City Car Driving Is As Much About Roleplay As DayZ

I am in my car and I am slowly learning how to drive. I’ve put my seatbelt on, started my engine, turned on the lights, set the wipers wiping, slipped into first gear and pulled smoothly into traffic. Naturally, my instructor dryly points out that I’ve forgotten to indicate.

Pulling up at the first set of traffic lights, I lean forward and peer into the night beyond the rain-streaked windscreen. The traffic is bad tonight. I use the spare moment to take a drink of beer. My instructor – Russian simulator City Car Driving – says nothing, but drinking while driving still feels wrong. I put the beer back down on my desk, push down on the parking brake and continue my journey into the night.

On advice from RPS among others, I purchased a Logitech Driving Force GT. It didn’t take long for me to grow weary of eating gravel in wheel-supporting racing games and to crave the calmer, more sedate pace of Euro Truck Simulator 2. It similarly didn’t take long for me to further crave new locales, busier roads, less forgiving driving models. City Car Driving, purchased long ago and never played, was the perfect fit.

Just as Arma builds a game upon a genuine military-funded simulator, so City Car Driving makes a game from what was and is a driving instructing tool. It makes fewer concessions to player pleasure than Bohemia’s game. City Car Driving is sterile, its fictional city characterless and its presentation humourless. It lacks even the charm and humanity that bus simulator OMSI 2 gleans from its real-world city, historical setting and exquisite creaking bus sounds.

Yet I keep returning to its motorways and highways, its backroads and roundabouts, to play its free driving mode. In this mode destinations pop up on the map at random, giving you something to aim towards should you need it, but you’re otherwise free to roam the city as you please. Set it to nighttime, turn on the rain, and the low-polygon environment disappears behind flaring headlights and instant atmosphere. It’s a Kavinsky Simulator.

It’s even less of a traditional game than its roadmates. Euro Truck Simulator ties a trailer of business management and high scores to its truck driving. OMSI 2 hails to the bus driver, layering upon its urban journeys an upper deck of challenge as you aim to travail an accurate route, time attack its bus stops, and steadily carry your ticketed passengers to their desired destination. City Car Driving has a challenge mode, but I don’t play it. In its free driving mode, it reminds you when you make a mistake, but there’s no consequence to error beyond a dented fender and dented pride.

Yet, that illicit beer. (The excellent Badger’s Golden Champion, FYI). I’m not going to pretend I stopped drinking it, but it did feel weird to continue sipping its contents while immersed in an accurate, pernickity driving simulation.

I spend more and more time playing simulations, and I’ve realised that they immerse me more than any other kind of game. They’re a kind of roleplay, in the most literal sense. City Car Driving quickly indoctrinates me into the role of a commuter or Sunday driver.

Its controls are not expressive in the way something like Receiver can be, but driving a car is full of similar performance rituals. Those steps I perform before every journey are a spell: seatbelt on, engine started, lights gleaming, wipers wiping, slip into first, away. By the time I’ve finished the incantation, I’m engrossed. I’m annoyed at failing to indicate again not because of the message that pops up unobtrusively, but because I’ve failed to act the role I’m trying to inhabit.

Same with the beer. Same with the pedestrians which line City Car Driving’s pavements. They step across crosswalks in front of you and I’ve never hit one of them. I considered, briefly, running one down for the sake of this article, out of journalistic intrigue, but I don’t want to. Not because a message would dryly appear on screen, “You have had an accident”, as if I’d just wet myself, but because I don’t want to break the spell.

It’s the same with the way I sit in traffic jams, tooting my horn even though I know it doesn’t make a difference. Either an accident has happened up ahead, the AI has broken, or it’s testing me. But still I sit and toot before pulling into traffic and going around. It’s the same with the way I always park at an end of a session, finding somewhere quiet, and running through the ritual in reverse until my car is off, in neutral, safe.

I’m engrossed in City Car Driving’s world, in spite of its meagre polygons and iffy textures. I care about the things it cares about, because it has communicated a set of values to me through that polygonal world and through that stale atmosphere and through that rigid, testing AI.

