Comprehensive Gaming

Guys, I know this isn’t the recipe you were looking for. The holidays definitely got the better of me both physically and emotionally. And while a recipe is coming (I just have to write the post) in the meantime I wanted to share a link to an incredible in-depth look at gaming costs vs playtime vs enjoyment. This post is found on Complicate the Narrative, a blog dedicated to analyzing gaming and applying literary theory to it.

You can find the post here

It’s a long article, but guys, it’s totally worth reading.

I highly recommend chatting with the author in their comments about their experience but if you want to chat here I’ll direct him to it.

My favorite excerpt and my take-away message is this:

After forcing myself to look this closely at the time and money I spend on games, I’ve decided that in the end, the best games do only 2 things: entertain and inspire. The second a game is not doing at least one of those two things, stop. Seriously, just stop. Examine why you aren’t entertained or inspired, then watch out for those patterns in other games, and don’t play those games. Don’t buy them, don’t start them, don’t give them any more attention than they deserve.

This year I’ve really questioned gaming and whether I should, as some put it, grow out of it. I’m planning a pretty long post about overcoming my fear in regards to those sentiments soon, but this conclusion by Paul is the conclusion I’ve made. Gaming brings you joy and can inspire and teach. Find the games that make you feel that and then it’s never a waste of time!

Triforce Heroes and the Power of Nostalgia

Triforce Heroes and the Power of Nostalgia

Sorry for the major posting today but guess what, readers?  It’s another collaboration post, but this one is, dare I say, even bigger than the last one I was involved in!  This series, put on by NekoJonez, is a nice retrospective on everyone’s (or at least my) favorite series: The Legend of Zelda.  In his article you’ll find links between blogs, sharing all the amazing posts by other bloggers discussing each of the LoZ games.  I am so glad and grateful to be involved in this article because, as you all know, I’m a little obsessed with Zelda… Just a bit…

I get to talk about Tri-Force Heroes!  I’ll be taking you through my favorite part of the game: the nostalgia.  This is something Nintendo really tapped into in order to make the game a massively enjoyable multiplayer experience.

triforce heroes

Triforce Heroes, for those of you who never played it, is a multiplayer game for the Nintendo 3DS handheld consoles.  The game was created to improve on the limitations of the GameBoy Advanced Four Swords multiplayer game, which required a lot of finagling to be able to play with others.  Utilizing the built-in WiFi and capability to interact with people all across the globe, Nintendo was able to recapture the enjoyment and excitement of a multiplayer Zelda game in a much more user-friendly way.

Once you start playing Triforce Heroes it seems like Nintendo wanted to recapture a lot of past feelings.  The nostalgia factor is incredibly high while playing, with nods to previous characters, abilities, and artistic styles throughout the game.  It may seem like a simple move to include these little hints but it sure made all the difference for me!  As a bit of a stickler for story the idea of saving an entire kingdom from a “fashion emergency” put me off right from the start.  I was skeptical about the fun I would have playing a game that not only cut out Zelda and Hyrule, but also cut out any semblance of a real story.  But every time I came across another nod at the Zelda series I felt excited, happy that I understood the reference, and eager to continue playing.  For me, that was the real masterpiece of the game.  Nintendo’s ability to capitalize on our love of these characters is what keeps us coming back for more!  What are some of these references, you might ask?  Here, let me show you…

First, let’s talk about concept and artistic style.  This game is heavily based off of the art and world of A Link Between Worlds.  In an interview with Polygon the developer, Hiromasa Shikata, explained that it was A Link Between Worlds that really sparked his interest in creating a multiplayer Legend of Zelda game.  So, naturally, the game would have plenty of elements of LbW throughout it.  The enemies we encounter in each of the levels, the 2D-but-actually-3D visuals, and the stepped terraces and environments are each elements that hearken directly back to LbW.  And, if you know anything about LbW you know that this hearkens back to A Link to the Past, one of the first Legend of Zelda games and a favorite among fans.  So right in the initial development is a double-hit of nostalgia.

