Half-Way to 70

Happy 35th to me.  The last year was exceptionally busy – now with two kids and Erin’s job in full swing, my job takes a full back seat to nearly everything.  And it’s better that way.  Nobody goes to the grave wishing they spent more time at work.

Sarah had a preschool Halloween parade on Friday and we’ll all go trick-or-treating on Tuesday.  Sarah (or should I say Scare-ah) is a ghost and my Emily pumpkin is a pumpkin because she has no choice.  I haven’t put a second of thought into a Halloween costume for myself but I did buy a t shirt with a jack-o-lantern on it.  I’ll probably just wear that.

One of my best buddies is coming out to visit next week.  I haven’t seen him in a few years (when we went to Bermuda) and I’m really looking forward to it.  I’ll take a few days off of work while the kids are under someone else’s care and go do some fun normal adult stuff.

I took Sarah to a car show last weekend and we threw a party for Sarah and her preschool friends to paint pumpkins in the back yard.  I think everyone had fun.

We are finally opening up doors in the evening when it cools down.  It’s been a really hot summer.  June was the hottest since our earth was just a ball of molten lava.

I’ve been playing a few new video games.  I wrote about what I wanted in my favorite series about a year ago in this blog post.  Apparently I was describing a different game the whole time.  Project CARS 2 is a lot of fun and almost everything I want in a car game.  It plays good on my wheel and I set up a $9 keypad for additional buttons.

I went full 1989 and drew out a keypad map in ASCII art.  It’s still not exactly what I want but I’m getting close.  This is my world.

-----------------------------------
|NUM    | /      | *      | -     |
|       |        |        |       |
|       |        | DRS    | FFB   |
|       |        |        | DN    |
|---------------------------------|
|7/HOME | 8/UP   | 9/PUP  | +     |
|       |        |        |       |
|Seat   |        | Seat   | FFB   |
|Up     |        | Fwd    | UP    |
|---------------------------------|
|4/L    | 5      | 6/R    | BS    |
|       |        |        |       |
|Seat   |        | Seat   |       |
|Down   |        | Back   |       |
|---------------------------------|
|1/END  | 2/DN   | 3/PDN  | ENTER |
|       |        |        |       |
|LCD    | WIPERS | LIGHTS |       |
|       |        |        |       |
|-------------------------|       |
|0/INS           | ./DEL  |       |
|                |        |       |
|REQUEST         | PIT    |       |
|PIT             | LIMIT  |       |
-----------------------------------

Super Mario Odyssey came out last week and it’s a blast.  I went to buy it with Sarah – something I always hoped I’d share with my kids.  We’ve played it and even stayed up late crashing into things when we found out we could make Mario a dinosaur.  Mario is only a little older than me.

Thanksgiving, a 50th birthday party, and Christmas are just around the bend.  After Halloween is the worst time of year until Christmas is over.  I hate the pressure, the economy, ads, and everything about it (except the food).  I want it to be more fun with kids and maybe it’ll get that way as the years move on.

Halloween is fun, though.  Thanks for the well wishes and all of the nice phone calls, emails, messages, and all that.  Next birthday is Erin, then Emily has her very first.

Summer 2017

It’s already hot.  This will be our sixth summer in Tucson and I’ll take fifty of these over a single New York winter.

I hit 100K miles on my car after 14 good Honda years.  I’m sure 200k will be logged either by Sarah or Emily.

We’re waiting on a few new sets of photos from the wedding a few months ago where Sarah was a flower girl and Sarah’s school pictures.  She’ll be starting preschool this fall.

The last time I was this tired, Sarah was about four months old.  Emily just turned four months yesterday.  We’ve got a long way before we can get to any sort of nighttime normalcy.

Forza vNext

I play a lot of a car racing video game series called Forza Motorsport.  If that’s boring, stop reading now.

If you know the current game, 6, you might know it’s shortcomings.  This is pretty simply a list of what I’d like to see in the next version of Forza Motorsport.

Dan Greenwalt said that whatever is next will be different.  We already have two different Forzas; Horizon and Motorsport.  Horizon is an open-world, jump cliffs, have a good time in cars game.  Motorsport is a much more strict, real tracks, physics, and racing type game.  The series I will be referring to is Motorsport or whatever this next version will be.

