Stardew Valley | The Game That (Re)Defines Me

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The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

We’ve been looking to the past with most of these pieces. Sure, we’ve looked at how these games connect to the present, but with the possible exception of wonderful pieces on modern games like Will’s DayZ rumination or Alyssa’s Sims 4 recollection, most of the pieces for this look to the past for insights on the present. As the sites transitions back to normal Normal Happenings (not a typo), I wanted to look at the one game in my library that I can use to look to the future. It’s a relatively recent game – one with personality, distinction, and insights on life.

It is the one, the only…


Game: Stardew Valley
System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: February 6, 2016


1P Start

What would be the best use of my time?
It was a common refrain in the Valley, until one day something fascinating happened. I started asking myself this question in real life, and it changed everything.

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Irrepressible optimism. That’s not the kind of thing I’ve always had to the degree required to fuel my motivation for life. In fact, much of my brooding in the past reflected disenchantment and cynicism. Irrepressible optimism is a learned skill. I’m going to be quite honest, to live life in a consistently positive manner presents a huge number of challenges, especially in a world so seemingly unbalanced in favor of negativity.

What I mean is that the consequences of negative events seem to far outweigh the fleeting effects of sanguine happenings. If there is balance to be found, it is in the possibility that negative events happen far less frequently than positive ones, but it is difficult to convince a person experiencing a mountain of very costly, very adult situations of this notion.

It seems assured, then, that the world is indeed a negative place filled with suffering to some extent or another. And yet, despite appearances, I’m an irrepressible optimist. Seeking this buoyant type of life has lead to more fulfillment than I’ve ever experienced, but I require tools to maintain that optimism. I’ve tried my best to build around me a fortress of positivity — relationships, education, and media all conducive towards making a dark world a little brighter. 

There are plenty of games that resonate with me on an emotional level, from the classic adventures of puff-balling my way across Dreamland in Kirby’s Adventure to the modern cinematic characterization of Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn. We see fingerprints like this all over this collaboration. There is not a single entry in this collection in which a person actively hated the game that defined them. That’s because sometimes a beautiful symbiosis occurs when you love a game — that title begins to integrate itself into your life as part of your identity.

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Stardew Valley is one of those engines for me. It’s no secret I absolutely adore the game, but it means so much more to me than an escapist romp through a farm town. The game has become an integral part of my experience as a human being.

Love in the Hard Times

I think one of the biggest reasons Stardew Valley is so important to me was completely out of the developer’s hands. Timing is everything, and the game landed on the Switch for me at just the right time. They say the first year of marriage is the hardest. However, traditionally this cliche evokes images of two people discovering how frustrating it is to live with each other constantly. Not so with us — Nikki and I had almost a decade of dating experience backing us up, so we were pretty well-prepared for what to expect.

No, what confronted us was far more insidious than simple situational adaptation. The Dark Cloud of mental illness cannot be defeated by swords and shields, and we both carried with us a storm of family, cultural, and religious trauma. I believe mental illness is the true final boss of life, and Stardew Valley arrived deep into our protracted conflict with the Dark Cloud.

As many others have expressed, video games provide an adequate refuge from dealing with the constant pressure of real life. Though in the past I worried that using video games as a form of escapism would lead to addiction, that never happened with me. Instead, I simply began to look forward to my short daily commutes into the Valley. Rain or shine, they awarded me an opportunity to alleviate the challenges of real life and offered a glimpse into a future free from this mess. When struggling in a mental capacity, there can be nothing healthier than a little escapism.

Every Day an Opportunity

In Stardew Valley, you’re offered a choice, even if you’re not making them on a conscious level. The halcyon days go by quickly in the Valley, simulating the perception of time as aging sets in if left uncontrolled. As in real life, there no way you can get everything you need to done in a day.

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It’s raining in the fall, so can go explore the mines without fear of losing my harvest. It’s sunny in the spring, so I should harvest some salmonberries! Snow has blanked the ground in winter, so I should try to find some artifacts for the museum.

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What would be the best use of my time?

It was a common refrain in the Valley, until one day something fascinating happened. I started asking myself this question in real life, and it changed everything. You’ve probably seen this blog transcend from periodic posts to routine (hopefully high-quality) content. It happened in other aspects of my life too, but I credit my time in Stardew Valley for this paradigm shift. I am hoping it can help me conquer my fitness goals heading into 2019.

The Future is Beautiful

While it may seem cursory due to existing as a video game, the choices you make in the Valley uniquely impact the future. Every decision made has a butterfly effect, impacting life in unforeseen ways.