In Triforce Heroes Link is able to enter a realm of Doppel’s, which are character’s he inhabits in order to complete levels on his own.  This ability ensures that players can complete the levels they need to even when other players aren’t available.  Shikata, who helped develop Spirit Tracks, explained in his Polygon interview at E3 in 2015 “That element [the ability to control phantoms] really intrigued me and brought out the idea that I wanted to try multiplayer as well.”  So, if we read that correctly (and trust me, we did) Link’s ability to play and inhabit other characters is a direct link to Spirit Tracks.

But we can’t just spend the entire article talking about development, can we? There’s far too much to see and remember to focus just on that!  We’ve already talked about how the art style was heavily influenced by LbW and ALTTP but it seems the character’s were, as well!  There’s no need to go in depth on the enemies, who are a perfect match to the enemies found in LbW.  Did Match Master and Doppel Master look strangely familiar to anyone else?  Yep, to me they looked and reminded me exactly of Sahasrahla from A Link to the Past.  Sahasrahla, the wise old sage, is a perfect match up to the Masters, who are supposed to be guardians of the gates to the outer drablands.  This character, who is able to communicate with Link in ALTTP makes perfect sense as the Masters, who would need to communicate with outside Link’s to create matches.  And then there’s the Street Merchant, a perfect match to the one found in LbW and ALTTP.  This character even makes a little nod when he first shows up at having “seen” Link before… possibly in another world?

And then there’s the outfits.  So many of them are reminders of the characters and things we loved from LoZ games.  Shall we list them?  I think we should, just for the fun of it.

costumes

There’s the Goron garb and Kokiri tunic are a perfect match to those races from Ocarina of Time, while the Zora garb comes straight out of LbW and ALTTP.  Was anyone else reminded of Dodoh from Skyward Sword with the Rupee Regalia outfit?  And Linebeck from Phantom Hourglass and the Fierce Diety armor from Majora’s Mask shows up in the DLC. The Tingle outfit needs no introduction and in a game without Zelda the legendary dress was sorely needed to remind us of her.  The Timeless tunic, from the original Legend of Zelda, is the perfect little nod to the one that started it all, changing all the music to 8-bit sounds throughout the entire game.  And, in a fit of inclusion Nintendo added the hammerwear, a perfect match to the Hammer Bros. from Mario and the Cozy Parka looked very similar to Ice Climbers from Smash Brothers.

But now for my favorite nostaglia moment of them all – the music balls in the waiting room.  I decided, when I was asked to help contribute to this awesome collaboration, to replay a little of the game.  While it held up (mostly) from when it was first released I got stuck in an awful lot of waiting rooms.  It seems like there are fewer and fewer people playing, which means waiting for matches can take quite a while.  And while I waited for a team to show up I spent what amounts to hours playing with the music balls.  If you haven’t played the game you can run, full tilt, at the wall and a music ball (looking like a beach ball) will bounce down from the ceiling.  If you’re able to keep the ball off the ground using your sword you get to hear all the classic Kondo tunes that make Legend of Zelda great.  There’s something, it seems, from nearly every game, and each one brings to mind exactly how much I loved that game and makes me want to play it again.  It was like a few perfect minutes remembering things I loved and still loved from every single game.  I would even get a little upset when my match would begin and it would prevent me from playing with the music balls…

Nintendo created an incredible franchise when they developed The Legend of Zelda.  They created memorable characters, places, stories, items, and music to immerse us in a world we can continue to visit again and again.  In Triforce Heroes, where they needed to create a different type of story and a different type of gameplay, Nintendo capitalized on the elements of LoZ that really capture our hearts, making it another classic we will continue to revisit as time passes on.

Featured Image Credit: Pieter-Jan Casteels https://zoef.deviantart.com/

 

 

Blogger Blitz Retrospective

After something that has been pretty blog-consuming over the last month or two I wanted to jot down some feelings I’ve had throughout the entire competition.

