SpinTires

The dirty and beautiful SpinTires: Mudrunner

It’s no secret that the original SpinTires is a strangely wonderful game with an equally strange relationship between developer and publisher. At one point, SpinTire disappeared from Steam only to return hours later amidst accusations of sabotaged code. The thrill of outrageous 5mph white knuckle driving was marred by a completely uncertain future and lengthy gaps of silence.

Adding to the frustration, the game always seemed unfinished, perpetually living as a technical demo, sporting odd bugs, a quirky interface and almost a complete lack of objectives to play.

The tables may be turning as SpinTires: Mudrunner comes to Steam, still helmed by the original developer, but published by Focus Home Interactive without ant oversight by Oovee, or at least we hope so.

In essence SpinTires is back with the same gloriously large and ridiculously powerful Soviet era trucks, the same sparse and eerie rain soaked landscapes and the same impossibly brutal terrain, narrow roads and debilitating mud.

I’ve already taken advantage of the 50% off discount for previous SpinTires owners and the trucks are just as well detailed as they ever were, with articulated suspension, winch points, and top heavy loads of wood just waiting to topple over at the most inopportune time.

While it looks and feels a lot like the original, it actually feels complete this time. There is a tutorial to get acquainted with the basics. There are challenges to get the ball rolling and mud flying. And there are new maps full of log toting goodness. There is also multiplayer, which is basic, but will hopefully improve. And it works more fully with a controller.

The Steam Workshop is also included, so if things work out well, there should be a slew of trucks to play around with. I also have the feeling that although Mudrunner might be the spinoff, it’s most likely the one that continued to be developed while the original SpinTires has probably reached it’s end of life.

So, if you’re looking to drive oversized trucks, throw some mud and balance an obscenely overloaded logging on the side of a cliff, Mudrunner is the game you need to get.

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A closer look at SpinTires

When SpinTires came out as a Tech Demo, I was really excited about it. I missed out on the Kickstarter (thankfully), but picked up the game right at the end of it’s Early Access cycle. It had all the potential in the world to be something really unique. However, the final version removed all the features that made the Tech Demo so much fun. All the trucks were gone, modding had been cut out and you were basically left with driving around in the dark.

So the game wasn’t off to a good start and things seemed to get worse. All you had now were useless trucks that bogged down in the mud every few seconds so that you spent all your time using the winch between trees. That was exciting for an hour and then you were ready to throw things.

Then the dev cycle seemed to stop. No updates, no communication and the game pretty much languished, at least that’s how I saw it. I tried it a couple more times, but the camera threw my perspective into weird angles, the trucks still sucked and the mud was so damn thick that driving was impossible. Again, I threw it aside.

And just recently, another point of contention boiled over where it looked like the dev and publisher were at odds and the game was yanked from Steam. Then it popped right back without anyone saying a word. So what the hell is the deal with this game?

As I was going through the Steam Summer Sale, SpinTires came up and the reviews had tilted to being Very Positive. Something must be different, because when I threw in the controller, the reviews were scathing.

So, I decided to try it again. After all, it was already installed and updated. Turns out, things are much better. Modding support is back and the number of trucks you can download is pretty decent. But, even the included trucks are much better.

I took to the first map and actually had a really good time tearing along the mud tracks and crossing through the water. They’ve made it much easier to change trucks before you start a map so you’re not stuck in that damn Jeep looking thing.

I used a 6×6 semi and bounded through the mud, slinging crap everywhere. I was actually able to make progress and find different locations on the map. Of course, it’s still slogging through mud and still slow going, but at least it was entertaining again. I didn’t spend every minute trying to winch to a tree just to go 5 feet then repeat the process.

The "cloaking" or hiding of the map still feels silly to me, but with the right truck, it’s at least a reasonable task and doable. Before, I wasn’t able to cross the river and couldn’t reveal any of the map to see where I was. This time around, I not only revealed the map but actually completed the Objective. That still consists of finding the lumber yard and hauling the logs to the most remote part of the map, but at least you can auto-load the logs instead of picking them up one at time.

The return voyage can still be dangerous as hell with plenty of opportunities to capsize and dump the entire contents, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be.

Overall, it’s vastly improved and not only did I complete the first level, I played around with several other trucks on offer from the Steam Workshop and ended up spending a few hours exploring the map, crossing rivers and removing the cloaking funnels. It was actually more like a fun four-wheel experience than a nightmarish chore.

Is the game perfect? No, the camera still behaves in an odd manner and there are other oddities like the truck whirling out of control when I used the winch on a trailer I had to ditch to cross a river. The trailer bumped into a tree then leapt off the ground, sending itself and the connected truck hundreds of feet in the air. Uh, WTF? Oddly, I got the 360 Achievement for rolling the truck. And to be honest, the relationship between the dev and publisher still seems strained.

