A PC gamer has either built their own PC, or will at some point.
Though the real life experience of building a PC can be nerve wracking, the virtual experience found in PC Building Simulator, a game developed by Claudiu Kiss and The Irregular Corporation, is more relaxed and streamlined. Having built my own PC before, I’m pleased the virtual experience doesn’t go all-out quite yet with some of the finer details. I’m glad each job isn’t terrifying, and small mistakes that would be costly in real life aren’t here.
In PC Building Simulator’s career mode, you’re the owner of a PC repair/building shop where people send you their broken or old PCs, and it’s your job to repair and upgrade them. It slowly introduces you to a number of different problems before giving you the best job: building a new PC from scratch.
The customer is always right?
PC Building Simulator tasks you with a range of common issues, but never asks too much from you – I’m grateful, for example, that when customers want HDDs replacing I’m not expected to transfer the data. Not yet, at least. Early on in your PC building career, you’ll start with the simple removal of viruses, and the requirements become more complex over time. The worst challenge I’ve come across so far is having to reach a specific 3D Mark score; it involves a fair bit of guesswork in how and what to upgrade.
Just like real life, some customers you come across in PC Building Simulator can be true pains in the arse. Rosaleen, for example, wanted a $500 upgrade for $350 payment, so I chucked that one out. (A sly cheat you can do is to take the PCs apart, quit the job, and keep the parts in your inventory. Sorry, Rosaleen. You shouldn’t have been so awkward.)
As you play the game, you’ll get repeat customers, so you’ll work on the same PCs more than once. For every customer, you’ll get a bit of information about what they need from you and why – perhaps someone is setting up a site to illegally download cult movies; or an author who needs a digital version of his latest work; or some weird cult wants you to meditate with candles next to their PC to fix issues – clothing optional. These all help to teach you the basics of building a PC, but without the pressure and stress to get it right.
Square pieces in square holes
My first full PC build job was a fluke and a half. I bought some pieces from PC Bay – cheaper prices but longer delivery times – and others from the main shop. The customer defines their wants: in this case that was 16GB Ram and 500GB HDD, but more crucially to spend no more than $750. I didn’t calculate the prices of my purchases for this job as I went along, but when I put it all together it came to $748 by sheer luck – er, I mean skill. Skill. If it’d been higher I would have had to spend more money to put something cheaper into the build, but immediately coming to that figure meant my final payment of $950 was extra sweet.
Problem solving enters the fray when a vague “diagnose and fix” is the job description for those customers who can’t ascertain why their PCs are broken. I recommend you always read the emails you’re provided with carefully as they can give small clues, but sometimes you can tell what’s broken from just looking at the PC. For example, I could tell an SLI setup had a faulty GPU, so I replaced that GPU and voila, fixed. Another had an overheat issue and I noticed there were no case fans, so I popped in a couple and it was able to get through a 3D Mark without a blue screen.
Next day delivery
In my last hour or so of playing PC Building Simulator, I’ve taken a more relaxed approach to delivery. It’s about finding a balance – PC Bay can take as long as 10 days to deliver, but it costs $30 for next day delivery. With few jobs having time constraints, I’ve cut back on next day deliveries. This way I save a bit of money and fix these PCs when the parts get here, rather than rush to complete jobs quickly. Spending $30 extra for every item had held me back on the purchase of upgrades.
Now it’s all about that sweet 3-5 working days lifestyle. I’ve also started purchasing the ‘value’ items for customers’ criteria to save more money. That can be hard for someone like Rosaleen. I mean, she wanted a GTX 980 but wanted to pay me for half the cost. Damn you, Rosaleen.
As it’s currently in early access, more will undoubtedly be added to PC Building Simulator before its full release. The community always floats ideas about the place, and the team is working to integrate those – a recent update added the often asked for SLI/Crossfire in PCs. Next for the team will probably be water cooling, and I’m all for seeing how much further they take the realism of it all.