First and foremost – a HUGE thank you to Ian at Adventure Rules for dreaming up the perfect competition.  His creativity knows no bounds, his pictures have been spectacular, and his enthusiasm really caught us up in his excitement.  The work and effort that went into something as big as this cannot be understated and we all owe him a lot of gratitude for pushing us outside our comfort zones.

Secondly – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other competitors in the Blitz.  It’s been so fun to get immersed in a community and really feel the encouragement and support of everyone.  The stories and writing have truly inspired me and I’ve learned so much from what they’ve done.  It’s been a blast to trash talk or encourage by turns and exciting to see how creative everyone is.  I’ll really miss the constant interaction that this experience has brought.

Third – A competition would be nothing without our judges and it feels like these one’s have really upped the bar on blogging competitions!  Their insight, interest, and extensive knowledge have really broken down these entries in a way I’m surprised at.  They took their duties very seriously and it’s been impressive to read their logic on announcement days AKA Fridays.  What a task and we were lucky enough to find people worthy of it!

Fourth – I’ve always known how much Link means to me and what he’s helped me get through in my life, but it’s nice to be able to revisit him in so much detail and really express my love for the Legend of Zelda series.  And it’s strengthened my resolve and determination to 100% BotW, which is no small feat!

And lastly – I want to talk a bit about my journey through this process.  Each time I’ve won I’ve been surprised.  Once I read the competitor’s entry I am confident I don’t stand a chance of winning.  Luna’s entry on the Joker was clever and so well-written.  She really knows that character and her details really blew me away.  And then came Luke’s moving story about Claire and her heart-wrenching decision.  Each Friday, when I read the results, I felt like there had been some kind of mistake.  There was no way I actually beat those guys.  And frankly, despite making it to the finals, I still feel a little like my place here is a fluke.  I may have gotten one or two elements better, but their entries were so inspired I just don’t feel worthy of winning.  It’s been a learning process for me to accept the idea that I may have done something right.  I’ve had to learn to accept my advancement and have tried to come to terms with my place in the final.  I’ve never had a lot of self-confidence and I’m more used to making excuses for why my thing “got lucky” than accepting the fact that it might actually be good.  So along this journey I’ve been trying to accept the idea that what I created may have actually had merit.  It may have actually been a worthy entry.  And that’s where I’ve grown.  I’ve grown as a writer, of course, but I’ve grown emotionally and mentally, as well.

So Ian, judges, and fellow challengers, thank you.  Thank you for teaching me and encouraging me.  Thank you for the confidence boost this has been and for the community you’ve given me when I’ve definitely needed it.  No matter who wins the competition tomorrow it doesn’t matter – because I’m definitely the real winner because of all of you.

 

Better Gaming Through Criticism

Better Gaming Through Criticism

It seems like game journalism and critics are a hot button topic right now in social media and on other gaming blogs.  I think it’s finally time that I put in my two cents about it.

Last night on the commute home I was listening to a RadioWest Podcast episode in which A. O. Scott was discussing his new book, Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth.  Scott is the chief film critic for the New York Times and has quite a lot of experience critiquing films and other art.  Just a few days earlier The Well-Red Mage posted an article discussing whether video games are considered art.  Now, I know it seems like these are two unrelated events but it was like lightning had just struck my brain and today’s post, which had at first seemed impossible, was now impossibly easy.  So let’s talk about the importance of criticism (proper criticism, mind you) on the gaming industry.  And yes, in case you were wondering, I absolutely think video games are art…

First, let’s discuss some science.  I, if you’ve read my profile, am a microbiologist and love infectious disease.  I specialize in human pathogens and in my studies had to learn a lot about how viruses and bacteria evolve.  There are two major ways they do this: antigenic shift and antigenic drift.  Drift occurs slowly, over time, making small changes in the genetic code that eventually lead to a new organism.  Shift happens when a large factor is changed in the genetic code, creating a new organism right away.  Criticism in the game industry lead to these two types of changes: slow, small changes that occur over time and big leaps that happen almost immediately.

