Breath of the Wild’s Master Mode is Killing Me

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I really love The Legend of Zelda and Breath of the Wild in particular. It’s not like I’ve got a Triforce tattoo featuring the Triforce of Wisdom or that about 25% of my t-shirts are Legend of Zelda themed. It’s not like I can tell you just about anything from any of the games or point each of the references to past games in Breath of the Wild. Nope. Not at all. No one could ever guess that I spend a lot of my time thinking about The Legend of Zelda and it’s not like I should probably make The Legend of Zelda a category on my blog since I write about it so much.

With all the sarcasm out of the way, I want to honestly, earnestly say that Breath of the Wild is the game that keeps on giving. Not only did it give me over one hundred hours of fun during my initial run through the game, but subsequent DLC story content and the Master Mode version of the game more than doubled that. I’ve passed three hundred and fifty hours of gameplay on a single file and I’ve created two other files who probably add up to fifty hours total. The reason I created the first one was so I could stream the game on Twitch, because I thought that would be a lot of fun. I was right, of course, since it’s a fun game and having an audience only made it more fun, but it was impossible for me to make myself wait for my weekly streaming time and then I didn’t really feel like playing through it again on stream and in private after Master Mode came out. I wound up deleting that file so one of my friends could play instead.

The second file, though, was started because of a pet project of mine. While playing the game through the first time, I made my way to Hyrule Castle when I only had five hearts (but tons of stamina), in pursuit of a memory (one of the quests you get is to restore Link’s lost memories and one of them requires visiting Hyrule Castle). I had to make my way through what is basically the dungeon before the final boss with weak gear, no health, and nothing much in terms of healing items. While I was trying to find the right place, I got killed so many times it was almost funny. What actually was funny was a sequence of deaths brought on by an unfortunate auto-save. Every time I died right after entering Hyrule castle, I was brought to the same place, five seconds from getting one-shot. I eventually escaped by using the deaths to my advantage, trying different things to quickly escape the Guardians and simply repeating what worked until I made it to a safe place. I wound up with this really cool sequence of dodges, fire-powered flights, wall climbs, and a trip around a wall to a secret ledge. I probably died some fifty times figuring the sequence out, though.

Which is why I decided I wanted to make a “1,000 ways to die in Breath of the Wild” video to put on YouTube. I’ll put it to some kind of humorous music and make it out of segments of me dying recorded with my streaming devices. It’s going to be great. I was originally going to do it with a regular file, since it’d be easiest to power through it, but I decided Master Mode was the way to go since it eventually gets easy to avoid almost all deaths in a regular file with a modicum of skill and the eventual accumulation of good weapons and healing items. In Master Mode, sometimes you just die. A basic enemy can kill you in one hit, sometimes, and I struggle with killing them since they have a bunch of HP which regenerates if you don’t hit them frequently enough and weapons are a finite resource. Sure, you get bombs that are unlimited, but those take time to use without hurting yourself and lots of monsters have unpredictable invincibility frames when they recover from getting knocked around by a bomb. If you take too long to start dealing damage again, to make sure you’ve got your explosion lined up, then they just heal whatever damage you dealt to them. It’s incredibly frustrating, especially when bombs are all you have for an enemy with over seven hundred HP in the Trial of the Sword quests (which pit you against a bunch of tough enemies after taking away all of your gear and items).

That being said, it also means that you die fairly frequently and don’t need to stand around waiting for it to happen. Maybe you choose not to heal yourself mid-battle, just to see if it happens, but I played for half an hour the other day and died six times. Which means I only need to play for another eighty-four hours and I should be good to go! I’m hoping death frequency will go up once I get off the intro area and stop trying to avoid difficult situations. I’m also hoping to find places to try some incredibly stupid and badass stunts like that time I strung together a bunch of crazy tricks to trick a Lynel into running off a cliff to its death or that other time I used a bomb, the ragdoll physics, and four fairies to get down the tallest mountain in half the time it’d take to warp to the shrine I wanted to get to. Each of those involved several deaths, even if most of them got cancelled by fairies.