We also know that the next Xbox will be probably released some time in 2017 and will do 4k games.  There are a lot of rumors about the console but nothing is known about the next Forza Motorsport.

This is what I want to see:

Easy

  • More variety and options in multiplayer games.  Instead of restricting cars to AWD/FWD/RWD, class, PI, and other things, I’d also like to use the same groups that are specified in other parts of the game.  Let me choose GTLM cars or “Classic Cruisers”.
  • Qualifying.  Starting 12th in a field of 24 every time is brutal, especially in extremely short races.  If I can optionally run a few laps first to hopefully improve my placement, please let me.  Or just let me skip qualifying and end up in the middle each time.
  • Fix the course boundaries.  There are plenty of places where people are setting incredible track times by finding areas off-track that are considered on-track.  Don’t let us cut corners.  And even better, when a change needs to be made, reset the leaderboard or mark the times.
  • More stats in game and out.  I’d like to see what my track time is when I’m not playing the game.  I’d also like to see each of my lap times after a race instead of just the best lap time.  And compare it to my others.
  • Leaderboard updates.  Let us filter things by cars that we own, tunes that we have, and people using our same “assists” including the view used (cockpit cam vs. chase cam) and controller or wheel.  This is just database queries.  Let me write them!
  • Painting on computer.  I’m pretty sure that all new Forza games will be PC/Xbox concurrent releases.  If that’s the case, let the painters and tuners do everything with a mouse or a drawing pad.  Using a controller (or worse, a wheel) to paint is so very hard.
  • Race “Naturally”.  Does this IMSA car have ABS and TCS?  Apply it for me appropriately.  Did this 60’s LeMans car have ABS?  Of course not, remove it.

Hard

  • Flags.  Let’s force players to slow down when there’s a crash.  Let’s penalize those who don’t. Let’s force slow downs pre-pit.  Let’s make this a racing simulator.
  • Mechanical failures.  The damage system is good as-is.  Make it better!  I can’t shift well?  Blow out my transmission after an hour of rough shifting.  Have a tire go flat if I hit too much debris.  This is fun stuff and it adds variety to longer races.
  • Better longer races.  Can I have a pit manager?  Pop something up on my screen when my fuel is low to tell me to drive a bit more conservatively.  If teams exist, let my buddy watch the race and my car, and then s/he tells me what I need to do.
  • Teams.  Create full blown teams (like in previous games) and allow us to create challenges and competitive brackets.  This could sit perfectly with the recently created Xbox-wide “clubs” feature.
  • Endurance teams.  Nobody really wants to sit and do a six hour race on their couch.  Let me pass off every half hour or hour to my buddy in another state our country.  I can “manage” while he races, and vice versa.
  • Rolling time and weather.  Horizon 3 does this.  Let me set time to 4x and go from daylight to dark night in an hour-long race.
  • Steering wheel forced feedback code re-write.  The few other games I’ve played do this much better.  It needs to be redone.  If the damage model is being redone, this makes sense to do at the same time.  I want to break an axle and not be able to steer.
  • Pitting specifics.  Do I need fuel and tires?  Make it quick.  Did my engine explode?  Let it take a while longer.  100% fresh in 40 seconds from start pit to track is a bit fast.

Very Hard

Fix public multi player.  I have a few ideas about how this can be done but none of them are easy or cheap.

  • Aggressive marshaling of races.  Kick out the intentional wreckers.
  • A “licensing” system.  I feel most passionately about this one.  All unmoderated online racing is included with the game at no additional charge, just as it has been.  If you want to pass a driving test and race on tracks that are moderated by a real person that has a real job that needs to be paid, you pay real money for a license.  This ideally gets you safe, clean racing that everybody involved with treats like it’s something that they paid for.  Racers could be moved up or down into leagues based on track times, clean racing, assists used, and true skill.  This could be modified by the marshals watching the races.  Gran Turismo is doing this.  Forza should do this beyond their volunteers.  I hate racing online because most racers are inexperienced (totally cool, learn, you’re doing great) or absolutely horrible people (crash into everyone, win or nothing, yelling racist comments).  I’d love to be ranked and race with similarly ranked players.
  • “Vote to kick” needs to mean more.  Add a “vote to trust”.  A good, trusted racer who has put in 1,000 hours on the track should be able to kick a jerk out of a public lobby and determine whether they’re a new racer or an intentional wrecker.  That jerk’s vote should hold less weight, especially if he’s been voted to be kicked by higher level, higher trusted racers.

