can you imagine how much uninstalled DLC that HE must have?!  In my fantasy head I could see agents from the DEA and ATF and FBI and IRS and ABC and LOTS of other three-letter acronyms kicking down doors at the Redmond Campus, and not even bothering with taking names.

They’d be like – “Bill of Rights?! We don’t need no steeenking Bill of Rights!  Who is the idiot that allowed this threat to national gaming security to take place?!  Tell us now or we will line you all up and start shooting you, one-by-one, until you do!  Because Trump!  Because ‘Merica!  Hell yeah!”

That could happen though, so I deleted the email.  Sigh.

fallout3-giant-nuke

Opinions sometimes have that effect…

How The Heck?

I have no idea how this happened.  I have no idea how I failed to notice this.  I have no idea how to fix it other than to go through every title on my Xbox and check to see if there is content that failed to be installed.

It’s not like I can just look at the “Ready to Install” selection and know because it FAILS TO LIST THEM.  That’s right – there is NO number next to that selection in the menu to tell you how many or even IF there is content Ready to Install – and unlike the regular patches that appear in the Main Menu section appropriately titled “Updates” which DOES list the number of Patches that are Ready to Install, but on the Settings/Storage Menu not so much.  It just does not.

So here I am, with all my games finally installed on the new Seagate external storage unit, checking the games one-by-one to see.

This, mates, is a cautionary tale.  It is my suggestion to you that you just might want to start checking YOUR game library for content you downloaded but, for a mysterious reason, was never actually installed.  Because mates don’t let mates drink-drive, and they don’t let them have uninstalled content.  I’m just saying!

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Need for Speed (2015) – Getting Personal

nfs2015-0

Prologue

The Video Games landscape over the course of just the past five years has changed immensely, and not just due to the introduction of two new core platforms (Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One) but also as a result of a move towards altering its basic focus.

That sort of evolution is not strange to this subculture and the people who make up its citizens.  If you are surprised by my use of words like “citizens” and “subculture” perhaps you are not as deeply invested into the social side of gaming as you think.  Because in most respects the VG Community as a whole and the many specialized groups that essentially make up its defined subcultures are every bit a culture-based society of its own within the greater entity that we think of as human society.

That was not always true.

When the first Video Games War happened in the mid 1980s as the value and the quality of the games that were being created and sold was called into question by its own community, the idea that a cultural identity might be formed from something like a Video Game community was certainly not what might be said as a normal evolution.

In Japan they have this expression - the nail that sticks up gets pounded down.  What it means is that choosing to conform is often the best way to survive and even advance.

In Japan they have this expression – the nail that sticks up gets pounded down. What it means is that choosing to conform is often the best way to survive and even advance.

But as other media-based movements began to morph into their own basic cultural and social identities, the cataclysm that resulted from what we now consider to be the first Video Games War of the 20th Century ended up creating the sort of circumstances that naturally opened the door for just that sort of development.

To be blunt, gamers were angry over the process of creating what amounts to Shovel-Ware as cheap and fundamentally broken games were foisted off upon the game consumer community using tactics like misleading advertisements and worse, outright lies that were planted as reviews and/or social commentary at the time that totally misrepresented the substance of what the games were…  All of that had a decidedly hostile consequence with the community eventually turning against the bulk of the studios who were responsible for creating those circumstances.

Taking a look back, what we now know today thanks to the benefits of hindsight is that the publishers rather than the development studios were largely responsible for the decisions to push broken or shoddily made games onto the gaming public – publishers whose interest was solely and narrowly focused upon boosting the black ink contained in the bottom line in order to appease their shareholders.

When you add into that unfortunate reality the very obvious disconnect that existed between the publishers of the games and the studios that crafted them – and then factor in an even larger disconnect between both the development studios and the publishers with their collective relations to the Gamer Community, it gets a lot easier to understand both how it happened and why it resulted in the scorched-earth war.

In the plainest terms, the one side had no clue what the other wanted from their games, and in fact it can be pretty clearly pointed out now that the nearly violent reaction – the First VG War – was absolutely necessary because it was that level of reaction that was required to make the developers fully aware of just how badly they were disappointing their customer base.

Conformity is why there are plenty of supercars and expensive sports cars in the game.  That is expected and, in many cases, spending the time, effort, and the money to obtain this sort of conformity is also expected - if you only wish to appear to be a racer.   The genuine article however tends to choose their rails carefully, picking the best tool for the job - and rarely is that best tool a 911 - more often than not the best tool is a more common one - like setting up a Volvo as a Drift Specialist Car.