There’s a lot to say about Master Mode, but ultimately the most notable thing is that it serves as an easy way to rack up deaths for my stupid video. It’s basically the same thing as the standard game, but with a somewhat more difficult beginning. In my main file, I still pretty much effortlessly win all fights, even if they take a while longer to finish because the stupid Golden Lynel I’m trying to kill has seventy-five hundred hit points. Enemies, late in the game, aren’t really a problem so much as they’re a nuisance. I prefer to avoid them, but I’m not put out much if I need to fight them, even in Master Mode where they’ll almost one-hit kill you even with the best armor on. Still, it’s more fun to have the additional (generally small) challenge than to play without it.

 

The Dumbest Part of Breath of the Wild

I’ve been putting off doing the last piece of DLC for Breath of the Wild for a few months now. I wanted to do it in my Hard Mode play-through, since that’s the one I plan to eventually 100% complete and I wanted to have all of the shrines and inventory expansions done before then so I could just saunter my way through the DLC. Having finally done all of that, and having finally sauntered through the DLC aside from a rather long hiccup on a spike-focused shrine on the plateau, I kinda wish I hadn’t.

The extra memories the second major DLC added were wonderful. I loved learning more about each of the champions and seeing different sides of them. I enjoyed reading their journals and talking to people who revered them. Even the most annoying, asshole of a champion, Revali (an egotistical, grandiose Rito who wanted nothing to do with Link and who was convinced he could save the world on his own) was redeemed once I got to know him a little more. His behavior and bravado made sense and his frustration with Link became clear.

The shrines were a ton of fun, aside from the aforementioned spike shrine. I died more times in that shrine than I did during the rest of the game put together. Being reduced to a quarter of a heart and then forced to run through a maze full of spikes that kill you if you so much as miss-step even once. There were a few weird moments where Link did the Assassin’s Creed style of pathing: he refused to just go straight and instead followed a different game mechanic to do some weird jump off to the side and away from where you’re going in such a way that you cannot recover without basically starting over again. There was a thing I should have been able to just climb up that Link not only failed to climb up five times in a row, but ran along it in such a way that he immediately fell to his death. It was frustrating.

The final boss and the new dungeon were a ton of fun, even if the final boss was annoying on account of its weird mechanics. I managed anyway, because I had an inventory full of weapons and I just kept throwing them at it. My roommate, who had already completed the DLC on his file, gave me a bunch of shit for opting to take the simple, inelegant solution for beating the boss but I was ready to just be done and discover what my reward way.

It was a fucking motorcycle. And not even an amazing motorcycle. Sure, it’s pretty fast, but it turns super slowly, bounces all over the place, loses momentum randomly, and generally sucks as a way to get around a large area. If horses aren’t available, it is definitely faster than walking, but neither horses nor Link’s legs randomly glitch when encountering certain terrain features like mild bumps or stairs. Furthermore, you have to fuel the motorcycle by getting off of it, grabbing a bunch of junk from your inventory, and then placing it into the motorcycle’s tank. Sure, I’ve got enough junk to keep it full no matter how much I use it, but it is rather annoying to need to stop the motorcycle and refuel it seeing as I might be using it to run from a monster or chase down a star fragment.

Honestly, I’m rather frustrated that the reward for all of the shrines and extra content from the DLC was this motorcycle. I doubt I’ll ever use it and now the joy of further information about the champions has been permanently tainted. I would still recommend playing through the DLC to learn about the champions, but make sure to rein in your expectations and don’t expect much for finishing the DLC.

Moments That Take Your Breath Away

I write about Breath of the Wild a lot. I play it much more than I write about it. I think about it much more than I play it. It would not be entirely out of line to suggest that this game is constantly on my mind. There’s a constant mixture of the desire to play the game more and my memories of past times I’ve played it, churning around in my head. Unfortunately, I don’t get to play it as much as I would like. Writing and general adult stuff, like working out and picking up extra hours to get some financial breathing space, make it difficult to get more than an hour or two in each week. Occasionally, I get the opportunity to binge it for a while, but that just reminds me of the first time I played it.

