Tried to play a complex game without using a wiki and suffocated in a hole on the moon


Ever since there have been games, there have been players who need help playing those games. In the 1980s, we could call tip lines (on our phones, which were attached to the walls) for clues about LucasArts adventure games. We subscribed to magazines that printed tips and bought strategy guides from bookstores. Then the internet gave rise to .txt walkthroughs and help forums, and now we have wikis full of information.

That’s a good thing: Games are getting more and more complicated, requiring more knowledge than is contained in tutorials, menus, or tooltips. Alt-tabbing out of a game to search for something is so common and necessary that a game that doesn’t work well with alt-tab looks very flawed. My second monitor is almost always open to a game guide or wiki page.

But what’s it like to play a complicated game today if you never refer to a wiki or video when you need help? I thought I’d try to find out with Stationeers, the space-based survival crafting game from RocketWerkz, getting all my info from the game itself: no wikis, no videos, no alternative tabulation for outside help. As you might guess from the title, it’s not going so well.

I start the Stationeers tutorial on a space station, where I immediately notice that the game is running in a 4:3 aspect ratio, with black bars on both sides of my screen, which is weird (boring, I’d call it ). I check the display settings but can’t see any reason why the game isn’t using my full screen. I alt-tab and – wait! I can not do that. I’m not going to do that. I return with alt-tab.

See how fast this happens? It’s instinctive at this point. When I have a question, I immediately search the Internet for an answer. Not today, however. I’m just going to find out for myself! Turns out I can’t figure it out on my own, so I keep playing.

I take notes during the tutorial because I don’t want to forget how to do everything it teaches me, which I’ll definitely do because I’ve become so used to looking at things whenever I want. Indeed, by not using a wiki, I just write my own wiki. And I really need it because in Stationeers, even basic activities like picking things up, putting them in my inventory, and using them take some getting used to. It basically treats your hands like inventory slots (DayZ did that too), which means there’s a lot of swapping things from hand to hand and slot to slot. other. It’s a bit awkward: I usually use the E key to activate things, but here it switches the focus between your left hand and your right hand. I’m sure I’ll get used to it. Soon I hope.

With my spacesuit on, it’s time to bake some muffins. It’s a strange sentence to write, but it’s a game of survival: I will need to eat. Also, baking muffins teaches me how to plug in equipment (a microwave oven) and combine multiple items to make something.

After baking and eating muffins (the tutorial doesn’t tell me to eat them, but I do, because I want to learn how to eat, and also – who makes muffins and doesn’t eat them right away?), it’s time to go into space and make repairs to the space station. Having proven that I can cook, I am now clearly ready to enter the freezing void of space.

Stationeers isn’t ready for me to do that, though. It freezes and crashes when I collect the steel plates needed for repairs. There are actually two benefits to the crash: one, I can rewatch the tutorial, which I really need as I’m still struggling with the control scheme, and two, when I reboot it now shows in the good aspect ratio. . Hooray! You see, who needs a wiki? Problems sometimes resolve themselves.

After baking and re-eating my muffins, I open the airlock and step outside, where I learn how to use my jetpack to fly. I cut some broken wires and replace them. My next task is to weld a steel plate, but since I (wrongly) assume that the welding is supposed to take place on the wires, I end up welding – and therefore destroying – the wires I just replaced.

Again, that’s not a bad thing, since I’m practicing repairs more. Once the wires are replaced, I find the right place to weld the steel plate and the tutorial ends. I made muffins. I fixed two things. I am now sent to survive on the surface of the moon.

I feel terribly unprepared for this. There’s nothing around me on the moon except for a few flares and a few crates of supplies. The tutorial didn’t teach me any bullshit about my UI, so I have no idea what my spacesuit’s counters mean. How Much Oxygen Do I Have? Am I cold? Am I too much cold? How cold is too cold? What if I’m too cold? Is the cold and coldness (some call it heat) things I have to deal with? Am I supposed to build a space station like the one in the tutorial, and if so, how? All I know is how to bake muffins, but I have no place to bake them: no eggs, no milk, no flour, no microwave, no food. What use is my knowledge of muffins on the barren surface of the moon?

