Christmas Events in Video Games Bring Me Joy!

To my surprise, I have discovered that the Christmas events in video games bring me joy. This was unexpected, considering that I haven’t celebrated Christmas in years, and have some really bad memories attached to the holiday.

One excellent example in-game Christmas events are the ones offered in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Every year, there are new Christmas items (and wearables) that the player can collect just by completing quests. Missed something from a previous year? You can probably pick it up if you have enough of the items that are required in order for you to craft it.

Pocket Camp is a low-stress game. I have filled my campsite with as much Christmas related items as I could stuff into it. The ones with glowing lights are my favorite. This is not something I would want to experience for very long in the real world, though.

Seekers Notes is an app game where the player must find hidden objects in a number of locations. There is always an interesting story to keep the player motivated to finish the quests and discover how the story ends.

The main concept of the game is that the town has been “stuck” with no way to get out. It is an ongoing mystery that the player – who becomes the Seeker – must help the townspeople solve. It has just the right amount of creepy, and that includes the Christmas quests.

When I used to play World of Warcraft, I found myself amused by the Christmas quests. My favorite quest was the one where your character had to wear an ugly Christmas sweater and then go to the main city of the opposing faction and sing. It was a challenge that was later made easier for those who had a flying mount. Park yourself on a rooftop and /sing where no NPCs are likely to find you!

Kitchen Scramble is a game where the player serves food to the customers that visit her food truck. I find it comforting because the foods in the game aren’t real and cannot give me an allergic reaction.

The game has several towns for the player to visit, serve food, and level though. Players are limited by the amount of “energy” the game gives them (but there are rewards to help keep that going). This year, I tried the time-limited Christmas town. It is a bit of a struggle, since the appliances I’m using aren’t the best ones. I’m hoping to finish it anyway.

There is something about the Christmas events in video games that make me happy, and I have no idea why. Perhaps the video game Christmases will someday desensitize me from the real world version.

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp Runs on Barter

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp is an app that you can play on your phone or tablet. It is a smaller version of previous Animal Crossing games. Your character has a campsite in which different items can be placed. Animal friends that are invited to you campsite will interact with those objects. They also sometimes ask you for things, and at other times give you things.

The majority of the interaction between your character and the animal friends runs on barter. Every animal friend you encounter wants something that you could – potentially – give to them if you happen to have it.

There are four (small) locations in the game that your character can travel to in order to interact with animal friends. Each location has something useful that the animal friends want – but appear unable or unwilling to obtain for themselves. Each location has fish, or bugs, or fruit.

When you encounter an animal friend in one of the four locations, a bubble appears over their head that shows what items they want. If you have those items, they will gladly accept them. They will give you some resources you can use to craft items for your campsite. If there is an event going on that involves growing a specific kind of flower, the animal friend will give you some seeds in exchange for what you gave them.

The animal friends don’t have gardens, so they can’t use the flower seeds. Your character has a fairly large garden at their campsite, and needs the seeds in order to complete goals for a current event (and receive prizes). Your character is easily able to catch fish, or bugs, and can pick fruit. The animal friends can’t do that on their own, so they give you something for your efforts.

There is never a point in the game where an animal friend you visit hands you a bunch of Bells (the in-game, easy to obtain, currency) in exchange for the fish, bug, or fruit you gave them. Instead, the game gives you some Bells each time you give an animal friend the items they want. The animal friends at your campsite sometimes hand you Bells for upkeep of the camp.

This has more to do with game mechanics than anything else. Nintendo wants players to have currency that they can spend on interesting items that can be crafted, or to upgrade some of the bigger items that they put in their campsite. Currency makes the game work – but the majority of the animal friends use barter.

How to Have Asmodeus As Your Patron Without Being Evil

Your Warlock needs a Patron, and has selected Asmodeus – Overlord of the Nine Hells. This controversial decision could cause the other adventurers to distrust your character. That said, it is entirely possible to have Asmodeus as your Patron without being evil.

The Cinnamon Roll

My Warlock, Morley, was new to adventuring. He started with very few cantrips, and wasn’t sure what those even did. He was a terrible shot with a crossbow. Warlocks start out squishy, and his ineptness might have made the other player characters see him as someone to protect.

Morley often mentioned his father, who made the best coffee. There were times when Morley got very homesick and just wanted to see his father again. Put this all together, and you have a Cinnamon Roll.

A Special Skill

Give your Warlock a skill that he can use to create something. Morley is a weaver, and one of the first things he did was weave masks for his fellow party members. The masks came in handy when they traveled through areas with bad air – or needed to avoid inhaling a disintegrated monster. He also weaved bookmarks for librarians, asking each what color they wanted and what quote he should weave into it.

Your Warlock doesn’t have to be a weaver. Pick a skill that your Warlock could use to endear themself to those around them. Fit it into the Warlock’s backstory.

Charisma

Warlocks with high enough Charisma can use it to persuade enemies to run away. Enemies that are not very smart (or strong) might immediately turn and run – especially if the Warlock is a Tiefling who looks demonic.