That’s good design. Just as DayZ’s world of apocalyptic need engages players to commit heinous acts of cruelty, when I eventually hit a pedestrian in City Car Driving, it will be a legitimate accident and it will be terrible. Even if there’s no collision detection and I clip straight through the crude character models, I know it’s going to feel awful.

There’s another reason why I play City Car Driving: it’s relaxing. I can’t drive in real life, but I’m experiencing the same thing as I imagine real-life Sunday drivers find relaxing. The graceful flow between lanes, the rhythmic changing of gears, the view from the window, the momentary challenge of navigating roundabouts (roundabouts: the driving sims’ boss battle), the way method and repetition occupies your brain and your hands without ever fully requiring either.

I’m reminded again and again of this old Chris Taylor quote, from an interview with Kieron. “When I ride the lawnmower, I put my son on it, he falls asleep and when I’m mowing, I don’t think about steering and gas and cutting grass… I think about life. I think about work. I think about things I have to do. I recharge. I re-create. Not recreate. RE-create. I charge my batteries up. When I finish mowing the lawn, I haven’t done a chore – I’m actually ready to take on something. I’m sitting on my ass on a lawnmower, so there’s not a lot of physical energy there. That’s what I think gaming needs to be. Look at your Saturday. Do you want your entire Saturday to be laying around or do you want your whole Saturday to be about working, or would you rather a combination of both?”

I pull up at a set of traffic lights and lean forward against my steering wheel to peer out at the night beyond my windscreen. Should I turn left or right? By the time I push down on the parking brake and pull away, it no longer matters. I’m thinking about something else. City Car Driving is ugly, fiddly, obtuse, dry, characterless and humourless, but it cuts my mental grass. If you have a wheel, consider trying it.


  1. tikey says:

    If dashcam videos have taught me anything is that a russian city car simulator should have more action than a Michael Bay movie.

  2. sinister agent says:

    Ha! Golden Champion happens to be one of my favourites. Hopping Hare is similarly good, though a bit more bitter, and (ugh) Fursty Ferret not as good, but more commonly found in corner shops.

    This game looks like how I played GTA4. And jolly good fun it was, too.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Blandford Flyer is my favourite, and I too sometimes play GTA games adhering to the rules of the road, until I get in a traffic jam. I find it helps that I slow for junctions etc. My non real-life-driving friends tend to go faster and crash more.

      • Guzzleguts says:

        Blandford Flyer is great, but Poachers’s Choice is my fruity favourite. RE: GTA games and rules, my brother and I agreed that the best possible game would be traffic cop/Judge Dredd GTA game where the player actually has to enforce the rules on naughty NPCs. That would actually be my dream job or game.
        GTAV has crappy traffic light sequences.

        • Chaz says:

          I’m with you on Poacher’s Choice, probably my fave Badger Ale at the moment. Not too keen on Blanford Flyer. Fursty Ferret is a good all round nice beer. Not an outstanding beer but very drinkable in large quantities. Not too strong in flavour or alcohol content, and some times that’s what you want when you want to knock a few back.

          I could go on about beer for ages, but I’m sure there’s an old forum thread on the very subject some where.

          • sinister agent says:

            Yeah, s’why I like ferret and champion – both are tasty but not so strong that you feel a bit sick of them after one. Oddly, I’ve found the co-op’s honey ale is a really good standby to have if you just fancy a decent, but neutral and unremarkable couple. They often bundle it as part of deals with others too, so I stock up with a lot of them, and a handful of stronger-flavoured ones. Bread and cake, like.

            I do like badger ales, I have to say. Great balance between availability, flavour, and price. None I’ve tried so far suffer from the horrible soapy flavour some beers/ales/whatever fall prey to, as well.

          • Chaz says:

            Speaking of that Co-op Honey Ale, that reminds me of another current favorite of mine. Fuller’s Honey Dew, it’s really nice and refreshing. Great chilled out the fridge, like a nice chilled lager but without most of the gas.

        • TWChristine says:

          Hehe, that’s usually how I play GTA/Saints Row games. I “commandeer” a police car, and then cruise around the city, watching for anyone getting beaten up or someone running red lights, etc. The only problem is, once you pull them over about the only thing you can do is pull them out of the car by force, and beat them down :/ To my understanding there’s actually a police mod that allows giving tickets and stuff to GTA IV..makes me actually want to get the game just for that!

