Friday, November 7, 2008

The Way I Play

I've been reading through Stargrace's posts regarding the new EQ2 expansion and the Ancient Gaming Noob's recent reminisces of his MUD days, and they got me to thinking about how I play games.

Back when I was a kid my parents had a very strict policy when it came to computer games - no new ones until I finished the ones I already had. This lead me to long hours playing games to the hilt, exploring every inch of the universe until I solved the final puzzle and reached the elusive end game "movie" that was the reward for the graphical adventure games I favored.

The HOURS I spent on the little hoverbike in Space Quest 1, trying to get from the crash site of my escape pod to Ulence Flats, crashing into rocks and ending up buried head first in the sand. The days it took me to sort through the spells in King's Quest III so I could knock off the evil wizard and escape back to my homeland. Let's not even get into the weeks of my life absorbed in Super Mario Brothers 3 at my best friend's house, memorizing patterns of marauding turtles and mushroom people.

All of this playing had me writing copious notes in order to remember where everything was. You never knew when that blue rock that could be moved was going to be an integral part to a puzzle. One game in particular, Starflight and its sequel Starflight 2, had me creating pages and pages of notes - habitable planets, lucrative trade routes, worm hole coordinates - I kept everything in a log. I was so obsessive about it, I even wrote letters to Electronic Arts (the publisher) checking to make sure I had found EVERYTHING!

Fastforward to today, and my gaming habits are a very different picture. From my computer desk I can see rows and rows of PS2 and Nintendo Gamecube games I've never even put into the console, let alone played through completion. They're right above the DS games and below the (rapidly growning) PS3 library which is following a similar path. I just FINALLY put Lego:Batman into my console this past week, and I've had that for at least a month or so already!

Beyond the vast library of games is the way I play games now. I'm the first to run crying to EQ2I when the immediate answer to a Norrathian quest isn't right in front of my nose. I've got a stack of console game walk throughs and cheat guides holding down one end of my entertainment center. And for anything that I don't have a printed version for, there are at least a thousand on-line walk throughs or hint sites I can run to for help.

Somewhere along the way I lost that drive to find everything on my own, at the same time gaining a disposable income that threw the "rules" of game buying out the window. How did this happen?

As I've thought about it, I can't decide if it is because I have become a lazy gamer, or that I just don't have the time to commit to marathon gaming sessions anymore. Have I become a too busy adult, who would rather let somebody else do all the playing while I receive the payoff for their effort? "Where's the fun in that?" I ask myself. That isn't how I want to enjoy my hobby.

So, I have resolved that for the latest EQ2 expansion - The Shadow Oddyssey - I'm not going to use any spoilers or write ups as I adventure. I'm going to do it on my own, exploring and discovering all the great content the developers have put together. I want to figure things out, and work through the quest lines, and enjoy the stories of Norrath at my own pace, not plow through them as quickly as I can.

And if I do come across something that I can't quite figure out on my own, well, it IS a MASSIVELY MULTIUSER online game. I can always fall back on one of my friends for hints and tips, rather than a canned write-up from somebody I don't even know!

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