Too Many Games

Here’s something of an absolute nonproblem. I’m starting to think I have just too many video games. Sometimes, I look at the size of my library, and the expectation that I’m going to actually play all these things, and I don’t know how I’m ever going to get near to do that.

I’ve been collecting games all my life. So at the point when, years ago, I started this quest I’ve mentioned several times here, to beat every game I own, or come as close to it as I can, the task was already staggering. But still feasible. After I started that, however, I got myself a gaming-capable pc. And that changes things. It is ridiculously easy to build up a massive digital library on PC with little to no investment. It started with the Steam sales, letting me build up a pretty big library for cheap. Then I got into Humble Bundle, which get’s you buying curated collections of games for really cheap, oftentimes getting the one game I wanted on there along with a bunch of others for less than the usual price for that single game. And it pitches in some to charity too, while you’re at it! Can’t complain with that. Oh, and they give away free games every once in a while if you subscribe to their newsletter. All well and good. But then one day, Amazon started giving away five games a month if you link your Twitch account with an Amazon Prime account, plus extras. Daedalic Entertainment and SNK both seem to be dropping big chunks of their back catalog on there basically whenever they feel like, on top of the usual Amazon collection. Then Epic Games came around, offering 1-3 free games every week. And now it’s starting to get overwhelming.

At this moment, I own 410 games on Steam, of which I’ve only bought 108 directly, and the rest came from Humble Bundles, Humble’s free giveaways, or the occasional gift or offer. I have 182 games on Twitch, all given through that Amazon Prime connection. I have 90 on Epic Games, all of which I got through their weekly giveaways. I’ve got a more modest 40 on GOG, many I bought myself, in addition to the freebies they offer, free games on purchase threshhold, copies they make of games in your Steam account, and one gift. On Uplay, I’ve got 24, from one Humble Bundle, some free ones they gave away, and copies of games I got through other clients that require a Uplay log in. On EA Origin, I’ve got 16, all Humble Bundle gains or games they once offered for free. There’s a decent amount of overlap in those numbers, but still, a massive amount of games in my digital PC library. Which isn’t even considering my sizable console games collection. Although, as an odd point, at this point I’m pretty sure I own more games digitally for PC than I do games for my console, in spite of the fact that I’m generally a console player. And between Twitch Prime and Epic Games, I’m adding double digits numbers of games to my library each month without dropping a dime (well, outside of my Amazon Prime subscription, which I’d be maintaining even without the Twitch deals.) I don’t even play through double digits worth of games each month.

I feel like what it means to own a game has shifted. During my developmental years, new games were somewhat of a rarity, while time to play was more ample, so my peers and I absolutely consumed games, beating them over and over again, exhausting their content, overcoming every challenge. As I came older, I was able to afford more games, but had less time to spend on them, and games themselves were designed more as full experiences in isolation rather than things that could sustain the kind of repetitive depth-plunging play of my youth, so I had more breadth of experience in games but less time spent with most individual games. Now, driving by the likes of the backlog producing deep and wide sales, the bundling, the free giveaways, etc., I feel like a lot of the games marketplace, especially Humble Bundle, Twitch Prime, and Epic Games, or itch.io’s recent 1,000 games deal are creating a games culture where you have libraries of games. You’re not intended to, and for many partaking of it, it’s not even possible to, play absolutely everything in there. But digital keys don’t take up any space, they don’t need upkeep, and as long as your machine can run it, they don’t degrade, so you have it in your collection, and who knows, maybe one day it’ll come up in conversation and get you interested or you’ll play something else by the makers and want to come back or you’ll just find a really weird itch that needs something particular to scratch. And there’s something to be said to that, too, having the virtual library where you may not check every book but they’re all there if you need it. I recently had the classic FPS Strife come up in a conversation I was following, describing how groundbreaking it was at the time. I would never buy the game myself. It’s too old, probably blown past by industry standards, etc. But, given that context, I’m kind of curious to check it out. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s right there in my Twitch library.

