Posts Tagged ‘Simulation’

Why road-building in Cities: Skylines is a pleasure

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the inner workings of their games. This time, Cities: Skylines [official site].

Cities: Skylines is a game about building roads. Its lovely set of road-building tools allow you to scribe beautiful curved boulevards into the gentle slopes and combes of virgin lands, and it has inspired 19-page forum topics entitled Show Us Your Interchanges and Steam Workshop lists 24,482 interchange designs.

Oh, and an incidental byproduct of a good road system is the growth of a city around it.

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Diary: Our Real Lives And Deaths Across The Globe

Real Lives [official site] is an educational simulation that has been around for years. It randomly puts you into the shoes (or lack of shoes) of people from around the world, then tasks you with making the best life you possibly can. You may start as a fisherman’s daughter in Sri Lanka, or an orphan in Brazil. But your life is only ever halfway under your control.

We decided to each start a life in this rough simulation and see how we do. What follows are the stories of five people from around the globe. Some suffer horribly (warning: in 4 out of 5 of our “lives”, rape was a problem at some point) while others find relative prosperity. But who will have the best Real Life? Read on to find out.

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Now You Can Too Be A Cruel And Clumsy God

Thanks to a childhood mired in Sid Meier’s simulations, I’ve developed a soft spot for god games. In a world buffeted by unpredictability, it’s so very nice to be in charge of helpless little lives, lives that could be brutally ended on a passing whim. This fascination with flippant sadism may be the reason why I’m rather excited about the release of Clumsy God [official site], which puts you in charge of an omnipotent hand capable of – literally – showing the world the finger. Look, you can check out the release trailer if you don’t believe me.

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Premature Evaluation: Train Valley

Train Valley offers quite a focussed and fun optimisation challenge rather than a sprawling simulation of every aspect of rail management. Nonetheless, it makes some efforts at historical accuracy - at least in terms of the style of the engines you use - setting its challenges across two centuries of rail transport in Europe, America, Russia and (when it gets a later content patch) Japan. The Gold Rush gets a hat tip, as does World War 2 - so it was with a tiny amount of completely irrational sadness that the date of 1864 came and went while playing the game’s European levels, and there was no mention of the One Thing I Know About Railways: the first British railway murder.

Each week Marsh Davies boards the Steam locomotive as it chugs its way through Early Access and comes back with any stories he can find and/or is cannibalised by rabid commuters while delayed in a siding. This week he’s played Train Valley, a chirpy but challenging rail construction sim.

My attempts to run a railway system make a good case for nationalisation: the absurd delays as I reverse trains back and forth over a switch in the track, somehow making the same signalling error each time; the piles of cargo that end up in the wrong town, or so late that its value has completely expired; the destruction to wildlife, farmland and neolithic monuments; the forced relocation of indigenous people. Oh, and the massive loss of life, too, I suppose. At the end of it all, I go bankrupt – and yet they keep giving me another chance.

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How Games And Simulations Will Save Us From Disaster

“Were you the one that said I was a super-villain?” It’s not the most auspicious question to be asked during an interview. But when I first saw Justin Lyon speak, at the GaME14 conference at London’s Imperial College, I thought he had a lot of the ‘90s corporate supervillain about him. Something of the Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies. After all, he’s handsome, waspishly-smart and wears the standard-issue accoutrements of a corporate overlord. And his company is called Simudyne, which sounds like Cyberdyne. And they mainly work for governments and huge corporations. And their slogan is ‘Engineering reality’. Even their logo looks evil.

So, Simudyne has the accoutrements of a 1980s villain company. But do they do evil? Well, no. They create simulations. Do people do evil in their simulations? Well, no, not intentionally. Looking at their carefully-anonymised case studies, you can see that they do it for all sorts of people, many of whom are either working for good, in government or in big business. (There may be some crossover there.) From a quick scan, I can see simulations covering disaster management for the port authorities of the Western US, training banks in counter-terrorism, managing deepwater oil drilling, and a recreation of one of Microsoft’s headquarters office blocks for simulating physical and cyber attacks.