A Warlock can use Thaumaturgy to make their voice boom loudly, if a tougher enemy requires more encouragement to run from battle. A Cinnamon Roll Warlock may prefer scaring enemies away rather than fighting them.

Fire Fire Fire

Warlocks who have Asmodeus as their Patron might receive cantrips and spells that involve fire. This can include Control Flames, Create Bonfire, Hellish Rebuke, Burning Hands, and Fireball. Obviously, fire based skills can be used to set an enemy on fire while in battle.

Control Flames can be used in unique ways. The tavern your party is inside of caught fire? Use Control Flames to put the fire out. Need to stop a rocket ship from lifting off? Use Control Flames on the burners to extinguish it. Your Warlock is on fire? Control Flames puts it out!

Add all of this together, and you have a Cinnamon Roll Warlock who is obviously not evil, despite having Asmodeus as their Patron. The innocence of the character can be beneficial when the rest of the party finally learns who the Warlock’s patron actually is. …Maybe it’s just a phase?

Fallout Shelter Reflects the Real World

Fallout Shelter is a game created by Bethesda. It appears to have been released in 2015. I’m just getting around to playing it now, on my Xbox Series S. What I did not expect was how much the game has an eerie resemblance to the real world.

The basic idea with Fallout Shelter is that you are the “Overlord” of a Vault. The outside world has become a nuclear wasteland. The first thing that happens is a line of people arrive at the door of the Vault. It is too dangerous to be outside.

In the real world right now parts of California are on fire. Louisiana is experiencing hurricane Ida. In other places, there are droughts or flooding. The delta variant of covid is out there, making some people sick and killing others.

With all that in the back of my mind, I decided to accept all who came to the Vault door. Once inside, the people are given identical uniforms to wear. This makes them look interchangeable. It becomes harder to tell the people apart from each other.

The people in the Vault have conversations. Most of it is small talk as they go about their work. They ask trivial questions to coworkers. What kind of pet would you have if you could have one? One person wants an iguana, but worries it would be all weird due to the radiation.

Other questions are more serious. A person asked a coworker if they would ever be able to go outside again. It reminded me of the lockdowns that were put in place in an effort to prevent the spread of covid. I remember the uncertainty of it, worrying about being able to get enough food and toilet paper.

A few of the people are super happy to be working. One claims he is the G.O.A.T. at his job. Another hopes there is a chance to get some overtime. Not everyone feels that way. A worker in the diner told his coworker that “the Overlord is always watching us”. It sounds like a conspiracy theory – but he is right. I was watching them.

Since none of them can safely leave the Vault, they are given living quarters. The game recommends you increase the size of the living quarters, so I did. Now, several people can share the same one. They have absolutely no privacy at all, and can be called back to work at any time. Jobs are interchangeable, and there is no guarantee what task they will be assigned.

The situation reminded me of news articles from 2020 that pointed out that workers were being monitored by their employers through their work laptops. This sounds incredibly violating, especially considering that all of these workers were in their own homes. One cannot have work/life balance with that going on.

How is my newly created Vault going? We’re constantly running out of food, water, and energy. I’m hoping the workers will drink more Nuka-Cola because the bottle caps are currency I can use to build more rooms. The water processing plant keeps catching on fire. Everything is fine!

Vampire the Masquerade Requires Trust

Vampire the Masquerade is a TTRPG game that was originally released in 1991 by White Wolf Publishing. Each player creates a vampire character – from a clan of their choosing. They are guided by a Storyteller, who weaves together a dark and mysterious tale that can require the players to make difficult choices.

While Dungeons & Dragons can have serious moments, it also allows for goofy fun. Not so with Vampire the Masquerade. This is a game of secrets that are kept hidden from other players. A revealed secret can cause tension and danger for those who know it. There is also a conflict if the player characters are from different clans, each of which have motives that are unique to them.

The biggest thing to know about Vampire the Masquerade is that it requires trust. Don’t jump into this game with a group of strangers. It works best when it is with a group of friends that you have played other TTRPG games with over the years. A group like that has had time to learn where people’s boundaries are.

This is important because the mechanics of the game allow for the potential of violence happening where one player character attacks another, if the story warrants it. Some clans strongly dislike other clans. There are skills that some player characters (or non-player characters, for that matter) can use to get into the minds of others. The purpose is to “persuade” someone to do something that is not in their best interest, and that they otherwise would not choose to do.

Vampire the Masquerade can also allow for moments of sensuality and/or sexuality in the story. A group of friends who trust each other can go into the game knowing that nobody is going to take things too far. Things can be mentioned or suggested without requiring detailed description.

Those who play as vampires must be comfortable with blood. Your vampire must feed from the living in order to survive. The game is not for the squeamish, and definitely not for kids. It is for those of us who enjoy vampire movies, and who are comfortable with a dark and scary world to play in. It works best with a group of friends who trust each other.