Noticing that Civilization VI was recently released reminded me that I hadn’t really played enough Civilization V to appreciate that fact. I spent some time fixing that last night.
Photo of the Day Theme
A light-toned photo of a person or people.
“Dad, can I make a Minecraft video?” She asks.
I sigh. “I guess.” And then I hand over the keys(board) and let her log into the game and start recording. She’s making a YouTube video of herself playing video games. If I’m not careful, she’ll be a success and pulling in a bigger annual salary than me soon.
I opted for an overhead shot. I couldn’t quite get the over-the-shoulder perspective to capture the right glow from the monitor, and besides she wouldn’t stop playing for the two seconds required to look at the camera.
I may have been gaming for most of my life, but time is no longer on my side. Finding an hour to devote to a video game is rare. Finding an hour to tuck in and try a game that is completely new? That’s both rare and precious… but I do it for you, dear reader. For you.
It’s been a loooong couple of weeks in the real world. Family stresses and security related stuff, the election and other nagging politics, professional re-configurations, running flux, and some wandering health hiccups. These things eat up your time and energy, particularly when they all mush together like that.
Plus, apparently I’m competing for television & gaming time with an eight-year-old these days, so… there’s that.
So, you likely no longer require a more serious attempt at an answer when you inevitably ask me this: why did I install a game called “Spintires” onto my Steam box and opt to spend a solid, mindless hour trying to explore the free-roaming, seemingly-objectiveless open-world of off-roading mayhem that is this game: Why? I’ll tell you why. It was pure therapy. Mindless, mud-filled, chaotic therapy.
To be fair, and in retrospect, at the suggested retail of thirty bucks this game would have been worth the hour-worth of therapy it provided me, sitting on my couch and continuing the button configuration war with my new Steam Controller, even if it did crash out on my twice while streaming over the network (I’m going to blame the button config again here!) Yet, since I paid a fraction of that, thanks to this game being part of a Humble Bundle, I don’t think therapy comes much cheaper… at least not legally.
The one-liner on the sales site pitches this game thus:
Take responsibility of operating large all-terrain Soviet vehicles and venture across the rugged landscapes with only a map and compass to guide you. Explore the levels and unlock portions of the map whilst discovering new trucks, fuelling stations, garages and lumber mills.
And I suppose that must be true, that promise of adventure and exploration and doing pretend real work from the virtual confines of a soviet-era big wheeler, but in my hour with the game something became very clear to me.
See, I was acutely aware that there was an actual 4×4 vehicle sitting in my garage, not ten feet below where I was camped on the couch playing this very game, a vehicle more than capable of many of the off-roading type adventures I was simulating in this little game. I was also acutely aware that with only an hour of starting this game, I had completely ruined three imaginary vehicles by taking them off-road, sometimes very literally.
You know those driving games that we all like? They span a wide gamut of realism. Something like MarioKart is insanely forgiving. You can drive over an obstacle and you do a little spin and then you press the gas and whiz-bang your off and back into the race. I used to play a game called Gran Turismo and that was much less forgiving than Mario’s race. If you drifted off the asphalt and hit some rougher road, you might spin out or flip the car, then the screen would go black for a second and you’d feel like a bad driver, just temporarily though, as the race continued with you reset on the track.
Spintires is not like that. It is trying to be as real as possible with respect to driving through a land that has seemingly never yet invented that magical and smooth surface we take for granted: a road.
It boasts something called deformable terrain, which is gamer-geek speak for “you can wreck everything.” And this includes the ground. Which is sloppy and wet, mostly composed of the digital equivalent of that goopy mud where you risk loosing your shoe to be later uncovered by archaeologists a million years in the future if you step too close. Your tires slip and slide through this, usually nudging up against hidden boulders which either give you a bit of traction, or cause you to completely stick and spin.
I tried to avoid a mud pit, and within about ten seconds my little 4×4 jeep-type vehicle was barrel-rolling down the side of a hill, like a four-year-old on ice cream, with the warning flashing at me that my engine had stalled.
I started again with a new car, drove down what seemed like a promising path, destroying about a hundred thousand dollars worth of virtual new growth forest in the process (because you can drive right over trees, of course) and found myself sliding on the slippery mud into a river. Unable to go backwards, even gunning the engine, I attempted to ford it.
This, as it turns out was a bad idea, and a few minutes later my little soviet-jeep knockoff was floating downstream and billowing great clouds of black smoke into the pristine natural air.
At this point I’d been playing for a little less than thirty minutes, my wife (from where she was watching from nearby on the couch with a mix of confusion and amusement) was not-so-subtly alluding to the fact that, no… I was not actually allowed to take the Tacoma off-roading anytime soon.
