Friday, May 21, 2010

Anticipation



It starts with the preorder. After reading about the concept, seeing some screenshots, and watching the gameplay video, I know I want this game. I will pay the $60 and it will be glorious.

Then I stop thinking about it. Oh I might read a developer interview, or make sure the release date hasn't changed, but my mind is made up. I won't even play the demo. Demos are always too short, anyway. Can't get a feel for a game from the tutorial.

A couple weeks later, I get an e-mail. "Your Amazon.com order has shipped" Yessss.

The next day, while running simulations, populating spreadsheets, and glancingstaring at TweetDeck, I'm keeping an ear cocked for the sound of the doorbell. I almost never answer the door for visitors at work, not wanting to be bothered, but today I do. Once it arrives, I walk back to my desk, flipping the package over in my hand. It's the same size as the DVD case inside. The lack of padding worries me, but perhaps UPS is told to handle these packages more carefully. I slide my finger under the flap, gently pulling the glue up along with stray bits of brown paper.

I pull the case out and gaze at the box art. I still hate the obnoxious green color of the DVD case and the garish green and white Xbox 360 logo at the top of the front. Flipping the box over, I gaze at the screenshots I've already seen a dozen times on Kotaku and Destructoid posts about the game. I read the text on the back. Nope, my grandmother would have no idea what this game was about if she just picked it up and looked at it on a whim. I get my nail underneath the tiny flap of plastic on the top of the case and pull up, then down and to the left. Now I have a small opening in which to slide a finger and pull the plastic in an ever shrinking ribbon from around the case. I pull the bottom half of the plastic off, then gently pull off the security stickers. They used to be a pain, but I've learned the exact angle to slide a nail in and how much force to use to get it up and off. They're quickly crinkled and stuck to the stray plastic wrapping.

Inside is the token manual. A controller button layout, some boilerplate info about Xbox Live, and the warranty. A card with a code for 48 hours of Xbox Live Gold service also falls out. I probably have enough of these for a couple weeks of service now. The disc sits tight on the other side. I pry it out, wincing at how it bends, and make sure there are no scratches on the back. Satisfied, I put everything back in the case and set it aside for the rest of the work day.

Driving home, I remember that there are still coins to be found in Super Mario Galaxy. Maybe I should play a little of that first. Oh, and I'm still only about 2/3 of the way through my 7th playthrough of Half-Life 2. It feels wrong to leave that game unfinished. It's so great. Maybe I should do those first.

But no. No. I've been waiting for this game all day. It would be perverse to continue denying myself. I turn on the Xbox, and pop in the disc. I navigate to My Xbox, press Y, and begin copying the game to the hard drive. While that's going on, I find the proper alphabetical spot by console on the shelf for the game. I move the other game cases over by one and slide the new one in. I look at it for a few moments and see how that tiny strip of new color plays with the rest of the strips on the shelf. I pour a glass of milk and a small bowl of Goldfish crackers.

Done copying. I boot up the game. For the first and last time, I sit through all the splash screens for the various developers, publishers, and middleware tools used to make the game. I hope I can press A to skip these next time.

Press Start to begin.

Check to see what's under the options menu.

New game.

Choose a storage location.

Here we go.

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