Exploration in Video Games: EuroTruck Simulator 2

What have I been doing when I find some time to kill but have not the willpower, nor the creative energy to write after a day or week of teaching? I enjoy playing video games, sometimes multiplayer if I’m feeling the competitive edge, when I want to use skills and strategy to overcome (or terribly lose to) an opponent.

Other times, I’ve found myself wanting to explore. I’ve always enjoyed exploring virtual worlds just as I enjoy exploring fictional realms and stories in books. In video games, there’s interactivity and you can affect and change that world to some extent. Sometimes, I enjoy affecting change, altering the world to my whims and witnessing the results of my actions.

Still other times, I simply want to see things. See other places, other worlds, other creatures. To be an observer in the world. I enjoy the simple games, where the action is perhaps not that exciting but the thrill comes from the views, the scenes, the simple pleasures, not the adrenaline rush but a pleasant joyride or a casual stroll through a virtual world.

This sort of fascination began when I caught on to the game EuroTruck Simulator 2, a simulation game where you drive a truck through a simplified (and shortened) version of Europe. You literally are in a truck, you pick up a trailer, you drive on the road avoiding other cars and following the rules of the road (mostly) until you reach your destination, wherein you drop your load off, get paid and move onto the next job. This is all it is. You drive around Europe, carting trailers of ice cream, or logs or hazardous material. There isn’t any racing, or storyline or anything. There’s just the hum of the truck, the winding roads and the landscape that goes by. Sure, there’s a management aspect, where you own a trucking company where you take out loans, hire other drivers and trucks, there’s a role-playing aspect where you gain experience as you complete jobs and work your way up to longer jobs or jobs that have a stricter time limit, etc. But that’s all just hitched alongside the game play, which is simply driving.

 

sunrise

There is excitement at times, close calls with other vehicles, taking a corner too tightly, running low on gas or sleep but needing to finish the job, etc. There can be rain and slippery roads and storms. These things happen but rarely. Most of the time you’re just driving, watching the scenery pass by, making sure you stay in your lane, that you’re not speeding, etc.

fun with colors

And I enjoy this.

big city drivin

You can turn on the radio and choose from a long list of internet radio stations from a handful of European countries as well as the good ol’ US of A itself. These stations have everything from Local Indie bands to Electronica to Drum N Bass to Country to Rap to Pop. Did you ever want to drive through along the highways of France listening to Polish Indie music? Well, you can.

 

what a lovely day for a drive

The game also has a great Camera Mode so you can pause the action, move the camera around and take a great screenshot. I enjoy this as well, becoming an amateur photographer on the spot, just to take a picture of my sick truck running down the road.

 

a lonely road at night

Some would find this game tedious, I’m sure. Repetitive, boring, useless.

spooooooooky

I find it pleasant, an escape, simple fun. You just focus on the road and the truck and the tunes and it’s good times.

sunrise or sunset?

I even saw a horse!

look at that horse!

Any traffic incidents are obviously other people’s faults (and by other people, I mean the computer game that makes the vehicles go vroom)

look at that jerk

It’s the simple experience that drives (heh) the joy of playing EuroTruck, the relatively easy and yet at times tense game play of maneuvering a big ol’ truck going down the road, taking turns and trying not to hit things, the beauty of the scenery passing by, farms, forests, mountains, lakes and rivers, etc. It’s the simple things.

thanks for reading

Twine

I’m writing a “game” in Twine. Or should I say I’m writing a “story” in Twine?

It’s an easy to use program for writing Interactive Fiction. Think “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” Games, where you get a choice which brings you to new things or even death. Twine games can be simple or complex. People have become incredibly creative with it, crafting experiences that are hard to find elsewhere. Here is where you can read about it, use it for yourself and check it out. You want good examples of Twine games, you say? Try Howling Dogs or Even Cowgirls Bleed or maybe Cry$tal Warrior Ke$ha ? All good, entertaining, a bit strange but definitely interesting. Definitely different.

You can add in a bunch of code if you’d like, variables for hitpoints or random dice roles or just write up a story, put in a couple choices and let readers choose their own adventure. It’s really quite simple….Or deep, as much as you’d like.

I’m writing a story in the world of the zone, where a cataclysmic event has ruined an area but also created a market for radiated “trinkets” that hold strange powers. On the edge of the zone, something happens, and you search for a man, heading closer to the center, where there is more danger, where memories fade and come back, where time itself seems to weaken…

Anyways, try it out, check out some twine games, they all run in your browser. They’re at least worth an experience.

Hobby Paralysis

I was talking to my friends about a strange feeling that comes over me. It happens when I’m alone and have free time on my hands, nothing scheduled, nothing pressing to do. A vague sense of unease washes over me. I struggle to decide how I want to spend my time. I get the vague worry that whatever I choose, I will be disappointed at the end of it, I worry I will feel I chose the wrong way to spend that time, somehow. I imagine, if I choose to watch tv, I’ll then wish I’d played a video game or vice versa. So I get stuck. My friends and I decided to call this “hobby paralysis.”

It’s such a stupid thing, really, right? It’s just a choice of what to do with your free time for an hour, or two or thirty minutes or whatever. What a stupid and luxurious problem to have. #firstworldproblems, amiright?

It’s foolish, but decision-making has never been my strong suite. I always have a strong feeling towards making others happy. I don’t want to step on others toes. Others being happy tends to bring me happiness so I often defer to what others want to do. I am laid back, flexible and can pretty much enjoy any leisure activity which is great. But it also leaves me lost when there is nobody else around to decide what to do. When I’m left alone with my thoughts, endless opportunities for activities to achieve fun and happiness….but I sit. I distract myself by surfing the internet so then I don’t have to make a decision. Then 30 minutes go by and I’ve done nothing. Then I disparage myself for achieving shit-all.

We are lucky. We have so much free time and unlimited possibilities to fill that time. But this also makes it difficult to choose. You don’t want to make the wrong choice. Which again, is stupid. I decide whether is a wrong choice or not. But I can’t help it. The feeling is there. The guilt.

Part of it comes from the vague sense that whatever I’m doing, I could be writing instead. I could be writing a blog post or working on my novel or something else. I’m sure lots of creators get similar feelings, if they don’t spend every moment on their creative endeavor. Guilt doesn’t help though.

The feeling persists but I do not let it stop me from doing things anymore. I make a choice and move on. Enjoy whatever activity I pursue. It’s my life, my choices. I guess that’s part of where the feeling comes from. These choices are mine and there is nobody else to blame. Pursue your hobbies. Pursue your own enjoyment.