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A Quantum Leap in games reviewing
April 6, 2013 7:05 AM   Subscribe

"This week, I'm a ..." Christopher Livingston (aka notmydesk) plays mundane PC simulations so you don't have to! Read, heart-in-mouth, as he masters the art of Being a Wolf in WolfQuest, treats objects like women as a furniture-fixated Hugh Hefner in Playboy: the Mansion, makes a thrilling escape from the life of a simple cruise ship captain in Ship Simulator: Extremes, disappoints the masses in Circus World, and performs routine adminstrative tasks and dates a cartoon lawyer in the frankly terrifying-sounding Love & Order.

Bonus snark! Amazon.co.uk reviewers assess the gameplay of the most satisfyingly mundane PC simulations currently on the market:

Surgery Simulator:
Before I bought this game I was a bricklayer, and not a very good one at that. I had the dexterity of a two year old in the midst of an epilectic fit. However, having played this game for a month I donned some scrubs and walzed into the workers entrance of my local hospital. Such is the shortage of medical staff here no-one questioned my credentials, and by the end of the evening I'd performed two tonselectomies and a heart bypass. After a week the mortality rate had only risen 5%, and so I continue my game. If an operation is scheduled that I don't know, I just fire up the PC and have a practise: with the realism in this game I'd feel confident wielding a scalpel on my own daughter. I would give her a rhinoplasty, but shes fitted a bolt to her door and won't go to sleep until she hears me snoring now.
Delivery Truck Simulator:
My wish-list for the next version - ability to shout at colleagues in the warehouse in an abusive way, taking calls from customers and telling them that the parcel is on the truck and will be with them within the hour, having a long tea-break in the layby on the A408 and being able to throw the boxes onto the back of the truck rather than place them professionally.
Roadworks Simulator:
This game will relight your fire for playing games every night, ALL night! Since I was a child I have always wanted to be part of the road team who take excessive lunch breaks, do very little and hold up traffic packed with people who need to get places.
Street Cleaning Simulator:
Part of what makes this so spectacular is how unpredictable it is. When rounding a corner, you feel the tension as to what happens next. Will there be gum on the floor? Will a burger have been dropped? Has someone left a newspaper by the curb? I sometimes had to put the game down and go for a walk to calm myself. With such impressive and articulate missions such as "Clean the curb on Anderson street" and "Clean the curb in Market Way", it is obvious as to why you would play this game for hours at a time.
Previously: Mundane Simulation.
Previouslier: The Roads I drive are haunted by memories.
Previousliest: It's kind of like Minecraft except you drive a bus in Germany.
[Via.]
posted by Sonny Jim (27 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Don't forget Part-Time Angle Grinder Hero! Pretty much what it says on the tin.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 7:36 AM on April 6, 2013


Oh boy...
posted by Fizz at 7:41 AM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


An earlier live-as-a-wolf game. It does some cool things, especially for the time, but the most common copy floating around out on the net is lacking sound and has some other weirdness, which makes it difficult to play. Most common death: asshole humans shooting you from planes.
posted by curious nu at 7:58 AM on April 6, 2013


Achievement Unlocked: You Did A Thing With Some Boats

Kills me for some reason.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:59 AM on April 6, 2013


I've actually played WolfQuest, and snark aside, it's a pretty cool idea. Sure, it gets tedious rather quickly, but I can imagine loving it as a little kid.

I wish more zoos/cultural institutions would make games like this (only a little more fun). It'd be good for kids.
posted by graphnerd at 8:03 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]




The Austin Powers-ized photos in the Playboy sim are hilarious.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:04 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let us not forget one of the earliest mundane industrial simulators: SCRAM, the fun-for-the-whole-family nuclear reactor simulator. Here's Ted Koppel interviewing Chris Crawford about it.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:05 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


seanbaby called

i dont know what he wanted because i didnt pick up
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:24 AM on April 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well no wonder my lame efforts to pick up women keep getting shot down. Okay, okay, I can do this.

Hey, how about a date at the expensive food tomorrow evening? I'll see you there!


No, a little more energy. Let your enthusiasm spill over to her.

Hey, how about a date at the expensive food tomorrow evening? I'll see you there!


Better, better, but what if I did it like

Hey, how about a date at the expensive food tomorrow evening? I'll see you there!

