Monday, May 10, 2021

Time traveling in video games doesn’t really cheat

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Animal crossing, like other games of its Nintendo Switch ilk, is meant to be browsed. It is designed for short bursts rather than excessive sessions. There’s not much you can do in a single day of play – hit your rocks, pick your fruit, check in to stores to see what’s new – then it’s done. It’s a good reprieve from Assassin’s Creed marathons of course, but it can also start to drag if you play too long. Once you are no longer in love with the game, it feels like a chore and no one has time for it.

But there is one hack that can save you from all that chore: time travel. It’s not allowed, really, and in some circles it’s downright controversial, but it’s a loophole that people absolutely take advantage of. Here’s how it works: Save and completely close your game. Switch to airplane mode, then go to system settings and change the date. Restart your game and you’re done! You don’t need to wait 24 hours to move forward.

The real question, however, is whether time travel really is cheating. It’s freely and equally accessible to everyone (we’re not talking about Game Genie here), and there may be good reasons for doing so. Again this is a way around the way the game is meant to be played, so it is technically breaking the rules. But you know what? I do not care. See, the issue isn’t so much whether time travel is cheating (this is) but rather the reasons why people do it. When Animal Crossing: New horizons came out last year, it became a hot issue because everyone was playing at the same time and some people (you know who you are) were using time travel to gather resources and move forward. AC is the kind of game where someone better or worst isn’t really a thing – it’s about the journey, you see – and at the start New Horizons days, people used this trick just to create pictures of gorgeous houses and islands perfectly designed for social media. It’s disgusting.

But that’s not the kind of time travel I’m advocating here. It’s not about masquerading as a better player, it’s about saving your own sanity. Some of us (ahem, me) just don’t have time to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played, and get a bit successful. time robbery is the only way to keep pace.

Lately time travel is the only thing that gets me through Spry Fox Cozy Grove. Known on social media as “Animal crossing but with ghosts ”it features a hand-drawn fantasy environment and calming music and requires you to complete quests to help the ghosts that reside on an island. As Animal crossing, it advances in real time and is meant to be played slowly, but unlike this game, its activities are more satisfying.

But just because monotony hasn’t set in doesn’t mean that the game can magically create new hours of the day to play it. Sometimes days go by before I can check in to my island – and by the time I do, I’ve wasted days of story progress and gameplay. And when you’re on a slow quest that requires 10 Relic Ashes and you can usually only find one per day, it’s devastating! (Look, we’re still in a pandemic and my world is small right now, okay?)

These are the times when I choose to time travel Cozy Grove. (Quick disclosure: This goes against the developers’ recommendations, and it’s possible that time travel could definitely screw up your save file and lose all of your progress. You’ve been duly warned.) I do. as a standard practice to close the game completely when I have finished. If I realize that I haven’t logged in for a few days, it’s easy to step forward one day at a time from the last time I played and “catch up”, so to speak. Does this go against the studio’s intention for the game? Yes. Do I care? Not really. Video games are a way to rest and relax; be stressed about my Cozy Grove the island is contrary to this objective. The cops of the time aren’t real, and no one is going to arrest me for cheating in a game that I play mostly against myself.

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