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I used to be scared of the future, envisioning scenarios in which catastrophe could spirit us away from the life we’ve dreamed. I used to be terrified of death, but even that doesn’t cause incapacitating dread as it used to. I am here to make the most of my time — to live and love, and to try impact the present and the future for the better. I am, after all, an irrepressible optimist, and the future is full of beautiful choices. Let’s make it all it was meant to be.

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This is, umm, not a baby announcement. It’s just a good example of future choices.

If Sonic the Hedgehog 2 defined my childhood, Stardew Valley defines my adulthood. Sonic 2 is the game that defines me. Stardew Valley is the game that redefines me.

Future Collaborations

Many of you have been asking about future collaborations on Normal Happenings.

Going forward, I plan to facilitate four collaborations per year. Big, month-long, epic ones like this are hard (but very enjoyable) work, so I only plan to do two per year. One will be in the summer, the other in the winter. I already have an idea of what the winter collab next year will look like, but as of now summer is completely up in the air.

In the in-between, spring and fall, I will be putting on mini-collaborations, similarly formatted to Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds! If you want an idea of what to expect, that’s currently your go-to publication. I call the collaborations “mini,” but they’ll consist of ten to twenty pieces, weaved together into a one-post grand experience.

I intend to revel the identity Spring 2019 collaboration on New Years Day — January 1, 2019. Past contributors will get first dibs, but I definitely intend to reserve at least four or five slots specifically for newcomers.

What Happens Next?

Next, I’m taking a break… just for about a week or so. I just want to unplug and normalize after posting for 35 days straight. Doing so will refuel my creativity in the long run. I’ve got a drafts folder full of great ideas for posts, as I haven’t been able to craft any “normal” pieces for quite some time.

I’ll still be on Twitter, albeit probably a bit less than I have been for the past two months. I’ve got a collection of Daily Inklings scheduled to post as well, so this place will still be plenty active. I intend to be back in action on Monday December 17 with an important update post on Dysontopia and the Normal Happenings Patreon, so stay tuned for that.

And on that hopeful note, we’ve reached the conclusion of the most epic thing I’ve ever had the pleasure of facilitating. I want to thank all of you by name:

Thank you Megan, Ian, GG, Kim, Jan, KT, Moses, Victor, Shauna, Heather, Alyssa, Luke, Justin, Chris, Pix1001, Will, Murr, The Gaming Diaries, Amanda, Alex, Ruubin, Khinjarsi, Matt, Kathy, Mr. Backlog, Michael, Ellen, Ryan, Zerathulu, Imtiaz, Teri Mae, Skylar-Mei, and my beautiful wife Nikki for making this all possible! You all have done more than I ever dreamed.

And of course, thank you, dear reader, for taking the time to read our thoughts. Always remember that you are awesome!

And The Credits Roll…


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form.

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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Myst | The Game That Defines Imaginating Life

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Let’s go ahead and kick-start the audio for this post! We can’t go through this entire piece without hearing the wonderfully bombastic main theme for Myst — calmer tracks to follow.

 

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Hello, and welcome back to The Games That Define Us! We are six days into this amazing collaboration, and there has been so much positive feedback. Each of you reading this are amazing, and I’d like to give you a big “thank you!”

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Today we’re joined by the talented Amanda from Imaginating Life! Like me, she’s both a graphic designer and blogger, which is always a great combination. You can check out her amazing design portfolio — her use of color is on point! You should also check out her fantastic blog post, It’s Dangerous to Go Alone – My Thoughts on Depression, when you finish up here.

Let’s get started, then, with Myst — the best-selling PC game until The Sims! We hope enjoy discovering this chapter of The Games The Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Amanda May @ Imaginating Life

Twitter: @ImaginingDesign

For the ages.

Game: Myst
System: PC
Release Date: September 24, 1993

1P Start

The memories formed when we were playing Myst I still hold dear today. Though my mom is no longer in this realm to reminisce about the good old days of PC gaming with me, or to help me create my own game in the future with her programming expertise, Myst continues to inspire my love of gaming.

When I was a kid, I loved reading fantasy fiction about far away mystical magical lands. Anything that sparked my vivid imagination was inspiring to me. I would even invent my own mystical magical lands. I enjoyed sketching them out, and would create stories around them in great detail, filling up notebook after notebook.

When my mom bought our first home PC for the family back in the early 90s, I began to shift my focus from imagining fantastical tales to game strategizing and connecting patterns. I was all about some Space Invaders, Pong, and my favorite, Tetris. On DOS. Yup.