I missed my chance to pre-order a switch since I was just starting a new job and was too stressed to follow gaming news closely enough to sign up before they all sold out. Same for the special editions of Breath of the Wild. Instead, I spent all of March second camped outside the front doors of a Best Buy only to watch a bunch of shitty pre-order people show up in the last half hour and be allowed to get their pick of the peripherals because any of the people who had been waiting for twelve hours or more even got to step a foot inside. I’m still bitter about that. I got the last Pro controller, so I didn’t miss out on any of the peripherals I wanted, but I was the second person in line. The other hundred people behind me were shit outta luck.

I got home, played for an hour, and then finally went to bed at around three because I was falling asleep despite my excitement. Over the next three days (of course I took that Friday off of work!), I got maybe fifteen hours of sleep and put in over fifty hours of game time. By the end of the third weekend after getting the game, I had it beaten (except for Korok Seeds) and was sitting in the 125-150 hour range. It was amazing. I don’t think I’d ever focused on something so completely in my life. I’m not one to binge games that much, though I do enjoy a good weekend of playing only one game, so it felt strange to realize just how much I’d been playing every day. It still feels strange and other-worldly to think about. I miss it.

When I started playing, the world was new. Every corner held something new to experience or explore. I was constantly figuring out new things like shield surfing, mounting Lynels for a few quick hits, and the fun things you can do with balloons. I felt excited every day to go home and play. Wandering around a world that felt dangerous, new, and so incredibly sad was probably the happiest I felt during 2017.

The game came at a bit of a crossroads for me. I hadn’t been able to get myself and my now-roommates together in time to move out before our lease needed to be renewed, so I was stuck living with someone who was stressing me out for another six months. I’d started a new job that was so much better than my old job, but I was struggling with impostor syndrome. Home life had been stressful because stuff just kept going wrong around the apartment. My depression was at its worst because of the cloudy weather that we had for long periods and winter in general. My roommate was becoming more and more stressful, and the release of the Switch marked his decent from stressful but tolerable to intolerable and misery-inducing. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Breath of the Wild was not only the best thing that had happened to me in almost a year but that it was the last simply good thing to come into my life for another six months after that.

Even though my life has greatly improved since this time last year, I still wish I could recapture the wonder and excitement I felt at stepping into a new world. No other video game I’ve ever played made me as excited as Breath of the Wild did. No other video game has ever felt tantalizingly real as Breath of the Wild did. It made me feel like I do when I read some of my favorite books, but I can’t seem to recapture that feeling as closely as I can when I reread those books. I can still get lost in it, and I haven’t yet gotten bored with running around the world to find something new I’ve never seen before, but that’s different feeling.

I’ll cherish the time I spent with the game when it was new and all I can really do is hope that I can find that again in some other video game. Maybe the next Legend of Zelda. Current information suggests it will also be open world, so maybe I’ll be able to experience that wonder and joy all over again. Until then, I’ll content myself with my books and the few hours of Legend of Zelda I can work in every week.

Video Games and Me: I Can Quit Any Time

I have a complicated relationship with video games. They’re an excellent source of interactive stories, they can take me away from my problems when I need some breathing space, they can make me feel powerful, and they can help bring me together with people I’d otherwise have nothing in common with. At the same time, they take up a lot of time because they’re easy indulge in, they make it harder for me to write because escaping via gaming is easy than escaping via writing, and they can make it difficult for me to do the self-care things I need to do but do not want to do (like paying bills or eating properly or getting daily exercise). Managing my time investments when it comes to video games is always tricky and I probably fail more often than I succeed.

When it comes to video games, I tend toward extremes. Most weeks, I don’t play at all because there are things I need to do every evening like write blog posts, try to work on a book, pay bills and do chores, or take some time to let my mind calm down without anything else stirring it up. The weeks I do play tend to be in the middle of the month when bills aren’t due and usually involve me doing nothing but playing video games in my free time. When I manage to play on only same days in a week, I still stick to extremes. I’ll either not play at all during a day or I’ll do nothing but play video games during a day. I’m not very good at only playing for an hour or less before moving on.