So now let’s discuss criticism.  There are two different types of criticism and I want to talk about both, because each one leads to the advance of the industry.  Let’s start with the easy one: “the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes”.  This is the criticism I think most of us encounter – the twitter rants, the angry Reddit posts, the comments section on Amazon.  This form of expression seems to be everywhere.

It’s interesting to think of these critics as important for the gaming industry because I think, in general, they are looked down on.  But have you ever liked a tweet expressing displeasure with, say, Nintendo for not producing enough SNES mini’s to meet demand?  Or left a review of how a game’s mechanics are difficult, not intuitive, or broken?  Whenever you do you are telling the game industry what to produce and what not to produce next time.  If a game is unpopular, has terrible reviews, and no one purchases it you’ve just told the developer to never make that kind of game again.  If there’s a twitter rant about not enough consoles for the masses, the developer will change tatics and immediately begin reproduction on that console (thank you Nintendo for more SNES mini’s!).  If everyone is complaining about the mechanics of how a particular gun is made in Destiny, it’ll be fixed in the next patch.

These kinds of criticism produce the massive shifts in the industry that responds to what the gamers want right now.  It’s a way to ensure that developers are meeting popular opinion and demand.  If you want something done, express your frustration and, if enough people agree with you, you can bet it’ll get fixed, either for the next game or in the next update.

The second form of criticism is “the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work”.  This is where game journalism comes in because these are the critics of the industry.  In Better Living Through Criticism, Scott discusses the idea that art cannot exist without criticism.  I loved this idea because it rings so true to me.  Without criticism, without thinking clearly and examining our emotional response to something, we cannot give that something meaning.  Without meaning, that something cannot be art.  So in order to continue to ensure that games are taken seriously, these kinds of critics are a valuable part of our industry.

A critics job is to look at something and figure out why it has meaning.  Why did it evoke certain feelings?  What is the underlying tone and vibe of the game?  How did it affect the general population and what will the impact be on current societal trends?  These questions provide new insights, even insights the artist wasn’t intending, into the games and consoles that are being released.  In turn, these criticisms evoke antigenic drift, the slow process of small changes that adjust the way the industry behaves, the games that are made, and the stories that are told.  When critics ask hard questions and come up with new answers, it provokes though and ingenuity in the developers.  Sometimes it’s something no one had considered before.  Because of these new ideas we are able to change the way that we think about games and the way that games are created, produced, and told.

And you know what?  These voices are important, whether they are good at something or bad at it.  Just because you aren’t capable of playing every game on the market doesn’t mean that your in-depth analysis is invalid.  We don’t expect sports commentators to have necessarily been pro players, but we still accept their opinions and their commentary as valid.  We don’t expect film critics to have been producers or actors at some point in their career.  The point of a critic is to be able to think about something a little outside the box in order to invest new, and sometimes groundbreaking ideas into the mix.  We should extend the same courtesy to game journalists.   Most of them have an area of expertise and they are pretty good at sticking to that area.  But they’re allowed to be humans and step outside that range for non-professional moments.  Let’s let them be human.

A word of caution: just because we can be critics doesn’t mean we should be.  This post isn’t a call to arms, trying to make sure everyone remains harsh and unforgiving in their opinions about new games, new consoles, new media.  In fact, I think we can be just as influential in our positive opinions and reviews as we are in our criticism of how things are done.  By showing Nintendo that the masses love Zelda (obvious by the sales numbers) we are ensuring that something we admire continues to be made.  By expressing our delight with the mechanics of Overwatch, we continue to provide support for the loving tweaks they give the characters to help make the game even better.  People’s disappointment that the Uncharted series was over may have ensured that spin-off’s like Lost Legacy continue to be made.  So let’s use criticism to help make the things we love so much become better, but let’s also use our positivity and optimism to make them better, too.

My conclusion?  The criticism from both gamers and critics introduce novel changes to the industry that help it stay active and alive.  I think it’s an important aspect of gaming and something that we should be proud to be a part of.  What do you guys think?  Do you believe that criticism and critics are important for the game industry and how could it be different and better?

