Wrenchin’ and Beerin’ and Lowerin’ Property Values.

This is a thing we do, you see.

more driveway action

We get together, we have a few beers, we turn the stereo up, and we work on the cars. Obviously, there’s a heavy slant towards the Genesis Coupe in the group: I own one, and that’s how I met most of these guys. But at the same time, we’ve gotten into the larger community. On top of that, some guys are selling their ‘coupes and moving on. So we’ve got, a Kia Forte Koup, a slammed Hyundai Elantra, an occasional Nissan 350z, a Dodge Dart (Don’t ask), and basically… anything within the group is cool by us. We are, at the end of the day, car folks. Which means it really goes further than just wrenching on our own cars: we do basic maintenance on our friends cars, often enough, too: brakes, suspension, exhaust, etc. We do expect two things:

1] Bring beer. It’s the universal form of payment.
2] Be willing to get dirty and learn something.

The second one, that’s actually the most important. We have had problems in the past with guys showing up and expecting us to do the work for them, to save them money. But weren’t willing to get in and turn a wrench themselves. That goes… badly. We’re not free labour: we’re a community. If you’re not willing to wrench on your own car, you’re not likely to help anyone out with theirs, either. Which means you’re not welcome, except in special circumstances.

But it’s that time of year again.

If I had a hammer

On the docket already is:

  • Summer Tire Day. We do this pretty traditionally: Get everyone we know to show up, get a few jacks, impact guns, and yes, beer, and get everyone’s winters swapped off for their summers. This one is fun, it’s a good start to the season, and it helps our friends out. We don’t actually expect beer for this one, but we’re not against it arriving.
  • CR’s exhaust – one of the new guys has bought an RS-D exhaust. That’s what I had on my car. Needless to say, we know how to install it. that’ll be fun, and more material for the DrunkenWrench.
  • Whatever that damn Dodge needs – T’s got a ton of parts to put on, so, that’ll happen.
  • Anto’s suspension – the lowest of the low elantra has been upgraded to a …. new elantra. Moar suspension work! Moar DrunkenWrench.
  • My car! While I got the HSD coilovers on last year, I still need to set-up the rear pre-load properly.
  • my car! I also need to install the tablet and all the associated stuff that goes with it. That’ll be my big interior project this summer
  • my car! I still also have a Stage 2 Comp Clutch to install, and an ATQ short shifter. Gotta get to those, and they’re definitely drunken wrench material (what isn’t though?)

    Untitled

    I think there’s more, too. The upside is, there’s a second location now, which means I don’t have to continuously bother @30yearhouse with crowds of loud car people (and my neighbours, with tuner cars parked up and down the street, I guess) every weekend: pwned88 and Greg have a huge garage and driveway, known henceforth as “WrenchHaus”. They’re a couple kilometers away, which makes it really easy to change locations as required, and convenient.

    I think I need a banner this year, for the inside of the garage. Or two. I’ve run my life for the last fifteen years around the Bombshelter name, so, I think “Bombshelter Garage” is probably most appropriate.

    I think I need to clear out the empties, too.

    Early Spring

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  • Car People on Car Shows

    This started as a quick facebook comment and then became more talky. So, it goes here. We’ve all (whether we’re car fans or not) seen the Clarkson suspension, which appears to be due to him hitting? Attempting to hit? A producer. Now, in any other business, you attempt to hit your boss or manager, you get fired. Period. But this is TV, and Clarkson’s face makes money. So, who knows what’s going to happen.

    But.

    I disagree whole-heartedly with the notion that “without Clarkson, there is no TopGear”.

    I would agree that, without Clarkson, there is no TopGear as we have come to know it. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. TopGear has become… stale. They’re predictable, and… yeah. Stale is the word. It’s still entertaining, I still adore the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” bits, but the cars? There’s only so much “million pound” metal I can watch. I noticed a little while back, the slower cars on the test track now? 1m21s or so. That’s the SLOW stuff. It used to be that was the one or two top cars. But the top twenty or so now, are under 1m20s on the track. It’s cool they exist but… yeah, boring.

    Even the fun, “here’s $1000, go buy a car and do challenges” have started to fade away in favor of “go pick a car and do challenges”. The last few of those have been $100,000 cars and trucks. Again… less fun. And the less said about the “build an ambulance” sketch the better. The cheaper, old car stuff was more fun and felt more honest.

    But a lot are saying, with the latest fiasco, that if Clarkson is gone then TopGear is done.

