Sunday, November 27, 2016

Space Engineers - 10/20 hours

I love this game, but it does not love me. Three and a half hours into my second restart and I finally built myself a vehicle. It was, I thought, a simple one. It was basically just wheels, a cockpit, and a power source. I wanted to be able to explore faster than I could on foot without having to worry about crashing my jetpack (this led to my death on at least one occasion). However, it turns out that wheels have about eight settings that you have to tweak to get them to work with the physics simulation of your vehicle - and each wheel has to be calibrated separately.

At first, I couldn't steer my vehicle at all because my turning radius was too low. And then I wound up flipping my vehicle because my wheel friction was too high. And then I went into random skids because fuck if I know, I haven't solved that problem yet. All I wanted to do was tool around on a planet looking for minerals. And once again, the learning curve kicks me in the nuts.

And yet . . . I think maybe that's the best part of the game. There's so much that is functional, that requires care and planning. It really gives you a feeling of grappling with technology. You aren't just stacking blocks, you are inventing something. You really get the sense that your tinkering matters and the things you create are uniquely your own.

It's just a shame I'm not a better inventor. I suppose I shouldn't really be surprised, though. What is my complaint, exactly? I fiddled with the wheel settings for a half-hour and I still haven't created an off-road vehicle suitable for exploring an undeveloped planet? And from this, I conclude that there's something wrong with the game?

I think the problem might be my time limit. There's nothing wrong with tinkering for however long it takes to get something right, but the point of this vehicle was to be a tool that made building my rocket ship easier. So far, it's really just been an hour-long dead end. And the thing is, I do genuinely love getting sidetracked like that. It's part of a living world and it is a consequence of trying to come to terms with that world.

But I want to get to the moon. It's just hanging up there, tantalizing me with its moonness. I've only got ten more hours to get up there, and time is starting to feel tight. I think I'm just going to have to park my ridiculous, skid-prone, solar-powered, six-wheeled truck near my home base and just focus on whatever disaster of a spaceship emerges from my first attempt to escape the planet's gravity well.

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