I'm a science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction writer by trade, but aside from writing, video games are my biggest passion. I also write over at Gamer Limit.
The first console my brothers and I ever got was an SNES for Christmas one year. Since then, we've owned an N64, Playstation, PS2, and an Xbox 360. I got a Gameboy Color one year for Christmas, but my brothers are more into handheld gaming than me. Every time they upgrade to the latest system I get their hand-me-downs. That's how I obtained my GBA and my two DS's. Handheld gaming for some reason doesn't interest me even though I know there are great games out there. The first console I've ever been the exclusive owner of is my PS3. The first games I ever played were Super Mario World, F-Zero, 7th Saga (which I've written about), and Out of This World.
My favorite genres are RPGs (Western or Japanese), FPS, action/adventure, and RTS (even though I suck at them).
Some games you win by having great reflexes. Other games you win by remembering sequences of intricate button presses. And others you win just by dumb luck.
But then thereís another type of gameóthe game you win by out-waiting it. But what do I mean by out-waiting a game? Obviously there has to be a degree of patience involved, but itís not the same as being patient as you grind for levels in a JRPG or MMORPG. Out-waiting a game involves patience and a willingness to play the game wrong.
Thereís tons of a ways to play a game wrong. Thereís a certain brand of wrongness created by a player thatís unfamiliar with the game or the genre. The Escapist ran a great article about that recently. Another kind of wrongness comes about when players deliberately cheat or break the game for their own personal gain. Out-waiting a game is different than all those.
I didnít even realize what I was doing until I tweeted this about Assassinís Creed Revelation yesterday: ďThis Mediterranean Defense mini-game has turned #ACR into a standing around waiting simulator so I can send my minions on more missions.Ē
ACR is supposed to be a third person action game thatís full of running, climbing, fighting, and of course the titular assassinating. And somehow in my completionist ways, Iíd turned the game into a waiting simulator. I wanted to win at the Mediterranean Defense mini-game more than I wanted to progress the main story. Now does that say something more about me or about Revelationsí narrative?
Rather than do story missions while I waited for my assassin minions (or minsassins as I call them), I decided to just chill in the Assassinís Den while I waited for the missions to finish. I put the controller down and used those 8-12 minute intervals to surf the internet on my laptop, work on a novel outline, go grab a snack, pretty much anything but playing Assassinís Creed Revelations the way it was meant to be played.
A similar thing happened whenever I decided to renovate Istanbul. Early on, the game introduces you to the Den Defense tower defense mini-game. I donít like tower defense games that much, and the one in ACR isnít very good to begin with. The game lets you play the Den Defense game when the Templars attack your Assassin Dens. They attack the dens when your Awareness Meter fills up.
So what actions fill up the Awareness Meter? Getting into fights with guards and stuff like that, but also renovating shops. Personally, I think this isnít a well-designed system. The game wants you to renovate buildings to increase your income and improve your equipment, but it also feels like the designers really, really want you to play their tower defense mini-game too.
You can get around this by lowering the Awareness meter by bribing heralds or assassinating Templar officials that show up on the map once your meter is mostly filled. Because I donít like Den Defense mini-game, I decided to out-wait the game. Iíll renovate three or four shops, and then when the meter gets too full, Iíll just run around looking for heralds to bribe. At the same time, Iíll continue to check in on my minsassins. Iíve played the game for over 10 hours so far, and Iíve only had to do the Den Defense thing once because the story mandated it.
Maybe Iím wasting my time by working so hard to avoid the tower defense stuff. Maybe Iím breaking the game by just standing around while I wait for my minions to finish their missions. I doubt the designers would want anyone to play it the way I doópurposely skipping this iterationís biggest new feature. Despite ACR wanting to funnel me into a certain play style when it comes to the more strategic mechanics, Iím much more patient than it thinks. I can out-wait it.
Playing the ďwaiting gameĒ with a video game not be the proper way to go, but it certainly works for me.