          And glad I’m not the only one that does this. :)

          • sinister agent says:

            I have that mod somewhere, though I’ve never tried it – I had a handful of others installed and there’s no way they’d play nice. Tragically, despite having tonnes of potential as a world/setting, GTA 4 was horrendously unfriendly to mods. One or two you can get away with. Combine more than that though, and you’ll be lucky if the game even starts.

    • bill says:

      No expert here. But I rather liked Hopping Hare. Light and grapefruity.

      Can’t get Badger’s beers here, but strangely can get Spitfire.

  3. tikey says:

    And now that I took the funny out of my system may I say that I don’t know if it’s something about simulators per se or something that clicks with the player. There are several of this “trance” games and they go from sims like it happens to you to games like solitaire for others.

    • melnificent says:

      You don’t drive. But you’re missing all the fun

      Being cut up by that idiot that is generally a BMW or Audi as they are clearly in a rush.
      Having a lorry tailgate you so close you can’t even see the headlights.
      Unknown lights blinking on the dashboard that cost £100’s to fix.
      Road tax,
      Fuel that goes up in price every time you go to the pumps.
      Rush Hour traffic of 3mph.

      EDIT: No idea how this ended up as a reply.

      • LionsPhil says:

        3mph? Luxury!

      • bonuswavepilot says:

        In my day, on quiet mornings we ‘ad to make our own traffic jams. O’ course nobody round ‘ere owned a car, so we’d have to walk to t’ neighbouring village to get one. Our old dad would thrash us if we broke into owt, so we ‘ad to wear a sort of harness and drag ’em all the way back to t’ jam, wi’ the park brake still on.

    • rockman29 says:

      I have entirely the same sentiments, the most engrossing games I have played have always been the simulations. No goals, just drive/fly/build to whichever end you want.

      My dream feature of Gran Turismo has always been to have a city driving simulation alongside the main game. Sadly, it has never happened yet :(

    • P.Funk says:

      The reason simulators do this is because they aren’t focused on jamming you into some goal oriented fixed pattern experience. You’re not having some contrived game mode usually. Instead its seeking to recreate as much of the banality of real life as possible and therefore to experience that from the oddly comforting clime of your gaming space. Even combat simulators can do this with the mountain button pressing and the ability to follow the smallest rivet detail in accomplishing a start up or whatnot.

      There’s something about the “just over the horizon” depth of a simulator thats so captivating. The idea that you can explore and find things that aren’t even easter eggs, but just things you find. A road’s curve that satisfies your aesthetics, a mountain valley that “feels” right as you come in for a landing, or just the act of indulging in the realistic detail of a vehicle’s behavior. Once you get captured by that there’s something very offputting about something like Arma 3’s get in and go aircraft.

      I will never ever understand the plug in and switch off mindset so many gamers seem to have. I get aimless activity as relaxation, but not the bit where its a concrete corridor with a radar minimap that guides you to every action.

    • zxc says:

      My ‘trance’ games have included skiing around or running routes in Tribes; doing routes and trickjumps in Warsow; and even just playing a count in Crusader Kings 2 and just watching what happens.

      It seems to me like these ‘trance’ games largely involve movement. I like to play them while listening to podcasts or audiobooks.

      • myelbow says:

        Eve was like that for me during the short span of time I played it. My go to “trance” game is Football Manager. It doesn’t require tons of active input if you so choose and it’s nice to just watch some games and cheer for my team when they do good and hate on them when they do bad. To each their own as they say.

  4. Monkeh says:

    Don’t have a wheel, so doubtful I’ll be trying this out, but nonetheless I thought this was really nice to read!

  5. AngelTear says:

    until my car is off, in neutral, safe.

    I’ve always been taught that I should leave a gear (any gear) in when I turn off the car, so it’s harder for it to move (despite the handbrake, although the purpose would be the same)

    Anyway, a nice read =)

    • The Random One says:

      I don’t drive presently, but I believe leaving your car in gear puts undue strain on your transmission.