Later I would go on to play such “innovative” games as Hero’s Quest, Lemmings, and Fable (the 90s DOS adventure game, not the 2004 version on Xbox — totally different games!). My mom was a computer programmer after all, so she also encouraged learning about computers, and would even involve me in the process whenever she would upgrade our computer — yes, my mom actually built computers!

But the real “game changer” (pun totally intended) came when Mom bought a new PC, upgrading us to Windows 95, and purchased the game that would eventually be the standard I would hold all future games by. That game was Myst.

Myst was, at that time, cutting edge and revolutionary. It received high praise for its amazing and detailed graphics, unique storyline, and beautifully composed soundtrack — all ahead of their time by industry standards back then. The soundtrack was of particular interest to us, as my mother was herself a pianist and composer, and would often sit at the piano recreating the game’s music. I always enjoyed listening to her play. But I would go on to remember this game for another reason: it was the first game, and first activity in general, that my mother and I truly bonded over.

In the mid-90s my mom had become disabled, and had to step down from her corporate job as Sr. Computer Analyst, a title she was proud to have at that time. Though pain and restriction of movement limited her, she did have more free time to play games and watch movies with myself and my brothers. Myst, though, was our game — just Mom and me.

This in-game merger of fantasy worlds with strategy and puzzle solving led me into a new phase of creative inspiration that was the start of my interest in game design and, later, web design. I started filling up notebooks with not only new fantasy world sketches and story lines, but also images of my own puzzles and actual dialog between characters I had created.

Mom and I would play other games like the Myst series between releases, such as Obsidian, 7th Guest, Shivers, Qin:Tomb of the Middle Kingdom, and Schizm: Mysterious Journey, which would all inspire even more sketches and descriptions of game mechanics. (By the way, if you ever get the chance to play Obsidian you’ll be in for a real challenge! It’s my second-favorite game of all time after Myst.)

When it was time for college, the schools nearby that I could afford on the state scholarship I’d received sadly did not offer Game Design or Game Development as part of their curriculum. So I settled for a dual major in Web Design and Visual Communications. But I kept up my dream of creating my games someday. Having a programmer for a mom was also super helpful in my studies too, especially when I started working with animation scripts like JavaScript and Flash. (I know, it’s an obsolete skill now. One day I’ll find time to sit down and sink my teeth into Unity!)

The memories formed when we were playing Myst, and its many sequels over the coming years, I still hold dear today. Though my mom is no longer in this realm to reminisce about the good old days of PC gaming with me, or to help me create my own game in the future with her programming expertise, Myst continues to inspire my love of gaming. I’ve always felt proud to boast about playing the game whenever I’m included in a gaming discussion. Moreover, it helped my mom hold onto her sanity when she became disabled, and helped us to stay close through my turbulent teenage years and onward.

I believe our relationship was strengthened through our bond over Myst, and I will never forget those days. It was more than a game. It was a place of calm respite. A ray of hope. The beginning of my future career path. It was, and still is, the game that defined me.

And so I close, realizing that perhaps the ending has not yet been written.
~ Atrus, Myst

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WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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The Secret of Monkey Island | The Game That Defines Later Levels

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We know we’re mixing games in the franchise, but we cannot get over the goodness of this ambient mix from Monkey Island 2

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Happy Saturday, and welcome to day three of The Games That Define Us! We have two posts this weekend you simply can’t miss! Tomorrow I’ll be unveiling my piece for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 — one I’ve worked very hard on and am excited for you all to read.

But that’s for another day, literally. Today we’ll be visited by a legend in our local blogosphere. Give a big hand to Kim of Later Levels! She is one of the most stand-out people I know, and has done so much to help Normal Happenings get off the ground.

You can’t go wrong with her writing either. She knows how to get right to the heart of the matter, and you always come out the other side of her posts feeling like a better, more informed person. All of her posts are excellent, but here are some recent suggestions you should consider exploring after finishing up here:

She’ll be your tour guide today as we seek The Secret of Monkey Island, so let’s get adventuring! We hope you treasure this chapter of The Games The Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Kim @ Later Levels
Twitter: @LaterLevels

For all the aspiring pirates

Game: The Secret of Monkey Island
System: Amiga 500
Release Date: October 15, 1990

1P Start

I’d never heard of The Secret of Monkey Island, but after booting it up on the Amiga, I was amazed. It was then that I realized fantastic worlds I thought only existed inside of books could be brought to life through a video game.

