Messing About in Boats
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Kenneth Grahame. The Wind in the Willows.
It's curious the way a simple aspect of a game can resonate with you and become a source of pleasure. Regardless of the availability of new content, I still like to log into LOTRO on occasion and just ride around Middle-earth. Similarly, the vast open world of Skyrim has a comparable appeal. Despite my lack of driving skills, even aimlessly cruising around Los Santos in GTA V can be a source of relaxation. I can lose hours indulging in these simple tasks, quietly reflecting on either the game or the real world. Recently I returned to another activity that can also be added to this list. Sailing in Two Worlds II.
What I find strange is that this is the very sort of game mechanic that I usually balk at. In the past, I would usually view similar systems as an unnecessary embellishment. Plus, I am not inclined towards sailing in real life, having tried it a few times in my youth. I just couldn't get on with the sweaters, endless sea chanties and the smell of fish. So, it comes as a surprise to me how much I enjoy tacking around the archipelagos of Antaloor, listening to the in-game ambient music track, Sails and Journeys by Borislav “Glorian” Slavov and Victor Stoyanov.
Sailing in Two Worlds II is far from arbitrary and requires a modicum of skill. The mini-map shows the wind direction and one must steer accordingly to pick up speed. Naturally sailing in to the wind is impossible, so tacking is required when navigating in such a direction. Therefore, it requires some thinking to sail to a specific waypoint. Naturally, the game developers have not made this mode of transport mandatory. There is the option to swim or use the teleportation system to travel between locations. However, there is a something elegant about sailing to a specific destination. The games weather system as well as day and night cycle also add to the ambience.
It is often these minor facets of games that keep me engaged and playing them. When you consider the horse trading that goes on during the development process of any title, it's nice to see some of these low-key mechanics still make it into the finished products. I often find them a great way to relax and am therefore pleased to add sailing to my list of trivial activities to indulge in while gaming. The wearing of eye patches, is of course, purely optional.