Or: How – Hear Dave Write – got its first award…
I don’t remember how it all started, my obsession with achievements and “completion” of the video games that I played; but I remember the game that broke me of this compulsion.
Inversion. A cover-based third-person shooter where you would mantle from point-to-point with your larger than life characters; a buddy-cop duo who don’t always do things “by the books.” It had campy dialogue, generic online multiplayer death-match modes, an alien invasion with a “huge” plot twist and an unique, gravity control, gameplay mechanic.
If my glowing review has you sold on the game and you want to go discover the big twist on your own, leave now. If you don’t mind me spoiling the big twist, I’ll save you some time…
Over the course of the game your meathead protagonist (Leo or Davis depending on co-op or solo play) comes to realize that his entire life is a sham, and you’re all essentially living out the plot of The Truman Show. Except (here comes the video game twist) your dude-bro protagonist isn’t being watched by a TV audience for entertainment and sponsors. You, and all of the inhabitants of “Vanguard City” are held captive by aliens known as the Lutadores, living on an alien spaceship, under a giant dome, your whole life (for reasons unexplained, but it definitely was NOT for the advertising potential).
“Hi, Leo! Look what I got for free at the checkout. It’s a ‘Gravity Pal’. It’s a dicer, grater, peeler, and gravity manipulation device all in one. Never needs sharpening, and it’s dishwasher safe!Fictional Gravity manipulation device ad
Whoa… Dude… Bro…
Before I actually started playing Inversion, just as I did with most games back then, I checked the achievement list.
Achievements (first introduced in the Microsoft X Box 360 platform in 2005) and Trophies (introduced to the Sony PlayStation 3 platform in 2008) are virtual rewards that players ‘unlock’ by accomplishing certain tasks set by developers in the game. Typical achievements come from completing the story mode, ancillary side quests, and collecting little tchotchkes scattered throughout the game world.
What type of things would be needed to get the full 1000 gamerscore available? Are all of these achievements reasonably obtainable? Not; Is it going to be a fun game and worth the investment of my time and money? But; Am I going to be able to get all of these imaginary points?
If going for all of the imaginary points is your thing then, go, get all the points. Get all the trophies. Beat all the games. I ain’t mad at’cha. I got nothin’ but love for ya. Catch ’em all. But this is my story.
In looking at the list for Inversion, there were the typical achievements for completing each chapter of the campaign. Achievements for using specific weapons throughout the game a certain way. Even some buddy cop achievements called “Dude Bro!” for completing a level in co-op and one called “Spot Me Bro!” for having a friend boost you over a ledge. (I told you this was a high quality game, bro.)
Nothing too tedious though.
Now, on to the multiplayer achievements. This is where I started to question my ability to “complete” this game.
Reach Silver, Bronze, Gold and Diamond Grav Commander Rank in online games… Sounds like a grind. This should have been enough of a warning to any video game completionist to stay away. But, maybe it’s easy to rank up and it isn’t as much of a grind as it sounds. Benefit of the doubt goes to the dude-bros.
Get 1st Place in a deathmatch game… Not to brag or anything, but I am decidedly mediocre in the online gaming community. So in a typical game of deathmatch, where there may be thousands of younger, faster, better, stronger “real gamers,” that take every opportunity to tell me to “git gud” after every time I lose a duel (which happens frequently.) In a typical game, I wouldn’t have to worry about coming in 1st Place, especially in my first game.
So I jumped into an online death-match game to see how it played, being completely sure that I wasn’t going to win this random, and thus, not unlock the achievement for winning a game. Because…then I’d have to go through and unlock all of the rest of the achievements, and I really did not want to do that.
What I hadn’t accounted for, was the entire lack of people playing the game at the time. Me, and one other person to be exact. I had a 50/50 shot to win or lose, and I won; thus, unlocking the achievements of being on the winning team of a death-match game, and coming in 1st place, out of two.
After immediately regretting my decision and questioning my life choices, I jumped right into the campaign. I might as well play the story now that I was committed.
Like the abridged review above, the story was…not great. It was an easy enough game to complete, even on “High Gravity” difficulty, and within the first few hours of play, I had completed roughly one third of the campaign and quite a few of the random ancillary challenges scattered throughout.
