There's a pothole in my street that gets bigger and bigger with each passing year and I sometimes wonder why it never gets filled. Then I played Road Maintenance Simulator and found out. Filling a pothole is a major pain in the butt.
It's not even filling the pothole itself that takes so much time and effort. It's all the stuff you have to do to prepare for the pothole to be filled. In this first-person sim, I start by getting a vehicle with a big blinking indicator on the back out of the garage, so I can safely park in the road near the pothole and warn cars to go around me. But parking in the road is still a long, long way off in my future. First I have to park the truck by the warehouse, open the tailgate, and load up the truck with gear.
It takes… a while. You know those traffic beacons that kind of look like fence posts with little reflectors on top? Those come in two parts, the bases and the beacons. So I have to load the bases (I can only carry one at a time) and then the beacons (one at a time). I do have a wheelbarrow, but it's a little limiting that I can only fit three items in it at once. Plus, when I'm carrying any item in my hands or in the wheelbarrow, I can't run, I can only walk. Come on, I'm an impatient municipal worker! I'd be overloading that 'barrow like crazy, piling it high with stuff and sprinting at top speed. Anything to save me from making an extra trip or having to work late.
With the beacons and bases loaded, I put a jackhammer into the truck. Then an electric compactor. Then a bucket of the pre-mixed asphalt, two mobile traffic lights (they each have a separate base as well), and finally, I chuck the wheelbarrow on the truck itself. That was, like, 10 solid minutes of just putting junk in a truck. I close the tailgate and I'm finally on my way. Whoops, gotta get out of the truck and open the gate, too. It's hard being the only road maintenance worker in Road Maintenance Simulator.
I slowly drive to the indicated area where I stop in the indicated spot and begin doing all the indicated tasks, which means unloading all the crap I just loaded and setting it all up in the road. I turn on the truck's warning blinker, and then place the traffic light bases and the lights, one behind my truck and one way down the road in the other lane. I load the wheelbarrow with beacon bases and slowly distribute them on the road, followed by each of the five beacons. Finally, I spot something I had already completely forgotten about since this game has been a solid 25 minutes of doing nothing but slowly loading and unloading a truck. I see the pothole. Oh, yeah! The pothole quest! The very reason for being here had slipped my mind.
With all my crap set out, and traffic going safely around me, I get the jackhammer out the truck and point it at the evil pothole I'm here to defeat. I jackhammer, then go back to the truck. I get my asphalt mix and dump it on the hole, then go back to the truck. I use the compactor, and then go back to the truck. And I'm done. That was easy! Pothole vanquished. Except I now have to reload every single thing I just deployed in the precise order I'm told, drive back to the garage, and re-unload everything in the precise order I'm told, and then repark the truck. Only then am I actually, truly done.
The whole adventure takes 40 minutes, all to fix a single pothole that itself took maybe 60 seconds to actually repair. Here, this is the entire pothole-filling extravaganza, sped up into a mere 4 minutes (I may have snuck in a special sound effect at one point):
There are plenty of other roadwork jobs in Road Maintenance Simulator. I cut tree branches that have overgrown the road, then pick them up, throw them in my truck, and dispose of them back at Roadwork HQ. I pick up trash on the side of the highway, which is annoying because I can only carry a single trashbag at once. Yes, loading the truck with 5 little rolled-up trashbags takes five separate trips. Do the devs know that in real life I can buy like 120 trashbags in one small box from the store?
I repaint highway lane lines, which is fun, but there is absolutely no way to paint them crookedly or draw dongs on the pavement or anything like that, which is not fun. I also use a special pressure washer truck to clean guard rails, which I enjoy because a) I've never cleaned guard rails in a videogame before, b) I had no idea guardrails were ever cleaned in real life, and c) I don't have to set up any gear in the road to do it. I just drive up, extend the giant guard-rail cleaning brush, turn it on, and clean that gross, dirty rail. I try to clean some random cars on the drive back, too, just as a general public service, but it won't let me turn the big brush on again.
Which I think is sort of the problem with some of these job simulators. I do enjoy the busy, fiddly work of gathering and deploying gear, honestly, but this game needs a smidge more freedom, a little player agency. If I want to throw my traffic beacons in a big messy pile after a job (or better yet, just leave them on the damn truck because I'm sure I'll need them again) it would be nice to have that option.
I don't need games to force me to be organized. I keep my inventory chests mostly organized in survival games like Valheim, Rust, and Core Keeper, even though those games don't make me. I do it because when I need something, I'll know where to find it. There's already a built-in penalty for disorganization in games, like going out into the world to accomplish something and discovering I don't have the correct gear with me.
As the only simulated road maintenance worker in Road Maintenance Simulator, it'd be nice to be able to simulate making my own decisions now and then. If I'm entrusted with the responsibility to heal the world's potholes, one by one, surely I should be my own boss when it comes to deciding where I put my tools.