Keeping it 💯: The Saga Begins!
So this coming week marks the first week of a new show I’m running called Keeping it 100 (💯). By streaming (at least) once a week for (at least) a couple of hours, I’m going to play through a game until I hit 100% completion. Celebrate, double-check the list, uncertainly celebrate again, ( check the list), repeat. Originally, I planned to play through Dragon Ball: Kakarot (2020), but I’ll be honest. While I’m psyched to play Kakarot and it’s very likely I’ll play it on K100…Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is coming out in October.*
*(…so…this is no longer true. It was when I wrote this, but…it’s not anymore. Just go with it, okay?)
What that means for me is that, as has been the case almost every year since 2008, I’m buying myself the new Assassin’s Creed game for my birthday (yeah not anymore, nice try) and devoting every free moment to it until I’ve at least finished the main story. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (2018) is unquestionably my favorite game of all time and while I have reservations about the upcoming 2020 title, I’m excited all the same. The trouble is, while I’ve clocked in well over 300 hours on Odyssey, I never finished its predecessor, AC: Origins (2017). This title marked a major shift in the franchise for both narrative and mechanics. But, I was applying to grad school when this game came out, and a few months after that I was planning a move across the country. In other words, ya girl didn’t have time to figure out what happened to the game’s protagonists Aya and Bayek, and the series’ new modern protagonist, Layla Hassan. But…now she do.
And so, here’s the goal: starting next week, I’m going to stream AC: Origins until I hit 100% completion. And I’m sort of playing against the clock. Valhalla was supposed to be released on October 15, 2020. Now that date has moved to sometime in December. But, the challenge remains the same: achieve 100% completion on Origins by the time Valhalla comes out. Then, play that to 100% completion. It’s going to be spicy.
So that’s what K100 will be. As I mentioned, I haven’t played much of Origins, so I will be learning as I go. The show itself will revolve extensively on the game itself. For now, it’s going to be continuous gameplay of Origins, but that will likely change in the future! Ideally, I will have goals for each stream and will meet those goals by the end, possibly adding on or revising the daily/weekly goal list. Legend has it that achieving 100% completion of Origins takes 60-80 hours, so...probably need to get started.
So what does 100% Completion Mean for AC: Origins?
In the spirit of staying organized (more on that in a minute), I am using a checklist as the show’s guiding light (see below). I don’t have any of the DLCs for Origins (sorry not sorry), and I don’t intend to purchase them, so I will be using the following checklist put together by WikiGameGuides user Beer Baron:
Unlock every ability
Complete all sidequests
Complete all main story quests
All Steam achievements unlocked
Additional Quests/Missions for 100% Completion
Complete all gladiator challenges in Krokodilopolis
Complete all gladiator challenges in Cyrene
Complete all Hippodrome races
Kill all 10 Phylakes
Find all 58 Synchronization points
Find and solve all 12 stone circles
Solve all 19 tomb puzzle
Rest at 5 Hermit Locations
Complete all location challenges; i.e. Loot Treasure, Kill Captain, Kill Commander, Kill Animal
Fully upgrade all equipment (**I…reserve the right to do this one, depending on what it means. I can’t imagine doing this for Odyssey**)
Why I’m doing this show
So this being my first from-scratch show, I’m a bit nervous. But wide open-world, challenging games with heavy narratives give me life (I’m coming for you, Death Stranding!), and so I’m working with something familiar and comfortable by playing games for the show’s initial run. But, why a completionist show?
Stream or not, I’m a completionist when I play games. Steam achievement notifications bring me special joy. Developing an organized method of playing through a sprawling narrative makes my in-game actions feel important and builds toward a feeling of accomplishment at the end of every play session.
