52: Terraria

This is going to be short

So you’re dumped onto the land, a 2D fresco of cheerful colours. Behind you, the sun hangs high in the air, filling the world with its rays. A jaunty tune wafts through the imperceptible breeze. There’s trees in front of you and an axe in your pocket, so you may as well start your trail of destruction. Several minutes of vigorous wood-chopping later, you note that the sun has descended and there’s a spookier tone to the tune, so you build yourself a little house, nothing fancy. Just some walls and hey, maybe a table. It’s dark out there but you can hear noises outside, groans and moans and splats as winged things hit the side of the house. Without much else to do, you unholster your pick axe and head downwards. And then?

The worlds of Terraria are randomly generated, with sedimentary layers ‘til Tuesday. Dig down and down and down and the type of material will get steadily more exotic, starting with dirt and sand and rock and becoming…okay, mostly still dirt and sand and rock, but with deposits of iron and gold and cobweb and so forth. There are bad dudes roaming around, and the deeper you go, the badder and more dudelike they get. As far as I know, the aim is to beat the baddest dude of all, so I dug down for a while, and made things from what I found. I made a foundry for smelting, I made an anvil for hammering, I made a sword for killing, and all the while I was hoping something would happen. I wanted to reach a certain depth and then the game goes to a cutscene that reveals the Evil Lord Gitbastard has awoken and he is sending forth his skeletal hordes and I’d better get a golly-goshing move on. And maybe it does, but I hit my own wall first.

It’s said that a pessimist sees the world as half-empty, and the optimist as half-full. And then, depending on who’s making the joke, there’s generally a third group of people who see it in a different way that establishes them as superior to those first two types. And then that gets made into a T-shirt and the world’s starving webcomic artists celebrate. Anyway, I think you can say a similar thing about sandbox worlds. The optimist sees them full of direction, and the pessimist sees none, and I am distinctly in the latter camp. I’ve banged on about this before, when speaking about New Vegas, or Just Cause, that I just don’t trust myself to have fun if I’m not being told what to do.

I mean, I’ve looked at the wiki and there’s a lot to do, loads of things to craft through complicated progressions, loads of enemies to seek out and destroy. There’s dungeons and floating islands and lava and lightsabers and drills and grappling hooks and God knows what else, but I have no motivation to find them because who knows where to start. More to the point, who knows where to end? I need concrete, manageable goals, I need a checklist, I need a story to follow, however brief, and there is nothing to grab ahold of beyond this vast unknown. I bounced off Terraria like a flat stone on a mill pond and further attempts just left me skimming.

Unrated, 3 hours.

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One Response to 52: Terraria

  1. Everblue says:

    Shame! Shame! The cynic in me says that you are rushing through these games because you spend all your time on Team Fortress 2.

    I call shenanigans!

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