Thursday, August 4, 2016

Vertiginous Golf - 15/20 hours

Having tried out the course creation mode and about a hundred more user-created holes, I can say with confidence that I won't be a great golf course designer any time soon. The trick to making a great mini-golf hole, as far as I can tell, is thinking like a golf ball. You have to break your hole up, shot by shot, with each stroke telling its own story. This is especially true of a complex golf setup like Vertiginous Golf, where there are conveyor belts and air cannons and precipitous drops at every corner.

I'm not entirely sure that every designer of a user-created hole understands this. Sometimes, a hole is so thick with obstacles that getting through it is mostly chance. Other times, a hole has a clever idea, but is laid out in such a way as you can easily bypass it. A few get it right (sometimes spectacularly so), but it's become clear to me that hole design is a delicate art. And I simply don't care enough to try and master it.

I've been hoping for an epiphany. Something that will flip a switch in my brain and make me interested in golf, but it has not come. Every time I play the game, I feel like I'm just going through the motions. I don't think it's the game's fault. I don't even think it's golf's fault. I think I might just be in an awkward place intellectually right now. Between Starbound last week and No Man's Sky next week, I can't stop thinking about space. That's where I want to be. I want to fly between planets and explore exotic environments. Hitting a virtual golf ball hundreds of times in a row just seems to pale by comparison.

(I know, weird, right?)

That's probably why I've been focusing so strongly on the user created courses. Each one is different, and if I don't get the true golf-game experience of learning a course and then mastering it through endless repetition, then at least I can still enjoy the thrill of discovery. And I do like seeing what my fellow sky-golfers have come up with. I've yet to see a fan community that hasn't impressed me with its creativity and dedication, and it surprises me that such a community could coalesce around such an obscure game as Vertiginous Golf.

With five hours left to go, I guess I'd categorize my mental state as "open, yet distracted." The golf itself is mildly pleasant in the way that visiting with a kindly relative or long-lapsed friend is pleasant. You can recognize that they are perfectly nice and skilled in the art of noncommittal small talk, while also acknowledging that you have almost nothing in common and that noncommittal small talk is the deepest your relationship will ever get.

And playing Vertiginous Golf is exactly as unpleasant as making mild small talk with a distant acquaintance while you are in the middle of an exciting book or when you know that there is a parade or concert or once-in-a-lifetime television event set to start in the next half-hour or so. The game is completely blameless, but the knowledge that I could be doing something else has been gnawing at me.

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