      • DoktorV says:

        No, leaving a manual-transmission car in gear when parked, even on a hill, places much less force on the transmission than any driving. Automatic cars should be parked in park plus handbrake, manuals in reverse gear plus handbrake. Leaving it in gear adds the compression resistance of the air in the cylinders to the force required for the car to roll, in case the parking brake fails. Reverse gear is most favorable for this because it usually has the highest gear ratio, so the cylinders would have to travel more for a given rotation of the wheels, increasing the counter-force applied by the engine compression.

  6. The Random One says:

    Great article, but the title made me think it’d be about a realistic massively multiplayer car driving simulator – like Altis Life if it was all about driving. Now I am sad such a game does not exist. You have brought about this sadness, Graham, and for this I will not forgive you.

    • corinoco says:

      Ah, it did/does exist. Atari’s somewhat poorly received Test Drive Unlimited 2 gave you two entire islands – Hawaii and Ibiza, in full detail, with working traffic lights, police that will book you for bad driving, an enormous garage of cars, radio stations including your own tracks, full in car detailing, customisable car finish / interior, even customisable avatars right down to clothing, customisable house and garage. It is stupendously good fun, has (or had, I think the servers are long gone) brilliant MMO, and even MMO car clubs. Weather was brilliantly modelled, as was the full day night cycle.

      Myself and a mate used to just go for a drive in our Alfas – not racing, just cruising, chatting, listening to tunes.

      Despite this brilliance, it aparently didn’t sell well.

      • rapchee says:

        several reasons i can think of:
        the physics is (are?) too arcady in tdu2 even compared to tdu, not to mention something simulator-y
        taking the worst parts of other succesful car games (retarded “story” thing, having to do licence test, microtransactions or grinding)
        the mmo aspect is a bit truncated because you can actually only see 8 (or 16? maybe 8 was tdu) other players at a time.

        that said, now i’m going to cruise a bit

  7. altum videtur says:

    Ah, driving on the highway at night, hoping Little Green Bag comes on the radio, occasionally nodding off and then being startled awake by the noisemaker stripes on the side of the road, some shitty dans dans song blaring, on repeat, for 4 hours… that is the life.
    And so what if I accidentally kill an entire family. Fuck ’em. Shoulda stayed home.

  8. one2fwee says:

    The thing is it’s not realistic. The cars don’t handle or respond realistically.

    What we really need is something with physics like Richard Burns Rally, Grand Prix Legends or Netkar Pro / Assetto Corsa but in an open world, “everyday” driving environment.

    No one seems to want to make that happen.

    Even commercial driving simulators that i have tried are worse than the racing simulations mentioned above.

    I guess a lot of this is because people are under the false and damaging impression that “it will do” and “doesn’t need to be realistic”.
    Well it’s a tool to teach you how to drive, so it would be very helpful if the cars actually handled like real vehicles.

    It would also make the driving experience a lot more fun and full of depth. As it is, i quickly bore of it.

    If anyone knows of a driving simulator, commercial or otherwise that is actually good let me know! They do actually make a commercial version of city car driving but my guess is it has the same physics and just adds access to the engine in order to program scenarios and get data out.

    • frightlever says:

      You need something like this:

      That was kinda me first time I used a G27 with Burnout Paradise. I think I got whiplash.

      Oh, the video is just a clip from Big Bang Theory, don’t want to get your hopes up.

    • Prolar Bear says:

      Fully agreed. I want ETS2 with cars. Anybody got any tips?

      It also sounds a bit like Forza Horizon, but we didn’t get that on PC because we are filthy pirates and beggars.

      • rapchee says:

        afaik horizon didn’t have the same physics as the rest of the series, they’ve dumbed it down for some reason :/

    • alms says:

      I know for a fact Kunos-let’s-treat-customers-like-dumb-shits has delivered a driving instruction simulator. It’s probably not available publicly though.

      • one2fwee says:

        You’re right, it was for the Ready2Go ACI – an italian driving school.

