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Hacked Off: Aimless Walking Around in Games to Find Missions

Now, I know this may come as a shock, as most people actually love this. In theory, I love it too, in practice, I hate it. Sure, it’s great to have a world where you’re not told where everything is. It builds on the immersion of the game having a place where you can stumble across things by chance, meaning you go through a game doing different things. Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? Well, I do not have enough time in the world to lollygag in each game, trying to see if there is a quest in the four corners of the Earth.

The reason this topic popped up is because I recently finished replaying The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. As a child, I loved Termina and exploring its wonders, and I still do. But as I’ve gotten older, I spend less time aimlessly frolicking in the foliage. This means I had a much harder time finding quests and masks I found so easily as a child. Back then, I didn’t mind spending days of my life just walking around town seeing who’s about. But now, I’m thinking about other things I’ve got to do, so I can’t waste hours just messing about with a Cucco.

I remember the Kamaro mask being one of the first I got, but it was a pretty late find this time as I didn’t walk past it at the right time. I need a purpose in a game, I need a reason, even if it’s small, to be doing something. Aimless walking around never really works as it is too easy to miss things. If I’ve got an actual quest that needs doing, I’m going to do that rather than do some secret code to see if a quest appears. Too many times have I had a ‘good idea’ about where a quest is or how to activate it and have nothing happen.

People like to say it mimics real life. ‘How often do people just give you quests to do stuff’? Um, how about every damn day? Do bosses not tell you to do a job? Are other people’s jobs some kind of hide and seek with their boss where if you don’t find him you don’t do anything for that day? Or do their friends and family not ask them to go pick something up or fix stuff? In my free time I don’t think about going off to see if I can save someone five minutes. I often try to not walk around town asking to help random people I’ve never met. You know, just out of habit, really. Maybe it’s because I live in a pretty rough area and most of the tasks people would ask me to do would involve hiding some kind of murder weapon.

I would love to just play a game under the principle to just explore and find what I find. But I can’t as I’m worried I’m missing out on something super cool. It’s this deep pain that makes you think that what you’re doing is awful in comparison to something else. It’s even worse when you realise there are missions you could miss, namely quests that are only around for a certain time or disappear if you do a certain quest. Oh, the humanity. Sure, I could play the game again, but I won’t do that for a few years, and chances are I would forget and miss it again.

The Harvest Moon series has a similar problem. There are special events that occur, but normally there are no hints to them. So, this means you have to just pray you’re going to be in the right place at the right time. Events are missable and can hinder your chances to become loved or the best farmer that has ever farmed. Sure, it’s like real life, as you don’t know when something special is going to happen, but I’m playing a game. Funnily enough, I’d like to know when something is going to take place, so I can actually play the game. It’s not like they’re even spread through word of mouth, which would make sense. It gets to the point where I’m more worried about exploring the town to find potential scenes, than taking care of my produce and livestock.

A similar example is the Resident Evil games. Ok, so it’s a long stretch of the word “similar”, but it is nonetheless. I don’t like the chance you can miss certain weapons if you’re not observant or forget a room, because then you’re at a huge disadvantage. Sure, this is mostly down to my paranoia, but I get more scared about missing something than big scary Nemesis trying to kill me. Now, I don’t like playing games with guides as it removes the sense of excitement and adventure. It’s like reading the script right before watching the scene in a film. So, kind of like the new Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book or Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film script. Just why? But anyway, I often sneak a peek every now and then to see if I have missed a shotgun.

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