That thing you burned up isn’t important to me. It’s the fluid catalytic cracking unit. It made shoes for orphans. Nice job breaking it, hero.

The cake is not a lieFinished Portal. It’s the first game I’ve ever completed and although there were quite a few frustrating moments and I had to do virtually every piece of the puzzle multiple times to get it right, it rarely stopped being fun. I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle part of the game that was easy to grasp and follow once I understood the concept.

The first puzzle was the most difficult. Like all new things that require muscular control, it took a while to master. The camera angle was all over the place and I kept getting the view point stuck at either the floor or the ceiling. I couldn’t see where I was going or what I was suppose to be doing; too busy trying to control the mouse and adjust the settings to make the game playable. I gave up on the keyboard pretty quickly too.

Keyboards, no matter how ergonomic they are, will always be bad for me. My wrists do not like the positioning and my fingers doesn’t like moving in that fashion one tiny bit. And so I programmed the Belkin Nostromo N52. It went much smoother. The one big gap was creating a portal whilst moving. It requires control within a set time which is always my downfall. I couldn’t jump and gain velocity by falling through an existing portal in the floor or creating one on the down, I just didn’t have the reflexes to get it right. I got stuck for a while every time this was the only option and eventually mostly with luck, I’d accidentally succeed and be able to move on. Until the end of puzzle 18 where twenty seconds of game play demanded control and twitchy reflexes within a time limit. It was the only insurmountable part of the game. Puzzle nineteen, once past the first part, was difficult to master, but not impossible. I used the xbox controller for it and it simplified matters considerably.

I still find it very frustrating when I know exactly what I am suppose to do, but can’t quite get it right. In my head, it’s crystal clear. I know exactly where to move, where to place each portal and it never took more than a few seconds to figure that out. And then, inevitably, it takes five or ten times longer than it should to actually execute. The most frustrating part yesterday was trying to jump through a portal from on top of a pipe over a ton of poisonous sludge. I saved the game at that point. It took dozens of jumps to finally make it, just to fall into poisonous sludge on the other side.  I was so intent on making the jump that I’d forgotten that I was aiming to jump onto a moving pipe on the other side and jumping when the pipe wasn’t there was a pretty big oversight. I reloaded, but the second time, I didn’t have any issues getting through. It’s a learned skill and I learned it. I’ve learned quite a bit from the game. One, I love gaming. Two, there is usually room for improvement and I do get better with experience. Three, learn when to stop and ask for help; not everything is doable and spending an inordinate amount of time on one small part of a game that’s most likely impossible for me to do is stupid.

It took 19.5 hours over a month to complete. I played puzzles 1 – 18 within a few hours over a couple of days until I got very very stuck on the last twenty seconds or so of game play in puzzle 18. After a month of trying and failing miserably for hours on end I finally gave up and asked a friend to play it for me. As he was already going through the trouble and offered to get me past the moving pieces at the beginning of nineteen, I graciously and greedily accepted. Stage nineteen took -gasp- eight hours to finish. I loved every minute of it.

The cake is a lieThere was cake at the end and Daisy, or more likely an identical Daisy replica was indeed present for the event. I fell in love with the companion cube pretty quickly. It was grey and white and had pink hearts on it. I don’t like pink, but occasionally, I get attached as it’s something so very unlike me and it brings out the girly girl part in me. I instantly called it Daisy and was very upset when I had to throw it into an incinerator at the end. That was a month ago and Chris valiantly pointed out that as much as I liked Daisy, I didn’t hesitate to burn her up, I just felt upset about it, which didn’t much help my moral dilemma. Last night whilst playing I got a cube again. Chris looked over my shoulder and said Daisy? and I said no, not Daisy, it’s just a cube. I miss Daisy though. He wandered off and came back with a square box on which he had written ‘Daisy’ in big letters with a black marker and said ‘here you go, sweetie. Daisy’.

Gaming isn’t just about a game. It doesn’t begin and end with the time you spend physically playing. I never realized that a good game is just like a good book with quotes and quirks and characters that I save up to enjoy even when I’m not playing. I was exhausted last night and went to bed early-for-me, then couldn’t sleep. I listened to my Spanish for beginners audio book and somewhere in between getting confused by verb conjugation, my mind drifted back to snippets of dialogue that I particularly loved and enjoyed. I’ll get better at playing and some day in the future I’ll play Portal again and find it amusing to think back on how difficult I thought it was when I first played it. Pain still gets to me on a regular basis, particularly when lying awake in bed alone in the early morning hours. It helps to think that in any case, there’s always cake until you run out and if anybody ever asks me again what the answer to life, the universe and everything is, my answer would be “Two plus two is f-f-f-f… ten. [distorted sounds] …in base four; I’m fine!”

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