On Expanding Gaming Horizons

When I first moved out of my parents’ house, I was paranoid about spending money. I mean, I’ve always been a relatively frugal person (which is how, on my student loan income, I afford to randomly hop on planes as whims call), but I was really, really scared about spending back then. So to cook, I bought a single seasoning: one bottle of teriyaki sauce.

For just about every meal, for several months, I used nothing but that bottle of teriyaki sauce on everything. I ate teriyaki chicken, teriyaki beef, teriyaki seafood…also teriyaki rice, teriyaki eggs, teriyaki bread…you get the picture. I eventually polished off the whole bottle and I haven’t been able to eat anything teriyaki since.

And that, friends, is the story of my life. Gaming is no different. I buy a game, I play it, play it, play it, play it until I’m finished. I rarely play more than one game at time, all my free time and energy is channeled into a single obsession of the season. I play the fuck out of my games. Go through my gaming collection and you won’t find any fuck left in there, it’s all been played out.

Then along came WoW. I’ve been playing WoW for, what, four? Five years? I can’t remember. All I know is that I’ve never reached the end. I keep playing and playing and it keeps getting longer. As a result, I’ve been very cut off from the rest of the gaming world. Why play a new game when you can spend every night in Dire Maul grinding goblin rep for no other reason than grinding goblin rep? I mean, really!

Lately, listening to friends, listening to podcasts, just listening in general, has made me itchy to try something new. But there’s always the excuses of “not enough time, not enough money, need to do all this Old Azeroth stuff before Cataclysm comes out!”

Then Hurricane Igor stepped in and stole my internet for 2 days. (Also, the picture in that link was taken from the hospital where I go to school. As you can see, it was a very wet time)

It was rough…withdrawal…the goosebumps, the sweating, the shaking, the panic…

Just kidding.

Besides my guild getting All You Can Eat (25 Player) without me (they ALWAYS do things like that, meanies!), it was awesome. My room is the cleanest it’s been since I moved in, I did four loads of laundry and I was able to go to all my classes because, without WoW, I had gone to bed at a decent hour.

But was even more awesome was that it took away my excuse of “I NEED TO FINISH VANILLA WOW CONTENT RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW!” I had no internet so I had to dig through the games I had.

I sort of regretted not having set up Starcraft II for offline play. And not having downloaded those games my guildies recommended for me. And not having an emulator on hand to fire up Final Fantasy Tactics (which one reader will be happy to hear that I did discover among my games here).

The first game I popped into my CD drive was The Sims 2. I had wanted that game so badly when it first came out! Back in the day, I had played a lot of the original Sims. From what I read about the game, it had all the good stuff from the original and fixed all the annoying stuff . Unfortunately, it was going for more than I was willing to pay (that was the bottle of teriyaki era). Years later, I came across it in a second hand store in San Francisco for 10$. Yay! Only problem? The friend traveling with me also wanted the game. I think he ended up buying it, but I ended up bringing it home. Yet, because of WoW, I had never played.

What’s the verdict after installing and playing the Sims 2?

Eh. Was very disappointed. I didn’t like any of the pre-made stories. All my Sims wanted to do was flirt with each other. I have a rather large aversion for emotional dependencies so I was quickly disgusted. I tried designing my own neighborhood but got annoyed when I couldn’t make my houses look the way I wanted.

In frustration, I gave up and went back to my pile of games. I pulled out FFVII, an old favourite that I’d been dying to play again. Now, while I’m not very technical (I’m not sure what a motherboard is, only that it sometimes catches fire and that’s bad), I’m somewhat of a genius when it comes to making stuff work. Comes from being very clumsy and breaking a lot of things in my life. Try as I may, though, no combination of compatibility mode options would get the game running.

Saddened, I put FFVII away. The next game I found was Myst. A game I’d played a lot as a child, but, being a child, I didn’t understand it and didn’t get very far.

You can probably guess, though, that if FFVII didn’t want to be played on my computer, Myst, a way older game, just laughed at me.

