It's been literally three months since I went anywhere outside the county. I worked a job (part time of course) for a while but now I don't. And I've played games, some of which were better than others.
How has this affected? Well, lots of ways but one of the more subtle things was that I lost all inspiration to make custom content for city building games. I've hardly gone on a trip since 2005 without thinking that there was something interesting worth doing, and as alluded by my original review it was primarily motivated by traveling in the past, and well, the past. I know I've fantasized about things that are still technically impossible in SC4 (or Cities: Skylines) like making malls with entrances on two levels due to sloping parking lots, or railroads really close to roads. The railroad had long been abandoned in 2005 (though not quite to the point today), and I'm sure the potential rebuild of the bridge, which they want to incorporate rail on (apparently, there was a recent incident where they had to unload steel from the train to vehicles, making one wonder why the rail was abandoned in the first place), though I'm sure the rebuild will have rail farther away from the vehicular traffic. And of course, many other buildings from skyscrapers to schools (including university buildings) to restaurants to friends' houses to items of historical interest.
The other thing is that Cities: Skylines just wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. The building sizes are too small, ruining proportions, and it's not even good either, for example, you can add dedicated left turn lanes in your intersection quite easily and have two lanes going left but you can't have a dedicated left turn signal, something that has been fairly standard in at least the last past 27 years.
So instead of city simulators, I tried out a new game that I felt might be worth it and provide some escapism...American Truck Simulator.
I don't pirate games, I usually try to go with a demo if I can find it. Good thing I did, because American Truck Simulator was a massive disappointment. I do not drive an eighteen wheeler nor am licensed to, but it must be great to take control of the real vehicle of the roads, and find new roads. And, because it's set in California, makes it possible to see things I hadn't before (I wouldn't know how it represents Texas or my own home city).
Because it's a truck, the handling isn't right if you're used to driving a car (or driving a car in a video game), because I crashed all the time, rarely stayed in my lane, and had to go dead slow to make a turn, which was all the time. The thing that bothered me the most was how boring the cities were. For comparison purposes, let's do San Francisco since that was the first city I started out in. Sure, San Francisco had all those hills but in reality they were just generic rowhouses with an occasional sign for a pharmacy, at least what I assume what the green plus signs were everywhere.
I guess there needs to be something to account for scale, as driving 35 miles per hour in the city still feels incredibly slow, but the cities just aren't up to snuff. I'm reminded of Vette!, a game from 1989 by Spectrum HoloByte, which (accurately) recreated the city of San Francisco with a full map.
The graphics are incredibly dated by having buildings as untextured walls, but you could only do so much with just 1.2MB in disk size and half of that in RAM. We have the ability to use Google Maps and GPS and modern technology to create and render quickly an accurate representation of the city. You don't even need to create ersatz logos, you can just blur out problematic elements.
I'm glad that I didn't spend money on this, because everything just seems disappointing. Railroad crossings, for instance looks like they could be a challenge. Trains are just one engine, and mods to fix this don't work properly (there's one video I saw where some hopper cars just appeared and disappeared on a road with no tracks).
What I really want to do is not necessarily drive an 18-wheeler around, but ideally have a game that would let me pick any vehicle I want and go anywhere. Start at my place of residence and then just go. The freeway's less than two miles away. What if I just went south and see where that took me? (a dead end where there used to be a railroad crossing). What if I went north? (a truck stop's parking lot). What if I turned right from every street at the end, or turning around from cul-de-sacs, starting from the alley? (caught in a loop in a subdivision in town, if not, an infinite loop on 610 in Houston through an extremely roundabout way).
Point being, American Truck Simulator fails in what I wanted it to be, and unfortunately I have yet to find anything close to what I really want. I looked at The Crew and it did have a demo, but the game (not sure about the demo) needed a "Uplay" account (Ubisoft's distribution system), and the demo was 25GB. I wouldn't mind a game with an even closer scale to reality to reality, something where they could cut out miles of empty space and residential sprawl without compromising most highway sights and exits. But you know what? The root problem isn't that.
The best thing I need is a job again. Yeah, I realize it means less time but that's less time wasted, not less time (I did things more effectively when I had a job and wasn't depressed and miserable all the time). I thought I had an interview lined up in Louisiana, and while I admitted the town was not what I wanted (to put it mildly), I thought the route was interesting enough with Interstates, floating one lane pontoon bridges (yup), and unprotected railroad crossings. But in the end it fell through, probably a blessing in disguise.
Maybe I just need a vacation...there's just no replacement for the smells, wide open spaces, and the reality images of other places.