My (Incredibly Loose) Summer Plans

Now that I’ve finally finalized where and when I’ll be moving next month, I can start to make plans for the rest of the summer. Broad strokes only, of course, since I’m still too far out from any chance to rest to get specific. Gotta pace myself, you know? I don’t want to give myself so much to do that I wind up just exacerbating my current burnout. So I’m mostly focusing on the ways I’ll spend my time in general rather than things tied to specific dates. Which, in my case, means video game plans. After all, there’s a whole lot coming out this summer that I’ve been looking forward to, so it’ll be a good summer for gaming, even if I might want to (eventually) make some plans to get me out of what will hopefully be a much cozier, more comfortable apartment.

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My Streaming Challenge Is Coming To An End, But My Streaming Will Carry On

Today is the fourth and final update on my streaming challenge: to beat The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Master Mode while only wearing hats. I’ve cleared all the Divine Beasts, beaten all the shrines, fully expanded my inventory by collecting four hundred fourty-one Korok seeds, gotten all the memories, beaten the main plot, defeated Calamity Ganon, and only ever worn clothes when absolutely required to by the plot or circumstance (such as the one or two Korok challenges that require using the Zora armor to complete). I’m also just over halfway through the main DLC questline (which I should finish tonight), and then I’ve got a handful of shrine and side quests to find and complete. I have the Trial of the Sword quest on my to-do list, but that’s still going last since I’ve never once cleared it on Master Mode. It will be my crowning achievement on Wednesday or Thursday evening, should I complete it.

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Breath of the Wild Streaming Challenge: Still Naked, But No Longer Afraid

I finally did it. I hit the point in my Naked and Afraid: Hats Only Master Mode challenge run of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild where I’m not getting absolutely destroyed with every single hit. I’m still getting absolutely wrecked, of course, but I can now survive a hit from most enemies thanks to having more than twenty hearts and a few hats with an armor bonus of twenty or more. Plus, I’ve shaken off all the rust and can now perfect dodge or shield parry most hits. These days, I only take hits against difficult foes (like Silver and Golden Lynels, where I REALLY need all those hearts and more armor) or when I’m messing around (like when this horse kicked me in the face because I forgot to properly line up my drop). Hubris is still my number one enemy, but I am now reminded of why that is. Turns out I’m pretty good at this game when I’ve gotten back in the swing of things. Between buffs, critical hits, and managing weapons, there is no foe outside my reach.

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A Bite-Sized Gripe About Capitalism

These days, there seem to be a lot of signs that capitalism is ruining the world in ways both big and small. Most of the big ways are so large and complex that it’s difficult to tie systemic failures and the designs of capitalism together unless you’ve spent time learning the ins and outs of the systems connecting them. The idea is nothing new, of course, since activists of various affiliations have been pointing it out for decades now and we’ve seen a recent surge of attention to this fact as capitalist society continues to rot from the inside out in a way that makes it more and and more difficult to ignore unless you are emotionally or financially invested in pretending that this sinking ship of an economic theory is actually good for people. Still, that’s a little difficult to appreciate and far beyond my scope as a writer to discuss at length (due to a lack of expertise in economic theory, not skill at witing), so I’m going to narrow my scope to a common frustration that I’m sure we can all relate to: scalpers.

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Only 18 Days Left To Finish My Challenge Run of Breath of the Wild on Twitch

I’ve been at this whole streaming thing for two weeks now, but I’m still having a great time playing Breath of the Wild again. It’s a lot of effort, streaming six days a week (for a total of 45.5 hours streamed since April 9th), but I’m enjoying it. It makes the solo activity of playing a game like Breath of the Wild more fun when I’ve got at least a couple people hanging out in chat while I play. The amount of interaction tends to vary a bit, peaking when my sister shows up in stream since she’s big on interaction and tends to more actively respond to whatever I’m rambling about or actually prompt me with stuff. I’m still working on getting better at monitoring chat while playing the game, but everything is moving slowly enough that it’s never much of an issue. It’s not like I’ve got hundreds of people watching. I’ve got maybe 5 core people, all friends, who watch most frequently, and that’s more than enough for me. It’s not like I’m trying to make a career out of this or anything.

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All Aboard the Hype Train for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Once again, I an interrupting my planned schedule so that I can write about The Legend of Zelda. This time, though, instead of writing about streaming Breath of the Wild on Twitch in the month remaining before Tears of the Kingdom comes out, I’m writing about Tears of the Kingdom itself. After all, a new trailer just dropped. Speaking of which, if you’re planning to avoid spoilers or any information at all about Tears of the Kingdom before it is in your hands, you should absolutely leave now because this whole post is just going to be one long, enthusiastic gush about the trailer and everything I know about the game (which isn’t much, sure, but I’ve picked up a lot of stuff from the existing trailers and I’ve got literally no other outlet for this enthusiasm these days). You have been warned.

