I’ve recently moved house and spent a lot of time doing DIY. I’ve also been playing Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. DIY is full of intricacies and I’d go as far as to say these are pretty much limitless. The “Nemesis System” featured in Mordor - which generates unique foes for the player algorithmically - is full of intricacies, though these eventually run dry. That about covers the majority of the content of this aborted missive, which is far too unwieldy for me to ever hope of bringing under control. While I was lost in the maze of drivel, I kept bumping into myself asking the same question: why, when the differentiation between ‘story’ and ‘other’ content in open world games is often so slight, can I spend many, many happy hours labouring repetitively, only to lose interest in these same tasks the moment I’m not being pushed through by a narrative?
I was, I think, trying to play the Half Life mod Vampire Slayer this one time, when I inadvertently ran into a bunch of people - a dozen or so, which was fairly respectable even at the height of the rabid modding community (dilution of the playerbase an’ all) - doing some very strange stuff. Vampire Slayer, as its name would suggest, was a combat-orientated experience where a team of humans (the titular Slayers) duked it out with a team of pastier humans (the titular ‘Pires) using all sorts of John Carpenter’s Vampires-inspired gadgetry. Only these players weren’t doing as they were told. Instead of swiping at, staking and shooting one another as would be expected, everyone was gathered around chatting or walking about, enacting something that kind of resembled real life. That is to say they were all simply flaunting the generally accepted rules of a team deathmatch game and just not killing one another. After a little polite inquiry I was informed that I’d happened upon a role-playing server: a place where one was free to pretend to be anything or anyone you desired - as long as you didn’t mind doing so dressed as a vampire version of the G-Man with great big claws and a nasty looking omelette scalp.