        You can see some videos here: link to

        Not available to anyone else though and they don’t seem interested in licensing their engine for such a driving simulator purpose either. I mean if you licensed it you would need to add the concepts of “rules of the road” and “different lanes” etc to traffic and code some different AI that understands these. Maybe some pedestrians too. But still, the solid base for a simulator is there – you could make town environments and normal everyday cars for AC, you just can’t do that part without code access (obv).

  9. Chaz says:

    The problem is with these types of games is getting the AI right. I love ETS2 but the AI and the traffic levels let it down in terms of realism. Having said that I think one of the reasons I love it is perhaps due to the light and low stress levels of traffic on its motorways. I know there has been an AI update for ETS2 recently so I really need to go and give it a few more hours sometime soon.

    Getting things like traffic flow and driver behavior right are really key to making these games feel natural and realistic.

    I don’t know about the rest of the world but driving on the UK’s roads these days is just cut throat and competitive, or at least it feels like that often enough. I mean I try and be nice when I can, but when the clock’s against you, like most other people on the road, consideration for your fellow motorist and the highway code kind of go out the window. And these days “everybody” is in a hurry to get somewhere. People transform when they’re driving. I’ve seen the chillest hippies turn into real demons when put behind the wheel of a car.

    Anyway there is a huge variety of driving types on the roads, from cautious old ladies to teenage boy racers, and you don’t really see that in these games. Especially when they struggle to do the basics such as traffic merging into each other at busy junctions.

  10. CookPassBabtridge says:

    “I can’t drive in real life, but I’m experiencing the same thing as I imagine real-life Sunday drivers find relaxing. The graceful flow between lanes, the rhythmic changing of gears, the view from the window, the momentary challenge of navigating roundabouts (roundabouts: the driving sims’ boss battle), the way method and repetition occupies your brain and your hands without ever fully requiring either”

    If you drove in real life, you would realise that ONLY a driving simulation is relaxing. Much as with multiplayer games, what ruins real world driving is other people. I don’t own a car, but around the 2 week mark of ETS2 I was on holiday and rented a horrible little Fiat 500 (dont buy one they are lethal on country roads).

    Literally first experience driving from the car rental store: I indicated to pull in so I could park, slowed and turned into the space. Then the pr*ck in the BMW that had been revving his engine behind me for the last 10 seconds floored the accelerator, held the horn down and nearly careered into oncoming traffic, whilst gesturing wildly and presumably shouting something rude (lip reading he seemed to say “you farting waiter”?). At least in ETS2 the mannequins just flash their lights and occasionally beep. They need to add swearing, potential violence and … hand gestures to make the experience more accurate.

    EDIT: Seriously can RPS please add a little better direction for simpletons on how to use the XHTML than the vague scribble at the bottom of the comment box? I can never figure out how to get stuff to work.

    • Skabooga says:

      Replying to your edit, I just eventually gave up and looked for outside help, for I too know nothing about html and codes. This cheatsheet seems helpful. I even used it to make that link (I really hope it works).

    • not-the-beez says:

      I’ve lost count of the amount of people who have flipped me the bird whilst I’ve been driving, so I’d say hand signals should be a must in any simulator of this kind.
      I’m from a small town in Mid Wales, and my Ex lived in Bath. Every other weekend I’d make the pilgrimage down to see her. Between Rhayader and Abergavenny there’s about 4 spots which are safe to overtake on, and every time I needed to get past a slow mover, I’d first have to get past the moron who think’s it’s a good idea to tailgate them with little to no intention of overtaking. I’d then have the joy of watching them foam at the mouth, and gesticulate manically like some kind of Flight Line Marshaller octopus, simply because they’d had to apply their brakes in order to let me back in. Which wouldn’t even be a problem if they’d just drive properly.
      So yes, needs more hand signals.

      • xao says:

        If you’ve forced someone else to apply their brakes to let you back in… you’ve done it wrong.

        • Harlander says:

          Indeed, but it rarely justifies the kind of rage that it seems to generate in people forced to accommodate your mistake.

          I have a vague feeling that getting angry while driving – so, so disproportionately – is because that deep down inside we all know just how absurdly dangerous this activity we’re undertaking is.

