Balancing Life

Good afternoon.

This morning, I spent about an hour in Prepar3D setting up a flight from Seattle to San Francisco. After waiting in a lot of traffic (is it normal for there to be a lot of airport traffic at 7AM?), I finally took off. Somewhere up around Oregon I got bored of just watching a screen for two hours, and exited the sim.

To be fair, I was tired as I had just woken up at 6AM and wanted to go back to bed. But I felt defeated, like I wasn’t able to accomplish what I had wanted to do in favor of more sleep. At the same time I felt like I was wasting time that could have been put elsewhere (sleep?). Even now, I still can’t get myself to get into the flight sim again because of how long it takes to set up.

Even worse, I can’t get myself to play a simple game…it just seems too much of a hassle when I want to do some more flying. Nor do I feel like working on any other hobbies, such as building a Gundam.

How do I balance the time spent on my day-to-day routine? How do I prioritize what’s important and what’s not?

It’s something I’ve been working on for a long time now. When I focus on games, I have no interest in simulators or other hobbies. When I focus on hobbies, I lose track of time, gaming and other forms of entertainment are just “boring”.

I’ve developed a priority system last month and have been sticking close to it for the most part. It goes like this: Work, Home, Hobbies, Gaming, Entertainment. So far it’s been working out pretty well during the weekdays.

I think the hardest part is the weekend. The first thing I do when I wake up at 6AM (I’m an early riser), I’m typically not going to start sorting out my closet or work on my car. Likewise, I’m also not going to spend 10 hours of my day on flight sims or video games. There has to be some balance…and I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I end up just sitting around doing…nothing?

I hope that can change soon. In the meantime I’m going to try to fill my time with something to do, and hopefully have a good time at it.

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Gaming Week

This week’s been mostly about gaming. After having a racing-focused week, it’s somewhat relaxing to get back into games after a few weeks of simulator stuff.

So what to do this weekend?

I’ve been playing a lot of Destiny 2, for the first time since I purchased it. It’s not as bad as people made it out to be. Sure, it makes some mistakes as the first game, but overall the story is good. How end-game plays out on the other hand is another story.

I played a bit of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. The game sounds great in my headset, and it feels creepy and weird. The graphics are gorgeous as well. The only issue I have so far is that some of the puzzles are repetitive, but overall it’s a good game.

Got back to Elder Scrolls Online, just briefly played it yesterday. Such a massive world, but it’s nice to be in an environment with other players enjoying a world that’s totally playable in single-player.

There’s a new update to Euro Truck Simulator 2 that I’m eager to check out. It updates much of Germany (so no need for Promods in that area of the world) and adds trailer ownership. I’m very excited to take my truck for a spin this weekend.

To put all my games back, I emptied out all the ortho scenery for X-Plane 11. While I think the scenery looks gorgeous, there are some problems I have with it. The space it takes (over 1TB!) is insane for just a few regions. There are also some scenery discrepancies as well as graphical glitches that vary between different areas of coverage. In the end, I rather just stick to my HDMesh scenery as it looks decent enough for flying, and it only takes about 150GB.

I definitely want to do some flying this weekend. Just not sure where to go exactly since I’ve completed my Germany tour. I could probably move out from Rome to Milan, then move north towards Zurich and then back to Frankfurt? At the same time, I’d like to do a 737 flight since I’ve put practically no hours into the PMDG 737 since I got it. Not sure where to fly there either (KSEA-KPDX?). It takes a lot of time to prepare a 737 flight compared to a small Cessna, so I’ve been holding it off.

I’d like to do some train simming as well. I have a scenario that I’ve been wanting to do: Portsmouth to London. There are also some German scenarios I’d like to play around with too.

Lastly, I’d like to play God of War when I get the chance today. That should be a lot of fun. Busy weekend!

Above the Hurdle

Today’s one of those rare days I finally find myself breaking through the mid-day exhaustion. Perhaps it was due to a nap I took earlier, or just that I have a lot of energy at the moment. Here’s my life update.

First, had a hard time dealing with contacts the last few weeks with America’s Best. Between the eye doctor saying “We’ll order your new contacts, just use these temporary in the meantime” to three weeks later “Oh no…you’re supposed to come in for a follow-up, we never ordered your new contacts” really got frustrating. Then coming in today I was told there was about a 5 minute wait for my follow-up, 30 minutes later I ask them what’s going on, and somebody somehow dropped the ball and forgot about me.

