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Landscaping Tycoon

By Shamus
on Monday Oct 13, 2008
Filed under:


In the past I’ve mentioned I’m a fan of James Lileks, so it was kind of disorienting this morning to hit his site and see my quasi-famous RCT3 rollercoaster shtick in today’s Bleat. Hey! I’ve seen that one. Wait… I made that one!

And to comment on his point about using the game for building infrastructure: You know, I realize that’s the point of the game and all, but that’s not how I played it. Also, in spite of my movie of premeditated destruction, I didn’t do much of that either. When I was playing Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, all I ever did was fire it up in sandbox (free build) mode and play the world’s most in-depth videogame about landscaping. You have no idea. Trees, benches, flowers, topiary (in moderation) pools of water and attractive bridges over same. All colored just so. Arranged carefully. Once in a while I’d go crazy and throw in a ride (and then fuss around trying to cover up the ugly queue infrastructure with greenery) but only so I could lure visitors into walking through my meticulously designed gardens.

To grasp how demented this is you’d have to see the condition of my yard. On my block I’m that guy. The dandelion farmer. Everyone else mows and trims each spring, only to have my bumper crop of dandelion seeds float into their yard and try to drag the rest of them down to my lowest common denominator. Then fall rolls around and they rake their leaves, only to be buried under the brown and orange tsunami coming from my yard the next time the wind picks up. I’ll bet they’re praying I have a heart attack and my wife marries a guy more familiar with the basics of lawn care.

Outside, my allotted patch of earth runs wild to the endless vexation of my neighbors, and inside I’m working on a space to make the greens at St. Andrews look like the banks of the Amazon.

If they knew, they’d lynch me.

Added bonus: The video just broke 2 million views in the last couple of days.

Comments (32)

  1. Alleyoop says:

    *pod person point and scream!* SIMMER!


    There is definitely something to be said for games in which a primary element is ‘merely’ creating environments of your own design. Just because…it’s fun, it’s absorbing, it’s even soothing. And you made it so.

    Sims games aren’t the best-selling PC game of all time for no reason.

    Now go rake your lawn, slacker! On second thought – don’t. That’s good mulch, so says me, your fellow lawn yawner.

  2. Robert Hayes says:

    Avoiding the dandelion farm is easy enough. Next year, go out and sow thousands of dandelion seeds while loudly announcing “yep! gonna raise dandelions this year! sell ’em to the health food people! gonna make a fortune!” Then go back inside. Do nothing further.

    In accordance with Hayes’ Iron Law of Horticultural Perversity, all the dandelions will die, driven out by crabgrass and other greenery. Which isn’t as good as a lawn, but which looks a lot better than the dandelion forest.

  3. Ambience 327 says:

    I hear you Shamus. I’ve been bothered to mow about three times this year – and mainly because cat-tails were starting to form and my wife was worried that the office would be bringing in the lawn crew to over-charge us for their “services” pretty soon.

    I just can’t see spending an hour every Saturday making sure I have a well-manicured lawn when there are so many more interesting and, well, FUN things to be doing on my day off!

    Of course, the guy across the street is one of those nuts who runs over his yard at least twice weekly, and has those ridiculous DIAGONAL STRIPES running through his yard because he always follows the EXACT SAME PATH each and every time. Sometimes I want to invite him to ride your roller coaster… :)

  4. Strangeite says:

    I am that guy too. The arguement that I make with my wife, is that I am trying to do my small part in fighting global warming. Taller grass and dandelions produce more oxygen. Also, by minimizing the use of the lawn mower, I am helping end our dependence on foreign oil.

    Rationalization is the great human quality.

  5. Kevin says:

    Happy Genocidal Murderer’s Day!

    I gave up going to the movies so I could hire my sister’s friend to come take care of my yard. My wife doesn’t think he does that good a job, but it’s way better than the job I wouldn’t be doing.

  6. Factoid says:

    Ambience 327: You should shove it in that guy’s face about his diagonal lines. It’s not good for your lawn to mow it in the same direction every time. The foot traffic and mower wheels wear down the turf. It’s the same reason they make runners go opposite directions on the track every other day.