Conformity is why there are plenty of supercars and expensive sports cars in the game. That is expected and, in many cases, spending the time, effort, and the money to obtain this sort of conformity is also expected – if you only wish to appear to be a racer. The genuine article however tends to choose their rails carefully, picking the best tool for the job – and rarely is that best tool a 911 – more often than not the best tool is a more common one – like setting up a Volvo as a Drift Specialist Car.

That this conflict resulted in the majority of those development studios being forced out of business alone illustrates how serious the disconnect was, and why it needed to be fixed.

Put another way, the game development studios, taking their leads from the game publishers, were pumping out what amounts to the home-console equivalent to the type of games that were popular in the arcades and bars – the games that were being installed in coin-operated video game arcade machines basically.

The problem with that was, by the mid-1980s the gaming community had matured beyond that sort of focus, and was no longer interested in what was basically a recreation of arcade games for home play.

If a gamer wanted to play an arcade-style game, they would seek those games out in their favorite watering holes or video game arcades – and they DID on a regular basis.

But thanks to some ground-breaking RPG and Action-Adventure games that were created and released through the mid-80s that same gamer community now understood and – what is more – appreciated – what their home gaming consoles could REALLY offer.

So the idea of basically being offered recycled arcade genre drivel on a routine basis not only made them angry, it made the community feel (rightly as it turned out) that they were both being taken for granted and being told what to like.

Taking the job into consideration, if we were choosing the tool we would use for targeting just the Drift Events in the game, that tool would not be a supercar, or sports car, it would be something like this Mustang.  Large, heavy, box-shaped, but fully adaptable.  A car whose basic construction lends itself to solving the problem we wish to solve so that we do not have to completely re-invent the wheel to make that happen.  Just saying...

Taking the job into consideration, if we were choosing the tool we would use for targeting just the Drift Events in the game, that tool would not be a supercar, or sports car, it would be something like this Mustang. Large, heavy, box-shaped, but fully adaptable. A car whose basic construction lends itself to solving the problem we wish to solve so that we do not have to completely re-invent the wheel to make that happen. Just saying…

It got so bad in the end – before the war settled all of that – that a typical video game release had to make ALL of its profits from sales in the first 72 hours following release to the streets, because that was about how long it took for world-of-mouth to basically out a crappy game and kill its sales.

Logically the only possible solution to this situation – and the proper one as it turned out – was to stop making crap games and start to really put in the effort to both seek out what the community wanted, and then deliver that.

So in the end around 80% of the development studios that existed prior to the First VG War were forced out of business not by consumers choosing to boycott them (though they did do that) but rather as the direct result of their inability to change their business models to match the new economic imperative that had developed.

That is to say they did not have the capability to actually innovate – to create new games utilizing a previously established pattern that offered the consumer a larger ratio of entertainment versus cost.  Man that sounds so unlikely, but it was true.  The development studios were so used to picking a handful of elements from a list and then putting together a game whose sole creative elements came down to the colors that were chosen for the palate and whether or not some objects in a game blinked that they found themselves in a rut that offered no exits.

What was true then – and remains true – is that a good idea did not necessarily equate to a good game.  So when a developer managed to create a good game – which meant a commercially viable and successful titles that the consumers of that product actually liked – the decision to begin cranking out sequels really was not a decision at all – it was called a business model!

Now granted, when a sequel was rushed to the market the chances were that it was going to be lower in quality and entertainment than the original, but sometimes that was not true.  The Donkey Kong series is a great example of that – though to be fair Rare and Nintendo did not rush games to market as a general rule – sequel or not.

Still you get the idea – the quality and value of games went up, gamers were happy, and the game culture began to solidify into multiple sub-types based on things like platform and genre.

Practical very rarely equates to the use of words like "sexy" or "intimidating" but then, when you are building a drift car, or a sprinter, what you really want are words like "tight" and "fluid" and "efficient" because in the end the point is not to look good while you race, the point is to transfer energy as rapidly and efficiently as possible between your engine and those big, fat, sticky contact patches that attach your rail to the road.

“Practical” very rarely equates to the use of words like “sexy” or “intimidating” but then, when you are building a drift car, or a sprinter, what you really want are words like “tight” and “fluid” and “efficient” because in the end the point is not to look good while you race, the point is to transfer energy as rapidly and efficiently as possible between your engine and those big, fat, sticky contact patches that attach your rail to the road.

It was all good – some really great gamer series were the result, and from the late 1980s onward there was something of a gaming renaissance in play.

