Zanzarah: Diligence

I have a couple of corrections to my last post. The Guard (not Guardian) is specifically the thing that keeps humans out of Zanzarah. Its malfunctioning is the reason that the elements are out of balance. The White Druid knows this, but was trying to keep it secret, because he knows that if anyone else knew, they’d try to turn it off, and he thinks that insane fairies are a small price to pay for keeping Zanzarah protected from grubby humans and their chain stores and jazz music. Well, it’s not like he has to endure the consequences personally. He lives in the clouds. (This is one of those moments where I sincerely wonder if the authors intended the symbolism or if it’s just a happy coincidence.) And the missing dwarf king, Quinlin, who was framed for the whole tribulation? Held captive by the Druid, to keep him from talking. Quinlin knows all about the Guard, because he helped build it.

Now, you’re reading that recap as a neat little chunk of text. For me, recovering the information involved revisiting a bunch of locations, some infested with wild fairies. Fortunately, I’m at a stage of the game where I wanted to revisit places anyway. I have a bunch of fairies that need to level, and a bunch of tools for opening up secret areas that I couldn’t get to the first time round. This is part of how this sort of game extends play time, and how much you enjoy it depends on how much you enjoy executing this kind of diligent thoroughness.

In fact, I’ll go a step farther than that and say that exercising diligence is probably a big part of the reason that people find CRPGs enjoyable. Or, at any rate, the reason that the sort of person who finds CRPGs enjoyable finds them enjoyable. Not everyone does. But tastes differ. I’ve seen it claimed that, by and large, the activities people enjoy are the ones that exercise the skill they’re good at. This seemed possibly backwards to me — isn’t it that people become good at the things they enjoy doing, because they’re so much more motivated to practice them than the things they don’t enjoy? Regardless, there’s a correlation between skills and pleasure. Solving puzzles is a skill, and there are entire genres of puzzle-game for the people who are good at it. Tactical decision-making, precise timing, quick reflexes 1Does it make sense to separate timing from reflexes in this list? I think it does. Reflexes are what you need in a two-player fighting game, to react to the opponent’s moves the instant they’re launched. Timing is what you need in a Mario-style platformer: everything is deterministic, and the same sequence of moves performed in the same way will work every time, provided you can execute them just right. , spotting visual patterns: all skills with games to appeal to them. Diligence is a skill. But it’s not a skill that requires a great deal of brainpower or physical coordination, and for that reason games that appeal to it are denigrated by those who enjoy exercising those skills more.

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1. Does it make sense to separate timing from reflexes in this list? I think it does. Reflexes are what you need in a two-player fighting game, to react to the opponent’s moves the instant they’re launched. Timing is what you need in a Mario-style platformer: everything is deterministic, and the same sequence of moves performed in the same way will work every time, provided you can execute them just right.

1 Comment so far

  1. paul on 27 Jul 2009

    Also, there are many areas of life that require not much more than diligence for success. If diligence is a global skill, people who enjoy RPGs should also be able to turn that skill into success in, say, physical fitness, which doesn’t require much except the same sort of repetitive grinding required to level up. (That and discomfort tolerance.) So I would predict that out of the group of gamers who start an exercise program, the RPG players would have more success than, say, the puzzle solvers or tactical gamers. Similarly, I would expect that out of the gamers who started a hooker-shooting regimen, the Grand Theft Auto players would have more success.

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