Monday, December 19, 2005

Got $14.99 to spare?

Last summer i decided that i would write the great cycling video game, the likes of which had never been seen before. Not only would you be able to control pro cyclists individually, but there would also be a team element that would allow you to call on teammates to chase down breaks or jump across to them or go for individual glory in stage races, etc. All the drama of bicycle racing in a nice neat package. I figured i'd implement it as either a 2-dimensional racer with Flash or maybe a 3-dimensional game using some 3rd party 3-d tools. That part i hadn't figured out yet, but i began working on how the interfaces would work and what the most basic functionality would be needed to implement it. I thought of using the pro calendar to implement a "season", which would allow you to have different athletes training and peaking at different times and eventually introducing the idea of "farm teams" that could develop new talent and eventually incorporate them into the game. This i figured would take years to produce, but hey it would be fun right?

Then 2 weeks ago i came across this website. There it is, the whole shebang all written, produced and perfected. Well, maybe not perfected, but let's say i've stopped any development efforts on my part. For $14.99 you can buy Cycling Manager 4 which is last year's version, but it's plenty awesome.

I tried the demo of the new version, called Pro Cycling Manager, but it seemed to have issues with my video card. CM4, as it is called in the forum, features a very full euro calendar with most major teams and riders represented. Each rider's individual talents are rated and simulated in race scenarios. Some teams must have bawked at being represented so they have "stage names" such as U.S. Pystol which is led by Lance Niilstrong and George Hancapie. Others feature their complete roster plus actual photographs of riders.

The game has a cool 3d engine a few steps better than my Computrainer. The simulation of racing is where the game really shines. In Paris Roubaix you can watch the pack thin dramatically with each crossing of the pave'. I did a hilly circuit race in Austria and the pack got smaller and smaller with each lap. I even tried to win Ghent Wevelgem with Cipo but he got creamed on the last cobbled climbs, the race went to Van Petegem who beat out Museeuw for the win which is a testament to the AI and rider ratings. They even have a timetrial mode which i used on the Alpe d'Huez, can't say i understand it yet, but it was cool to watch. My apologies go out to David Zabriskie who i forced to finish last.

That's another reason why i want other people to buy this game. It doesn't come with instructions so i'm developing my own strategies on what works. So far my best finish was Boonen's 3rd at Paris-Roubaix.

Plus in Europe, supposedly people load their own rider databases to simulate their favorite year of racing. Rating their favorite riders and even designing their jerseys so the whole game changes. I haven't gotten that far yet, but you can see how addictive this could become.

Anyway, if you are a cyclist with the slightest interest in strategy-based video games then this game is probably for you. Check it out and let me know if you do, i'd love to hear your take on it.


Jeff said...

Downloaded the demo - install went fine but whenever I opened it, it would reboot my machine. Did a little research and found out it was a conflict with ZoneAlarm 6.0...which I uninstalled and got the demo working. By this time it was getting a little late so I only played with it for a few minutes, my early opinion lies somewhere between it seemed really neat and I was totally lost! Maybe I'll wait for you to create a clear set of instructions...

David said...

Did you install the CM4 or Pro Cycling Manager demo? The CM4 demo only lets you race one stage of the TdF. Also the demo that i got was all in French, even though i installed it with English selected as the language. I'll post some more experiences later tonight maybe. It is cool, not quite as hands-on as i had hoped.

My idea was that you could control the rider while he sprinted, in this game, you just click on T a few times and their sprint begins.