 

A Girl in a Game Store

A Girl in a Game Store

As a female in the gaming world I have come across some weird behaviors over the years.  But very few compare to the different ways guys react to me when they see me in a game store alone.  Bordering on insulting, these hilarious run-ins prompted me to make a list of 5 navigational pitfalls that easily ruin a first impression.

The One-Upping Competition:

This one is so hard to avoid.  The guy wants to prove he knows more than the girl because of a, b, and c.  The girl wants to prove she knows the most because of x, y, and z.  Instead of interacting with each other and creating a bond that could be the start of a beautiful friendship they wind up arguing.  It goes from friendly banter to nit-picking in a heartbeat.  And the last place you want a relationship to start is with a fight.  Turn of vs. mode and play team mode for a while.  I bet you’ll like where it leads.

The Game Developer Stratagem:

Once Upon A Time I was waiting in line outside a GameStop with my little brother for the Nintendo Switch release.  It was now about 7 am and this girl shows up.  She stood at the front of the crowd of (mostly) men and said “I’m a game developer and I’d really love everyone’s opinions about what makes a good story”.  She batted her eyelashes, whipped her hair (probably…) and it worked – the first 10 boys or so fawned over her.  That is, until her boyfriend showed up and ruined the illusion that they might actually have a chance with her.  Every time I see this technique get used all I can think of is “Are you peacocking?  Really?  Do you think that’s gonna work?”.  People, get real.  Stop actively looking for attention and just be honest about what you really want.  I’m guessing people will appreciate it a lot more since they will, inevitably, find out the truth.

The Better Gamer Attempt:

Why is it that so many guys in a game store think that I need help playing my game?  Why do they feel compelled to give me hints even after I firmly state that I don’t want any help?  It’s because I’m a girl.  Because they want to impress the opposite sex with their “obvious” superiority and knowledge.  This method is, above almost all others, the most annoying because I don’t like spoilers!  And I’m guessing most people feel the same way.  So just stop it!  If there’s a girl (or guy, for that matter.  I’m sure it goes both ways) in a game store by herself who doesn’t look lost, she probably knows what she’s doing.  And instead of treating her like she’s clueless try engaging her in genuine equal conversation.  It’ll probably get you way further than assuming you know more than she does.

The Gawk and Cover:

Ha!  I love this one.  Not for use, mind you, since it doesn’t work at all, but because of how funny it is.  It’s so awkward to be wandering around the game store and see the one guy/girl following you with their eyes but ducking out of sight whenever you notice.  Fellow gamers, have a little more confidence in yourself!  Make Link your spirit animal and channel the triforce of courage!  Try and talk to them because the worst they can do is say no and if you don’t talk to them you’ll never know.  The unapproachable She/He will probably be more interested in your well-informed and interesting game opinions than they are about whatever it is that bothers you about yourself.  And if they aren’t trust me when I say they are flattered by the attention whether they go for it or not.  I always am!

The Damsel in Distress:

Ugh.  This strategy.  Just walk into any game store and you can see this method being utilized.  “Oh help me!  I don’t know anything and I’d love some big, strong man to figure it out for me”… Here’s the reason this method isn’t worth the attempt.  There are two reasons why a girl is in a game store: A) she’s married to/dating a gamer, isn’t a gamer herself, and is genuinely looking for help.  She isn’t sure what she needs or how to find it but dudes, she’s taken.  And B) she’s just looking for attention but trust me, she knows as much as you or more and you’ll get a rude awakening when you find out she faked it.  Women of the world, instead of trying to mask how much we really know and how much we love gaming, why don’t we own it and approach these gentlemen as equals instead of inferior beings.  It’ll probably get you farther in a relationship because you’ll actually have something to build on rather than something to hide.

What awkward encounters have you guys encountered in the wild?  Did I miss any that you’ve experienced?

