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I played through Firewatch a second time. The first time through, I'd played in a very focused manner. Given a mission, I carried out that mission with no side-tracking. But that was kind of a shame, because much of the fun of the game is in exploration. It's a pretty walk in the woods. So it was good to play again; know that I knew the plot of the story, I had a good idea of when would be good times to go walkabout. (I also looked at some spoiler-y web forum pages where folks were discussing the game; that told me some things to keep an eye out for. If not for those forums, I think I would have overlooked an interesting thing even in my more-exploring replay.) Partway through the game, your character gets a camera. Thus instead of trying to say "It's a pretty game" with words, I can show you some of my in-game photography. Which is pretty realistic in that I'm not good at real-world nature photography either.

Most of the game involves wandering around in nature. Hiking, clambering on rocks, that sort of thing.

Your job is to sit in a tower and look for fires. But you hike around a lot. It's possible to worry too much about spotting fires. I think these smudges on the rock are supposed to be puffs of dust in shadow. They looked like puffs of smoke, but never turned into fires.

I chased a butterfly for this photo. The second time playing through, I went for hours of ignoring the story's plot. I turned off the background music, just listened to the simulated nature sounds. It was darned pretty.

This was a pretty sparkly view in a cave. Between the smoke puffs and the sparkles, it feels like I spent almost as much time looking at particle systems as at critters.

Yes, it's ironic that someone who likes taking walks would spend hours sitting inside playing a game about someone taking walks. I did take breaks from the game to go out, I swear. I took the train out to Lafayette early in the morning and walked up Panorama where it turns into the Mariposa trail. That trail was empty. I expected dog walkers and joggers, but I was alone up there. This in the middle of playing a game in which there's almost no human contact aside from walkie-talkie conversations.

These aren't photos of the important things in the game, I guess. In the game, you walk through a place where new forest growth is coming up at the site of an old forest fire. Fire is a powerful symbol in the game, representing change. Change comes to us all. If we work hard, we can contain it or channel it; but there are limits to our control. It's good to remember that new green growth comes in the areas cleared by these mini-catastrophes.

Anyhow, good game. Check it out.

Tags: game photo

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