As I said, sometimes it’s overwhelming. I’ve still got this quest, beat all the games I own. And this is making that quest impossible. I’m also actively avoiding bundles now, even when it has games I want in it. I really don’t want to be making my Steam library run away any more than it already has. I just have too damn many games. But that’s really a problem with me, and my perceptions, and how I’m approaching it. It’s not a problem with all these agencies wanting to throw games at me for free, and all these developers happy to get into my library and take whatever financial benefit they do from the Humble Bundle/Twitch Prime/Epic Games giveaways. It is kind of ridiculous of me to be complaining that I have just too many games that I got for free or alongside games I was wanting to buy anyways that I got to pay an even lower price than usual for.

It does mean I’m going to have to rethink my quest though. Not cancel it, because I’ve been enjoying how it structures things for me. But it needs to adapt to the new realities of the online personal library the industry’s using, at least in part, now. So far, my thoughts are to keep it as normal for all my console games, as those are all things I’ve invested in. Same thing with any PC game I’ve actually paid directly for, or the games that were the reasons I bought a given bundle. Those are all getting beaten. I have my challenge to myself. The hundreds of other PC digital games…. well, at least my Steam list, I’d like to at least give everything a try. Maybe not a full beat, but either play it until I tire of it or at least give it a sample. I’d like to do that with the UPlay list and EA Origin as well, as those are finite. Those aren’t getting added to. I’m already most of the way there on my GOG.com library, outside of the games there that are duplicates of those in my Steam library, so… good show I guess. As for the ever expanding Twitch Prime and Epic Games, I’d really like to do the same thing I’m doing with Steam, at least sampling of giving a run to everything on there, but I don’t know if it’d be possible to keep up, the rate they add games. I’ll probably just do what probably everyone else is, and play if I’m interested, leave it if not, and not sweat the growing size of the lists there, as it’s really a personal library I can check things out from whenever, and not a backlog. And although I have this drive to beat everything I have, likely driven by the way things were in my past, it doesn’t really fit the environment we’re in now. And I need to grow comfortable with that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an hour before my next commitment, and I got Cultist Simulator from Twitch Prime a while back, and that game is absolutely baller. I need to get some of that on.

Running through the Haul: Steam Summer Sale 2014

I’ve only had a computer worth its salt in the gaming world for about a year and a half. A collective gift from several members of my family, I got it when I was in the midst of a rough patch of life that I knew was going to last for some time. This was a great investment for me, one I was particularly excited to fill up with new forms of electronic delights, but I was concerned as to how well I’d be able to take advantage of its gaming prowess. Even when I have money, I’m notoriously frugal; how was I ever going to get my gaming goodness on while going through times with my budget already stretched to the breaking point?

For once, though, it seems God is on my side. How else could you explain a world where Steam exists? One platform, with thousands of games, constantly going on deep, deep discounts. If you’re patient and observant, you can pick up pretty much anything on the cheap. And luckily, I have both of those qualities. There, you see? The good lord wants me to play some video games. It’s almost as though it was written in the holy word “Yea, did Aether visit sweet ruination upon some foul sucker, and dubbed him ‘noob’.”

And nowhere else is Yehowah’s calling for me to indulge in those interactive electronic delights stronger than in the seasonal Steam Sales. A period of weeks when nearly everything is significantly marked down, with daily or flash sales pushing prices even lower? How can a man resist? I did end up buying a bit more than I intended, but still managed to go without breaking the bank. I figured, why not indulge in a celebration of capitalism by sharing details on my loot? So here we go. Brief reviews of what I bought on the Steam Summer Sale.

Let’s go!

Betrayer

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Indie horror title by some of the guys who worked on F.E.A.R. Now, I’ve heard about F.E.A.R. and… well, I just never really cared. And I was totally prepared to never really care about this game, either! But then I saw a video about it, really loved the visual style and the setting, and found it for a really low price given how new the game is, so I decided to pick it up.

