Year in Review 2012

Brian Ekberg
Friday, December 28, 2012

Welcome to the 2012 Forza Year in Review, our massive look at the biggest Forza news, events, and general automotive awesomeness of 2012. Enjoy!

 

January
Would you believe I began writing this article nearly a year ago? Having endured the pain of putting a Year in Review article together at the last minute in 2011, I resolved to record the Forza Motorsport Year of 2012 as it happened, beginning with the first week of the month. So, read on for a full look at the Year That Was in the Forza universe!

 

So, January. It began in full Forza 4 stride—in addition to the announcement of our January Jalopnik Pack (starring an eccentric lineup of ultra-rare hypercars and classics of dubious distinction), we also kicked off contests galore, including our King of the Track contest with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim starting pitcher CJ Wilson. He’s an avid racer himself, that CJ, and put in a good showing at the event. But, of course, even an All-Star pitcher is no match for the Forza 4 elite, as more celebrities would find out in months to come.

 

January also saw the announcement of our Hyundai Design Contest winner (community painter Armipotent Adam, whom I trust is still enjoying that 2012 Hyundai Veloster) and the start of the second phase of our Hyundai involvement, the Hyundai Veloster: Forza Motorsport 4 Time Trials. Conducted in Rivals Mode, these events pitted some of the best Forza 4 drivers around as they battled to make their way into the finals in February. The competition was fierce, with just 1,000 players moving to the qualifying round in February.

 

The Hyundai Veloster Bonus Pack brought two new drivable cars to Forza fans—the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo and the 2011 Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster, as well as a brand new Autovista experience starring the 2013 Hyundai Veloster—and it was completely free.

 

But the Hyundai Bonus Pack wasn’t all. January also saw the release of our January Jalopnik Pack, featuring illustrious rides like the Pagani Huayra and the long-awaited Ford Pinto (I think it’s fair to say “long-awaited” here, right?) as well as the release of our Launch Bonus Pack, featuring ten cars that were only available via pre-order or with the initial run of Forza 4. All in all, 22 cars and one Autovista experience. Not a bad way to kick off the new year…

 

Snowy Turn 10 

 

February
You saw his glaring mug on the front of FM.net for a full month: UFC fighter and Hollywood star Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was our King of the Track in February. And while he might be fearsome in the octagon, his KOTT time in the 2009 Dodge Challenger on Laguna Seca was … beatable. Which is good news! Because more people got to check out free gift cars in Forza 4 as a result!

 

In addition, February also saw the release of the February American Le Mans Series Pack, one of the single strongest car add-on packs we’ve ever produced for the Forza series. Between proven endurance champions like the 2011 #2 Audi Sport North America R18 TDI and Rampage Jackson’s own tricked-out 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT 8—AND the insane, deafening, amazing 1991 Mazda #55 Team Mazdaspeed 787B, and you’ve got a pack that, car-for-car, I’d put against any DLC pack around.

 

February also saw us kick off our Community Bounty Hunter program, where we put the spotlight on Forza players—you beat their times in the Rivals Mode event of their choice and you win free stuff created by that user. From paints to tunes and photography sessions, it was great to see the Forza community rally around the program and really create something special for the game and for each other.

 

Awards season was still going for Forza 4 in February—we accepted our VGA Award for Best Driving Game of 2011, won “Racing Game of the Year” at the 15th annual Interactive Achievement Awards in Las Vegas and were nominated by the Game Audio Network Guild (aka GANG) for a “Sound Design of the Year” award.

 

Despite all of this cacophony, behind the scenes, work was continuing at a more feverish pace as Turn 10 was preparing a pair of the biggest announcements not just of 2012, but in the history of the Forza Motorsport franchise. Those announcements, however, would need to wait until …

 

The VGA Award Monkey 

 

March
“March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion.” Or so goes the traditional saying. In the case of the Forza world, we flipped that old proverb right on its head in 2012, dropping two huge bombs on the Forza community in the early part of the month. First up was the announcement of the Forza Motorsport 4: Porsche Expansion Pack. The long-awaited news of the famous German brand returning to Forza Motorsport was incredible news for Forza fans all over the world, with 30 cars coming to the game, plus new career mode events, Rivals Mode competitions and more. For fans of Forza Motorsport 4 and Porsche, May 22 couldn’t get here fast enough.

