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.

 

I’ll Always Love the Legend of Zelda

One of my first memories of playing video games was sitting on the carpet with my friends while we took turns playing Super Mario Cart. I remember the ease with which I made turns, hopped over puddles, and the ways we laughed whenever we ran into the moles that appeared in a couple of the levels. It was a fun, social activity. It set the foundation for the way I still view video games today, as an activity best done with friends. As I grew, and my friends all moved away or disappeared as such things do, I found myself less and less able to find people to play with other than my siblings. That was always fun, but my older brother wasn’t very interested in playing because he always won and my younger sisters weren’t as interested when I initially needed people.

Around that time, the N64 came out. I wanted one so badly, so I could play the new Mario game I got to try when we visited some of my dad’s friends, but no amount of begging or pleading would sway my parents. It was just not in the cards for us. Long after I’d given up, though I of course still asked frequently as a matter of course, we got the limited edition, see-through green edition that came with the expansion pack and Donkey Kong 64. I was so excited that I woke up at five in the morning or earlier every day during winter break to play it. Donkey Kong 64 was one of my first experiences with a game that was meant to be played by a single player and it was way more fun than I expected. Then, I don’t remember when it happened or who gave it to us, but I got my hands on a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and my world changed.

I honestly hadn’t expected much going into it. My first Legend of Zelda game was A Link to the Past, because we borrowed it from a friend for a while. My older brother enjoyed it, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. I was five or six while I was trying to play it and I just couldn’t figure out where to go next at one point, so I didn’t get very far into it before we had to give it back. When we got Ocarina of Time, I was excited by a new single-player game of course, but I was a little skeptical that it’d be nearly as fun as Donkey Kong had been. I let my brother take the first turn and I immediately fell in love as I watched him play. There was just something about seeing a child who looked like he was my age fight against evil and go on these adventures before ultimately growing up to continue them. Most of the thematic elements of the game went right over my head, but I had so much fun wandering around the world, searching for heart pieces and Gold Skulltulas before ultimately trying to look up guides online, that I didn’t care about anything else.\

A year later, not that long after my brother and I had gotten tired of finishing Ocarina of Time, we got a Nintendo Power magazine telling us all about the new Legend of Zelda game that was going to come out, Majora’s Mask. I demanded the game immediately, which didn’t get me very far, of course. I had to save and beg and wheedle and convince my parents to get it for the family since no one person could have a game console (there were four of us kids at that point and we used any power we had to get one-up on each other). I don’t remember the day we finally got it, but I remember how excited I was and then how frustrated I was when I couldn’t get through the first part of the game. At that point, due to how much we played video games and how many of us wanted to play, there was a strict thirty-minute restriction on how long your turn with the N64 could be. If you’ve played Majora’s Mask, you know that thirty minutes is barely enough time to get through the first part of the game even when you know what you’re doing and that there’s no way to save the game until you’ve finished. Needless to say, it took a lot of tries to figure everything out so I could actually finish the first part. My brother cheated by getting up in the middle of the night when no one would call him on playing for longer than thirty minutes but, joke’s on him, I beat the game before him using that method.

This game was different from Ocarina of Time, though. I’m not sure if it was because of how much I’d grown in the year between starting Ocarina of Time and playing Majora’s Mask or if it was because the themes of the game more closely matched the issues I was struggling with at the time, but I finally starting to realize what was going on behind the missions and adventures. I saw all these crazy characters who were struggling to deal with the things that happened in their life and they went from being hilarious or weird caricatures to being sad but truthful depictions of the way we struggled to cope in a world were we ultimately have no say in how things turn out. The big moment for me was watching the Zora hero, Mikau, tell his story and then die. I didn’t really understand what was going on and what the game meant back then, but it has stuck with me for over a decade as something that opened my eyes to the fact that lots of people feel powerless and want someone to help them.

I mean, even the hero can’t accomplish everything he wants. He has the power to help other people, to fix some of their problems or at least act in their stead when it is too late for them, but even he can’t find the person he’s been searching for throughout the entire game. It’s a lot like the stories we tell ourselves as we try our best to live our lives. It can be really easy to step in for someone else, to help them fix a problem that feels insurmountable to them but that we have the tools to address, but we often find ourselves unable to help ourselves in the same we. We struggle and fight our way through whatever comes up, but can’t always guarantee that the struggle is going to be anything but an obstacle to overcome. Winning doesn’t guarantee that we’ll get the prize we seek. Or any prize at all, for that matter.