 

Thursday Thoughts: E3 Edition

Thursday Thoughts: E3 Edition

With E3 slowly winding down and coming to a close I wanted to join the hundreds of people expressing their feelings on the turn out this year.  I know quite a few of my fellow gamer-bloggers have been live-blogging E3 this year.  I appreciate their stamina and insight, particularly because it allowed me to skip a lot of it due to other conflicts.  If you want a really good exploration of a lot of the showcases I highly recommend Adventure Rules.  His posts made me laugh and were pretty good at capturing the feel of the presentations.

Bethesda:  Let’s start with one I didn’t watch.  Thanks to Ian, my little brother, and my brother-in-law I got a pretty good idea of what happened.  It made me feel very lucky that I didn’t stay up for it… Nothing was announced that sparked my interest, including Skyrim for Switch, because, frankly, that guy stealing Link’s stuff was just weird to me.

Microsoft:  I don’t own an Xbox and I probably won’t ever own an Xbox.  But their overwhelming focus on something that’ll be difficult for people to afford utilizing technology hardly anyone can afford painted them into a serious corner.  So what if your console has 4K resolution?  Are you going to drop $500.00 on a new console only to play it on your TV that’s still 1080P?  In order for this truly to work you’ve got to spend the thousands on a new TV, and then buy the console, and then buy only the games that have 4K capability!  Am I impressed with the technology they presented?  Of course!  It’s a huge leap forward.  But do I honestly think it’s going to work out for them?  I think that’s an obvious no…  At least not right now.

Ubisoft:  I’m not an Assassin’s Creed fan.  I know the stories are pretty interesting, in general, but I think the gameplay is pretty boring.  I didn’t even like Black Flag despite the fact that you’re a pirate and pirate’s were in that year.  But an ancient Egyptian storyline has so much potential!  I think I’ll still feel the same way about the gameplay and, frankly, even with the coolest concepts Ubisoft hasn’t delivered on a storyline I care about.  But then there’s Mario + Rabbids.  It looked like a mixture of straight-up weird and cool.  I couldn’t tell what my feelings were on this one.  At first I pushed back, thinking it was something I would never play.  But the more I see of it, the more willing I am to give it a chance.  It’s a Mario game, after all.

EA:  Confession time: I love Star Wars.  When I went to my very first Comic Con and saw Dave Prowse I started crying because I was so overwhelmed.  He thought that was pretty cool and invited me and my family to dinner with him and Peter Mayhew.  Definitely worked out in my favor.  So when I see a newer and much, much better Battlefront coming, I get excited.  Nothing else really stood out, but Star Wars is always worth it for me.

PlayStation:  Every year my brother-in-law throws a PlayStation party where we gamers come together and watch the showcase.  This year we even had a game.  Each of us wrote down a list of games we thought they’d present and there was a point system and everything.  I don’t always play something other than Nintendo, but when I do, I play PlayStation (keep gaming, my friends), so I was pretty interested in what they’d be showing.  However, since I don’t play it very often, PlayStation would have to show something incredible to get me excited… But that didn’t happen.  I didn’t see anything that blew me away.  Even the new Uncharted, a series I actually love, didn’t appeal because I really don’t like Chloe!  What surprised me, though, was how little the people around me cared.  All the games we had guessed and games we were excited for weren’t discussed and the gameplay didn’t wow.  Though I admit, the zombear was pretty awesome.  Luckily they closed with Spider-man, which has some serious potential for making the Arkham fanbase happy.

Nintendo:  Now for the cream!  I don’t know what I was expecting from this but it wasn’t what we got.  Other than the weird voice-over for Xenoblade 2 (seriously, what was that?), they blew me away with their animation, titles, color, and excitement.  A new Pokemon RPG, a new Metroid, the Breath of the Wild DLC, a new Kirby, an amazing-looking Yoshi, followed up with Super Mario Odyssey.  It was like eye candy and happiness had a baby.  I’m so excited for nearly every single thing they announced and now I’m anxious for it all to get released!  I’m so excited for these games it feels like I’m a kid again.