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We all have that one Christmas present we remember receiving as a child, and mine was an Amiga 500. After I’d excitedly unwrapped the box, my dad told me to think about what I wanted to try first while he figured out how to hook it up to the television. This was obviously a very big decision for a little kid, so I carefully made my selection: it was the floppy disks which came with a manual depicting a mysterious skull, fierce-looking pirates and a young blonde hero which caught my attention.

I’d never heard of The Secret of Monkey Island, but after booting it up on the Amiga, I was amazed. It was then that I realised fantastic worlds I thought only existed inside of books could be brought to life through a video game. My dad and I were wrapped up for hours, battling dangerous-looking yaks in the Governor’s mansion and insulting swashbucklers by telling them they fought like cows; and I felt extremely proud of myself for reaching the solution to the grog-mug challenge before the grown-ups.

That was the start of a lifelong love-affair with the adventure genre and a childhood crush on Guybrush Threepwood. I’d played other games on the Commodore 64 and NES, but nothing so story- or puzzle-focused; and that title became the first I played for myself, all the way through to the end and without much help. It influenced me as a gamer and, even though I now enjoy a variety of releases, it’s point-and-clicks that I always return to because they hold a special place in my heart.

After that Christmas I went on to play as many adventures as I could, eagerly working my way through Simon the Sorcerer, Myst and The Dig. I eventually had the chance to play a game I was inspired to try after meeting Cobb in the Scumm Bar back on Mêlée Island and questioning him about his ‘Ask me about Loom’ badge. I love references in titles like this; a subtle nod can hold intrigue for players and direct them towards releases they may not have otherwise have found.

During a charity marathon stream a couple of years ago, I played The Secret of Monkey Island very early in the morning and my stepson joined me once he’d woken up. He was then about the same age I had been when I’d received my Amiga and I’d never thought to show the game to him, seeing as it didn’t contain anywhere near enough explosions for his tastes. Much to my surprise, however, he was totally captivated – and even ended up taking over the last part of my shift.

That’s the real secret of Monkey Island. It can show a young girl that magical worlds exist in pixels and give a dad an opportunity to spend some quality time with his daughter. It can explain to a ten-year old stepson that video games don’t always have to be about weapons and violence, and can even contain a story with humour. It can give a blogger an adoration for adventures and the chance to meet amazing people in this community. And it proves that all you really need to defeat an evil zombie pirate is a bottle of root beer.

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative bloggers. Help us with the resources to make even greater collaborations in the future. We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about finding optimism in everyday life. Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place.become_a_patron_button

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Faxanadu | The Game That Defines Hungrygoriya

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GG says “a lot of this music could be played by a band at a fancy dinner or something.” We concur, and it would be awesome. 

 

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Welcome back to day two of The Games That Define Us! We hope you enjoyed the first post, and are excited to launch ourselves through the decades of both our lives and gaming history.

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Today’s writer, GG from Hungrygoriya, has been a supportive blogging colleague since Normal Happenings’s inception. I’m so glad we got this mythical writer back after composing such a creative piece during Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds! After reading this post, I highly recommend checking out their piece on Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. Similar to this piece, it’s full of personal exploration of the impact of a game, and well worth your time.

I’ll admit, before organizing this collaboration, I had never heard of the game Faxanadu. It turns out I overlooked it on the Wii Virtual Console. I thought I had a good grasp on all of the classics of the NES, but this one slipped through the cracks. However, upon reading GG’s insights on the title, I find myself begging for Nintendo to bring it to the Switch online service.

But that’s enough from me — let’s get to the good part. We hope you enjoy the next chapter of The Games The Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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GG @ Hungrygoriya
Twitter: @hungrygoriya

For the unknown wanderers returning home

 


Game: Faxanadu
System: NES
Release Date: November 16, 1987

1P Start

I don’t really have a mantra per se, but the idea of being mindful and staying in the moment rather than fretting about things I can’t control has really helped me in all areas of my life.

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I wish I could remember the first time I played Faxanadu. My family bought an NES in 1990 when I was just four years old, but if I’m being completely honest, I don’t even remember how Faxanadu made it to us. It could’ve been a birthday or a Christmas, but many of my memories from that time are a bit foggy.

My parents were always pretty divided on gaming. My dad had bumped into that first goomba in Super Mario Bros. and never picked up a controller again, while my mom absolutely loved the challenge of games like Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3. My siblings also enjoyed gaming, but I was the only one who would regularly pop longer games like The Legend of Zelda and Faxanadu into the console. Usually they were stuck onto the trusty Game Genie to ensure I had a fighting chance to make it past the first parts of the games without meeting death too soon.

