#LoveYourBacklog 2021

Normally I don’t take part in these blogging community things unless someone delivers them to my doorstep, because I am a stone cold lone wolf that only plays by my own rules, or something like that.  But, well, Solarayo at Ace Asunder and Kim at Later Levels are running a #LoveYourBacklog challenge yet again this year.  And, well, you may have noticed posts have been a bit thinner, because I’ve been a bit busy with life stuff.  And I’m still busy with life stuff.  And I’m working on the next post in the Persona 3 retrospective, and those take some time, and I don’t want to do another two weeks between posts.  So I need some quick content here.  And I also really need to learn to get more comfortable with my backlog.  To have affection for it.  So maybe this would be a good exercise for it.  In any case, I’ve got reasons.  The sort of reasons a big sexy behemoth of the mind like me would have.  So let’s get down to it.  Let’s go through this exercise, wherein I learn to love the big, giant game base that’s taking up so much space in my virtual library and my soul.  

Let’s go!

Ok, so first, gotta lay the groundwork.  Expose just how large my backlog is, and… ugh.

Image courtesy of Later Levels

Ok, don’t like looking at that.  But that’s what this is for!  Learn to love it!  Anyways, I’m at 533, to be exact.  Although what I consider my backlog is a bit different than most people.  I’ve mentioned it some times around here, but years and years ago, I decided to try and playthrough all my games, beating every single one I could, by console generation, starting with the earliest.  I used to do it all the time as a kid, so I figured I’d give it another try as an adult.  Give some time to all my games, play stuff that I wouldn’t otherwise, build up my experiences and appreciation, and all that.  Thing is, as a kid, it didn’t take all that long.  As an adult, I have more money, and therefore, a lot more games.  And much less free time.  And I’m better at games, so I can actually stick through the whole thing rather than getting stuck and giving up partway through.  So it’s taking me years.

Anyways, what I consider my backlog are games that I haven’t completed as part of that quest to beat all my games organized by console generation.  So, a lot of them are games that are completely untouched, but there’s also plenty that I’ve already played and possibly beat, some more than once, that I still consider as being on my backlog because I did it outside of the console generation I was working on at the time.  I’ve gone through every game I owned at the time I started this quest, so that 533 number is just a shocking sign of just how many games I’ve bought or otherwise acquired in the past years.  I’ve slowed down on that quite a bit, starting February 2020, but man, I really need to pump the brakes even more.  Also notable is the composition of that backlog.  Of those 533 games, 142 are on consoles.  Almost 400 of those are in my Steam, GOG, or UPlay lists on PC, where the PC gaming ecosystem, between deep sales and bundles and giveaways and whatnot, makes amassing an absolutely massive collection of games very, very easy.  And that’s not even counting the games I have in my Amazon Games and Epic Games lists, where they constantly, unceasingly throw free games at me.  The console games, I’m trying to beat them all, while I’m only expecting myself to give a try to all the Steam, GOG, and Uplay games.  I put money towards most of the games on there, somehow, so that feels like I’ve made a commitment to try them, but if I’m not into it, I’m not expecting myself to beat all of those.  Amazon and Epic, it’s whatever I feel like.  I would never be able to keep up with the rate they give me more games if I expected myself to touch them all.  

Anyways, from that, it’s question time.  Or, more specific topic time.  Yeah.  That.

1: The effect that the 2020 apocalypse has had on your backlog.

Not a whole heck of a lot, really.  Here’s the thing, the coronapocalypse hasn’t exactly given me more time to spare.  I still work, my commute was never that big a deal, and a lot of the outside the home stuff I used to do, I replaced it with some other non-video game stuff.  I’m pretty much on the same schedule as far as gaming goes.  2020 has been the best year I’ve had in getting on top of my backlog in years, but I think that has more to do with some decisions I’ve made pre-pandemic to, you know, stop buying so many freaking games until I’ve played the ones I’ve got.  

2: The oldest game in terms of release date.

On my backlog, at least what I consider as such, the oldest game I’ve got that I haven’t worked off yet would be Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar.  I didn’t have a computer as a kid, and didn’t get a solid gaming battlestation until well after I started my ‘Play all the Games’ quest.  So I used to be really interested in classic PC gaming, this whole sphere of my favored entertainment medium that I really missed out on.  And I’ve tried a bunch of them, and it turns out, I really don’t like most classic PC games.  I don’t know that I’d be able to eloquently explain why, I think I’m spoiled by modern games and the old school PC ones don’t have the nostalgia factor with me that makes one willing to look past the chinks and flaws and whatnot that old school console games do.  Although I’m able to pick up a lot of old NES games that I never had history with, and thus shouldn’t have nostalgia for, and have a grand time with them, but not old PC games.  For whatever reason.  Anyways, I’ll give it a try at some point.  Can’t say I’m holding out a lot of hope for it, particularly given what I’ve heard about how complicated this game gets, but hey, maybe it’ll surprise me.  

3: A game you bought on day one, only to not play it.

Nothing!  Hahahahahaha!  This is one area in which I’ve defeated you, backlog!  I rarely ever buy games day one.  If I do, that means it’s one I’ve taken a particularly strong interest in, and I play it as soon as I get the chance.  So, no, I can’t think of a single game, in all my glorious life, that I’ve bought on day one and then hadn’t started up soon after.  

4: The game which has spent the most time on your backlog

There’s been some long ones.  Looks like the absolute longest would be… Hitman Absolution.  Purchased in 2013.  7-8 years ago.  That’s… rough.  I’ve got to get on that.  I remember playing the tutorial level of that, but then didn’t dig the changes to some of the mechanics, so I didn’t go any farther.  Whelp.  Let’s knock that one up the list, a bit.  See how it tastes now that it’s had some time to age.