 

The other big news—scratch that, the other MASSIVE news—was the announcement of the next Forza game: Forza Horizon. Announced with a brief trailer in early March, Forza Horizon was a bit of a mystery for Forza fans. It promised action, music, fun, and … what looked like an open world? While Turn 10 and Microsoft were tight-lipped in terms of details in the early going, it was great to see the speculation of what Forza Horizon start early, as Forza fans wrapped their heads around what a new chapter in “Book of Forza” might look like.

 

Beyond those huge announcements, we also released some really cool content in March, including a cool video showcasing our audio team recording the incredibly rare (and just plain incredible!) Mazda 787B; our March King of the Track Rivals Mode event starring race driver Juan Pablo Montoya; and the start of our VIP Rivals Mode events. March also saw the debut of a new column on FM.net – “Rear View” Mirror, a look back on the biggest racing action—both in the real world and in Forza—from the previous weekend. We also released our final title update for Forza Motorsport 4, and quickly resumed Game With Dev events which have been going strong ever since.

 

Juan Pablo Montoya was your March King of the Track. 

 

April
The best way to kick off a new month in the Forza universe? How about the announcement of a brand new downloadable car available for free in Forza 4? That’s precisely how we brought in spring to FM.net—with the announcement of the 2013 SRT Viper. The revival of the American supercar by SRT was huge news in the automotive world, as the car made its debut at the New York Auto Show, and that news was amplified to an even more epic scale with the announcement that the 2013 SRT Viper would be available as a free download to all Forza 4 players later in the summer. What’s better than the return of a beloved American automotive icon? Driving it in Forza 4, before the car is even available for a test drive, that’s what!

 

You want a new Viper? We’ve got your new Viper right here. 

 

If you’ve ever wondered how we go about creating the genre-defining physics and car handling in games like Forza Motorsport 4, April had some of those questions answered with the release of the next edition in our “Making of Forza Motorsport 4” video documentary series. This edition, “Physics, Pirelli, and Performance” documented Turn 10’s partnership with Pirelli in creating the incredible tire model that powers the driving in Forza 4 (and beyond) and provides a fascinating insight into the detail and care Turn 10 pours into making the driving experience in Forza as deep, authentic, and fun as possible.

 

April was especially cool for me, personally, too. First, I kicked off a personal tuning challenge which came to be known as “Made for Mech,” asking talented Forza 4 tuners to customize and tune a host of different cars as I tried to move my way up individual Rivals Mode event leaderboards. Secondly, I got a chance to head down to Pacific Raceways here in the Seattle area as a guest of the SRT Track Experience. Tearing those SRT cars (and SUVs, lest I forget the SRT Grand Cherokee) around that incredible track is a memory I won’t soon forget.

 

Regular readers of FM.net will also remember that April saw the start of a new column on the site – John Schommer’s “Heavy Metal Affliction”, a car culture series about the rides of the Forza community.


Finally, April saw the release of the May TopGear Car Pack, a DLC pack that in terms of variety was virtually unmatched. Between off-roaders like the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, speed demons such as the 2012 Hennessey Venom GT, and oddballs like the 2012 Smart ForTwo and the 2011 Ford Transit SuperSportVan, this pack was nothing if not eccentric.

 

Cake or pie? Forza settles the issue. 

 

May
What a month! With the lead-up to E3, May is traditionally an insane month around the studio. As we get closer to the show, we start talking about our game (in this case, Forza Horizon), how we want to show the game, the media we want to use, the messaging and takeaways we want to create, etc. There are endless meetings and endless iterations and endless reviews and it’s completely exhausting and awesome and scary. And did I mention it’s awesome?

 

First up, we released the Porsche Expansion Pack, featuring 30 Porsche models, new single- and multi-player Porsche-themed events, and new achievements. This was the biggest add-on pack ever made for the Forza series, and the response has been tremendous from Porsche fans all over the world.