I have well over one hundred games I’ve never played, thanks to Steam. That’s not a sizable amount, compared to many, but I haven’t actually bought a game I didn’t intend to play and, when I go scroll through my Steam library, I still want to play all of the games I’ve bought. However, there’s never enough time. If I want to work a full day with a little bit of overtime, I’m out of my apartment for 10 hours. Mark off another two hours for meals and hygiene,  two for blogging and social media (trying to build a twitter following is no joke), two for working out or exercising (and related clean-up), six for sleeping, and I’m down to two hours. Only two hours for whatever fun thing I want to do, for working on a personal project (like a book), or for doing chores each day.

That’s all the time I get in a day unless I cut down on sleep (like I did during NaNoWriMo), work less (which is also a thing I did during NaNoWriMo), or forego all responsibility in favor of taking as much time for myself as I can (which I did last night). This is why video games tend to wind up being entirely ignored or done to excess. It feels so good to leave everything behind and just play until my eyes feel sticky with exhaustion and I’m blinking at my cell phone’s display as it tells me that I will be getting up for work in three hours. Even now, I have to struggle to focus on writing this and not turning on my TV so I can play some Breath of the Wild or Skyrim on my Switch. I have to exit all of my game applications when I write because the call of Overwatch or my recent Borderlands run-through is too strong to entirely ignore when all I have to do is right-click an icon to start up a game.

I’ve made a habit of making the tough decision to ignore my desire for immediate satisfaction or reward in favor of doing what is best for my life in the long run. Loan payments get made, extra money gets tucked away for paying off loans, and I make myself work an extra hour or two every day so I’ve got enough financial padding to make it from month to month without worrying about being short for all of my bills at the start of every month. All of this practice goes out the window as soon as I start playing a video game. There is no stopping at a set time, or playing for only an hour. The best I can do is play only one match of Overwatch, but that’s generally only possible when I’m feeling burned out on my favorite PvP game.

Extremes work pretty well for me. I’ve made 79 blog posts in a row because I’ve made a rule that I’m not allowed to miss a day for anything. My most-successful diet was done by removing most food from my potential menu and allowing myself only certain meal plans so I made sure I got a balanced meal along with basically my target number of calories. 100% committed to whatever I do with no wiggle room to make excuses or try to justify taking a break. “Taking a break” is how every period of working out eventually fell apart. Playing no video games or nothing but video games seems to fit right into that habit. New games are my “taking a break” moments that result in me doing nothing but playing the game for a while. I played Clustertruck for 5 hours the night I bought and downloaded it. All I had planned to do was open it up and fidget with the settings, to see if I could donate it to the Steam arcade we’ve got at work.

The only game that doesn’t really cause the same problems is Pokemon, but I feel like the only reason it doesn’t is because I’ve conditioned myself to quickly fall asleep while playing it in a reclined position. I don’t have to worry about staying up too late playing Pokemon when I literally play it so i can fall asleep right away most nights. Rumor says there’s going to be a new Pokemon game for the Switch, so my conditioning will think it is different enough to let me play it for more than ten minutes at a time once it has come out…

Horizon Zero Chill

I’m going to preface this by saying I really enjoy playing this game. No matter what else I say, and I’ve got a lot to say, I really enjoy playing this game and can’t wait to keep playing it once I’ve finished creating my blog buffer.  The combat is rewarding, all of the action moves feel incredible, and the lore is just waiting for you to stumble over it. The skills you can unlock by leveling up feel diverse and any one of them can have an incredible (positive) impact on my play style.

I’ll admit my first impressions weren’t super positive. Having never owned a PlayStation anything, I consistently bear a minor grudge against all exclusive games on a platform I never intend to buy. A grudge that grows in size depending on how cool the game looks. Sure, I have access to one now since one of my roommates owns a PS4, but the game looked so cool when it came out that I made myself wait about four months before I bought it. Somehow, I managed to avoid all spoilers for the game, so I was essentially going in blind other than what turned out to be a few unfortunate comparisons to Breath of the Wild.

