First off, I don't normally write stuff like this. This article will have some personal stuff along with my thoughts so you can skip over those if you want. I don't normally look for messages in games unless they are plainly obvious because more often than not I am more interested in how best to take the head off of someone who has every intention of doing the same to me.
I'm the guy who goes on murderous rampages in GTA4 because I find it funny to shoot people in the kneecaps and watch them stumble around. I'm the guy who would sooner grab Call of Duty over Shadow of the Colossus purely because as much as I like the latter, I like killing people more.
For me to come to the conclusion I have is therefore mighty strange. Even me playing a puzzle game is weird because it's not something I usually do. Lumines is one of the very few puzzle games I can sit at for hours at a time. I put it down to the music and the way it changes a lot. I own the PSP version and the XBL version. It was the PSP version I was playing while I realised what I did. Please bear with me on this, I have a lot of trouble organising my thoughts and writing coherently.
Lumines, with its constant changes in pace and random sequence of blocks is a fantastic metaphor for life. I consider music to be the greatest medium the human race has come up with. I would give up pretty much everything before I gave up music. I can remember most major points of my life not by what I was doing or even where I was but by the music I was listening to. In Flames holds memories of a previous job and my last year of school. The Specials is when I was starting school for the first time. The new Mastodon album is the month after I was dumped by my girlfriend.
The fact that music is such an integral part of Lumines is something that fits well with what I say at least when it comes to my life. Thanks to my very open mind when it comes to music I have yet to experience a piece of music in Lumines I dislike and the fact that the music is also the pace and that bits from it are the sound effects is also in keeping with how music fits into my life. This is probably the only bit that relates more to me than most people though.
The pacing of Lumines is the thing that made me most think what I did. It seems randomly paced and can switch from having a fast time line and fast dropping blocks to the opposite almost at the drop of a hat. Occasionally, it might mix it up by having a slow time line and fast dropping blocks. Now, if you take the blocks to be events in your life and the combinations of blocks solutions to problems suddenly I might not be so crazy.
In order to do well at Lumines, you have to plan well and work with what you are given to sort things out. Sound rather like “if life gives you lemons make lemonade”. I think though that it's not so much what you plan as how you plan. One plan may well lead to you not failing but it could do it in a way that means you have much more work ahead to keep from failing.
The way you plan for one pacing just plain wont work on another pacing sometimes. When the pace is fast you can rely on your solutions working fast and problems disappearing quickly and as such plan in a way that allows part of an event to solve a problem now and provide a little room to help solve problems that you can see coming up soon.
It is the fast paced sections of both Lumines and my life where I clear everything out and have an easy time of things. It all works out fairly well as long as I don't get a run of bad luck and even then it isn't too hard to solve things fast. It's the slow paced sections that hurt.
If you plan ahead too far in a slow section you are setting yourself up for some pain. You will find that you can plan ahead a little but as problems disappear, bits of the solution serve to create messier problems. This is where it gets a bit personal to help explain what I mean because I have recently experienced a couple of these huge shifts in pacing over a relatively short space of time. In Lumines terms, I'm now sitting on a ¾ filled screen without much sequence, a slow time bar and blocks that don't seem to be getting any slower any time soon.
The short version is that last December I managed to end up in a relationship. My first one. I was 20. Two months later, a week after Valentines, I got dumped pretty much out of the blue. Cue shift in song. Until then, life wasn't too shit. There were some big problems and some old ones I hadn't dealt with still sitting around but solutions were in place and my luck was holding out.
All of a sudden, my careful planning and placing was breaking. The old problems I thought would be dealt with instead mixed with the new problems to create a giant block of nastiness and I was still using the wrong way of planning. It's taken a few months to get to a position where although the screen is still as filled as it was, it should be easier to solve as long as I keep with the right way of planning.
The nice little squares that let you remove a chain of colours by introducing it to a solution is the people in my life that are trying to help. Dtoid is one, my friends are another and the short, blond, welsh girl who spent an hour or so yelling at me a few nights ago is another. I guess I'm probably reading more into this than I should and not explaining it too well but it makes sense somewhere in my head.
As insane as I am and as bad at dealing with the slow paced sections of life and Lumines as I might be, I don't reckon I'll be hitting a game over screen any time soon.
(Also, my run from when I realised all this is still going at 329,765. I got lucky with lots of screen clears and single colour bonuses and a few sets of 10)