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Faxanadu was different from many of the other games I had been playing up until that point. It was not cut from the same cloth as the bubbly, colourful platformers of the NES era. Though I enjoyed the Mario games and Adventure Island II, Faxanadu drew me in for different reasons. The music was questy yet dissonant, and the graphics were based more in reality than imagination — as realistic as the setting of a giant tree can be, I suppose. There was something about the game’s dark and gloomy atmosphere and the nameless hero taking up a dire cause that I could relate to at that point in my life. My childhood was not particularly bright, and the dark setting of the World Tree was a great escape for me while I hacked and slashed away at unidentifiable enemies to raise my experience and rake in the gold. I especially appreciated that there was no option for a second player. It gave me an excuse to be alone once in a while.

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I should’ve disintegrated far more often while playing Faxanadu, but with Infinite Magic and Infinite Power by means of the Game Genie, I was unstoppable. After finally giving up the cheating machine, dying in Faxanadu was very frequent for me. Thankfully it wasn’t all bad, since one of my very favourite parts of the game is the message that’s shown when you die. It’s my one go-to phrase for when I need a pick-me-up:

Don’t have negative thoughts. Remember your mantra.

Those words are sometimes all I need to put one foot in front of the other when I’m feeling a little glum. I don’t really have a mantra per se, but the idea of being mindful and staying in the moment rather than fretting about things I can’t control has really helped me in all areas of my life.

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Faxanadu was the first proper role-playing game I ever played. If you know much about me or my taste in games these days, it’s all RPGs all the time, and Faxanadu is solely responsible for that. I will never forget the day I beat it on my own without the Game Genie for the first time. I was well into my twenties and had decided to stream the game in hopes to garner some interest from others, having spent most of my life not knowing anyone else that enjoyed the game as much as me. That night I think I played Faxanadu for one or two people that came and went throughout the evening. I was vanquished over and over again, and after about five hours of struggling, I finally defeated the anticlimactic final boss. My enthusiasm post-win was met by silence, since most people watching had given up on me long before I had made it to the end, but it was a quiet victory and I reveled in those moments completely. I’ve felt accomplished finishing other games, but none bring me as much satisfaction as Faxanadu. Nothing beats seeing that rejuvenated World Tree and watching our nameless protagonist go off to his next adventure.

On the surface, Faxanadu looks like your average action RPG. In many ways it is, but I’ve never been able to find the same sense of urgency and adventure in other games like it. Though there’s not much to know about that game’s main character in terms of his story or motivations, his shoes are an easy pair to step into and walk a mile in, and the game and its challenges therein shaped much of my sense of self-reliance and determination. I’m so glad to have been able to experience such a wonderful game in my youth, and I’m even more grateful that I can continue to enjoy it as an adult.

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WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative bloggers. Help us with the resources to make even greater collaborations in the future. We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about finding optimism in everyday life. Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place.
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The Bard’s Tale | The Game That Defines Mr. Backlog

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The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

The adventure begins! Welcome to the very first day of The Games That Define Us!

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Leading off, we have the wonderfully talented Iiago from Mr. Backlog, who, according to his favorite shirt, has too many video games. Of all the bloggers on this list, Iiago has an unrivaled affinity for very old games — like, titles that came out before the nineties. His pick today comes from sometime in 1985 (the only game on this journey with an unknown release date), when games were developed by a very small number of people and were marketed mostly by word-of-mouth. Obviously, my personal favorite post of his has to be his quirky and interesting answers to my Super Specific Questions of the past, but his true bread and butter is crafting commentary on classic computer games. After enjoying today’s post, might I recommend venturing over to Mr. Backlog’s blog for his thoughts on the direct sequel to today’s selection.

So, without further delay, let’s get on with it! We hope you enjoy the very first entry of The Games The Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings Continue reading “The Bard’s Tale | The Game That Defines Mr. Backlog”

Adventure Map | The Games That Define Us

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introduction

Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Welcome to The Games That Define Us, the second Normal Happenings collaboration! Starting on November 1, you will be embarking on a 34-day long journey through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. These contributions go beyond mere game conversation, though each of these artists have proven time and again their ability to think critically about game mechanics and presentation. One need only view their blogs to see they are well-versed in the art of critique.

But that’s not what The Games That Define Us is all about.

