You may or may not have noticed that I did absolutely nothing this weekend. While I forgive you for probably thinking this was in some way my fault, the truth is that I got tied up in forces that were simply too powerful for me.
You see, it went a little something like this.
I hadn’t played a rogue in ages, and I’ve had Risk of Rain queued up for months. I’d recently leveled up in WaniKani (a site that teaches you Kanji), which meant I had reviews and lessons coming out of my ass.
Oh, Stonewall was down in the dumps, boys and girls. See, every day I get home from work, I exercise, then I work on Japanese, Stonepug, and/or Spot’s Last Stop (working title), usually all three, until 9pm on good nights and 10:30pm on bad nights. It is then that I crawl out of my room, get justly but lovingly rebuked by my wife for coming out of my man cave so late, then we throw back some fire water while watching anime till we’re ready to pass out. Sleep five or six hours, wake up, go to work, rinse and repeat. I was threadbare and my heart was screaming for freedom.
Well, Friday I took a stand against all this productivity. Friday I said to myself, “You know what? Just fuck it. Fuck the whole damned thing.” And I did.
I took Friday off and played Risk of Rain.
I woke up Saturday morning. I had a heavy workload having done nothing the evening before, but that was fine since I had all of Saturday to do it.
No harm in playing a quick game or two of Risk of Rain while I enjoyed my morning coffee, right?
The night before I’d beaten the game on Rainfall (normal difficulty). I figured I’d try to beat it on Monsoon (hard).
A number of games later I had accomplished this and decided that that was a good stopping point.
It was 11:30pm.
“Great Scott!” I cried.
While watching Future Diary with the waifu that night I marveled at how that time had just vanished. “Something to that,” I said to myself. “Probably a decent article there for Stonepug.”
I awoke Sunday with the grim understanding that my most productive day of the week, Saturday, had been a huge failure. But you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward in these situations. It just meant that I had to work all the harder to make up for it.
First order of business was the Stonepug article on Roguelikes and their addictive quality.
And what better game to write about for this than FTL, a game so addictive it sucked over two hundred hours of my life. Thinking I could use some screenshots and maybe a little refresher, I fired her up. Of course I had learned my lesson from the day before and promised myself to stop before noon.
At 10:30pm my wife greeted a grouchy Stonewall. All day I couldn’t get anything to go my way. It was a day full of listening to the laughter of the RNG god and I had to quit as a failure.
I’d let the galaxy down.
So it was back to the daily grind. I was disgusted with myself and after I got home I swore I was going to catch up on everything, which I would do right after I had a good playthrough. You can’t quit a loser, I reasoned.
It was too late to actually accomplish anything that Monday night, but I could at least bask in a job well done.
Fully aware that I’m a roguelike junkie, I just need to go cold turkey. I’m two days clean and have never felt better.
However, I have not, it should be noted, uninstalled either game.
Pulling the Lever
I imagine I know something about what keeps people at the slot machines. You spend all your time and your bank account on her, and the whore agrees to take all your money but still refuses to open her legs. And yet you can’t walk away, because the very next pull could be the winner.
And one day you realize that you’re her slave. You’re dancing to the beat of the machine’s drum and you will walk away only when she lets you. And you will love her for it.
And that’s what keeps you going back to roguelikes such as Risk of Rain and FTL. They’re rock hard, unforgiving, and only an insane person would call them fair, but victory is always nearly in your grasp, because the next fight you scrape through may grant you the item you need to push on just a little longer. It’s the eternal search for a perfect playthrough, for the stars to align and grant you the loot you need to keep forging ahead, to beat the odds.
It’s you pulling the lever and praying.
And I love them for it.
Extra: The Money Shot
The noble crew of the Trystero watch as the last of the pirate crew burns to death. You know, I’d say I spent at least a hundred hours trying to unlock the Crystal Cruiser and, when I finally did unlock it, I fucked around with it for maybe thirty minutes before going to back to the the trusty Shivan, which specializes in setting things on fire.
This is why you keep coming back, folks. You make enough money to buy a teleporter, you firebomb a room, have your fire resistant rock warriors teleport into the burning room and beat the people to death as they burn. (Here, Sora Aoi and Asimov took the front lines while trusty Pugs was in the engine room and I took the helm).
Once it’s clear the fire is out of control you teleport your people back to your ship, kick back, and sip your coffee while watching the remaining crew retreat from the flames until there’s nowhere else to go. Then you find another ship to burn. It simply never gets old.
If you zoom in on the picture, you can see Stonewall masturbating furiously as he watches the trapped mantis desperately trying to put out the flames, trying to live a few short, suffering filled moments longer.
“What now, bitch?” Stonewall whispers.
Then, through the intercom, “Asimov, we need a cleanup in the cockpit. Asimov, cleanup in the cockpit.”