FM6: Where did all your money go?!

The title for this post says something – or asks something – but the answers are a LOT more complicated than you might be thinking. In fact the answer is effected by several issues – earning power and position, and bragging rights. We are about to address them all after we answer that first rude question.

Where Has All Your Money Gone?

When the Xbox One launched it did so with a vastly improved stats system in place for the LIVE Gamertag Scheme and games played.

Specifically when you load up your profile — by selecting the “My Profile” selection from the main menu — you actually have access to a array of information about yourself AND other players. When you access the Achievements Tab you get to see the Gamerscore Leaderboard right off the bat.

That is a display showing you the Top Scores for the last 30 days – and where you fit into that group. When you click on that window you get a detailed list of your mates and how much Gamerscore they have unlocked in the past 30 days.

Click on a specific person from that list and you get THEIR Profile Page. Which means you get to see all sorts of stats about their Gamertag, as well as look in depth at their games and game play if they have not locked that up. Among the very revealing data at your fingertips is the completion percentage for every game that they play AND a detailed listing of the Achievements they have unlocked in each game.

You can also compare their progress with your own in a side-by-side display, the same as you can in your own Profile’s Achievements using the Compare with Friends button.

When you open the base page for a game, you get a selection of stats that are important to that game, complete with placement tags (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) if you are in the Top Three for that game.

For Forza Motorsport 6 that means you have access to the following information about YOUR accomplishments and status as well as that of your mates. So you can see the following:

  • Gamerscore Totals
  • Achievements Count
  • Time Played (Ranked)
  • Game Progress (Ranked)
  • Driver Level (Ranked)
  • Credits Earned (Ranked)
  • Credits Spent (Ranked)

Below that is the entire complete list of Achievements, whether they have been unlocked, and WHEN they were unlocked – meaning the actual date.

If you look at my stats in that game, among other things you are going to learn that I have earned over 81 million credits, and I have spent over 52 million credits.

That particular display of stats is how I ended up being asked the rather personal question: “Where Has All Your Money Gone?!”

The correct answer to that question is: “None of your damned business!”

The polite and friendly answer though is actually very simple… The money has largely gone on Mod Packs. Oh sure, some was spent buying cars. In fact my garage contains a rather impressive number and variety of cars (if I am saying so myself). As the spending of my bank includes buying cars for my garage, I have written the complete inventory of my garage at the bottom of this post – and I leave figuring out the amount I spent as an exercise for you to complete on your own.

Why did I spend so much on Mod Packs? Well the simple reason is that I was (still am) looking to complete my collection of Super Rare Mod Cards. Believe it or not this is not just about having the important and really useful Mod Cards in my personal collection – it’s also about bragging rights.

Why? More to the point, How? The answer is actually very simple. If you have the complete collection of Mod Cards – the important ones I mean – that means you have an edge for race time and lap time because you have the ability – by virtue of your Mod Card Collection – to squeeze the most out of your cars in terms of performance and speed.

Yeah, it’s really that simple. As long as you have the cards – and the opponent you are racing against has the cards – then the results of your race are totally down to driver skill. And THAT is the whole point.

Bragging Rights?

The serious players of the Forza Motorsports game call themselves The Forza Faithful, and as you can probably imagine – thanks to the rather competitive nature with which the games are infused – there is a lot of bragging rights to be secured.

For most players, the popular bragging rights tend to be restricted to four specific areas of game play, which are – most important first – the following:

1. Multi-Player Track Times.

Visible throughout the MP side of the game, the Track Times a player locks in tend to be among the more visible and obvious of bragging rights in Forza Motorsports – and not just for FM6 mind you.

2. Design Badges

This one is hard to fathom but it seems that obtaining the Platinum versions of two specific Badges are a very big deal in terms of bragging rights and status among the Forza Faithful.

While the vast majority of the badges do not seem to matter, unlocking the Top Tuner and Top Painter badges does matter. Go figure?

3. Game Achievements.

A lot of the Achievements in FM6 are basically Been There, Done That Achievements. That noted there are a handful that actually matter to the Faithful – Achievements that are so highly desired that their owners will willingly grind to unlock them.

Those are (in order of bragging rights importance):

  • 1. One for the History Books (50g) Complete all Car Divisions, all Series, and all Showcases.
  • 2. Making a Name (20g) Earn 50K credits from the community using your Tune
  • 3. Cashing In (20g) Earn 50K credits from the community using your Design.
  • 4. Record Breaker (25g) Go faster than 250 mph in any car.
  • 5. Racking Up the Mileage (20g) Drive for 1000 miles in Multiplayer.

There you have it – the five Achievements that are important for bragging rights in FM6.

4. Mod Card Collection.

Considering just how easy it is to amass huge amounts of in-game money in Forza Motorsports 6 the question I am sometimes asked is where my money is going? That is what sparked my writing this post actually.

The answer is repeated from above – the money mostly has gone on buying Mod Packs.

The purchases were made as part of the quest to obtain the important cards for ANY Forza 6 racer’s collection, To provide you with a head’s up here there are three types of cards for the list – cards earned via racing, cards obtained from buying the booster packs, and cards acquired from brand mastery.

The short list of cards on the must-have list includes:

  • All Affinity-Based Crew Chief Cards
  • Booster Pack Crew Chief Cards
  • Track Specialist Cards – Super Rare Unlimited Use

While the cards above are unlimited use, while the one-time use bonus cards also have some very desirable cards, including:

  • Adept (+7K Driver XP)
  • Expert (+7K Driver XP)
  • Driver Mastery (+100% Driver Level XP)
  • Manufacturer Endorsement (+7K Affinity XP)
  • Manufacturer Mastery (+100% Affinity Level XP)

Now the question you have to ask yourself is this – how close are YOU to having the set and the important Super Rare Cards? Yeah? Then you better get busy mates!

Turn 10 Select Car Pack Arrives with the July Update in Tow

If you have not included Forza or its studio – Turn 10 – in your Internet News Filter – there is a chance you are unaware that the most recent expansion content for the game has arrived.

Hand picked by the game development team at Turn 10, this pack is intended to offer representation for every major car type in the game, with a sub-focus on the mechanical elements in car design and engineering.

The Turn 10 Select Car Pack is the modestly priced (it’s just $6.99 US) as far as car packs go in FM6, and contains perhaps the most diverse selection of cars on offer so far.

The Select Pack is only available online via the LIVE Store, and features the following seven crispy new rides for your motoring pleasure:

  • 1957 BMW Isetta 300 Export
  • 1969 Ford Brawner Hawk III
  • 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider
  • 2014 Chevrolet #4 ROAL Motorsport RML Cruze TC1 WTCC
  • 2014 Jaguar #14 Emil Frey GT3 Jaguar XK
  • 2015 McLaren 570S Coupé
  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz #24 Tankpool24 Racing Truck

Of the seven new rides the two we are the most excited about are Ford’s Hawk III for pretty obvious reasons, not the least being the Cinderella Story of how the red STP-liveried Hawk III with its Ford turbo-V8 helped professional race car driver Mario Andretti win the 1969 Indianapolis 500. This is an Indy Car that LOOKS like an Indy Car!

Our second source of excitement may seem a little unlikely at first blush, but when you examine the Italian-designed, fusion of a three-wheeled motorcycle and traditional sub-compact car, its rather impressive performance when you consider that it is basically powered by a single-cylinder, four-stroke, 13 horsepower 298cc engine, you have to admit that it is rather fascinating as far as super-sub-compacts go!

Of course the fact that the last time we saw one of these beastly babes was when we watched Top Gear’s very capable Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear Series 10 Episode 3) take a very intimate look at the Model 300 on the show, and then a few years later, put the beast through its paces in order to demonstrate its serious design flaw (Top Gear Series 15 Episode 1).

Yeah, we like.

In the midst of revealing and sharing this new 7-pack of unique motor vehicles, Turn 10 also unleashed the July Update, which focused on what you might call the rehabilitation of three traditional tracks in the series — Catalunya, the Circuit of the Americas, and Monza — and I don’t care who you are that is awesome!

Circuit de Catalunya is a Forza mainstay of a track, offering three different daytime configurations — The Grand Prix Circuit with 2.89 miles, the National Circuit with 1.85 miles, and the School Circuit and its 1.06 miles of course. Its rehab for the update entails finer tuning for the overall course and its surfaces.

The Circuit of The Americas is the first US track that was purpose-built for Grand Prix racing, and features a trio of daytime courses. The Grand Prix Circuit offers 3.42 miles of challenging Texas track, while the West Route features 2.3 miles of challenging turns and banks. The East Route is not a mirror image of the previous course, it being just 1.23 miles long and featuring a very modest set of curves and turns and a very long straight-away.

Improvements towards rehabilitation of COA involved further fine-tuning of the track and its surfeaces, and changing the roll of toilet paper in the driver’s bathroom. Sure, Royale bathroom tissue brand might actually offer a “Stronger Feeling of Softness” for the discerning Canadian bottom, but everyone knows that Charmin Ultra is “Best For Bear Bottoms” and there’s lots of Bear Bottoms in racing!

Okay so, naked hiney humor aside, when they arrived at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza with an eye towards rehabbing the course, the first efforts that the track team focused upon was the chicane at Turn 4, and the desire to adjust it to more accurately distinguish between clean and dirty driving lines — an issue that was bothering a large percentage of the Forza Faithful.

They then focused upon the tire wall at Turn 4, opting to move it in order to alter the driving line and better prevent corner cutting, which also allowed them to declare themselves King of the Racecourse and immediately head out to Vince Young Steakhouse on San Jacinto where they nommed down on the best noms they had on offer, which you know, is steak noms. Just saying, you don’t open a jar of peanut butter expecting to find corned beef hash, and you don’t go to a steakhouse for the salad!

The rest of the content for the Update was mostly focused on improvements to the online multi-player and player-vs-player elements, including online handling, which while you know that deserves praise and all, we’re still in shock from working on completing the NASCAR Expansion so yeah, ‘Merica!

