Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Field Report #24 - In The Swamp of RPGness

RPG Fatigue
With two little kids in the home I am usually looking at about 2-2,5 hours of game time per day, at the very best. This is assuming I'm not doing anything else, like writing a blog post, reading, watching Star Trek and then writing a blog post about that, or giving my SO some attention. Apparently he needs that on occasion (which, to be fair, often amounts to us playing a game together so I guess it still counts towards game time). Long gone are the days of my kid-free-ness where I could easily spend 8-12 hours on gaming in a day if I felt like it. Which I often did.

This means I often have to give some extra thought to what games I choose to play. Some shorter games like Gone Home, World of Goo and Four Last Things I can hope to dish out within a couple of weeks. But if I feel like trying some sort of RPG, I am often looking at what could end up being a months long project. Because of this I try to mix up what kind of games I play, so that I don't get stuck with several long-term games and that being the only thing I play for several months. Maybe I will play something like South Park: The Stick of Truth or Dishonored, while also digging into a longer project like Mount & Blade and throw a shorter game like Return of The Obra Dinn in there.

How is it then, that I've gone and found myself having done the exact opposite of that this year? I've ended up playing not one, not two, but five long-term games at the same time. Without even realizing it I discovered that I was actually playing Divinity: Original Sin, Geneforge 3, Secret of Mana, Let's Go Eevee and Monster Hunter Ultimate 3 simultaneously. Dividing my game time between them meant I was probably looking at spending all of 2019 with these games. Something had to be done. While playing the same game for a long period of time isn't a problem in itself, and a necessity if I want to experience a longer game like an RPG, I do need the shorter games to give me a sense of accomplishment every now and then. I just need to actually complete something to feel like I've done something. Also, I am staring down a "To Play" games list that is already over a hundred games long and not getting any shorter. I can't afford to get myself stuck in only long games like this or something inside me will start to panic.

Geneforge 3 - Don't judge a book by its cover.

So, unfortunately, something had to go. Monster Hunter Ultimate 3 was the first thing to be cut, because even though I enjoyed it, it was the game with the least sense of direction of the lot. I can definitely see what pulls people in and there is just so much to do. But in the end that is what made me ditch it, because it felt overwhelming. Let's Go Eevee is put a bit on the backburner, mainly because it is a retelling of a game I have already completed several times before and so doesn't offer much in terms of new experiences. Secret of Mana is the one of the three left I have decided to put the least time into simply because it, so far, is the least fun.

But that still leaves Divinity: Original Sin and Geneforge 3. I have so far spent almost 70 hours with the former and around 35 hours with the latter. Out of those two I am enjoying Geneforge 3 the most and would've probably felt like I was done with DOS now if it wasn't for the fact that I am sure I am quite close to the end (read: maybe only about 20 hours left?) and it feels like it would be silly to abandon the story now after having already invested that much time. Although, in all honesty, the story is not what has kept me around for DOS.

I'm hoping I can finish one of these long runners soon so I can get started on The Witcher 3 this century.

My son is now 5,5 years old and absolutely loves video games with a passion. I am happy he does because I think there can be some great fun to be had when sharing a video gaming experience. So I have been writing before about a couple of games that we have played together, games that I in most cases wouldn't have played on my own but had a lot of fun with when playing it with him. The best kind of video games spur a lot of fun ideas and dialogue, and in a lot of cases we can take inspiration with us outside of the game and turn them into things like arts and crafts projects or ideas for things to do with Lego and whatnot.

So far, the games we have been playing together have been chosen by my son but curated by me. This means I have selected a list of games I thought would be fun to play together and have let him pick something from that list. I haven't struck a dud yet, we have enjoyed every game we've played together. But now something has changed. A month or so ago, for the first time, he asked me to join him in one of the games he usually plays on his own.

Roblox - You can even adopt people.

It started with Minecraft, a game I had never had any interest in playing myself. After seeing on Youtube that you could play Minecraft with other people he asked me if I could join him. Yeah, why not? And it's actually a lot of fun playing it together. I was also amazed at how proficient my son was at the game, because even though we've got him playing where we can always see what he is doing I had clearly still missed the finer details of his Minecraft skills. Since I had absolutely no knowledge of the game he could not only build a lot faster than me, but also often gave me helpful hints and pointers. He also spent a whole lot of time breaking and changing the things I tried to build up, but that's just the way a 5 year old is.

At the moment his interest has shifted from Minecraft to Roblox, a game he discovered completely on his own through Youtube. I had never heard of it, but after checking out what it seemed to be about I helped getting him sorted and it didn't take long before he asked me to play it with him. And wow, it's a pretty neat thing. It provides players with an easy tool to create their own content and because of this there is a lot of content. There is a Roblox game about just about anything. We've played a Cops & Robber style game, Pizza maker game, a game that allows you to be a bird and I even found a Roblox game that is trying to replicate Pokémon (and it really doesn't look like something Nintendo would allow).

While Roblox is pretty cool and all, I am still mostly looking forward to when we can experience some more intricate games together, like Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (while they might be single player games, that doesn't mean you can't share the experience). I realize those games are still many years away and he might not even have an interest once the time comes, but there is hope!

Finally A Resident
Speaking of Resident Evil, I go way back and share many good gaming experiences with that particular series. It's interesting then, and I've probably mentioned before, that I've never actually played any of the games myself. I've always just been a, albeit enthusiastic, spectator. The only game I've played somewhat is Resident Evil 5 in co-op, which was fun, but I never got around to completing it. My favorite in the series is probably the Resident Evil Remake on Gamecube, coincidentally (but probably not) also the first Resident Evil game I experienced. I am a big fan especially of the first four (RE, RE2, RE Nemesis and RE Code Veronica). Resident Evil 4, while definitely a good game, is not really to my liking and RE7 was definitely not to my liking (very fun to watch a Let's Play of though, but not a Resident Evil game if you ask me).

I realize what I enjoy is the zombie lore, the weird settings and even weirder puzzles. The mansion of the first game is just so atmospheric as you make your way through it, slowly unravelling the chaos that has taken place there just days before. I love trying to imagine what it must've been like there just before the zombie-shit hit the fan and I find the world-building superb even in all its absurdness.

And then came Resident Evil 2 Remake, which I have been looking forward to ever since it was promised inside the booklet of my Resident Evil Remake copy on Gamecube. I really didn't think that it would ever happen, the same way Final Fantasy VII remake will never happen (I've given up hope to be honest). But it did! And it's good!

Resident Evil 2 - Didn't like her then, don't like her now.

After RE7 I was so worried they would go with another Outlast-copy style game, but fortunately they have not. I haven't gotten far into the game yet, but so far it seems like they've really kept the spirit of the original but enhanced it to keep it fresh, just like they managed to do with the original RE Remake (which in my book still stands as the best game remake ever). And that's right, I am the one playing it this time. My very first Resident Evil game, so to speak. It's not like I've never played a horror game before, I've got proof of getting through both System Shock 2 and Dead Space without screaming too much like a baby. And it's going pretty well so far, nothing has scared me brown yet but then I haven't come across Mr X yet so that'll probably change very soon.

It is unbelievably dark, even after I realized I had put my brightness setting way too low so that I could literally barely see anything, and fixing that. While I don't mind so much, I definitely prefer the older style of limiting your visibility through "bad" camera angles rather than making you run through vast areas with just a flashlight. Not because one is scarier than the other, but because I want to see the surroundings to be able to get that immersive feeling of the older games. But overall I must say RE2 remake is very fun.

Here's to hoping they'll remake RE Nemesis too.

Images from myself and gearnuke.com

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