Friday, March 27, 2015

A Thought to Chew: An Ode to Randomness in Gaming

Before diving in, let me preface this by saying.... sorry. If I were food, my shelf life would've expired two months ago. I'm terrible at committing to the blog, let alone the fact that school is picking up right now. Even in spite of the fact that it is spring break and that I have seven days away from school, they still had the decency to drown me in homework. There's nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but there also kind of is.
Anyway, I'll try to churn out another post before spring break ends and hopefully will publish at more frequent intervals, but there's a lot going on right now.

On the blog, I have an unpublished page of ideas for future posts. Most of them are complete, but many are far from it. I always dread making posts from that list, because unless you know what you're doing, it'll consume you and spit you out with no mercy. It's a terrifying blockade of text without anything vaguely easy on the eyes to ease the agony.
That being said, I decided to try something new. Every once in a while, I make some posts in an attempt to curve the largely list-based posts. Naturally, such lists are the staple of the blog, attracting the most people, but they take so long to finish that the final payout leaves you clinging on to dear life as your fingers throb. The shorter articles, while not necessarily as popular, are an easy way for me to get something done for people to read without the risk of becoming a lifeless husk of a person. This is one of those instances. Hopefully, though, it won't be something I'll regret, because I already have a lot of garbage on here I'd rather pretend were not created.
For the longest time, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite RPGS, Dragon Quest IX. I love the game to quite a fair extent, which I find fairly perplexing considering that nobody I have ever met feels the same. I daresay that it's probably one of my favorite DS games, which is a pretty big thing to say considering I grew up with it as the first handheld that was truly my own. Having never played an entry in the series, I was pleasantly surprised; the graphics are, for the DS, sublime, the music is catchy, the characters are unforgettable, and the story is simplistic yet fits the game like an Einhander. (Get it? 'Cuz it's a glove in the game?! Har har!)

The whole game is a completionist's dream. Thousands of weapons and armor, hundreds of quests, hour after hour of gameplay..... It's more well done than a quality steak. 
The best part though, hands down, are the grottoes.
For those unfamiliar with the game, and I'm pretty sure that 90% of you are, the game had a mechanic wherein you would get a map showing a location on the map. You would have to scavenge it, wait for an exclamation mark to appear above your character, and BAM! You found a grotto. What awaits is a randomly-generated labyrinth full of treasure chests to loot and rare monsters to add to the ever-expanding bestiary, and after anywhere from 2 to 16 floors, you'd face off against a boss. I always loved it, and for a multitude of reasons. For one, as someone who demands perfection, hunting for progressively better maps is addicting. I also love the chests; you see, there are different ranks, and the more difficult the grotto, the better the chests, thus there are much better rewards. Many are among the best weapons in the game and incredibly rare, making it exhilarating when you open one to find that one piece of equipment to help whoop Greygnarl's butt, perhaps even literally with the Gringham Whip. (#ObscureDQReference)
It's hard to explain how addictive it is because of how monotonous in sounds, but there's not much like it. A couple of years later, however, I found another match: Pokemon X and Y's Wonder Trading.
For those of you unfamiliar with Pokemon, and I'm pretty sure that .12% of you are, the game has a mechanic to trade your random Pokemon for other people's random Pokemon. You see, Wonder Trade is a glorified dump of unwanted Pokemon. Have a crappy Weedle? Cool, I'm sure somebody out there will love that. It's not like people actually want anything good.
Okay, so I might not be the best at keeping trash out of Wonder Trade, and I'm among the few curving the system to give more crap than crown jewels, but when you finally get something good, it's amazing. Shiny Latios? Heck yes! Phione? Sure, why not! Numel named "gotmew2"? Well, they aren't all winners, as evidenced by my Marill literally named "!!!!!!!!!!!!", but at least it's something. It's almost like gambling; you never know what you could get, but when you finally hit it off, you're pretty dang happy with your life decisions, and unlike Vegas, you won't spend half the nights naked on the bench of a bus stop holding a bottle of booze in a paper bag in one hand and your bulbous, majestic, slightly hairy..... stray kitty in the other. (C'mon, guys, let's keep it PG-13, m'kay?) 
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I love random. There's always something satisfying about getting something you aren't expecting, like a surprise birthday party without the blood-curdling shout as people pop out of nowhere to send you into an uncertain shock and eventual coma. You never know what you want until you finally get it.

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