 

May turned out to be extra awesome for Yours Truly because, mid-way in the month, I made my way to Playground Games in jolly old England to see the studio, see the latest build of the game and interview tons of Playground developers about Forza Horizon. As you know from our Forza Horizon video documentary series, Playground is a passionate group of car lovers and game developers and they love the Forza franchise just as much as we do. It was really cool to be able to spend time with the crew, learn more about Forza Horizon, and hear their passion for the game.

 

And then there was the final week of the month—that final mad dash before E3. While the E3 demo was getting its final touches, along with our kick-butt E3 trailer, screenshots, etc., the community team was hard at work creating the next phase of this very website. I remember the week well: a week-long miasma of incredibly late nights, broken and fixed features, and lots and lots of reviews. It was incredibly exciting, both because the site looked great and because we knew we were just days away from officially lifting the curtain on Forza Horizon. June 4 couldn’t get here fast enough …

 

 

June
… because June 4 was the first day of E3 2012! A bigger day for the Forza franchise would be hard to imagine—not only was this our return to Los Angeles for one of the biggest shows in the gaming universe, it was also the chance for the world to see a brand new direction for the Forza series. Our booth at E3 was a thing of wonder—and I’m not just saying that because of the ladies; the booth perfectly captured the vibe that defines Forza Horizon—non-stop action on the open road, where music, cars, speed and style come together to create a new expression of car passion in the Forza universe.

 

While we were proud to bring the first look at Forza Horizon to Forza fans worldwide, we were similarly overwhelmed with the positive response. Reactions from the press and the Forza Faithful alike said that this new direction for Forza was a good thing … and that was proved out in multiple “Best of E3” nominations and awards for the game. Those positive vibes created an atmosphere of excitement that helped fuel the teams at Playground Games and Turn 10 in the final months before Forza Horizon was released to the world.

 

Without a doubt, June continued to be the busiest month of the year so far in 2012. Just a week or so after the E3 2012 madness, Forza could be found at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans race. As an official sponsor of the race, you didn’t have to go far to see Forza representing in a big and bold fashion. In fact, all you had to do was check out the Mulsanne Chica … ahem, make that the “Forza Motorsport Chicane” … to see Forza Motorsport signage. In addition to our presence at the event—including an awesome Forza tent complete with Forza Horizon and Forza Motorsport 4 playable kiosks, the community team featured and intense weekend of Le Mans-style Forza 4 fun, including dedicated Rivals Mode events, online hoppers, an extended “Game With Turn 10” and a marathon viewing party of the Le Mans race via our official Facebook page.

 

But that’s not all! June also saw the release of the Meguiar’s Car Pack and the FREE 2013 SRT Viper Bonus Pack, which featured both a drivable version of the latest Viper masterpiece and a Viper Autovista experience.

 

At the midway point of the year, and after one of the biggest months in Forza series history, the question had to be asked: How could 2012 get any bigger for Forza fans?

 

Eyes up here, fellas. 

 

July

On the heels of our E3 blowout of Forza Horizon in June, we were riding a wave of fan anticipation into the summer months and things kicked off quickly in July when we launched the Forza Horizon Pre-Order Program. Now, longtime fans of Forza, known the community team has gone a bit … shall we say “grassroots” when it comes to Forza pre-orders; asking Forza fans to send in copies of their receipts that we would check by hand in order to send gifts out. With Forza Horizon, we knew we needed something new and cool for Forza fans. The result was our Horizon pre-order program, which included both cars to enjoy in Forza Horizon (such as the 2012 Aston Martin Virage, 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia, and the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG) but also a new car to play with right away in Forza Motorsport 4. Fred created an awesome livery for the 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392—and we began featuring the car in Forza 4 in photo contests and Rivals Mode events leading up to the release of Horizon.

 

The July Car Pack may not have been sponsored like the rest of Forza Motorsport 4’s monthly DLC packs, but it wasn’t because of a lack of insane rides available for purchase. After all, we’re talking about a pack that included gems like the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG, the 1965 Lotus Eleven, the 1952 Hudson Hornet, the 2011 McLaren 59 GT MP4-12C GT3, and the 1973 AMC Gremlin X among others.