That is IT. Man, I am gonna score so many chicks now!
posted by Naberius at 8:44 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hoo boy. Hardly anything's funnier than a two year old with epilepsy.
posted by ODiV at 9:55 AM on April 6, 2013


A tiny, discrete improvement? (pet peeve)
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:36 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow WolfQuest!

His review is fairly spot on from my experience... an oddly tranquil week in early 2008. I chose to interpret the game's bugginess as a stand in for the true challenge of being a wolf in the wild. And yeah, it is real hard to hunt, eat, or pretty much do anything but lope around at top speed.

But the music, everything is worth it for the music.
posted by Wyatt at 12:00 PM on April 6, 2013


Most common death: asshole humans shooting you from planes.

I remember that game. Damned humans.
posted by Foosnark at 12:50 PM on April 6, 2013


I was pretty amused by the "hiding the naked woman behind a statue of a naked woman" gambit in the Hefner game. It somehow soothed my absolute lack of regret for never having played (or even heard of) the game reviewed. Hurrah!
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm designing a game where you work at a convenience store inside of a marina. Guess what I do for a living?
posted by broken wheelchair at 3:05 PM on April 6, 2013


Game designer?
posted by forgetful snow at 3:55 PM on April 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Another boss, Jonathan, irritates me because he immediately hits on me and then proceeds to call me “Sweetheart” every time we talk. Dude. No. Look, I’m not a woman (except in video games sometimes) and I don’t want to speak for women, but here’s my personal list of who should be allowed to call a woman “Sweetheart.” You can tell me if you disagree:

1. A parent or grandparent
2. A middle-aged diner waitress named Dottie or Muriel
3. Humphrey Bogart (deceased)
4. A brash, ruggedly handsome outlaw spaceship captain who hides his true feelings behind cocky swagger and sarcasm until eventually revealing he really does love you
5. Your actual sweetheart


This is pretty good advice, actually. See? You can learn things from video game reviews! Other than, obviously, "would probably like this video game?"
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:26 PM on April 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I loved Not My Desk back in the day and these Sim reviews are delightful! Hopefully he's got a desk of his own, now.
posted by redsparkler at 6:34 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want to see Control room of the UB-110 German submarine, circa 1918, the game.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:27 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Train Slmulator Bitch! (NSFW)
posted by salishsea at 12:58 AM on April 7, 2013


I want to see Control room of the UB-110 German submarine, circa 1918, the game.

Call Valve.
posted by dhartung at 1:14 AM on April 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always wanted to see "American Public High School Principal: the Sim".

To begin, you would select your State, region (rural, suburban, urban), and school size (1A-5A).

Then you select your difficulty level: Beginner (just avoid losing accreditation after 10 years), Intermediate (graduate students at a 10% higher rate than state average over 10 years), and Advanced (graduate 100% of your students in a year before your 10 year window closes).

Your job would be to hire and fire faculty and staff, deal with scandals, and allocate state and federal funds. You would have to deal with state and local school boards, PTAs, and constant cutting of funding, while trying to keep teacher morale high enough to prevent massive turnover.

The only way to win the game on Advanced difficulty is to use a cheat code to make your entire student body National Merit Finalists and have 0% of your student body on free or reduced lunch, and even then, you only win 15% of the time.
posted by Groundhog Week at 7:57 AM on April 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I always wanted to see "American Public High School Principal: the Sim".

I think the idea is that it should be a game, not a vector for a gnawing sense of despair for the future.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:50 AM on April 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, the goal or lesson of this game would be to demonstrate that if we were totally committed to the success of all students, we need to dramatically alter either the structural organization and roles of schools, or the communities that surround those schools.

One can always propose simple solutions to complex problems (more money, more teachers, etc.), but simple solutions to complex problems are always inadequate.Learning about the complex problems of the US educational system leads to better problem solving. Knowledge is half the battle -- G.I. Joe.
posted by Groundhog Week at 11:54 AM on April 7, 2013


I wish more zoos/cultural institutions would make games like this (only a little more fun). It'd be good for kids.

They already do and those games are TERRIBLE. Almost without exception, any exhibit with a computer next to it will be stupid. Or at least the computer part will be. Read the plaques, look at the animals, touch the object, or interact with that cultural institution in any other way than via their smarmy little 3-button infographictainment device.
posted by DU at 4:30 AM on April 11, 2013


redsparkler: "I loved Not My Desk back in the day"

Yeah, that was a great website!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:34 PM on April 16, 2013


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