The Running Jump

I've been asked by the illustrious ArbitraryWater to check out two different games in recent memory, Might and Magic 6 and Temple of Elemental Evil.

When I try to approach either of these games, I've noticed that something inside of me holds me back, even though I'm curious about both of the titles. I think I've begun to figure out what it is: I'm a bit wary of starting a large endeavor. Same goes for books, where I'm less likely to start a big tome unless I feel I already have enough momentum going in.

My history with RPGs is long, but many of the actual anecdotes are of me being intimidated by the size and scope of something, all the things I have to learn to make it work. SWTOR worked despite it being arguably NOT very much an RPG by the traditional standards simply because the depth in the game was off to the side. I was invited to explore and, oh yeah, learn a few mechanisms along the way. It's funny how much a character creation screen can acclimate you to one of these lumbering monstrosities; by personalizing your avatars you create a bridge between yourself and the machine, saying that this is how you want to interact with it. Somehow it makes it easier, and probably one of the reasons I'm suspicious of big games without some sort of customization.

Still, I think I'm afraid of getting into bigger games now because I'm afraid that the amount of effort that I put into it may not be reflected in what value I get out of it. I'm reminded of how often as a kid, when presented with something like Zork or Wizardry 7, that I'm so wary of diving full-on into something that's more than a trifle that I seek out something with less involvement instead, almost as a defensive reaction.

I was told once by one of my parents that I think too much sometimes, and maybe they were right. Sometimes trying a big game is a declaration of love. You decide to plunge-- take a step or two back, starting running straight at it, and jump in. Maybe that's why fans whose expectations aren't met are especially angry when they find the game was less than advertised; they're more willing than most to get completely enveloped in the world presented. It's sort of like encountering a demigod creating a pocket plane, then finding it's skimping on the breathable air. You're bound to be a bit pissed when you start turning blue.

Yet I do, often, get stuck in big games. Skyrim isn't a slouch, as shallow as it turned out to be in so many ways, Grimrock is demanding only because we don't see this sort of game very often, with puzzles and navigation that aren't simple button presses (thankfully). I guess it comes down to mood, meeting the right frame of mind that helps push you forward. I lack the ability to summon that up at will; I almost have to trick myself into trying something sometimes.

Since I recognize that, maybe I'm further along than I would be otherwise.

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Posted by ahoodedfigure

I've been asked by the illustrious ArbitraryWater to check out two different games in recent memory, Might and Magic 6 and Temple of Elemental Evil.

When I try to approach either of these games, I've noticed that something inside of me holds me back, even though I'm curious about both of the titles. I think I've begun to figure out what it is: I'm a bit wary of starting a large endeavor. Same goes for books, where I'm less likely to start a big tome unless I feel I already have enough momentum going in.

My history with RPGs is long, but many of the actual anecdotes are of me being intimidated by the size and scope of something, all the things I have to learn to make it work. SWTOR worked despite it being arguably NOT very much an RPG by the traditional standards simply because the depth in the game was off to the side. I was invited to explore and, oh yeah, learn a few mechanisms along the way. It's funny how much a character creation screen can acclimate you to one of these lumbering monstrosities; by personalizing your avatars you create a bridge between yourself and the machine, saying that this is how you want to interact with it. Somehow it makes it easier, and probably one of the reasons I'm suspicious of big games without some sort of customization.

Still, I think I'm afraid of getting into bigger games now because I'm afraid that the amount of effort that I put into it may not be reflected in what value I get out of it. I'm reminded of how often as a kid, when presented with something like Zork or Wizardry 7, that I'm so wary of diving full-on into something that's more than a trifle that I seek out something with less involvement instead, almost as a defensive reaction.

I was told once by one of my parents that I think too much sometimes, and maybe they were right. Sometimes trying a big game is a declaration of love. You decide to plunge-- take a step or two back, starting running straight at it, and jump in. Maybe that's why fans whose expectations aren't met are especially angry when they find the game was less than advertised; they're more willing than most to get completely enveloped in the world presented. It's sort of like encountering a demigod creating a pocket plane, then finding it's skimping on the breathable air. You're bound to be a bit pissed when you start turning blue.

Yet I do, often, get stuck in big games. Skyrim isn't a slouch, as shallow as it turned out to be in so many ways, Grimrock is demanding only because we don't see this sort of game very often, with puzzles and navigation that aren't simple button presses (thankfully). I guess it comes down to mood, meeting the right frame of mind that helps push you forward. I lack the ability to summon that up at will; I almost have to trick myself into trying something sometimes.

Since I recognize that, maybe I'm further along than I would be otherwise.

Posted by Mento

I'll start by saying that while Might and Magic VI is friggin' immense, ToEE isn't actually all that long. I'd say it's about the length of Baldur Gate II's opening act, where you're farting around Athkatla raising money to get to that prison island. I'd almost recommend M&M VII instead if you want a decent-slash-recent M&M game that isn't quite as expansive, but the various engine advances made between the two will make it hard to go back to VI if you change your mind about it later.

I'm also absolutely someone who gets cold feet whenever I plan to jump into a new game that I know is going to take a while. I'm a terrible procrastinator when I have a copy of said game on my desk and instead I'm checking up reviews or its achievements or what have you. It's an odd and almost sort of shameful feeling putting off something I intend to do in my spare time entirely for my own amusement, but that potentially huge time investment (unique in entertainment media, I think, to video games - even a huge book will only take 10-20 hours) certainly isn't anything to scoff at.

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Posted by Video_Game_King

Just jump headfirst into the Temple. It's a glorious venture.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

@Mento: Maybe he suggested VII? My love of Xeen would suggest that it might actually be easier for me to get into MM6 since I'm not that eager to deal with Temple's patch dance. I'll probably talk about it here, or maybe a new blog if my gut starts to move in that direction (significantly).

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Mento's right - Might and Magic VII is just a bit more accessible in this day and age. Both are tremendously fun, but I think he's nailed what makes VII a good jumping-in point. Arbitrary keeps after me on ToEE too. It's just a matter of it coming up on sale and me finding the time.

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Posted by ArbitraryWater

To be fair, I have the exact same thing with The Witcher 2 just sitting and mocking me on my steam games list (alongside whatever other unfortunate games that have resulted from the sale), with me instead content to slowly drag myself through the endgame of Icewind Dale II and maybe Tactics Ogre. The difference is that no one has been aggressively pushing it on me for the past year+, so maybe there's a bit less stress in that regard. I'm sorry if both you and @Sparky_Buzzsaw: have found yourselves victim of my enthusiasm. I mean, I made a list that pretty much cops to this trait.

Though really, the reason I'm so willing to push TOEE on people is that it exercises a certain amount of brevity not usually found in the genre, which is to say that it's quite short, 20 hours at most without the new content (all you need for your first time through is the most recent version of the vanilla Circle of Eight mod). Might and Magic VI is most certainly not short, being an absolute behemoth of a game. Thus, VII might actually be a better jumping off point because it's around half the length of its predecessor and is a bit more polished mechanics-wise. Eh. I still totally have my World of Xeen savefile if I were to ever finish the Darkside, so maybe I'll indulge you if you indulge me.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@ArbitraryWater: There's certainly no need to apologize, man! It really is just a matter of me finding both the time and the right price (or a few extra bucks in my pocket). I'm actually stoked to play it at some point, considering who developed it and what it's based on. If I seemed crass in that post, I'm sorry as all hell - I'm on edge today for some personal reasons. Don't ever apologize for pushing games on me duder, as you've got great taste from what I've read and seen.

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