Friday, October 02, 2009

Let's play a time sink

Apparently there's this thing that some video game bloggers do called "Let's play." It's a series where the blogger starts up a video game and, through a series of posts, takes his readers through the experience of playing the game (through his eyes, of course). Shamus pointed me to a "Let's play" series about The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. He subsequently started one himself for Champions Online.

Reading through the material at Chocolate Hammer has been amusing. The author there is playing Morrowind, which is the third episode in a series of games. I played it through once while he played it through enough to know the game inside and out, but his series reminded me of the fourth episode, Oblivion. Looking back through my archives, it doesn't seem that I ever wrote about playing the game, which amazes me considering the amount of time I devoted to it.

Morrowind and Oblivion were set apart from other RPGs by being sandbox games. While most RPGs will put you in a defined role and tell you a specific story, sandbox games drop you off in a setting and let you do your thing. There's a story, to be sure, but following it is up to you, and there's plenty of other things to occupy your time if you so choose. As for your role, well, you get to decide that for yourself as well.

Of course, both of these game types have their flaws (Chocolate Hammer highlighting those in a game like Morrowind), but one of the big strengths a sandbox game has is replay value. You can play as a wizard or a warrior, valiant hero or swarthy rogue. Each time you play through, you're likely to discover something else that appeals to you. Bethesda, the makers of the game, enabled player-made modifications to the game to be relatively simple, resulting in a vast trove of material to extend the game even further.

I don't really care to start up a "Let's play" series for Oblivion; I'm still trying to figure out how to break out of my WoW addiction, so it's not like I need another time sink. Still, I might end up writing about the game at least some. Considering the hours I spent in that game, I just can't believe I didn't say a single word about it. It's a few years old at this point, but still an amazing game.

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