I’m only about halfway through the Frozen Synapse singleplayer campaign despite having played it on my android tablet for every single commute since the end of the summer holiday. That thing is loooong. There is however an end in sight and with few decent tablet gaming alternatives, I’ve started looking at the multiplayer options. Which is when I made the alarming discovery that rarely have I played a game in which the transfer of knowledge from singleplayer to multiplayer is so slight. In single player the AI seems at best random and it’s unpredictability (and vast numerical superiority) is your true opponent. In multiplayer you enter a world of endless secondguessing, like trying to play ten games of rock paper scissors at once. So far I’ve only won using strict camping tactics.
I know how to make a leather cap in Minecraft and I’m not going to tell you.
Because you probably either stumbled upon the crafting recipe yourself or you just looked it up on the internet. Also you probably advanced to gold hats years ago, anyway, having tossed out whatever leather gear you didn’t need for Dungeon Night fetish wear. I bet creepers are really submissive what with all that self destructive behaviour. Aaaanyway…
I happened upon the ‘recipe’ (i.e. correct 3 by 3 pattern of empty space and leather) by trial and error. When I started playing Minecraft I got engrossed by just trying things out. I knew about punching trees. And had probably seen people make crafting tables. Also the annoying putdown ‘mining like a baby’ pops into my head from time to time, so I obviously read this piece on RPS. From there on I just had a go at it. When I got stuck I horsed around some more. When I got really stuck I started needlessly enlarging my mansion. When I got really, really stuck, I quit and played Spelunky for a while to get back to real life and real priorities. You know, stuff like ‘winning’ and ‘beating the game’.
I’m not sure when it became a dogme-like rule. But it’s there now. Sort of. No internet. No wikis. No outside-of-the-game hints (I do take some guidance from the in-game achievement map though). If I’m living in a cave with no electricity it stands to reason that I’m not just hopping online to learn how to make shoes, gates, or bread. Man, I wish I had bread. Rotten monster meat is nice and all but it gets a bit samey samey after a while.
What do you play after The Stanley Parable?
After a game that has you questioning choice, agency and free will and openly mocks video game conventions like linear storytelling, achievements and – ha! – winning, what’s next? Do you go back to acting out the role of captain Blazkowicz (who chose young guy over old guy using the old utilitarian moral choice crutch of ‘lifetime still to be had’) and make him jump though hoops to save the day?