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No Flare Path Today, Simulation Offering


There’s no Flare Path today, with Mr Stone being delayed until the weekend. To keep in the spirit of 1300 on a Friday, however, I wanted to point you towards the Spintires tech demo. Have you played it? Holy cow, that’s some good off-roading. Throwing this mad Russian ATV into a heap of mud is quite the thing.

Spintires had a successful Kickstarter a while back, and should be materialising as a full game pretty soon.

The Flare Path: One Of Life’s Stragglers

FP has never been afraid of asking difficult questions. What’s the capital of Belize? At what temperature does fluid helium I transition to superfluid helium II? How long is a piece of string? If a question needs asking, rest assured we’ll ask it. We’ve spent most of this week doggedly doorstepping wargame developers in an attempt to find out why, in 30-odd years of endeavour none of them have had the wit or wisdom to produce an FTL-style B-17 or Lancaster game. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: A Skulk Of Foxers

The Flare Path turns one this week. Here in the UK that means it can legally get its navel pierced, buy wine gums, point at clouds, and read Knut Hamsun on public transport. To commemorate the occasion there’ll be no game newscasts or inscrutable intros today. The entire column will be given over to quizzes. Dozing adorably beyond the jump are five bushy-tailed Foxers, each with a rather special prize tied to its brush. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Sea Of Sand

“They’ve found her!”. 5 seconds ago I was fast asleep. “Ekrem, is that you? Do you know what time it is here?”. “Listen. HMS Clytemnestra has been found.”.  The words are ice-water hurled into my pillow-creased face. Warm feet slap cold floor tiles. “Where?”. “Are you sitting down?” .“WHERE?”. “You won’t believe this. She’s in the middle of the Gobi Desert.”. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Hull-Down In Heaven

With Sergei on bow MG, and myself on coax and main gun, the Cherubim and Seraphim didn’t stand a chance. We cut down maybe 300 of them before Tomas, getting nervous, decided it was time to leave the sunken lane. Wise old Tomas! As ‘Hellhound’ wiggled her way back through the gap in the farmyard wall, the shellcase-strewn position we’d just abandoned was scarified by a salvo of ground-heaving trumpet blasts. “Gabriel’s about! Stay sharp, lads!” The lieutenant’s warning had barely escaped his lips when a second salvo demolished the barn we were scraping past. I must have clouted my head on the breech because the next thing I remember is waking up in a medical Ju-52 somewhere over Náströnd. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Isle Of Boobies

Nobody knows for sure why the Hawaiian Giant Booby (Microsofta Flightus) died out. Some say its nest sites were invaded by shipwrecked rats. Others suggest Polynesian cloak-makers hunted it to extinction. A few believe the bird’s demise was directly linked to its unusual habit of aero-ovulation. Me, I’m a subscriber to the ‘Fatally flawed DLC’ theory. MS released the wrong add-ons at the wrong times at the wrong prices. Read the rest of this entry »

Grounded: Microsoft Flight Development Has Stopped

Rumours that Microsoft’s Vancouver studio had been completely shut down were swirling around the internet this morning, but in a statement to Gamespot, the company has specified that the studio will survive despite cuts. One of the projects that will cease, however, is Microsoft Flight, which means Tim Stone’s desire for “jets, smuggling, and air-sea rescues…via DLC” is likely to be forever unfulfilled, at least in this game. The free to play title seemed to have been designed as an expanding world but there will be no growth now. Our thoughts are with those whose jobs are affected, on this and other projects. Statement below.

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The Flare Path Reading Room

The scent of parquet wax and trapped sunbeams greets you as you prise open the heavy glass door and step inside. This has to be the place, and yet, if it is, where are all the books? Noticing your baffled expression, a librarian, all tweed and twinkling eyes, approaches. “You were expecting more books? Everyone expects more books. At present we’ve only got the two – down there in the WW2 section (he gestures towards a shelf-lined alcove watched over by a large ceiling-mounted model of a Short Sunderland). Additional volumes should be arriving soon. Assuming, of course, visitors like yourself are willing to do their bit.”

