Chill Man’s Sky; Invaders!

Chill Man’s Sky; Invaders!

There’s a push and pull in the way I play games.

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The push is my reluctance to move on. I have (apparently) fond memories of my early days of gaming when I was able to kick back for an entire day during summer vacations and do nothing but play. Those were the days when we didn’t have any Internet to hold our hands with walkthroughs and guides, and the only help we could count on were the Necronomicon-sized manuals and maybe a printed strategy guide if we opted to stoop that low. In those days every little bit of the experience counted. We couldn’t leave any stone unturned lest we discover later on that we missing something we needed and — if the game was kind — had to backtrack to find.

I really wish for those days, now, in middle age, although maybe nostalgia paints them as more worthwhile than they really were. What I really miss is the time to be able to play without pressure, and of course without the “burden” of adult life. Sometimes we hear complaints about how we have more “infantile” adults these days who just want to stay home, play video games, watch cartoons, and not have to worry about more “grown-up” things like, oh, I don’t know…struggling to make ends meet, idiots in politics, wars, disease, having to pay (literally and figuratively) for the bad behavior of others, just to name a few that come to mind. Somehow wanting to enjoy life in ways that matter to us is a bad thing to people who believe that we should leave certain things behind as we get older.

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Of course, life really is a river, and if you don’t paddle under your own strength you’ll still get swept along, which is why no matter what game I play I always have this pull to move on, get ahead, and accomplish something. When I know there’s something that the game wants me to do, I am supernaturally compelled to do it even if there’s more interesting, optional content staring me right in the face. I can always come back and do it later, I think to myself, but rarely do because there’s always another task to start.

With No Man’s Sky, I’m reversing the trend, and the design is helping me do it. My starting solar system has only three planets that vary in hospitality from deathly frigid to “I’m going to retire here”. Now that I understand the completionist panel thanks the the upstanding Pete of Dragonchasers fame, I’ve allowed it to become an obsession. I’ve got one more animal to catalog on the temperate world, and an unknown number of sites to save and planets to catalog, then it’s back to the other two to complete those rosters. The game wants me to engage the hyperdrive, use the galaxy map, and move to another star system, but that’s frightening. I consider my current system my “home”…what if I can’t find my way back to complete my collections later on? If I don’t complete these before I leave, what’s the point of starting the cataloging and collecting in the first place?

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This all leads to a lot more relaxed experience that you might think based on my chosen words. What’s in that cave? What’s over that ridge? Holy crap I can actually swim underwater? I solved a math puzzle last night (thanks to sheer contrived guesswork on the pattern) and found a crashed ship that was only marginally better than mine own (so I left it). I found equipment pods scattered around that add inventory slots to my exosuit, which as any NMS player can tell you is worth far more than a pocket full of Units. I’ve been kicking back and just pointing my ship in a direction and flying there, landing and then just…smelling the Brusimica lexidoria. I harvest when I need to, and am always mindful of the ubiquitous Sentinels who scan me like a disapproving “adult” who tsk tsks me for enjoying my relaxing time spent playing video games.

I don’t get to play as often or for as long as I used to when I was younger, but I guess that’s OK, since the trade-off is that I have an income now that allows me to buy the games that I enjoy. I guess in some ways that makes this NMS focus far more satisfying. Although I am still struggling with the pull of GTD, NMS‘s scale and opportunities make it easier for me to push back against the forces wanting to pull me to the next milestone and get back to those days when I didn’t have the pressures of adult life.

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At the end of the day, I’m not above a little self-promotion

Invaders!

And now for something completely different.

I finally got around to making my demon hunter in WoW, and now that I’ve done it and experienced the opening (Horde style), I don’t think I’ll be following through with the class. I’m not a melee person, so while I enjoy the double jump and gliding aspects of being a DH, the class doesn’t “do it” for me.

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The other night the indomitable Mindstrike and I teamed up for an Invasion in the Northern Barrens by way of Stormwind, on our normal everyday capped characters. I enjoyed this intro scenario that sent us up against Gul’dan, particularly the part where {spoilers} the Alliance players were stuck on one shore, the Horde players stuck on the other shore, and Gul’Dan’s demonic minion caught between us. Despite the outcome presented in the much lauded cut-scene (Alliance style) at the end, it was kind of cool to see the Alliance and Horde working together like that. {End spoilers, and sorry, feed-reader readers…I can’t white-out the text for you}

Invasions are basically public quests present in many MMOs these days (GW2, RIFT, and even Champions Online and the shuttered Warhammer Online had em). Visit a zone, head to the source of the disturbance, and fight through several phases of encounters. They usually start with a low level invasion in phase one, escalate to a mini-bosses in phase two, have the participants fan out and take out invaders across the zone in phase three, and then have everyone reconvene at the epicenter for the fourth and final phase (at least that’s the pattern for the two Kalimdor invasions I’ve done thus far). At the end, you’ll get a minor and a major chest of goods, which usually contain item-level gear appropriate for your character and level, and some other odds-and-ends specific to the Legion expansion (something with “fel” in the name, usually). This is a great way to get characters geared for the start of the expansion proper, but since invasions are supposedly the first content featuring the auto-scale mechanic, any character over level ten can get involved and get appropriate gear.

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This is all well and good for us at the tip of the expansion spear, but what will become of invasions a week or two after Legion‘s official launch when everyone has the low level gear they need to start grinding out the new zones for even better gear? The fantastic Stargrace of MMOQuests fame also wants to know. As anyone who’s played other games which feature public quests can tell you, participating in these events is awesome, but as soon as people outgrow them, good luck finding anyone to help you out if you roll up with a new or lower level character. Trion had to dumb down their rifts in RIFT to decay in difficulty the longer they were open just so players could eventually solo them to completion. I suspect that Blizzard has more of an eye towards GW2‘s structure, where the level scale by content and zone allows players to move between public quests organically without worrying about risk vs reward.

I’ve got a few more pieces of gear to collect for my MMH, so I’ll probably try and do at least two invasions a night if I am able. I’m not sure if I’ll focus on my lowbies in this regard, since the sky isn’t their limit and what’s currently “level appropriate” for them will get washed out quickly. I also still have my level 100 boost token, but I’m not sure who to give that to. I don’t know if I’ve found any class, race, or server that grabs me at this point.

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