Gaming in the Rain!
What do cruisers do in port? Especially, what do we do when the weather is of the indoor variety. Most of us are outdoor types, hence the avocation of sailing and cruising. Like small children on a a bad day, we have to find something to do on rotten-weather days. Otherwise our wives, spouses, quartermasters, and lovers would go insane trapped inside with us.
Bad weather days look a lot like this!
If you have read my earlier article from La Paz, called “Have you got game?”, then you know my setup for gaming. If you haven’t read it , go here
Like many cruisers, I have a laptop on board. We actually have two; one is for personal business like this blog and emails and surfing the net to learn Spanish. The other is for gaming. I find gaming a good way to pass the time when the weather is less than friendly to working on the boat or just being outside.
I have recently been playing a game called Assassin’s Creed IV : Black Flag. It is a pirate game, and the 6th or 7th in the series by Ubisoft Montreal. Most people play this game on a game console. I am using a computer. I repeat it is a PIRATE GAME! If you felt cheated because you were born in the wrong century or continent, or you always wanted to sail the Caribbean, meet Blackbeard, and a host of other pirates and see how you stack up … set sail!
I will discuss it here, because art sometimes takes a turn and mimics reality. I recommend this game to sailors because it has simply the most beautiful sailing simulation I have ever fooled with. Oh, and it is FUN!
I thought I would show some screen shots and compare them to the realities of cruising … I think you will enjoy.
First, when it is rainy outside …. go sailing in a virtual Caribbean world. ‘Cause, it is rainy outside!
As you can see, the game simulates weather, too. Ok, enough with the rain torture … or is it Chinese-water torture?
If you always wanted tanbark sails, get them for this ship … see?
Your ship is the Jackdaw–small, maneuverable, and moderately fast. You will have to steal her, equip her throughout the game, and learn to sail her in this virtual world. Oh, you need to supply her (money), get crew, repair damages, and upgrade her cannons as you progress through the game. The actual sailing game is a sub-game of the Assassin Missions but you can spend hours or days exploring this virtual sailing world.
It models wind, wave states, weather, rogue waves, ship condition, crew strength and morale, cities, docks, Mayan ruins, islands, and so on.
For example, in the virtual world, there are “Harbour Masters”!
Sort of like the Captain Jack Sparrow entrance to the wooden docks as his ship sinks. In real life, we have comparable individuals. Here is the one in Barra de Navidad at the Grand Wyndham Isla Navidad Marina.
There are many docks in the harbor (not at the marina) that look like this.
And, in the virtual world of sailing that is Black Flag, you have to be able to get your boat against this dock (amongst others).
To find your way around, you have a version of GPS (it is more accurate than my Garmin) that shows you the shorelines of the virtual world. You can also use a spyglass to look over a harbor entrance or another ship.
Realistic as the game is, I have to say, I have not had to lay offshore all night and wait for dawn because I did not trust my GPS. If you sense a slight irritation that has crossed over from the real world to a virtual one .. see the entry: “How I lost my faith in GPS” here
The game models fog, storms, daylight cycles including twilight , dark, full moon sailing, and dawn-to-dusk daylight. The fog is so thick you will slow to match what you can see.
You can hide her from bad weather in hurricane holes like this one.
Which looks remarkably like what we are doing in the real world right now as hurricane season is under way here.
If you don’t like slip fees ( you, Pirate, you), you can just anchor out in some picturesque little nook.
‘Till the off-season rates for slips in Tortuga drops.
Or you can take her out. There are all kinds of storms, rogue waves, and even an occasional water spout to keep the sailing interesting. You get wind direction and wave-set direction modeled.
You get to meet new people, some of whom don’t speak your language. How do you say “Friend”? What is the Mayan for “Put down the knife, please!”?
What sailing blog would be complete, even a virtual one, without pictures of whales? These are from near Los Frailes on the Baja California peninsula.
This humpback is from Black Flag.
And, no you don’t have to kill them (even pretend-like … for all you PETA types). There is whaling and hunting of all kinds of exotic animals (virtual) for the creation of clothing, goods, trade goods, and many useful objects of crafting. Or, you can sell them for money. But, you can generate or buy anything you need to replace these animals if you choose not to hunt.
It was kind of interesting, in a virtual moral sense, I couldn’t/wouldn’t hunt the humpbacks. Sorry, have seen them close up and they are just too beautiful. Didn’t have a qualm about Great Whites … a la JAWS. Went after the killer whales, too. One of them ate my whale boat.
For the obsessive literary types among you in the sailing community, there is even a white whale– a sperm whale–of Moby Dick proportions, and it only appears on very very rare occasions. I have seen it twice and tried unsuccessfully to hunt it once … lost my whale boat and whale boat crew to it. So, sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted. I have to admit that the white whale is very cool and a piece of gaming magic.
The sea is alive with Great White Sharks, Hammerheads, Killer whales, and even moray eels when you are diving wrecks for treasure or cannon and other salvage.
You can find bottles on the beach with treasure maps in them, find your way into Mayan ruins; and–oh yeah– chase, battle, capture, and plunder enemy ships to your heart’s content. You will learn the language of sailing this kind of ship. One of my favorite things in this game is to collect sailing ‘shantys’–songs of sailing,–the more you collect, the more songs your crew will sing while manning the rigging and guns of your ship. A stirring rendition of “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” just makes you want to shout, “Avast, me hearties!”.
Anyway, for rainy days, this is the best thing since being a kid and hiding under the blankets with a flashlight to read a comic book, or moving toy tanks and army men across the vast battle-fields of the blankets on my bed.
Maybe, if I am lucky, it will rain tomorrow.
Captain Jack Sparrow, eat your heart out!