A Good Kind of Explorer Problem

It’s not escaped my notice that the latest trend in GW2 has been to shuffle a little towards Explorer content once more.

Clues to solve in order to find Bloodstone Slivers; a detector object to ping five locations on a map; the discovery and feeding of hungry cats.

It goes by largely unremarked (on my part I’m up to my ears in busyness,) but I think it’s making a good amount of people happy, with less corresponding -unhappiness- from other camps (they’ll just wait for dulfy or reddit, if they care about it at all.)

Running around trying to catch Pokemon has reminded me of my roots. Which is Explorer-dom, in a mapping sense.

I’m not Silph Road spade-standard when it comes to systems – following after and reading up about IVs and making a note-to-self memo about finding some free time to sit down, cross reference trainer appraisals with a web IV calculator assistant and organize my Pokemon is about my limit…

…but I’ve been enjoying the nostalgic feeling of knowing where special hidden secrets or resources are, that other people don’t know, or haven’t found yet.

No doubt, someone out there is playing at a higher level than me and has hooked into some API or third-party cheat program that displays the location of every single Pokemon as they spawn, but at my prosaic level, I have just been delighting in going to commonly frequented locales or landmark places of interest on my teeny little urbanized island and taking note of the types of Pokemon that spawn there and what tends to keep showing up.

I’m putting together a personal map of available resources and it’s fun.

It’s like what I used to do in MUDs when wikis and third-party sites were not established yet, or more sandboxy games like a Tale in the Desert where the world is just too big for any one person to know it all.

You build your own reference of “good places to go for this or that,” maybe you share some of it with others to expand each other’s maps, maybe you keep some of it a private secret for yourself… it’s something you don’t see very much of, in this day and age of “everyone must have a chance to experience the same content” plus “someone out there has expert programming knowledge and can write a third party app to get info on demand, directly from the source.”

Watching people attempt No Man’s Sky and being reluctant to buy into it yet has also reminded me of my extreme fondness for a very old, very little-known game called Nomad or Project Nomad (depending on which continent you knew it from.)

I don’t think it’s procedurally generated per se, but the amount of lavish worldbuilding and text that went into simulating a believable sci-fi spaceship trading universe has to be experienced at least once.

(It’s available for free at Abandonia.com. It takes a bit of DOSbox wrangling, but it’s worth it to play with sound.)

It really plays to the Explorer soul.

There are a bunch of well-characterized different races, much more memorable than No Man’s Sky’s, I’m willing to wager. They’ll tell you different things about a whole bunch of trade objects, which are bartered back and forth and valued differently among the races – no common universal currency here.

Ask the right NPC about certain facts or objects or people and they’ll reveal even more intriguing secrets that were not apparent at first glance. It’s easy to go down an explorer rabbit hole of following one interesting clue after another.

There are guided quests to follow, if you so desire, but also the freedom to play it like a sandbox and just fly to a random number sector of unknown and unexplored space – where you might find more danger than you bargained for, or an uninhabited planet, which can be mined for resources with the right tools. (No getting off and walking, but then, this is a super old game from 1993. It has its limits.)

Every time I play it, I intend to map it for good, making proper notes of all its secrets. Somehow, I never quite manage.

I’ve been re-inspired to play it again, after watching so many No Man’s Sky streams and seeing Syp get a such a blast out of playing retro games like Quest For Glory…

…I managed an hour, but am still struggling for free time.

Besides the Quest For Glory series, which I’d revisit if I had more time, fondly recalling my days of intense mapping of rooms on paper, the name “Skyland’s Star” popped into my head out of the blue.

This shareware text adventure game was one of my most patiently mapped and almost-completely comprehensive. (Not entirely though. Somehow I never quite finished. Some puzzle or other must have stumped me.)

I googled it for fun and found that it actually still had a webpage reference.

I definitely want to play it again and try to recreate and better my map from the past.

(What’s even better is that it only costs $5 USD and has a Paypal link, so I can actually toss the creators a two-or-three-decades belated thank-you, and get a walkthrough to crosscheck my exploration once finished.)

Assuming I ever find the time to -get started-.

Speaking of getting started, don’t get me started on the vague desire to pull out aged handheld consoles and replay old Pokemon games, or to revisit or play for the first time Final Fantasy games on a modern day device like a smartphone or iPad (they’re available, they’re just mindblowingly costly for an app, and will probably generate enough heat while playing to cook an egg.)

That’s probably just a pipe dream though.

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