5: The most recent addition to your library.

The Batman Telltale Series!  I dig Batman.  Telltale’s writing style wears a bit thin on me, but I heard it wasn’t that bad in Batman, and given that it’s a more optimistic subject matter than most of the licenses they scraped up, I was hopeful it’d avoid the “Everything’s horrible now because we say so” problem a lot of their games often ran into.  I’m kind of looking forward to this.  But I don’t have space for it in the schedule, so onto the backlog it goes.  That’s kind of a problem.  Part of the reason I’ve been better in 2020 is that I started teaching a class on personal finance as part of my case management offerings, and teaching stuff is a really great way to polish it yourself, and one of the major lessons in there is to not do that sort of thing where you’re buying stuff just because it’s accessible only to let it sit on a shelf for a while instead of actually enjoying it.  So I’ll need to make sure I’m getting into that in the near future, to justify that purchase.  

6: The person responsible for adding the most entries to your backlog, due to their good recommendations.

That would be, back when they were active, the Super Best Friends let’s play group were the biggest one.  They put out a lot of content, and did a really great job of covering relatively unknown obscurities, up and coming indie games, and whatever hotness they were most passionate about rather than constantly hitting up the most popular new games that would get them the most views, and they opened my eyes to a lot of great things.  Otherwise, I’ve gotten a fair few added to my library by my fellow bloggers, like Red Metal and AK.

And……….. that’s that.  Do I love my backlog yet?  No.  Not so much.  But it made for an interesting conversation piece here.  That’s got to be worth something, right?

6 responses to “#LoveYourBacklog 2021

  1. Ultima IV is the only Ultima game I’ve completed, and I have to say that I really did not have fun playing it. It really felt more like a homework assignment than a fun diversion. It was unquestionably a tour de force when it was released, though. Hell, the idea of a game where you try to be a good guy with no evil to fight would be considered avant-garde if it were released today – and this game was released in the same year as Super Mario Bros. However, in terms of gameplay, it *really* hasn’t aged well between its obtuse interface and exploitable mechanics that undermine what the game was going for. Just the idea of having an interface that uses every single key on the keyboard is maddening. Granted, nobody really had anything better to offer at the time (it predates Dragon Quest for one), but hindsight has not been kind to this game.

    Telltale’s writing style wears thin on you? That’s kind of the problem I have with Naughty Dog games, to be honest. They often have snippets of great writing, but little in the way of substance with which to tie those nuggets together. I will admit Quantic Dream is way worse in that regard given that their structure is all over the place. I haven’t really played much of Telltale’s catalogue to judge for myself, so I have to ask: between Telltale and Naughty Dog which company do you think has the better overall writing staff?

    And I’m glad I was able to point you in the direction of some great games; I was especially glad when you ended up digging both OneShot and Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom.

    • That’s kind of what I guessed, after reading your review. It does seem to have some really interesting ideas, at the very least. Hopefully I’ll bear it at least long enough to get to explore those, a bit.

      Telltale vs Naughty Dog… hmm… that’s a good question. In part, I think it depends on which Telltale we’re pulling in here. Walking Dead, Season 1, if you only played it once and can forgive the occasional bit of absolute bollocks or undercooked choices, was transcendent. Very stellar storytelling. But then that became a huge surprise success and they decided to milk that cow as much as possible while they could and then the guys who wrote those left and everyone left was working under huge pressures and crunch and kept trying to imitate Walking Dead Season 1 a little too much, and the quality started suffering for it. If we’re looking absolutes, I’d say Telltale’s staff was definitely more skilled at writing than Naughty Dog’s. The great opening acts of most of their games testify to that, but the environment in which they were operating didn’t always let those skills flourish. As far as execution goes, it’s kind of a toss up. Most of what I’ve played or experienced from Telltale is significantly better than Naughty Dog’s typical, but they can still be plagued with the same simplistic moral views and features that undermine points they’re trying to make, particularly in some of their middle to later games in the narrative style that spelled both their resurgence and their doom.

      Yeah, both those games you got me are absolutely excellent. And you’re incredibly discerning yourself, so I know any game that receives top marks in your strict views definitely has something going for it.

  2. I never really played any of Telltale’s games, but I’ve heard they can be pretty grim. There are plenty of writers out there who think throwing every misfortune possible at their characters and dragging them through the mud the whole way is a sign of maturity. If you’re doing a dark story, it should feel natural and not forced — at the very least set all that stuff up before it happens. I hope you have a better time with the Batman one.

    I’m happy I could help pile onto that backlog as well. You’ve helped add a few to mine. There are visual novels I need to get to at some point in there that I’ve been putting off.

    • Yeah, they can definitely be. That said, all the Telltale games I’ve been through are based on franchises that have a habit of ‘Rocks fall, everyone dies’ themselves, so the diabolus ex machina that I got so tired of may, hopefully, not be present in a franchise like Batman, where, you know, dude usually wins at the end.

      I’m glad I got you some new fun things as well. I still have Disgaea on my list, waiting for its chance, but man, every time I start working up the will to give it a try I look at its How Long to Beat and get scared of the commitment.

  3. Thank you for partaking in the backlog love! I’ve recently watched a friend’s Let’s Play of Ultima IV on YouTube. I’d never have the patience to play it for myself, but I really enjoyed watching her present the game. Its overall theme was quite inspiring!

    • Thanks for co-getting it started! This was fun to do.

      And yeah, I’m getting the same feeling from the game. Really interesting, but somewhat beyond my patience level. Probably why its been on my backlog for so long.

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