But, aside from being a completionist when I play games on my own, I’m curious about how shifting this private gameplay into a social sphere will impact both my experience and the viewers’ experience of the game. I’m curious about how feelings of accomplishment/satisfaction might transfer to a shared experience of play in streaming. The goal for K100 will always be the same: set up completion parameters, play the game to meet those goals, meet goals, then repeat with a new game. For me, completing games is an exercise in patience, organization, and persistence. For all the 300 hours I’ve played of Odyssey, I’m still at 99% completion. …Of course, that’s in large part because after completing (100%) the Fall of Atlantis DLC, the base game didn’t feel nearly as exciting or satisfying until I started over from scratch (playing as Alexios is…not as fun). But as much as completing (100%) a game might mean meticulously combing a seemingly endless landscape for a particular kind of resource or to earn that one achievement only 2% of players unlocked on Steam, it also means knowing how to have fun. As a player, I find that the easiest way to never complete (100%) a game is to forget to have fun or let every achievement become a chore. The challenge should still be enjoyable. But as admittedly a Very Specific Kind of Player, I’m not sure that viewers will necessarily share my views on what fun might look like.
For example, I get as much enjoyment and satisfaction from non-violent in-game activities as I do from violent ones. Spending time collecting resources, aimlessly exploring the landscape, taking in-game pictures, and finding the highest accessible points in a map is as much fun for me as fighting off a gaggle of enemies twice my size in Nightmare mode. (OK, Open Truth: One thing I’m excited for is, if possible, viewer-set combat challenges–e.g. clear this area using only this kind of weapon or in a particular way, or with low health, etc.) But, will viewers find any similar sense of achievement from successfully meeting goals or leisurely completing objectives, “flashy” and exciting or otherwise?
Preparing to Keep it 100
The short answer to this is I’ve played like 60 hours of Odyssey in the last week to test out ways of organizing my 100% playthrough of Origins. The games are mechanically similar enough, though there are improvements in Odyssey that I’m going to miss.
The longer and more useful answer is that I’ve prepared for this show in a way that I hope is methodical enough that it’ll work. K100 might be a total, short-lived disaster. But in the spirit of that one time Silvan Tomkins spent a lot of time photographing and studying facial expressions to better understand affect, only to realize that while it was a really useful exercise for other purposes, pictures of facial expressions didn’t really help him solve the affect question, I’m cool with recording my process of playing Origins and am also cool with admitting that I have no idea what this experiment will be useful for. I’m barging into the room without my thesis yelling, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if-”
But I’ve learned a few things just from preparing for the show and trying to analyze my own play patterns. One is that it’s possible to sort of “break“ an open-world game like Odyssey (and possibly Origins). One of the strategies I use in games that have a wide world that encourages player movement (either by slowly traveling the distance ”on foot“ or by returning to specific waypoints or hubs in the map) is to explore and complete the nearest map objective within accessible areas. Travel to a location, complete it, complete the next nearest one, and so on. So before going too far in the narrative, I used my available resources to fully explore a region. Honestly, hitting level 2 and exploring the spawn island with no weapons before completing the first mission was one of the most time-consuming things I did. The game expects players to complete actions logically and sequentially. Joke’s on them, I guess! As a result, for a while my character was nearly ten levels above the main narrative’s enemies, which made for flashy but entirely unfair battles.
I’ve also had some practical viewer-based considerations as I prepare to start Origins. Viewer engagement is something I’m interested in, despite being a generally quiet and private gamer outside of Serious Play. I’m not used to talking while I play, I’m deeply invested in narratives, and I generally don’t add RPG elements to a game until I’ve finished it more than once. So how can I make this enjoyable for people who decide to stop by along the journey? As I mentioned, I’m excited about viewer challenges once I get comfortable with the game. But beyond challenges, how can I best relay what we’ve done so far and how much more we have to go? How can I make viewers feel like they’re on this wild journey with Bayek and me?
In all, I’m not sure what to expect from this long-term experiment I’m starting. I hope that I and whoever stops by for an update on the journey will have fun and maybe learn something about what it means to a game, what it means to do that in a live broadcast, and infinitely better questions that I haven’t thought of yet.
[originally posted on the Digital Cultures Collaboratory's blog]