That, I suppose, is a completely different kind of therapy.
Find me on Steam, username 8r4d.
First game of Exploding Kittens after it showed up in my mailbox this afternoon.
“It is a highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette. Players draw cards until someone draws an exploding kitten, at which point they explode, they are dead, and they are out of the game — unless that player has a defuse card, which can defuse the kitten using things like laser pointers, belly rubs, and catnip sandwiches. All of the other cards in the deck are used to move, mitigate, or avoid the exploding kittens.”
While the multitude of parents are sipping their Tim Horton’s coffees at the arena this week, propping up false dreams of hockey greatness in their tot’s wide-eyed wonderment at the forever-push towards the statistical unlikeliness of epic awesomeness found among the chosen few elite, I’m happy just knowing my daughter knows how to properly grip a Dualshock controller like a pro.
While our friends are hosting a more official games day in a couple weeks, post New Years, where we’ll all gather, nerds that we are, and binge on food, drink and board games with some good company, today had it’s moments. We played some games.
Last night, I rolled through midnight grooving on some ten pin bowling with a small group of my running friends. I hadn’t played in years and somehow, groove fully enabled, won both games. To be fair, I was the only one not really drinking.
This morning I poked away at our jigsaw puzzle a little more.
Then, I caught Claire rolling through her cousin’s Minecraft server. I don’t exactly know what she was up to there, but the private, creative-enabled block land has the two girls competing for “most epic castle” award, and I think her cousin crept ahead… causing a little frustration in our living room.
Real bowling got us in the mood for some fake bowling, and we dusted off the Wii and played a round of that… followed by some other Wii-ish sports.
And then I scuttled off to the basement where, having picked up a super-cheap copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition on the holiday Steam sale the other day, I booted that up and tried to see if I could keep a small virtual aircaft from crashing whilst flying over a rough approximation of Edmonton… seemingly rendered from geological and municipal planning data purchased in the late 1990s.
My free time is about half way split between time with “Godus” on the PC and time with “Destiny” on the PS3.
If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you will no doubt be aware that one of my “big five topics” –the five topics upon which I purport to write the most, (though those admittedly and occasionally drift)– is that of defining myself as a “gamer.” In other words, a guy who plays video games… and enjoys it.
It is a (perhaps hasty) tag, and sadly one that I’ve been more than a little bit embarrassed about for the last few weeks.
Now, let me just be perfectly clear: I have no opinion on the primary events which have swept across the gamer community in the course of a single late-summer splurge of subculture riot, spawning a gust of commentary both evil and insightful. I don’t care about those petty spats. I don’t care about the hurt feelings of those involved. I don’t want to be involved. I don’t want to need to give juvenile reactionary lunacy more time than it deserves. That said… the secondary reaction to those events, and the wider, broader shockwave that accompanied it, in the guise of and under the flag of a group with whom I share even the loosest of affiliations (if only in name) makes me want to just make note and state my piece.
My (probably too-wildly vague and oh-so-many-steps removed) summary for others who are just touristing through the chaos: the gaming community, in-so-much as there is a loose subculture of people who define their lives by being players, creators, or gaming experts, imploded over the last couple weeks. Perhaps I am overstating. After all, this implosion took the form of little more than a chaotic and loosely defined collective harassing each other online and then retreating to lick their wounds. I merely witnessed the fragmented fallout, the aftermath and the commentary that followed. And I stayed out of it. Of course. It had virtually nothing to do with me, save for that aforementioned vague affiliation. But the catalyst? A whole lot of vocal misogyny involving the kinds of folks (a) who already have a reputation problem with the gender equality topic as a whole and (b) who should probably figure out how do more listening than talking.
As I said, the squabbles of a little group of people who have defined their identities by the toys they play with would be of only trifling concern to me… save for one fact: that I’ve plastered a loose affiliation for the same on the front page of this very website.
And I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m just a guy who plays games and occasionally comments on it. A gamer. And as that vague community, whatever or whoever that is, implodes and withers …or implodes and rebuilds better… faster… stronger than before… whatever it is … I’m just here, standing at arms length, and doing what I’m doing, writing what I’m writing, and trying to get my readers interested in the games themselves, while (usually… except for maybe this one time) ignoring the politics of it all.
When I get the chance –which is rare– I’ve been getting into Minecraft again.
#100happydays #dailyhappy (7/100) …geeking out with Final Fantasy VI on my phone on the train and on the couch.
I’ve also been playing candy crush – but it is very addictive and probably not a good idea to start!
Sitting around and browsing the Steam holiday sale didn’t result in new games, rather it just reminded me that I should probably play the ones I bought last year.