08 December, 2009

I Am the Master of Unlocking

written by Blain Newport on Monday, December 7, 2009

Repetition is comforting. Getting frequent rewards is comforting. I've been sinking into the oblivion of unlocking stuff in Madballs and Mass Effect lately.

In Madballs you have to give up your unlocks and start over. I went through the entire progression three times on unpopulated multiplayer servers so I got credit towards unlocking a player skin at the same time. It was mostly an exercise in efficiency accompanied by blowing stuff up.

In Mass Effect, if you accomplish certain things in game, you get certain abilities for subsequent playthroughs. I hadn't even looked at these awards until a couple days ago. It turns out that because I rocked the house with Jayne Shepherd, any new character I create can select either Assault Rifle or Shotgun proficiencies, even if their character class wouldn't normally allow it.

Neither game is good enough that I'm playing them to enjoy them. I do get to see some content in Mass Effect that I skipped the first time around, but outside of snippets of backstory, it's pretty worthless. Nope, I'm using the pretense of unlocking stuff in games I don't really care about to avoid doing useful, less interesting stuff.

Fry: I'm gonna be a science fiction hero, just like Uhura or Janeway or Xena!

Leela: Fry, this isn't TV. It's real life. Can't you tell the difference?

Fry: Sure. I just like TV better.

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