Game diaries

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.

Continue reading →

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?

Continue reading →

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.

Continue reading →

Project Cars 3: top ten reasons I didn’t get a better lap time today

, | Game diaries

Today’s daily event was a lap around Donington Park, which is a real-world track in Leicestershire, England.  The track is named after a nearby castle, which I probably climbed around on while playing Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.  The car is called a Caterham. I’ll have more to say about it shortly.  There will be cussing.  My best lap time, after using all 20 available attempts, was 1 minute and 38.589 seconds.  As of this writing, that puts me in the silver ranking at 132nd place.

Following are ten reasons I’m not in 131st or better place.

Continue reading →

Project Cars 3: a month of Rivals mode

, | Game diaries

One of the multiplayer modes in Project Cars 3 is called Rivals.  It consists of month-long seasons.  Each month, there is a single event which you can drive as often as you like to improve your standing.  There are also rotating weekly events and daily events, each with a limited number of attempts.  When each event closes, you win points based on how you placed on the leaderboard.  Those points accumulate over the course of the season.  At the end of the season, everybody’s ranked and wins experience points based on how well they did.  And, of course, you’re earning experience points along the way just by driving the events.  However you choose to play, you’re always making progress in Project Cars 3.  If you drive, you advance.

But what if I let Project Cars 3 have a turn at the wheel?

Continue reading →

Divinity: Original Sin 2: earn this

, | Game diaries

In all the RPGs I’ve ever played, you cast Fireball and it does whatever d6s of damage it’s going to do, along with whatever damage-over-time fire inflicts. Easy as you please. Okay, maybe there are some games that require some sort of casting time, during which my wizard might get interrupted while he’s reciting the Fireball incantation. Fair enough. At least the warrior can just straight-up do his Shield Bash and the cleric can use her hammer for a Hammer Slam. Do the action, roll the damage, apply a dazed effect or whatever, done. Easy as you please.

Hold on, says Divinity Original Sin 2. Continue reading →

State of Decay 2: the first four

, | Game diaries

The first was during a misunderstanding with another group of survivors. Russell was one of the first four people in our group. He was our soldier. You could tell he was military, and not just because he had a badass sniper rifle and wore camo. You could tell because it said so on his character panel. When you do the tutorial, you pick a set of two starting characters and then the tutorial adds a doctor and a soldier, because it knows you’re going to need them. Russell was our soldier.

Continue reading →

Kingdom Death: Monster: a lion in summer

, | Game diaries

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

This is what I say out loud. I’ll mutter things from time to time. But this I say. Out loud enough that the cat mewls because he thinks I’m talking to him.

Yes, I tell him.

The best peak moments are in games that also have the lowest bleak moments. Kingdom Death: Monster is nothing if not bleak. It will test your willingness to subject yourself to the ruthless whims of the random number gods. You will roll Blood Geysers, Exploding Heads, leprosy, and two 1’s when you only need one of them to be a 3 or higher, so your population drops because a woman just died in childbirth. It exists to kill you so that you’ll be elated during moments when it doesn’t.

Continue reading →

Kingdom Death: Monster: you can’t stop what’s coming

, | Game diaries

After you get past gluing together teensy bits of plastic and then receiving your mauling at the claws of what should have been a tutorial, Kingdom Death: Monster finally shows you what it really is. Once you’re filling out the sheet for your settlement, you’ve arrived and now you can see clearly. Now you can see what the road ahead looks like. What’s that strange hulking shape up there? Is it getting closer?

Continue reading →

Ambush!: maybe I was wrong about this game…

, | Game diaries

Well, now there’s this.

In order to win this mission, you have to satisfy several victory conditions. Among them is the following:

“At least one active US soldier is in any hex of the heights in the southeast corner of the map (defined by the elevation change running from Q-19 to Y-13) from which he can see all the road hexes on the map.”

After the jump, there’s just one little tiny problem. Continue reading →

Ambush!: moving parts

, | Game diaries

I may or may not have been alive in 1983, and if I was, I was certainly far too young to play wargames. But it seems to me that Ambush! is an absolute masterpiece of game design for that era. Computer wargames were ugly and obtuse; board wargames needed to be played with an in-person friend equally as nerdy as you… and were also obtuse. Ambush! is played solo, and it’s incredibly streamlined. Every feature designers Eric Lee Smith and John Butterfield chose to include serves a purpose.

After the jump, let’s look at a few of those things. Continue reading →

Ambush!: steamy sex games

, | Game diaries

For a while, I went through an “acquire solitaire board games” phase. This phase was motivated by the fear that, someday, an apocalypse might take out the electrical grid, and all my friends would die. Somehow, I alone would manage to survive in this nightmare world, along with my board game collection. That apocalypse may or may not come, but in the meantime, I’ve hoarded stacks of solitaire games, and I want to play them.

One of these is Ambush!, which I tried once, years ago, quickly realized I was Doing It Wrong, and flipped the table. By the way, did you know that you’re probably Doing It Wrong? Not just romantically and career-wise, but also when it comes to board games. Many years of my own personal research have determined that people simply can’t remember board game rules.

“But Tony!” you splutter. “I’m a hardcore nerd! My life’s passion is board games! I have a poster of Vlaada Chvatil taped to my bedroom ceiling!”

After the jump: A rude awakening. Continue reading →