I say unfortunate because the comparison does Horizon Zero Dawn no favors. HZD is much more focused on lore and story-telling. Characters will constantly tell you all sorts of really interesting information about the world and what has happened in its recent history. Also, and this was the biggest problem for me, you can’t climb everything. There were so many times I had to settle for hopping up a pile of boulders or finding a way around the cliff rather than just being able to scale it. It isn’t really a problem given HZD’s preference to make you feel like there’s danger around every corner, so being forced to walk around more requires you to get really good at sneaking or decent enough at combat that you can eliminate several robo-beasts as you’re trying to find a path that leads up to the top of the cliff. Or ruined skyscrapers (which are so freaking cool).

Probably the best comparison between HZD and BotW is in their atmospheres. I absolutely love the atmosphere of HZD. Both maintain an air of neglect, decay, and loss but BotW veers toward melancholy and then focuses on what is now gone forever while HZD turns toward attempts to understand the mysterious and forgotten past. Around every corner is some relic of a past that is slowly revealed through text or audio dumps that hint at what was going on in the world before civilization collapsed. Everything from the various machines you encounter to the remnants of cities or bases you can explore works to paint a picture of a world that was headed toward the collapse you know happened.

One thing that I’m still on the fence about, which is the reason for the title, is how every robo-creature you kill lets out a keening scream as it dies. It is a really nice effect, making each of the kills feel rewarding and real, but stealth kills also result in loud noises and nothing seems to notice the death cries of anything. If you stand around and gawk once you’ve killed something, THEN something might notice you. There seems to be almost no concept of noise and some of the line-of-sight stuff can be confusing, too. You can walk within a dozen feet of something and it won’t notice you, but it’ll watch you from a mile away if it noticed you and ran away, no matter how much you attempt to sneak or hide.

I have a few other gripes, but it’s mostly stuff about what I prefer in video games. Stuff like particular movements the character models make, word choices and personality stuff, the way they wrote some of the lore. Nothing of importance. Any negativity is far-outweighed by how much fun it is to sneak around and look for new lore. I can’t marathon it the way I could marathon BotW, but HZD is definitely something I try to play for at least a little bit every day. If you haven’t played it yet and have the means to do so, I suggest picking up the complete edition and playing your heart out.

Switching Skyrim Up

I mentioned last month that I was super excited that I was finally able to play Skyrim on the Switch and now I’ve finally done it. Skyrim was my first post-Christmas gift to myself and after letting it download over night, I finally started playing it a couple of days ago. While it was a little jarring to play at first, I eventually got used to playing it without the smoother control available on a computer. Tilt-controls for aiming my bow–I’m a sneaky sniper because I like to challenge myself to “unicorn” all my enemies by shooting them in the forehead–are super helpful, so I don’t really feel the “two sticks and several buttons” issue until I get stuck in melee combat. At which point I’m usually dead anyway, so it isn’t that much of a problem.

The thing I probably miss the most are my PC mods. Most of the mods I used where graphical changes or texture packs to make the world feel more real. I used to love wandering around Skyrim simply to take it all in. Killing things and going on quests were just added benefits to help pay for my tour of the world. The stars, the sunsets, the way the grass waved in the wind… All things I miss in this new game. I also miss the added carrying capacity and capes, but those aren’t as big a deal.

While I originally wanted the game so I’d have a pick-up-and-play console version of Skyrim, I have to say getting it on the Switch was definitely the right decision because portability is easily the best part of the game experience so far. If I’m going to my girlfriend’s place, I can bring my Switch along and start playing Skyrim while she’s playing Pokemon (literally did that a couple of days ago). If I want to go hang out in a coffee shop but don’t feel like writing or get bored with my book, I can play Skyrim (planning to do that sometime this weekend). If I’ve got a 15 minute break at work and want to maintain my “total nerd” status with my coworkers, I’ll bust out my Switch and Skyrim it up.