With the current Steam Sale, is it worth buying? At the current price, no, not unless you have friends who love 4-wheeling. Then you have an arena for all sorts of shenanigans. But even still, the near $30 price tag is too high for what you get. The only objective is to gather and move logs and high-end titles like Project Cars, The Crew and Dirt are currently $15. However, the off-roading experience can be a lot of fun, but it’s clearly not Dirt 2, Dirt Rally or anything like that. This is a 5-10mph trek through sloppy mud, over damaging rocks and through hazardous rivers. That can be fun, but if there were more challenges like completing courses in a certain time, obstacle courses or the like, SpinTires would be quite enjoyable.

As it stands, SpinTires is a niche game, that has a decent community and a good amount of potential, but you have to be lenient and patient with the game. If you want to sling some mud and see just how far you can push an off-road vehicle, you could be entertained for days.

SpinTires on Steam
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This 6×6 rascal can plow over some terrain. Trucks like this are fun to drive through the muck. The other “starter” trucks wouldn’t last 5 feet.

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Since I can make progress, why not pick up some logs and see if I can make it up the hill without dumping it all over the road.

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Gadzooks! I got an achievement!

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Check out the real life mud flinging between Dev and Publisher for SpinTires

If you haven’t kept up with SpinTires, you should have a look at the commentary showing up in the Steam library. There is a reference to a major bug that caused the game to crash. Unto itself, no big deal. But if you look at the linked articles from Rock, Paper, Shotgun and others you will see there is suspicion the crash issue was a direct sabotage to the game by the developer himself. That sounds like a little over the top, but you get the real sense there are some hostile feelings between the Dev and Publisher Oovee.

To be honest, SpinTires showed a huge amount of promise during it’s Tech Demo days, but has been nothing short of a waste of money since then. It’s been plagued with issues, slow development, lack of features and a huge amount of bugs. In fact, the Tech Demo offered a slew more features than the released version. For example, you could mod the hell out of the demo, but that was completely stripped out for the released version. With a completely BS reason as to why.

SpinTires has been riddled with bugs and lost it’s luster almost overnight. Simply put, the current version sucks. I’ve barely played it. And each time I come back, I get more and more frustrated because of how poorlt it works, which is a real disappointment, because it’s stupid good fun to drive a ridiculously big truck into insanely deep mud, just to see if you can get back out. And there’s some fun to be had by tipping the whole thing over or drowning in the river.

But who knows what the hell is going on with SpinTires. There was no progress for months and months and now it sounds like the game is going to implode. In fact, things got so bad recently, it was temporarily removed from Steam. WTF?

Of course this is all adding fuel to the conspiracy theories. All I can say is that SpinTires was a pretty neat game, still has lots of potential, but it is completed f-ed up at the moment. Development and updates are slow and terrible when they do arrive. The Dev is pissed at the publisher for holding all the cash. SpinTires has been on the verge of collapse multiple times.

So far, SpinTires has been an absolute waste of money. If you have a copy, look at the amusing commentary being left or check out the articles below for some giggles over this stupid debacle.

If you don’t have SpinTires, don’t throw away your money. Oovee and the dev need to pull their respective heads out of their backsides and get this game back on track, sell it, or start handing over some refunds. SpinTires went through Kickstarter and Early Access, so I’m confident they have plenty of cash in the coffers. Don’t give them any more and avoid SpinTires all together.

If and when we get a steady stream of communication and fixes, this will be a worthwhile game, but until then, SpinTires has become a sad joke.

Spintires’ Steam Clusterfuck, Explained
Spintires dev refutes allegations he sabotaged his own game
Spintires Now Back On Steam With Official Fix

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Slugging through the mud in SpinTires

I finally set aside the time and went on a 4-wheeling adventure in SpinTires and I have to say it was extremely difficult, very slow going, wrought with danger and I didn’t complete a single objective. However, the time spent was very enjoyable and full of unpredictable moments that made me laugh and shake my fists in the air.

First off, what is SpinTires? It’s basically an off-road adventure of orienteering and logging. The goal is to retrieve a load of lumber from Point A and drive it to Point B. Sounds pretty simple except that Point B is at the end of a windy, muddy track and the correct route may not even be visible on the map until you do some scouting in one of the other vehicles. If the idea of crawling through the mud or traversing impossible terrain doesn’t sound like fun, then SpinTires is not the game for you.

The first goal is to remove the "cloaking" that covers most of the map in darkness. I started off in the little Jeep you’re supplied with on the first map. I jumped in and went for a glorious ride, bouncing along the road when it was dry and creeping my way through the thick mud. It took me a few minutes and a few tries to figure it out, but I got the hang of the winch and used it dozens of times to pull myself out.