The Contents of My FM6 Garage

There are X cars in my garage. Kudos to the first person to email me with the percentages in expenses. Cars marked with a (C) are cars I own the Master Crew Card for. The Master Crew Cards number among the most wanted – as in you mostly want to have one for every car in your garage 🙂

  1. 1968 Abarth 595 esseesse
  2. 2001 Acura Integra Type-R
  3. 1934 Alfa Romeo P3
  4. 1992 Alfa Romeo Milano Quadrifoglio Verde
  5. 2008 Aston Martin Team Forza DBS
  6. 2012 Aston Martin V12 Zagato
  7. 2014 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S (A700)
  8. 2014 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S (A638)
  9. 1989 Audi #4 Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO
  10. 2013 Audi Team Forza R8 Coupe V10 plus 5.2 FSI quattro
  11. 2013 Audi Team Forza RS 7 Sportback
  12. 2014 Audi #2 Audi Team Joest R18 e-tron quattro
  13. 2016 Audi R8 V10 plus
  14. 2016 Audi R8 V10 plus in Top Gear Livery
  15. 1975 BMW #93 Herve Poulain 3.0 CSL
  16. 1981 BMW M1
  17. 1988 BMW M5
  18. 2009 BMW #92 Rahal Letterman Racing M3 GT2
  19. 2011 BMW X5 M
  20. 2012 BMW Team Forza M5
  21. 2014 BMW M4 Coupe
  22. 2014 BMW M235i (B598)
  23. 2014 BMW M235i (C476)
  24. 2015 BMW X6 M
  25. 1967 Brabham BT24
  26. 1992 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport
  27. 2011 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
  28. 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
  29. 2013 Cadillac XTS Limousine
  30. 2013 Caparo T1
  31. 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
  32. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport C2 Fast & Furious Edition
  33. 1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
  34. 1970 Chevrolet El Camino Super Sport 454
  35. 1990 Chevrolet #30 Douglas Shierson Racing Lola T90/00
  36. 2015 Chevrolet #1 Team Penske IndyCar
  37. 2015 Chevrolet #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype
  38. 2016 Chevrolet #1 Chip Gnassi Racing McDonald’s Super Sport
  39. 2016 Chevrolet #42 Chip Gnassi Racing Target Super Sport
  40. 2016 Chevrolet #5 Hendrick Motorsports FARMERS Insurance Super Sport
  41. 2016 Chevrolet #5 Hendrick Motorsports GreatClips Super Sport
  42. 2016 Chevrolet #24 Hendrick Motorsports NAPA Super Sport (C)
  43. 2016 Chevrolet #48 Hendrick Motorsports Lowe’s Super Sport
  44. 2016 Chevrolet #88 Hendrick Motorsports Nationwide Insurance Super Sport (C)
  45. 2016 Chevrolet #4 Stewart-Haas Racing Jimmy John’s Super Sport
  46. 2016 Chevrolet #4 Stewart-Haas Racing Outback Steakhouse Super Sport
  47. 2016 Chevrolet #10 Stewart-Haas Racing Nature’s Bakery Super Sport (C)
  48. 2016 Chevrolet #14 Stewart-Haas Racing Mobil 1 Super Sport
  49. 2016 Chevrolet #41 Stewart-Haas Racing Haas Automation Super Sport
  50. 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Super Sport
  51. 2069 Chryslus Rocket 69 (R821)
  52. 2069 Chryslus Rocket 69 (S758) Fallout Livery
  53. 1969 Datsun 2000 Roadster
  54. 1968 Dodge Charger Fast & Furious Edition
  55. 1969 Dodge Charger R/T
  56. 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona Fast & Furious Edition
  57. 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona HEMI
  58. 1970 Dodge Coronet Super Bee
  59. 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
  60. 1963 Ferrari 250LM
  61. 1968 Ferrari 365 GTB/4
  62. 1976 Ferrari #1 Scuderia Ferrari 312 T2
  63. 1987 Ferrari F40
  64. 1990 Ferrari #1 Scuderia Ferrari 641
  65. 2009 Ferrari 458 Italia
  66. 2009 Ferrari Team Forza 458 Italia
  67. 2013 Ferrari 458 Speciale
  68. 2013 Ferrari LaFerrari
  69. 2014 Ferrari #62 Risi Competizione 458 Italia GTLM
  70. 2014 Ferrari FXX K
  71. 2015 Ferrari 488 GTB
  72. 1952 FIAT 8V Supersonic
  73. 1969 FIAT Dino 2.4 Coupe
  74. 1940 Ford De Luxe Coupe
  75. 1956 Ford F-100 Vault-Tec Livery
  76. 1965 Ford Mustang GT Coupe
  77. 1966 Ford Lotus Cortina
  78. 1966 Ford GT40 Mk II
  79. 1970 Ford Escort RS1600 Fast & Furious Edition
  80. 1973 Ford XB Falcon GT
  81. 1977 Ford Escort RS1800
  82. 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra
  83. 1981 Ford Fiesta XR2
  84. 2005 Ford Hot Wheel’s Mustang
  85. 2009 Ford Focus RS
  86. 2011 Ford Transit SuperSportVan
  87. 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Shelby
  88. 2013 Ford Shelby GT500
  89. 2014 Ford Fiesta ST
  90. 2015 Ford #02 Chip Gnassi Racing Riley MK XXVI Daytona Prototype
  91. 2015 Ford Mustang GT
  92. 2016 Ford #2 Team Penske Alliance Truck Parts Fusion
  93. 2016 Ford #2 Team Penske Brad K. Fusion
  94. 2016 Ford #22 Team Penske AAA Fusion
  95. 2016 Ford Team Penske Shell-Pennzoil Fusion
  96. 2016 Ford #66 Ford Racing GT Le Mans
  97. 2016 Ford Shelby GT350R
  98. 2017 Ford Focus RS
  99. 2017 Ford GT
  100. 2015 Formula E #2 Virgin Racing VIR 01E
  101. 1973 Holden HQ Monaro GTS 350
  102. 1977 Holden Torana A9X
  103. 1988 Holden VL Commodore Group A SV
  104. 1967 Honda RA300
  105. 2001 Honda S2000 Fast & Furious Edition
  106. 2005 Honda Team Forza NSX-R
  107. 2014 Honda #2 Castrol Honda Civic WTCC
  108. 2015 Honda #27 Andretti Autosport IndyCar
  109. 2011 Hot Wheels BoneShaker
  110. 2011 HSV GTS (A659)
  111. 2011 HSV GTS (C491) Australian Royal Air Force Livery
  112. 2015 Infiniti Q60 Concept
  113. 1988 Jaguar #60 Castrol Jaguar Racing XJR-9
  114. 1990 Jaguar XJ-S
  115. 1993 Jaguar XJ220
  116. 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe
  117. 2016 Jaguar F-TYPE Project 7
  118. 2011 Koenigsegg Agera
  119. 2015 Koenigsegg One:1
  120. 1967 Lamborghini Miura P400
  121. 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 (R852)
  122. 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 (S750)
  123. 2014 Lamborghini Veneno
  124. 2014 Lamborghini Team Forza Huracan LP 610-4
  125. 2014 Lamborghini Urus
  126. 1980 Lancia #31 Lancia Corse Beta Montecarlo Turbo
  127. 1997 Land Rover Defender 90
  128. 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR
  129. 1971 Lotus Elan Sprint
  130. 1999 Lotus Elise Series 1 Sport 190
  131. 2015 Lotus E23
  132. 1957 Maserati 300 S
  133. 1961 Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage
  134. 2014 Maserati #35 M.Calamia Swiss Team MC Trofeo
  135. 1991 Mazda #62 Mazda Motorsports RX-7
  136. 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3
  137. 2014 Mazda #70 SpeedSource Lola B12/80
  138. 2015 Mazda Formula Mazda
  139. 2016 Mazda Team Forza MX-5
  140. 1988 McLaren #12 Honda McLaren MP4/4
  141. 1993 McLaren F1
  142. 1997 McLaren F1 GT
  143. 2013 McLaren P1
  144. 2013 McLaren Team Forza P1
  145. 2015 McLaren P1 GTR
  146. 2016 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupe
  147. 1939 Mercedes-Benz W154
  148. 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe
  149. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR
  150. 1967 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL
  151. 2011 Mercedes-Benz #35 Black Falcon SLS AMG GT3
  152. 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG
  153. 2015 Mercedes-Benz #9 Erebus Motorsport E63 AMG V8 Supercar
  154. 1990 Mercury #15 Whistler Radar Cougar XR-7
  155. 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS Fast & Furious Edition
  156. 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR
  157. 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR
  158. 1969 Nissan #21 Nissan Racing R382
  159. 1969 Nissan Fairlady Z 432
  160. 1973 Nissan Skyline GT-R
  161. 1992 Nissan Silvia CLUB K’s
  162. 1993 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec
  163. 1994 Nissan #75 Cunningham Racing 300ZX
  164. 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R Fast & Furious Edition
  165. 2002 Nissan Fairlady Z Fast & Furious Edition
  166. 2002 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec II
  167. 2003 Nissan Team Forza Fairlady Z
  168. 2012 Nissan GT-R Black Edition
  169. 2015 Nissan #23 GT-R LM NISMO
  170. 2015 Nissan #1 NISMO MOTUL AUTECH GT-R
  171. 1968 Opel GT
  172. 1979 Opel Kadett C GT/E
  173. 1993 Peugeot #3 Peugot Talbot Sport 905 EVO 1C
  174. 1958 Plymouth Fury
  175. 2000 Plymouth Prowler
  176. 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD-455
  177. 2005 Pontiac Aztek
  178. 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder (C)
  179. 1957 Porsche 356A Speedster (C)
  180. 1960 Porsche 718 RS 60 (C)
  181. 1970 Porsche 914/6 (C)
  182. 1982 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.3 (C)
  183. 1987 Porsche 959 (C)
  184. 1987 Porsche #17 Porsche AG 962C (C)
  185. 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo (C)
  186. 1998 Porsche #26 Porsche AG 911 GT1-98 (C)
  187. 2003 Porsche Carrera GT (C)
  188. 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 (C)
  189. 2008 Porsche #7 Penske Racing RS Spyder Evo (C)
  190. 2011 Porsche #45 Flying Lizard 911 GT3 RSR (C)
  191. 2012 Porsche 911 GT2 RS (C)
  192. 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 (C)
  193. 2012 Porsche Cayenne Turbo (C)
  194. 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S (C)
  195. 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder (C)
  196. 2015 Porsche #19 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid (C)
  197. 2015 Porsche GTS (C)
  198. 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo (C)
  199. 2013 Ram Ram Runner
  200. 1980 Renault 5 Turbo
  201. 2013 Renault Clio RS 200
  202. 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn
  203. 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C
  204. 2013 SRT Team Forza Viper GTS
  205. 1996 Subaru SVX
  206. 1967 Sunbeam Tiger
  207. 2014 Terradyne Gurkha LAPV Fast & Furious Edition
  208. 1974 Toyota Corolla SR5
  209. 1985 Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT Apex
  210. 1995 Toyota MR2 GT
  211. 1995 Toyota Supra Fast & Furious Edition
  212. 2014 Toyota #8 Toyota Racing TS040 HYBRID
  213. 2014 Toyota #12 Rebellion Racing R-One
  214. 2016 Toyota #11 Joe Gibbs Racing FedEx Express Camry
  215. 2016 Toyota #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Interstate Batteries Camry
  216. 2016 Toyota #18 Joe Gibbs Racing M&M’s Camry (C)
  217. 2016 Toyota #19 Joe Gibbs Racing ARRIS Camry
  218. 2016 Toyota #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Stanley Camry
  219. 2016 Toyota #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Subway Camry
  220. 2016 Toyota #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Dollar General Camry
  221. 2016 Toyota #20 Joe Gibbs Racing DEWALT Camry
  222. 2013 Vauxhall Astra 1.6 Tech Line Top Gear Edition
  223. 1963 Volkswagen Beetle
  224. 1963 Volkswagen Type 2 De Luxe
  225. 1981 Volkswagen Scirocco S
  226. 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
  227. 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco 16v
  228. 2011 Volkswagen Scirocco R
  229. 2014 Volkswagen Golf R
  230. 1967 Volvo 123GT
  231. 2016 W Motors Lykan HyperSport
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How to Grok World of Tanks

