I have been super sick this week. As a result, I’ve been forcing myself to actually rest. A dicey proposition, usually. I’m very goal driven and I have weekly comic page quota goals. Not meeting them on purpose is really hard to accept. I know I’ll make it up on other weeks…and…that I should be okay letting next week, or even the week after that be the time I catch up but…
Anyway, I’ve been playing a lot of the video game Sunless Sea to keep my mind off my quota. It’s not a game for everyone. In fact, originally Cory bought it for himself, but found that certain aspects of the game were really frustrating. I thought they’d drive me mad as well but…Instead I find many of those qualities to be what I really like about it.
In Sunless Sea, you’re a captain of a ship on the UnterZee, a realm that exists under the surface of this world…after Bats kidnapped Britain. Like…took the whole country underground…somehow. Anyway, it’s got a sorta horror/Lovecraft vibe mixed with Victorian era-ish sensibilities. Except the creators made a big effort to make it a game welcoming to any gender or sexuality, allowing folks to choose their forms of address and their lovers, and avoiding a lot of the gender-based pit-falls that often get associated with this kind of genre. There’s still a few trope-ish things here and there, but overall I’ve found it remarkably refreshing in that regard.
One big part of the game is that your first captain will almost assuredly die. In fact, a LOT of your captains will probably die. When they do, the game resets. Including the map, although there are some areas that are always consistent or only vary within certain parameters.
That’s the part I thought would drive me crazy. With that goal-oriented mind of mine, losing progress is usually REALLY frustrating. Going back to the start? NO THANK YOU. Except that this game is really good at making me feel like every iteration is a step forward, not back. Every journey across the Zee gives a person something very important: Knowledge. At first, it’s just mechanical knowledge. “What does this do? How does this work? If my crew becomes crazed cannibals and we run out of supplies in the middle of the Zee, what happens? (PRETTY MUCH WHAT YOU’D EXPECT) If I sail my boat off the edge of the map, what happens? (NOT WHAT I EXPECTED) Will this monster wreck my ship? (YES)” and so on.
Then world knowledge begins to develop. Familiarity with the different cultures, creatures, and locations grow. I started to realize what kinds of risks were good ideas, and which ones would get me killed (again). I learned what my ship’s capabilities were and how far I could stretch things. I found tricks to keep my ship fueled and stocked, (without the cannibalism this time) and how to start earning a little cash on the side.
Next was the deeper nuances. The mysteries and riddles. The game does a good job of making me think that a task is impossible, and then I try it, figure it out after trial and error, and finally achieve it, only to discover that there’s another, even MORE impossible task after it. At first it was really discouraging, because things always felt out of reach. Then I’d figure out a small piece of the new puzzle, and that would lead to new clues, and step-by-step the new challenge would become clear. Sometimes this would take multiple captains to achieve, but each new captain was a new chance to experiment on a previous theory.
So even if I kept going back to the beginning, I was always changed by where I’d been. For someone that usually struggles to value The Journey, that was a really neat state-of-mind to play in.
Have you ever felt that way about something in your life? That you were starting all over again, but everything had changed?
Also: Wavemen IndieGoGo continues! THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone that’s contributed so far! We’ve made it to our first big milestone this weekend!!
I added a lot of new content to the campaign this week, including a new interview and a new artist feature of Jonas McCluggage. Check out his current comic, Follow the Leader (NSFW for violence & language) and his Tumblr.
Plus eight sample pages! Here’s one. The others are all in the campaign gallery!