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The Flare Path: Pole Stars

The Flare Path knows what it takes to plod across plateaus of pristine whiteness for day after day. Perhaps that’s why he has a picture of Robert Falcon Scott marmaladed to his fridge door, and a stuffed Avro Shackleton dangling from his bedroom ceiling. It could also explain why he’s decided to visit both the Arctic and the Antarctic in the deep-frozen hunk of seal blubber that is this week’s column.

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The Flare Path: Mountainous Wait-And-Seas

Greetings Flare-opaths! By now, all of you that filled-in the form in the bumper Christmas issue, and sent in your (non-refundable) sixpences, should have received your Deluxe Membership Packs and free (while stocks last) mahogany-effect Flare Path flair point display racks. It’s a handsome gift, is it not? And so versatile! Gavin Babbington, a member from Plymouth, has written in to say that though he hasn’t won any flair points yet, he’s currently using the rack to display his collection of SS thimbles. Good work, Gavin! That’s just the kind of lateral thinking Chervell Bathgate, founder of the Flare Path movement and keen amateur cross-stitcher/eugenicist, would have approved of. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Set To Idle

Has anybody seen a brown and white Protestant Work Ethic, about this big? He answers to the name of Scamp. I was walking him in the park yesterday morning when the little so-and-so ran off. I’ve contemplated searching for him, and I was going to print some ‘LOST’ posters, and stick them up in the local area, but – well – I just don’t seem to have got round to it yet. Right now, I’m not even sure I can summon-up the gumption to tell you about the delights of Combat Mission: Battle For Normandy Commonwealth Forces and Accu-Feel. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Microsoft Flight

Here at Rock and Paper and Shotgun we are committed to free-to-read Wot I Thinks. The following assessment of Microsoft’s new gunless flight sim can be read as many times as you like for absolutely no fee:

“Microsoft Flight is jolly good, all things considered.”

Enjoy that? Want more? You’ll be pleased to hear that this WIT can be extended in numerous exciting and affordable ways.

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The Flare Path: Surf And Turf

Mother Nature is up to something. In my neck-of-the-woods cuckoo pint and dog’s mercury have begun appearing amongst the leaf litter. The bare treetops are abuzz with avian Morse code. If I didn’t know better I’d say a Big Push was in the offing. Gaia is going to try another assault with her Elite Photosynthesizers. It’s as if she doesn’t remember how it ended last year. How it ends every year.

If war should come, you won’t find me anywhere near bursting buds or strafing butterflies. I’ll be ensconced in my Hans Christian Anderson shelter preparing pieces like this week’s GIANTS interview and Microsoft Flight report. Read the rest of this entry »

Lunacy Unleashed: Lunar Flight

To the moon!

Monday morning is my time for calming soundscapes and otherworldly experience. The other world in this case is The Moon, the one you’ve been casting longing glances at for much of your life, thinking ‘one day I will build a robot factory upon you, the moon, one day.’ Today is not that day but Lunar Flight, which I’ve enthusiastically enthused about before, has since been released on Desura and Gamers Gate for £6.99. It’s a lander simulation that seems simple at first but quickly becomes complex as you spin moon-ward, the last of your fuel burning away in an attempt to correct a course that ends in a crater of your own making. There’s a launch trailer below.

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The Flare Path: Asparagus Tips

The Flare Path thought he knew almost everything about Operation Overlord, but this week he read something in a book by Max Hastings, that left him flabbergasted. Apparently, in the weeks leading up to D-Day, instead of training, the Axis troops manning the Atlantic Wall spent most of their time planting Rommel’s asparagus. Max didn’t go into detail, but obviously the famous Generalfeldmarschall was either extremely partial to the speary vegetable, or – and this seems more likely – he was using Heer manpower in some sort of massive market-gardening scam. Was it Berlin’s discovery of this illicit project that caused the Desert Fox to take his own life in October ’44? The official histories say ‘no’, but FP was sorely tempted to postpone coverage of Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear (a new Matrix wargame) and Accu-Feel (a gizmo from A2A that looks set to revolutionise FSX) and use this week’s column to thoroughly examine the matter. Read the rest of this entry »