So, What’s it All Mean, Chunx?
Unlike other polls, we make no claim to scientific accuracy of any kind. Heck, we’re not even scientists! One reader even likened the poll to nothing more than “mental masturbation.” I know that’s not true. Heck, we don’t even have time to…. ah, never mind. Regardless, even with an unscientific, auto-erotic poll such as this, some of the trends we see in the numbers are worth a thought and a few comments.
By and large the staff’s opinions matched up fairly well with the members, particularly in the technology, land combat, and the mainstay areas of simulations genre — aviation. That’s a good thing, and not entirely unexpected since we’re all simulation fans just like you. There were some noteworthy differences, however.
In aviation, Battle of Britain II: Wings of Victory was the staff’s runner up, narrowly nudging out Flaming Cliffs. In the reader’s poll, it was just the opposite.
BOB II was very popular with The SimHQ team and we were very excited to see BOB II on display at E3 this year. Having already drank in the graphical “tender loving care” that had been spent to beautify Empire’s already deep and immersive historical sim-strategy title was no doubt what put it above Flaming Cliffs in the staff’s minds — and back on their hard drives. In addition, the SimHQ staff contains more than a few fans of historical flight sim titles, and like MiG Alley before it, BOB remains one of the best sim strategy concepts in the genre. Note to Shockwave: Please make us a MiG Alley II.
In Motorsports, the staff differed quite a bit from the members in our opinions. Members liked GT Legends, no doubt because of it’s graphical beauty, nostalgic era, and superb G-Motor 2 game engine. On the staff, issues with the controversial heavy handed, arcade-style unlock system, and lack of worldwide release knocked this superb game down a peg to GTR. Despite GTR’s support issues, SimBin is to be commended on squeezing every last ounce of goodness out of ISI’s older game engine, and the sounds of the cars are simply fantastic.
I have to admit that I voted for GTR for the reasons mentioned above, but there is another 2005 motorsports title that has the potential to become THE racing sim of all time, due in large part to it’s mod-ability, superb physics, and rock-solid multiplayer. But judging from our poll results, it seems that ISI’s rFactor was one of the best-kept secrets of the 2005. Perhaps because it’s available only online via download from ISI’s web site or because the game only ships with fictitious cars and tracks (it’s a purpose-built framework in which to hang mods). What the staff seems to know that many of our members do not is that rFactor offers very stable and fun multiplay, outstanding AI and physics, and that the mods that are being made for it are simply a joy to play (such as the GSMF’s Porsche Carrera Cup mod, LO’s F3 mod, or D3’s upcoming 1966 Can Am mod).
Speaking of multiplayer; note that in the staff poll, rFactor was runner-up in that category. That’s certainly a noteworthy tidbit for our readers to consider.
Note to motorsports fans: Check out rFactor. It’s online distribution format is the wave of the future for game titles, and the physics model is very robust and rewarding. The mods that go with it will continue to multiply, and they are very, very good.
“‘No Opinion’: Ominous or Interesting?”
One of the larger discussions in the forums and among the staff didn’t center on a particular title or category, but on the ominous “no opinion” option. Some felt that it showed how fragmented our sim community is. I don’t know about the “fragmented” part. I think that if you like flight sims, then that’s no indication, and there’s certainly no requirement, that you should like naval sims. Really they’re two genres within a niche. You know, like an enigma, wrapped in a mystery…? (Name this movie quote in our Article Feedback Forum, and guod might give you a prize!).
Category “No Opinion”: Percent (Number Voted / Total Voted)
Air Commericial Release: 18% (86 / 486)
Air Freeware Release: 38% (184 / 486)
Land Commercial Release: 63% (305 / 486)
Land Commerical “Run ‘n Gun” Release: 35% (169 / 486)
Land Freeware Release: 59% (285 / 486)
Naval Commercial Release: 32% (155 / 486)
Naval Freeware Release: S.C.S. – Dangerous Waters: 89% (434 / 486)
Naval Freeware Release: Silent Hunter III: 76% (368 / 486)
Motorsports Commercial Release: 62% (302 / 486)
Motorsports Freeware Release: 81% (395 / 486)
Technology Commercial Release: 24% (119 / 486)
Best Multiplayer Experience: 35% (171 / 486)
A lot of people pick up on the simulation hobby because of the challenge, but also because the sim often represents something they would have liked to do, had life’s cards played out differently. In a small way, you can live a vicarious life through a challenging sim title. Perhaps the most striking example of this are guys like Robert Coulter of Adrenaline PCs, who is part of such a huge MSFS online flying fan base that they have their own human ATC, and all fly in the same cyberspace on commercial air routes. But just because Robert has a desire to fly planes doesn’t mean he’s also got a hidden desire to be a U-Boat commander in WW II.