Coming Up for Air

The Simmer’s Lament

by Tom “20mm” Hayden


We can neither confirm nor deny that the following conversation actually took place.

But if it did, we think it conveys the concerns of a lot of us simmers, namely not enough time in the day. Could be due to family responsibilities, work responsibilities, school responsibilities, cooking, cleaning, mowing the grass, taking out the trash, sleeping, even a home remodeling project. All those R/L (Real Life) things that keep us from having the time to enjoy our hobby.

No, not that hobby, the other one: Simulations. It all comes down to so many hours in a day and so many simulations to play. Plus the time and energy it takes to learn and get good at just one of them. That’s where the frustration comes in.

Look, there’s two simmers talking about Real Life and simming now. Let’s listen in, shall we?

guod: So, how ’ya doing? Haven’t seen much of you lately.

20mm: Stressed man, stressed.

guod: Uh-oh. What’s up?

20mm: The house remodeling project. It is never going to end. One stupid job just keeps evolving into another one, and then another one. It’s an old house, where do you stop?

guod: Heh, I know, I know. How’s the progress? Or are you thinking you should just move rather than continue to deal with the disruption? Dell has a sale on laptops right now…

20mm: I considered an apartment, but I can’t handle the idea of people on the other side of my walls.

The floor tile’s all done, but now the contrast between our crappy walls and ceilings versus the new floor is too much. It was fine before, the older-than-dirt walls and ceilings were a perfect match for the prehistoric carpet and tile. Now, not so good.

So, we had a wall texture guy come in to give us an estimate. He has to have empty rooms to work in. After he’s through, I have to paint everything. Oh, almost forgot, next week I’ve got to seal the floor tile grout. That means the house has to stay all torn up, everything in boxes, furniture all over the place while we move it back and forth, forth and back.

guod: Ouch. No wonder you’re stressed.

20mm: Yeah, and worse. It’s budget time at work, so I can’t take any time off to get this home stuff done until that’s done. And it’s never really done, it just keeps getting revised and then the revisions reworked. Never mind doing any simming, I don’t have the time. It’s like I never get a break, you know?

guod: Yep, I do. We’re having a bunch of work done at the house as well, and work, it just keeps getting crazier. Especially this time of year. Everyone tries to get projects done that they didn’t have time the rest of the year to get done. Speaking of simming, I couldn’t help notice you exited rather suddenly from last week’s online race, got a little testy on the track. Did frustration set in?

20mm: Oh yeah, frustration city. My aggravation threshold is two gnat’s eyelashes above zero. I finally do some racing and I can’t handle it. I know I shouldn’t expect much of myself, seeing as how I haven’t raced in two weeks, or even had a computer at home, but crikey!

Those freaking AI drivers, they act like I made a pass at their virtual wives or something. I make sure to not pick the Target marquee cars, but it doesn’t matter, I have bulls-eyes painted all over whatever I drive. It’s tough enough for me to just drive without them whacking me off the track. Shoot, I can’t help it, if competition’s involved, I want to be the best I can be, I want to be competitive. And I flat wasn’t.

guod:  I can relate. Remember back when we were actually turning some laps and seeing some improvement in our times? Between the broken foot and the crazy schedule… that seems like years ago.

20mm: I remember, but dimly, like from some previous existence. Before floor tile was invented. Before I lost whatever little skill set I had acquired. Maybe it’s at the bottom of one of those book boxes on the back patio. Probably with my TrackIR that I seem to have lost in all this moving stuff around. I dunno where it went. Maybe the cats ate it.

guod: That reminds me, the Beagle ate the connection on my rudder pedals. The pedals are old, pre-USB, so I can’t find another connection. Guess I’ll buy a new set. I’ve got the budget approval already from the Finance Director. I just haven’t taken the time to do it yet.

