Fighting Guardians and Launching Podcasts

In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the world is scattered with giant robot spider monsters called Guardians. They’re frightening and horrible. You don’t even really see them at first: you just hear them — to the point that their intro music becomes a trigger for instant anxiety.

November 2021: Fighting Guardians and Launching Podcasts

  • “Non Compos Mentis” — Haiku D’Etat
  • “For You” — Kadhja Bonet
  • “A Peak You Reach” — Badly Drawn Boy
  • “I Heard Ramona Sing” — Frank Black
  • “When I Argue I See Shapes” — Idlewild
  • “White Lies” — War On Women
  • “One for Dilla (Interlude)” — Jaylib
  • “I Am the Upsetter” — Lee “Scratch” Perry
  • “Yo Love” — Vince Staples, 6lack, & Mereba
  • ”Whatever” — Jean Grae
  • “Dirty Water’” — The Standells
  • “Here” — Pavement
  • “The Glory of Man” — Minutemen
  • “Divine” — Monie Love (w/ Skyzoo & TUFF)
  • “Molduga for Orchestra and Choir” — Makir
  • “Spin the Bottle” — The Juliana Hatfield Three
  • “I Remember Everything” — Brandi Carlile
  • “Family Affair / Outro” (live) — The Daptone Family

Listen on Spotify. Listen on Apple Music.

They are strong — almost prohibitively strong as you’re starting a new game. You can take them on, but you will probably die. It’s all you can do to hide.

This is not unique to the Guardians — one of the enduring elements of Breath of the Wild is the freedom you have to do, really, anything you want at any time. You can climb a mountain to skip entire cities, or you can walk into the final boss immediately after getting your first sword. It’s an open world in which you create your own path.

The exploratory nature is what’s lauded, but under the surface is a mechanic that I appreciate even more: there is only a perfunctory amount of level-gating. If we think back to older games, our paths were more defined, which allowed game designers to drip in only those monsters you could realistically face at a specific time. But, if you remove those barriers, anything is possible. Breath of the Wild leans into this: much like REAL LIFE ITSELF, you are barely protected from things that end up being way out of your league, which means you have to make strategic and difficult decisions.

You have to know when the time is right. Know when you’re strong enough to take something on — know that the battle depends less on its own difficulty level, and more on your own preparation and common sense.

Speaking of real life…

Earlier this month, I — along with my co-author Deane Barker — started a podcast, which actually went public earlier today. I’ve wanted to start a podcast since before I knew what they were, back when they actually weren’t anything, honestly — back when a podcast was called “a person talking on a microphone in a radio studio.”

Being who I am, of course, I didn’t just want to start a podcast. I wanted to start a perfect podcast, and I took great pains to prepare. I cycled through a handful of tools looking for the perfect software, and spent hours sweltering under a blanket to produce an echo-less sound, and recorded and re-recorded and re-re-recorded dozens of different intro tracks, shoving them into 5GB files on Audacity, only to find they were recorded too loud and I’d have to try fixing them in post-production. I listened to them over and over again, tweaking every aspect.

I was comparing myself not to other beginner off-the-cuff podcasts, to but to those with professional network-level setups. It was maddening, and I felt horrible about it. I felt horrible about myself, to be honest. I could have watched both the original Star Wars trilogy and its prequels in the time it took me to finally edit and export the first episode.

But that’s not how this works. That’s not how anything works. Very few things need to be perfect on the first try. None of them are podcasts.

I’ve been alive for 43 years, one month, and five days. I’ve slowly built awareness and experience in hundreds of things, from basic motor skills to complex hobbies, from extensive knowledge of mid–90s emo history to the ability to raise children without turning them against me (so far). This is how things work. I’m allowed a bit of grace before I’ve perfected a new task. I’m not expected to kill the Guardian on the first try. I’m expected to put some of that preparation and common sense to good use.

Over time, it will get better. Until then, I am proud of what I’ve done so far.

Which brings us back to the start.

In Breath of the Wild, the world is scattered with giant robot spider monsters called Guardians. They’re frightening and horrible … but eventually, so are you. Eventually, you are the monster, equipped with magnetic powers and unlimited inventory and unbreakable weapons, with nearly unlimited life and the ability to cure yourself mid-battle. You come with no unique music, but you no longer fear theirs. You figure it out, and nothing can stop you. You become the source of anxiety.

It’s all they can do to hide.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 29th, 2021