 

On FM.net, John continue a string of great editions of Heavy Metal Affliction—including spotlights on the eclectic collection at Giordano’s Vintage Motors, an interview with the founder of Track Time Audio, and a trip to the utterly unique automotive mania that was Stance Wars 2012.

 

July also saw our most popular and hotly contested Community Bounty event in the series’ history—as Fred agreed to put his racing reputation, and his hated for the Boston Red Sox, on the line in July. In the end, Fred managed to “beat” the community—and avoid spending the day in the office wearing Red Sox gear and a luchador mask—but something tells me he may not be that lucky once his time rolls around in Forza Horizon …

 

You know you want one. 

 

August

While Forza has been partnered with the American Le Mans Series for a while now—it was truly special to see the debut of the Forza Motorsport SRT Viper at Mid-Ohio! Between the Forza Motorsport logo being pasted all over the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, and the debut of the Forza Viper at Mid-Ohio, it’s been a great year for Forza in the real racing world—and we look forward to building those relationships in the coming years.

 

The floodgates of awesome opened up for real in August for this year’s biggest racing game: Forza Horizon. Journalists from around the world got their hands on Horizon for the first time and the buzz never seemed to stop after that. August also saw the beginning of our epic car reveals for Forza Horizon, with new cars being announced each day on Twitter and Facebook, and the welcome return of our familiar series, The Forza Garage. You can now enjoy all of the cars from Forza Horizon in our dedicated Cars section, a great place for car lovers to while away the hours while they are away from their Xbox 360s.

 

Other August fun: the Playseat Challenge Rivals Mode contest, the unveiling of the Forza Horizon VIP program and a Heavy Metal Affliction entry on drift racer Rob Primo who earned his pro license not long after the piece went live, and then subsequently challenged the Forza community in his own Rivals Mode event in Forza Motorsport 4. Here’s hoping Rob becomes a big star; we’ll be able to say we knew him “when”…

 

With roughly sixty days to Horizon’s launch, the rest of the year was only going to be crazier. September couldn’t get here fast enough!

 

Porsche fans check out Forza Motorsport 4 at the Porsche Road Show in Shelton, WA. 

 

September

True to expectations, September swept in at full speed. With the finish line for Forza Horizon rapidly approaching, the promotion machine kicked in at full force. We continued daily car reveals and unveiled the Forza Horizon edition of the Forza Garage, where we spotlighted new cars in the Forza franchise.

 

September also saw our final monthly DLC car pack for Forza 4 with the September Pennzoil Car Pack– featuring a mixture of classic cars and both of the ALMS Viper race cars (one sporting the Pennzoil livery and another proudly displaying the Forza 4 brand). Not long after the pack was announced, we kicked off the Petit Le Mans Challenge, a chance for players to test their skills against one another in either of the Viper race cars on Road Atlanta, for a chance to win prizes like an Xbox 360 console and ALMS merchandise.

 

Forza Motorsport 4 was going strong in September but, really, this month was all about the lead-up to Forza Horizon. Early in the month, we released the first Behind the Scenes video for Horizon, an overview of all the awesomeness that was to come in the game once October 23 rolled around. In fact, just about two weeks later, we released the second episode in the Behind the Scenes video series, this one taking you on a trip of Colorado and all of the cool things you can do once you hit the open roads in the game, as well as a full reveal of Horizon’s critically acclaimed soundtrack. And we were just getting started: There were still three more editions of the Behind the Scenes video to go.

 

As September wound down, the pace picked up as we prepared for the last leg of the race to launch Forza Horizon. Most people think the summer months are the most exciting of the year; some might even say the holidays. For us at Turn 10 and Playground, however, we were looking forward to October so we could finally unleash Forza Horizon on the world!

 

That’s our resident ringer Christian. His shirt doesn’t lie.

 

October

And then it was here!

 

Well, not so fast. Because Forza Horizon was released towards the end of the month, we still had a few weeks to go before we could begin sharing the open roads of Colorado with the Forza Faithful. While the community team dealt with a minor technical emergency in the early part of the month that prevented us from easily publishing our regular slew of weekly content, the rest of Turn 10 and Playground Games were hard at work putting the finishing touches on Forza Horizon. On Oct. 8, we released the Forza Horizon Xbox LIVE demo, a rip-roaring sampling of all the action in Forza Horizon. If you played the demo during the first month of release, you’ve probably enjoyed the special tricked out SRT Viper that was later sent out as a free gift.