    So ideally you mow your lawn veritcally one week and then diagonally the next week…maybe switch it up by mowing in the opposite direction occasionally.

    You can now walk up to him with confidence and say “You are doing it wrong!”

    Plus those guys are jerks. I care about my yard..but only enough to mow it about once a week, use the weed whacker occasionally and edge it a couple times a year.

  7. Kasper says:

    I just went to see the bowlercoaster one more time, because it never ceases to amuse, if viewed in moderation. But guess what, it is no longer available… Do you know why the powers that be youtube pulled it off shamus?

    Edit: never mind, just a temporary glitch. Never had that before though.

  8. Mari says:

    I know where you’re coming from, Shamus. I spent two or three years playing The Sims primarily as a demented interior designer. Those annoying Sims just existed to mess up my well-designed homes and every once in a while I would have to kill them off in painful ways as revenge.

    Wandering around my own home you would wonder who I paid to design the Sims houses because my little castle isn’t going to be on the cover of House Beautiful in its lifetime.

    Roller Coaster Tycoon was similarly a timesink in landscape design for me. I don’t even know how to start our lawnmower. Seriously. I mean, I understand the general principles involved but they don’t seem to work on ours. Not even the half-hour of yanking the string and cursing.

    And don’t get me started on Zoo Tycoon. That was an awesome adventure in landscape design! Heck, even playing the game as intended made that a key point of gameplay.

    I love sim games for all the wrong reasons.

  9. Jeremiah says:

    I detest lawn work. I had enough of that when I was a teenager. I guarantee when my wife & I buy a house that I’m gonna make some neighborhood kid rich for taking care of my lawn. That or I’m ripping it all up and having a gravel lawn.

  10. R4byde says:

    I rather like dandelions; they’re beautiful and those little seed pods look so cool blowing in the wind. Its an especially amazing sight when four acres of dandelion fluff take flight all at once. I love my unkempt yard. :)

  11. Traiden says:

    A large Rock Garden, like that zen thing. I would have to go and rake the sand around the large rocks, but it is much better than normal lawn work. You can make art with this!

  12. Maddy says:

    I’m also “that guy.” In fact there was a whole section of my lawn that was ALL dandelion. But this year I did ONE application of weed & feed (you just hook it up to the hose and spray) and they were all gone and the grass soon crept in to fill in most of the brown spot. Amazing.

    I kind of miss the dandelions, though.

  13. elias says:

    Haha, I’m that person on my block, too.

  14. DGM says:

    To grasp how demented this is you'd have to see the condition of my yard.

    That’s what pictures are for, dude. :)

    Or am I opening a door that should remain sealed?

  15. Shamus says:

    That’s what pictures are for, dude. :)

    What? You mean go OUTSIDE? Where bears live? It’s not even air conditioned out there.


  16. DGM says:

    …And I guess that would be what windows are for. :P

  17. Rustybadger says:

    I am so lucky. My wife convinced me it was a good idea to buy a 4-hectare bit of property 45km outside of town. While I was a bit leery at first, I have come to see the wisdom of this decision: since our property is almost entirely forested, lawn care isn’t that critical. In fact, I don’t even have what could be called a lawn, which is great. Also, since we’re outside of the town’s bylaw enforcement zone, I don’t need building permits to throw up a greenhouse or a barn or a new porch. And nobody complains about my weed farm- although I am motivated to keep things trimmed a bit, because of the mosquitoes!

    The next best thing to that would be living in a high-rise apartment. Suburban life is just too competitive!

  18. Deoxy says:

    Happy Genocidal Murderer's Day!

    You forgot the /sarc tab on the end of that. At least, I hope you did. I don’t give a wooden nickel about the actual day, I just hate Political Correctness (it’s an illness).

  19. xbolt says:

    I live in the middle of the desert, so I don’t even have a lawn! :D

  20. Rick C says:

    You people that aren’t living in an HOA should be happy you aren’t. If I don’t mow my lawn regularly I get a nastygram, backed by the threat of having it mowed for me. I wouldn’t mind that except that they’d probably charge a lot more than the guy who does it now.

    I’m pretty sure my next-door neighbor, the guy who puts in new sod every year (yeah, he’s the other that guy) hates me.