wotsplash

“I don’t get that game.  Why do you want to play it?  It’s stupid!

“It’s just a bunch of people getting randomly killed by other people!

“What is the difference between a light tank or a medium one?  Or a heavy one?  Aren’t ALL tanks Tank Destroyers?!

“And what the hell is a Self-Propelled Gun anyway?!  It looks like it is a tank with no top for crying-out-loud but it works like it was artillery!”

The complaints went on like that for another ten minutes as we sat in the booth at Johnny Rockets waiting for Jim to finish venting.

Last month we met at Red Robin – I like Johnny Rockets better and Chance knows that.

Chance likes me – he has a man-crush on me and I know that.  So I only had to mention that I was craving a Johnny Rockets shake when we were getting ready to depart the Cape for him to make the decision.

Since we had to pass the Burlington Mall on the way to parking at Chance’s grandmother’s house before taking the train into Boston and Pax East anyway, Chance decided that as Captain of our “Team” that was where we would lunch.

As the oldest person at the table I was out of place among the predominately college student crowd at the table – they were all law students at UMass Dartmouth, whereas I was plenty old enough to be their father.

One reasons that they tolerated my presence was that I’m a pretty good gamer.  Another was that I write – in fact that’s how they met me.

One of their professors asked me to come to the school and give a talk about writing to the pyramid and clarity of expression – a skills set that  lawyers (and those who want to BE lawyers) really benefit from having.

And of course there is the fact that I am handicapped, so nobody wants to make me feel bad by doing something like ask why I was hanging around what were arguably children when our ages are compared.

For my part, this has a lot to do with that whole “adult” thing.  You know, the story that you get fed when you are a kid about how you are not old enough to do whatever it is you want to do but are being told you are not old enough – and that you will understand later, when you are an adult?  That’s total horseshit.

Last time I checked I was old.  Really old.  And you know what?  I don’t feel anything different inside than I did when I was fifteen and was being told I would understand when I was an adult.  More to the point, the only thing I have come to understand is that you can use that logic on a teenager when you don’t want them to do whatever it is that they want to do, and it works every time.

So in a nutshell, what I understand is that the reason I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do then was because they did not want me to do them.

I understand that the only difference between the me then, and the me now, is a matter of consequences.

As in “I now understand that there are consequences to the things we do.”

On the inside I am still the same person I was at 15 – I just have a LOT more responsibility and the option of hiding in the bathroom or saying “I’m sick” no longer works because why?  Because the bank still expects my mortgage check on the first, that’s why.

“I think the problem you have here Jimmy, is that you don’t understand how this game works,” I said, waiting until he had slowed to a squeak.

“Uh, yes I do,” he declared.  “Grandpa!” he added after a brief silence.

“Well if that’s the best insult you can muster on short notice I sort of get why you can’t grok World of Tanks,” was my reply.

wot1

“Grok?  What is that?  That isn’t even a word!” he gasped.

“Listen little man, words are the tools I use to pay my bills.  If I say that’s a real word, it bloody-well is.  I am paid to know the difference.  For instance earlier you used the word ‘factoid’ wrong.

“From how you used it, I gather you think it is a small fact – when in truth the word ‘factoid’ is defined as the use of incorrect ‘facts’ which, if you carry out that logic to its proper end, means they aren’t facts at all — they’re essentially imagined ideas repeated and reprinted so often they’re accepted as fact when they aren’t factual at all.

“And by the way, ‘irregardless’ Jimmy?  Not a word.

“What you meant to say was ‘regardless’.  Oh, and fuck you very much,  Jimmy,” I added.  Then took a long pull on my Orange Creamsicle Shake.

“I think Chris is right about that – there was a student in one of my classes last term that said irregardless and the prof came down pretty hard on them about using made-up words and… Oh… Wait… That was you,” Chance said, causing the rest of the table to chuckle and Jimmy’s face to glow.  What can I say, Chance likes me.

“Well Grok is not a word.  What is it supposed to mean?” was his feeble reply.

Grok,” I explain, “Was taken from Robert A. Heinlein’s 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, and technically is from the non-existent Martian language.  The dictionary defines it as understanding something intuitively, or by empathy…”

“Well Merriam-Webster says its definition is ‘to understand profoundly and intuitively’ but yeah, it’s a word,” Kay announced by interrupting me.  Holding out her smartphone she showed Jimmy the page on Grok from the dictionary website.

Kay is Chance’s girlfriend and, believe it or don’t, she’s a good gamer. Notice that I did not qualify that by saying something sexist like, “for a girl.”

Kay grew up in a nudist resort in Florida.  Her personality is almost precisely that of the character of Kit Keller in the movie A League of Their Own.

Kit was played by the actress Lori Petty, who I like a lot.  Her most recent credit is for the character of Jeri in the TV show Gotham if that helps you remember her.  Actually the character she played in Orange is the New Black – Lolly Whitehill will probably be more easily recalled.

If you want to know her defining role of all time at least in the Kingdom of Chris?  That would be as the title character of Tank Girl, in the movie by the same name which is based on the  British comic strip by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin.

Kay has a lot of heart and a willingness to put in hard work for the betterment of her guild or team.  For example she has a high-level White Mage in FFXI and a healer in WoW – not because she likes playing the healer mind you, but because someone has to.  Good gamer.

“And in any event, I honestly believe that if you give me five minutes I can explain World of Tanks to you in such a way so that you not only understand it, but find you actually like it,” I said, completing my interrupted thought.

“Cha!  Right!” Jimmy laughed.

“You do realize that after you explain it to him he is going to say that he still does not understand you, and he will declare victory; even if such declaration is silent and false and only takes place inside of his head?” Kosei asked.

wot2

“It really bothers me that you don’t use contractions in your spoken English,” I replied.

Kosei is from the city of Osaka, in Japan.  He is here reading Law because the company he works for and who basically paid for his education decided – in their infinite wisdom – that he will one day head up their legal team that is responsible for representing it in American courts.

That company – a popular Japanese automaker – strikes me as intimidating for a number of reasons. They require Kosei to write a report on himself twice a year that explains what he has been studying and that offers a critical assessment of his progress, including a section on what he is doing wrong and how he can correct that and thus improve the results being obtained.

That is just whack!

Or perhaps it’s the notion that they could be looking so far ahead into their needs for legal representation that they would evaluate their employees reading law on the company dime in Japan and, upon his graduation in Japan, dispatch him to Massachusetts to study law at UMass.

What bothers me even more is the fact that they chose UMass, Dartmouth as the law school he would attend.  Why there?  Why not Yale, or Harvard, or Columbia?

I actually asked Kosei that question and you know what he replied?  He said “There are already members of our team reading law at those schools.  It has been explained to me that this school graduates a disproportionate number of attorneys whose area of litigation tends to be or include product liability suits, and it is anticipated that the personal contacts and social relationships that I establish here will have far more value to the company.”

Kosei has a credit card from his employer that he is expected to regularly use to entertain those social contacts – which is how his group of mates go to New York City on the weekends as well as elsewhere – for social activities.  Is that whack or what?

So yeah, in addition to being valuable to his company for the reasons described above, Kosei is valuable to our guild for a completely different set of skills.  You see, in addition to being able pick up the check for dinner whenever he wants to, Kosei is willing to translate the Japanese symbols from the Inscriptions in the Customization Screen in World of Tanks – which I very much appreciate since most of them do not say what the game says they say.

Also he orders for us when we eat at Zenkichi on 6th Street in Brooklyn.

You see normally you can only order via the current menu as Zenkichi uses the Omakase style of menu selection  – and while that does change every month or so, when we eat there Kosei just tells the host that we want – and I quote – “どのようなシェフが考えることは、今日は良いです.”

What happens when he orders is the Chef comes out to the table and inquires as to our expectations.  Kosei then explains that our concerns tonight lean towards texture and the experience of complimentary flavors.

That’s a pretty serious and important distinction – which you know if you have ever eaten genuine Japanese cuisine.  We are basically asking that the Chef select the meal we eat – which pretty much is how Omakase works in the first place – but it really is not the same thing.

Whatever we get as a result of our order will not be a dish that appears on the current menu – it will literally be the dishes that the chef felt would properly serve our desires in terms of textures that compliment the flavor of the meal.

Yes, it is pretty ballsy to order like that – and yes, often the result is some pretty strange ingredients.  All that aside though, we’ve never regretted it.  Not once.

wot3

 About World of Tanks

Following my offer – basically throwing down the gauntlet – Jimmy was browbeaten into sitting and listening to me as I tried to explain the game to him and so fulfill the claims I made.  So I did.

World of Tanks is pretty much what you said – a game in which a bunch of people ride around in tanks trying to kill each other.  And not surprisingly they succeed more often than they fail, otherwise you wouldn’t have a winning team.

You were saying that a major part of your problem is you did not have access to the type of tank you want and need.  You also loudly stated that you would not pay to get it.

