Daavpuke / Member

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Casual RPG player: The Dream - Part One

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Yesterday, after putting in weeks of professional game-time, I've finally finished Dragon Age: Origins for Xbox 360. And when I say professional game-time, I mean literally putting in a day's work through playing video games. Here's the thing: I do not own an Xbox 360, I don't have that kind of money. My brother, however, does. And when said brother is away at work, that Xbox just sits there in his room doing nothing, completely neglected. It must be a crime against humanity, as he's almost never home. He does however justify this by spending every free minute of his life either gaming or watching Animé. Sometimes even epically combining both in some sort of awesome coolness trip.


Previously, while I was out browsing Gamespot for the usual old games I play, I kept coming across all sorts of references towards this game called Dragon Age: Origins. That made me recall this ranting spree my brother went on for several weeks, regarding this game called Dragon Age: Origins. At some point he asked me for my original Baldur's Gate collection. Something to do with the makers from Baldur's Gate making a new game called Dragon Age: Origins. Those factors combined made me crack at some point and decide to look into that game. Usually I try not to mess with newer games, as I can't play them anyways and so I get frustrated marveling in their glory. But since the buzz around it was so big and my brother's opinions about games are fairly correct 9 out of 10 times, I just had to go take a look.

What I saw there was nothing extraordinary as all the hypes mentioned, but then again, hypes usually tend to set you up for imminent let downs. I did however see a new BioWare game and I've always enjoyed playing those frantically. More so, the whole reason I bought an Xbox, days prior to the next-gen release, was because I was playing a small bit of Jade Empire and KotoR II at a friends house. It got me hooked so badly, I couldn't think about anything else. I just had to go out and buy me those games. My addiction was so acute, I even had to go out of town to find a copy of Jade Empire there that very day.
The following weeks, I spent all day and night going through just about every possible playthrough in both games. And the best part was, it didn't even get dull.
That is the reason why a new BioWare game might not be the most surprising new game made, but it does deserve looking into. It's basically the same formula in a new package, but it's one hell of a winning formula. For those of you gladly battling alcohol addictions, consider it like a new beer. It's just some beer, but beer is always awesome and you'll always have some room for it.

Back to my original point: After weeks of hearing from all sides how good this game was, I formed a cunning plan. As my brother has a job and I don't, there's an 8 hour window where the Xbox is used as an expensive paperweight and I could step in to save the day. And by saving the day, I mean usurp his console and basic hospitality by raiding his house while he is gone. I pitched him this idea of interim gaming and he was cool with it. The only thing I had to do was to wake up on time for him to go to work and leave me in his house. That time, however, was 5 AM! To my amazement, it is possible to wake up in time, given the proper motivation. After 26 years of getting late for just about any morning appointment I have ever had, there I stood in complete zombie mode at my brother's door.
And so began my job as a professional gamer. Starting at 5 AM, I would take a 5 minute, snack break at 8 and have half an hour for lunch at 11, followed by a quick snack break around 2 PM. Like I said, I was taking this seriously; this was my job, not some silly toy!

During these weeks of intense gaming, I discovered a few things.
For one, gaming makes you exceedingly lazy, yet productive towards your game. You'll pool all your non-game related tasks into 1 single sweep of actions. For instance, you'll combine going to the bathroom, drinking, following up daily tasks such as mails, cooking and eating all into one and do them in less than 10 minutes if possible. Because everything you do will make the clock tick closer towards that deadline where you have to return to your mundane life, instead of rocking it in Ferelden.

Secondly, this setting of professional gaming will make you plan ahead, even when not actively playing. I was, for example, planning what I could eat the next day while playing and what dish would take the least time to prepare and then consume, while still being nutritious. A trait that wasn't too healthy, I think, as I would usually eat pasta, sandwiches or reheated food, but nothing else. And usually I take time to cook some nice dinner; but not anymore! There was questing to be done and I had a Blight to stop!
Also, any common courtesy you might have had, swiftly went out the door. I'd wake up barely in time to show up at my brother's (hey, it's still 5 flippin' AM!) and on bad days, I'd forget most of my food and drinks. And instead of wasting time to go fetch them, I'd just loot his fridge and cupboards. Once the game was on, there was no brother or hospitality, there was only the Grey Wardens and my nemesis the Archdemon.

But the main reason I'm writing this, is because throughout my second week of gameplay, I started wondering something. That's after 40 odd hours if you're keeping count, by the way.
I wondered how huge gaming companies would market games such as these to a big audience. Granted, there's a nice following of fans for any game that has references to Baldur's Gate. But I'm guessing this game has a huge budget and even if it's brought out on all platforms, it has to sell to a large amount of people to return that investment. Sure, there will be revenues also to be had in related merchandise. But that can't topple it, can it?
The reason why I wondered this, is because I can't perceive Dragon Age being played by a large amount of people. I mean, even if you play professionally, like I did, for 8 hours a day, it will take you about 2 weeks to complete one playthrough. the other playthroughs might be a little faster, but will still take in a sizable amount of time. Most people don't have that much time to spend everyday on video games. Kids have to go to school, do homework and possibly have some other hobby. Adults should have a considerable larger amount of responsibilities, such as work, college, groceries, housekeeping and other hobbies. Pensioners might have a butt-load of time, but do you see them picking up Dragon Age and going all epic on you? I'd have to see it to believe it.
And if you don't play for at least 4 hours a day, it would just take way too much time to ever have a chance at completing it. That might be fine to try that once, but I don't think you'll enjoy failing at games for long. In all, you won't be picking up an RPG you can't make time for.

*please stay tuned for part two*

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