    • TWChristine says:

      I think it depends on the area. I used to live in a very urban area, and everyone was always rushing around and honking and yelling and nearly causing accidents because they’re idiots (I once had a lady cross from the 1st lane, through the 2nd (right between two transports) and nearly into the side of me in the 3rd all in one motion). I’ll admit, the years I drove around there were some of the most stressful of my life and I did my bit of flipping people off as well. I later found what was almost a fores back road, with a limit of 35mph or so between my house and work. Every day I would leave early, take a nice relaxing drive to work, and then after a tough day I would then have a nice relaxing de-stress drive home, with no other cars to deal with! It really worked wonders for my stress!

      Edit: On mention of the flashing lights in ETS2 I loved that addition once I realized what it was! I kept driving around with my highbeams on because I figured what the hey (I don’t do that irl), and every time I saw the lights flash I thought it was simply the bright/dim you get from the angle of the lights going over small bumps/hills. I also really like how sometimes if you’re sitting at an intersection for a while and can’t get out, eventually cars will stop to let you!

      My only gripe, and this might simply come down to a difference in traffic regulations between N. America and Europe..but when I am going under an overpass, and the AI cars are coming off the exit ramps, it seems like I’m expected to yield for them, when in all my experience I would have the right of way.

      • Chaz says:

        Yeah, ETS2 does have some odd quirks. As a UK driver I too would expect the cars coming off the motorway to yield to me too. I don’t know whether that’s correct for the rest of Europe or whether it’s something they’ve fudged in for the game to make it work. Although I’ve had to barge past queues in those underpasses several times when the traffic has been permanently halted by a never ending stream of cars coming down the off ramp, so I think possibly it’s a game quirk. Also cars coming down an off ramp and onto the motorway often just seem to stop rather than try and merge in with the traffic. I know it can be done in the game as there are several junctions in France where they do it just fine.

        The motorway layouts, especially in the UK in ETS2 are also quite contrived and not really very representative of the real thing. Often when there’s an exit coming up on the motorway it splits the 3 lanes down to 2 with the inside lane feeding directly down into the off ramp and back the otherside. This rarely if ever happens on UK motorways. The 3 lanes should stay continuous with a slip road leading off from the inside lane to the junction exit and with another slip road leading back on the opposite side.

        Another major contrivance is that the motorway exits often feed directly onto another motorway. Again this is rare. Most often a motorway junction will feed onto A and B roads at a proper intersection, with 2 bridges across the motorway at the junction to allow travel to either side and of course enter back onto the motorway in the opposite direction. In real life, if you miss the junction you need, it’s often just a case of heading to the next one and turning around as there’s never usually much more than 10-15 miles between junctions. In ETS2 if you miss your junction, quite often you’re screwed and have to find the junction for the nearest town to flip yourself around. The first time I played ETS2 and missed a junction, I thought “No problem I’ll just turn round at the next junction.” Except of course that it just fed straight onto a connecting motorway, as did the next one and the next one. I ended up being very late for my first delivery.

        Whilst ETS2 is good, and probably the best MWay simulator at present, it does leave a heck of a lot to be desired. The UK MWays especially. For instance there are just too many speed cams on the MWay in ETS2, in real life, there aren’t any like that, that I know of. Certain places (like the M42 at present) have average speed check cameras. The cameras they use in the games are the wrong ones too. The ones they have at the side of the MWay in the game are ones used for traffic light violations. The Gatso cameras used for speed violations are big visible yellow things (well they are when they’re not being hidden behind road signs and foliage), but you will practically never see them on the motorways. Partly because the motorways have no variation in speed limits, except in bad weather or congestion, and these temporary limit reductions are flashed up on illuminated billboards. Also in the UK as far as I know, it’s not an offence to not have your lights on in a tunnel or rainy weather.

        So whether you’re from the UK, Europe or the US, I think everyone has to adjust to the driving peculiarities in ETS2.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          If you miss a junction, just do a U-turn at the nearest available maintenance access-way / gap in the central reservation (you often get them at sleep / fuel stops). Illegal in reality, exciting in ETS2 as long as you get a gap in traffic. They will all stop anyway and passively smile as you execute a lethal manoeuvre.

