Let's face it, all us lads n' ladies like to do the things we want, even if we can't afford them. For many people video games are an escape from life, but for me, they have always been a preview of the future. Since my days of Sega Genesis I have used video games as a portal into my interests, ones where I was not old or baller enough to fulfill.
Although games like Road Rash, Stunts, Harley Davidson: road to Sturges, Test Drive: The Duel, Hard Drivin', and others were my initial realms of reality, Gran Turismo 1 was my first spark of addiction. I remember clearly my 900hp Mitsubishi GTO Twin Turbo, from what my young teenage self considered to be the best car in the game. I was not brand loyal at the time, but I figured out that if you bought a 2.0GT Supra for the first few races, then rather than upgrading, sold it for a GTO, you could basically keep upgrading and take most of the game down with one car. I also remember teaching friends how to take corners, by using "straight braking" rather than slamming into the walls.
GT2 rolled around, and although I did spend time in Nascar for Dos (merely for the ridiculous crashes that game had) I had started to like cars for the lifestyles I viewed around them, the culture they brewed and the stories behind them. GT2's information section became a common place for my bookworm nose, long before Wikipedia graced my eyes, GT2 was there to give me the behind the scenes scoop.
From that, I began spending my time modifying cars in a very underrated and under appreciated game called NIRA. Sure it was drag racing, but what other game do you know of that not only had real physics, but a full engine dyno setup to not only check how much horsepower you have, but, to build engines from scratch with your own cam lobe designs, compression settings, multiple different fuel types, how ever many cylinders you wanted. Seriously, the chassis setup options were endless. Plus, there was rare Mazda B2200 and '98 VW bug game add-ons that are even more over looked.
NIRA developed my itch to customize cars to my mechanical and visual liking. So I moved up, now focusing on some corners I jammed my face into a copy of "Street Legal". It was a Hungarian game, as far as I know, that focused on driving around and beating locals on a wide open city. However, not only did it have real time damage effects, where the car would actually bend around a pole, and no two crashes were the same, but what drew me in, was the ability to completely dismantle the car and replace parts individually. Almost like an advanced version of Gear Head Garage mixed with the streets of sim city.
I began to model cars in 3D, since Street Legal allowed you to replace parts individually, it also allowed you to design and overwrite the files for those parts individually so you could put your own parts in the game! Want a Carbon fiber hood, sure! Spend 7 hours in 3D studio max and Photoshop modeling and texturing an object, only to spend another 5 hours test fitting it and making changes till it looked good. The effort was very much worth it, unlike all these new NFS junk games, I was the only person in the world with that part on my car, and it looked exactly how I wanted it to.
Obviously, SL1 lead to a sequel: Street Legal Redline Racing. An updated version of the previous game, but more refined. The graphics still sucked, the handling was garbage, but there was more room to customize and perfect it! SLRR opened me up even further, and near the end of SL1 and the Start of SL2, I began my interest in Japanese cars and drifting. My only claim to fame of SL1 & 2 was I was the first person to release a RHD car to the public for download. Funny that some of my parts I released publicly still circulate even years later.
After I grew tired of not enjoying driving my cars, and wanting to actually drift, my mind turned to two games. Live For Speed and Mercedes Benz World Racing. Live For Speed offered me something that no other game had before, a true driving experience. I spent whole chunks of weeks at a time lost in online demo races, tweaking my setup. I was there for the days of adjustable track width and steering lock. Those items are now gone, but much of my interest of customizing and racing on public roads was filled by MBWR. A demo came into my hands from a Fellow named Mike Bush, the famed car builder for the Grand Theft Auto IV. Mike too is an ae86 enthusiast and is the driving force behind the 'Futo' in GTA4. Interesting story, Mike mentioned to me that the original file name was "dorifuto", as car modelers have to name their projects something, and by the time of release it had been shortened to "Futo" which apparently had nothing to do with "tofu".
MBWR allowed me to build my zany, wacky cars, and compete against people online. I spent much time in it with close friends from other online games. People I found to have the same love of cars as I do, sliding around the mountains together. Australia track #7 at about 53% I think? Is one of my favorite sections.
From here I continued building weird and wacky cars, whether or not they were for games, it was an outlet for my ideas and concepts.
Sadly one day my computer died, I had become so entangled in my own desire and lust for building and fantasizing about cars in digital mediums that I killed my ability to work a normal job. I was and still am so focused on designing and building silly ideas that some:
Started becoming reality.
stunts….best game ever
GHG, also good.
Getting back into it, finally have a new computer that can handle it.
Heh good old days of lousy GFX!
Brand awareness was always important in the automotive world, but apparently only recently car brands have noticed the power games have on making up people’s minds!
BTW, do you still model stuff?
I always loved the way you write up articles and explain stories. Good stuff man.