When The Need for Speed arrived on the scene it contained a collection of ideas that really resonated with the gamers of the time, and naturally the wizards behind the game saw great potential for it, as a game series.

For a long time – nearly a decade – the games that were being produced really worked well – they followed the basic pattern that the original had established, and they offered a predictable and quality game play and entertainment experience.

At some point though, as the original wizards were replaced by new and younger ones, the path that they had been following became confused.  Their direction was off, and eventually it got really off.  The format or formula, call it what you will, basically became a muddled idea that anything that involved racing cars was basically okay.  Sort of like what we imagine the situation was when the wizards behind Battlefield came up with Battlefield Hardline.  Just saying…

So when the decision was eventually made that it was time for the Need for Speed series to return to its roots, that involved far more than simply the creation of a great game following the original path.  It involved first seeing if it was even possible to convince the players that the wizards had the ability to do that!

So that is where they were when they sat down to chart out the path to bring Need for Speed (2015) to market.

The wide variety of models in 2015 allows for economical approaches to tings like setting up a bespoke car.  Using models like the 1975 Vovlo 242 and 1965 Ford Mustang for dedicated drifters, the 1986 Toyota Sprinter GT APEX and 1996 Nissan 180sx Type X for medium range sprinting, and the 1971 Nissan Fairlady 240ZG or 2014 Didge Challenger SRT8 for longer range Circuit Racing.  Sure you can buy more expensive models, but these hit the mark on a budget!

The wide variety of models in 2015 allows for economical approaches to tings like setting up a bespoke car. Using models like the 1975 Vovlo 242 and 1965 Ford Mustang for dedicated drifters, the 1986 Toyota Sprinter GT APEX and 1996 Nissan 180sx Type X for medium range sprinting, and the 1971 Nissan Fairlady 240ZG or 2014 Dodge Challenger SRT8 for longer range Circuit Racing. Sure you can buy more expensive models, but these hit the mark on a budget!

Need for Speed (2015)

By the time that the game released in November of 2015 the hype that had been generated around it, and the very dedicated and genuine efforts of the PRs who were behind promoting it, had succeeded in the most important parts of what it was they had been hired to accomplish.

They had, in essence, managed to communicate to the gaming public that this new game was both a reboot of the original game series, and that it would offer players the sort and caliber of game play that they not only missed but had come to expect from the series – and so found each of the last half-dozen games in the series to be disappointments because of those expectations.

That is simply amazing.  And not just because it seems reasonable that the wizards behind the games had to pretty much KNOW that was happening, but rather amazing because even though they KNEW that reaction was likely as they crafted and released game after game that failed to include the basic premise that the gamer community expected – but they CONTINUED to create those diverted games anyway!

Think about that for a moment will you?  They managed to so broadly alter the very basic identity of the game series so badly that by the time they got around to working on a series reboot, they had to PAY their Public Relations reps to explain to the gaming public that this new game was NOT going to disappoint them!  Mind blowing.  Simply mind blowing.

The typical mid-80s hot hatch never really looked boss or anything, but they were wicked fun to drive and hey, they got the job done.  Fast.  From a standing start.  A lot.

The typical mid-80s hot hatch never really looked boss or anything, but they were wicked fun to drive and hey, they got the job done. Fast. From a standing start. A lot.

Here There Be Dragons

When the game arrived – and for us that came in the form of a Digital Key that we needed to enter into our Xbox One to unlock a license for the game and then download it from the LIVE service – we were pretty pumped up because the PRs had managed to successfully communicate to us that this new reboot title would not simply revert the game series back to the style and substance we had come to associate with it, but would in effect give us a game play experience that was if not identical to that of the game that first established the series, was at least similar enough so as to make the difference inconsequential.

So by the time the game fully downloaded and patched, we were good and damn ready to be pleased.  Know what?  The game actually delivers on that promise and, even more important, despite being handicapped by the inclusion of a large amount of more recent game play mechanisms, also delivers a level of play, entertainment, and excitement that almost made the last five years of drivel worth it!

Easing our way into NFS 2015 was a complicated and rather slow process, largely because the expectations of disappointment kept getting in the way.

Once we managed to convince the little voices in our head that this was, in fact, NOT going to be the morphed interpretation of a combination of Hot Pursuit, Unleashed, and Wanted, we were able to start judging the game on its own merits, and folks, it has a lot to say for itself.

Making it Our Own?

One of the points to the evolution of the video game as entertainment that really stands out is how well it integrates its own story and game play mech while meeting certain personal expectations that are near-universal among the gaming community.

