I think I’m getting old.
Not in like, an age sense. I’m only 25. Although I do get back pains and sometimes have an inexplicable urge to scream at children to get off my lawn.
But in a game sense. As far as how hard I want my games to be and how much time I’m willing to invest in them. There was a time when I would sit down and play countless hours of Quake 3 Arena, or attempt to breed a Gold Chocobo in Final Fantasy 7. Hell, I was a kid. If I wanted to burn my day up seeing how many different ways I could hilariously knock Allistair Tenpenny off his tower in Fallout 3 with a baseball bat and a handful of VATS points, then I damn well would.
Ten. Exactly ten different ways.
But I’m finding now I’m less interested in that stuff. And where I used to be right there alongside gamers raging against companies “dumbing down” their games, I find myself starting to understand and even enjoy some of the features.
I played Diablo 2, like most gamers, so hard that I couldn’t go to sleep without the orb of my health and mana bars burned into my retinas. I did countless Baal runs to get my characters at best, a level or two, all so I could do it again until they were at a respectable level. I read up on FAQ’s on the best way to allocate my skill points so as not to shoot myself in the foot I hunted down my fellow gamers looking for the best gear. The point is, I put a lot of work into what I think of now as not a whole hell of a lot of reward.
Enter Diablo 3. The game automatically allocates stats. Your skills unlock as you level. You have access to all of those skills at any time, and their strength isn’t determined by how many points you drop into them. Now there’s a crafting system where you can get some quality items as long as you remember to train your guys up every so often. And those artisans(and the stash) carry over between each character.
When I started, all these features felt like they were taking away your chance to be creative with your builds, and some of the difficulty of the game. I seethed as I leveled and gained my skills and was force-fed what Blizzard wanted me to use.
But then as I got higher up in the levels, I realized that I had access to EVERYTHING. Everything I ever got was there for me to use again, in new ways, in conjunction with my new skills. Nothing has exactly become obsolete. And I’m digging it.
I realize now, as I play today’s games, I’m starting to value games for the intuitiveness of their mechanics as much as the time I spend on them. Diablo 3’s setup feels intuitive, and easy to grasp to me. I don’t have to bull through level after level, killing thousands of enemies on “runs” of levels just so I can grab enough experience to someday get off the exercise wheel.
I’m noting, with deep regret, that I’m even losing a bit of interest in my favorite genre, fighting games. For a time I put monstrous hours into playing fighters against other people, whether online or in person. I printed up movelists. I learned frames of animation just so I could understand the best courses of action in any situation. I Escape Throw Evade Guarded in Virtua Fighter. I frame trapped into Emerald Genesic Tager Busters in Blazblue. I hit Delayed Hyper Combo cancels to tag to Frank West to get him to level 4 or 5 so he could unleash zillion hit chainsaw combos of death in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.
I was never great at execution for these games (fighting games are probably some of the most demanding games in terms of physical dexterity and I have two left thumbs), but dammit, I tried. I hit training modes, I read, I bought I discussed fighting game topics on forums like a computer chair Socrates (thankfully, there was no hemlock involved).
But I’m getting tired of working so hard for games as of late. They’re supposed to be fun. Like I said, I’m getting old. I’m losing my teeth, one-by-one. Eventually I’ll be looking for video game soft foods.