I ended up just saying no to contacts, that it wasn’t worth the effort to do this every six months, and bought myself a set of prescription Ray-Ban sunglasses that costed only $50 more. I figure the main reason I use contacts is to wear sunglasses when I’m driving, and that the sore eyes, removal/insertion, etc isn’t worth it.

In other news, I cancelled my iRacing subscription. It’s not bad, and quite fun actually. Yesterday I had another session where I placed last, but I enjoyed every minute of it. My main issue (and the issue I have with MMO’s) is that I don’t want to feel obligated to play a game due to the subscription costs. My interests change from week to week, and spending $15/month on something that I may play a few days a month for is not worth it.

In the meantime I’m sticking to Assetto Corsa. I also have Project Cars 2, and F1 2018 (coming in a few weeks), Forza 7, and Forza Horizons 3 to satisfy my racing needs.

In other news, I played through Kingdom New Lands yesterday. Beat the game after a few hours. It’s a lot of fun but it does get easy once you figure it out.

Next week I plan to focus on games. I’m not going to focus on any one in particular (my ADHD doesn’t work like that, I lose interest quickly), but just play whatever my mood is in for. I just played Titan Quest, for example…and plan on playing maybe Train Sim or Prepar3d. Who knows? *Shrugs* I’ll post updates as I go.

Weekly Plan

With last week the focus on Racing, what is this week’s focus on?

I’d love to do some more flying, I still have a stretch in my European tour I’d like to explore in some general aviation aircraft. I’d also like to do some 737 or A320 flying in Prepar3D.

I also have DCS which has been mostly untouched for months. I have the F/A-18 Hornet which I would love to fly around with. Unfortunately it takes a while to learn the systems and I haven’t had the time to learn a brand new and complex aircraft from scratch.

I’ll probably focus a bit more on iRacing and Assetto Corsa though. They are quick and easy to setup compared running to a 2 hour flight (which I’ll probably save for the weekend), and I feel a level of accomplishment with running through tracks, getting good lap times, and racing with other people…especially in VR.

The Perfect Racer

After spending some time on both Assetto Corsa, Project Cars 2, and iRacing, I haven’t come to a clear conclusion on what I like best.

  • Assetto Corsa offers good single player content with hotlapping, good graphics, great physics, highly moddable, and a decent (but not perfect) multiplayer component.
  • Project Cars 2 offers excellent single player content, excellent track and car selection, amazing graphics, okay multiplayer, and good physics.
  • iRacing offers only multiplayer racing, okay graphics, and great physics.

In terms of both Assetto Corsa and Project Cars 2, each one offers something the other one doesn’t. Being a new racer, I like the career mode of Project Cars 2 as it gives me an opportunity to start from simple cars or karts to more advanced cars. I can try out each series and get a feel for what series I like to focus more on (F1 or GT3).

On the other hand, Project Cars 2 performance on the Oculus Rift is quite poor, it’s not as moddable as AC, and the multiplayer component is the weakest out of the three racers. It’s also the most game-like of the three options, which on one hand increases the “fun” factor, on the other hand it’s just not as realistic as the other two games.

Assetto Corsa has great single player content, with mods. I like that I can quickly create a custom championship, but a majority of the default track selection is Italian circuits which I know little about. Fortunately I can create my own championships and custom tracks to fit each series. It’s also much more realistic than Project Cars 2.

Unfortuantly, for Assetto Corsa, it’s not easy for a new racer to just go ahead and start on an F1 or GT3 vehicle out of the get-go…and I’m not sure which is a good beginner vehicle to start a series with (MX-5?), which is why I prefer the progression of PC2 and iRacing. The multiplayer aspect is great, I love going on Track Day Nordschliefe and just trying out various cars. There’s also SRS which give you weekly series to go through for certain car classes, similar to that of iRacing.

iRacing only offers multiplayer racing. Playing with real world people (especially those serious about racing) is an experience like no other. Out of the three sims, this one is the most realistic of all, but requires the most investment out of it in terms of time and money.

