NYR: My Wrongs

My Wrongs 02

In England there is an annual event called Red Nose Day which is basically a charity donation-generating event and an excuse for comedy and cabaret. My office had arranged a small charity auction where people brought in their games, sold them and donated the proceeds to charity.

The morning of the deadline I scooped up Sleeping Dogs and Splatterhouse, games I no longer needed in my collection. Sleeping Dogs has been mentioned on multiple podcasts and Splatterhouse was utterly forgettable nonsense.

It was then that I paused as my hand hovered over my copy of Killzone 2It was listed on my backlog of shame and was definitely something I had considered beating, but I knew I was going to hate it. Initially I had bought it because I felt it was something I had to experience  – one of those Sony exclusives that people rave about. I put it in for about five minutes and was witness to one of the most horrific First Person Shooters this side of Call of Duty. It was a deathly dull corridor rail-experience with Sci-Fi trappings and some dude-bros spouting crap.

As I thought about it, I reasoned that there might be a good article in there somewhere. Immediately after this I came to the conclusion that I already do enough shitting on this type of game and, with Shaun already having written about Killzone, it might be a bit too much.

So I took it into work for the charity auction and crossed it off my backlog. I was a game down without having so much as broken a sweat. Was it acceptable? For me, totally. However, if I were to look at it as part of my fitness/improvement regime it would be a bit like walking to the shops for a big bag of chips, lifting weights with it as I walked back to my house and counting that as sufficient exercise. Except that I don’t think the metaphor fits; of course I don’t count it because this is my adventure. I needed to reduce my backlog and I needed to face facts: some games just aren’t fun and I don’t have enough time in my life to keep wasting it with torturous hours spent with the likes of Killzone, Far Cry 3 and Trine 2.

That’s why Brutal Legend and DarkStar One: Broken Alliance were also taken off my backlog. My original copies disappeared into the wilds of Canada and it is unlikely that I will ever buy new ones, not because I hated these games but because they ran their course and I doubt that I will ever revisit them. Incidentally, these were omitted from my backlog before I even started writing this.

Alpha Squad, an Xbox LIVE Indie game, also got returned to my pile of unfinished games where I believe it will remain indefinitely. It started out as fun twin stick shooter with some rather unpleasant portrayals of women, then took a massive nosedive somewhere near the end. Its problem is that it gets hard and hard in the kind of way that simply isn’t fun: you are dumped into an arena with enemies that can kill you with a couple of shots, which they will (of course) track you with. The best way to defeat them is to spend money on a better gun before entering the level. Doing this gives you around a 50% chance of surviving (and anyone who knows percentages understands this means you can still end up dying a lot) for longer than thirty seconds. When you die you lose the gun and all the money you spent to get it. To regain money you have to grind earlier levels, or save just before entering the arena and constantly go through a lengthy reload process.

Paddy Considine in My Wrongs

This was deeply frustrating and I even reached out to the developer in search of a possible alternate tactic. They were nice enough to reach out and reply, but unfortunately offered me nothing better. Still, they are really nice guys who made a solid foundation for a game and I hope they keep making stuff so that I can keep trying to beat something they created.

Some home truths were also becoming apparent in my limitations as a player, to be able to write content every week and pursue my New Year’s Resolution. Games like Operation Darkness were just not going to get the time of day, let alone the man hours to be completed in a week. Resonance of Fate is far too long for me to dig deep and really devote the time it deserves, as it is an RPG with a fascinating and satisfying combat system with further levels of depth that expand as you develop a greater understanding. I am simply not as young as I used to be and cannot sit up until 2 or 3am, then wake up at 7 and go to work like nothing happened.

I am still unsure if I mourn those years; the chapters and levels of my life when I was hungry, when my wrongs only caused tiny ripples in my life and could be ignored as an evanescent breeze. My wrongs were more numerous: late nights and long hours of gaming whilst neglecting all else, yet the impact was so very little. Now, the most minor of stutters has ramifications that I sometimes cannot fathom nor recover from in time before my next mistake, be this the dulling of my reflexes or the omission of an email.

Yet I know I wouldn’t trade what I have now for what I had then. Except for maybe the dreadlocks, the ability to not shave for two weeks without looking like the missing link and not needing more than a day to recover after a dalliance with one Smirnoff Ice.

I once wrote about growing up but now and then I entertain growing old. Not in the rambling, crazy, stupid old man way – the type who clutches desperately to the little regard and integrity he might possess – but in the exploration of future possibilities with the insight that only comes with age.

And getting older is way more fun then they let on.