As a ten-year-old kid, I couldn’t have put this into words, but I understood it. I felt it deep inside my heart and recognized it in this game that was a rush job slapped together using old assets by a team of people who had a vision and a plan and not much else. It reach into my soul and let me know I wasn’t the only one who felt this way or had experienced these feelings. It was a revelation and the reason Majora’s Mask is always going to be my favorite Legend of Zelda game. Even with Breath of the Wild’s amazing open world and the hundreds of hours of joy it has brought me, Majora’s Mask will always be the nearest and dearest to my heart because it taught me about depression and how to handle it before I even knew that’s what I had. It set the stage for a lot of the most important mental developments in my life and is more a part of who I am as a person than anything but “stories” as a whole. I’m glad I got to experience it when I did and I’m glad I can go back to visit it and find it the same after all these years so I can measure how I’ve grown and changed.

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.

To Single Play or to Multi Play

Despite my love for the almost entirely single-player Legend of Zelda franchise, I generally prefer multiplayer games over single-player games. My Steam account is full of single-player games I have never played or haven’t completed. I never actually finished most of my single-player console games, either. I just eventually lose interest or focus, getting distracted by some other video game or a new book, and never get back to finishing the game. If it is a multiplayer game that I’m playing with friends, I’m a lot more likely to stay interested and finish it.  There are exceptions, of course. I’ve played tons of games of Borderlands with friends and by myself, but I’ve only ever finished it once with a friend. It’s a longer game, so it is difficult to get someone to commit to the entire thing and then actually follow-through over the several sessions it’ll take to beat it.

I never finished all of the really cool extra content for Hyrule Warriors because I got bored doing the daily grind of beating thousands of enemies on my own. For the few missions I could do it, I enjoyed the multiplayer option much more. I started playing and loved Shadow of War last fall, but I never finished because Destiny 2, with its multitude of problems, came out. Destiny encourages cooperative multiplayer while Shadow of War’s multiplayer is only ever competitive.

I prefer cooperative multiplayer to competitive. Competitive games like Mario Kart and Super Smash Brothers are fun, but I prefer any game where I’m working with my friends rather than against them. Halo Co-Op was my preferred way to play with my friends in high school. I never really got into League of Legends because it was so competitive. Even the cooperative aspect of being on a team with your friends or strangers got competitive because people took the game so seriously. That, plus the toxicity, drove me away. Overwatch, on the other hand, is a competitive game but it encourages a lot more cooperation than I feel League of Legends did. Even when queuing for Quickplay and playing with random strangers feels better because not everyone is toxic and most people agree to a basic level of cooperation. Some of my best cooperative moments and matches have been with strangers. All it takes there is communication and willingness to participate.

I’m not a terribly competitive person. I don’t really care about winning or losing, I just want to play well. I want to play a game skillfully and improve, not worry about who has the most kills or whether or not I’m consistently better than my friends. I get frustrated, sure, but only when I know we’re under-performing or one of my allies is deliberately messing us up. I generally won’t try to force people to cooperate with me in games, but I have little patience for people who find pleasure in throwing games or betraying their allies.

I like to improve myself. Daily blog entries here, figuring out how to add novel-writing to my schedule, and then trying to work out between work and writing is all my attempts to make myself the best me I can be. That includes being good at my chosen recreations. I like to play video games and the part of me that is what I identify as the most core part of me also wants to be good at video games. Not so I can go pro in some competitive e-sports league or so I can rule over my friends, but for my own personal satisfaction. I want to be good to see just how good I can be.

Hyrule Warriors is Switching it up

I really enjoyed the Hyrule Warriors game that came out for the Wii U. The console kinda sucked, but the game was tons of fun! Until you got to multiplayer, anyway. If you tried to play multiplayer, one person using the little TV-Screen controller and the other playing on the main TV, the console would be unable to keep up with the demands of the game. There were whole levels and challenges I was unable to complete in multiplayer because the game simple wouldn’t render more enemies for me to fight. I’d be running around the battlefield, all but the last handful of goons defeated, but still four hundred short of the challenge goal because no new enemies would spawn. Story missions became impossible to complete because I couldn’t kill enough enemies to make the bosses appear.

The game was fun enough to play on my own that I don’t regret my purchase, but a lot of the achievements and post-story gameplay wasn’t as fun without a friend to play it with. The version they eventually released for the 3DS was better, since it required separate systems to play and they could share the load this way, but it wasn’t nearly as fun to play on the hand-held system (I’ve got huge hands, so even the larger “New 3DS” can cause my hands to cramp if I play it energetically). Plus, the screen was small and a lot of detail was sacrificed every time they shrank the screen from it’s “on TV” proportions. They also added a bunch of really cool DLC to the handheld version but it just wasn’t worth buying again, since no one else I knew was planning to buy it.