What I mean by that is actually pretty simple – this is a street-racing game within which the primary components are the streets, and the cars.

That being the case – and admittedly we had hopes – the ultimate expression of success in this case would be the ability for the player to not only find in the catalog of cars in the game one of their favorite models, but also have the ability to customize it.  And all that?  It is here.

Often times when writing a post like this it helps to present an example – so as to make it clear that those warm and fuzzy feelings of satisfaction are in fact based upon some real experience rather than, you know, a hypothetical one?

She was not sexy - look at that rear why don't you?  That said, and maybe she does have a flat butt, even so the '86 Trueno could fly like a scalded dog!

She was not sexy – look at that rear why don’t you? That said, and maybe she does have a flat butt, even so the ’86 Trueno could fly like a scalded dog!

1986 Toyota Sprinter GT APEX

In the 1980s there were a lot of cars that certainly qualified as performance examples – and just like any era you might care to designate, there were cars that ended up being slightly or greatly more popular than others.

In 1980s Australia (which is where I was and grew up) the go-fast choo-choo cars of the era that you often read about in race magazines about the street racing scene in Cali were mostly restricted to a small list of really expensive rails that nobody actually had in Oz.  Corvettes, Camaros, Porches, and the like, which hey, we would have LOVED to have but reality bites.

No, what you found in Oz – and I suspect that this was also true about America, the UK, and Europe – was a more reserved list of cars – mostly the sort that doubled as your daily transportation when you were not taking them out on the weekend to race them.

What am I talking about?  Well, this list is pretty representative of what you often found at the time on the street, actually racing:

  • Alfa Romeo Alfasud
  • Audi 5000CS Turbo Quattro
  • BMW M3 E30
  • BMW M5 E28
  • Ford Falcon XP
  • Holden VL Calais Director
  • Honda Civic Si
  • Honda CRX HF
  • Honda Prelude
  • Lancia Delta Integrale
  • Lancia Delta S4 Stradale
  • Mazda RX7
  • Mini Cooper
  • Nissan 240SX
  • Nissan Z31 300ZX Fairlady
  • Peugeot 205 GTi
  • Saab 900 Turbo
  • Subaru GL-10 Turbo
  • Subaru GL Brat
  • Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno
  • Toyota W10 MR2
  • Volkswagen Golf Mk1 GTI

From that list there was a handful of cars I truly liked.  In fact one car in particular I both liked but could never quite manage to afford – and that was the 1986 Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno.  Yeah, compared to some of the cars that came later it was really more of a bare-bones racer than the jewel in the crown, but the heart wants what the heart wants.  And my heart wanted a Trueno!

With a base sticker price of $65,200 the '15 Ford Mustang GT is not exactly what we would call a mid-priced sports car and certainly she is not an entry-level model, but  her stock-standard 5.0L Ti-VCT V8 automatically qualifies her as a certified production-class   Muscle Car.  If you choose to bypass the dealer options and order her from the factory with the optional 5.2L V8 via the Shelby Conversion package you get 526 hp with 429 lb.-ft. of torque straight from the production line.  Sweet right?

With a base sticker price of $65,200 the ’15 Ford Mustang GT is not exactly what we would call a mid-priced sports car and certainly she is not an entry-level model, but her stock-standard 5.0L Ti-VCT V8 automatically qualifies her as a certified production-class
Muscle Car.  If you choose to bypass the dealer options and order her from the factory with the optional 5.2L V8 via the Shelby Conversion package you get 526 hp with 429 lb.-ft. of torque straight from the production line. Sweet right?

So you can imagine how stoked I was to discover that exact car among the catalog of cars available in the game.

From the get go I started out with a 2014 Subaru BRZ Premium – as that was the starter car I liked best from the three that I had to choose from.  Using that car I began doing races to get the bank I would need not only to buy me a Trueno, but then to afford to upgrade it.