I eventually settled on Beyond Atlantis. It’s from the same era as FFVII, but unlike FFVII, it actually works on modern computers. It’s another one of those games that I played extensively but was too young to beat. It’s no Myst, but it’s a fun puzzle adventure game and I do quite enjoy fun puzzle adventure games. I’m also proud to announce that I managed to beat one of the levels entirely on my own, without looking up a walk-through. It was frustrating- one thing WoW has killed for me is my ability to figure things out without reading a guide, but so worth it in the end.

I’m not quite finished the game yet, but I hope to finally beat it so I can move on to other, more recent forms of video game entertainment.

Somehow this rambling post reached 1000 words. This is why I don’t update often anymore. All these words come out of nowhere. Anyway, as of this morning my internet is back up and running. I haven’t played WoW yet, but despite my vows to play other games and finish Beyond Atlantis, I somehow expect myself to be back in Dire Maul at the next opportunity. It’s in my nature.

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27 Comments on “On Expanding Gaming Horizons”

  1. Rhii Says:

    You couldn’t make Myst run? I’m very surprised actually. I’m a bit of a Myst-o-phile myself (I like the sequel Riven eve more) and I’ve never had trouble running them on my newer machines.

    I am sad for you!

    Oh well at least you got to enjoy some non-Myst puzzle solving. I miss adventure games.

  2. Charlie Says:

    Ah, I remember Myst. I also remember playing the King’s Quest games quite extensively. For PC I’ve played a lot of Rome: Total War, Age of Empires II, Civilization 2/3, and Age of Mythology. The Sims I played for maybe a week. Although, within that week, I played the HELL out of it. I couldn’t step away. And then I found WoW. I think you know how the rest of that story goes. =)

    I have so many other games for Wii, DS, and PS2 that I’ve played about halfway through and just haven’t gotten back to them. Pokemon games continue to nag at me to play them, Tales of Symphonia is begging me to come back, and FFX won’t leave me alone. I haven’t played WoW for about a month now, since running out of game time, but I want to get back in and get some stuff done that either won’t be around in Cataclysm, or will no longer be relevant. Brewfest, Operation Gnomer/Echo Isles, ZG mounts/achievements, killing the Lich King, Ulduar proto-drakes…so much to do! But I’d also like to save up some money so I can build myself a new computer for Cataclysm. Argh!

    • Ophelie Says:

      OMG I loved King’s Quest! King’s Quest IV is still one of my all time favorite games. You don’t seem to hear about puzzle adventure type games much anymore…

      I never got into handheld games, so I guess that kinda frees up a lot of time for me. I did play some Pokemon on gameboy colour, but when I found out about the glitch, it just killed the game for me.

      I think I’m pretty much done with Wrath. I would have liked to get the Strat and ZG mounts, but it’s not that big of a deal. Same with the Insane achievement, I just know I won’t have the time or motivation to get it done.

  3. Oestrus Says:

    The one thing that has always prevented me from trying new games is the thought of starting out with little or absolutely nothing. I’m really spoiled by the gold I have or the heirlooms or the bags, etc. I wouldn’t know what to do without all of that to support me, to some extent.

    I tried playing “Aion” and got a toon to the late 20′s and it just felt like… work. I know that makes me sound lazy or has a negative ring to it, but I feel there is the kind of work where you can see returns from what you put in and then the kind of work where you’re just working hard and you have nothing to show for it. That’s not fun for me.

    I liked a lot of things about the game and I think if I were discovering “Aion” before WoW, I would probably still be playing “Aion” because there were things I enjoyed about it – just not enough compared to what I have achieved or I’m used to with WoW.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I feel that way about starting Eve Online. It sounds like a game I’d love, but starting years after everyone else in a hardcore game where I don’t know anyone intimidates me.

      I’ve heard others say the same about Aion. From what I’m told, popular Korean games are usually very grindy. I did want to try Aion because it was pretty, but I didn’t have the time or money to spend on another game. I was glad of my choice when everyone who did move over to Aion came back to WoW after 2 weeks.

