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Sunday, 11 April 2010

A Good Walk Spoiled. Part 1 - Ups and Downs.

Sid Meier makes awesome games. Alpha Centauri, Pirates!, and of course the Civilization series are just some of the names that leap from the pages of gaming history. Pity I don't like any of them (well, I haven't actually tried Pirates! yet). I'm just not strategically minded. I always end up getting wiped out by my opponents in no time flat in strategy games. I don't get them at all. Sorry, Sid.

But there is one of Sid Meier's games that I do get... Sim Golf.


First things first... where to build this thing? Each locale offers different terrain challenges.

I love Sim Golf. It's like the Sunday afternoon of games... you can just potter about in it, having a nice relaxing time, adding a bunker here, taking away a water feature there. Sure, there's some micromanagement to be done... and I'm not that great at that. But I don't care. It's my ultimate chill-out game.

That said, I rarely finish anything I start on it. This doesn't matter... I really enjoy every game of it. But I thought I'd start up another new game and blog it, and see how that goes. Maybe I'll build a complete 18 hole course this time. Maybe it won't be very entertaining to read and I'll knock it on the head early on. Or, maybe, I might have a successful game and the blog posts will be fun too. That would be a result.


Doesn't that look like a lovely place for a golf course? Let's get cracking...

The scope for building courses is enormous. You can spend hours just on one hole. Will you make it a par three, four or five? How big will the green be? Will you have bunkers or water features? Or both? What kinds of trees will you have? And how will the terrain lie? Actually, the land-shaping tool is amazing. You can have all kinds of hilly layouts if you want. You can build up a massive elevated tee, and have a long downhill hole, or you can make the green difficult to reach on the top of a plateau. But you have to bear in mind that your patrons might get tired...

Micromanagement plays a big part in the game. You have to employ staff for various duties... gardeners to keep the courses free from weeds, marshalls to move along slow players, vendors to offer refreshments around the course. It's important to get the positioning of these right, not just for coverage but bearing in mind the layout of the course. Build holes that are too difficult, and there's not much the marshalls can do with everyone struggling. Build holes with too many undulations, and people will get knoackered, so although you'll make a killing with the refreshments, again, the marshalls will be unable to keep things moving.


Hole 1. A par 4, dogleg through the trees, with sand around the green. Nice start.

And then there's the "Sim" aspect of the game. For "Sim", read "Sims". Yes, the people on your courses are little Sims people, with their own strange sounding language and little emotion icons. Luckily, you don't always have to guess how they're feeling... handy speech bubbles will let you know if they like or dislike any particular hole, but will also let you in on little titbits from their personal lives. It's for your own benefit to try and encourage these to play out... it's also quite entertaining, and all you really have to do is keep them happy enough to keep coming back to the course.

You can probably tell I love this game... I've waffled on about it for ages without actually doing anything. So without further ado, hole number 1 is complete and open to the paying public...

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