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One Man's Two-Year Quest Not to Finish Final Fantasy VII (newyorker.com) 123

Simon Parkin, writing for The New Yorker: In 2012, David Curry, a thirty-four-year-old cashier from Southern California, came across a post on an online forum by someone who went by the handle Dick Tree. It contained a herculean proposal: Tree planned to play the 1997 video game Final Fantasy VII for as many hours as it took to raise the characters to their maximum potential, without ever leaving the opening scene, which unfolds in a nuclear reactor. Final Fantasy VII is a role-playing game, a form popularized in the nineteen-seventies by Dungeons & Dragons, in which players' feats -- beasts felled, maidens wooed -- are quantified with "experience points." Accrue enough of these points, and your character ascends a level, at which point it confronts stronger opponents worth more points. Curry estimated that, even playing for a few hours every day, Tree's attempt to raise a character to Level 99 by fighting only the game's weakest enemies would take more than a year to complete. Nevertheless, Tree attracted a following of forum users, including Curry, who cheered the project on and watched it unfold in sporadic posts. Over time, Curry told me recently, Tree's updates became more infrequent. After two years, Tree stopped altogether. "I got fed up with Dick Tree," he said. "So I declared that I would do it myself." Curry had first played Final Fantasy VII several years after its debut, but had set the game down after a few hours, underwhelmed. Although he had participated in a few Web endurance projects -- he once provided commentary on twenty-three seasons' worth of "The Simpsons" -- he had never undertaken a video-game marathon before. "I don't consider myself anything more than a casual gamer," Curry said. But then, on January 18, 2015, he switched on his PlayStation and loaded the game disk. "After that first session, I felt confident that I could complete the challenge," he told me. "I was also confident that I would teach Dick Tree a lesson about finishing what you start."
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One Man's Two-Year Quest Not to Finish Final Fantasy VII

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  • by hipp5 ( 1635263 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @03:23PM (#54885237)

    Soooo did he manage to do what Dick Tree could not? It would be nice if the summary told me instead of making me RTFA.

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @03:25PM (#54885261)
    That will be a few years on doing nothing particularly productive. :P
    • Because he will be

      "too busy Eating, Sleeping and Making friends" -Skyrim Honest Trailer

  • "They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didnâ(TM)t stop to think if they should."

    I just really don't get why grinding away pointlessly at a low level of an RPG and getting level 99 is some kind of worthwhile. Even in the "playing Desert Bus" kind of way. I guess it's a generation gap: I didn't get why lying down and having people take photos of you "planking" was such a big deal, either. It makes sense to someone, for some reason.

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      People have always liked to challenging themselves in one way or another. What's the point of climbing to the top of Everest, for example? You spent a couple of weeks braving freezing cold and oxygen deprivation and a high chance of death to accomplish what a helicopter could do in a couple of hours. Hell even without a helicopter, whats the point? Stand on a high mountain for a couple of hours and stare at other not-so-high mountains before turning around and making the trek back down. Yay.

      But of cour

      • So pointlessly grinding in a game is like climbing Mount Everest. OK, gotcha. Except the part where it's actually a challenge to climb a mountain, whereas grinding is just grinding. It is merely tedious. The guy should have spent his time grinding in an MMO instead, he'd probably have a thousand or two dollars worth of gear drops to sell instead.
        • by Altrag ( 195300 )

          How is it not a challenge? Sure its not

          physically

          challenging, but keeping yourself motivated to do the same thing over and over for two years straight with little or no reward sure as hell is mentally taxing.

          And no, if he spent 2 years grinding the starting zone in an MMO he wouldn't have much of squat in terms of gear drops because starting zone gear isn't worth anything. At least not in any MMO I've ever seen (also, someone has indeed done that [pcgamer.com]. And others have done similar things [kotaku.com].)

          Go onto any RPG forum on gam

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      The only thing I can think of is that it might be fun to go marauding through the rest of the game, killing every enemy with a single hit. Basically god mode in an RPG. That would be fun for 10min or so, certainly not worth the year long grind to get there.

      Its the grind that fundamentally has always made me not really get RPGs that much. I have played and enjoyed a few but for the most part, its like watching a moving with the added frustration of having to do some repetitive action over and over for half

      • Its the grind that fundamentally has always made me not really get RPGs that much.

        You can play without grinding, it just becomes more difficult. Sometimes significantly more difficult.

        A friend of mine used to do that on purpose in games of the Final Fantasy series. In FFVI, for example, he ran away from all random fights every single time they happened. His goal was to reach the end game with the characters at the lowest level he could manage and defeat the final boss. It was insanely difficult, but he accomplished it.