Over the next three nights, I was able to take the fight to the Lutadores, save Vanguard City, and strengthen my lifelong friendship with Meathead Cop #2 as we quadruple-handedly saved humanity…until he died at the end…or did he?
I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel to find out his fate…
While I wait, I could use some Mococoa drink to help regain my composure after the shocking reveal of the truthfulness of Leo’s miserable existence.
All natural cocoa beans from the upper slopes of some Outer Space Mountain. No artificial sweeteners. I’ve tasted other cocoas. This is the best.Mococoa – Your Space Dome Cocoa
Now that the campaign was completed (making sure to thank my “Player 2” for the spot and boost over that impossible-to-climb-alone ledge. Seriously bro, thanks;) the Lutadore Prophet Kiltehr was vanquished and humanity saved but still under a dome, on a giant spaceship, headed….somewhere.
I had saved Vanguard City and now it was time to take the fight online…
What followed was about two weeks of tedious coordination with other “achievement hunters” to take the Dude, Bro fight to these fictional feats of fortitude. Websites such as True Achievements, and X Box Achievements, helped coordinate times and sessions to “play” specific game types in order to unlock these unique accomplishments.
Though most of the achievements were unlocked rather quickly (over the space of a few weeks) what remained was going to take much, much longer than I wanted to commit to. Even more than that though, I had begun to realize that playing this video game had stopped being fun. A long time ago.
I had unlocked 48 of the 50 achievements, raising my gamerscore an additional 900 (out of 1000 possible) points. What remained were the most tedious and time consuming of the bunch. Requiring an estimated 300 hours of mind-numbing, coordinated, “boosting” with other like-minded players dedicated to unlocking each and every one of these fictional badges of bravado.
So, with just two achievements remaining…
I quit playing and left the game unfinished.
I moved on to the next game and probably didn’t complete that one either! (not unlike these single sentence paragraphs!)
I still like to look over the achievements for new games I play. Sometimes, I’ll still go out of my way to do the random things the game developers felt would breathe life and challenge into their game for the players. I’ll still get that Pavlovian response as the notification pops-up on my screen, validating my play time as worthwhile. But…now I’m completely okay with leaving an “unfinished” game unfinished and moving when it’s time to move on.
And guess what, video games are fun again.
Unless we’re talking about Cuphead. It looks nice, has a nice soundtrack, and is fun for about 15 minutes. Then, whether it’s my aging reflexes, lack of pattern recognition, or missing audio/visual cues, it goes from fun to infuriating rather quickly. One day Dice-head man, one day…
Several months ago, yours truly was tagged by Matt over at Normal Happenings to complete one of their Daily Inklings. Normal Happenings is a unique blog dedicated to appreciating everyday life, and regularly encourages writers to explore and expound upon unique writing prompts, called Inklings, to broaden your boundaries and promote positivity. Since HearDaveWrite had been snubbed by every major blog award category online, and believe me, all 30 of my followers were equally as shocked as you; they encouraged me to create a unique award for my blog.
I had originally planned to award myself the “I’m a real boy, I mean, Writer” award when I had written, completed and published more works than I have drafts. Well… my drafts keep piling up and the gap between the two continues to widen. Which, in a sense is a good thing. It shows that I still have ideas and stories that I feel are worth telling… just not worth completing.
So, after years of being “cured” of my completionist habits when it comes to one hobby, I’ve finally decided to award myself with “The Completionist” award for becoming a completionist in my other hobby.
Basically I’m saying, good job Dave. You, finally, completed another post. Finally.
To close the ellipses of the subheading; I got my first blog award by making it up and giving it to myself. 🙂
There you have it, oh quitter/achiever mine. My high gravity, dude-bro story of how I was able to allow myself to have fun with video games again. Let go of one nagging failure, only to embrace another. For those of you keeping count, when this post moves from the Drafts to Published section, it will be lucky number 15, and I still have more drafts to come.
Thanks for joining me in this journey of abandonment and completion, and in case I don’t see ya in the comments, good afternoon, good evening, and good night, bro!