Sunday, June 21, 2020

It's About Time : MTAP

I haven't mentioned My Time At Portia for a while. I'm very much still playing. Fifty-eight hours so far, Steam tells me. Fourteen achievements out of a possible ninety-one. My character is level twenty-eight. The extremely detailed and exhaustive wiki says it caps at ninety-nine. Plainly, I still have a long way to go.

MTAP is one of the most immersive games I've played for a good, long while. Time runs differently. It's easy to lose track. There's a weird, disorienting sense of being. Somewhere else. Someone else. Sink into another persona, live someone else's life. I didn't mean to. Do I want to?

Portia stays compelling, satisfying. Just... not relaxing. As relaxing. Not like it used to be. A disturbing sense of responsibility is inculcating. A central narrative drives the plot forward. It invites me to carry some of the weight. I accept and feel it on my shoulders.

Bigger projects require bigger machines.
Any number of requests and commissions somehow end up in my lap. People ask favors. They tell me I'm capable, I can help. It's encouraging. It's hard to refuse. There's always the option to explain. I'm overloaded, I could tell them, I've taken on too much. But somehow I don't want the strain to show, to be seen, known. So I say, sure, I'll help.

A lot of the jobs and tasks are open-ended, happy to wait until I have time get around to them, but more have deadlines. Timescales are generous but the work can be substantial. And there are timers. So many timers. All of this, it can't be done without a plan.

For the moment things still feel manageable but I'm on the edge, the verge, of stopping saying yes to everything that's asked of me. I've started looking at the time allowed before accepting certain jobs. I'm finishing one thing before beginning another. I'm thinking about what order I need to make things, which crafting stations to set working, on what materials, overnight and through the day.

Never bring a horse to a snowball fight.
I ask myself whether I should take a break from accepting commissions at all, go work on upgrading my facilities instead. So I can take on more work, of course.

My Time At Portia is all about time. Its passage and its pressure. The inexorable ticking of the clock. The ceaseless turning of the calendar's page.

There have been several ocasions now, when I've had to make a choice. A full day's work on a project or down tools to take part in a public event? Events can take up most of the day but if you miss one it won't be around for another year. And who wants to live to work?

Town meetings can be a bit of a snorefest or they can be revelatory. Only way to know is to go.
Game time rubs up against real time. It strikes sparks. I've found myself logged on for longer than I planned because I opened my mail and found a note from the Mayor, asking me to a town meeting at seven in the evening. Something important.

The only way to save progress is to sleep. If I sleep, I'll wake up and it will be tomorrow. The meeting will be in the past. Stay awake, stay logged on, hear what he has to say. Go to sleep, log out, save, miss whatever it was I should have known.

And all the time, time passes. Snow is on the ground but Winter's drawing to a close. Soon Spring will come and with it my second year in Portia.

Sun comes up. Another working day.
I've learned a lot. I'll be ready this time. Readier than I was.

In my first Portia post I made some observations on the name of the game. I was taken then with the phrasing and the resonances it struck. A game year later I'm beginning to see beneath the surface, more nuanced, more folded than I realised.

It really is all about my time at Portia, then. How I'll use it and how long I'll stay.


  1. Wow, I think you're farther along than I was at that time. I don't believe I built that L2 (or is that L3) structure until Year 2.

    And there was a time when someone asked me to build something that Paulie could easily have, and HE WAS STANDING RIGHT THERE. I deferred to Paulie instead, and I never got the commission back.

    1. The personalities really come over, I think, and it's not just from dialog but from the way they live in their world. In the morning you can see them leave thier homes and walk to where they work. They excercise and socialize and react to new events. It's predictable and formalized but it always makes sense. It reminds me a lot of how EQ was when I first played, oddly. I might write something about that one day.

    2. Just curious, what language are you playing the game in? I went to the store page just to see for certain, and it looks like English and Chinese are the only two languages with full audio. I was curious as to whether you experienced the differences between the scripted audio and the written texts, because that was always an immersion breaker for me.

  2. I don't know what you smoked, drank, or ingested prior to writing this post, but I haven't had such an enjoyable read(that I can recall) in recent memory.

    More like this please!

    Thanks! =)


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