This week I tried to bring a little change in my life. Yep, this shady dude’s trying to do something positive for a change.
I was starting to notice that I spent almost all of my days being incredibly tired and not doing anything productive, so I figured I’d try to turn this around. At first I’d go to sleep at like 1 or 2 AM, got up at 11 and was actually ready to go out and do things no earlier than 12, if that. That means I was always tired during the day and wasted lots of my time on stupid shit. Because really, everything you do between midnight and 2 is complete bullshit. I didn’t even play games in those hours, because I often don’t feel like gaming anymore past 11 or so. So instead I watched series which I can watch perfectly well at a slower pace and at more appropriate times, or I surfed the web aimlessly. I didn’t even make sense to me, because I certainly wasn’t having any fun so late at night, so why the hell was I doing it anyway? So I didn’t have to go to sleep yet? Am I fucking twelve?
On top of that, to make up for lost time I was often working until pretty late, up to 9PM or later if need be. Again, not the best time to be doing important stuff for school. Trust me, trying to make sense of a Court of Justice case at 9PM is no fun. During the day, I lost focus easily due to tiredness, and I’ve even gained some weight in the past months due to what I call “stress-eating”. I started noticing that not only was I not benefiting from my daily routine, it was actively making me unhappy.
I got sick and tired of it.
I would’ve gone with “Heal Round!”, because Xenoblade, but I was worried no one would get it.
So starting this week I’ve decided to cut the bullshit and actually get myself back on track. Now I’m going to sleep at midnight on the dot, get up (and I do mean get up) at 9 or 10 and try my best to start doing things at normal times. I’m still not exactly where I want to be, but even after just a week I can already see it having some effect. I was noticeably less tired this week, and I got some more work done than usual (although there is still room for improvement here, I’m hoping to see that as I go along). I’m having more fun during my evenings now, because since I start with my work earlier I can also quit earlier to play games. I have the time to play video games for a good few hours before I turn in for the night, meaning that I actually go to sleep right after something I genuinely enjoy, rather than after some stupid crap I only do for the sake of it.
It’s only been a week so far, but I’m already seeing some changes in my life, I already feel better, which encourages me all the more to keep this up. And like I said last week, my family has a reputation of being headstrong, and let’s just say I can live up to my family’s reputation if I set my mind to it. When I get something like this in my head, there’s no getting it out. With that hopefully I can get myself where I want to be, with the strength of mind I used to have to produce quality stuff. Because really, anything I fuck up now will be fucked up forever. In two years tops I want to start a PhD, and I would never forgive myself if I screwed myself out of that opportunity. Anyway, all seems to be going well, and I’m interested in seeing the kind of effect this may have on my life if I keep it up. Who knows, maybe I'll even find time to put some blogs out!
Oh, and I think I asked a girl out yesterday. I’m not even sure, I don’t understand these things.
Anyway, with the heavy stuff out of the way, let's talk teh vidya.
From the games I’ve found new time for to play, there’s one in particular I’d like to mention, because it was a lot more fun than I imagined it would be. Other games I’m sure to discuss in another time’s Shadeisms. The one I’d like to talk about now is The Book of Unwritten Tales.
The Book of Unwritten Tales is a relatively straightforward Point & Click adventure game set in a fantasy world like the ones we all know and love. There’s Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Trolls, whatever the hell Critter is, and all the other things no fantasy story can do without. It has gorgeous artwork in the background, and the characters are all very likeable. There’s a Gnome who against all odds wants to be a mage, a sexy Elf with her rather condescending bird friend and a Human airship pilot who most definitely isn’t Han Solo. Nor is his hairy unintelligible animal friend Chewy, for that matter. Not at all.
Apart from this, the game features some great moments and has razorsharp writing. There are lots of little references and jokes, but they don’t come from such a wide range of backgrounds that it starts to feel like a Family Guy episode. It’s the kinds of jokes that appeal to me, focusing a lot on fantasy tropes and LotR, RPGs, some meta-video game jokes and even a hint of Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
One joke I think particularly well represents the references in this game is in one of the earliest chapters, and in fact the very first line said in the demo. Upon being asked his name, the Gnome Wilbur Weathervane can choose from three responses. He can just give his real name, but he can also choose:
1 – Call me mister Underhill 2 – My name is Wilbrush Weatherwood, and I want to become a pirate!
Upon choosing a name, the town guard will refer to you by that name through the rest of the adventure, which is a nice touch. But really, it quite struck me that the game, in one quick conversation, managed to touch upon both LotR and Monkey Island without it feeling forced.
There are also great gags on gamers’ expense, or dealing with video games in general. There’s one occasion where the local mage teacher and some other dude are too busy playing an MMORPG set in our world where “Get a tax refund” is the most amazingly intricate quest ever, and another where one of the characters has to grind endlessly to get to “Blacksmithing level 98” in order to reforge an important sword. A particularly memorable moment was when I came across the Grim Reaper, who was sulking in the corner because, well….
And indeed, one of the puzzles involves getting Death to kill you. There are lots of clever little things like these, and while I guess that is sort of standard fare for the Point & Click genre, it really does come out well in The Book of Unwritten Tales.
As for the puzzles, they really aren’t that difficult, but I kind of appreciate that in a way. At least it makes sure that they never become obtuse or ridiculous (well, some are ridiculous, but in the good way); so far all of them have been relatively straightforward, and I’m nearing the end of the game. Even when you do get stumped, you can simply press the space bar, and the game will helpfully highlight every object you can interact with. On top of that, every clickable object that isn’t useful in the current situation will become unclickable after you’ve examined it once. So really, in the end there’s not much you can do wrong here. One thing I did notice about the puzzles is that many of them can be “solved” before you’ve even found them. What I mean is that you can often pick up objects that you really shouldn’t be needing right now, and even combine them with others. At one point I was walking around with a pink pom-pom on a string for a good hour or so before I came to the puzzle where I needed it. Still, a simple gripe like that can’t spoil my fun.
In short, you could compare The Book of Unwritten Tales to the Sam & Max Seasons, although it is a bit easier. Personally though, I think I prefer this because of its art and clever writing. Not that Sam & Max doesn’t have the latter, but those games tend to recycle the “Max is a psychopath”-joke a bit too often for my tastes. Anyway, if you like point and click games with good writing, some clever gaming and RPG jokes and amazing art direction, give this one a shot. Now all that’s left for me to do is get Critter Chronicles, the prequel. Doesn’t look like that one’s got the sexy Elf in it though…