Sunday, June 25, 2017

Interplanetary - 10/20 hours

I wish I could identify the X-factor that makes a game feel compelling to me. It would save me a lot of trouble. Because, at a certain level of abstraction, Interplanetary seems like exactly my sort of game. You build infrastructure and then you use that infrastructure for a purpose. Yet, the game has so far failed to capture my imagination.

I don't dislike it, exactly. It's just I've reached a point where I have a working mental model of how each match is going to play out, and there's rarely any version of these visions that particularly appeals to me. It's not that I've mastered the game, or am even especially good. I simply feel like I can already see the ladder of mastery, and it's not one that I especially want to climb.

It probably comes down to a fundamental ideological disconnect. The best case scenario is that I wreck my opponent's infrastructure so badly that they can't fight back. The worst case scenario is watching my planet get systematically dismantled as I fall behind and become unable to catch up. I mean, if you squint, the basic gameplay loop is similar to something like Civilization, where you research technologies and construct buildings to develop your economy and become more powerful. However, it's probably telling that for all the 300+ hours I have in Civilization V, you could count my number of conquest victories on the fingers of one hand.

Which is really just a personal hang-up, I know. I really just have to tough it out and learn to embrace the pointless cruelty. I guess it is kind of fun to try and guess where my railgun projectiles will go, as they pass through all the various interfering gravitational fields. There is a moment of anticipation and release as they approach a target planet and just barely miss, curving off into the great unknown or plunging down, into the sun. And when they hit, it's even better. I should probably look at the game less as a genocide simulator and more like a geometrical puzzle.

It doesn't help a lot, because the specific puzzle is poorly presented through an interface that actively lies to you, but I've played games with weaker premises.

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