Monday, April 28, 2008

Update the first, wherein nothing much happens.

Since I just started this regimen of not buying games, this week has been both unsuccessful and uneventful.

Games bought:
Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer - $2.49
Persona 3: FES - $2.49
Total spent to date: $5.00

Numbers-wise, not a great start, as I added two games to the queue. But since I spent a total of five bucks on the two of them, it's not too shabby. How did I manage this? $55 in Amazon gift certificates that I magically had. Hooray!

Now Playing:
This week, I've been hopping between several things. Having recently re-acquired Tomb Raider Anniversary, I played through the first few levels of that. I'm still surprised how much I like it. It's been two years since I played it (I can tell, because of the handy date stamps on the saves). The graphics are still very nice, especially the environments. The character models aren't great, but they get the job done. The platforming remains top notch, and it's obvious that the designers played Prince of Persia: Sands of Time before making this one. Shooting and driving are problematic, but they wisely de-emphasized both of those aspects in favor of more jumping and tomb raiding. Good move.

I continued to push through Lost Odyssey, and at ~14 hours, I've not only moved onto disc 2, the game has also moved into the elite tier of games that I've played for more than 10 hours. (Incidentally, Tomb Raider is in that category too, clocking in at ~22 hours now.) Story and graphics remain excellent. It's been a while since I've had a game consistently convey as much emotion as this one has. I just added party members 4 and 5. I'm not convinced that I like 4 yet. She's set up like a healer, but frankly isn't very good at it. When I can use items that are faster, more reliable, and much more powerful than my healer, it's not a good sign. I'm hoping she powers up some more soon. I'm looking forward to continuing with this one.

The new one is Mystery Dungeon: Shiren Wanderer. I shouldn't like this game. I should hate this game. The game plays like a turn-based Diablo-style game. You work your way through 30 levels of a dungeon that's different every time you go through, collecting better weapons and staves that do different things to enemies like knock them back or switch your position with theirs. The hitch is that when you die, you start over. You drop back to level one, lose all the stuff you found, and get dropped back on the first floor of the dungeon. However, all isn't lost! As you move through the 30 floors, you run across warehouses that you can drop items into. Why is that grand? Because any items in the warehouses don't disappear when you die.

Basically, you can leave things for the future yous that follow after you die, because die you will. Many times, and in dumb ways. In one epic run, I was on the first level. I found a nice dog who I tried to talk to. Sadly, I couldn't understand his barks. Fortunately, my talking weasel translated for me! (It's a weird, Japanese game, folks.) The dog told me that he was hungry, and discovered that riceballs made him feel better. I felt bad for him, so I tossed him one of my riceballs. He took offense to this, and attacked. It being level 1, I was weak and hadn't found a weapon or shield, so I was promptly mauled by the dog and died. I found out later that when a character says something in red, he's just giving information. The dog thought I was attacking him. Stupid dog.

So, you'd think that starting over with each death would be frustrating. It should be, but I've overcome that by thinking of each time through as a "life" like in Mario Bros. If I die, I learn to do better next time, and hopefully I've stashed some goodies to make the next run better. It's a really addicting process, and I like it quite a bit.

So that's my playing for the week. The big news for this week is that Grand Theft Auto 4 comes out tomorrow. My copy is on its way, and as long as UPS doesn't do anything dumb, I should have it in my Xbox tomorrow night. I might even get some impressions written up later in the week. Should be fun. Bitches. Word.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

In the beginning, there was stuff

I am a gamer. As a gamer, I buy games. For most of my working life, I sold games. In my current (and hopefully, future) career, I help make games. Buying games is pretty much what I should be doing, right?

The problem is that I do it too much. I'm a sucker for a deal. I'm also a sucker for buying what other people tell me is good. Yeah, I'm a moron. Combine those three things (especially that last one), and you get someone with way too many games. Too many games to the point that even I think I'm buying too many games. It's gotten to the point where it's a definite problem for me. I've got to stop.

The Problem:

Current game inventory (estimates, because it's late, and I'm too tired to count)

PC Games: Buying since ~1996. Total count: too many to estimate. Two ~250 CD binders full, at least another 50 in jewel cases, and at least 30 in the new plastic cases.

PS2: ~50
Xbox: ~60
Gamecube: ~20
Xbox 360: ~35
Wii: ~20
Gameboy Advance: ~20
DS: ~30
PSP: ~20
Boardgames: ~120 These look more numerous because they take up so much space.

I also have a subscription to Gametap.

Of all those hundreds of games, I estimate that I've finished less than 5%. Wait, the numbers get worse. I've played more than five hours of maybe 25%. I've played more than an hour of only about 70%. (I'm not including the board games in that. I've actually played most of those at least once.)

Those numbers disturb the hell out of me. The obvious conclusion you'd draw from that information is that I'm either A) batshit insane (haven't ruled that out), or B) I really hate most games.

The truth is that I love games. I love them so much that I can't bear to let one that's good go by. If I hear that a game is good, I pick it up in hopes that I will think it's good too. Where the problem comes in is that I can't manage to filter what I decide to get. I don't like baseball. I don't watch it, and I don't enjoy the video version of it. But I'll be damned if every single season I find myself debating about buying this year's game. For baseball, I manage to talk myself out of it. That seems to be the only game I'm able to do that with. The results of my repeated failure is the set of numbers up there.

The solution:

Stop buying games for one year. Plain and simple. It's been suggested that going cold turkey is not a good way to go, and I should try limiting myself to a certain dollar amount, or a certain number of games per month. Those are good ideas, and I've tried both. I'm a decent negotiator, and I manage to talk myself into breaking my own rules if I allow myself that little bit of wiggle room.

So, here's my plan. It's in steps. Steps and numbered lists are good, right?

1) Don't go to the gaming sections of message boards. Unless I'm looking for specific info about a game I already own, they're just bad news because can you guess what people talk about there? That's right, I knew you looked smart.

2) No more looking through game stores or sections of stores. This has become a habit in my constant search for bargains. A game I didn't find interesting for $50 might be more interesting at $20. In reality, the $20 won't get played either.

3) No more looking through bargain sections of game forums or websites. It's kind of a corollary to #2, really.

4) Play the games I have. That really should be obvious. I have a lot, and most of them are really good. They deserve to be played and loved.

5) Write a blog. Hey, here it is. Victory the first!

The Plan:

As I said, I'm really good at negotiating with myself. I'm really quite the pushover. What I don't like is public failure. Hate it a bunch. So, the plan is to keep this here blog updated every Monday with the past week's progress. I'll report any purchases or lack of purchases. Any purchases that do get made will have the dollar amount included, as well as a running tally of how much I've spent on gaming for the year. I'll also give an update about what I have been playing so you can follow along at home. Won't that be fun!

The fine print:

So there are a few exceptions that I'm setting out early. First, I have a copy of GTA4 coming in this week. It's the collector's edition. It's a bad way to start, but I'm looking at it like the last hurrah before I go all abstinate. I have two board games that I preordered months ago. They charged for them recently, and will be arriving in the mail in the next few weeks. I'll make note of prices when they arrive, but it's too late to do anything about them. I also reserve the right to pick up Rock Band tracks. I work on the game, and they're fun at parties, so I'll get them sometimes too, but I'll try to limit them, and I'll post what I'm buying.

In summary:

So that's the plan. A neat side effect of this is that I'll have a chance to write, which I haven't really done in a while. I'll try and avoid daily diatribes about the interesting lint found in my pocket. I don't really know what kind of things I might write about yet, but I'll try and keep it to things people other than myself might find interesting, but no guarantees.