You start with the Rookie class and a few beginner series (so you can’t really just go into NASCAR or GT3 from the get-go). This is similar to Project Cars career mode and SRS for Assetto Corsa, but there is a natural progression that in iRacing depends entirely on the skill of the driver. But unfortunately, unlike playing with an AI, most other players skills exceeds beyond my own personal skills.

The first few days doing practice runs on the Phoenix International Circuit in an MX-5, my best lap time is about 1:12, and I was averaging about 1:15. The average for that track is between 1:07 and 1:11.

Each day I spent about an hour practicing. Today I finally hit 1:11, not once, but several times in a row. I felt a level of accomplishment I’ve never felt in any other game.

What I don’t like is that iRacing has a monthly fee as well as costs to purchase additional cars and tracks, many of which are already included in AC or PC2.

Ultimately here’s what I think:

Project Cars 2 is great as far as single player content, it offers the best career mode and arguably the best graphics. I’m just not all that crazy about it…perhaps it’s the physics, the poor VR performance, or that it’s weak as far as multiplayer.  It’s downsides are Assetto Corsa’s strengths.

Assetto Corsa is my choice, so far for single player. I top about 90FPS in VR, have a great selection of cars and tracks (modded), great multiplayer, especially with SRS. It misses a lot of the bells and whistles that PCars2 has, namely dynamic weather and day/night cycles…but it offers the best driving out there.

iRacing comes at a close second. While Assetto Corsa provides a large amount of tracks and cars, and I’m not locked by a license system just to play the series and tracks I want…iRacing provides that feeling of sensation that I don’t get from AC. and just placing in a race feels like an accomplishment rather than a disappointment. Getting a Class D License and out of Rookie Class for example is what I’m aiming for…even if I place last, at least it counts for something.

So ultimately I like all three. If I had to choose just one, I’d go with Assetto Corsa. But with the options available I like being given the choice between driving in different racing sims.

iRacing Impressions

So far, initial impression of iRacing is: it’s okay.

There’s some immersive things that I like from Assetto Corsa and especially Project Cars 2. Things like internal animations, roadside debris, working mirrors, weather effects, etc. I don’t really get that with iRacing.

What I get is a solid multiplayer racing experience. Additionally, the frame rate with my Oculus Rift was phenomenal, and I had a lot of fun running practice laps in the Honda MX-5.

Yesterday I felt I had the luxury of choice with racing games (Forza, Assetto Corsa, Project Cars 2), but with a subscription-based service such as iRacing, I don’t really feel the same way. I either must play the game…daily…or I’m throwing away money.

At the same time, it gives me the motivation to keep practicing in ways that the other two games wouldn’t. Getting a good lap time is a really big deal, and even if I’m in the bottom of the pack, I’m enjoying it a lot. That’s what matters, right?

I still have an entire month to decide. It’s a tough decision whether or not I want to keep the subscription, and I’m still mixed on the whole thing…but I’m just going to try to enjoy it.

Hobbies

It’s been a bit of a slow couple of weeks, but I have plenty to look forward to. Here’s my list of things I want to do for the next few weeks:

Racing
I’ve slowly gotten back into PC racing games. I’ve been playing Forza 7 and The Crew 2 for a few weeks, and while they are a bit of fun, I’m not completely satisfied with them…I just want a bit more.

I launched up Assetto Corsa for the first time in months and played around the Nurburgring using my Logitech G920 Wheel and Shifter, Oculus Rift, and DXRacing Chair setup. I found it satisfying. I did the same in Project Cars 2 and found it just as satisfying.

Assetto Corsa is great on one hand for the realism and the online play. But for graphics and single player, Project Cars 2 takes the cake. I’m not really at the point of choosing one versus the other as they both have strengths and weaknesses…but in a way they seem to compliment one another.

I’m going to try out iRacing tonight for its online play. I’ve heard many great things about it, and while I’m not completely a fan of the subscription pay, it does help weed out the trolls who aren’t serious about competitive racing. I also enjoy the aspect of gradually earning your license and rating in races, series, and seasons. I especially appreciate that it has a practice mode, so I don’t ruin my rating for accidentally crashing into someone else as I learn a new track.

Flight Simulators
I’m enjoying Prepar3D immensely. Doing some low altitude VFR flights in a C-182, I was able to see some famous landmarks around places in Germany. I wouldn’t be able to do this in X-Plane 11 due to the lack of landmarks and scenery elements in the simulator.