So who, in my opinion, “won” E3?  I think that’s not really a fair question.  Everyone has different tastes, opinions, and ideas about what they want from their gaming experience.  I am a pretty exclusive Nintendo gamer so Microsoft (obviously) didn’t appeal to me and, while I enjoy PlayStation games and the stories they tell I wasn’t wowed by anything they brought to the table this year.  So it’s pretty fair to say Nintendo, with their colors, graphics, lack of mindless intro’s, and announcements of some new heavy hitters was my absolute favorite.  But it was last year, too, when the only thing they talked about was Breath of the Wild.  I think, based on preferences determined by a quick poll at my laboratory of all the serious gamers there, everyone got pretty excited about something someone was releasing.  Which means that, to me, E3 itself was the winner, bringing another year of excellent games to excellent platforms that appeal to a wide audience of gamers.

So what did you guys think?  Any games you’re super excited to play?

The Completionist’s Dilemma

The Completionist’s Dilemma
Warning- this post may contain a few minor spoilers for completionists

I’ve always been a completionist when I play Zelda.  I complete every side quest, open every chest, get the highest possible tier in every game, collect every item, explore literally every nook and cranny, and, up to this point, cut every blade of grass and pick up every single rock.  I love the feeling of mastering a game, of knowing it inside and out, and of feeling like I gave it everything I have.  So when I started playing Breath of the Wild there was never any question of whether I would collect all the Korok seeds, explore every area thoroughly, and complete as many missions as they threw at me.

I started with a game plan: I would explore every new tower area completely and 100% before I unlocked the next area.  It was the only way to ensure that I didn’t miss anything.  I block off the new area before I activate the tower and then I start exploring.  Literally every single square foot is explored before I move on to the next tower.  I slowly move my boundary inward until I have seen all the amazing, incredible landscape and admired every lovingly-rendered scene.  If I see anything suspicious that I haven’t figured out yet, I stamp it and come back to it once I’ve had time to figure it out.

File_000

It’s been a fantastic way to see everything.  I have definitely gotten hours of excitement and enjoyment from this game I would have missed if I had focused on the story alone.  It’s nice to be the one my little brother questions when he can’t find a shrine and it’s fun to feel like I gave the developers the exploration they were intending.

But sometimes it’s a struggle.  When I climb yet another craggy peak at Death Mountain it can get boring and tedious.  When I run across yet another empty field, zig-zagging until the entire thing has been viewed I wonder what I’m doing with my life.  And when I accidentally notice how many hours I’ve played and I’ve barely finished half the map I worry about my life choices.  Sometimes I worry that, by choosing to play the game this way, I’m losing all the spontaneity and pure excitement that comes from random exploration.  And, frankly, sometimes I worry that people are judging me for not spending my time the way they think I should.

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So there’s the dilemma… What I am doing vs. what I feel I should be doing vs. what other people do.  It’s been hard.  Sometimes I don’t want to keep playing because Hyrule field took forever to explore and there was literally nothing there.  And sometimes I get bored climbing and climbing and waiting in the rain to do yet more climbing just to get to the top of spires that don’t contain a single item.  But when I find something all the spark and energy come flowing back.  It’s rewarding to find a Korok seed in some random area I never would have explored.  It’s awesome to be obsessed with killing every Lynel only to find out there’s a medal for doing so.  It’s breathtaking to find a view you never would have seen unless you were in the right place at the right time.

And you know what – it doesn’t matter what people think and how other people play the game.  This is your game and your experience.  Don’t let anyone take that away from you!  They can keep their judgy comments to themselves  because this brings you joy and life is about having joy.  However you choose to play the game, just do it!  Because Zelda is about adventure and someone else’s adventure should never take away your adventure.

So has it been worthwhile to become a 100% completionist for Breath of the Wild.  You bet.  I wouldn’t change this experience for the anything.

So how about the rest of you?  Are there any completionists out there pushing for 100% like me?  Have you been working a different strategy to make sure you get every piece of awesome you can?