Friday, July 22, 2011

Spending my Time

Not playing any MMORPG leaves a big hole in your time management. For a while I was able to fill it with all those things I've always wanted to do. Then I had lots of visits going on. Finally I watched Game of Thrones, but that was over in about 10 hours. Then I played Crysis 2. It took 12 hours. I don't even want to know how long it takes at easy difficulty.

And now, this morning, I was scanning through those games I have installed.

Fallout New Vegas. Mmh, the character control is terrible. Higher difficulties make the enemies immortal instead of the game more difficult. Very easy to optimize the fun out of it. I started it nonetheless.
I am in the doctor's house. He tells me all kinds of stuff. I try to take some of his things. He looks at me and .. nothing. I rob the entire fucking house. He doesn't care. Ragequit.

Mass Effect 2. This endless intro cannot be skipped. sigh. The gameplay is fun, but the story is so damn boring, because I already played through it !! Then I need to scan planets for metals. After 5 minutes I quit. If I could just play the game instead of following the 08-15 story and farming minerals I probably don't even need, it might be fun.

Minecraft. Lovely Minecraft. If only my creations had any meaning. If only the combat would be more than completely rudimentary. I think I'll wait for the next adventure patch.

Neverwinter Nights 2. Always trouble to get used to the interface again. But the character creation is so much fun. To read through all the gods and religions. I could do that forever. I do do that for forever! Then I start the game. Next I have to take that stupid dwarf with me. HEY! hello? I don't want him! I am perfectly able to beat every enemy on my own. At hardest difficulty. Sigh. I suck it up. Eventually I get more and more companions. Suddenly I have to leave some of them behind. Why? For gameplay reasons? Stupid game design! Oh, did I mention that I know the story?

Rift. puhhh.. see Wow.

Risen. That could be nice. I haven't played through the warrior part of the game yet. I bet it works the same way the mage story worked, but who knows? I remember those stupid portals in the end and how the last 20% of the game were so very terrible. But, hey, I might try Risen tomorrow.

Civilization V! Now that is a game. Just a game. I have played so many Civ V games by now that it's all a bit too boring, however. I already know that I will hate that slowing the game down will also slow my unit creation down. So, instead of being able to do more each era, I will have to press 'next turn' 30 times instead of 10 times in a row. Oh, and what is the automated micromanagement for? In the end, those enemies will either cheat me to death or I will destroy them. Civ V is good. But the AI is so damn terrible.

Starcraft II. I remember that stupid stupid story that was told even more stupidly. If I went multiplayer it would all be about execution and speed. But I would like to have fun watching my units and stuff. Speed and RTS doesn't work for me. And it's meaningless, anyway: a game ends and is forgotten after a few hours max.

Witcher 2. If I could only crawl through the few dungeons for more than a few minutes. But I would have to play through the story. Which I know from every perspective, because stupid me read through that little book that came with the box. How could I know that the entire story would be in there? Damn. Too story-focused to be re-playable anyway.

Two Worlds II. Now, last time I looked at it, I quit after I watched the character models. My main character looks to bad that I couldn't make myself play. Also, the story seemed too be so boring. Maybe I'll play it tomorrow.

World of Tanks. Oh no, I still have this on my computer? Tanks are boring. And driving around, firing at everything you see, only to be destroyed by gold ammunition or some tanks that don't even take damage and are 3x as fast? And for what?

World of Warcraft. Yeah, it's still installed. Let's imagine I resubscribed. I could run with my druid tank through daily dungeons until he is equipped. That would be a major time investment to get some +15% stats. Then what? Raiding, killing some sorry creatures, that are 100x as large as I am, in a scripted way? No thanks.
I could make a new char. I could try to read every quest and die of boredom while the mobs die from me looking at them. Or I could try to do only orange quests. What a grind to do meaningless orange quests that I couldn't care less about, because I am skipping the story! Even if I did this, I could then either die 1000x times in BGs while I farm my equip. Or I could wait 30 minutes for 20 minutes of LFD 'fun', and gain meaningless equip to .. raid. No thanks.

Dungeons of Dredmor. I bought it just recently on Steam. Let's try to ignore the graphics and immerse into the fantasy world ... ... what fantasy world? DoDr is just a joke. A big joke. Everything about it is sooo funny.
How can I immerse myself into a fantasy world that doesn't take itself seriously? How can I pray to survive the next mob if the mob is meant to be silly? 4.50 € wasted.

I did play two rounds of good old Windows Chess Titans. First I won, then I increased the difficulty and lost. Not that it meant anything to me.

I did a search for another good fantasy miniseries. Nothing.

Now I just ordered all ten "Malazan Book of the Fallen". I guess reading fantasy is what it has to be right now.


  1. I haven't played a game in over 6 months... I couldn't figure out if it was me being too demanding and if I should lower my expectations or if the games really weren't good. I don't know whether or not I envy the people who can sit down and enjoy the things that I can't.

    Maybe I'll try the Witcher 2 eventually.

  2. Speaking of Game of Thrones - I downloaded the series too, and watched it non stop in 3 evenings or so . I was so impressed that I downloaded all the book and read them in 2 weeks

    I was avid reader in my youth but havent read much in past 8 years (blame MMOs :) ) . Song of Ice and Fire is a great series. More medieval than fantasy with great characters and fluid writing. But more than that it seems fresher outlook than most high fantasy books

    On the other hand it does feel too much like real life- betrayal, pain , torture and death. All too graphic and too real . The feeling of despair you get when reading any real world history - humans are crooked power hungry creatures. And those are the best of them. As the rest are not worth the dirt they walk on.