Actually what Jimmy said was – “I’m not like Koko here, I don’t have a credit card I can just use without having to worry about paying the bill – so I can’t just buy the tanks I want!”

In truth, Kosei doesn’t mind being called Koko – it turns out that the name belongs to one of the characters in a book series he reads that he admires a lot.  The character is called Koko and, if I understand this correctly, is a psychic cat.  He also does not use the company card to pay for World of Tanks purchases as far as I know, and even if he did, you can’t really buy tank levels like that.

“The structure is very simple.  If you look at the Tanks Screen for France (or one of the smaller countries that don’t have a huge list of them) you will see that the tree begins with the Renault FT – which is a light tank that  was created in 1929 as one of the first production tanks for the French Army.

“You play with that tank until you have the XP built up to upgrade it – once you have done that, you then build up the required XP to pay to research the next tank up in the generation tree.

“The FT is a Light Tank in the first gen of tanks.  It is the ONLY First Generation tank in the French Tank Tree.

“The Second Generation of tanks in the Tree are the Renault FT/AC which is a Tank Destroyer, the FT/D1 which is a Light Tank, the H35 Hotchkiss which is another Light Tank, and the Renault FT 75 BS – which is a Self-Propelled Gun 0r SPG.

“Whichever one of those you decide you are going to research will pretty much dictate the line of tanks you will continue to research.  So for example you level up the XP for the Renault FT, and then you research the Renault FT 75 BS.

“After you work up the XP to research the various upgrades for the FT 75, you will then research the Lorraine 39L AM which is the next tank in the tree and a Rank/Generation 3 Tank.

“After that you research the Rank/Gen 4 AMX 105 AM nle. 47, then the Rank/Gen 5 AMX 13 105 AM mle. 50, and finally the Rank/Gen 6 AMX 13 F3 AM – which was developed in the 1950s and mass-produced for use in France as well as sales to Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Morocco as well as others.

“That is the level or rank you were complaining you needed.  If you opted instead to go with, say, the US Tank Tree, the path would be similar but you would have more options even from the start.

“For example when you completed the research of the Rank/Gen 4 Tank – which is the M3 Lee – you would then have the choice of moving on to the M4 Sherman (a Medium Tank), the T1 Heavy (A Heavy Tank) or the T14 (another Heavy Tank).

“All that is assuming you followed the bottom branch of the American Tree mind you.  But let’s say you instead followed the Artillery Branch like you did in the French Tree because that is what you are interested in.

wot4

“The path that would have followed is the top branch of that particular tree – so the Rank 1 T1 to the Rank 2 T1 HMC, then you had to decide on either the Rank 3 M7 Priest or the Rank 3 T18 HMC.

“If your ultimate goal is to unlock and use the Rank 10 T92, then it doesn’t matter which of the two Rank 3 tanks you researched, or the Rank 4 either – but when you reached Rank 5 your only choice was to research the M41 HMC as that is the only one with a direct path to the T92 at Rank 10.

“Basically the take-away from this is that the selection of tanks you make early on actually does matter.  And you need to have a clear idea of what the high rank tank is that you eventually mean to field.

“Now that only applies to the SPGs – later you might decide, hey, I want to use the Light or Medium Tanks now, and maybe after that a Heavy – or the Tank Destroyer.

“In that case, you look at the tree and you see that you can use the Rank 2 T3 HMC Tank Destroyer to get to the Rank 3 T56 GMC Tank Destroyer, and so on.

“For the Lights you choose the M2 then the M3, the M6, M7 and so on.  Now you understand how the Tree works.  That means for all practical purposes you have mastered the game in terms of its structure.

“You know how to get to the tank you want, so all you have to do is put in the work.  In that case the work is simply playing the game!

“Let’s say that I wanted to follow the Tree at the bottom because I want to unlock the Achievement for owning five French SPG’s at the same time.

“To do that I will need to research the FT BS, then the 39L AM, the AMX 105, the AMX 13, and finally the Rank 6 AMX 13 F3 AM – all without ever selling off ANY of the previous Tanks.  That adds some complications to the mix.

“Basically to do this I not only need to play in that line of tanks to get the XP required to research, I will need to build the Silver required for the purchases of both the research AND the cost of the tanks, and in addition to all that, I have to be sure to I have suffcient Garage Slots to have all five of those tanks as well as all of the other tanks I own.

“Because for sure you are going to want to work other trees at the same time…

“The best way to acquire Garage Slots is to keep an eye on the sales screen in the game.  Every now and then there will be special sales like the one that is on now – so by  spending 400 gold I can obtain a starter kit with 1 Garage Slot, 2 XP Boosts, and a collection of supplies.

“Normally a Garage Slot will cost me 300 Gold anyway – but by spending the 400 Gold on that Special Sale deal I got the Garage Slot (300g) plus 2 x3 XP Boosts (a x5 pack is 438 Gold on sale so figure that is 175g alone), while the other odds and ends ordinarily cost Silver but that doesn’t matter – I got them and 475g worth of other items including the Garage Slot for 400g – so I did okay.

“If you don’t want to check the Store every day looking for a deal, just buy the Garage Slot at full retail cost – but I prefer deals.”

I then explained how picking three or four tree paths under separate flags was a good idea since the first battle you play with each every day automatically gets a x2 XP bonus – and you can increase THAT by applying bonus XP multiplier items as well – and there you go!

“The real issue here – at least for you Jimmy – is that you have not yet tasted success.  You need to see some real progress in your game before you are going to start feeling like you are gaining something.

“So pick three paths under three different flags, ideally three different types of tank, and then start working them as described.”

And that was where the conversation ended.  He said he would, and as far as I know he did.  As to whether that made a difference?  He is still playing – and he no longer complains or says the game is stupid – so I would like to think it did.

Are you playing World of Tanks?  If the answer is no, then why not?  It really is a fun game.  Just saying.

A Good Forza Summer Day?

rocket69

This morning I ran into someone I know in Forza.  Wait, that came out wrong.  I was IN Forza and I ran into someone I know from real life – IN Forza.  Yeah, but I did not actually run into them really – I mean we did not trade paint is what I mean.

I was pretty surprised to see their Gamertag in an online race – well no not really surprised at seeing their G-Tag – I see their G-Tag all the time when I am racing because they are a mate o’mine – what I mean is I was surprised to see THEIR G-Tag during an online MP race because you see they were actually driving their car (rather than their Avatar driving their car).

You know the written word for casual communication is fraught with peril.  And easily misunderstood too.  A lot depends on how the reader reads the thing…

Today was a Good Forza Summer Day

It being Thursday, one of the things I do before starting work for the day is log into my Forza accounts to check messages and be sure that I have DL’d the week’s Hub Candy.  Always a good thing to do on a Thursday.

The window in my office is open – the one without the AC unit I mean – and a warm Summer breeze promising French wines and cheese wafted in and caressed my face as I swing through my garage in FH2 (I already did my checks for FM5 and FM6 and I even made a rapid pass through Forza F&F because I never remember to check that last.  Still…

In my garages there are a lot of “favorite” cars – and I am sure that among my faves are cars that would make your fave list.  But I bet there are some that you never even heard of let alone have driven IRL?

Right now I am warming up my 1966 Ford Lotus Cortina – I love that car – Love it!  After I take a quick “Love You Miss You” ride in the Cortina I will fire up the straight-six in my fire engine red 1956 Ford F-100 ute and take her for a spin, feeling a lot like I imagine how my grandfather felt when he was behind the wheel of the fire engine red 1956 Ford F-100 Ute he owns.

Of course his F-100 is sun-faded with dings, dents, and scratches of the sort you are bound to get when your ute is in service to your dairy farm.  My F-100 is shiny and new-looking and still has all four hub caps.  Just saying.

It’s not just that it is this time of year.  That time of year where the tourist season has sort of officially started but the Tourists are not quite saturating my world so that we don’t have to wait until the middle of the night or very early in the AM in order to go to the grocers.

Oh, that day is coming soon, I know that.  But for now – for the next week or so anyway – the streets are not blocked by tourists who think nothing of simply stopping in the middle of the street to check their map or GPS display because why?

Because they are on vaycay so why not?!

Sure they would never do that in their own home town because people got ta get to work and stuff – but on Cape Cod that would be okay, right?  No one has to get to work here, right?

Other People’s Stuff

Have you ever heard George Carlin do that routine?  Yes?  No?  Well I embedded it below just in case you know, you want to take a moment to listen to it?

I am totally convinced that there are parallels between that routine and how tourists treat us Cape Codders – and the Cape itself.  Really!

My Stuff in my garages is important Stuff.  There is Stuff, then there is Stuff I like, and finally there is Stuff I Love.  I won’t bore you with the previous two but that last one? Yeah there is NOTHING better than showing you the Stuff I Love to make it feel like maybe it is stuff you might love too!

Here’s a very brief list of the Stuff I Love that I keep in my garages – from JDM to Off-roaders to my Street Machines and Track Beauties:

  • 1956 Ford F-100 (FH2 & FM6 / D-285)
  • 1961 Jaguar E-type S1 (FM6 / D-304)
  • 1966 Ford Lotus Cortina (FH2 & FM6 / D-339)
  • 1968 Dodge Dart HEMI Super Stock (FM6 / D-392)
  • 1969 Nissan Fairlady Z 432 (FM6 / E-270)
  • 1970 Volkswagen #1107 Desert Dingo Racing Stock Bug (FH2 / D-372)
  • 1970 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 (FM6 / D-374)
  • 1971 Plymouth GTX 426 HEMI (FH2 / C-579)
  • 1973 Holden HQ Monaro GTS 350 (FM6 / D-309)
  • 1977 Holden Torana A9X (FM6 / E-298)
  • 1980 Subaru BRAT DL Ute (FH2 / D-189)
  • 1988 Holden VL Commodore Group A SV (FM6 / D-371)
  • 1995 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 (FM6 / B-560)
  • 1998 Toyota Supra Fast & Furious Edition (FH2 / S1-900)
  • 2011 HSV GTS (FM6 / C-491)
  • 2069 Chryslus Rocket 69 (FM6 / S-758)

Yes I admit it is a mixed bag when it comes to style and surface but it is a very nice and well thought out mixed bag to be sure.

And that’s it for me today – gotta get back to work!

Cheers mates!  Share your mixed bag why don’tcha?

