So as I’ve mentioned before, I’m going to completely redo my schedule and priorities on New Year’s Day.  As I’ve also mentioned, I have an hour walk in the morning which gives me lots of time to think, so I’ve already been thinking about how that’s all going to work out.  And one of the things I’ve done is create a list of the games that I want to try to play:

Wizardry run (6-8)
Might and Magic run (from 6?)
Icewind Dale 1 and 2
Baldur’s Gate
Ultima (IV – VI)
Hearts of Iron exploration
Avernum series
Krondor games
General Adventure games (Rise of the Dragon, others)
Dragon’s Lair series
Europa Universalis exploration
General strategy (Tropico, Age of Wonders, Hero of Might and Magic, Disciples 2, King Arthur, King’s Bounty, Majesty, etc)
Freedom Force
Gabriel Knight series
Leisure Suit Larry series
Mass Effect series
Dragon Age series
Star Trek games
Star Wars games
Elder Scrolls games (Morrowind, Skyrim, Oblivion)
Zork series

Now, if you’re looking at that list, you’re probably thinking that it seems a bit ambitious, to say the least.  Just playing through the Wizardry games listed or the Might and Magic games would take something like 40+ hours, and there are a lot of other RPGs and long games listed.  Well, to make things worse, I’m thinking that I could only play games for maybe three to four hours on two or three days.  Oh, and my schedule is probably going to have to be reworked in the spring sometime when my workspace goes back to having us work at least more often from work, so I have maybe four months to work with.  There’s no way, then, that I could get through this entire list in that time.

Fortunately, I’m not crazy enough to actually try to do that.  This is just a list of all of the games that I think I want to play at some point, but I’m not planning on finish the list in the next few months, or even in the next year.  What I’m going to do is pick two or maybe three of them and use them as my focus, and then leave the rest for the next time I have to rework my schedule and decide which of them I want to play.  After all, I’m not that likely to change my mind about what I want to play that quickly (especially given that I’ve had lists of games I wanted to play that lasted for years).  And if I decide that I don’t ever want to play a certain game or set of games anymore, and want to play others instead, I can always delete and add to the list whenever I feel it appropriate.  So it’s a list of anything that I might want to do so that I can decide what I want to do.

But there are two elements of the list that I’m currently finding quite compelling but that I’m also hesitant about:  Hearts of Iron exploration and Europa Universalis exploration.  It’s not the games that are responsible for all of that, per se, but instead that “exploration” part tacked on.

I’ve had the “Hearts of Iron” games and “Europa Universalis” games for a while — I have disk versions of both, but am working with the GOG versions now — and what compelled me about the former in particular was the idea of putting myself into a historical situation and then seeing how that history could have gone differently.  Taking on a country in WWII and changing how WWII happened was compelling to me.  But aside from whether or not that game would really allow that, the big concern of mine was always that I wouldn’t be good enough at the game to pull that off, particularly with the military.  It wouldn’t work if I managed to get a huge production advantage and huge armies and then couldn’t do the things I wanted because I wasn’t a good enough general.  And that’s assuming that I managed to manage the production well enough to do that.  I wanted to change history and get into that sort of historical situation, but knew that my own lack of ability would get in the way of creating a really interesting history for me to follow and enjoy.

Hence, the “exploration” tag.  What I am considering doing is getting into the games I have — and for “Hearts of Iron”, for example, that might involve going through all three in order — and playing around with it and exploring its systems, seeing how it works in various situations and seeing what happens, while learning how all the production and warfare systems work without having a specific goal in mind.  Then, once I feel confident that I understand what’s going, only then might I try to change history or work for a specific historical goal, and I’d only do that after I tried one of the major powers and was able to hold my own.  So the plan for “Hearts of Iron” would be to take a minor country first — Australia, maybe, or one of the South American countries — and see how things play out without my direct involvement, and then take on a more involved country — or Canada, where I can’t help but have a vested interest in how things work out for Canada — and so on and so forth until I can take on one of the major powers and participate at a reasonable level, and then try to change history.  And then maybe move on to the next game.

Why this is filling me with trepidation is because I, personally, am not a player who likes to explore.  I’m not like Shamus Young who could have fun trying to see how early he can get firearms in Civilization.  I want to play a game and achieve some sort of goal, even if that goal is entirely personal.  This is also why I can’t simply be satisfied like Shamus is writing code and learning a lot, even if nothing comes of it.  I always want my projects to be usable and/or playable at the end, and get frustrated and bored if that isn’t happening quickly enough for my liking.  So doing this goes completely against my play style and my personality.  Therefore, I’m at least as likely to end up horribly frustrated by this than entertained by it, which is, obviously, not what I look for in my gaming experience.

I haven’t decided on anything yet, but I am leaning towards this.  I do think that the historical connection of “Hearts of Iron” and “Europa Universalis” will give me something interesting to follow while trying this, which means it’s more likely to work out than most other games (like Civilization).  But if I do this, it will be an interesting experiment, even if it turns out to not be interesting.

8 Responses to “Exploration”

  1. Featherfoot Says:

    Wow, some excellent old games there, though I have to say a lot are not ones I think I’ll ever replay. I absolutely loved the Ultima series, and played most of them multiple times back in the day. I’m sure I can still recite the eight virtues by heart – in order. Still, it’s quite a grind. If I may ask, why 4-6? The first three Ultimas are quite different, as are the last two, so I can see why you would exclude those. But 7 is much like 6, except bigger and better. I sometimes describe it as “Skyrim but made twenty years earlier.”

    I still replay the 3D Fallouts and Elder Scrolls games, and some Heroes of Might and Magic games. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of many of these, whenever you get around to them. Chances are, I’ll still be coming by to see what you’ve written.

    • verbosestoic Says:

      So, for the Ultimas, there are a couple of reasons for choosing those. First, from my research and my reading about it on the CRPG Addict, I think those are the “Avatar Trilogy” and are the ones that introduce and put the most focus on the Virtues, which is something that I wanted to explore with that series. The second reason is that checking my GOG account it looks like I don’t have 7, at least not yet, and have so many games to play that buying a new one isn’t really on my radar right now.

      Right now I’m really, really leaning towards the Hearts of Iron exploration, likely combined with some MMOs (I still like TOR and just tried the Free-To-Play Star Trek Online and find it an inferior MMO but a really good Star Trek game).

  2. Vacation gaming | The Verbose Stoic Says:

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  3. Andrew Says:

    Not sure that “how quickly can I achieve personal goal X?” is strictly Exploration. My understanding of Exploration is either:
    * wanting to experience all the content
    * wanting to understand game mechanics for their own sake

    I would not usually consider “I want to understand X in order to achieve Y” to be fundamentally an Exploration mindset vs an Achievement mindset.

    Even “I want to experience all the content in order to write up the definitive guide” is, in my opinion, moving outside Exploration gameplay – the goal is not the content but social credit that comes from having done so.

    • verbosestoic Says:

      Given your phrasing, this seems aimed more at what I mentioned Shamus tried to do than at me — I’m not trying to achieve any personal goal quickly — and what it’d be important to note there — and for me — is that getting gunpowder wasn’t the actual goal there. Shamus was trying to see how far he could get Civilization V to deviate from history by getting a modern technology as early as possible. For me, the same thing applies. For all of these games, my goal is to see how far I can deviate from history and/or how easy it is to maintain what happened in history (the early games will be watched to see if they seem to deviate randomly from history or not). Given that both sets of games are aimed at simulating history to a large extent, playing to see how closely they map to history and how far you can make things deviate from history seems to fit into the “Exploration” model, as you’d be exploring the historical systems of the games.

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