    I disagree. But I think it’ll change. And maybe it’s time for that. There’s no doubt that the formula has worked: for nearly fifteen years now, in fact. And it prints money for Clarkson, and the BBC. (and yes, Hammond and May, too). But the BBC is a business, and it will rarely rock the boat. And Clarkson is… Clarkson. He’s a big fan of being who he is, and rich. So, he’s not going to do anything different, take a chance.

    Hammond and May though both have a lot of side projects, on TV, and in the world. May, especially, is a man of huge and varied interests. His Toys series, and “Cars of the People” are fantastic, and involve a lot of history, something that used to be baked into TG, but has become less and less so the last three or four seasons.

    And they look bored most of the time. Inevitably, May gets to be eccentric, and Hammond gets abandoned somewhere (because he’s the only physically willing one out there). And I gotta say, the bit where Hammond was imitating May and Clarkson, and throwing knives at the dolls he made of them rang… at least a little true.

    I think May and Hammond are bored with the current format. And I don’t blame them. It’s the Clarkson show for sure. But TopGear wasn’t that, until the last few years.

    So, If the beeb gives Clarkson the boot (and they won’t, is my guess), things will change. But I don’t think TopGear ends, at that point. The UK has plenty of big, car-oriented personalities to choose from.

    Me? My top pick to replace Clarkson is Jay Kay.

    I think I’ll tag this “first world news”. It’s the closest I get to celebrity gossip.

    Forza: Horizons 2 Review

    Ok, so Forza:Horizons 2 has been out for ages now. I didn’t bother with it on Xbox360, because it was effectively castrated for that system: the only real way to play it was to do it on Xbox:One. And, I wasn’t buying an Xbox:One right away, because I need wheel/pedals to make it worthwhile for me.

    But then a deal came along, and I bought a used Xbox:One, with Forza:Horizons 2, Forza 5, HALO: Master Chief Collection, and Destiny. Now, I was definitely not interested in playing Forza 5 without a wheel/pedals, but as I just ended up with a copy of Horizons, I figured I’d give it a shot.

    I’m coming at this from negative space, right from the start. I didn’t like Forza:Horizons in its first iteration on the Xbox:360. I saw the Forza name on it, initially and thought “awesome! Open-sandbox simulator/racer! This is evrything I’ve been waiting for from Forza!”. And then it wasn’t. My general review of Forza:Horizons was “If I wanted an Need For Speed game, I’d have bought one”. The physics were arcade-y at best, sloppy at worst, there was none of the modification (parts) and tuning (set-up) that Forza is rightly famous for. Car’s didn’t feel particular different, and the modelling was pretty “meh” in general. I’m a car guy: I expect a lot from a brand who’ve made a name for doing car games, and specifically, a car SIMULATOR spectacularly well.

    And Horizons wasn’t it.

    So, enter Horizons 2.

    I…

    I LIKE IT, OK???

    I said for months, I wasn’t going to bother, it’d just be more of the same, because Horizons sold well, so they weren’t going to fuck with the model that worked: NFS-style apparently had a market in the Forza world. Depressing, but there it was.

    I was wrong.

    That’s not entirely true.

    The physics are not FORZA 4 or 5 accurate. But the Forza franchise is a spectacular evolution by Turn10, and Horizon isn’t made by Turn10. However. Turn10 do have a stake in it, and it’s primarily developed by PlayGround Games. It uses a heavily modified version of the new Forza Motorsports 5 engine. they physics are GOOD. They’re not awesome, but they’re good.

    Upgrades.

    Upgrade and tuning system is identical to Forza Motorsports. GIMMIE HALLELUJAH! This was my big thing: Forza Motorsports allows very specific additions and changes to the cars, it’s what makes it fun for me. I tend to opt out of the super-, ultra-, and exotic-cars, and racecars. They’re not that fun for me. I get the appeal for people, but again, I’m a car guy: I get more out of making something slow, fast, than just having something fast from the factory. Which means I’m far more likely to pick a 1967 Fiat Abarth 131 (Class D) and build it my way to Class A, than to buy a 2014 Corvette (Class A), in game. Tuning is the same thing: I choose my gear ratios, suspension settings, etc based on experience and knowledge, (and, honestly, I learn a lot from doing it too, about what works and what doesn’t). I want the Front Wheel Drive car I’m using to drop some of its understeer and rotate a little in teh corner? Take a few pounds out of the front springs and sway bars, add a few pounds to the rear, and remove some rear downforce, then test drive. Drive, tweak, drive, repeat.