To be fair, I can play Breath of the Wild during all of those moments as well, but I feel like Skyrim has actually used the controller layout the best out of all the other games I’ve played on the Switch. The main reason I prefer my Pro Controller and TV for Breath of the Wild is that I’m often sprinting and jumping and changing camera direction all at the same time. This is an awkward button/stick combo on the Pro Controller and an impossible one on the Joy-Con (whether attached to the Switch or detached) for someone with hands my size. I tried doing it on the Joy-Con once and it was painful enough that I’ve never done it again and have zero intention of ever doing it again. Maybe if they ever make slightly larger Joy-Con for the large-handed individuals of the world, I’d consider it. Until then, I’m going to stick to Skyrim for mobile gaming.

While the download for the game was way smaller than I anticipated (17 GB only???), the entire game seems to be there. I’m sure there’s stuff missing that I could find if I went looking for it, and I know game sizes tend to get a little bloated when it comes to PC downloads, but it still seems like a huge shrink in size for such a huge game. Which makes the 13.4 GB size of Breath of the Wild even more incredible. I should do some research into what makes games as big as they often are. I mean, Doom on the PC is about 55 GB and its only 13.4 on Switch. That’s insane. I’m either missing 40 GB of game or there was 40 GB of fluff on the PC version. Even taking out the supposedly 9 GB of multiplayer (from what I’ve gathered online), that’s still 30 GB difference. Cleaning up the code can’t account for that much difference and setting restrictions for consoles seems like it wouldn’t be enough to account for whatever was left.

That’ll be next week’s post. I’ll do some research and report back. In the mean time, enjoy playing Skyrim and I’ll try to get some screenshots of me “Unicorning” my enemies once I’m a high-enough level to snipe stuff.

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Sweet Scent of Rain on a Damp Morning

In a game that keeps on giving some nine months after I started playing it, one of my favorite random occurrences is the occasional rain storm. As I play through Hero Mode (enemies are stronger and regenerate health, plus there are more of them), I’ve changed my settings to get rid of as much of the Heads Up Display as possible, using the “Pro” layout. Gone is my clock, my sonograph, my thermometer, and every other indicator that I’m playing a video game aside from my health bar and occasionally my stamina wheel. If I could hide those, I’d do that as well. Not to make the game harder, but to bring me closer to the game. That way, when it begins to rain, my only indication is the growing cloud cover or the first tell-tale drops as I ride through an area occupied by a storm.

I feel a certain amount of anxiety at times, not knowing what the weather will be before I decide to climb a mountain (you will slide down the cliff you’re climbing if you move at all during rain storms), but it quickly fades once I actually get absorbed into the game. I climb and either hurry if it gets cloudy or resign myself to being rained off the cliff. I also don’t know if it is a rainstorm or a thunderstorm until the first lightning strike, so that means I have to avoid using any metal weapons or armor. If I can climb or fight most enemies, there’s not a whole lot left to do if I don’t want to teleport away and do something else until the rain ends.

I’m quite patient. I’d rather set the controller down for a few minutes while the rain storms itself out than warp away and lose track of what I was doing as I get distracted by some new quest. When I first started doing this, I’d grab my phone and browse Twitter or Imgur for the storm’s duration. As time went on, I paid more attention to the storms in the game. There are things that only show up in the rain, certain bugs and flowers, and AI characters, both enemies and NPCs, behave differently when it is raining. There are parts of the map that flood when it rains. Rain and thunderstorms aren’t just a detriment to your ability to climb or a barrier to work around when you’re fighting, they’re actual players in the world that cause everything in it to respond. There is so much to do during a storm that I’ve stopped setting my controller aside and spend the four or more in-game hours exploring my local environment to see what changes.

The more I played, the more I noticed that I felt similarly during a game rain storm compared to how I feel when I sit in a real rain storm. Now, I split my rain storms between exploring and finding a nice sheltered place, out of the rain, to have Link stand while I look out at the rain-soaked world around him. My inner pluviophile has taken control and now I love nothing more than a surprise rain storm so I can watch the water drip off of link’s clothes and the weapons he’s holding in his hands. I love to watch the world go soft and grey as it rains during the day and then dim as the sun sets and night begins.