    Martin not afraid to hurt in order to invoke strong emotions. That makes the series both great but at times cumbersome. I want escape from real world yet the other one is much the same!

  3. It seems you're going the way of Abalieno @
    He started as a game design critic and presented numerous innovative ideas (around 2009), but later he turned to reviewing literature, and guess which series he wrote a lot about? The Malazan cycle :)

  4. So what it sounds like is you have a bunch of computer games you already beat still clogging up your computer, for no reason. Of course you would be bored with games you already beat.

    Re: F:NV. I hope you have actually played this previously, rather than ragequitting before you left the tutorial. Accidentally clicking in the house and then the doc killing you would be pretty punishing game design, especially since he doesn't give you any equipment until you go outside for the first time. And while it is not necessarily the ideal option, there are plenty of mods out there that change all sorts of things about the game. The Project Nevada mod, for example, contains a huge amount of immersive changes such as wearing goggles/helmets cause you to look through the eye pieces, high-tech armor having high-tech benefits, and I believe one piece of the mod lowers HP across the board, makes head-shots lethal to characters without helmets, and increases the need to drink water/etc in Hardcore mode. Of course, they also added bullet-time and incremental stealth fields through Stealth Boys (letting you use them more), but the modular design of the mod supposedly would let you disable those if you wish.

    Re: Minecraft. I am surprised to hear you say that your creations lack meaning in a completely Sandbox game. If your creations lack meaning in Minecraft, they lack meaning everywhere in any game. I have stopped playing recently, but that is mainly because I was not entirely sure my structures will be ported over to 1.8 successfully (it was on the forums, so it could be total BS).

  5. Azuriel, I played Fallout:NV before. I really liked the Hardcore mode idea. The implementation missed any serious consequences, but was nice nonetheless. What made me stop playing F:NV somewhere in the middle were a few things:

    First this "you can steal everything". I like to play at hardest difficulty and do everything to survive. This thrill of survival is what I like most. Unfortunately this forces me to steal all kinds of stupid stuff. Combine it with my backpack being big enough to carry all this, and you get a frustrating gameplay supporting a broken immersion.

    Look: I am a lone guy in the desert. I should try to get every advantage I can get. .. And then I have to stop me from getting every advantage, because it destroys gameplay and immersion. Stupid game design.

    While the story was still new to me, I was able to overlook these limitations. But the fact that I had to shoot some enemies some 20 times and more into the head before they were dead, really was a bit too much. Add some strange Mob AI that made some enemies run around at super-speed.

    Somewhere along the line I just stopped playing. And now I have trouble getting into it again, because I already know all the story.
    I think I started it up some 20 times over the last few months; just to quit it soon after.

    Minecraft lacks meaning, because everything I build is just there to be looked at. To have a high and thick wall of stone to protect me? Meaningless. A reasonably high and thin wall is good enough.

    And I play alone. Solo play always cripples meaning in sandbox games.
    The mobs are also a bit .. dumb. I mean, they are smarter than you would think, but still not really dangerous. They don't have a plan, you know ;)

    I also dislike looking up how to build stuff. Trying it out is ridiculously boring - especially if you once knew how to build stuff. And reading it up isn't much better and feels like cheating.

    Don't get me wrong: I love Minecraft! But it's just not a full-fledged game. It's a proof of concept. A brilliant one.

  6. Perhaps you're simply not particularly happy right now, regardless of gaming or literature. Or I'm reading too much into too few words, as people are so eager to do.

    I would like to see a way to play Starcraft in the open-random matches, but at a slower speed. Have two brackets, one at faster speed, one at normal speed. It could make for a nice way to relax if it wasn't such a rushed experience.

  7. Read a couple of Neal Stephenson novels you haven't read yet. That'll be sure to keep you busy for several days. ;)

  8. I honestly don't get this "immersion" argument you are making. Having a backpack based on weight is less immersive than magic in the fantasy genre you love? You realize dragon's couldn't fly based on their weight and bone structure, right? It is almost as though you don't actually want to be playing a videogame at all - you want a simulation, not something designed to be entertaining and not cumbersome.

    Maybe you should just take up hiking and camping IRL, eh?

    In Fallout 3 and NV, even though it was not required, I got so into the narrative that I explored every single nook and cranny of every structure for usable items despite having more bullets/caps than I could ever actually use. Scavenging itself was fun, as was trying to steal everything in the house/shop without getting caught. It did not break immersion to me that I was lugging around 250 lbs of gear because of a little thing called "suspension of disbelief." If I could only carry maybe 2 gallons of water (16 lbs), two guns, a handful of ammo, etc, the literal gameplay would be boring and masochistic.

    I mean, when was the last time you read a fantasy novel when they talked about the main character taking a shit? That presumably happens every 1-2 days in the story, but the author leaves it out. Immersion break, amirite? I just don't get how and why you draw lines when you do.

  9. The same two games I always recommend: Dwarf Fortress and Just Cause 2. I personally guarantee you will have fun playing at least one of them, and maybe even both of them.

  10. I recently had a moment where I realized that every game I played was a *game* and it's kind of left me wondering what to do with my time. Given that I have a huge time sink coming into my life soon this might end up being a good thing, but I am starting to miss enjoying games.

    I've been playing a bit of a few games, but largely I find I can only be interested in a game for 15 or 20 minutes at a time.