I really enjoy playing a good RPG or MMORPG on my PC. I get so excited by the endless opportunities of leading a character that is all my own through a vast, open world as he or she growns in skill completing quests, side quests, and various other experiences. I am filled with intrigue and wonder as I explore new regions or discover loot. I feel accomplished when I help a hopeless NPC or overcome a powerful boss. I figuratively salivate over the immersion and complexity an RPG offers. Despite all this, I constantly find myself skipping over the RPGs in my game library.
Role-playing games in the PC take a lot of time and involve a lot of complexity in order to incorporate such vast opportunities for story, exploration, and playing your own way. The player processes a lot of information, including the various interweaving story lines, related quests, item and skill interactions, UI navigation, and game controls.
These complexities are what make RPGs so intriguing and inviting. At the same time, they seem to be what keeps me from playing or finishing most RPGs I have. When a game like this gets put down for any length of time, playing again requires a certain level of re-learning: remembering how to play, what your goals were, where you left off, and how everything intertwines at that moment.
This turns out to be a barrier to playing or completing most RPGs. This is because I frequently play games in one or two hour sessions, which are sometimes days apart. This means I spend much of the session trying to recall how to play or where I was. Now, to some degree this is psychological. I worry too much about doing everything fluidly and following the same path I had planned previously. I played Fallout New Vegas last night for the first time in about a month and found myself worrying a great deal whether or not I had the correct equipment in use, or if I was following the proper quests in the correct order. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I should have.
As I ponder through this, I realize it isn’t the time spent re-learning that bothers me, so much as the fact it seems more difficult to really get in to the story again and feel the way I did when I set it down. It is as if I, as the mind behind my character, have developed a form of amnesia, and what little time I have to play is spent trying to re-achieve the immersion. RPGs really get fun once they have built up the story and the immersion. The character creation, tutorials, and opening quests often accelerate this process, but getting that same ball rolling mid-game is another story. If there was a way to save my mental state, just as we save the game state, this wouldn’t be such a problem for me.
I guess that leads me to the question: what do you do when you step away from an RPG with plans to return? Do you encounter the same issues I do, or do you have a way to overcome the gap and jump right into having immersive fun?