Did I miss anything?  Let me know what you think.

1,000

There’s quite a bit to this update.  Let’s get the title out of the way.

This is my one-thousandth update to my blog.  It’s true that there are a few that have been lost to the vast depths of the internet, but we’ll call this one thousand just to simplify.

The blog has been running for almost nine years!  I originally bought jasonschlueter.com to host a portfolio for my work while I looked for a new job in New York.  I’ve long since left New York and have been in Tucson for five years already.

That’s pretty neat.  I’ve been dedicated to this as a project and I don’t think that I’ll be letting up the blistering few-times-a-month update pace so buckle in.

Did anybody watch any bit of the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend?  If you were unable to but still wanted to, I understand your pain.  It was supposed to be on Fox Sports 1 and 2 but even then it was demoted to other Fox Sports stations and apps that I don’t have access to.  It seems that if there were three things that needed to take up the two channels, the Le Mans race took the back seat and would just disappear.  Why bother showing NASCAR qualifying for only a half hour?  It was silly.

It was a great race and very eventful.  The big story was Ford’s return from their 1-2-3 victory in 1966 with the ever-beautiful GT40 MK2.

mk2

The story and the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari is legendary and gave birth to some of the fastest and sexiest cars we’ve ever seen.

Fast-forward fifty years to just yesterday and Ford again pulled a win with their new version of the GT.

2017gt40

This was the winner!  Number 68.  Ford pulled a 1-3-4 instead of a 1-2-3 but with Ferrari in second…just perfect.  Ferrari had a wonderful race and lead for a good chunk of the race.  Overall it was a lot of fun to watch, I’m very happy for Ford.

The saddest story was poor Toyota who absolutely dominated the prototype class until the last lap when their car lost power.  The car slowed to a stop and was passed by Porsche who took the victory.  Even the Porsche pit manager said that they didn’t deserve the win.  It was so sad.  Toyota earned it and lost it during the last five minutes.

I went to bed at 1 AM and got up at 5 AM to catch the end of the race.

It was also Father’s Day – my second as a father.  I got two beautiful gifts from Sarah.

IMG_20160619_0903346142 IMG_20160619_090407983

I wanted to share one of my favorite stories about being a dad so far.  It happened just recently.  Sarah has started to figure out and push for her independence.  She needs help getting to things and reaching almost everything but once she’s in a good place, she’ll tell you to “go play” because she wants to be alone and figure things out.  It’s great.

A few weekends ago, we were playing out in the back yard.  When she needs to take a big step (down the stairs, on the slide), she’ll reach up for my hand.  She reached up for me and then walked me inside and pointed to the couch.  She said “couch” and basically told me to sit down.

She walked away from me back to the backyard, looking back at me to see if I was still sitting down.  I had no idea what she had in mind.

She turned the corner and I lost sight of her until she was behind the window, where I could see her clearly.  I don’t think that she remembered that one can see through windows because that’s when her mischief started.

She peeked around the corner one more time, then bent over to begin to gnaw on the garden hose.  I stood up and watched her through the window.  She was just bent over, chewing on the green garden hose.  I watched trying not to laugh too hard so that she would hear me.

I knocked on the window.  She looked up surprised but with a big smile on her face.  She laughed at me and I asked her what she was doing.  Of course she didn’t respond.  I walked back out the the backyard where she continued to gnaw on the hose until something else caught her eye.

Toddlers are funny.

And we hit a heat record here in Tucson on Father’s Day.  I’ll just leave this here for now.  This is in the shade.

IMG_20160619_155911397_HDR

It was 109 at 9 PM!!