Trying to ease myself into the new year, I’ve cheerily wasted the day playing a game just about fighting, before turning to the internet. Bill Harris brings to me the attention of the rarest, most precious thing in games criticism. That is, a mea culpa. Writing for the Mercury News, Dean Takahashi slated Mass Effect only to eventually admit there was something he was missing.
“The dumb thing about the way I played the game, as many pointed out, is that I didn’t make use of my Talent Points. I started the game doing so, but while on Feros, I didn’t pay attention to all the Talent Points I was accumulating after every encounter. Those points just sat there. They were waiting for me to assign them to specific character trait improvements.”
Yes, he’d forgot to level up. And you wince, but it got me thinking – we’ve all done similar mistakes with some game at some point, fundamentally misunderstanding it, and carrying on regardless. And I thought it’d be a good thing for people to come clean about in the new year, in a spirit of admission of humanity. And, clearly, I ramble about some of mine beneath the cut.
Well, I’ll start with (I suspect) an apocryphal one – I think – Jim told me, about a German Gamer playing Monkey Island II. You’ll recall the section where you have to get six thousand pieces of eight. How the fuck are you meant to do that? Well, most of us worked out how to win the spitting contest. This gentleman, was more industrious. He recalled that you could get a single piece-of-eight if you polished the peg leg earlier in the game. Going back, he started repeating the process, over a series of years trying to amass the 6000 gold.
Yeah, SURELY apocryphal, but that’s the core of it. We look for systems and once we have an idea of how something works, it can be terribly difficult to requestion those assumptions. We’ve all ended up, polishing that peg-leg, metaphorically speaking.
(No, not a metaphor for that. Mucky pup.)
The one which I come back to was during my teenage years, when I was playing the Bard’s Tale. I wasn’t alone. Instead of working on our GCSE maths lessons, my comrades and I were busily copying each others maps of the Catacombs of the Mad God and similar. It was a case of a game perfectly matching our needs and environment. We wanted to play a fantasy game. It was a fantasy game whose square-based maps were perfectly suited for cartographic immortalisation on graph paper. Which was the one thing we had in surfeit in maths lessons. Hell, it’s not as if we were going to do any work.
So, for a good couple of weeks, we all went home, adventured, then returned the next day to collate our mapping exploits. And the maps sprawled. The Catacombs one was stretching over three double-page spreads torn from maths books, carefully assembled when Mr Roses’ attention was elsewhere. Which, admittedly, was about 95% of the time.
Three page spreads. This dungeon seemed endless, and we were quite lost until…
Well, there was a moment of realisation. That bit looked a bit like this bit and…
Bollocks. The actual map looped every 22 squares. We’d have noticed it earlier if it wasn’t for a mapping mistakes which meant the looping wasn’t perfect, and the whole thing was raising up by a couple of squares each time.
But, yeah, we’d spent the last couple of weeks trying to map a dungeon which looped. We may as well have tried to map the Asteroids screen.
Okay. That’s me proved my stupid credentials. What about you lot?