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.

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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?

 

A strong, female playable character in Legend of Zelda

A strong, female playable character in Legend of Zelda

I wish more video games had strong female leads.  Having said that, I’m definitely not one of those people who needs a strong female to take over every male role.  In the immortal words of George R R Martin “To me being a feminist is about treating men and women the same” (Salter, The Telegraph, 2013).  There should be, and needs to be, a balance.  There are games that should be about male characters, and that’s okay!  And there are games that should be about female characters, and that’s also okay!

 

What I don’t like is the trend of taking a male character, turning them into a female character, and calling it “good enough”.  We don’t need yet another female who reminds us more of our brother than ourselves.  What we need is a character who is a woman who was meant to be a woman.  With that in mind, I don’t need Link to be a girl.  I need Link to continue to be a boy (because he so obviously is) and I need a game from Zelda’s point of view.

Zelda is already the strong, intelligent, awesome female character we need in the Legend of Zelda series.  She is brave, always fighting alongside Link, like she does as Sheik or Tetra.  She is fleshed out, created as a person with thoughts, opinions, and struggles, as is so poignantly brought home in the memories of Link in Breath of the Wild.  And, more importantly, she’s been there from the beginning.  This is not some character Nintendo would create out of nothing to prove to the public that they, too, care about women.  This would be a way for them to show that, from the beginning, they have cared about women.  It would be a way to prove that, just because their main hero in this series is male, it doesn’t mean they had a completely chauvinistic point of view.  I mean, these are the people who created Zelda’s Adventure, one of the few older games I have played from a female’s perspective!

And not only is Zelda already created, expanded, and real to the story, but she already has an amazing super power – the triforce of wisdom.  How easy would it be to make more difficult, challenging puzzles focusing on the idea that Zelda has to use her triforce of wisdom to defeat them?  Instead of the regularly-encountered boss, why not bosses with a big twist, requiring some serious forethought and skills to defeat them?

Don’t you guys agree that the absolute best remastered version of Ocarina of Time would be to include the original mode from Link’s point of view and a newly released mode from Zelda aka Sheik’s point of view?  It’s not like she sat around doing nothing for 7 years while Link was sealed away!  So what awesome shenanigans did she save Hyrule from?  Or to have a new Skyward Sword utilizing her very particular role at the temples, with new maps, puzzles, and her own set of bosses?

So, in my opinion, we don’t need a new female, playable character in the Zelda series.  We don’t even (in fact, please don’t!) need to make Link into a girl.  Nintendo just needs to jump on the idea they’ve already started and use the amazing character they already have. Let’s make a new Legend of Zelda about Zelda.

So what do you guys think?  Don’t be afraid to weigh in!  I’d love to hear your opinions.

Speedrunning and Distractions From It

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Once upon a time, during the Awesome Games Done Quick January event, my husband told me he watched someone speedrun Arkham City.  First of all, I had no idea what AGDQ was.  But more importantly, I had no idea what speedrunning was.

“What?! Speedrunning?” you say.  “But, Teri Mae, speedrunning has been around forever.  How could you possibly have not heard of it until January?  And not just any January, but January of 2017?!”  And maybe, you say to yourself, she’s just an exaggerator and she knew about it but had never looked into it.  To that I respond no, I had literally never heard of speedrunning until exactly 6 months ago.  How does a serious gamer go this long without knowing about something so integral and awesome as speedrunning, you may wonder?   I’m not really a social media kind of girl.  I wasn’t interested in Twitch and I was pretty limited to my online multi-player gaming.  And by limited I mean sometimes, when my husband has to go do something, I’ll take over his Uncharted or Battlefront match.  But other than that I stuck to what I knew and loved – Legend of Zelda and Mario.

But the idea of speedrunning opened up an entirely new and exciting vista of possibilities to me!  I decided to see how fast I could play my very favorite, Ocarina of Time.  After all, I thought, I am pretty good at Zelda games.  I have every puzzle memorized and had, what I thought at the time, a pretty good algorithm for time management.  So, without knowing anything about what actual speedrunning looks like, I timed myself playing it.  Wanna know what my time was?  8 hours, 29 minutes, 57 seconds.  I thought that was decent.  With only one major mistake while beating Ganondorf I was impressed with myself and I bragged to the only person who really knew what was going on, my little brother.  So he, in true little brother fashion, decided to break my heart and crush my soul.

He sent me a YouTube video of the twitch stream in which DannyB21892 makes his world record-breaking glitchless run.  3 hours something minutes (he has since broken that record so I’m unsure of the exact minutes).  I was stunned when I saw the time.  And then I started actually watching it.  I had no idea how much effort and thought had gone into figuring out work-arounds, precise paths, and which items to skip and which were necessary.  I learned that I was WAY out of my league.  But it just made me that much more determined to learn speedrunning.  To get into the muck and be the very best.  Like no one ever was.  Despite this new enthusiasm and wanting to dive in headfirst, I hesitated.

While I think it would be the coolest thing ever to beat every single glitchless OoT world record and be a serious contender to DannyB21892’s obvious dominance in that arena, I am nervous about playing my favorite game to the point where it becomes a bit passé.  I still loved taking my time and pausing to hear the music.  But the longer I think about it the more I realize that I don’t exactly enjoy wandering and exploring anymore.  Maybe speedrunning is the next step to leveling up my game.  And I still might do it.  Just not right now…  Because right when I had decided to make that commitment and jump in Breath of the Wild was released.

Now, I still maintain that OoT is my absolute favorite Zelda, but Breath of the Wild is stunning.  I have had WAY more fun playing that game than I originally anticipated.  I’ve always been a pretty thorough person so I explore every single new tower area 100% before I move on to the next one.  And the only quests I leave undone are the ones that require me to go to an unexplored area.  I’ve only been playing for about 210+ hours so I’ve only explored about 60% of the map.  The thing that just keeps blowing me away is that I have 250 korok seeds.  What am I missing that, having explored half the map, I don’t even have half the korok seeds possible?  How does that even work?  When the DLC releases the new mask am I really going to go back and re-explore every area to find them all?  You bet I am.  I even considered using the official guide to find them all but I’m an independent woman who wants to figure things out herself… while using perfectly legitimate add-ons like masks…

But back on topic.  Where were we anyway?  Oh, right!  Breath of the Wild and why I won’t start speedrunning until much later in the year.  Or maybe starting next year.  It’s really hard to find time to do much of anything when all you want to do is bake and play Breath of the Wild.  So will I be starting a speedrunning twitch?  Definitely.  Will it be soon?  Definitely not.  Will I probably start streaming Breath of the Wild and cooking tutorials for this blog?  More than likely.  Is that something people would be interested in?  I sure hope so!  Leave your comments below and let me know what you think.