Unlike racing sims on the other hand, I’m finding it more difficult to see P3D and XP11 compliment each other. In most cases, I can get the same aircraft and the same scenery in both simulators. I don’t want to pay twice to have the same aircraft in both sims, or pay for New York City scenery twice…for example. I feel I must chose between one or the other as far as addons.

So far I’m leaning more towards P3D. It has the best scenery textures, the best weather engine, and the best Cessna 182 and Boeing 737 simulation out there. The downside is the nav data is a bit out of date, and many of the airports in the sim are greatly in need of an overhaul (which costs money).

Fortunately there’s a third option that I usually overlook: DCS.

While DCS is a combat simulator, it’s self contained in that I don’t need external third party addons to enjoy it. Most aircraft have excellent compatibility with my stick and pedal setup (especially the A-10C which my HOTAS is modelled after). It also has excellent VR compatibility that works great with my system setup. The multiplayer in DCS is simply fantastic, and I enjoy joining in on the Acrobatics server just to practice flying around and doing fun stunts in VR.

With that said, I’m going to attempt to do more DCS flying in the weeks to come. I’d also like to do some Prepar3D flying if I have some extra time. I’m currently set up to fly between Leipzig and Nuremberg, Germany. I’d also like to do some FSEconomy flights, but that’s low on my priority list.

Train Simulator
I’ve been playing around between London and Portsmouth with a new route addon that came out recently. It’s fun, but I feel in some ways…kinda done with Train Simulator 2018.

It’s hard to explain why. I love the variety of routes, especially to places I’ve been or plan on visiting. It just feels a bit stale I guess? Jump in a train, stop at a bunch of stations, and finish up after an hour or so.

The graphics engine is outdated, the sounds are weak, and it feels more like a chore going through some of the scenarios. Quick Play on the other hand helps with the monotony of the scenarios, but it’s limited by some stuff, such as lack of AI traffic, proper signals, and goals.

Train Sim World, which is the latest iteration of the simulator is much better in that regard. The graphics are fantastic, the trains are fully detailed and you can manipulate practically every switch and knob. My only issue is that it’s still a bit buggy, especially when I save/resume scenarios. Also, the routes are much shorter than their TS2018 counterparts.

Still, I’m going to invest some more time in TSW. I have a lot of scenarios I’d like to play through as well as services that are fun to play through as well.

Gaming
Not much going on with games. I’m currently playing just Octopath Traveller. It’s a decent RPG though I wish there was interactions between the different characters. Still, the stories are good and I have no complaints so far. I’m trying to limit myself to just a one or two games as having a more broad focus is just way too much for me to handle with the limited time I have and Octopath Traveller is the perfect game to fill that void.

TV
Likewise, with gaming, I’m also limiting myself to just a couple shows: Bakemonogatari (an anime) and Stranger Things Season 2.

D&D
I’m also planning on possibly attending a D&D game tomorrow. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to develop a new character (I’d like to play as a Bard, if possible). I have a Level 3 Ranger I can play as, but it depends on the group and where their progress is in their campaign.

Sometimes though, especially after 10 hours of work, I can be a bit anti-social and a bit too exhausted to do a 4 hour game session. But maybe I can have some fun and make some new friends in the process.

Other Hobbies
I have the Jesta Gundam model kit to work on, I’m about 50% done with assembly.

I haven’t picked up much on One Piece this week. It’s usually a bit easier for me to find time to read before I go to bed, but after my recent vacation I’m trying to catch up to my old sleep schedule and I’m just too exhausted to do much of anything by 9:30PM, let alone read a book or a manga.

I haven’t picked up on much as far as figures and statues (a good thing because I have way too much and I’m trying to cut back). I’ve placed a couple preorders on some new figures that are due to release this month (most likely next month).

Also ordered some new clothes this week, so they should be trickling in the mail over the next week or two.

That’s about it for the Life of Scott. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming trying to do everything that I like. Sometimes I wish life were just simpler: Come home, do some chores…watch some Netflix, go to bed…

But no, especially due to ADHD I have just way too many hobbies. Some days I’m happy, some days I’m not…it’s just sometimes I don’t know if I should embrace it, or fight it? That’s a question best left for another day…all I can do is just my best.