  21. DGM says:

    Hmm… Shamus, did you turn your trackback feature off? If not, something may be wrong. I made a small follow-up post on my own blog, but no trackback appeared here as it normally does.

    And while I’m at it… Every time I post a comment here I get an error message telling me the process failed, although the comment always goes through a few seconds later anyway. I’ll cut and paste the error message once I post this.

    EDIT: Here’s the error message, minus the technical support key:

    Error 403
    We’re sorry, but we could not fulfill your request for /twentysidedtale/?p=1937#comment-107349 on this server.

    You do not have permission to access this server.

    Your technical support key is:

    You can use this key to fix this problem yourself.

    If you are unable to fix the problem yourself, please contact twentysidedtale at shamusyoung.com and be sure to provide the technical support key shown above.

  22. Brian says:

    Lawn neglectors of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your blades!

    I actually would LOVE to take good care of my lawn, but I’ve got three kids, asthma, and a WoW addiction. I’m sure the small woodland creatures appreciate my laziness.

  23. Namfoodle says:

    @ DGM: We all get that error message, it just does that.

    I am that guy with the crappy yard, too. I live in drought-prone California, so I decided to stop wasting water on my ugly lawn and let it die. Even when I watered regularly it didn’t grow very well. I replaced about 25% of the area with drought resistant plants and then stopped. The HOA complained, but I told them I can’t afford to do much more at this point.

    There’s a web site where people can complain about their rotten neighbors. It’s disturbing becuase the breakout of complaints is something like this:

    25%: My neighbor is a moderate nuisance.
    25%: My neighbor is a criminally insane bag of dicks.
    50%: I am an otherwise normal person contemplating 1st degree murder because my neighbor’s yard is ugly.

    Seriously. The people who complain about lawns are way more aggro than folks putting up with drug dealers, vicious dogs, peeping, stalking, whatever.

  24. mookers says:

    Down here in Melbourne, Australia (and many other parts of Australia) we have severe water restrictions, and everybody ends up being that guy

    Dandelions grow remarkably well with almost no water.

  25. David B says:

    The solution to your IRL lawn problem is simple. Just put up a sign that says “Mow my lawn: $10”.

    *Then* plant the dandelion seeds…

  26. Miral says:

    Well, to be fair, the appearance of the neighbour’s yard is often one of the components of a property’s valuation. So by having a messy yard you’re driving down their property value, and the only recourse they have is to complain bitterly to you about it.

    (I would probably be “that guy” as well, except that I live in an apartment and the Body Corporate hires someone to go around and mow the lawns periodically.)

    And I used to get that 403 error, but I haven’t seen it for the last year or so…. (not since the great Multi-Country Block List affair).

  27. […] just had a brief but amusing exchange with Shamus Young in which he mentions the perils of going outdoors.  I admit that I’ve […]

  28. DGM says:

    Okay… I have no idea why that took so long, but I withdraw my earlier observation about the trackback not showing up and apologize for wasting everyone’s time.

  29. mavis says:

    I was playing Anarchy Online – ohhhh many years ago – just messing with my apperance – seeing what worked and what did not (which was much harder then say in COH).

    My girlfriend walked in and asked what I was going… so I told her.

    And she pointed out that I was spending time making some unreal look good – while I never bothered with my apperance.

    Which did rather give me pause…..

  30. Jeff says:

    Bah, clearly you look good enough for your girlfriend, eh?

  31. ryanlb says:

    Your method of yard care sounds like mine. My wife doesn’t particularly approve, but like you said, it’s not even air conditioned. I don’t think we have bears in our neighborhood.

    I picked up a riding lawnmower a few weeks ago, it’s made it a lot more fun to mow, but I still only do so twice a month. If that.

  32. Felblood says:

    Unless your neighbors barbecue, or are trying to sell the place, they should be thankful that you’re keeping the property taxes lower.

    I can’t believe I never went to see that video before now.

    I used to be on dial-up, so I never took the time, but if I’d known how awesome it would be, I’d have been willing to download it.

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  1. […] just had a brief but amusing exchange with Shamus Young in which he mentions the perils of going outdoors.  I admit that I’ve […]

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