      I did get LOTR online the other day. Since the base game is free to play, I figured I play casually and not worry about wasting money.

      • Oestrus Says:

        I didn’t find it too grindy – the double exp. weekends really helped with that and other incentives to help with leveling.

        I just felt like you were working really hard and had nothing to show for it. At one point, you would run “dungeons” and at least with WoW, each boss was guaranteed to drop something. Not in Aion! You could do an entire “dungeon” (and I keep quoting dungeon, because they weren’t really) and not necessarily see any loot. And I don’t mean that YOU wouldn’t see any loot, I mean NOBODY might see loot. That’s pretty darn depressing!

  4. SmashNHeal Says:

    Another great topic. I’m much the same. Either I figure out early on that I don’t like a game and relegate it to the back of the game drawer, never to see the light of day again, or I play it until there is no bit left unturned (or as you put it, play the fuck out of it; I like your description much better). There is no middle ground. That’s for casual gamers.

    However, I think one thing that makes playing games so much different now than way back in the day when the Commodore64 launched PC gaming to mainstream levels, is that you can find forums and entire websites devoted to your favorite game. Yeah, they might ruin a little bit of the surprise and make me a little less patient in trying to figure things out on my own, but it helps me in deciding how to spend my time. I mean, who wants to grind rep for 18 hours only to find out that your reward sucks? That’s a fire-starter for nerd rage for sure.

    On the topic of WotLK getting stale, and I agree that it is, I can’t imagine what it must have been like waiting for the BC xpac. I can only do so many old world quests or achievements before it seems like a job. I think that’s only because they are not challenging to a lvl80 in ICC25 gear (or even a lvl 80 standing completely naked and barefisted), but rather a test of my ability to suffer the sands of time while pushing buttons and making erratic mouse movements. Hopefully Cat will have enough difficulty to make the slew of new achievements and grinds a challenge. Because in the end, the challenge has usually been the primary attribute that decided a game’s fate for me.

    • Ophelie Says:

      With looking up stuff online, it depends on the game. In puzzle games, figuring out the puzzle IS the reward. In MMOs, on the other hand, exchanging information and discoveries with other players is PART of the game.

      On a side now, I am one of those wierdos who grinds rep for 18 hours even when there is no reward….Of course, I look ahead of time and grind the rep with the best rewards before I grind for the sole purpose of grinding.

      I’m still finding some things to do as I’m determined to complete every accessible quest in the game, right now I’m working on the crazy long quest to get my upgraded vanilla dungeon set, but I do feel like I’m more ready for the expansion than I was when Wrath came out. I could have probably done another 6 months of BC before Wrath.

      • SmashNHeal Says:

        Good points. Hadn’t thought about it like that, but your comments sound like sage truths. If only Confucious were alive today. So, I have to ask. What do you think about to keep your mind from wandering while you grind rep? Warm weather? Teriyaki ice cream?

        • Ophelie Says:

          Hahaha, my mind wanders all the time. That’s sort of what I like about rep grinding. I can alt tab out and read some websites as a I do it, just to relax. And generally I’m on vent goofing off with a few guildies at the same time. If no one else is on, I catch up on my podcasts.

  5. Tristan Says:

    Good to hear that your Final Fantasy Tactics didn’t get lost in the nether! :)

    • Ophelie Says:

      I was surprised to see it, most of my console games have been kidnapped and destroyed by my brothers, but I’m looking forward to give it a try.

      • Scarlata Says:

        Yes, it is amazing. DO IT. HOLY CRAP DO IT. It’s also a good game to play when you’re older so you can actually keep track of the (somewhat) complicated plot.

  6. KimboSlice Says:

    I tend to play war games like Company of Heroes or Total War

    • Ophelie Says:

      For some reason that doesn’t surprise me…

      I grew up with war games around the house since my dad liked them, but I was too busy teasing my brothers about playing them to give them a try myself.

