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N’y pense plus, tu es de passage II. (Cities: Skylines, 2015)

Testing further Cities: Skylines, 2015, so far I managed to build a perfect highway interchange. Except that this one, three layered, is overly expensive. Three times the price of my first attempt (some roundabout on top of the highway, typical of “Paris périphérique”) :

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The next logical option was to make a cheaper version by reducing the number of lanes of the direction changes. I even added pedestrian passage.

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It is way cheaper but it’s still a very big thing hard to place. So I just realized that having highway exits on both sides at the same spot could actually be avoided. It’s not clear yet whether two T intersect are obviously less space consuming than one single X intersect. So here’s my next proposal:

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All these are available in an asset collection.

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N’y pense plus, tu es de passage (Cities XL, 2009; Sim City 5, 2013; Cities: Skylines, 2015)

Some time ago, I was replaying good old Sim City 4 Deluxe.  Then I had other stuff to do and it did not make much progress. Then Sim City was released. And by Sim City, they, EA Games, meant Sim City 5. Thanks to my general rule to never buy any game released by EA Games, I skipped it and reviews confirmed that I was not missing anything.

On the side, I also gave a try to Cities XL. The very notion of zoning residential area with a specific social class set seemed to me unrealistic. France’s very own history and her many “cité nucléaire” (common name for suburban areas supposed to host, when built, rocket science searchers and workers and that are now filled by unemployed and criminals) tells how much can differ what you actually designed and planned and what you ended up with on a 20/30 years time span.

And Paradox Interactive published Cities: Skylines. I usually like Paradox approach so I had to give it a try. It’s looks like a new take on Sim City 4. It’s said that transportation is a primary aspect of the game and that’s actually quite a challenge to design some transportation system that scales.

When you start your city, you are limited by cash flow. I did a few clumsy tests. Then I knew from some episode of Myth Buster that roundabouts are more effective that any other crossroads systems. So I went on and designed some big highway roundabout to link districts.

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Soon, though, I realized I just made up something very common on “Paris périphérique”, which one is stuck at least four times a day. Thanks to the steam workshop and clever system of added assets within the game, I found many clever intersections designs. Some people clever did their homework. Road intersections common in Europe are there!

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Still, being quite happy with my roundabout system, even though it does not exactly scale, I made further test with it, for instance split it to serve a district only (intersection as T instead of X) instead of two. I’ve read some stuff, checked some Neufert, and finally came up with the idea to multiply layers. The following works nice:

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Whichever direction you want to take, you only change direction once. The only drawback is that this construction is tremendously expensive to built and to maintain. So my next step will probably to try to make it cheaper, probably but reducing the amount of lanes when you change directions.

2015-05-15_00004 On the road again!

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Où est-il mon moulin de la Place Blanche ? Mon tabac et mon bistrot du coin ? (Fifth Gear, 2002-2015; Ulysse, les chants du retour, 2014; La Revue Dessinée #07, 2015)

I was getting used to it in TV show. For instance, in Fifth Gear, many times you just see the presenters talking, listening to themselves and any a laugh, instead of showing something actually on topic. When they are actually testing a car, you’ll see most of the time their faces instead of the car or the road. Why not, since it’s about how they feel with these cars, it could make sense.

But now it looks it goes also in comics. In Jean Harambat‘s Ulysse, les chants du retour, you’re often faced drawing not of Ulysses but of (somewhat) famous french people that studied him, as historian, scenarist or whatever. As if you were meeting them, or were watching a TV interview. Drawings are good. Thought about the whole Odyssey are smart. Nonetheless, I find these graphic interview somewhat disturbing. It add an extra layer. It’s not longer just about Homer’s epic poem, then I get in front of me someone posing.

It adds extra characters. I gave a lot of consideration to it and my conclusion stands: it’s distracting. Would Plato be fun on prime TV? Not so sure.

In some cases, like in Benoit Collombat et Etienne Davodeau Les barbouzes de la République, as published in La Revue Dessinée #07, since the story is really made as some sort of investigation, it’s actually ok. You see the characters interacting will people they meet and that have a direct influence on their understanding of what they investigate.

I guess in this case, it really add something. Instead of pretending to reconstruct the past, it just show a process to get familiar with it.

But then, in the same La Revue Dessinée, you get a whole investigation about illegal immigrants. Most of it (every drawing almost), you see a supposedly pretty white girl face expressing her view on the topic. There is really no reason to see her face at all. She’s on the side, not illegally immigrating and not affected in any way by illegal immigrants. But still, we see her face and listen to mushy mushy about how cool would be western europe if the whole planet was there.

So, really, I think something is wrong in general in this trend. And it’s obvious when the point being made is crap. Then you are just supposed to identify yourself to the faces you are submerged with, instead of actually thinking about what is being said.

Où ferez-vous alors vos culbutes, Vous, les pauvres gosses à Poulbot?

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Każdy kraj miał swoje mody (For the Love of Cars, 2014; Car SOS: 2013-2014; Wheeler Dealers, 2003-2014)

Interested in old cars? Or just in mechanics? Years ago, I watched on I-can’t-remember-which cable channel some shows dedicated to car being restored. Notably about old american cars made into hotrods (the show was quite disturbing since it had some boring reality-tv ingredients) or land rover restoration.

