So of late, I’ve been playing a lot of Sid Meier’s Covert Action (GOG Galaxy says I’ve played it for a total of 45 hours and 47 minutes). It’s essentially Sid Meier’s take on James Bond, in that you play as a secret agent trying to prevent various crimes from taking place. What’s neat about it is the freedom you have in trying to gather information that will help you take down the various criminals, as well as working out who to arrest when. Because arresting criminals and/or turning them into double agents gets you the most points, sometimes playing a “long game”, letting one criminal go longer so as to not bring the whole operation down and force people into hiding too quickly can sometimes be the way to go.
This isn’t really a post designed to get you to buy and play Covert Action (Although you should). It’s more an explanation of where I’m at gaming-wise. I used to speedrun games, and while I try to be involved in other speedrunners’ streams (And if I can find the time, would like to try and help out other runners/communities by commentating runs/races/etc.), I can say I’m happily retired from “traditional” speedrunning. What do I mean by “traditional”? I mean speedrunning where “Getting the World Record” is the all-consuming goal, involving resets for anything less than the best possible luck and grinding out seconds-long portions of a game for hours on end to try and consistently move a few frames faster. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m simply not very good at that kind of thing. Truthfully, I never was, but I was fortunate enough to enter speedrunning as a hobby long enough ago that it didn’t matter so much at the time, and I could sort of coast by on my reputation for longer than I should have been able to.
Luckily, there’s been an increase lately (Meaning in the last year or two) in tournaments for various games. These tournaments tend to pit two people against one another in a series of matches, and the fastest time of the two moves on to the next round. Over the years, I’ve taken the position that getting consistently good results in races is a better indicator of “skill” at a particular game than resetting constantly for the perfect set of conditions the game can give you, or starting over at the tinest mistake (Though I will acknowledge that record holders do also tend to do well at, if not win, tournaments of their games pretty consistently).
Even races, though, don’t particularly appeal to me from a participation standpoint right now. So what does, or at least might? Put simply, randomizers, such as the Dragon Warrior Randomizer (Which also includes some options to make the game a bit less of a grind), or the Zelda Randomizer. I’ve enjoyed watching the regulars of those communities (Particularly NESCardinality for Dragon Warrior and Skybilz for Zelda) play these Randomizers, where an overall knowledge of the game and being able to quickly adapt to what the game throws at you (Instead of just discarding it and starting over) is the priority.
And that’s basically where I’m at. If I ever were to get back into anything “speedrunning”-related, it would be something like those Randomizers, or the original Binding of Isaac. Something where getting a “World Record” as it were would be all but impossible, simply because the game is such a different experience every time out that a true apples-to-apples comparison is impossible, but it would still be fun to challenge myself and see how fast I could complete a given seed.
I think part of the reason I’m so into Covert Action is that it scratches that particular itch at the moment. Each case is slightly different, though the process of figuring them out tends to be similar, and you can actually opt to extend a “plot” (series of crimes) if you just opt not to arrest the Mastermind when you can. Once I’ve had my fill of Covert Action, I’ll probably look into the 2004 remaster of Pirates!, and then maybe try to track down some easier Roguelikes to satisfy my “Every game is different” craving. If anyone has some recommendations for any “Beginner” Roguelikes, they’d greatly be appreciated.