"Hey, how do I get my crew’s spellbooks, and how do I equip their armor?"
So if you follow video games, you’ll notice that there’s every kind of simulation game out there. There’s also every kind of racing game out there. I was wondering if there were any sailboat racing sims out there–since they’re conspicuously absent from any high-profile console. I found two so far: “Sailing Simulator” and “Virtual Skipper.”
When I opened up either, I suddenly realized how I must sound to non-MMORPG-playing people when I talk about either “City of Heroes” or “Dark Age of Camelot.” There’s a great deal of knowledge that either sim requires–while some of the terminology (mostly relating to directions) are glossed in the objective screen in “Virtual Skipper,” the player finds him/herself thrown into a situation that requires a great deal of a priori knowledge. And here I thought sheets were things people slept on, and my main was a troll bonedancer.
Another problem is that I’m not used to dealing with inertia–especially inertia found in a fluid medium–in games. Sure, “City of Heroes” and the “Grand Theft Auto” series have some physical modeling, but nothing like what either of those two sims have. The controls in most of the games I play are rather heavy–if you want to turn right in Liberty City, you have to move the digital joystick on the controller to the right. Not so in a boat. For one, there’s no brake that I found (unlike Grand Theft Auto or your average MMORPG), and secondly even if you do manage to stop, you keep going for a bit because inertia actually matters. There’s no way to go in reverse, either. Turning right means you turn whatever-it-is-that-controls-the-boat to the left.
Water effects are hard to do well in games, and while “Sailing Simulator” isn’t overly special graphically, “Virtual Skipper” has some eye candy. The water looks really good, considering it’s not as graphically advanced as some games. When I started looking at the water, it was game over. Literally. I get seasick easily. As in I’ll get queasy going over the 520 bridge in Seattle. If I’m on a boat–such as a state ferry–so long as I don’t look at the water, I don’t do the Technicolor yawn. Maybe I’ll try them again sometime when I’ve got some Dramamine and ginger tea in me.