    And that was the bailiwick of only Forza Motorsports.

    The good news is, that’s all now in Horizons. you don’t HAVE to do it, to win races. But if you want it, it’s there.

    Better, if you’re a fan of the franchise, it’s familiar. The parts and tuning segments are lifted wholesale from previous Forza games. Awesome! So, I can make an All-wheel-drive car that balances perfectly in the corners, and I can make the same car oversteer madly if you look at it funny. Last night, on a super-tight street course, I had to turn my final gear ratio up from 3.56:1 to 6.5:1. Why? I wasn’t getting out of 3rd gear, and the engine was bogging down. I finished the race in second (just too little power to really pull it off) and was using 3rd, 4th, and 5th gears for the majority of the race, keeping the revs in the powerband.

    Yes, the tuning is just THAT good, and that accurate.

    The environment is beautiful, and put together brilliantly. YEs, there are “hard walls” occasionally, where they don’t want you to go. But most items are deformable (ie. you can hit them with a car and destroy them) and if they’re not, they’d realistically not be in real life (ie. you’d deform the car first). The sandbox is staggeringly huge. I’ve not seen all of it yet, and I’ve covered well over 1000 miles / 1400km. The roads are well thought out for free roaming, but also tighten down into courses really well. There’s a solid breakdown of on/off road races, and you really have to think ahead before you go into a race. This is where the tuning comes in: you’ll want to have at least an on-road and an off-road tune, for any car you use regularly: you can load the tune at the start of the race, and it swaps in tires, suspension, etc, that’s appropriate to the race you’re doing. Trying to do a cross country race on road race tires is an effort in absolute futility. Speaking of racing and free-roam, the AI is excellent too. I don’t really know how the whole “Driveatar thing works, but it really DOES work. I’ve built up rivalries with AI “Players”. Some of us just get “bumpy” with each other in races.

    So, where does it fall down?

    Like I said, the physics aren’t Forza Motorsports good: they’re probably… I’m going to say 70% of Forza Motorsports, and 30% NFS/Arcade. Which, honestly, broadens the appeal. I don’t have an issue with this, as long as it doesn’t flop over into the simulator that is Forza Motorsports. I think having the two products is a really good idea. So, not really a failing, just not as hard-edged as FM5.

    The interface.

    one of the “challenges” specifically is both really fun, and incredibly irritating, all at once. Early on, you’re assigned an easy to way to make a few bucks: take pictures of unique cars: you get credits for each one, and a bonus for every twenty.

    The problem is that it takes forever to get in and out of camera mode! And you might do it three or four times on one stretch of road. It’s incredibly intrusive on the game play.

    Example.

    You see a Ferrari you’ve not collected yet.

    You hit “pause” to go to the menu.
    Across twice to “camera mode”
    Wait while it loads.
    move the camera sight around to get your shot.
    Click the shutter.
    Click “OK”
    Wait for it to save.
    Click “B” to go back to the camera
    Click “B” to go back to the menu
    Wait for the menu to load
    Click “B” to go back to the road
    Wait for the game to reload itself and put you back in the drivers seat.

    Now, do this 200+ times (I’m currently at 218 cars captured on film).

    Given how important the camera usage is within the game, there must be an easier way to go in/out of camera mode that doesn’t take up five minutes of your time.

    ON a personal level, for me, the game still loads too heavily to “high end” cars, as well. I’d love to see more low end stuff, and have challenges specifically for it. The game is definitely directing me to start higher and higher, if I want to progress, and I’d rather work one car up from the bottom. I’m probably in a minority in that, however, as most people just want to get in and go.

    So, all in all, it’s a good game, if not a perfect one. I can see it go either way in terms of the sliding scale between arcade and simulator. Obviously, I’d love to push the slider closer and closer to “simulator”, but at the end of the day, I’ll be happy if it just doesn’t go any further back to “arcade”. That was the primary failing of the first game, on the Xbox360. The simulator side of things is what really makes this special, I think.

    I’d give it a solid 7.5/10. There’s some flaws, but they don’t ruin the game by any means. there’s also room to improve. But this is a seriously solid bridge between arcade and simulator, and should continue to do well, and attract both sides of that coin.

    I retract my previous statements about the Horizons franchise. I like this game, they’ve done well.