Bad News and Good News

blod1

This morning was a network and systems service day – that is to say that it was one of the odd days that crop up around four or five times a year when something is happening that either requires that one or more of the components of our network needs to be serviced or adjusted, or we are preparing to add a new device. This time around it was a combination of those two.

The first issue that was being addressed was an increase to the backbone for our network that was made necessary by complaints from the peanut gallery about the network speed when more than two users on the network are watching video via one of the video streaming services that we use.

Five years ago, when we realized just how little we actually utilized our Cable TV connection for the purposes of entertainment – and after a brief examination of the matter we also realized that more than 75% of the combined viewing in our house was via the streaming services of Netflix and Hulu!

One result of this was our cutting the Cable cord literally speaking – which saved us around $100 a month. Another result was the sudden and overpowering need to upgrade our physical network (only an idiot would try to stream TV via a wireless connection after all) which at the time was an ancient pair of 100bT 3Com partially-managed Ethernet Switches.

The way that our network is structured – due to it having two very distinct “zones” is simple: In the basement room that we have called the NOC (Network Operations Center) since the day we bought the place (it also doubles as my business office and library) there is a pair of system racks – a Standard black 19” Commercial Systems and Server Rack bolted to the floor along one wall, and a standard 19” Post-Style Relay Rack that is also bolted to the floor along the wall.

The former houses the various servers without which our network would be useless – including a very robust (and noisy) Dell PowerEdge Model 2950 II Server that also functions as a Virtual Server and provides the virtual presence of a variety of servers,from Primary DNS, Email, and a Wiki Server as well as a Log Server for the entire network.

It contains other servers as well – our Media Server on which music, movies, and TV show recordings are stored and a file server on which photos and files are stored. There is a dedicated backup server and a test-bed that I use for writing web applets and apps too.

The latter contains the network hardware – the Ethernet Switch, Firewall device, Router, and the DSL2 Modem that connects us to the world primarily.

At the other end is the upstairs office that contains my working hardware that I use as a writer – the bulk of which consists of video game consoles housed in a rather nice Ikea TV and Entertainment Center, while the computer bits reside in a standard black 19” Commercial Systems and Server Rack that is tucked away in the corner.

The two zones were connected by a single “backbone” Cat5e Ethernet Cable that theoretically provided all the speed we needed, right? Well no, not so much really. Because even though the switch could maintain 100MB connections between any systems that were on the switch at that end, those systems had to share a single 100MB connection to the other switch – which if you were at the wrong end of that zoned backbone happened to be our Internet Connection and you probably get the picture.

So these complaints about network speed had to be answered – and so the old 100bT backbone and switched were removed from the network completely, being replaced by a matched set of GS724T Netgear Gigabyte Ethernet Switches.

gs724t.jpg

Those two switches were connected via a pair of Cat6 Ethernet Cables that were then joined as a “Trunk” to create a 2GB Backbone. And that worked great for quite a while and at least until in addition to using the network for TV viewing via streaming services, my daughter was bitten by the MMORPG bug, and THAT was when speed complaints cropped up again – and why this service say appeared on my schedule in April of 2016.

The solution was simple – add a third cable between the two switches right beside the original pair, connect them and then add the third port to the Trunk, effectively giving us a 3GB backbone connection. And that did the trick!

I decided that a test was in order so, what with my PS4 having not been used in something like six months due to all of the review copies I had been getting arriving on either Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360, turning on the PS4 so it could patch and update made a lot of sense. Sigh.

The Blue Line of Death – or “BLOD”

The practically unused almost new but now out-of-warranty PlayStation 4 was fired up, and the following happened:

  • Its power indicator pulsing blue.
  • No video/audio output happened.
  • The PS4 then powered off after the annoying pulsing blue light pulsed a bit.

Consulting Google I learned that this was a general fault code; it would be nearly impossible to pinpoint exactly what had gone wrong.

A quick log-in to Sony revealed that my PS4 was now 2 months out of warranty — that is to say the date had come and gone two months past at which I could have requested and received an RMA and gotten it fixed on Sony’s dime.

The price they quoted me – not including shipping – for the repair? $255 US.

That’s $255 US for a console I can purchase brand new for around $380 – so what to do? Pay for the repairs to my old console, or buy a brand new console for $125 more? The new console would have a longer warranty – and if I went the new route I was not locked into the bog standard black PS4 either – I could get a white one, or a limited edition version – the sky was the limit!

The thing is I absolutely required a PS4 as one of my upcoming projects requires me to have a working PS4 – so either way I needed to act on this now so that I could have a fully functioning, patched and updated PS4 ready to go on the morning of 10 May, when that project kicked off.

Interestingly enough I had recently experienced a similar issue with my Xbox One – and had opted in that case to purchase the Forza 6 Limited Edition Console because (a) it was on sale at the time, and (b) I liked the way it looked. If I was going to replace a console I might as well – I told myself – get something kick-ass!

You know that little voice in the back of your head that is supposed to help you in making decisions and in not embarrassing yourself? Yeah well, mine is broken.

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Hello Limited Edition Star Wars Battlefront PlayStation4!

Oh and, while we are on the subject – when I logged into my Xbox One this morning and booted up Forza 6 to do a few laps I discovered that my custom Tunes and Livery Designs had both attained $50K in Community Use! Woot! So yeah, two Achievements worth 40g in total unlocked that I was so not expecting to happen! And how cool is that?

So far this week in terms of Achievements I am having a great week!

  • Forza 6 = 2 Achievements worth 40g
  • Hitman 2016 = 4 Achievements worth 40g
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division = 4 Achievements worth 30g

That’s a cool 110g in Achievementsville and how sweet is that?

Spring Cleaning

necroache

For most people spring represents a time of renewal. A period of the year that is suited to resolving outstanding issues, sorting out the old and unwanted. Making a new nest in which to, well, nest. They call it Spring Cleaning. Practically everyone does it.

It may well be a sign of renewal as the average person perceives themselves emerging from the winter grayness and perceives the bright light of sunshine, life-granting rain for the flowers they just know will suddenly burst out of the ground, and the promise of if not warm and pleasant days at the beach, at least a renewal of all of the things that seem to make life in the summer fun.

For gamers though, that does not quite describe their annual position as properly or accurately as you might think. You see for gamers – and especially serious gamers – spring is simply the marker for the approached END of the game season – not a renewal.

The renewal period – Gamer Spring if you will – doesn’t arrive until September, which is traditionally the start of the new gamer season which runs from September to May.

The months of June, July, and August are simply the fallow period between game seasons.

When Microsoft set out to create the new LIVE experience for the then new version of its games console – the Xbox One – a major element in that effort was to bring together in a more cohesive manner the basic presence of a set of resources that, arguably, Microsoft could claim to have pretty much invented.

I am, of course, writing about the Achievements System and how spectacularly it succeeded in creating a niche that – at the time of its conception – Microsoft had no idea it could fill.

Even Microsoft willingly admits that its Xbox LIVE Achievements system was created more accidentally than on purpose.

In fact it very nearly did not get created, as there were elements in the power structure of the planning committee who both didn’t grok the point of recognizing Achievements in games and, ironically, could not see how that sort of thing might appeal in any way to the gamers who were ostensibly the customer.

Hindsight being 20/20 it is easy to see now how the Xbox LIVE Achievements system and the manner in which it feeds into the whole rewards and recognition concept – and how it essentially provides to gamers on the Xbox platform a means by which their prowess and success – even their own notions of their value as a gamer – might be measured.

We’ve covered that part of the story quite well in the past – no need to go there now.

In fact the reason for bringing the subject up again is mostly due to an odd pattern that has emerged that has to do with a rather twisted version of spring cleaning.

The Achievement and the To Do List

Any gamer who has been even a little involved in online chat boards that service the gamer community has encountered the whole Achievement Hunter subculture in gaming.

These are gamers who quite literally believe that every “G” matters – a “G” being a Gamer Point.

It is entirely normal to find that members of that subculture display their accomplishments in terms of Gamer Score and Game Completion Status as a badge of honor. The signature line for their accounts on games chat boards and, for all we know, on their email client, carefully lists every game that they have managed to fully unlock the Achievements in.

They call it one-hundred-percenting and list the games under that heading. They often brag about the effort that went into acquiring that distinction – especially when it is for a game that had difficult Achievements – often nearly impossible to unlock unless a gamer is willing to literally train up their skills to do it.

To these gamers there are no Achievements that are simply not worth the effort. But that is not what this post is about.

game on

Left-Overs

This post is about the odd left-over Achievements that seem to linger in games that, by all rights, should have been unlocked ages ago.

These are not difficult to unlock Achievements mind you – they just never… Somehow… Ended up being unlocked.

If you examine the typical gamer’s Achievements you will find these – often a lot of them actually. I am just as guilty as most gamers in making lists of left-overs and devoting at least some time to completing them too.

Just the other day I found myself reviewing the whole left-overs situation for my own Achievements List on Xbox One, and without even actively seeking to, formed a plan to address the left-overs and get them out of the way and unlocked in less than 20 minutes a day! And yes, I do worry that I suffer from some form of OCD.

