“There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.”

Woody Allen.

We don’t get video games of high quality on a regular basis. For us it can often be a long time between drinks. On rare occasions in the last 30 years of video gaming I have been spoilt for choice, but these have been rare circumstances. My post yesterday regarding savouring Skyrim received a reply which I had been expecting. Frankly I was surprised that there weren’t more that were similar. But for every comment that someone takes the time and trouble to write down I am sure many more readers were thinking along similar lines.

The comment in question is from Okrane, and I’m glad that this person took the time to voice their feelings. Lets have a look at what was written.

“… you mean the all the horrible fetch quests?
or maybe the shitty interface which when u are a wizard you have like 30 spells and skills and only 8 hotkeys?
or the really boring combat, where you whack a sword at the enemy from level 1 to 50 and beyond, or throw the same fireball over and over…
or perhaps the interesting dungeons where you battle the same kind of undead over and over again.

and I could go on. The only good thing is the big ass world which can seem interesting to explore but only when you are willing to ignore all the other shit.
For gameplay the game is really shit and does not provide much fun if trying to achieve anything else but explore …”

I understand this point of view, and I have seen it reflected in many posts from bloggers lamenting the very same points raised here. But as I said yesterday, you have to learn how to eat. You don’t wait a long time between meals and then stuff your face as fast as you can while complaining how bad some of the food is. I don’t like gathering quests either, which is why I ignore them. I have completed one as it involved an interesting alchemy line, but apart from that example the rest lie unloved in my quest journal. However, I am sure that there are many players out there that do like those quests. Thus, the developers included some. They did want to make a profit, and I for one am happy that they did. More similar games for me. But don’t complain about something while simultaneously stuffing your face with it. I mean, it’s not like there’s a shortage of quests in Skyrim.

I play a warrior who likes to sneak around and shoot things with a bow, so I’m not up on the mage-like problems regarding hotkeys. A friend of mine does play a mage in Skyrim and he loves it. As far as he is concerned, 8 hotkeys are more than enough. Back in the day when playing a mage you were lucky if you got two spells every 24 hours. But the latest incarnations of video games give him unlimited powers at his fingertips. Now with Skyrim he forces himself to make a choice.

Selectively playing in this way gives you more rewards in the long run. The game lasts longer. What’s the point of blasting your way through so much content when these sorts of games come around so sporadically? Learning how to eat is about not gorging in one sitting, but taking your time and enjoying the ride. I for one, never use fast travel in Skyrim. Why rush? Is there another game that needs my attention so much right now? Of course not. Whenever I find myself playing a session for too long and I begin cutting corners then I know it’s time to quit for the day. I’m not gaining any more pleasure from that session, I’m just playing for the sake of playing and getting things done. That’s the ignorant method, and we all fall prey to it. The trick is recognising it for what it is and having the discipline to shut it off at that time.

As for the combat being boring, I find it exhilarating. No bells and whistles here. No fancy moves of whirling blades. You have to get in and cut the enemy down before he gets you. That’s what combat is all about. I still sneak into any unknown area with the possibility of enemies. I love the thrill of taking them down with one shot from my bow. It doesn’t happen often though because I haven’t artificially gimped my skills. I’ve set them up so I can have fun, but still have a challenge. Why ruin it for myself? Why indeed. But as I said yesterday, you have to know how to play.