Although one season was made, For the Love of Cars is a good quality show. You have two guys teaming up, an actor (Philip Glenister) and a car restoration expert (Ant Anstead) and they take cars that are of a specific matter to british automotive history: Ford Escort Mark 1 Mexico; Land Rover Series 1; Triumph Stag (I was not familiar at all with this one); Mini Cooper Mk 1; MG TC; DeLorean DMC12.

They manage to include interviews of unexecpted enthusiasts of interest. For the Mexico, and old copper and an old car thief are interviewed and meet so they can discuss good old time. For the Land Rover, the show present us a guy that travelled through the world with a similar model, etc. Ant Anstead shows a lot of the restoration process, it’s a must watch.

Car SOS does not even get his own en.wikipedia page. That is to say that’s a bit of cheap version of For the Love of Cars. Here, you have Tim Shaw, tv host, as Philip Glenister, and Fuzz Townshend, bus mechanic and drummer as Ant Anstead. The idea of the shows is to meet people that have a car dying in some garage and to repair it. Usually, it’s the car of the father and there is a sob story about why it has not been fixed but abandoned over years. Not a bad idea – but when you see a guy playing golf and driving very expensive car, it looks funny, to say the least, to think he really need a free restoration of one of his cars. In some others cases, you can see that some guy get totally moved by seing his car even better than when he bought it decades ago. And that’s nice. A drawback of this show is that it often miss to describe and show the restoration process. And often too, they just buy parts or almost complete cars instead of fixing what they have; but that’s probably tied to the concept of the show: they start sometimes with cars beyond salvation so major parts just need to be completely replaced.

I’ll mention last the show that is actually the oldest but that I’ve just started to watch. It’s Wheeler Dealers. Here you have the buyer (since it started in 2003, I cannot keep considering For the Love of Cars as the reference), Mike Brewer, real car trader, and the mechanic, Edd China, Edd China is as impressive as Ant Anstead, in his own way. No matter what car Mike Brewer brings, whether it’s a BWM 840ci with a 4000 cm3 engine and lot of electronics or a BMW Isetta, microcar with 247 cm3 engine, whether the fix is about engine or the car shell, he get the job done. Plus he shows lot of tricks and tips. That’s great. This guy famous for fatest moving toilet/furniture world records knows his business.  And, you got it, Mike Brewer is providing him with a large range of cars. He’s always very happy with what he bought. But why would he not, since he went for it? Depending on the seasons, the initial buy got a price limit (first £1000, later £2000, then £3000, etc). It’s kind of obvious that if you buy the same car as Mike Brewer but don’t have an Edd China, with the knowledge and the tools, around, you’ll probably wont make any profit. Still, it does not make the show less interesting.

 If you can’t watch the show, you can always buy a Maluch. I na niego mocno chuchał, Mały, tani, na urlopy, Zjeździł z nami pół Europy.

Update: It turns out Edd China worked on Father Ted!

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Nie płaczcie panny, nie płaczcie za nami, Obowiązek wypełnić musimy (Afterfall: Reconquest, 2015)

Afterfall: Reconquest seems promising: an episodic story-driven third-person shooter video game with action and adventure elements in some post-apocalyptic world, inspired by S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (except it does not take place in post-Chernobyl Pripyat but in some New Poland, buffer zone in an alternate history where nazi germany was not defeated). I tried to play episode 1 and it really fit the bill: as much as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. after the release, it’s good enough for you to be seriously interested but the interface and several bugs prevents you to explore more.

I cannot play with the keyboard: keys are not configurable and not properly set for AZERTY keyboard. So I’m forced to play with a gamepad and then mouvements are overly slow and clumsy: I’m dying at every corner just because my guy takes ages to properly aim. Aside from that, the game is not overly responsive despite the fact that I’m using a decent rig. There’s a lot of screen tearing. Plus the all black and white -with some rare colors- is giving me headaches. As result, the game is hard to play, you are fighting with it.

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I hope they’ll work that, even though it’s probably a bit late already. Because the story seems otherwise good and the graphics are great. It deserves to be fixed. As much as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. would have deserved a real multiplayer mode. Będziem was czekać.

 

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All is safe and all is good but lately I’ve had dreams of blood (The Detail, 2014)

Presented as “The Detail combines the emotional impact of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead with the themes of a realistic crime drama like HBO’s The Wire, delivered with our own unique visual style inspired heavily by graphic novels.”, I was afraid it would be too-much.

As the next prick, I both love The Wire (not that much season 2) and dislike pricks that love The Wire – I watched it first when it was on air though. So anything pretending to be related in any way to The Wire has to be treated with suspicion. But the game was on sale so I went for it.

And I’m actually glad I did. So far (the game is delivered by episodes) The Detail is good. Not surprinsingly, it depict a sick sad world, it was not expected to be original in this regard.

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The characters are likely, the graphics are nice and the gameplay is really well thought of, you navigate a bit in a comic. I dare say Telltale people should take a look at it, there are some good ideas. From time to times, the interface is inconvenient but it’s very rare (I was also forced to play with the gamepad, but that’s the same with Telltale games and their keyboard setup stuck to QWERTY keyboard). Ambiance wise, in my opinion it does not relates that much to The Wire or The Walking Dead but more obviously to NYPD Blue (already mentioned there): the main cop in the game is totally a Sipowicz in any aspects.

I’m looking forward the following episode or any other game from Rival Games. You had me where you want me so you thought.