Before I knew it, I had assessed the situation and created my list of left-overs to be consumed – of which the sampling below is just that – a sample:

  • Angry Birds Star Wars – Block Buster (15g) Smash 25 blocks with a single flight of Boba.
  • Angry Birds Star Wars – Probe Gatherer (15g) Find five Droid Levels.
  • Assassins Creed IV – Devil of the Caribbean (40g) Defeat all 4 Legendary Ships.
  • Assassins Creed IV – Sharing is Caring (10g) Share each type of discovery with friends once.
  • Dead Island – Death Incarnate (50g) Survive Wage 30.
  • Dead Island – There and back again (30g) Explore the entire island.
  • Fallout 4 – Benevolent Leader – 20g) Reach Max Happiness in a Large Settlement.
  • Fallout 4 – Docile (15g) Have 5 Tamed Creatures in a Settlement.
  • Far Cry Primal – Gotcha (10g) Eliminate 10 enemies using hunting traps.
  • Far Cry Primal – Inflammable (10g) Eliminate 50 enemies with fire.
  • Forza 5 – P1 vs Nordschleife (20g) Finish P1 vs Nordschleife Rivals event w. lap time of 7:15.
  • Forza 5 – Sidewinder (20g) Earn 20 Perfect Drift Scores.
  • Forza 6 – Cashing In (20g) Earn 50K cr from the community using your Design.
  • Forza 6 – Making a Name (20g) Earn 50K cr from the community using your Tune.
  • Forza Horizon – Covered in Mud and Glory (20g) Win a Horizon Rally.
  • Forza Horizon – Stuntman (25g) Complete every Horizon Outpost PR Stunt.
  • Forza Horizon 2 – Horizon Enthusiast (25g) Complete 100 Championships.
  • Forza Horizon 2 – Well Traveled (30g) Complete 25 Online Road Trips.
  • Halo 5 – Gravelord (40g) Find and claim all Skulls.
  • Halo 5 – Warlord (20g) Win a match on all three original Warzone maps.
  • Halo MCC – Big Time Gamer (10g) Complete 400 missions or multiplayer games.
  • Halo MCC – Oh, These Baubles? (10g) Collect 6,000 campaign or playlist medals.
  • Halo Spartan Assault – Immune (100g) Finish co-op mission without becoming infected.
  • Halo Spartan Assault – Powered by MJOLNIR (20g) Use every ability in campaign at least once.
  • Just Cause 3 – Forgive me Father (10g) Take sanctuary in a monastery to clear Heat Level 5.
  • Just Cause 3 – Look at the Sly Fox (35g) Use barrel role to evade 10 missiles.
  • Mad Max – Maximum Air (10g) Be airborne in a vehicle for 4s and land w/o dying.
  • Mad Max – Up, Up and Away (10g) Fly the balloon at every Vantage Outpost.
  • Mafia II – Explorer (10g) Drive a total of 1000 miles in Jimmy’s Vendetta.
  • Mafia II – Massacre (20g) Kill 1000 enemies in Jimmy’s Vendetta.
  • Microsoft Bingo – Everyday Explorer (50g) Reach Level 30.
  • Microsoft Bingo – Mementos (40g) Complete three different collections.
  • Microsoft Solitaire – Blizzard of Bliss (30g) Win 100 Klondike Games.
  • Microsoft Solitaire – Web Surfing (30g) Win 100 Spider Games.
  • Minecraft – Overkill (30g) Deal nine hearts damage in a single hit.
  • Minecraft – Tie Dye Outfit (15g) Dye all 4 pieces of Leather Armor.
  • Sniper Elite 3 – Sniping with Friends (40g) Complete the campaign in co-op.
  • Sniper Elite 3 – The Everyman (20g) Complete all the challenge missions.
  • Thief – Legend in Leather (75g) Complete 25 optional Thieving Objectives.
  • Thief – Sleight of Hand (20g) Pick 100 Pockets in a single playthrough.

Now consider this – if you were a gamer who was very invested in your Gamer Score the sample above – which represents about a fifth of the left-overs I found in reviewing my Achievements – actually totals more than a FULL game!

The standard AAA title on the Xbox platform is required to have 1000g while games that are classified as “Arcade” titles only have to have 250g (I think – it used to be 200g). When I added up the g for the above I obtained a total of 1,040g.

Just to offer up a more complete set of stats I took a look at my games and Achievements list and discovered that I have played a total of 371 unique games over the course of my history on the Xbox platform beginning with the Xbox 360 (prior to that I was a fan of the PS2).

A quick check and I was surprised to learn that those 371 games have a total of 376,225g of which I had only unlocked 165,905 – less than half. Ouch. Of course that means I have plenty of opportunity in just the games on my list now, right? Right!

When I added up the rest of the list that I did not share above, it actually comes to 6,735g – which is more than 6 full games in basically, well, left-overs. But obviously based on the total sin the above paragraph there is more – way more – than 6 or 7 games worth of left-overs. Just saying.

What are your totals?

McDonalds Monopoly the Game

monopoly-game-boards

If you are into gambling the various state lotteries might just barely be considered a game if, when we say “game” we mean giving the state money for a ludicrous chance at winning a few bucks, then yeah, game.

Of course your ability to participate in state-sanctioned games of chance sort depends on where you happen to call home. Just for fits and shiggles before we get to the McDonalds portion of this post on games of chance, here ye must live if ye be wantin’ to partake of the Lotto!

So, for state-run Lottery we have 44 states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan,, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Then there are three other not-states that ALSO have lotteries, those being the District of Columbia, and two US Territories: Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

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Untitled

Check it out – the last two lines on this game piece are a Second Chance Code and the URL you need to go to to redeem it – and this may be found on pretty much all of the game pieces.  Hitting that URL up and entering each code gives you a chance at the Second Chance Prizes – a whopping $50K drawing chance!

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The states (and territories) listed above have Lotto programs as well as scratch lottery games, but that is not the ONLY such offerings, as in addition to the individual state-run money printing machines known as Lottery there are ALSO some multi-state super-lotteries as well. Those are:

(1) The 2by2 Lottery – Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota.

(2) All or Nothing – Iowa and Minnesota.

(3) Cash4Life – Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia.

(4) Hot Lotto – Delaware, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia.

(5) Lucky for Life – Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and, new to this Super-Duper Lottery in 2016 are Colorado, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

(6) MegaHits Video Slots Lotto – Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

(7) Tri-State Lottery (Megabucks Plus, Pick 3 Day & Night, Pick 4 Day & Night, snd the Fast Play) – Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.


State-lotteries

A spiffy map covering the evolution of the lotto state-by-state courtesy of tuition.io


Now wait, you might have been thinking we are done, but no, there is still more! The following states, in addition to their standard and combined lottery programs, ALSO offer Networked Video Keno Games: Arizona, California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Tennessee.

Then there are the states with legal casinos with casino games like Poker, Blackjack, and Slots: Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington, and West Virginia, and of course the US Territories of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

Then there are the legal race track gambling states (either horse, harness, or dog or a combination of them) which are: Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming, as well as the Territories of Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

But hey there! We are STILL not done!

You see in addition to all of the LEGAL state-supervised gambling listed above, some of the First Nation (Native American) tribes in the following states ALSO have legal casino gambling on their Reservation Lands.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming but no Districts or Territories this time. Just saying.

So you might be thinking that the massive lists above would wrap up legal gambling in the good old USA right? Ah, but not so fast. You see in addition to the above legal gambling a much wider and more diverse casino, card, and other sort of gambling takes place in all but Hawaii, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah – and that is CHARITABLE gambling.

That last generally takes the form of specially-licensed “casino” nights for churches, and religions and NGO charities.


scratchgroup

These examples of scratch-off lottery tickets happen to be among the more controversial of lottery offerings – having been widely criticized for feeding into the addiction disability for the OCD sufferers of the planet, and ruining the life of countless families due to what has been said to be a gambling format that is simply too accessible.


Then there are the four states with legal Sports Betting (what is called Book Making) which are Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon.

So to sum up the stats for LEGAL gambling in the USA by state, district, and territories, they are:

  • Commercial Casinos = 18 States / 3 Territories
  • Charitable Gambling = 46 States / 1 District / 5 Territories
  • Horse/Dog Racing = 25 States / 2 Territories
  • KENO = 7 States
  • Multi-State Lotteries = 33 States / 1 District
  • Native American Casinos = 30 States
  • Sports Betting / Book Making = 4 States
  • State-Run Lotteries = 44 States / 1 District / 2 Territories

Okay thanks for sitting through this lengthy list of legal gambling states and territories along with the associated stats. Why’d we do all that? Check this out: the McDonalds Monopoly Game? Yeah, it is legal in – well – everywhere! Want to know why?

McDonald’s Monopoly would be illegal in almost every state in the USA (and in a lot of other countries for that matter) without its interesting “no purchase necessary” clause.

Via its Facebook and Twitter accounts McDonalds alos offers second-chance well, chances. You see there are codes on all of the game pieces except the instant cash ones that you can enter into the online website for the game for a second chance to win a prize online at http://www.PlayatMcD.com — the prize being a chance to win one of five $50,000 cash prizes.

To win the instant cash you have to have the physical pieces. Which means you have to go buy some food at McDonalds… Or do you? Well as it turns out, no… No you do not!

You can get McDonald’s Monopoly game pieces without purchase (and without calories) by mail. The official McDonald’s Monopoly rules state that you can obtain free game pieces by sending a SASE to:

2016 MONEY MONOPOLY Game at McDonald’s
Game Piece Request
P.O. Box 49248
Strongsville, OH 44149-0248

Using this method will cost you two stamps, and two envelopes for each two game pieces you obtain via the mail method. Of course if you just want to get your game pieces the old fashion way – on food – here are some tips on how to do that as cheap as possible – listed by food item, the number of game pieces that should come on that food item, and the Cost Per Piece (or cpp rounded up) breakdown:

  • 10-Piece Chicken McNuggets (x2 game pieces) $4.49 ($2.25 cpp)
  • 20-Piece Chicken McNuggets (x4 game pieces) $5.00 ($1.25 cpp)
  • Big Mac Sandwich (x2 game pieces) $3.99 ($2.00 cpp)
  • Biscuit Brekkie Sandwich (x2 game pieces) $1.39 (.70 cpp)
  • Egg McMuffin Sandwich (x2 game pieces) $2.79 ($1.40 cpp)
  • Egg White Delight McMuffin (x2 game pieces) $2.69 ($1.35 cpp)
  • Filet-O-Fish Sandwich (x2 game pieces) $3.79 ($1.90 cpp)
  • Hash Browns (x2 game pieces) $1.09 (.55 cpp)
  • Large French Fries (x4 game pieces) $1.89 (.47 cpp)
  • Large (22 oz.) Cold McCafe Drinks (x2 Pieces) $3.39 (1.70 cpp)
  • Medium Fountain Drink (x2 game pieces) $1.29 (.65 cpp)
  • Medium (16 oz.) Cold McCafe Drinks (x2 Pieces) $2.89 ($1.45 cpp)
  • Oatmeal (x2 game pieces) $1.99 ($1.00 cpp)
  • Premium McWrap (x4 Pieces) $3.99 ($1.00 cpp)
  • Sausage McMuffin with Egg* (x2 Pieces) $2.79 ($1.40 cpp)

* Excludes the Sausage McMuffin without Egg version

When we do the math, if you are buying the food to get the pieces then it would be the Large French Fries (x4 game pieces) $1.89 (.47 cpp). So there you have it – the cost of playing McDonald’s Monopoly Game! Now on to the very interesting part – what pieces win, and what you can win!