This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

What does it mean for a video game to define you? It can be hard to tell at first, but here is a good starting point: close your eyes and just think “video games.” What games pop into your head? Maybe there is only one – if so you may have already discovered the one that defines you. If there are several, ask yourself which one is the most meaningful to you. We think that is where you should look, and we would love to know what game defines you in the comments. Perhaps it’s even one of ours, and if so, you’re in for a treat.

This adventure map will serve as a guide through each day’s pieces – a table of contents, if you will. There will be a mini-version affixed to each post, but you can treat this as a table of contents or a launch point. We recommend reading each post in order, as they are arranged by game release date. However, feel free to dive right in to your favorite games. With these incredible bloggers, you simply cannot go wrong no matter where you start. And with that, let us begin The Games That Define Us!   

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

adventure map

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative bloggers. Help us with the resources to make even greater collaborations in the future. We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about finding optimism in everyday life. Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place.
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A Leaf Storm of Autumnal Updates

It looks like we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. We’re doing some fun and interesting things at Normal Happenings, and I’m excited to give you the guided tour!

The Smallest Redesign Ever


We’d like you to take a moment to just look around. We’ve made some very subtle tweaks around the site that we feel compliments the site design in meaningful ways. Here are just a handful: Continue reading “A Leaf Storm of Autumnal Updates”

Normal Happenings Now Has a Patreon! Help Us Make Even Better Collaborations

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Are you a reader?
Do you enjoy our collaborations?
Then you can help us make them even better!

Announcing the
Normal Happenings Patreon!


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The Short Version:

First, a short video explaining our plight. At the very least, you get to hear Nikki’s adorable voice for the first time!


The Long Version:

One of the most amazing things Nikki and I have ever worked together on is putting together Hyrule: See the Sights, Hear the Sounds! Before we knew it, we were inspired! We had so much fun putting this beautiful collaboration together that we want to do even more stuff like this, and we want it to keep getting better and better. Continue reading “Normal Happenings Now Has a Patreon! Help Us Make Even Better Collaborations”

Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds!

HYRULE
SEE THE SIGHTS!
HEAR THE SOUNDS!

A Collaboration
From the Great Land of Hyrule
And Beyond 

Better with audio!

The Legend of Zelda would be nothing without its amazing sound design, and this mix of Breath of the Wild environmental ambiance has been carefully chosen to accompany this post. Please be sure to hit the play button!

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We respect the creators’ intentions that some of these places aren’t canonically part of the Land of Hyrule, but we believe they all still encapsulate the spirit of exploration of the great land.

Each post contains links to the blogs of the incredible authors of their respective pieces. Please support their work by following/bookmarking them. 

We recommend you start from the beginning, but you can click each link to jump to that location if you prefer.

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Starring:

Outset Island | Matt from Normal Happenings
Koholint Island | Emma from Geeky Tourist
The Fishing Pond | Kim from Later Levels
Great Bay | Jan from The Life of Jan
Zora’s Domain | Teri Mae from Sheikah Plate
Behind the Waterfall | GG from Hungrygoriya
Forest Temple | Ellen from LividLightning
Hyrule Field | KT from Wintendo64
Lon Lon Ranch | Jan from The Life of Jan
Lumpy Pumpkin | Pix1001 from Shoot the Rookie
Eastern Palace | Megan from A Geeky Gal
Clock Town | Ian from Adventure Rules
The Dark World | Jan from The Life of Jan
Ikana Canyon | Pix1001 from Shoot the Rookie
Gerudo Valley | Teri Mae from Sheikah Plate
Shrine of Resurrection | Nikki from Normal Happenings


Outset Island

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Wind Waker
Matt | Normal Happenings

Back to top ^

Dear Grandma,

I woke up this morning missing you. I’ve been away for a while, and I realize I’ve been far too wrapped up in my adventures to make my way back to the Island, back to Outset. Of that, I want to say I’m sorry. Courage may come in many different forms, but it almost always takes you away from the family and friends you love.

Continue reading “Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds!”

May These Four Updates Be With You

On the Sights and Sounds of Hyrule


There is no doubt in my mind now that Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds! is going to be amazing. About half the posts from my amazing contributors are written and in the editing process! Some have even chosen to write two or even three sections!

On my end, I’ve started some preliminary visual design and audio editing. Nikki has also finished her semester and plans to sit down with me and insure that no typo gets through. I want nothing less than for this to be a true audiovisual feature with all the bells and whistles. That means thorough editing, high-quality art/design, internal continuity, and compelling content. Continue reading “May These Four Updates Be With You”