 

As we sprinted through the final few weeks before release, we released even more information on the game, including an in-depth edition of Forza Horizon: Under the Hood with Dan Greenawalt and Ralph Fulton.

 

A week later, we dropped a bombshell: the Forza Horizon Rally Expansion Pack! While many of you are already knee deep in the mud and dirt of the Rally Expansion Pack (which was released just last week), it was awesome to spring the announcement of the first Horizon expansion pack on the community and see the reactions of all the fans.

 

Finally, after months of waiting and one appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the big day was here: on Oct. 23 the roads of Forza Horizon were opened to U.S. players with the retail release of the game, followed by the worldwide release on Oct. 26. We had already seen the overwhelming critical reception of the game and now it was finally your turn to get behind the wheel and play the game. Launch week was incredible – with our UK Community Manager Ian Webster heading on an international automotive adventure via our “Escape the Grid” promotion and our own Alex Kierstein lighting out for Colorado and in a Horizon-esque adventure known as the Autoweek America Adventure. In addition the end of October also saw cool stuff like the official Forza Horizon SmartGlass Experience and our first Forza Horizon Game With Dev events.

 

While the majority of our attention was spent in Forza Horizon, we still had plenty of cool updates for Forza Motorsport 4 in October, including the addition of our Rivals Runner competition in Rivals Mode (renamed in November to the Forza Motorsport 4 Bondurant Challenge), as well as new Rivals Mode events, ongoing photo and livery contests, and our season-ending Turn 10 Track Day event for Petit Le Mans. Also, all month long, USTCC racer Ken Kurtz was competing against the community and talking trash in the forums during our special “Heart of a Champion” Rivals mode. Kurtz ended up in the top 30 of more than 20,000 players, proving his driving skills transferred to the world of Forza.

 

A manic, massive October ended with the announcement of our November Bondurant Car Pack and closed out on a spooky note with the fifth anniversary edition of Little Vixen’s Halloween Bash 2012 on the FM.net forums.

 

October meant two things: Forza Horizon was here and the Rally Expansion was coming. 

 

And did we mention SmartGlass? As if October wasn’t already crazy enough, we also managed to release the official Forza Horizon SmartGlass Experience for Windows 8 devices. As of now this awesome companion to Horizon is available both for Windows 8 and for iOS devices. So if you haven’t had a chance to check out the SmartGlass app in all its awesomeness, now is as good a time as any!

 

November

As the temperature began to drop outside, November saw the action in Forza Horizon getting hotter. In Forza Horizon, the November Bondurant Car Pack launched on November 6, bringing cars like the 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Spyder Performante to the party. Alex also regaled us with his two-part tale of his own personal real-life Forza Horizon adventure, also known as the Autoweek America Adventure (you can read part one and part two to get an idea of what it was like).

 

One of the coolest aspects of having two Forza games going strong at the same time? All the awesome UGC from the Forza community. In addition to our weekly Forza 4 photo and livery contests that have been going strong since October 2011, we kicked off weekly contests for Forza Horizon at the launch of the game. That’s two games and twice the awesomeness coming out of the Forza community! If you want to keep up to date with everything that’s going on in the Forza Community, or keep tabs on the latest photo contest winners, head over to the Community page for all the latest!

 

In mid-November we released the fifth and final edition of the “Forza Horizon – Behind the Scenes” series. Focusing on the cool stuff ahead for Forza Horizon – including the Rally Expansion Pack – this video also gave us a chance to give a shoutout to the loyal Forza Faithful and to highlight the cool stuff that we’ve got going on in the game and elsewhere each and every week of the year.

 

 

We were honored to be nominated for a 2012 Video Game Award for “Best Driving Game” and even more honored to have so many of you vote for us in the weeks leading up to the awards. In addition we were also pleased to find out that Forza Motorsport 4 earned a nomination from the global audio community represented by the TEC (Technical Excellence and Creativity) Foundation. The winners will be awarded at the 2013 National Association of Music Merchants show in Los Angeles and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for more Forza 4 hardware for our ever-growing trophy case!