The most striking thing about the game is the artistic direction. Most everything’s in black and white, with one other color, red or blue depending on which version of the game’s reality you’re in, marking off enemies and important things. The contrast is striking. With normal colors, the game’s graphics would probably be completely average and forgettable, but with a visual design like this? The game looks a lot more attractive than it has any right to be.

The setting is interesting, not one you see in very many artistic works. The unnamed you washes up without any backstory in what seems to be barely colonial America, where the colonists have been here just long enough to drop off their luggage and piss off everyone around them, which is the American way. The land is decidedly empty, save for a fort populated only by an amnesiac woman in red and the benign ghosts of the British, and hordes of Spanish Demon Zombies.

Gameplay’s got a lot of what we’ve already seen in other games. You find items in weird places because this is a horror game and that’s how they work, and assumedly use them to solve puzzles. I don’t know, I didn’t play very far, could be they just sit in your inventory forever. Combat’s a little interesting, because you’re dealing with 17th century armaments, meaning they all suck. After the hour or so I played, I picked up a bow, which was weak but “useful” for the game’s “stealth”, which we’ll get to in a bit, a musket, which was powerful but noisy and takes an eternity to reload, tomahawks, which seem to instantly kill an enemy and are great against charging foes, but you can only hold one of, and bombs, which demonstrated my glorious and intelligent habit of using when enemies were less than a foot away from me. With relatively weak and/or limited weaponry and the number of your foes, stealth plays a really important function in this game. Shame that it’s broken. Your bow is your most stealthful weapon, yet even that is next to useless. No matter how sneaky you are, no matter how hidden, as soon as you hit anybody, every enemy in your vicinity magically knows exactly where you are, and will charge you en masse. It really serves to break what they’re going for here.

Also, it’s not very scary. Your mileage may vary, as I imagine not everyone’s spine has the strength and consistency of tempered steel as mine does, but it just did nothing for me.

Dungeons of Dredmor

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Yes, a game that’s normally $3, and I still waited for it to go on sale. That’s just how I roll.

Not quite sure what to say about this game. I wanted a roguelike, and this fits the bill to a T, being extremely reminiscent of NetHack and all the other classical games of the type I’ve briefly meddled in. Except, you know, with graphics. It’s got a sense of humor that, while not exactly driving me to riotous laughter, I’d still like to see more of. And roguelikes only ever show their true quality after long hours of play, which I didn’t put into it here.

I intended to, really. I was actually excited for this game. It does show an incredible amount of depth, as is needed for quality in the genre. I ended up going over the first level in the course of about an hour or so, and it just wasn’t resonating with me. Part of it was the challenge, which wasn’t really there although it did pick up once I descended to the next level. And what the hell is a roguelike that’s not even hard? A stupidfluffygameforfoofoolittlebabieslike, that’s what. Part of it was the inventory system, which is really ineffective considering how much loot I picked up. And I do so love my loot. However, my loot needs respect, which wasn’t really happening here. Also, my time was a bit limited for a game of this type, so back to the library it goes, waiting for when my mind may be a bit more open to what it has to offer.

Gone Home

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Ah, now this is an experience. It made me feel. Feel emotions. And as a rock hard stone cold jaded hunk of human being, that’s a real achievement.

So, as the game goes, you just came back from a year-long trip gallivanting around Europe, which is really the only type of gallivanting that can be done. Your family moved to a new home inherited by your father while you were gone, and this is your first time seeing it. However, when you enter, the place you’re presented with is ransacked and completely vacant. All you have to point you to what happened is a note from your sister asking you not to investigate.