The Winning Pieces

The following are the winning pieces along with the prize that they are worth – and the odds of getting the rare piece sorted by value of prize:

  • Mediterranean Avenue (#601) $50 Prize (Brown Set) odds are 1 in 578,543
  • Short Line RR (#626) $500 Prize (Railroad Set) Odds are 1 in 2,567,950
  • Vermont Avenue (#604) $1,000 Prize (Light Blue Set) Odds are 1 in 51,359,172.
  • Virginia Avenue (#608) $2,000 Prize (Magenta Set) Odds are 1 in 51,359,172.
  • Tennessee Avenue (#610) $5,000 Prize (Orange Set) Odds are 1 in 102,718,344.
  • Kentucky Avenue (#612) $10,000 Prize (Red Set) Odds are 1 in 102,718,344.
  • Ventnor Avenue (#616) $25,000 Prize (Yellow Set) Odds are 1 in 102,718,344.
  • Pennsylvania Avenue (#620) $50,000 Prize (Green Set) Odds are 1 in 102,718,344.
  • Boardwalk (#622) $1,000,000 Prize (Dark Blue Set) Odds are 1 in 513,591,720.

mcdgamepieces

So why is the 2016 McDonalds Monopoly Game grouped together with state lottery and casino gambling you might very well ask?  Actually the reason is far simpler than it may at first appear: The Odds.  If you look at the odds of winning the top prizes for this game, it turns out you actually may be better off going to the Casinos than playing Monopoly at least with respect to your chances of winning…  But don’t let that stop you – if you don’t play, how can you win?


What are the Prizes?

There are many but the most common will be the Instant Food Prizes – not the cash. Sigh. Here for your edification and excitement are the prizes that we know about:

Instant Win Food Prizes (The odds of winning a food prize are around 1 in 3.9)

  • Frappe or Smoothie
  • McFlurry
  • McGriddles
  • Medium Fries
  • Premium Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich
  • Quarter Pounder with Cheese

Instant Win Cash Prizes (Odds of winning around 1 in 45,000)

  • $25
  • $50

Collect and Win Prizes (Odds vary by prize amount see list above)

  • $50 Brown Set
  • $500 Railroad Set
  • $1,000 Light Blue Set
  • $2,000 Magenta Set
  • $5,000 Orange Set
  • $10,000 Red Set
  • $25,000 Yellow Set
  • $50,000 Green Set
  • $1,000,000 Dark Blue Set

Well there you go – and hey – this IS a game you know – so it totally deserves coverage here, where we cover games. That said, we think you should think twice about going on that all Large French Fry all the time diet. Heh.

Need for Speed (2015) – Getting Personal

nfs2015-0

Prologue

The Video Games landscape over the course of just the past five years has changed immensely, and not just due to the introduction of two new core platforms (Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One) but also as a result of a move towards altering its basic focus.

That sort of evolution is not strange to this subculture and the people who make up its citizens.  If you are surprised by my use of words like “citizens” and “subculture” perhaps you are not as deeply invested into the social side of gaming as you think.  Because in most respects the VG Community as a whole and the many specialized groups that essentially make up its defined subcultures are every bit a culture-based society of its own within the greater entity that we think of as human society.

That was not always true.

When the first Video Games War happened in the mid 1980s as the value and the quality of the games that were being created and sold was called into question by its own community, the idea that a cultural identity might be formed from something like a Video Game community was certainly not what might be said as a normal evolution.

In Japan they have this expression - the nail that sticks up gets pounded down.  What it means is that choosing to conform is often the best way to survive and even advance.

In Japan they have this expression – the nail that sticks up gets pounded down. What it means is that choosing to conform is often the best way to survive and even advance.

But as other media-based movements began to morph into their own basic cultural and social identities, the cataclysm that resulted from what we now consider to be the first Video Games War of the 20th Century ended up creating the sort of circumstances that naturally opened the door for just that sort of development.

To be blunt, gamers were angry over the process of creating what amounts to Shovel-Ware as cheap and fundamentally broken games were foisted off upon the game consumer community using tactics like misleading advertisements and worse, outright lies that were planted as reviews and/or social commentary at the time that totally misrepresented the substance of what the games were…  All of that had a decidedly hostile consequence with the community eventually turning against the bulk of the studios who were responsible for creating those circumstances.

Taking a look back, what we now know today thanks to the benefits of hindsight is that the publishers rather than the development studios were largely responsible for the decisions to push broken or shoddily made games onto the gaming public – publishers whose interest was solely and narrowly focused upon boosting the black ink contained in the bottom line in order to appease their shareholders.

When you add into that unfortunate reality the very obvious disconnect that existed between the publishers of the games and the studios that crafted them – and then factor in an even larger disconnect between both the development studios and the publishers with their collective relations to the Gamer Community, it gets a lot easier to understand both how it happened and why it resulted in the scorched-earth war.

In the plainest terms, the one side had no clue what the other wanted from their games, and in fact it can be pretty clearly pointed out now that the nearly violent reaction – the First VG War – was absolutely necessary because it was that level of reaction that was required to make the developers fully aware of just how badly they were disappointing their customer base.

Conformity is why there are plenty of supercars and expensive sports cars in the game.  That is expected and, in many cases, spending the time, effort, and the money to obtain this sort of conformity is also expected - if you only wish to appear to be a racer.   The genuine article however tends to choose their rails carefully, picking the best tool for the job - and rarely is that best tool a 911 - more often than not the best tool is a more common one - like setting up a Volvo as a Drift Specialist Car.

Conformity is why there are plenty of supercars and expensive sports cars in the game. That is expected and, in many cases, spending the time, effort, and the money to obtain this sort of conformity is also expected – if you only wish to appear to be a racer. The genuine article however tends to choose their rails carefully, picking the best tool for the job – and rarely is that best tool a 911 – more often than not the best tool is a more common one – like setting up a Volvo as a Drift Specialist Car.

That this conflict resulted in the majority of those development studios being forced out of business alone illustrates how serious the disconnect was, and why it needed to be fixed.

Put another way, the game development studios, taking their leads from the game publishers, were pumping out what amounts to the home-console equivalent to the type of games that were popular in the arcades and bars – the games that were being installed in coin-operated video game arcade machines basically.

The problem with that was, by the mid-1980s the gaming community had matured beyond that sort of focus, and was no longer interested in what was basically a recreation of arcade games for home play.

If a gamer wanted to play an arcade-style game, they would seek those games out in their favorite watering holes or video game arcades – and they DID on a regular basis.

But thanks to some ground-breaking RPG and Action-Adventure games that were created and released through the mid-80s that same gamer community now understood and – what is more – appreciated – what their home gaming consoles could REALLY offer.

So the idea of basically being offered recycled arcade genre drivel on a routine basis not only made them angry, it made the community feel (rightly as it turned out) that they were both being taken for granted and being told what to like.

Taking the job into consideration, if we were choosing the tool we would use for targeting just the Drift Events in the game, that tool would not be a supercar, or sports car, it would be something like this Mustang.  Large, heavy, box-shaped, but fully adaptable.  A car whose basic construction lends itself to solving the problem we wish to solve so that we do not have to completely re-invent the wheel to make that happen.  Just saying...

Taking the job into consideration, if we were choosing the tool we would use for targeting just the Drift Events in the game, that tool would not be a supercar, or sports car, it would be something like this Mustang. Large, heavy, box-shaped, but fully adaptable. A car whose basic construction lends itself to solving the problem we wish to solve so that we do not have to completely re-invent the wheel to make that happen. Just saying…

It got so bad in the end – before the war settled all of that – that a typical video game release had to make ALL of its profits from sales in the first 72 hours following release to the streets, because that was about how long it took for world-of-mouth to basically out a crappy game and kill its sales.

Logically the only possible solution to this situation – and the proper one as it turned out – was to stop making crap games and start to really put in the effort to both seek out what the community wanted, and then deliver that.

So in the end around 80% of the development studios that existed prior to the First VG War were forced out of business not by consumers choosing to boycott them (though they did do that) but rather as the direct result of their inability to change their business models to match the new economic imperative that had developed.

That is to say they did not have the capability to actually innovate – to create new games utilizing a previously established pattern that offered the consumer a larger ratio of entertainment versus cost.  Man that sounds so unlikely, but it was true.  The development studios were so used to picking a handful of elements from a list and then putting together a game whose sole creative elements came down to the colors that were chosen for the palate and whether or not some objects in a game blinked that they found themselves in a rut that offered no exits.

What was true then – and remains true – is that a good idea did not necessarily equate to a good game.  So when a developer managed to create a good game – which meant a commercially viable and successful titles that the consumers of that product actually liked – the decision to begin cranking out sequels really was not a decision at all – it was called a business model!

Now granted, when a sequel was rushed to the market the chances were that it was going to be lower in quality and entertainment than the original, but sometimes that was not true.  The Donkey Kong series is a great example of that – though to be fair Rare and Nintendo did not rush games to market as a general rule – sequel or not.

Still you get the idea – the quality and value of games went up, gamers were happy, and the game culture began to solidify into multiple sub-types based on things like platform and genre.

Practical very rarely equates to the use of words like "sexy" or "intimidating" but then, when you are building a drift car, or a sprinter, what you really want are words like "tight" and "fluid" and "efficient" because in the end the point is not to look good while you race, the point is to transfer energy as rapidly and efficiently as possible between your engine and those big, fat, sticky contact patches that attach your rail to the road.

“Practical” very rarely equates to the use of words like “sexy” or “intimidating” but then, when you are building a drift car, or a sprinter, what you really want are words like “tight” and “fluid” and “efficient” because in the end the point is not to look good while you race, the point is to transfer energy as rapidly and efficiently as possible between your engine and those big, fat, sticky contact patches that attach your rail to the road.

It was all good – some really great gamer series were the result, and from the late 1980s onward there was something of a gaming renaissance in play.

When The Need for Speed arrived on the scene it contained a collection of ideas that really resonated with the gamers of the time, and naturally the wizards behind the game saw great potential for it, as a game series.

For a long time – nearly a decade – the games that were being produced really worked well – they followed the basic pattern that the original had established, and they offered a predictable and quality game play and entertainment experience.

At some point though, as the original wizards were replaced by new and younger ones, the path that they had been following became confused.  Their direction was off, and eventually it got really off.  The format or formula, call it what you will, basically became a muddled idea that anything that involved racing cars was basically okay.  Sort of like what we imagine the situation was when the wizards behind Battlefield came up with Battlefield Hardline.  Just saying…

So when the decision was eventually made that it was time for the Need for Speed series to return to its roots, that involved far more than simply the creation of a great game following the original path.  It involved first seeing if it was even possible to convince the players that the wizards had the ability to do that!