There are particular places in the game that are always raining. I like to go to them sometimes, usually when I need to relax, so I can have Link light a fire and stand next to it under whatever shelter I could find while it rains. The world falls silent except for the sound of rain on the ground, the moan of the wind as it whips the rain around, and the crackle of the fire. When I close my eyes and listen, I can almost smell the sweet scent of dirt churned into mud by rain and the fresh tinge to the air wafting in my window.

Eventually I open my eyes, pick up my controller, and go back to playing. I chase Koroks to expand my inventory, find new shrines, collect everything I can so I’ll be able to upgrade my armor, and find new ways to tackle multiple enemies at once when freezing them is no longer an option (the gold ones can’t be frozen, I guess? That’s super annoying). It may be a few days between play sessions or it may just be a couple hours, but I know I’ll eventually go looking for the rain again, just so I can spend a little more time bathing in the silence and peace the rain brings.

 

NaNoWriMo Day 19 (11/19)

I’m still behind, despite my plans. And because of my plans. I am getting more done every day now, so that’s good, but I’m still far enough behind that the number of works I have yet to write is rather prohibitive. But I’ll finish. No matter what. I really can’t say that I should have spent my time other than I have, it’s just hard when so much that’s going on right now is a high priority for me.

It feels dumb for me to be complaining about not having time this month. I’ve got too many good things I’m trying to do all in one month. Sure, my depression and my anxiety show up now and then to screw up a day or two, but it’s mostly a good, if tiring, trek through my days as I rededicate myself to writing, fill my spare time with all sorts of wonderful video games or books, and try to keep things running smoothly with my girlfriend.  I mean, my choices are between writing until D&D starts at 6pm or playing Pokemon until 6pm. The horror.

That being said, writing is a lot harder than playing Pokemon. I’ve discovered that the story I’m telling involves allegorical references to my previous job, a lot of people I’ve known throughout my life, some of the troubles I’ve faced growing up, and a lot of the things I struggle with from day-to-day. This book is almost literally born from my pain. Most of the major bad things that have happened to me and a lot of the things that have hit me the hardest are going to be a part of this story in some way or another. It isn’t all that fun to write, but it’s shaping up to be a good story. More significantly, I can already tell that this is going to be an important story, if only for me. I think I’m going to keep at this one until I finish it, NaNoWriMo or not.

 

Daily Prompt

Self-sacrifice can be a good thing. If someone does it for the benefit of society and the benefit to the whole far outweighs the negative to the individual, convention says we should all sacrifice. At the same time, the mantra of “sacrifice of yourself so that others will benefit” is easily perverted to something like “you are not worth as much as everyone else is.” Write a scene where your character struggles to mark the difference between the two, maybe in reference to whether they should do a particular thing that is self-sacrificing or maybe in reference to whether or not they are giving too much of themselves in general. This is a great place to examine your character’s motivations.

 

Sharing Inspiration

Today’s inspiration is an “old” YouTube video by a guy who does mostly comedic reviews of video games. A lot of his early stuff is childish humor mixed with teenage idiocy, but most of his recent stuff is actually pretty decent. It came out right around the time Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild came out and was probably one of the best reviews I’ve seen of the game because it actually let the game speak for itself. It was clever, it was silly, and I laughed the entire time I watched it through when it came out. I definitely recommend giving it a watch. That being said, you probably shouldn’t watch it if you don’t care for swearing.

 

Helpful Tips

Writing can be draining. Don’t be afraid to indulge a little in the things that make you feel good. If you want a candy bar, make yourself a deal that, as long as you get today’s writing done, you can have a candy bar. Wanna bury yourself in a pile of stuffed animals and lack the last dozen you need to complete the pile? Buy yourself one for every week you write every day. Not getting enough sleep from day-to-day but also trying to find healthier alternatives to just chugging coffee? Create yourself a caffeine schedule so that you’re coming off the last of it as you’re getting ready for bed and don’t worry too much about using a crutch for right now. Self-indulgence can be bad, but as long as its only for this month, you’ll be alright. Just, you know, probably don’t try to use drugs and alcohol to fuel your writing. I literally cannot find a single person that has worked out for in the long run.

