I’m powering up right now to work on my LATEST MASTERPIECE, Frankenstein Takes a Holiday (a comedy/fantasy/eldritch horror story) and as I have a little time before I’m ready to go, let’s see if I can put out an ACTUAL BLOG POST instead of the usual nonsense.
A few days ago Brother Eric wrote of a time sink of his, namely the Castlevania games. Both he and Brother Todd have been fans of the series for some time and it’s no surprise he finds hours slipping pass as he plays it.
Now, I have current time sinks of my own., myself Among them are games like Fable 2, which are entertaining to play and offer a stimulating storyline to follow. Games like Fable 2 are why I’m still into video games, and probably will be until senility set in.
But that’s not why I’m writing today.
Not at all.
See, I’m also playing Dragon Age: Origins. And that game is well and truly evil. Not because it sucks away your time (it does) or because it is defective in the story department (it isn’t).
No. All Dragon Age: Origins wants to do is tell you a compelling tale. And, while it’s doing so, hold your favorite face in the snow until it’s red and raw.
What you have to understand is that I’ve gamed for most of my life. No doubt I’ll bore you with the details at another time. For the point of this essay, I’ll say that I’ve played a lot of console RPGs. I know the breed.
Back in the day, one of my favorites was Dragon Warrior (now better known by its original name, Dragon Quest). In it you played a “Great Hero” who was out to stomp the evil Dragon Lord. To do this, the player needed to collect the three plot coupons and save a missing princess. Really, the story was simple, just like every other video game of the period.
Now it wasn’t just a straight walk from home to Dragon Lord’s castle. You had to strengthen up your character. That meant walking around in tight circles near a town fighting various monsters, whose demise would reward you with experience points (XP), money (GP), and the general sense that the world had gone to hell already and the death of one Dragon Lord wasn’t going to help out much (Fatalism).
Every so often as you go in your tight little circle, you would be attacked by said monsters and have to do battle. This consisted of either clicking on FIGHT (where you might damage the monster with your weapon), SPELL (where you might damage the monster with magic or heal yourself with the same), ITEM (which you might heal yourself with), or RUN (which might end the combat, but never if you REALLY REALLY wanted it to.) You would do so over and over again until either one of you ran out of Hit Points (HP) or you ran away like a shrieking little girl. If you won the battle, you’d get the aforementioned experience points, etc. etc. etc., and in time would level up and become better at killing things weaker than you were. If you didn’t, then it was game over. You lost whatever you’d gained from the last save and would have to repeat the same process.
Now, sometimes you’d want to break from the circle to go into town, where you could regain hit points and use the money to buy all sorts of goodies that would make killing monsters easier. And then other times you’d wanna risk moving away from town, towards where the harder monsters lived. See, the harder the monster was to beat, the more XP and GP you got. Plus those plot coupons weren’t going to collect themselves.
More often than not, though, the excursions out and away from your tight little circle would end the same way. Namely with your character down at 1 HP and you racing back to the safety of town. Every time a monster showed its face, you’d hit RUN, praying to high heaven that you’d get out of the battle or that, if you didn’t, that the monster would miss you and give you another chance to hit RUN again. Because damn it, you hadn’t saved in over two hours and please God don’t make me go through all that walking in tight circles AGAIN.