After much thought, I've curated and downloaded a very finite selection of games to play over the next few months. And I've made my selections based on these rules.
- Only games I already have. No new purchases!
- Cannot contain predatory mechanics that mercilessly target dopamine.
- Must have some sort of research payoff that can be applied to my novel writing.
So here's my list of games moving forward.
Research for a future The Falconers novel, a concept that involves a ton of Wild West concepts. The game is also broken into distinct chapters that have a self-contained satisfaction to them. This reduces risk of Just-One-More Syndrome.
Wonderful 'exploration of ancient ruins' setting that I can use as inspiration for the dungeon-delving elements of my piratical LitRPG novel. Because focus is on exploration rather than loot or leveling, it's very gentle on the dopamine.
The previous Shadowrun games had a nice easy pace to them due to being turn-based and containing plenty of story. Measured pace and in-game reading seem to be good antidotes for dopamine drain, giving time for dopamine to replenish during a gaming session. Am also intrigued by how it plays out and how a Shadowruneque plot could apply to LitRPG.
Having completed Bastion (also a safe RPG), Transistor looks like it has the right chapter structure to make it safe when it comes to dopamine depletion. Chapter endings offer a comfortable 'out' for the player so they're not drawn into extended gaming sessions where dopamine gets hammered. Also interesting is Transistor's lore-driven ability mechanics.
On the surface, Witcher 3 maylook dangerously similar to Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, but it's focus on story over loot and leveling reduces risk of dopamine depletion. Each quest is satisfying in its own right and discoverable sites are just hard enough to reach to short-circuit Just-One-More Syndrome. And from a storytelling research perspective, Geralt is one of the ultimate MCs worthy of study. A must-play for any LitRPG writer.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
This is potentially dangerous and shall be handled with kid gloves. Ubisoft is nefariously sneaky when it comes to hitting one's dopamine center (hence I haven't included a link) so I'll be sailing with my eyes wide open. I'm only playing this one because it's pretty much the only comprehensive pirate RPG out there at the moment and therefore vital research for my piratical LitRPG novel.
I'm travelling about at the moment so haven't been able to blog every day as I'd hoped. I'll see you on the 28th for the final post in the series!