Thursday, November 10, 2016

Banished - 10/20 hours

It's been a long time since a game has so thoroughly tested my emotional fortitude. My little guys live in such squalor. The blacksmiths can't keep up with maintaining their tools. The woodcutters can't chop enough fuel to keep the houses warm. The farmers manage to keep one step ahead of starvation, but one bad year will see 3 or 4 people head into the graveyard. And it's all my fault.

I really regret my arrogance when I first started the game. Balancing the needs of a small town is relatively easy, probably because a single craftsman can supply an entire town and a single gatherer or hunter can supply all the necessary dietary diversity. Yet as the population grows, its need for resources grows rapidly and each new specialist needs at least one new farmer. The result is chronic shortages.

I'm certain this can be overcome with skill, but the necessary failure that comes with learning is taking a serious toll on me. I feel guilty when my simulated people die. I know, it doesn't make any sense, because they're just data. It's just, the game doesn't just blink off a little light. It tells me that the animated dot is a person who froze or starved to death. Those are horrible ways to die. To the degree that I buy into the game's premise, to the degree that I believe these farms and blacksmiths and tailors matter, then I have to believe that I am responsible for this unimaginable suffering.

I mean, let's not get carried away. I'm not curled up on the couch weeping my eyes out in grief. I do still have a sense of proportion. It just bums me out, you know. I want my simulated people to have simulated prosperity and when I fail, I feel simulated sorrow. It's not as potent as the real thing, granted, but it's not an ideal way to spend an evening.

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