        • TWChristine says:

          If you haven’t already, you should look into the Scandinavia mod (I want to say it’s by ProMods or something). They’ve made much more realistic highway junctions, and even if you can’t drive on half of it, it’s still that much more engaging to see what you’d actually expect in some of these major cities. I also like what they’ve done with some of the signage as well, adding a few things.

          And speaking of the speedcameras on the motorway there, whenever I’m in the UK (in the game) I see the speed limit is, I want to say that being listed as the maximum or minimum, because the AI just flies past me when usually they’ll go relatively close to what they’re “supposed” to do (although always ignoring the no passing signs).

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            No the posted limit in the UK (at least when its a red border on a white circle) is the maximum, but remember that’s miles per hour. If you are still using the same truck as for europe and used to reading kilometers, then yes you will be going verrry slowly. For example if the posted limit is 50 in UK, you want to be doing about 80kph :) I will check out that Promods thingie, ta. Schweeeden. Jeg liker Schweeden

          • TWChristine says:

            Oh for crying out loud, that makes me feel so stupid! I KNEW the UK used miles and for all the Canada/US driving I’ve done, I should’ve picked up on that! Just a head up about the mod, it’s kind of a pain getting it because they want you to sign up for their page before you can d/l it..took me a while to figure out where to install it too. If you have any problems, I (might) can help! :)

  11. JFS says:

    I’m astonished at how many RPS people can’t drive cars. I’d have thought that was a pretty much standard skill in this part of the world.

    Also, as others have pointed out, driving a car is NOT relaxing. Owning one alone can already make you mad, nothing to say of getting inside and starting the goddamn expensive pile of failure-prone steel. Or having a flash thought about the consequences a strong sneeze could have when you’re going 160 on the Autobahn. God, I hate these moments.

    • alms says:

      I admit the driving-at-night screenshot had me all excited for about 1 minute and a half, then I remembered when I used to commute by car at night and having to fight the sleep all the way until I finally crashed (not literally) at home, promptly all the magic evaporated.

      Driving a car IRL can be relaxing (for the most part it’s muscle memory), however most of us are forced to it when the cages are open and the motorized zombie mob is around in their four-wheeled tanks, foaming at the mouth to get wherever they think they absolutely needed to be YESTERDAY, with every single second mattering more than all life itself, exposing other to stupid, useless risks so they can be the first one idling at the red light.

      The good thing about sims is that even the most ill-tempered AIs are mostly predictable; driving IRL is mainly an exercise in psychology.

      • LionsPhil says:

        An absence of other motorists is one reason why I like driving at the little hours of night. Ideally when raining.

        …basically I find horror movie driving conditions pleasing.

        • Chaz says:

          9.00pm on Saturday nights is just a dream time to be driving out on the motorways. I’ve actually been out several times on Saturday nights just for the sheer pleasure of it. The motorways are practically empty at that time, just a nice big slab of tarmac stretching out before you.

    • bill says:

      I always found the most fun driving was getting behind the wheel after a long session of playing GTA.
      Until about 20 minutes later something would happen to scare the crap out of you and remind you that you don’t have infinite lives and had better slow down.

  12. AyeBraine says:

    Actually this is the first time that I looked at a screenshot from a driving game and genuinely thought that this is a photograph. Because it looks EXACTLY like the picture I see when I sit at 1 AM in an illegal taxi (meaning just some bloke who drives passengers for cash) and glide, drunkenly content and chatting with a driver, down the Prospekt Mira to my flat near VDNH in Moscow. It literally looks exactly like this.

  13. dethtoll says:

    Driving, to me, is only relaxing late at night. There’s fewer cars on the road, and I’m naturally more relaxed at night anyway.

  14. zer0sum says:

    Graham, this article is magnificently written. Well done.

  15. guygodbois00 says:

    Yes,yes, but the real question is: can I drive Lada 1200 in this simulator?

  16. dogsolitude_uk says:

    Wow, this is timely: I finally passed my driving test last week!