 

A Breath of Joy and Light in the Dark

In two days from today, on Friday the 30th of June, Nintendo is releasing the first segment of the DLC for their latest smash-hit Legend of Zelda game: Breath of the Wild. This bit of post-release content is going to add quite a few wonderful features to this already amazing game. The one I’m looking forward to the most is the map tracker. Finally, there will be a way to tell which parts of the map I’ve never actually been too. It, and the Korok Mask (that rattles when you near an undiscovered Korok), are what are finally going to let me find the other 100 or so Koroks I need to finish upgrading my inventory.

At a very close second comes Hard Mode. Basically, it’s going to let me replay the entire game with tougher enemies (every enemy has been replaced with a one-tier tougher copy and the maximum tier has been raised) and a few twists. The only twist they really detail is that now there will be little floating platforms with enemies and chests on them. I really can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

Other than those two things, there are some outfits and a challenge mode they call “Trial of the Sword” that will get you a stronger Master Sword. Nintendo has done a pretty good job of outlining the DLC and driving hype for it. I know I can’t wait.

A project I mentioned in a blog post a few months ago, after I finished my initial play-through of the game, will be starting sometime this weekend. I’ve taken to calling it a “Naked and Afraid” run-through. The rules I’ve set include no armor other than hats, a new fire must be lit every 5 minutes or so, as long as there is flammable material around, and I must provide a running monologue of poor Link’s thoughts as he runs from everything, dies ignobly, and does his best to ward off foes in nothing but a hat and his shorts. I intend to stream it via my Twitch channel this weekend. Maybe on Monday, the 3rd, since I have the day off.

I am admittedly very fond of this idea because it juxtaposes quite nicely with the themes of the game. In the game, you are a warrior awakening 100 years after you nearly died, your land in ruins, your people scattered, and the woman you swore to protect the only remaining barrier between the evil scourge you must someday face and the final destruction of the world. So you run around screaming like a small, excited child wearing nothing but a hat and your boxers.

When I first played the game, it was rather depressing. You wander through a world destroyed long ago with a quiet, melancholy sound track fading in and out of the background to selectively emphasize the horror and sadness around you. One of the first places you find is a room that matches the iconic meeting between Link and Zelda in Ocarina of Time. In this game, it lies in ruins. Windows shattered, walls toppled, and serenity destroyed. All that remains of that memory is a quiet thread woven into the game’s theme, a slight change in the melody that plays Zelda’s Lullaby throughout the time you’re in or near it.

I won’t spoil what you find there, but Makar Island was the biggest blow to me. I remember playing Wind Waker and always enjoyed the little Korok named Makar, that you save from evil in your second dungeon and that you assist in bringing back the Master Sword’s power. Makar’s Island lies to the west of Hyrule Castle. I suggest checking it out.

The whole game is full of these moments. Sad little references to past games and people you’ve met throughout the years of playing Legend of Zelda games. All of it placed through this game to drive home that point that, yes, Good will eventually triumph over Evil, but you failed to keep it at bay and now it is impossible to return to the life you knew before. Nothing can ever be the same again.

I know they were working on the game for years, long before the current political climate in the US and most European countries reared its ugly head, but it really feels like the game was meant to come out now, to serve as another reminder that we need to keep fighting so we can salvage whatever we have left, even if we’ve already lost a lot.

That’s a lot of heavy themes for a game. I guess that’s why I want to do my silly play-through. Not to mock the severity and solemnity of the game, but to stick truthfully to my ideal that laughter and joy are our best defenses against this kind of evil and darkness. The DLC hits the internet Friday and my stream will hit it sometime shortly thereafter, so come laugh as I make an idiot of myself and one of my favorite protagonists so we can have some fun and fight off the gloom that threatens to swallow us whole.