Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Windborne - 5/20 hours

I'm really enjoying this game so far. It's like a prettier version of Minecraft, but with less sophisticated gameplay. There don't appear to be any monsters or tools and only three biomes. That means you don't have to worry so much about resource management and personal safety, so all of your activities are purely for the sake of aesthetics. You can wander around looking at the pretty scenery. And you can build lovely buildings (seriously, my dashed-together starter house looks nicer than half the stuff I ever built in Minecraft). And that's pretty much it.

One neat thing about Windborne, though is that there is an item called a Dragon Shrine which, in addition to being your respawn point, will assign you "quests." So far, every quest (with one exception) has been to either build a specific thing or learn some specific aspect of the interface, which has been handy as a tutorial, though I'm not sure I'm thrilled about the fact that your reward for doing this is additional crafting recipes.

I mean, I like getting new recipes, but if you shift your perspective a bit, what that really means is that the vast majority of the game's recipes are gated behind quests. So there's a lot of stuff I could theoretically build, but can't because I don't know how.

On the one hand, it's annoying because maybe some of those decorative items would make my constructions look a lot cooler. On the other hand, maybe I'd be overwhelmed with too many choices if they were presented so soon in the game.

I'm still not fully committed to an opinion about Windborne. When it comes to Minecraft, I prefer survival mode to creative, and Windborne appears to only have a creative mode thus far. And even in the context of creative mode, the stuff you build in Minecraft has so much more interesting functionality, as compared to Windborne's wide variety of purely cosmetic blocks.

But then again, there is something to be said for the cosmetic approach. And Windborne does blow Minecraft out of the water when it comes to builds whose only purpose is to look pretty (both in variety and aesthetic appeal). Maybe I shouldn't look at the two games as competitors. Maybe I should just accept Windborne for what it is - an opportunity to walk around a pleasant virtual park and build silly little buildings out of blocks.

Which, you know what, is fine by me. I love playing in a simulated garden, and if the things I create aren't exactly functional, that's not too big a deal, because the real joy is in designing the build, making a plan on how to carry out the design, and then executing the plan in order to bring the design to life. Even one or two moderately ambitious projects will easily keep me busy for the remaining 15 hours.

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