Here was the Plan, Here is the Plan

I haven’t posted anything for almost a month. This is not due to lack of trying. My original plan was to finish up the last of my Beyond Good and Evil related posts now taking a total of 3 months of my life to complete, while the game took me less than two weeks. (Writing that post is like pulling teeth.) Then I was going to move onto Heavenly Sword and write out my thoughts there after replaying it for refresher. Then I was finally going to start on my first playthrough of Far Cry 2. (Ben you’d be so proud.) I also had a few post ideas for the interim while I was playing the games.

That was the plan and it looks like and has looked like for a while that will not be happening.

Instead what happened was a minor incident that escalated. Not to get your worries up, but it isn’t that big. A certain game on Steam went on sale a few weekends ago, Heroes of Might and Magic 5. For anyone who has noticed the few tweets that I’ve actually posted over the last week or two. This got me reminiscing about another game from my childhood that so thoroughly kicked my ass I have never won a single game of it. I would waste hours only for eventual defeat. Months passed and everyday I would be no closer. And that was before I learned there was a campaign mode. That game is Heroes of Might and Magic II.

For those of you who don’t know, Heroes of Might and Magic II is a turn based strategy game with fantasy monsters and your army controlled by heroes during battle. There is an over world filled with a variety of resources that have to managed and controlled. Everything is turn based and each individual turn doesn’t take up much time, but games take up a lot of turns.

I went on a short searching spree before tracking it down. I have all the manuals and extra inserts, but for the life of me I have no idea where the disc is. Wikipedia informed me of several compilation and one of them had games 1-4 for the price of one. I thought what a great deal. Now I think wikipedia lied to me. And none of the other compilations, for a reasonable price, exist on ebay or amazon that contains II. I eventually found a place I could download it for $15. I chose the 60 minute free trial first. After 60 minutes were up I was in the middle of my turn and a few seconds later I was $15 the poorer and one game richer. One hell of an addictive game richer. I am now on the last map of the good campaign and I have the evil side to go.

There’s more to this story.

At the beginning of this weekend another game was brought to my attention. This time on the PSN. It was Battlefield 1943, also for $15. It came with a 30 minute free trial demo. 30 minutes later I was kicked out and was soon $15 poorer and one game richer once again. I played and played this online multiplayer shooter. Then I noticed there was light outside, it was 5 am and I should get some sleep.

In short response what happened I got sucked in to two very addictive games that just ask of you “5 more minutes” at every twist and turn. The Battlefield 1943 Coral Sea challange doesn’t help one bit. I got sucked into games I did not expect, nor was I planning to. Is it just me? Am I that weak willed that I cannot do what I set myself out to do?

From what I’ve heard of people who’ve played Civilization 4, I am not alone in the turn based strategy game department, nor is that the case with online shooters. As for getting sidetracked by other games, isn’t that kind of the point. For a game to catch and hold the attention of the player. A game that distracts you from other games is a good thing, because it means you are engaged with the title. I use the term addictive and its true, both games are addictive. But a story cannot be as addictive as gameplay in our ludocerntric medium. It is the gameplay, the ludic elements that force us to continue on is such a manner. The continual interaction is not broken up and every second both both of these games has layer input and consequences. Not to say there aren’t story elements in either title, but they do not intrude into the game.

Another factor for their addictive quality is the quick play nature of the titles. For Heavenly Sword or Far Cry 2 I would have get over that initial hurdle of having to sit down for a significant amount of time to play the game. That hurdle may disappear once I am actually playing, but it exists as an obstacle that often isn’t overcome. No such factor exists with Heroes of Might and Magic II or Battlefield 1943. These are quintessential examples of in and out gameplay. I could stop typing and in 15 seconds be playing my next turn in Heroes and finish in another 15 seconds, save and be back to writing. of course one turn would lead to another and another and another and before I know it this would remain unwritten and I would have missed dinner…again. Same with Battlefield 1943. It would take about the same amount of time to jump in, then I can spend however long shooting, driving, running and then drop out and that be it, except one thing would lead to another and again I would miss my next meal for fighting in the Pacific campaign.

Both titles require a time investment to get what the game is offering, but unlike other AAA titles they don’t have the hurdle of time commitment that hype and excitement have to help to get over and actually put the disc in. It’s why everyone runs out for the first day, so when they run home the inertia lets them pop in the disc and they are off to the races. Maybe the real key is remove that hurdle altogether. The games can remain how they are, but somehow remove that hurdle that makes you think about putting the disc in, instead of just putting it in.

And now for the second half of this post’s title. The plan for now is, keep playing these addictive games, for I don’t think I can stop at the moment. Then post on them when the time comes. And if by some miracle of fate the mood strikes me, actually get back to all those drafts I have waiting to be finished and find their home here.

That includes some experimental stuff for here and for the design blog I work for, CreativeFluff, on the form of game design. Hope to write again very soon and not a month hiatus.

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