White Lines: A ‘Stormer’s Last Lap

I don’t play MotorStorm: RC anymore. That’s not because it’s a bad game – it’s not – and it’s not because there’s not enough to keep me coming back – there is. Rather, it’s because I’ve forced myself to keep away from it, for my own sanity, even going as far as to delete it from my Vita.

In fact, I’ve not played it for a little while, but only recently stopped to consider why that might be. Blocking yourself from doing something you like, or get a benefit from, seems counter-productive, but there’s just something about Evolution’s apparently simple little racer that perhaps got its hooks in too tightly.

I know what it is, of course, but it’s frustrating that the very reason I initially loved it so much was, ultimately, the same reason I stopped playing it.

It was the times; the leaderboards; the laps. Oh, so many laps.

Truth be told once I finished the game I only ever went back and played the first two or three events: the simplest tracks; the slowest cars. But something about my compulsive behavioural tendencies and the way the game draws you in with its admittedly wonderful approach to asynchronous gaming became too powerful a marriage.

The facts are obvious: if you provide a way for a player to instantly see how he’s doing against friends, neighbours and the rest of the world, they’ll find some inner reward system from that, a deliberate sense of achievement and pride.

If the player beats his opponents, give him quicker ones, and send him off again from the start. If he plays for hours and becomes the best, tell him that by putting a cute little #1 next to his name on the leaderboard, but be sure to let him know when someone else inevitably takes the crown away.

I’d do well, I’d get into the top five for the first course, and go to bed. I’d wake, check the game, and find out I’d be back in tenth. The same few players and I were embroiled in some kind of silent play-by-mail battle with tiny twelve inch pick-up trucks. The game’s notification window is tiny, but when it’s telling you you’re no longer the quickest, it feels massive.

Luckily, the Vita doesn’t have a way of prompting you to any of this outside of the game. There’s no system-level tool that pings you when you’re no longer king of the hill, no day ruining cross-platform bleeper or, God help me, an email alert. It’s only my lack of willpower (and appreciation of the game) that kept me opening it up each day.

I remember once spending a good few hours cycling between the Vita and PS3 versions constantly trying to better my time for the first course by any hundredth of a second I can grab. I shouldn’t be doing that – I don’t have the time. It was getting ridiculous.

Those little white, blue and red lines were crazy, and they had to stop. I had to stop. And one day, after playing through the second batch of DLC, I decided that enough was enough.

MotorStorm RC is a brilliant game – I still think it’s one of the smartest on the Vita and certainly the best value for money. But it’s addictive, wildly so, and whilst that might prove to be a blessing at the start when it’s all exciting and a novelty, for me it just got a little bit silly.

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11 Comments

  1. I know what you mean, I haven’t played it for ages as, once you start, you just have to have another go. the time just flies by with no work done.

  2. Lovely article. Thank god, I’m not competitive like that (with friends or myself). It’s the very reason Hannypoppie and I play the Beta of League of Legends and are genuinely happy with games that suit us (against bots) as oppose to the vein-bursting stress of PvP matches.

    Good on you for being able to “just say no” after such a long time. :-)

  3. This is why I’m glad I’m not good enough to make the top of the leaderboards.

    Ok, I lied, I’m not glad.

    This is odd timing- I literally just got back into Motorstorm RC last night!
    Great little game, although some of the handling is a little too sensitive.

    • I don’t check the leaderboards (wouldn’t be anywhere near the top anyway), it’s the friends ghosts on track when racing the hot laps that gets you into the ‘just one more go’ mindset.

      • Hehe.
        I meant my friends list leaderboards, rather than the wider world’s, unfortunately. :P

  4. The main thing that puts me off going back to it to set better times is the fact that it just means that I’ll get inundated with random friend requests again … thankfully it’s died down now, but for weeks after the game came out I was receiving anywhere between 15 and 30 requests every day, it was incredibly annoying.

  5. K/D competing and trophy competing are the worst :p

  6. Every time I fire the game up for a quick couple of races it only stops when the battery turns red. It’s quite addictive. But when you manage to take a corner so perfectly that shaves off a second or two of your lap it’s a great feeling :)

    • Everytime I fire up the game to play I remeber that’s bloody awful and I wasted my money.

      • Felt the same with Escape Plan. Shame it was the most expensive of them all.

  7. The addictive nature that leaderboard scores can bring out is compelling. Give me a Time Trial in a racer with friends posting faster times and I’m like a pig in used food trying to beat the them…..love it! So I can absolutely concur with the need to keep trying for the sweet victory of attaining the goal…. albeit short lived generally. :P
    Being able to call it a day and put the game down knowing that you will drop down the leaderboard and become a has been just shows a sensible level of restraint. :P

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