Tom Chick

Do you know there are known unknowns in epidemic management game Raxxon?

, | Game reviews

When it comes to gaming the spread of infectious disease, everyone loves Matt Leacock’s Pandemic.  Not me.  I think it does a terrible job of modeling the outbreak, spread, and containment of an epidemic.  It’s all gamey abstraction loosely held together by a strained disease motif that makes no sense.  It’s not even a very good design.  It speaks volumes about Pandemic that for all its iterations — diseases, dikes, empires, cultists — the best version of Leacock’s design is about puppets and plastic models.

But then there’s Raxxon.

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Project Cars 3: forget it, Jake

, | Game diaries

The current weekly event in rivals mode encapsulates everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with Project Cars 3.  It is Slightly Mad Studio’s genius and failing played out in a single lap.  It is simultaneously why I play Project Cars 3 and why I shake my head sadly so often as I’m playing it.

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Project Cars 3: new or used?

, | Game diaries

The career progression in most racing games is linear.  You start out with pokey road cars and gradually unlock events for increasingly powerful cars.  One day, you’ll get to hypercars and supercars and formula racers and various other Batmobile iterations.  But Project Cars 3 wants you to freely sample its wares.  So its career progression is a tree instead of a power curve.  A veritable jungle gym.

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Project Cars 3: hey, did you happen to see the most hideous car in the world?

, | Game diaries

Today’s rivals event is a breakout layout on Monza, using a lime green doorstop with a bunch of random stickers slapped on it.  I am amazed at how gaudy actual races look, with stickers all over the cars, with signs and banners scattered around the track, crowding to get into every shot to peddle motor oil and beer.  It’s just so unsightly.  Races are literally littered with advertising.  I can hardly blame today’s poor car for trying to stand out by being painted lime green.

But I’ve come up with my own solution.  If you can’t beat them, join them.

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Project Cars 3: it was a dark and stormy night on Cougar Ridge

, | Game diaries

Today’s rivals event puts you behind the wheel of an unremarkable Toyota Supra.  But then it adds the dramatic stuff.  There’s a rainstorm.  It’s night.  You’re on a track with plenty of twists and turns and elevation changes.  In other words, lots of rear-wheel drive slippin’ and slidin’, in poor visibility, with a car just sluggish enough to let you enjoy it.

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Project Cars 3: Linda Ronstadt should get this car

, | Game diaries

I’ve driven some weird vehicles in my day.  Once you get into the Badlands in Red Faction: Guerilla, you’ll find some real doozies.  The Batmobile has its share of idiosyncrasies.  Some of the trucks in Spintires, Mudrunner, and Snowrunner are clearly from another world.  I routinely drive a rabbit and a manta ray in Guild Wars 2.  But then today’s rivals event in Project Cars 3 happened.

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Project Cars 3: so a BAC Mono walks into a bar and the bartender says…

, | Game diaries

Project Cars 3 doesn’t have much of a sense of humor.  It’s a serious game, obsessed with cars and tracks and uninterested in silly party games.  That’s the next door down.  You can’t miss it.  It says Wreckfest on the door.  Wreckfest is Project Cars’ younger funnier brother that everyone loves.

But sometimes Project Cars 3 tries to tell a joke.  It’s not very good at it.  It messes up the punchline.  Its timing is off.  But it’s trying.  Here’s how the joke goes:

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Project Cars 3: the Corkscrew of the Antipodes!

, | Game diaries

Like most colonies, Australia was built from its coasts inward.  If you go inland from Sydney, you can’t get very far without bumping into the Blue Mountains.  But just beyond the Blue Mountains, settlers discovered an expanse of arable land called Bathurst Plains, watered by Australia’s largest river system.  To open the way from Sydney, a hundred-mile road was built through the mountains, ending at the newly founded town of Bathurst in 1815.  It was Australia’s first inland colony.

Today, 37,000 people live in Bathurst.  South of the town is a 400-foot rise called Mount Panorama, because you can stand on it and get a nice view of the town.  The town spray painted the words MOUNT PANORAMA on the slope, in bright white capital letters.  Not quite as showy as erecting giant wooden letters over Hollywood, but the sensibility is the same.  Five times a year, the streets in the southern part of Bathurst are closed off for racing through town, up the slope of Mount Panorama, and back down into town.  This is where I went for today’s rivals event in Project Cars 3.  And this is where I discovered one of my new favorite things in racing.

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Project Cars 3: shame and loathing at 1,190 horsepower

, | Game diaries

Are Rivals events like New York Times crossword puzzles?  Is Saturday the day for sadistic challenges?  Why else would I be driving Project Cars 3’s most powerful car in the rain?  Why else would I be hydroplaning in a car so absurdly overpowered that it doesn’t even have a name?  Why else would I have done what I did to finish this challenge?  Why else would I sink to these depths of shame and loathing?

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Sovereign Edition of Sunless Skies still MIA

, | Games

Sunless Skies is a great game. Some are saying it’s literally the greatest game of 2019. Developer Failbetter Games has been working on an update, called the Sovereign Edition, which includes an overhaul of character progression, a reworking of some of the endgame areas, and a not inconsiderable amount of new content. The update was announced on October 19, 2019 and scheduled for an August or September 2020 release alongside the console port of the game.

After the announcement, there was no word until September 16, 2020, when Failbetter conceded that console ports are “more complex than they expected” so they didn’t have a release date anymore. Then on December 2nd, they said the Sovereign Edition had been submitted for certification (since it was also going to coincide with the console release). This tends to take a couple of weeks, tops.

Unless something goes wrong. Which we can infer from Failbetter’s silence for another two months. Today, Failbetter conceded the Sovereign Edition is “still seeing some challenging performance problems” and they still don’t have a release date to announce.

Project Cars 3: how not to make a car

, | Game diaries

It might surprise you to know this, but I’m no car expert.  Everything I know about cars I Googled and then forgot ten minutes later.  When I go to the mechanic, I make a great show of nodding sagely while he explains in detail why he’ll be charging $742.18 to my credit card.  He might as well be speaking Klingon.  

However, I do know physics, common sense, and today’s rivals event in Project Cars 3.  I also know the ongoing weekly rivals event that will be in effect for two more interminable days.  From these things, I have some advice to offer the supposed experts who make fancy cars.  Because right now, they’re Doing It Wrong.  So I’m going to tell them how to make their fancy cars work better.

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