Now that there’s an edition coming out for the Switch, I might consider buying it again. I’m fairly certain my roommate would buy it and, since we’ve both got a Switch, we’ll be able to do multiplayer fairly easily. The screen is bigger and has a better aspect ration for these kind of games, so it’ll be less of a pain to play on the go. Best of all, it has all of the combined content from the previous iterations, all without needing to buy any kind of DLC for it! Though, to be fair, I would not be entirely surprised if they added more DLC for this version. While Nintendo isn’t as egregious about DLC stuff as most other game developers are (their DLC is usually more of an “expansion” than content that should have come with the game), they still do it with an increasing regularity. I just hope it never goes to Pokemon games! Or, maybe it would be better if they turned stuff like “Ultra Moon/Sun” into DLC so you wouldn’t need to buy an entirely new game…

The “Warriors” series of games, now in many different skins, all play much the same. You play as one of many heroes running through crowds of mooks, a few captains, and the occasional boss. You are mighty and they are weak. You kill hundreds or thousands of them and, unless you’re playing on a higher difficulty or are not actually trying to complete your missions, none of them can kill you. You can level up your characters, growing their power and unlocking new moves, using resources from the game and various weapons you get as prizes. The stories are simple and the point is to unleash incredible (but never very graphic) violence upon your foes.

While the original games never really held my interest, throwing a Legend of Zelda skin on them certainly did. You get all of the above paragraph and more! You can plan as any number of characters from across a few different Legend of Zelda games, use various items from the various games to hilarious effect, and do everything to some really amazing metal or heavy rock versions of classic Legend of Zelda songs. The music was amazing, though I’ll admit it doesn’t make for a very good YouTube or Spotify playlist. The music is best experienced as a part of wholesale slaughter and rescuing your friends from different time periods/universes.

If you want a casual game that’s a lot of fun and enjoy Legend of Zelda or Dynasty warriors, I recommend picking up some version of the game. If you want the Switch one, it should be out in the next three months. As of writing this, the scheduled release is “Spring 2018,” so I’d guess late March or sometime in April. Otherwise, grab a the 3DS or Wii U version and get to trotting around the battlefield as you wantonly murder a bunch of mooks.

 

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.

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 22 (11/22)

The disastrous foil to all my plans has arrived and left me struggling to keep going. My cold is lingering and while it isn’t that bad (I can still think just fine and I’m not running a fever or anything), the constant popping of my ears, croaky voice, and over-full sinuses are uncomfortable enough to make focus nearly unattainable. Yesterday, even though my symptoms were worse, I could medicate through them and be fine, if rather tired. No such luck today. Today I can’t get them to abate at all.

I was actually going to write the rest of this post about whether I was too sick to write properly or if I was just using it as a convenient and convincing excuse to avoid trying to write today (and possibly even as an excuse to try finishing the my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo) but I couldn’t get the paragraphs to make sense. It’s pretty clear I’m too sick to coherently evaluate my options which means reason gets thrown out the door and all that’s left is emotion/desire.

After checking in with those two, it was really nice to find out that I was going to feel sad if I didn’t write today and even more sad (at the lost opportunity, not at a perceived failure) if I didn’t at least try to finish on time. This was matched by an intense desire to just write anyway because it’s not like I need it to make a lot of sense right now anyway. I just need to get the words out right now.

If I’m too incoherent to lose what little focus I’ve got, then I can probably just disconnect my computer from the internet and leave my comic books and video games downstairs. It’s not like I’m feeling restless or anything. I’d be perfectly content to sit in this chair (well, a more comfortable version of this chair) until I no longer felt sick, so I might as well write while I’m waiting. We’ll see how it goes, I suppose.

 

Daily Prompt

There are a lot of things we do not like or enjoy doing and would never consider doing every day for the rest of our lives or having as our main source of income. At the same time, there are often people out there who enjoy these things or find them fulfilling. For today’s prompt, have your character meet someone who enjoys doing something they extremely dislike and use the interaction as an opportunity to expand your character’s worldview.

 

Sharing Inspiration

Today’s inspiration is the wonderful composer, Theophany, who created these amazing re-orchestrations/remixes of some of the music from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask that fully capture the various emotions that game carries into each moment. My favorite song from the so-far two-disc series  (Theophany released Disc 2 a year ago today, which was four years after the first disc) is The Clockworks. If you like The Legend of Zelda and beautiful music, you will love Time’s End and Time’s End II. I definitely recommend checking out the music and, if you like it, buying it from the artist. It’s an officially licensed album and set up with a “minimum $3” cost, so feel free to kick in a few extra dollars to support the next couple albums!

 

Helpful Tips

If you’re writing sequentially and can’t figure out what comes next in the story, try moving what is currently happening to a new place. Take the group of friends talking at a restaurant and have them go for a walk. If you change the scene, it can often lend itself toward new action or a new character’s introduction, both of which are great ways to move stories forward. Don’t worry about making it smooth or finding a good place for them to go or to be going to, but make the change and see what shakes out.

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.