So that is where they were when they sat down to chart out the path to bring Need for Speed (2015) to market.

The wide variety of models in 2015 allows for economical approaches to tings like setting up a bespoke car.  Using models like the 1975 Vovlo 242 and 1965 Ford Mustang for dedicated drifters, the 1986 Toyota Sprinter GT APEX and 1996 Nissan 180sx Type X for medium range sprinting, and the 1971 Nissan Fairlady 240ZG or 2014 Didge Challenger SRT8 for longer range Circuit Racing.  Sure you can buy more expensive models, but these hit the mark on a budget!

The wide variety of models in 2015 allows for economical approaches to tings like setting up a bespoke car. Using models like the 1975 Vovlo 242 and 1965 Ford Mustang for dedicated drifters, the 1986 Toyota Sprinter GT APEX and 1996 Nissan 180sx Type X for medium range sprinting, and the 1971 Nissan Fairlady 240ZG or 2014 Dodge Challenger SRT8 for longer range Circuit Racing. Sure you can buy more expensive models, but these hit the mark on a budget!

Need for Speed (2015)

By the time that the game released in November of 2015 the hype that had been generated around it, and the very dedicated and genuine efforts of the PRs who were behind promoting it, had succeeded in the most important parts of what it was they had been hired to accomplish.

They had, in essence, managed to communicate to the gaming public that this new game was both a reboot of the original game series, and that it would offer players the sort and caliber of game play that they not only missed but had come to expect from the series – and so found each of the last half-dozen games in the series to be disappointments because of those expectations.

That is simply amazing.  And not just because it seems reasonable that the wizards behind the games had to pretty much KNOW that was happening, but rather amazing because even though they KNEW that reaction was likely as they crafted and released game after game that failed to include the basic premise that the gamer community expected – but they CONTINUED to create those diverted games anyway!

Think about that for a moment will you?  They managed to so broadly alter the very basic identity of the game series so badly that by the time they got around to working on a series reboot, they had to PAY their Public Relations reps to explain to the gaming public that this new game was NOT going to disappoint them!  Mind blowing.  Simply mind blowing.

The typical mid-80s hot hatch never really looked boss or anything, but they were wicked fun to drive and hey, they got the job done.  Fast.  From a standing start.  A lot.

The typical mid-80s hot hatch never really looked boss or anything, but they were wicked fun to drive and hey, they got the job done. Fast. From a standing start. A lot.

Here There Be Dragons

When the game arrived – and for us that came in the form of a Digital Key that we needed to enter into our Xbox One to unlock a license for the game and then download it from the LIVE service – we were pretty pumped up because the PRs had managed to successfully communicate to us that this new reboot title would not simply revert the game series back to the style and substance we had come to associate with it, but would in effect give us a game play experience that was if not identical to that of the game that first established the series, was at least similar enough so as to make the difference inconsequential.

So by the time the game fully downloaded and patched, we were good and damn ready to be pleased.  Know what?  The game actually delivers on that promise and, even more important, despite being handicapped by the inclusion of a large amount of more recent game play mechanisms, also delivers a level of play, entertainment, and excitement that almost made the last five years of drivel worth it!

Easing our way into NFS 2015 was a complicated and rather slow process, largely because the expectations of disappointment kept getting in the way.

Once we managed to convince the little voices in our head that this was, in fact, NOT going to be the morphed interpretation of a combination of Hot Pursuit, Unleashed, and Wanted, we were able to start judging the game on its own merits, and folks, it has a lot to say for itself.

Making it Our Own?

One of the points to the evolution of the video game as entertainment that really stands out is how well it integrates its own story and game play mech while meeting certain personal expectations that are near-universal among the gaming community.

What I mean by that is actually pretty simple – this is a street-racing game within which the primary components are the streets, and the cars.

That being the case – and admittedly we had hopes – the ultimate expression of success in this case would be the ability for the player to not only find in the catalog of cars in the game one of their favorite models, but also have the ability to customize it.  And all that?  It is here.

Often times when writing a post like this it helps to present an example – so as to make it clear that those warm and fuzzy feelings of satisfaction are in fact based upon some real experience rather than, you know, a hypothetical one?

She was not sexy - look at that rear why don't you?  That said, and maybe she does have a flat butt, even so the '86 Trueno could fly like a scalded dog!

She was not sexy – look at that rear why don’t you? That said, and maybe she does have a flat butt, even so the ’86 Trueno could fly like a scalded dog!

1986 Toyota Sprinter GT APEX

In the 1980s there were a lot of cars that certainly qualified as performance examples – and just like any era you might care to designate, there were cars that ended up being slightly or greatly more popular than others.

In 1980s Australia (which is where I was and grew up) the go-fast choo-choo cars of the era that you often read about in race magazines about the street racing scene in Cali were mostly restricted to a small list of really expensive rails that nobody actually had in Oz.  Corvettes, Camaros, Porches, and the like, which hey, we would have LOVED to have but reality bites.

No, what you found in Oz – and I suspect that this was also true about America, the UK, and Europe – was a more reserved list of cars – mostly the sort that doubled as your daily transportation when you were not taking them out on the weekend to race them.

What am I talking about?  Well, this list is pretty representative of what you often found at the time on the street, actually racing:

  • Alfa Romeo Alfasud
  • Audi 5000CS Turbo Quattro
  • BMW M3 E30
  • BMW M5 E28
  • Ford Falcon XP
  • Holden VL Calais Director
  • Honda Civic Si
  • Honda CRX HF
  • Honda Prelude
  • Lancia Delta Integrale
  • Lancia Delta S4 Stradale
  • Mazda RX7
  • Mini Cooper
  • Nissan 240SX
  • Nissan Z31 300ZX Fairlady
  • Peugeot 205 GTi
  • Saab 900 Turbo
  • Subaru GL-10 Turbo
  • Subaru GL Brat
  • Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno
  • Toyota W10 MR2
  • Volkswagen Golf Mk1 GTI

From that list there was a handful of cars I truly liked.  In fact one car in particular I both liked but could never quite manage to afford – and that was the 1986 Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno.  Yeah, compared to some of the cars that came later it was really more of a bare-bones racer than the jewel in the crown, but the heart wants what the heart wants.  And my heart wanted a Trueno!

With a base sticker price of $65,200 the '15 Ford Mustang GT is not exactly what we would call a mid-priced sports car and certainly she is not an entry-level model, but  her stock-standard 5.0L Ti-VCT V8 automatically qualifies her as a certified production-class   Muscle Car.  If you choose to bypass the dealer options and order her from the factory with the optional 5.2L V8 via the Shelby Conversion package you get 526 hp with 429 lb.-ft. of torque straight from the production line.  Sweet right?

With a base sticker price of $65,200 the ’15 Ford Mustang GT is not exactly what we would call a mid-priced sports car and certainly she is not an entry-level model, but her stock-standard 5.0L Ti-VCT V8 automatically qualifies her as a certified production-class
Muscle Car.  If you choose to bypass the dealer options and order her from the factory with the optional 5.2L V8 via the Shelby Conversion package you get 526 hp with 429 lb.-ft. of torque straight from the production line. Sweet right?

So you can imagine how stoked I was to discover that exact car among the catalog of cars available in the game.

From the get go I started out with a 2014 Subaru BRZ Premium – as that was the starter car I liked best from the three that I had to choose from.  Using that car I began doing races to get the bank I would need not only to buy me a Trueno, but then to afford to upgrade it.

I have reached that point in my game play.  I am happy – thrilled!  Tickled!  Very pleased?  To tell you that I now proudly race the following go-fast choo-choo Trueno:

1986 Toyota Sprinter GT APEX

Its performance specs are:

  • 0-60 mph (s) — 4.53s
  • 0-100 mph (s) — 9.67s
  • 1/4 mile (s) / (mph) — 12.70s @ 119
  • Top Speed (mph) — 166
  • Horsepower (hp) — 353
  • Max Torque (ft-lb) — 255

Bearing in mind that I am only Level 13 at this point and so am quite limited as to the kit I can buy, its present very winning load-out in kit and upgrades consists of:

  • Air Filter: Short RAM Air Intake.
  • Cooling System: Intercooler w/h 26 x 6.
  • Intake Manifold: Aftermarket Edition.
  • Fuel System: High Performance Fuel Injectors.
  • Forced Induction: Turbocharger EliteTune-TC2-B-PRO.
  • Electric System: Aftermarket Wiring.
  • Ignition: Stock.
  • ECU: Sport ECU Flash.
  • Engine Block: Elite TUning Ported Block v.2.
  • CAM Shaft: Aftermarket Sport Plus Elite 4 243 int / 283 exh.
  • Cylinder Heads: Sport Plished.
  • Exhaust Manifold: Sport EL Manifold.
  • Exhaust: Sport Catted Race Exhaust.
  • Clutch: Sport Clutch w/0.4s gear change time.
  • Nitrous System: 5lb Capacity Time Refill.
  • Suspension: Semi-Adjustable Sport Suspension.
  • Differential: Semi-Adjustable Sport Differential.
  • Tires: E/T-G2-MID-GRP SpeedHunters.
  • Brakes: Semi-Adjustable Sport Brakes.
  • Handbrake: Semi-Adjustable Sport Handbrakes.
  • Sway Bars: Semi-Adjustable Sport Sway Bars.

That is way beyond just respectible mind you – heck in the 1980s if you had told me that I would be able to get 252 Horsepower in that configuration I would have been like ?!  As in what the heck could I possible need that much for?!  What else HAD that much?!

I still think that using the right tool for the right job is the way to go - so if you are setting up a bespoke drifter for tight and twisty mountain roads you could do a lot worse than this one.

I still think that using the right tool for the right job is the way to go – so if you are setting up a bespoke drifter for tight and twisty mountain roads you could do a lot worse than this one.

And the thing is I would totally have better specs for this ride if I was just ten levels higher in XP because why?  Because the really good kit is Level-Locked!

In My Other Life

In addition to being a freelance writer who works the business and tech beats, I also write extensively on the video games beat as both a game guide and walkthrough writer, industry news journalist, and video game reviewer – yeah I know, getting paid to play video games, cool right?

That said, I reviewed Need for Speed (2015) for the Cape Cod Times – if you would like to see what my impressions of the game were in the review arena, head on over and check out the review at the following online link:

The Game On Review of Need for Speed (2015)