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Escaping Through Video Games: No Man’s Survival Craft

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about video games is their ability to take the player away from their present situation. Whether the player is avoiding eye contact on the bus via phone Tetris or Sudoku (my personal preferences) or trying to get away from a bad day by delving as deeply as possible into their favorite RPG (Skyrim), these games provide a quick escape from the primary world. For a lot of people, that’s all they really need: a break from the pressures of their life and the opportunity to put it all away for a little while.

I enjoy that kind of escape immensely, almost as much as I enjoy reading. However, when I’m at my most stressed, at my most worn, when my OCD and anxiety are at their worst, this level of escape either isn’t possible or only puts my problems off until I stop playing (and I can’t tell you the number of nights I’m played games or read books until I’m falling asleep in order to put off that moment when they all come rushing back). I always need something that takes it a step further, that provides something beyond just the escape of a different world.

For a long time, that something was Minecraft. I’ve been playing it since my sophomore year of college and I’ve probably logged more hours to it than every other game I’ve played since. It was a world that was constantly changing and improving, a world where I was in complete control of the world provided I placed enough torches out to prevent Creepers from spawning. I could imagine whatever I liked and, with enough work, the game would come to reflect it. I leveled mountains, built lakes, and created entire mine cart pathways that took more than 10 minutes to go from the central hub at any of the ends.

Unfortunately for me, the game has lost a lot of its appeal as it has added a lot of features and items to create an adventure mode. The more features they added to make it an adventure game (The End, XP, potions), the less interesting and fulfilling it became for me. Even the exploring and building aspects that I loved started to become boring and monotonous, good only for a couple of hours at a time before I lost interest.

Then along came ARK: Survival Evolved. This seemed like exactly what I had been looking for: a game focused on taming the environment and surviving the harsh realities of life on an island inhabited by dinosaurs. I can’t tell you how much fun it was for me to make a character with maximum movement speed whose whole purpose was to give me the ability to run up to a T-Rex, punch it in the butt, and run away before it could hit me. All while cackling like a madman, of course. Unfortunately, that quickly went the way of Minecraft as well. As soon as survival stopped being an issue, I lost interest. Leveling up became a necessary chore and finding enough resources to feed myself and my pets was simple. I tried to challenge myself with made up games and the idea of making a base my character could carry to the middle of the island and deploy, throwing myself into the most dangerous area in the game. Even that started to bore me when nothing even tried to attack my new base.

For a long time, I listlessly cycled through these two games, trying to recapture my earlier feeling of tranquility and happiness. Almost nine months passed before I found a glimmer of hope. One of my friends had called for all to board the hype train for a game that was set to come out the next week: No Man’s Sky.

Now, as anyone can tell you, the hype train and marketing team killed any chance No Man’s Sky had of being a success. They promised more than any game could hope to deliver and left an enormous and outraged fan-base with a game they hated. I, however, managed to avoid the hype train until the week before the game came out. Everything I read pointed toward simple resource gathering, space exploration, and the quiet wonder of finding something new on every planet.

Judged based on those scales, the game is amazing. I get to fly from world to world, collecting resources I can sell to purchase more hyperdrive fuel or to outright buy a better spaceship. I can spend time getting to know the language of the locals through exploring their planets and interacting with them, my status in their society changing based on how I interacted with the few people I ran into during my travels. Sure, a lot of the actual exploration parts can get a little monotonous, but there’s always a new cave to find, a new word to learn, or a new pillar of gold to mine. I’ve named a half a dozen star systems and about four times as many planets. I’ve left my mark on the universe of the game and have yet to find another player.

I am alone in the universe and, for the first time ever, that idea is uplifting. I have no demands but those of fueling my exosuit and my spaceship. I can go wherever I like, do whatever I like, and just enjoy the scenery. I am alone in the universe and I am fine with that.

I know a lot of people hate the game and I know a lot of people want them to add a story or features to make it more action oriented. I don’t. Sure, it’d be nice if the flying controls were better or if it was easier to fight off space pirates, but I’m fine with things the way they are right now. It is refreshing to play a game that is just so calm and relaxing. Even the soundtrack is relaxing.

If you like action games, if you want to go on a bad-ass adventure to save the universe, don’t buy No Man’s Sky. If you want to just wander around the universe just to see what’s going on someplace else, buy this game and let it take you to places you never expected. Let it take you away from everything you want to leave behind and escape into this nigh-limitless universe.