20mm: I didn’t lose my CH gear, but it’s not hooked up yet. On the other hand, probably doesn’t matter too much, I haven’t flown in months. In fact, I can’t remember when… maybe back when you and I flew WOE online.

guod: That was what, over two months ago? Man, I shouldn’t talk, that’s probably the last time I flew too. That’s terrible! I keep thinking I should fire up F4:AF, but then I realize I don’t even remember what the command for the nose wheel steering is and can’t get the damned CCIP to drop and I give up and go watch TV.

20mm: It’s like racing rFactor, the 79 Mod. I love that thing to pieces, but whenever I start it up, I get maybe a lap and half in and I go off-roading and all to pieces. I get frustrated and quit.

Don’t even get me started on my beloved flight sims. F4:AF, EECH, LockOn, WOE, IL-2/PF, all just sitting quietly on my hard drive. While I am trying very hard to drive race cars, and failing miserably.

Oh, speaking of race cars, I should be getting GTR2 first of next week. I can’t wait! Probably just sit there and smile at the pretty box. How pathetic is that? Eagerly awaiting a new sim and knowing darn well I probably won’t have much time to actually use it.

guod: You’re not going to have time to add to our GTR2 review that’s in progress, are you?

20mm: No, probably not. But I am pretty excited about the driving school. I’d love to dig into that and see what all it can do. I could review that part.

What am I saying? No, probably not.

guod: I understand. No problem. I know you were so cranked-up about it at E3… it’s not from lack of interest.

20mm: Yeah… I guess. Man, I’d sure like to have a hand in that though. Maybe I can find the time somewhere?

guod: Where? At the bottom of the book box with the missing TrackIR?

20mm: Yeah, right there next to my driving skills.

guod: And mine…

Is the time you spend with the site too much to handle right now? Need a break for a while?

20mm: No, no, I’m OK. Actually, my SimHQ time is about the only relaxation I get anymore. How about you?

guod: I’m alright. But you know how it is, you make progress… but somehow progress gives you more work. Trying to manage and run the online races, get the Land Combat up and running, all the usual stuff we do in keeping the place open and the lights on.

I would love to just have two days where I had nothing else to do but play sims. I don’t know when and I don’t know how. Maybe when I take my usual January break. But I was counting on most of that time for that new SimHQ project.

And what’s funny is, I don’t have the problem some guys do with their spouse bugging them. She keeps telling me, “why don’t you take a break and go fly sims for a while…”. But there’s always a few more things that must be done. A full day of simming… wow…

20mm: Wouldn’t that be great? No yard work, no house work, no work work, just pick a sim, any sim, and learn it, love it. Maybe racing in the morning, flying in the afternoon, some Steel Beasts Pro PE or GRAW in the evening. Next day, do it all over again!

guod: That’s Disneyland. Dream on, buddy, dream on. My version of stark reality says this rut I’m in just keeps getting deeper and wider. But I’m going to find a day somehow just to sim something

20mm: Sad, isn’t it? You know, I wonder how many other people are in the same leaky boat we’re in?

guod: I don’t know, my guess is a lot. People seem so much busier than 10 years ago in the sim heyday. And what’s funny is, everyone seems to be lamenting the state of the PC simulation. That there just isn’t much that is new and different anymore, and what’s on the horizon seems to be a very long ways away. At the same time, we don’t have the time to actually use what we already have. I’ve got two sims I haven’t even had time to crack open the shrink wrap on them, and I rushed out to buy them the first day they were released. A real Catch-22.

20mmCatch 22, I love that book. Have to re-read it sometime, when I have time. No, you’re right, it’s surely a strange situation. Here I am, all fired up to play GTR2 when it arrives, and yet I know darn well I don’t have the time resources to commit to it.

guod: It’s a puzzle for sure. It’s the “shrink wrap dilemma”.

Hey, you know what, this little conversation we’re having would make a good article for SimHQ! I think we’d find there’s a whole bunch of people having the same time troubles we have. What do you think, could you maybe write it up? I would, but I just don’t have the time…


Postscript from guod: 20mm sent me this on Monday, but I didn’t have time to format it till just now…


So, how is your simming time? Let us know here.

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