I have reached that point in my game play.  I am happy – thrilled!  Tickled!  Very pleased?  To tell you that I now proudly race the following go-fast choo-choo Trueno:

1986 Toyota Sprinter GT APEX

Its performance specs are:

  • 0-60 mph (s) — 4.53s
  • 0-100 mph (s) — 9.67s
  • 1/4 mile (s) / (mph) — 12.70s @ 119
  • Top Speed (mph) — 166
  • Horsepower (hp) — 353
  • Max Torque (ft-lb) — 255

Bearing in mind that I am only Level 13 at this point and so am quite limited as to the kit I can buy, its present very winning load-out in kit and upgrades consists of:

  • Air Filter: Short RAM Air Intake.
  • Cooling System: Intercooler w/h 26 x 6.
  • Intake Manifold: Aftermarket Edition.
  • Fuel System: High Performance Fuel Injectors.
  • Forced Induction: Turbocharger EliteTune-TC2-B-PRO.
  • Electric System: Aftermarket Wiring.
  • Ignition: Stock.
  • ECU: Sport ECU Flash.
  • Engine Block: Elite TUning Ported Block v.2.
  • CAM Shaft: Aftermarket Sport Plus Elite 4 243 int / 283 exh.
  • Cylinder Heads: Sport Plished.
  • Exhaust Manifold: Sport EL Manifold.
  • Exhaust: Sport Catted Race Exhaust.
  • Clutch: Sport Clutch w/0.4s gear change time.
  • Nitrous System: 5lb Capacity Time Refill.
  • Suspension: Semi-Adjustable Sport Suspension.
  • Differential: Semi-Adjustable Sport Differential.
  • Tires: E/T-G2-MID-GRP SpeedHunters.
  • Brakes: Semi-Adjustable Sport Brakes.
  • Handbrake: Semi-Adjustable Sport Handbrakes.
  • Sway Bars: Semi-Adjustable Sport Sway Bars.

That is way beyond just respectible mind you – heck in the 1980s if you had told me that I would be able to get 252 Horsepower in that configuration I would have been like ?!  As in what the heck could I possible need that much for?!  What else HAD that much?!

I still think that using the right tool for the right job is the way to go - so if you are setting up a bespoke drifter for tight and twisty mountain roads you could do a lot worse than this one.

I still think that using the right tool for the right job is the way to go – so if you are setting up a bespoke drifter for tight and twisty mountain roads you could do a lot worse than this one.

And the thing is I would totally have better specs for this ride if I was just ten levels higher in XP because why?  Because the really good kit is Level-Locked!

In My Other Life

In addition to being a freelance writer who works the business and tech beats, I also write extensively on the video games beat as both a game guide and walkthrough writer, industry news journalist, and video game reviewer – yeah I know, getting paid to play video games, cool right?

That said, I reviewed Need for Speed (2015) for the Cape Cod Times – if you would like to see what my impressions of the game were in the review arena, head on over and check out the review at the following online link:

The Game On Review of Need for Speed (2015)

 

Forza 3 Guilt

When the next title in the Forza Motorsport series — Forza Motorsport 5 or FM5 for short —  was released a running conversation began among mates about the game, what we were all looking forward to, and the value (or lack thereof) of playing the previous titles in the series before playing FM5 if just to have the experience.

These are racing simulations with absolutely no story or campaign mode beyond the actual racing experience, so it is not like there is a need to play the previous games in order to be able to effectively play the most recent title.

Still there are some reasons to play the previous games – for example if you happen to be a committed and serious fan of auto-racing simulations, or a member of the Forza Faithful (though in the latter case why haven’t you played FM3 before??) that is good reason enough.

As I am known to be a fan of the series, I was asked – and because I am a fan of the series my response to those who asked me was to say “heck yeah you should play the previous games in the series!”

fm3-1

Forza Rewards (rewards.forzamotorsport.net)

That enthusiastic response was actually given BEFORE the remembering of the newest loyalty program offered by studio Turn 10 (the creator of the Forza games) which is called the Forza Rewards Program, and just like it sounds, rewards players for playing the Forza Motorsport games.

Specifically FRP rewards players for whatever progress they made in pretty much ALL of the previous titles with the exception of the first game in the series, which was an Xbox original title and therefore has no Achievements or network save-related data associated to it.

Since the FRP system uses the network save and Achievements data to award points, it is quite obviously in a players best interest to have unlocked as many Achievements and goals in the games as possible.

