The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
I just got
back from my home town (Santa Rosa), where I attended my beloved
grandmother's funeral and reception. A famous poet once said "you can
never go home again," and I think I finally understand the weight of
that statement. A couple of years ago when I was pregnant with my
daughter and everyone at my work was talking about lay offs, I freaked
out and called my grandmother.
"Nonnie," I said to her over the phone at lunch, fighting the nausea
of pregnancy-induced "afternoon sickness", "What if I lose my job and I
can't pay the exorbitant rental and living costs and we become
homeless?!" (Obviously, the so-called "crazy preggo hormones" had gone a
bit to my head).
She replied, "The house is always here. You can always come and stay with me."
And it was that simple.
In most of
our lives, we know of a place that goes by a different name depending on
who you are, but is a true "Home Base" for us. It's a place where you
are always safe, never judged, and where you can go without worrying
about being shooed away. You can collect your thoughts, eat something
nourishing, and rest your weary feet and soul for a couple of magical
moments and be ready to keep going afterwards.
This has been
making me think- largely about how prolific our idea of a "home base"
seems to be in the public consciousness that it is a common fixture in
most games. The way that this is done tends to be somewhat different,
though, depending on what sort of feeling that the game designers would
like to convey as part of the story and game in general.. I shall
Who wouldn't want their home base to be in a tree?
Home Base Tactic 1: Origin House/Town/Area
Most of the
time, in a game, you have an origin place. Usually, within the confines
of this house, home, city, etc, you've grown up to a certain extent,
and you begin your journey in a simple tutorial to get you acquainted
with gameplay mechanics and controller scheme. While this is logical-as
the game designers want you to actually know how to PLAY the dang game,
there is also a psychological aspect as well. When you begin most
games that use the "home town" as your beginning (Pokemon, Fallout 3,
and Ocarina of Time are all good examples of these), you're able to
learn more about the character, and assume a generally supportive and
loving past that at least extends until you get past the "tutorial"
There is a
lot to be said about growing up in a fairly uneventful, safe environment
(Hint: If you see a character saying "*SIGH* Nothing EVER happens
around here!" then RUN, RUN FAST). First of all, you generally start
out with a positive worldview about everything. The character is more
likely to be sheltered from some of the more brutal and senseless
experiences that occur in the natural world. Due to this, the blind and
somewhat naive optimism of the character can be refreshing as well as
help the player become accustomed to this new world that he or she has
been thrust into.
you ever secretly wondered if you might be a NPC, just look above your
head and check for a bubble with an icon on it....now tell me, can
anyone explain what it means when the bubble over my head has a picture
of ME on it?
Home Base Tactic 2: A Place that Isn't A Place
games, such as the Disgaea series, you get a place where you are
transported when you are not beating main levels or extra dungeons (such
as the Item World). In this area, you can walk around freely (unlike
the grid-based approach in the regular maps), and there are various
things you can do (such as talk to people, find treasure chests that are
hidden around the area, buy stuff, sell stuff, unlock music or summon
the Dark Assembly). Basically, when you're in this "home base" area,
you won't be getting attacked or surprised by anyone, and the story
won't really advance. In general, it's where you go to do maintenance
and make special decisions regarding what is being equipped and where
you're going next (advancing the story or powerleveling in the item
world?) You can also do things such as find hidden switches or treasure
chests, both of which add a level of uniqueness to the home base world
I've always said that every pause button needs a butler.
Home Base Tactic 3: Build it into your pause/main menu scheme
husband was playing through Fable 3, I was amazed at the pause screen.
Instead of simply freezing and showing the word "PAUSE" (like in most
Mario games) or popping up a menu for switching out items (such as in
the Legend of Zelda games), you go into a fully interactive home base
called the "sanctuary"-a place where you retreat from the monsters and
the baddies of the universe- where your own private butler awaits your
every command. This is a very useful place because it is designed not
to be a stressful environment.
If you are
getting tired of where you are in the game, you can chill out in the
pause menu for pretty much as long as you want for a change of scenery
or you can tweak all of your settings and change out gear, outfits and
the like. While other games have done this before to some extent, only
in THIS instance do you have an actual character to talk to, who helps
you out and tells jokes! There is a lot to be said for compassion when
you are down and out-and this game provides you with a place that not
only is peaceful but is literally only a button press away!
Please bear with me if I get a bit huggy....
conclusion, I would have to say that the idea of "home" is more than
just a place where you sleep or put your stuff when you're out getting
more stuff (GEORGE CARLIN REFERENCE ALERT). It's a place where you
spend time basking in the warmth of the company of the people you love.
It's the place where you can feel comfortable enough to speak your
mind, to make mistakes without fearing retribution, and to generally
kick back and decompress.
When I left
my grandmother's home this evening, I felt a deep sense of loss deep in
my stomach, in some dark undefinable trench of my soul. While the house
is still there, I feel uncertain as to what will happen next-will that
home still be there for me to rest my weary feet and replenish my sense
of well being and calm? After all, I cannot consider my parent's home to
be a "home base" in any true sense of the word as the main feeling I
get when I step in the door is an overwhelming self-centered vibe from
my mom, who seems to want all of us kids to leave and never come back so
she can fill all the rooms with her useless crap and clothing that she
never wears but doesn't want to get rid of.
There is a
place that isn't just a place, but is also partly made up of the people
who are there with you. I keep trying to find it, but it's a difficult
process. I will have to say, though, this blogging community has a
facet of that home base feel-and it gives me courage and strength to
feel that no matter where I go, you are all only a mouse-click away.
(Internet Cookies are available for people who are hug time intolerant.)
So, what is your own personal "home base"? Where do you go when you need to get away from the stress of the world?
And what is your favorite "home base" scheme in a game? Do you like them or do you feel that they are too gimmicky?