The hardest thing is starting. The second hardest is continuing.

In the past few weeks, I have formulated zero long-term gaming memories. I have continued to throw myself into Guild Wars 2 and Hearthstone, making quite some “progress” in both. The time passes easily enough. And I am entertained during play. But I couldn’t tell you specifically what I was doing last Tuesday. I cannot present an argument for why you should (or shouldn’t) play GW2 or Hearthstone in a way that did not already exist a month ago.

Things happened, but nothing changed.

It is a tad early for resolutions, but here is mine: commit to distinct experiences. Any given MMO can consume thousands (or more) of hours of your time. It is indeed a great value, in comparison to how much money you would have had to spend on the equivalent games. Journey is what, 2-3 hours? And yet the experience of Journey remains a core memory eight years later. That music, the visuals, that nameless stranger who guided me to the summit. Would I have traded 100 Winterberries for that experience? It’s absurd, and yet I find myself doing that every day.

Prose aside, this desire came from a Reddit post talking about how there would be no Dark Souls without ICO. While I have not played Dark Souls much – despite owning several of them – I understood the sentiment because I played ICO. And yet how many people out there never did, or ever will? That game is a transformative experience. One that predated my first contact with MMOs. What if I… hadn’t? Too busy with WoW or whatever? Could there be an ICO in my unplayed gaming hoard right now?

Now, I’m not actually expecting to find another ICO in my library. And this sentiment is different than the sort of vague, “I should play everything just in case it’s genius.” I’m also still planning on squeezing in some MMO time in there too, assuming I’m not hooked on something else. But! Let’s take some baby steps towards the thing I actually want to do – generate unique experiences worth talking about – and not get sucked into killing time all the, er, time.

It’s silly, but here’s my starting list:

  • Death Stranding
  • Undertale
  • SOMA
  • To the Moon
  • Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
  • Final Fantasy 15

Some are 100s of hours, some are less so, some aren’t going to be worth it. Final Fantasy 15, for example, gets shit on a lot. Let’s see why, eh? I’m getting better at dropping “good” games that have exhausted their novelty, like Dishonored 2 and Subnautica: Below Zero, so that shouldn’t be a factor.

I owe it to myself to give these games (and others) a chance. Especially since, you know, I already own them. I’m not going to find my next Xenogears just doing daily quests all the goddamn time.

Posted on December 13, 2021, in Commentary, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. The only two I played are To the Moon and SOMA, and the first is significantly better than the second. I actually played all games from the same creator as To the Moon (i.e. Finding Paradise, Impostor Factory and the mini-episodes). SOMA is very good until the middle where it becomes a “reload and find in which direction to run” kind of puzzle….. but it has a mod to more or less disable death and you can then “safely” play until the end.


    • Yeah, that is kind of the reason I haven’t played SOMA earlier. Like, I hear people praising games like Alien: Isolation and I’m over here thinking “Hmm, do I want to play Anxiety: the Game tonight?” No thanks. I originally thought it was a game more akin to a philosophical walking simulator (or The Outer Wilds), but I’ve heard enough consternation about being chased by invincible enemies to be wary.

      We’ll see. Eventually.


      • I knocked out To The Moon in a couple hours this past summer. I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d feel about it going in, but I was pretty happy with it. A moving story that I enjoyed.

        Undertale, that one I had significantly more expectations of going into it. It’s supposed to be such a great and unusual game that’s really cool and has a great personality. I found it completely abhorrent and had almost no redeeming qualities.

        Really curious how you find Undertale, when you get to it.


  2. You say you aren’t laying down memories but just the mention of winterberries in the post triggered a memory cascade for me of when that particular zone was added to the game and what I did there. At the time, it didn’t have any special significance and it doesn’t now, but clearly some part of my mind felt it was worth recording anyway.

    I’m not sure it’s as easy as all that to predict what will end up as a memory that comes back to you over and over and what you’ll never think of again.


    • Sure, there may be particular days that I remember regarding Winterberries. But I’m not going to have 14 distinct memories about farming them for two weeks, multiplied by however many times I did so. Sort of like how we don’t remember every lunch we have, unless it is particularly novel/awful on one particular day or another.


  3. I like your approach to this, and know what you mean — I would never go so far as to say I ‘regret’ the time I spent playing almost exclusively MMORPGs, but I *am* very conscious of the fact there were a lot of good games that I ignored in favour of playing more in whatever MMO occupied me at the time.

    It’s got to the point now where the pendulum swing has hit the apex of it’s non-MMO swing and I might be ready to consider moving back the other way… Only I’m unsure what MMO might even step in and do that for me. There’s FFXIV of course, but at least so long as I’m working my way through the MSQ, it’s hardly an MMO at all.

    Also you’ve reminded me I really need to get back in and play more Death Stranding at some point. I really enjoyed it as far as I’d gotten — but got distracted then never went back. lol


  4. You are absolutely correct in what you said, but it feels like it is missing a factor (for me).
    I spend loads of time in mmos, but I do not play for the unique memorable experiences, I play it to do things with my friends. Going to a bar with friends and having a drink is fun, but outside of a rare special thing happening it does not create lasting unique memories either. MMO is exactly the same for me.

    A single player story game is great, and can be a very special experience, but in 99% of the time it is extremely single player focused.


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