So of course you do. A mean, what else is going to happen here. And in so doing, you learn about what your family, especially your sister, have been up to while you’re gone. It’s a tale of love, of the challenges of youth, and of how STUPID STUPID DUMB teenagers can be. It’s far from perfect, and can be heavy handed at times, but it did pull my heart strings. I found myself actually feeling for the characters. It’s a great example of how interactive media can truly pull of some indirect storytelling efficiently.

You do have to know what you’re getting into when buying this, though. There’s quite a few horror undertones, reminiscent of recent indie horror titles like Amnesia and Slender. It’s a dark and stormy night, everyone has mysteriously disappeared, and the ransacked state of the house suggests someone or something aggressive stole through. The game’s not a horror game, though. There’s no enemies, no monsters, no danger. It’s all about just exploring your home and mentally piecing together what happened to your family and learning more about them.

One thing I do have to make note of. Yes, the house is incredibly detailed, and it’s obvious a massive amount of time and care went into putting the setting together. Yes, I really appreciate having gone through this experience. Twenty dollars, it’s normal price, is still waaaaaay too much to ask for a game like this. You’ll have seen all the content in two to three hours, and the story’s clear enough that there’s very little replay value if you’re not someone completely stupid who is going through it again in an attempt to properly analyze it for an overly presumptuous blog post.

Yeah, I’ll probably have that up sometime in the mid-future.

The Walking Dead, Season 1

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Yeah, if you’ve been paying any attention to video games at all over the past couple years, you know about this one. This game is made to make you sad. And it will. If you play it at all. You will be sad and you won’t be able to stop yourself. And you’ll be thankful for every last bit of it.

Steam has given me an odd habit, one that I’m not entirely in favor of. Ever since I’ve got this computer, I have bought a great many copies of games I already own on consoles. I now have two copies of Saints Row the Third, Fallout New Vegas, and more, simply because with Steam Sales it’s often cheaper to buy the whole blasted all-inclusive “ultimate edition” or whatever than to shell out for the DLC on consoles. On the one hand, sweet, I’m saving money. On the other hand… well, my library’s getting cluttered, both physical and digital.

Anyways, yes, I bought this one for the 400 Days DLC, and so I can have my choices carry over when I inevitably pick up Season 2 when it’s cheaper on steam once again.

The game is an excellent tale exploring hard choices and dealing with doom and inevitability. It’s a beautifully organized work… your first time through. It loses something with repeated playthroughs, as you start to realize the game’s choices don’t really matter and you start seeing how contrived a lot of the negative twists are. Still, it’s one that I’m looking forward to going through again. I’ll just need the tissues handy. Umm!  For… for my girlfriends! All of them! Not me. I’m manly.

Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People

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This one was a no-brainer for me. I like cool things, I’m about as attractive as it’s possible to be, and I happen to think Homestar Runner was one of the best things on the internet while it was running.

Speaking of games I bought when I already owned… looks like Telltale’s got a hold of my wallet twice over. This was one of the flagship games on WiiWare back when the service was a possible contender in the console digital distribution arena. With Nintendo’s stubborn management of the service, though, there were no sales to be had, and I was only buying episodes on special occasions. Have I mentioned I’m cheap?

I’m still missing the last one or two on my Wii. Then this pops up on the Steam Summer Sale. Nintendo doesn’t allow prices to change, so they’re still charging ten dollars per episode, as if the game was new. Here? I got all five episodes for the price of one on WiiWare.

It’s a shame, because this game seems poorly optimized for PC. Modern PCs, at least. I kept running into odd bugs, the resolution doesn’t go quite as high as I’d like, and there’s no support for widescreen. Still, with the amount of money I’ve saved over the Wii version, I can’t complain at all.

These are traditional adventure games. Find objects then use them on every other object in the world until you’ve beat the game. The puzzles aren’t very compelling, but the main drive of it is that it’s authentically written and overseen by the creators of the Homestar Runner web animations. The design, humor, and everything else fits in perfectly with the traditional Homestar Runner toons. And with us only receiving one update over the past 4 years? I’ll take whatever content I can get.