The following criteria is used for the Forza Rewards Program:

Forza Motorsport 2 (500 Points Total)

  • Achievements (500 Points)

Forza Motorsport 3 (1,000 Points Total)

  • Achievements (300 Points)
  • Days Played (200 Points)
  • Miles Driven (100 Points)
  • Cars Owned (200 Points)
  • Driver Level (100 Points)
  • Paid DLC Owned (100 Points)

Forza Motorsport 4 (2,000 Points Total)

  • Achievements (350 Points)
  • Days Played (300 Points)
  • Miles Driven (250 Points)
  • Perfect Passes (50 Points)
  • Cars Owned (250 Points)
  • Driver Level (250 Points)
  • Paid DLC Owned (250 Points)
  • Tokens Purchased (300 Points)

Forza Horizon (2,000 Points Total)

  • 1000 Club Challenges (200 Points)
  • Cars Owned (150 Points)
  • Miles Driven (250 Points)
  • Perfect Passes (50 Points)
  • Achievements (400 Points)
  • Days Played (400 Points)
  • Paid DLC Owned (250 Points)
  • Tokens Purchased (300 Points)

Forza Motorsport 5 (3,000 Points Total)

  • Achievements (500 Points)
  • Cars Owned (250 Points)
  • Driver Level (250 Points)
  • Paid DLC (350 Points)
  • Tokens Purchased (350 Points)
  • Badges and Titles Unlocked (400 Points)
  • Days Played (500 Points)
  • Miles Driven (350 Points)
  • Perfect Passes (50 Points)

The cumulative points that are gained via the above games add up to the Tier Level for the rewards system, which translates to a reward of credits and, depending upon the game, also a reward of cars.  As far as I can tell the games that have rewards from the Tier Levels are FM4, Horizon, and FM5.

Feelings of Guilt

So having made the recommendation to my mates the notion that the previous games in the series may have reached their official “End of Life” as far as Microsoft and Turn 10 are concerned just never occurred to me.

Seriously – and if it had, while I might have entertained the notion that the original Forza and perhaps FM2 might have reached that point, as I distinctly recall having recently seen brand new copies of Forza Ultimate 3 on the shelf at my local GameStop, the idea that FM3 might be in that nebulous and very unfair status again simply did not occur to me…

So imagine my shock and horror when my mate rang me up telling me that following my advice they had gone and purchased a copy of Forza Ultimate 3 ($29.99 new) and, after getting it home and installing it as per the onscreen instructions, were unable to use the download codes that came with the game because – wait for it – the game it seems has reached its End of Life and as such is no longer supported.

Which means that ALL of the game-related DLC has been removed from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.  When means that NONE of the codes that are included with the game will actually work.

I did some digging and discovered that the so-called End of Life declaration went into effect in August of 2013.

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If You Got It You Still Got It

The really terrible part of this story is that while new players who are just discovering FM3 for the first time are basically locked out of the DLC (save for whatever appears on the companion disc for the Ultimate version that is) gamers who previously owned any of the aforementioned removed DLC can still download it whenever they like.

I know this for a fact because of an odd situation…

You see my original copy of Forza 3 was scratched by an evil cat who somehow got it out of its case and really did a number on it – and boy don’t I wish I knew what I did to the cat to make her do that to my game!

Because the disc was damaged to the point it was not playable, I too went and purchased a new copy of Forza Ultimate 3 – but when I tried to play the game all sorts of things went wrong!  Tracks only half-drew, some tracks would instantly show the bad disc warning, it was as if the disc I was using and the game installed on my hard drive were two different games!

Well, they were actually…   It seems that my game save and saved game were calling for memory locations that were wrong on the new game disc, and that was creating all sorts of problems – so I had to completely delete the installation of the game from my hard drive, at which point having done so I realized much to my horror that that included all of the DLC content!

Without expecting much to happen, I went to the downloaded content list on my 360 and the first one I found in this very ancient list was a car pack – a car pack that no longer exists on the Marketplace.  But you know what?  It downloaded just fine thanks.

For the record I was able to re-download the following DLC, in this order:

  • Hyundai Car Pack (Game Add-on)
  • Motorsport Legends Car and Track Pack (Game Add-on)
  • Community Choice Classics Sample (Game Add-on)
  • Forza Ultimate Sample (Game Add-on)
  • World Class Sample (Game Add-on)
  • VIP Car Pack (Game Add-on)

Needless to say I was shocked.  The content is not available to anybody who has a valid code, it is not available for purchase, but if you have previously downloaded it, it is present and available?

I can see how someone who has just purchased the game for the first time would find that to be more than annoying – they might find it to be insulting…

I know that I felt guilty all over again – having sung the praises of the game only to have it turn out this way.

So, and I know this will not mean much to you all, but I am very sorry for leading you all astray in suggesting that you purchase the game…  I know that you can still play the game (it is not broken) and that that bonus install disc has a lot of DLC content, but it is still not quite the same as what you were expecting – and having codes you cannot use must really rankle bad.

Sorry mates…

Recnef’s FM4 Status as of 5 July 2013

The following post and its contents was created to measure my standing in Forza Motorsports 4 as of the date indicated and was created at the request of one of my mates who I regularly play the game with – because they wanted to compare their standings with mine.