It’s tension, really, no alternate tabs for background info, so I’ll just go with my own experience of survival games I’ve played before. Basically, build an ugly box, slam a door on it, and live in it until I can build something better or give up completely.

I look in the box labeled building materials and find iron frames and sheets. OK, I know from the tutorial that I need a welder in one hand and a sheet metal in the other, and I ended up figuring out how to place a few frames on the floor.

When trying to jump on it, however, I fall through and get stuck. I can’t crouch under the frame or jump on it. I am trapped in a moon cage of my own making.

Finally – and we’re talking like after five or six minutes – I manage to separate a stack of frames from my inventory, put half of them down, and use them as a step out. Haha, no need for a wiki! Of course, if I had gone through my control settings when I got stuck, instead of after I got free, I would have seen, as I do now, that the “J” key turns on my jetpack, so I could have just flown away. Lesson learned, and at least now I can fly.

Even while happily flying to the moon, the feeling of wanting to use a wiki persists. When building a moon house, it helps to know how much space I will need. How much gear I will need to put inside. The best ways to build. Some examples of other lunar houses. This kind of things. I build a few more frames, weld iron sheets here and there, add walls and a roof, which are just walls lying horizontally on top of other walls, which I hope – but I don’t know – is a valid way to build a roof.

I did it! I built an ugly box.

There is of course the question of whether I can live in this box. I’m on the moon, so my box needs to be filled with air, which will require an airlock, which I don’t know how to build. I will need electricity. I see solar panels in the box, but I don’t know how to build them. Oh wait, there’s another supply box filled with other stuff. That’s good: right now I need as many things as I can get my hands on.

My ugly box on the moon.

Something else I need: more kerosene. While I figured out how to turn it on, I didn’t realize it had to be off, and it worked the whole time, even when my feet were on the floor. I burned most of my propellant and the game started loudly warning me that I’m almost out of fuel.

While trying to look inside the second supply crate (which is lying on its side), I slip into a pit and burn the rest of my jet fuel before I can fly away. I can’t climb and I can’t jump. I may be stuck for real this time. While shuffling things from hand to hand, I momentarily forget how to open my inventory and hit (as usual) the “I” key. This, I am amazed to discover, opens my helmet. By the way, opening your helmet is not something you want to do on the moon.

I immediately press “I” again. Warnings begin to sound about the loss of pressure and oxygen. Shit, do I “open” the helmet but not close it? I press it again. I’m told the headset is closed, then I hear more warnings, then another warning that my headset is open again. I finally get that “I” both open and close the headset, but the suit voice doesn’t tell you the state of the headset until it goes through all the other warnings first, so even if I closed it, it will win’ I don’t think that to myself for a few seconds, during which I reopened it because I thought it was still open and thought I was closing it again. But I opened it.

Jesus, it’s a disaster. I find an option to lock my headset closed, which will be useful until I forget about it and try to eat muffins through it at some point in the future.

If I live that long. I’m still stuck in a hole, I’ve lost pressure, I’ve lost oxygen, I have no propellant and I don’t know what to do about these things. I start tampering with other items in my inventory, including a canister labeled “junk” which I guess is probably now full due to the few terrifying moments I just had. Also, he seems to be leaking. Raw.

I’d just like to alt-tab to research a few things, like how to get out of a hole without a jetpack, how to build an airlock, how to install solar panels, how to build a kitchen and microwave, and raise space chickens for eggs to make muffins. But all I have is a lack of oxygen, a shitty canister, an ugly box with no door, and a moon pit that keeps me from getting in.

I think that was a bad idea. I think I’ll stop and start again with my second monitor open on a wiki page. I enjoyed the part of Stationeers where he told me what to do and how to do it, and I think I’d really like to build a house on the moon if I had any idea how to accomplish it. In fact, opening a wiki page right now, I even see you can use your shitty canister as a jet pack thruster in a pinch.

Farewell, game without wiki! Games are complicated, and that’s perfectly fine as long as there are wikis and you use them. I unlock my helmet and let out the rest of my oxygen. The screen goes black. Several icons appear, including one that seems to tell me that I am 200% asleep. I don’t even know what that means. Am I dead? Am I alive? Not only do I need the help of a wiki to live, but I need the help of a wiki to die.


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