Finding these "cloaking tornadoes" was a hell of a lot harder than I expected. In order to reveal them, you actually have to drive inside one and considering some of the terrain they lurk in, it’s a harder task than it seems. I damaged my truck on the big rocks and got insanely stuck in grass that turned out to be quicksand. Not to mention I got stuck on down tree trunks and flipped the damn thing over multiple times because the high side of the road was dry, yet the low side was mud. Curse you center of gravity!

I did manage to get a couple of these cleared away, but I spent more time going down the wrong path than I would care to admit. I swear, that trail looked like it went somewhere!

Overall, I managed to flip the truck over a dozen times and even tipped the logging truck over wherein I dumped the entire load I was carrying. I also managed to drown both sets of vehicles more than once and had to play International Rescue to retrieve the vehicles I abandoned.

I’ve only played a few hours so far, but here are my impressions.

The graphics and vehicle detail are great! You really get the sense you’re out in the back woods with the early morning fog, the chirp of the birds, the knock of the woodpecker and the rush of the river. If you want to go 4-wheeling, but don’t want the hassle and expense of wrecking a real truck, this will be a fun adventure.

There is a lot of unexpected twists and turns and finding the right spot to ford the river can be a challenge. I thought I found the perfect spot where it was only a foot deep with calm water. Jokes on me! Turns out it was several feet deep, consumed my truck to the roof while the current grabbed me and drug me along. My truck took on water damage which ruined the engine and shut off the winch. Curse the bad luck at being stuck in the middle of the river with no way to escape.

While I think the game is quite entertaining and enjoyed the exploration and unexpected paths I took, this game clearly isn’t for everyone. It’s slow going and you need a lot of patience to stick with it – some times there’s just too much damn mud. If offroading isn’t your thing, this game won’t appeal.

You will quickly find there is very little to do except gather up logs. That is truly the objective – park the truck correctly and get the logs loaded. If you want a more hands on approach, you can operate the grappler and load the logs yourself.

The game comes with a rather high price tag too, which is unfortunate because of the niche appeal. This game would be well placed as a $15 title so wait for a sale if you didn’t get it in the latest Steam sale.

Based on the comments and some other feedback, there seems to be some stress between community, developer and publisher. This game got quite a bit of support on Kickstarter with the promise of lots of features and full modding support. I saw the mods in action during the "Tech Demo" and they were a lot of fun to mess with and easy to install. But that modding ability hasn’t quite worked it’s way into the final game and there is quite a bit of back and forth about it. Based on a couple of comment, there might be only one dev at the helm.

SpinTires is a fun playground, but it’s a bit lean on content. Picking up and dropping off logs will only entertain you for so long. If the devs add more challenges, get the mod support worked out, add more maps or offer tools for community generated maps, this game will have a lot of replay value.

Bonus feature – no gymkhana

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Oh damn, I’ve made a slight miscalculation in my driving abilities with a load full of logs

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No need to panic, I have this well in hand

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Ok fine, so you had to come pull me out, did you have to bring such a conspicuous truck?

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Ah back at the garage for a couple of quick repairs and some fish removal

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We’re all packed up in the SpinTires family truckster

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Huzzah! We found the beach!

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It was not my fault that I got hung up on the tree and plunged into the river.

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SpinTire for Sale on Steam – 40% Off

image Here’s something for the holidays (yes, Halloween is a holiday!) SpinTires is on sale at Steam for 40% Off. This brings the price down to $17.99 from the regular $30. That’s not too shabby.

If you haven’t seen SpinTires, it’s an offroad adventure full of heavy duty military trucks converted to the logging business. The goal is to explore the map, carry out tasks (such as loading lumber) and not get stuck. The getting stuck part is probably the hardest to avoid.

Now, before we get too far, this is indeed a slow paced game. This isn’t racing. Not only is the top speed a mere crawl since you’re in an 8 wheeled transport rig, but the terrain is insanely difficult, full of trees, rivers and mud that will try to swallow you whole. The countryside will blur by at a blistering 8-10mph if you’re lucky. But that’s not the point.

It’s all about exploring the landscape and testing your mettle as a driver and the power of your rig. Did you pick the right truck for the job? Do you have enough fuel? Do you even know where you’re going? Expect some long hours behind the wheel where you put in a slow, but deliberate pace.

I’m not sure this qualifies as a casual game, but that’s in the eye of the beholder. I missed getting this on Kickstarter, but the Tech Demo was loads of fun. I haven’t bought the full version yet, but with this sale, I think that’s about to change. If you’re looking for some offroad fun and challenges, SpinTires might be just what you’re looking for.

SpinTire for Sale on Steam – 40% Off

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