    I really baulked at learning to drive, because previous attempts had been a ball of stress, but I reasoned the following:
    (a) I can deal with flight simulators, racing games and shooters, and generally learning the controls for things, so why should a car be any different?
    (b) There are some complete muppets that have passed their test due to some fluke or flaw in the driving test system – why should they enjoy the freedom of bombing up and down Her Majesty’s highways whilst I languish in my flat, having to tentatively text friends if I need to go to B&Q and feeling like a semi-man?

    I then proceeded to turn ‘Driving’ into a hobby and generally applied myself to the task in the same way I would learning a new programming language or birdwatching or learning the guitar or something. I booked some lessons, started watching Top Gear, read books and magazines about it, subscribed to YouTube channels like LDC driving, and bought a bunch of driving games.

    Anyway, getting to the point: at the time I was looking for a ‘proper’ driving game. Euro Truck Simulator was awesome for this, but everything else seemed to be a glorified version of Outrun with some crappy RPG elements.

    All I wanted was something, preferably something pretty with decent cars in it, where I could just drive around the place wherever I wanted, the car equivalent of Flight Simulator X, not something where I had to overtake people to earn dollars and buy paint jobs in order to compete in some stupid race against a bunch of douchebags with tribal tattoos. Certainly not something with a love interest or some idiot radioing me every ten minutes to remind me that I had to visit someone else in some garage to drop off an envelope. Or something where I’m trying to race round a track as quickly as possible.

    For example: I wanted something where I could practise roundabouts FFS. They scared the heck out of me until I sussed how they worked. Or a drive through the woods in summer, or across East Anglia to the coast, or around the Norwegian Fjords, or a Coast-to-coast road trip across the US.

    Anyway, looks like this should do the job to some extent :) I note from the website it has both left- and right-hand drive modes, which is likely to be useful, as I live in England :)

    • Chaz says:

      You wanted to learn how to drive, so you started watching Top Gear!

      • dogsolitude_uk says:

        :D Yeah, sounds silly, right?

        Whenever learning something new, be it a new language or chess or whatever I find it helpful to completely immerse myself in as much as possible, even if it’s only tangentially connected, or entertainment based. The latter’s actually important because it helps you enjoy whatever it is more, and so the resistance to learning is lowered.

        Learning things is painful, and can be very stressful if you feel under duress, or if you’re grudgingly doing it because you feel you ‘have to’.

        I found the key thing is to approach things the way I would a hobby or a pastime that I enjoy. For example, if you got into mountain biking you’d learn about it because you enjoy it, perhaps get some magazines, watch some tutorial videos and any TV shows that covered it.

        It’s like when I got into web development after leaving insurance. I subscribed to .Net magazine, watched tutorial videos, bought books and studied HTML/CSS/Javascript/ASP.NET/jQuery etc, but I also watched The IT Crowd and Nathan Barley, went down the pub with other web developers that I knew from Uni, that kind of thing.

        A holistic approach pays off, because you can learn a lot about a subject from off-the-cuff remarks and informal chats with people, and the kinds of things that get covered on TV. Whereas it’s entertainment and light on factual information, it can really help provide an enjoyable context for doing it ‘properly’.

        I guess what I’m saying is is that learning new skills is a lot easier if you make it fun and approach it like any other ‘fun’ thing in your life.

        So yes: I wanted to learn to drive, and so I watched Top Gear. :D

    • TWChristine says:

      Well congratulations! :) And I completely agree with your Point B. I’ve had my license since I was 15, and my spouse just got hers maybe a year ago. Leading up to it there was a lot of “I can’t do this..this is too stressful..what if I suck..I’ll never be as good as you..” but I kept pointing out (and I’ve thought of this for me as well, as I’ve thought of getting my transport license) that if aaaaaallllll of these bozos out there can do it and pass the test, then surely someone as intelligent as you can.

  17. Kefren says:

    Reminds me of how I used to play Turbo Esprit (Spectrum – link to – the C64 version was rubbish). Drive around carefully, stopping at lights, trying not to cause trouble. I even used to turn down the brightness and contrast to represent night driving. Wow, I spent hours like that, then turned them back up as dawn arrived. I also finished each session by parking up in some dead end.