      • KimboSlice Says:

        I like the tactical way of thinking when you are playing games like that.

        I also play heavy sports sim games like Football Manager and Eastside Hockey manager

        • Ophelie Says:

          I think the on-the-spot tactics is the appeal in those games for those who play well. Which is probably I never got hooked. I need to ponder my every move for hours.

          As for sports games, the only one I ever played was some old NHL game for the NES. I never figured out how to play it, but it gave me immense joy every time 2 players got in a fistfight.

  7. Echo Says:

    It’s strange the void that the game leaves after you take a step back from it. You spend so long playing it that often it’s a little wierd. I know when about a month ago I packed it in I was confused. I had so much spare time so I did something similar to you. In anticipation of Halo:REACH I played through the other 3 games, I took up sports, I got a girlfriend and gradually the time filled itself.

    Some people have their social circles and they became wow based as people got into the game. Others got drawn in in dribs and drabs and slowly the game became their circle. Some people are happy with this and more power to them. But wow isn’t challenging and I found that I was happier without it.

    I’ll stop before it becomes too preachey. I’m actually a massive hypocrit especially as I still occasionally log on and I still read wowblogs :p

    • Ophelie Says:

      I only went 2 days without because I had no internet ;D. I do occasionally go for much longer without, when things get hectic irl, but if I have time to game, then yeah, I’ll go to WoW. I still find the game challenging at times- not the solo play, but the team achievements and kills can still make me break a sweat.

      When I took my computer in to get fixed 2 years ago, I was really active for the first week and a half. But eventually I just settled down in front of the TV all the time. I guess I’m just a really boring person.

  8. Viktory Says:

    I consider WoW to be my passive savings plan. Prior to WoW I played console and RTS games quite a bit and would end up buy at least two new titles each month. At that rate I can afford 2 years of WoW, including expac, for what I would have spent in about 4 months of console gaming. Then factor in the nights when I would end up at the bar, etc.

    I do feel like I’m not “in the know” about good new games like Dragon Age or ME2 or even the FPS games I used to play when my brother lived with me, but I haven’t reached critical mass on that urge yet.

    Nowadays, most of my non-WoW gaming is done via my iPhone. Especially since I just learned that FF & FFII are available in full.

    BTW, when I was a broke young adult, I ate frozen burritos and easy mac WAAAY to much.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Oh man, I save SO much money by playing WoW! Between not buying new games and not drinking as much, WoW totally helps me stay within my budget.

      I can’t do most frozen foods and Kraft dinner. I don’t like the taste of salt, so it limits my cheap options. Plus I’m a proud gastronomer, so unless I can eat something delicious, I’d rather not eat at all.

      I also find it scandalous that healthy food is SO much more expensive than crappy food. Whenever statistics point out that the higher social classes are healthier than the lower social classes, all I can think of is “WELL I WOULD LIKE TO EAT IN A WAY THAT IS CONDUCIVE TO GOOD HEALTH BUT I CANT REALLY AFFORD IT”

  9. Scarlata Says:

    I am trying now to catch up on the 4-5 years of gaming I’ve ignored while playing WoW. Notable things include Oblivion, Valkyrie Profile 2 and Shadow of the Colossus. I realize that these are circa 2006, but I am still giving myself a pat on the back for trying. Also, I don’t have a PS3, so that puts a damper on such and such. I also picked up Chrono Cross again but that is like, year 2000 ancient, but it made me realize that people used to put a lot more effort into games, especially re: dialog and scripting in non-MMO-land. I recommend it.

    Have I already complained to you about FFXIV yet? Remind me to do that later. I THINK YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON THAT WOULD UNDERSTAND.

    • Ophelie Says:

      You did tell me all about FFXIV a few hours before you posted your comment. But I’ll be happy to hear more :)

      Chrono Cross is on my list of games I’ve always wanted to play but never got around to it. Back in my FF message board games, Chrono Cross and Chrono Trigger were THE games, the only games that everyone agreed on.


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