That being the case this is probably not going to be of much interest to you, but if you are curious or you also play FM4 and want to compare standings with me, well then hey, have fun!

FM4 Stats as of 5 July 2013 (0900GMT -5)

GENERAL STATS

  • Percentage of Career Complete: 33.5%
  • Number of Victories: 551
  • Number of Podiums: 552
  • Number of Races: 552
  • Number of Cars in Garage: 72
  • Total Winnings: 6,371,552 CR
  • Online Winnings: 2,347,458 CR
  • Garage Value: 39,390,300 CR
  • Garage Parts Value: 371,300 CR
  • Credits Earned in the Auction House or Storefront: 1,000
  • Credits Spent in the Auction House or Storefront: 50,000
  • Total Repairs: 61,137 CR

RECORDS

  • Number of Badges Earned: 177 of 491
  • Number of Titles Earned: 129 of 458
  • Number of Perfect Turn Scores: 1,232
  • Number of Perfect Drift Scores: 0
  • Number of Perfect Speed Scores: 373
  • Number of Perfect Draft Scores: 0
  • Number of Perfect Pass Scores: 8
  • Top Speed: 218.6 MPH
  • Average Speed: 86.8 MPH
  • Distance Driven: 5,629.76 Mi.
  • Distance Jumped: 90.5 ft.

TIME

  • Time Driven: 64h 49:17
  • Time Spent Test Driving: 00:00
  • Time Spent Editing Liveries: 11:20
  • Time Spent Upgrading: 01:26
  • Time Spent Tuning: 35:03
  • Time Spent in Autovista: 00:00
  • Time Spent in Storefront: 17:21
  • Time Spent in Auction House: 00:00
  • Time Spent in Menus: 4h 37:16

 

Manufacturer Affinity Levels & Personal Ownership / Garaged Car List

Note: When a ‘0’ appears under the Affinity (to the right of the manufacturer name) that means that I own and have driven a car in a race but have yet to actually acquire sufficient XP to gain a level of Affinity. Where no number is listed I either do not own a car of that make or have not driven it in a race to the point that a level of Affinity was acquired…

The Affinity and Garage List is organized by Country and then alphabetically.

AUSTRALIA

  • Holden: 4
    • 2011 #11 Pepsi Max Crew Commodore VE (100 CR)
  • Joss:

FRANCE

  • Bugatti: 4
    • 2009 Veyiron 16.4 (100 CR)
  • Citroen: 4
    • 2011 DS3 (100 CR)
  • Peugeot:
    • 2009 #9 Peugeot Sport Total 908 (100 CR)
    • 2011 #10 Matmut-Oreca 908 (100 CR)
  • Renault:

GERMANY

  • Audi: 4
    • 2009 Q7 V12 TDI (100 CR)
    • 2010 R8 5.2 FSI quattro (100 CR)
  • BMW: 4
    • #92 Rahal Letterman Racing M3 GT2 (100 CR)
  • Gumpert:
    • 2010 Apollo S (100CR)
  • Mercedes-Benz:
    • 2009 SL 65 AMG Black Series (100 CR)
  • Mini:
  • Opel: 0
    • 2003 #5 OPC Team Phoenix Astra V8 (100 CR)
  • Porsche: 19
    • 1970 914/6 (12,000 CR)
    • 1982 911 Turbo 3.3 (19,000 CR)
    • 1989 944 Turbo (6,000 CR)
    • 2010 Boxter S (23,000 CR)
  • RUF:
  •  Smart:
  •  Volkswagen: 6
    • 1992 Golf GTi 16v Mk2 (100 CR)
    • 2009 Scirocco GT (100 CR)
    • 2010 Golf R (100 CR)
    • 2011 Fox (100 CR)
  • Wiesmann:

ITALY

  • Abarth: 4
    • 2010 500 Esseesse (100 CR)
  • Alfa Romeo: 4
    • 1965 Giulia Sprint GTA Stradale (100 CR)
  • Bertone: 4
  • De Tomaso:
  • Ferrari: 4
    • 1967 330 P4 (100 CR)
    • 1968 365 GTB/4 (100 CR)
    • 1969 Dino 246 GT (27,500 CR)
    • 1984 GTO (100 CR)
    • 1987 F40 (246,250 CR)
    • 1991 512 TR (37,500 CR)
    • 1995 F50 (251,400 CR)
    • 1999 360 Modena (45,000 CR)
    • 2004 F430 (100 CR)
    • 2007 430 Scuderia (100 CR)
    • 2009 California (110,000 CR)
    • 2010 #83 Risi Competizione F430GT (100 CR)
    • 2010 458 Italia (100 CR)
    • 2011 599 GTO (100 CR)
  • Fiat:
    • 2010 Punto Evo SPORT (100 CR)
  • Lamborghini:
    • 1999 Diablo GTR (100 CR)
    • 2006 Miura Concept (100 CR)
    • 2007 Gallardo Superleggera (100 CR)
  • Lancia:
  • 1982 037 Stradale (100 CR)
  • Maserati:
    • 2005 #15 JMB Racing MC12 (100 CR)
  • Pagani:
  • Spada Vetture Sport:

JAPAN

  • Honda: 4
    • 1992 NSX-R (78,100 CR)
  • Mazda: 4
    • 2008 Furai (100 CR)
  • Mitsubishi Motors:
  • Nissan: 4
    • 2000 Silvia Spec-R (100 CR)
  • Subaru:
    • 1998 Impreza 22B STi (100 CR)
  • Suzuki:
  • Toyota: 4
    • 1985 Sprinter Trueno GT Apex (100 CR)

KOREA

  • Hyundai:
  • Kia:

NETHERLANDS

  • Spyker:
    • 2010 C8 Laviolette LM85 (100 CR)

SPAIN

  • SEAT:

SWEDEN

  • Koenigsegg:
  • Saab:
  • Volvo:

UNITED KINGDOM

  • Ascari:
  • Austin-Healey:
  • Aston Martin: 4
    • 2006 #007 Aston Martin Racing DBR9 (100 CR)
    • 2008 DBS (100CR)
  • Bentley: 4
    • #7 Team Bentley Speed 8 (100 CR)
  • Jaguar:
    • 1993 XJ220 (100 CR)
    • 2010 XFR (100 CR)
  • Land Rover:
  • Lotus:
  • McLaren:
  • MG:
  • Morgan Motor Company:
  • Noble:
  • Radical:
  • Triumph:
  • TVR:
  • Ultima:
  • Vauxhall: 4
    • 2004 VX220 Turbo (100 CR)

UNITED STATES

  • Acura: 4
  • American Motors / AMC: 4
  • Buick: 4
  • Cadillac: 4
  • Chevrolet: 4
    • 1960 Corvette (100 CR)
    • 1970 Chevelle SS-454 (100 CR)
    • 2004 #3 Corvette Racing C5.R (100 CR)
    • 2009 Corvette ZR1 (100 CR)
    • 2010 #99 Green Earth Team Gunnar Oreca FLM09 (100 CR)
    • 2010 Camaro SS (100 CR)
    • 2010 Corvette Grand Sport (100 CR)
    • 2011 #04 Chevrolet Racing Monte Carlo SS Stock Car (100 CR)
  • Chrysler: 4
  • DeLorean / DMC: 4
  • Devon: 4
    • 2010 GTX (100 CR)
  • Dodge: 4
    • 2008 Viper SRT10 ACR (100 CR)
  • Eagle:
  • Ford: 4
  • 1970 Mustang Boss 429 (100 CR)
  • 1973 XB Falcon GT (100 CR)
  • 1987 Sierra Cosworth RS500 (100 CR)
  • 2009 Focus RS (100 CR)
  • 2010 Shelby GT500 (100 CR)
  • GMC Truck / GMC: 4
  • Hennessey:
  • Hudson:
  • Hummer: 4
  • Infiniti:
  • Jeep:
  • Lexus: 0
    • 2009 IS F (100 CR)
    • 2010 #1 Petronas Tom’s SC430 (100 CR)
  • Lincoln:
  • Mercury:
  • Mosler:
  • Oldsmobile:
  • Panoz:
  • Plymouth:
    • 1971 Cuda 426 HEMI (100 CR)
  • Pontiac: 4
  • Rossion:
  • Saleen:
  • Saturn:
  • Scion:
  • Shelby:
  • SSC:
  • Tesla:
  • Viper:

Note: Cars with a value of 100CR were either received as gifts from Turn 10, received as rewards, or other special sources and thus have a fixed value of only 100CR. Most if not all of the cars so designated are locked from trading/gifting to other players as well.

Note: I was one of the unlucky gamers whose save ended up getting corrupted after I had pretty much completed the main game play through and unlocked most of the Achievements, so what you see now status wise is what I have after restarting anew.  Yeah, it was painful, but what can you do?