Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Trackmania Addicted

So I've returned to an old habit. That of spending spare minutes logging into the hypersensitive Trackmania United Forever. Right now I'm in fact debating whether or not to abandon this post just to grab a few more moments racing around a ridiculously large arena and its fascinating and varied tracks. Trackmania United Forever is the pseudo-sequel to Trackmania Nations, and it would seem to be almost identical in many respects.

The game is a free download available on Steam (maybe elsewhere) and tasks you with racing around ridiculously clean tracks, trying to beat a series of racing-times. The posted times are the classic Bronze, Silver, and Gold, but there is also a fourth medal which is unstated but won when you beat the fastest developer time. Only on a couple occasions have I won that medal, and only in the previous game. The fact is that the two games seem the same sans the different interface and the new tracks and track types. The game looks the same and plays the same, with simple arrow key controls and a convenient restart button. It requires careful handling as you progress through the game and much patience to master each track.

The game excels in its simplicity. I really don't have any complaints because there is so little to the actual design. You are given a track, a car, and a time to beat. The car handles beautifully, responding to the different kinds of tracks with great give, and there's much fun to be had in sliding around certain corners. The one gripe I have actually comes outside of the game itself. The game tracks your medals against all the Trackmania players in the world, your country, and your state. But for some reason when playing via Steam, the account only loads locally, so logging on to the server, I can't unlock my medals won on a different computer. Just a little frustrating.

Either way, I highly recommend the game. Especially for the price of nothing. I'll be the Randallion Stallion, crawling my way up the leaderboards.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Spring time and early birds

On my previous internship (last January through June), 5 students total were brought on as paid interns. One of the ice-breakers the leaders of the company did was to have everyone (including the heads of the company) go round and declare their favorite toy. I was amazed to discover that at least three of my fellow interns chose Sega Genesis. Having played many games on the system, such as Shadowrun (as previously mentioned on this blog) and Aladdin (one of the funnest platformers I've played through), I can attest to the Genesis being the 2nd heyday of the consoles after the original NES.

My favorite toy was something else entirely, though, and it was actually somewhat sad for me to hear that a favorite toy was a gaming console. Don't get me wrong, I love games in every way, yet my favorite toy was my bike. Shouldn't that be what we strive for? I realize that as American children we go through so many toys so that tools (the game system and the bike) become the single object we remember most. But is that what we want of children in the world? I hope that if I ever have a son or daughter, he/she will not choose a gaming console as his/her greatest possession. I hope to raise a different child.

And on a final note: I love spring. Right now there are birds in the trees at this early hour (3am) chirping away beautifully. My close friend informed me that the lack of darkness in Boston (so many streetlights and such) is the probable cause, screwing up the sleep patterns of birds. Either way, it's a great way to leave a building early in the morning.

I'm out, gnight everyone!