        So, unless the game was made in such a way that grinding is absolutely

    • by dfsmith ( 960400 )
      The guy had an article about himself in the New Yorker. What have you done with your life?
  • Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @03:36PM (#54885363)

    In 2012, David Curry, a thirty-four-year-old cashier from Southern California, came across a post on an online forum by someone who went by the handle Dick Tree. It contained a herculean proposal: Tree planned to play the 1997 video game Final Fantasy VII for as many hours as it took to raise the characters to their maximum potential, without ever leaving the opening scene, which unfolds in a nuclear reactor. Final Fantasy VII is a role-playing game, a form popularized in the nineteen-seventies by Dungeons & Dragons, in which players’ feats—beasts felled, maidens wooed—are quantified with “experience points.” Accrue enough of these points, and your character ascends a level, at which point it confronts stronger opponents worth more points. Curry estimated that, even playing for a few hours every day, Tree’s attempt to raise a character to Level 99 by fighting only the game’s weakest enemies would take more than a year to complete.

    Nevertheless, Tree attracted a following of forum users, including Curry, who cheered the project on and watched it unfold in sporadic posts. Over time, Curry told me recently, Tree’s updates became more infrequent. After two years, Tree stopped altogether. “I got fed up with Dick Tree,” he said. “So I declared that I would do it myself.”

    Curry had first played Final Fantasy VII several years after its début, but had set the game down after a few hours, underwhelmed. Although he had participated in a few Web endurance projects—he once provided commentary on twenty-three seasons’ worth of “The Simpsons”—he had never undertaken a video-game marathon before. “I don’t consider myself anything more than a casual gamer,” Curry said. But then, on January 18, 2015, he switched on his PlayStation and loaded the game disk. “After that first session, I felt confident that I could complete the challenge,” he told me. “I was also confident that I would teach Dick Tree a lesson about finishing what you start.”

    Sometimes Curry played every day, and sometimes he went weeks without picking up the controller. Sessions might last one hour or twenty-four. As time passed, the forum users rallied behind him. At one point, Tree reappeared, claiming to have, in fact, completed the challenge already, without telling the group. “He couldn’t back up his claim with any sort of evidence, so we went on in spite of him,” Curry said.

    A few months into his endeavor, Curry bought some hardware that allowed him to record his activity. He started uploading the footage to YouTube, then broadcasting it live on the streaming service Twitch. In April, a full two years after he had embarked on the project, his characters reached Level 98. “When the final session first started, mostly what I felt was pain,” Curry recalled. He had recently undergone surgery on his arm, which was still heavily bandaged and resting in a sling. Using his free hand, Curry began the fifty-six-minute session that would take him past the finish line. “It didn’t take very long for the Twitch chat to fill up with far more people than usual,” he said. “Before the finale, I would struggle to keep five viewers, but that day I had around fifty. Just keeping up with reading and responding to comments took most of my attention.” When the moment came, Curry met it with an appropriate sense of ceremony. “I’m going to hit the button and we’re going to get that glorious half a second where it says ‘Level up,’ ” he says in the video, his voice quivering. “I want us to savor that level-up, because it is the last one . . . Brace yourselves.”

    The human predilection for combining tenacity and tedium goes back a long way; in the early twentieth century, for instance, there was a fad for pole-sitting, in which practitioners would sit atop flagpoles, often for days at a

  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@tpno-coPARIS.org minus city> on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @03:37PM (#54885377) Homepage

    Seems as those "not finishing" might be right in this dude's wheel house.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Don't post shit from The New Yorker for god's sake. What an inane article about such a pointless endeavour. Reminds me of one sibling of mine who wasted hours levelling up in Zelda 2 by killing the blobs that gave you 2 XP or whatever. Excruciating.

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @03:40PM (#54885397) Homepage
    The old Slashdot slogan used to be "News for nerds, stuff that matters." Most Slashdot articles fall into both categories. It is rare to see an article which more so unambiguously falls into one category and not the other. Still, a very impressive feat.
    • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

      Aye. For a moment I was really excited to see an article about an RPG, because it seems like it's been ages since we've had many game posts. But by the time the summary explained an RPG to me by backing up and explaining D&D and experience points, I knew we were doomed.

      Honestly, I'm also sort of amused by people going through self-inflicted ordeals, too, if done well. I've read multiple books about the Appalachian trail, for instance, and even a book about a guy reading the OED. But this is a really lam

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

        But by the time the summary explained an RPG to me by backing up and explaining D&D and experience points, I knew we were doomed.

        The article was written for the New Yorker, so of course they had to explain it. Their target audience is way too busy smelling their own farts to ever play a videogame.

      • Maybe I had a different version, but when I was kid we played AD&D2 and there was no experience for granted for seducing maidens.

