Among RPG (role-playing game) gamers, there’s one term that makes us feel momentarily frozen in blunt and subtle terror, like for a second being alone in an old and lightless cemetery hidden at the outskirts of a cold and foggy town:
It’s a gamer’s ultimate goal in every adventure, to find a way to reach the final boss, confront it, and defeat it, before it defeats you. But it’s not a nice feeling to be at the start of a quest knowing that in the end you will be fighting bitterly for your life.
In my case, no one has given me a worse sense of foreboding than Ultimecia, the final boss in Final Fantasy VIII, a sorceress from the far future who psychically manipulates the girl you (the hero) love through sheer force of magic. You have one mission: find a way to get to Ultimecia, and then destroy her so that Rinoa could finally be free of her influence (and also to save all space and time from destruction).
I remember first playing Final Fantasy VIII, when at the end of the second disc I faced Sorceress Edea. Up to that point I was practically breezing through the game after having mastered the intricacies of the gameplay system and the strategy to win against any enemy I encounter. But then it took everything I had to defeat Sorceress Edea, such that after the battle I had only one character left standing, and was himself at the brink of death.
So, GREAT! I’ve finally defeated Edea, who had hounded and pestered me all throughout the game.
Then I find out that there’s an even deadlier enemy I had to face. And in the span of one second, my life became a million times harder. If it took me everything I had to defeat Edea, how in all of Gaia could I hope to go against Ultimecia?
A scary challenge, all things considered. But what I failed to consider was that along the way to the final battle, my characters leveled up and got stronger. It was still hard in the end, but my characters by that time had become strong enough to resist Ultimecia. Strong enough to defeat her.
So the million dollar question is what in the world made me think about the challenge of FFVIII?
It’s my job.
I don’t know how it became my life story, but it seems whenever I start with a new company it’s always to do a job that I’ve never done before. I’ll skip the details, let’s just say that I always start a new job wondering how in the world could I do the things that I have to do?
How the hell could I defeat the final boss?
Knowing halfway down that I’d be facing an uber-powerful enemy intimidated me, almost to the point of quitting the game. With the jobs I held, it was pretty much the same thing. And in all those times, the one trapping in common is I almost let the immensity of the task psyche me out. I almost allowed the fear of inadequacy prevent me from doing the job.
Batman, who is one man facing the deeply rooted evils of an entire city, knew exactly how big a monster it was he was trying to take on. He knew that ridding a city of the corruption that had been its culture and life-blood would be an enormous and near-impossible task. “Gotham is too big”, and he once admitted that if he’d allowed the immensity of the task to psyche him out, he never would have even started.
You think your job is too big for you? Don’t back down. Instead, take it slowly, bit by bit, piece by piece. Don’t rush yourself. Allow yourself to learn, to gain experience, and become stronger. In RPG terms, level up first. There are two roads that lead to the final challenge: the short cut and the more natural long way around. Don’t take the short cut – you won’t last five seconds with level 3 characters against a foe that can do 9999 HP (Hit Points) of damage with one spell. Take on smaller enemies first, building yourself up to stronger ones gradually to let you gain valuable experience and learn important techniques.
Ultimecia is a tough final boss. She has four forms, each one more powerful than the previous. But don’t be afraid. The long road ahead will make you stronger and capable. So the next time you start on a job and find yourself asking “How in the world am I going to do this?”, don’t worry. Along the way you will learn and gain more experience. Just do the best in whatever you have on your plate and your level will be high enough by the time you reach her castle.