Thursday, April 11, 2013

Traffic Jam and Learning

Perhaps my favorite part about being a gamer is how easily it promotes lifelong learning. I'm a big fan of learning. I absorb knowledge like a sponge. Perhaps part of why I've taken an extended break from WoW is that I didn't feel like there were any more opportunities for me to learn. That isn't to say I'd explored every nook and cranny, but that the buffet table of knowledge for me (at least) was pretty picked over. I really had to hunt to find any savory bits.

A very easy remedy for this is to try new games, especially in different genres. Hence why I've been having so much fun with Sim City. There hadn't be a legit new one in, what, a decade? Sure there were some solid knock-offs, but I never played any of them. For me, it's a return to something familiar but that is very new.

I've chronicled a few of the things I've learned, and most recent lesson is regarding the traffic. Traffic jams are a huge problem right now in the game, not just because of my specific city designs, but also because of several other strange game design artifacts. Perhaps the mos egregious of those is that most city zones only have one connection to the regional highway. This all but forces one to have a traffic problem at larger city sizes. I'm hoping that one gets fixed in a patch soon. Until then, I'm forced to be inventive about my traffic flow.

I'd been using the old tried and true grid approach, but it isn't working. I may go back soon and modify the grid by destroying the last little bit of connecting streets, and putting in lower density streets so that my major avenues become like a limited access highway. I've heard that might help. Also, since Sims choose the shortest path (regardless of how much sense it makes), I may chop some of those paths off to force the flow where I need it to be. It's an interesting puzzle.

I've also picked up a new game: Rocksmith. It's all about learning, learning the guitar. The cool twist here is that it comes with a cord that allows me to plug in the electric guitar that I already learn (and sort of know how to play). Then, it'll run me through a "journey" that develops real guitar skills and teaches me some fun classic rock songs. I think the best description I can come up with is that it is sort of Rosetta Stone meets Rock Band. It straddles the line between teaching aid and game, and so far I've been impressed. I'll write more about it as I get more experience, but I'm a fan of things that "gamify" learning, and just learning in general. The game was recommended by a fellow guitarist, and he did not disappoint. Pretty neat.

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