 

Speaking of Forza Motorsport 4, November also saw the kickoff for the Forza Motorsport 4 Bondurant Challenge (previously known as “Rivals Runner” challenges). This monthly challenge had a lofty ambition – to identify the top Forza 4 driver each month. With players competing in Rivals events each month across four different driving disciplines – hot lapping, drifting, autocross, and drag racing and the top drivers of the month winning cool Forza 4 and Bondurant swag. We’ll be continuing the Bondurant Challenge in 2013 so, if you haven’t found yourself at the top of the leaderboard yet, have no fear and keep practicing!

 

On we continued into December but, with two downloadable content packs coming in the last month of the year, we knew that the holidays would be a busy time for everyone in the Forza world.

 

Alex drove this car all over Colorado for a week. Meanwhile, the rest of the community team enjoyed our bagged lunches and bus rides home. 

 

December

Lots of businesses are ghost towns during the holidays … but not Turn 10! And not Playground Games for that matter. Both studios spent November and the early parts of December working feverishly to bring Forza Horizon fans new content to enjoy in their favorite racing game. First up was the December IGN Car Pack, featuring seven new cars including notables like the fan-favorite 1993 McLaren F1, Ferraris’ fastest road car ever, the 2012 Ferrari F12berlinetta, and the special edition 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Edition. While the Raptor had been seen before, it was never like this: complete with a cool UNSC-livery designed by the creators of the Halo series, 343 Industries! If crushing all opposition wasn’t enough in the Raptor in Forza Horizon, fans had a chance to win a real-life version of that wicked UNSC Raptor via the Halo 4 Infinity Challenge which, as of this writing, is still open for registration!

 

Once the mid-point of the month came around it was time for one thing: rally. On Dec. 18, the Forza Horizon Rally Expansion Pack launched and thousands of Forza players took to the “rally-fied” stages of Colorado to compete in the Horizon Rally Championship. With five cars, and a suite of rally upgrades that could be applied to any car in Forza Horizon, the Forza Horizon Rally Expansion Pack proved to be a dirt-lovers dream.

 

December also meant our final Game With Dev of 2012 – and we ended the year in style, with an all-day Forza bash that kept us running laps in Forza Motorsport 4, and swapping paint on the open roads in Forza Horizon. Game With Dev will be back in 2013, naturally, and we’re looking to add some new twists to the format that will make things more interactive and more fun than ever before. Stay tuned!

 

Other cool stuff in December? How about a live Q&A with Cadillac Racing and Pirelli World Challenge driver Andy Pilgrim, who also was the subject of one of the year’s best editions of “Heavy Metal Affliction”. To celebrate the iconic cars of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, we kicked off our “24 Days of Le Mans” event in late December, featuring cars appearing in Forza Motorsport 4 across six decades of Le Mans glory. Reminder: You can still vote for your favorite 24 Hours of Le Mans car of all time and be entered to win amazing Le Mans prizes. Before you know it, June will roll around and we’ll be celebrating the 90th anniversary of this most famous of endurance races. Until then, let your voice be heard to elect the race’s most iconic car!

 

Time to get dirty with the Rally Expansion Pack. 

 

We’re honored here at Turn 10 (and on behalf of Playground Games) to have Forza Horizon nominated for so many year-end awards, including wins from outlets like GameSpot, G4, and more. Even more than collecting year-end trophies, however, we’re humbled and grateful for the community of Forza Faithful that continues to express their passion for everything automotive with Forza. Whether playing Forza Motorsport or Forza Horizon, reading the content here on FM.net, interacting with fellow Forza fans on the forums and on social media, or by creating awesome UGC of your own to share with the world, each of you is precisely why we love coming to work every day. Thanks for an unforgettable 2012 and let’s rest and relax for the year ahead because, let me tell you, 2013 is going to be amazing.

 

Have a great holiday, enjoy the New Year and, last but not least, FORZAAAAAAAA!