Friday, May 13, 2005

Flourishing Black Market in Forza Motorsport exposed

Microsoft has created the world's first perfect plutocracy simulation. Imagine a world where everyone could print as much money as they wanted and spend it on products whose price remained effectively constant. In no time at all, the value of products would be effectively zero, and those 'not in the know' would be paupers. Ethical people might opt out of such an economy and leave it defenestrated.

Well, that is the future of Forza Motorsport, the best driving sim out there for the XBox.

Forza allows players to create a career and go up the racing ladder by winning races, making credits off wins and buying better cars with the winnings. Not very different from the real world, really. Unfortunately though, enterprising players have discovered a terrible glitch/design flaw that allows you to make huge credits virtually for free.

Basically, playing offline in career mode limits you to preset races that have defined winnings - consider it a defined benefits program. When you play on XBox Live, players specify a race track and length for the race. The game sets the winnings based on the length and difficulty of the track, with an increase for the number of players. Thus, for example, a two-lap race on the Test Track Oval, a circuit track, with eight players might be worth 5000 credits. The winner gets the loot, with lesser shares for the remaining players except the last. Damage costs are deducted from the winnings. A ten-lap race on the New York circuit might be worth 20,000 credits.

Here's how the glitch works: The host defines a simple race like a one-lap oval. Everyone starts the race. The host quits the race, returns to the game options menu, and changes the game settings to a 75-lap Nurburbring race, the toughest and longest. He then waits for the players to finish the easy one-lap race. On completion, the winning player makes, say, 400,000 credits, and the bounty is a little less for everyone else.

I discovered this when I joined in on a one-lap race and won 275,000 credits for third place. A little asking around with the other players and the gimmick was revealed. Player groups actually finish races and let each other get the jackpot in order, resulting in everyone making their grade.

The limitless winnings effectively allow you to buy the best cars like the Enzo Ferrari and the Lotus Elise, to name a few. After a while though, the glamour pales, because you didn't have to work for them.

This could very soon mean a loss of interest in the game online, although it still is the best driving simulator today. Microsoft could possibly easily fix this glitch by disabling the option to change game settings once it has begun, and reset everyone's garage and career, but that too, will mean a massive loss of face at the very least for them.

They could let the price of cars and parts float, so inflation would correct the rapid devaluation of the currency. The challenge would then be time-based, like in the real world, where the longer hours one put in on the glitch, the more one was rewarded. A new currency could also be introduced, of greater value than the current one.

They could turn this driving sim into a political/economic sim and watch how the economy develops, booms, busts, festers and dies.

Forza Motorsport Gran Turismo 4 Xbox Core Console USM Video Center/Rock -N- Fold Chair

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