      • It's pointless more to the fact that you can calculate how long it will take and you are capable of automating at least one significant portion of the task (issuing commands in battle), potentially automating the other significant portion of the task (causing the character to run into walls to trigger random encounters), leaving the only task that you need to do being period saving so that progress isn't lost.

  • They will find stuff like this and wonder how humans survived for so long, being so ignorant. Living lives with no merit. No point. No True Accomplishment.
    • by umghhh ( 965931 )
      bacteria survived longer. Their existence is as pointless as yours, mine, that of the cashier here and of Einstein too. Aliens if they exist and manage to get over here do not have point in their existence either. The only perspective where there is a point in our existence is our own. Cashier saw point in his endeavor. Some people thought that interesting. You do not. Fair enough. Why bring aliens into this?
  • by Kiaser Zohsay ( 20134 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @03:45PM (#54885443)

    Dick Tree can eat a bag of ... oh, wait.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dicks don't grow on.. oh.

  • Did he manage to free Jessie on the stairs?

  • I salute his effort to accomplish the impossible. I myself have been playing a game of Space Invaders for the past 12 years, washing my hands 27 times a day, spending 30 minutes pumping my gas so I can achieve maximum compression in the gas tank and engine, carefully examining my tuna sandwiches with a magnifying glass for any sign of lettuce, pickle, or tomato (which I hate), and cleaning my teeth with a special dental instrument I stole from the dentist office.
  • It's been a while, but wasn't the master plan to stay in the forest killing boar's until the reached the maximum level?

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      Someone went and did this.

      His name is Doubleagent, and he started on the Pandaren Isle with the only race that starts out neutral - you choose their faction at the end of the starting area.

      Except Doubleagent never did that. He stayed on the Isle, picking flowers, mining, and leveling. So much leveling. It's been two more expansions since then, and yes, he's at max level last I heard - and still neutral.

  • by Last_Available_Usern ( 756093 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @03:52PM (#54885509)
    The entire game is basically the same thing as what he did.
  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @04:00PM (#54885581)
    I just really want to know where people get all this damn time. I'd be willing to buy a lot of it if the price is right.
    • David Curry, a thirty-four-year-old cashier from Southern California

      There's your answer. Honestly I'm surprised he doesn't have a Slashdot account and didn't pop up in the comments. Probably too young.

  • So they are in the process or remaking FF VII and that is still a few years away. That was the last line of the article; hey newspaper important things first.
  • |=u(k ¥€$, $14$#d0+, |=u(k ¥€$!
  • Let me get this right ... this fellow spent two years of his spare time in focused effort trying to accomplish an otherwise meaningless goal when he could have been using the same amount of focused effort to, oh, learn a new spoken language, get a 2-year degree, acquire the skills to get a better job, earn money through consulting, start and run a mail-order business, egad, who KNOWS what.

    And instead of improving himself on any of these off-the-top-of-my-head suggestions, he doubled down on what amounts to

    • by umghhh ( 965931 )
      Not all have ability, will and chance to do any of these things. I recall office space ending was exactly about this - why bother ? You can get philosophical on this too. The point in life, reason we exist. All this BS that we are forced to do directly or by indirect pushing over by parents or powers that be. The guy did not get in situation where he had to run the rats mill yet or maybe he is stuck in cashier job and cannot get out for his mill. I play reversi before and directly after sleep because my dai
  • shame modern games stop giving you xp after like a 4 level difference.
  • by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @04:34PM (#54885937)
    I spent the last two years not even making the attempt.
  • by jargonburn ( 1950578 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @04:36PM (#54885949)
    Although I haven't heard of this particular challenge before, many games/communities have specific, alternate ways of playing (usually to increase the difficulty). This one doesn't sound particularly fun to me, but it takes all kinds. It's another way of extending the life of a game and improving enjoyment, so I approve :-)
  • CDs are compact discs.
    Not to be confused with 8" and 5.25" floppy disks, 3.5" floppy diskettes, or hard disks.

  • Seriously, it's hard to me to grind my character in some games.
  • It's tedious enough just grinding at the endgame. The last time I played it, I got all the Master Materia; my takeaway from the experience was that it was a gigantic waste of time and I will never do it again. (Maybe just Yellow. That one wasn't so bad.)

    What we're talking about here is way, way more tedious.

  • To say that our lives are pointless and our achievements meaningless is to state the obvious

    Tell that to people dedicated enough to spend two years of their life advancing some field of human knowledge to benefit all people.

    “It taught me perseverance, of course,” he said. “But more important than the ability to finish what you start is what I now see as the moral goodness of finishing what you start.” Curry has already moved on to another endurance challenge, set in the preced

  • fuck dick tree

"What I've done, of course, is total garbage." -- R. Willard, Pure Math 430a

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