Lone Wanderers Together

Single Player Co-op

I’m definitely a single player gamer.  If it has to be multiplayer it better be cooperative play, and even then I might just play through the whole thing by myself.  For example, The Division series I played 98% by myself.  I like taking things at my own pace and style.  My playstyle tends to conflict with a lot of my friends’ styles so I’d rather just not be a burden on the whole group.  

I love being a long wanderer.  I have a harder time with games where you need to control a squad unless it’s a top down view like an RTS or MOBA game.  In the Fallout series I never travel with a companion unless I need to for a quest.  Same goes for the Elder Scrolls series.  Sometimes I’ll still have to go through it though, like in Baldur’s Gate or Mass Effect, but I can grit my teeth and “get along” with people.  Perhaps I’m just not a people person.

After all is said and done, one of my favorite things to do with single player games is to talk with other players who have finished it and hear their sides of the story.  What choices did they make that differ from me?  In my previous article I talked about how I tend to make choices that are more like myself, and that also means not experiencing a lot of things that other people chose.  I love to see why people choose different choices especially concerning factional, emotional, or moral matters.

I also like to hear where they wandered off to and what side areas and quests I didn’t see.  I purposely only do quests and side quests I truly run into on my own to make it more of a personal experience (unless I desperately need an upgrade or something), and so hearing of other’s exploits and adventures makes theirs even more unique.  Like, hearing a friend run into a legendary monster that I never knew about is so cool.  Them talking about some secret loot from it and what it was like is such a fun experience.  We’ve both played the game, but their treasures are all different.

This is a little harder to do with open world games where quests and areas are more laid out for you.   In Assassin’s Creed: Origins I ended up going to nearly, if not all, the markers on the map.  It didn’t feel very unique.  I was just checking off a list of things to do.  Every once in a while I’d run into something unique that made me smile, laugh, or be in awe.  I found the things that really hit that single player adventure spot were those few things that I ran into that were unmarked, or events that happened due to certain sandbox-based natural events.  

Guild Wars 2 kind of hits that same note, even though it’s an MMO.  MMOs are a little less like the nature of long wanderers together because of obvious reasons.  However, the way the game’s event based quests and renown hearts work, you can always just run into people and work together to fight some map boss or help a town of NPCs out.  Immediately after, we say thanks or share a cheer, and then off we are back again on our own adventures.  

Single player games offer that weird feeling of being back at base, and everyone shares their experiences and loot.  I hear their stories and I get amped up to go on another adventure.  In a weird way, I don’t feel alone in a single player experience, because we’re all on this smattering of timelines in our own worlds and I can hear what happened with them.  I know this is ironic because I don’t talk to a lot of people in general, but still.  All of this becomes more and more exciting as system based games like Dishonored and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild take shape.  They need not be super open world, but their dynamic systems allow for unique experiences that I continue to be amazed at or laugh at.  

It reminds me of times being united with gamers playing Super Mario World or other older single player games of the olden days.  We were all together because we all went on the same adventure, but when we reunite we all tell differing tales.  

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you again soon.


The Power of Implied Lore

What You Don’t See

Some people have a strong focus on lore in video games.   There are modes in games that are meant for the story, characters, and history of the world to shine.  I love lore in video games.  I may not have the greatest memory, but I sure do love to store as much lore as I can into my brain.  I love reading Mass Effect’s history of the planets.  As a biologist, I am so happy that they got a lot of the chemical and evolutionary biology correct when it comes to how life develops in other worlds.  The fascinating connection between what is real and the fictional elements are so brilliant.

But perhaps even more so are the things that are just mentioned.  The strange labyrinth of an ancient unknown race from eons ago.  Just through the story we think we know of old, old aliens, but these structures are unknown.  Or what about in Path of Exile, where many of the legendary items speak of old proverbs, that are absolutely fantastic and usable in real life, that mention great heroes or villains that are not part of the story anymore.  With the divination cards we hear murmurs of stories that take place in small worlds like one that really only involves only a lover and their lost one.  What happened to them?  Or what caused madness in another implied legendary figure?

I love implied lore.  It’s the kind of thing that makes science so captivating for me.  Science and mathematics always implies something bigger or stranger.  When mathematicians begin to see patterns in the way numbers are organized, or chemists recognizing similar chemical patterns in a far away planet, these things imply there is more to the picture than we know about.  That sense of curiosity is sort of a thing that encapsulates my mind.  My name in my native language was originally going to mean “wonder”.  I think that defines pretty much how I feel about these things.

The same feelings happen in real life when we see empty office buildings or abandoned industrial structures.  What history happened in these places?  What are their daily lives like when they’re active?  And what about right now, empty?  What is it like?  You don’t need to show every bit of history to let the player know there is history.  Let it be explored and excavated from the recesses of the virtual world.  Make legends and tall tales for the players to see glimmers of leftovers in the world.  There are few things so exciting as seeing a sly reference in the world when you first read or heard it in a game’s books or myths.  

I think implied lore is just as important and wonderful as concrete lore, because it allows you to explore the imagination of what the world is like, just as we do in real life.  
Thanks for reading!  I’ll see you next time!