The Study of Choice in the Face of Scarcity – Disk Space Edition

Elephants in the room...

Rowan Blaze has been musing about economics in relation to MMOs in his last post:

Though much of economic theory revolves around money, I had one college professor eloquently refer to it as the Study of Choice in the face of Scarcity. This is what fascinates me about it, why do we make the choices we do? It doesn’t have to be choice involving money. For instance, do I spend all morning researching and writing a blog post, or exploring the town and country I am sojourning in, or play a video game?

And that has gotten my mind down a similar track. Opportunity cost is just as fascinating to me.

I have just spent most of this Saturday forgoing the opportunity to rabidly play Guild Wars 2 (and thereby make further choices over what I actually do in-game:

  • spend an hour on invasions earning gold
  • use that same hour to run a dungeon instead which might produce cores/lodestones
  • meander around the world harvesting resources to sell and hoard

most of which slooowly works towards my first legendary…)

…and instead spent it with a file folder/disk space management utility open in one screen and web browsing on the other monitor, struggling to tidy up my hard disks and pondering deep economic and emotional decisions about games to keep and games to get rid of.

This dire disk space emergency was prompted by me trying to start up Guild Wars 1 in the morning and having it stall at the Connecting to ArenaNet server window.

After some Googling, it turns out my .dat file may have been corrupted, the solution for which was to delete and re-download.

Got past the stall point, got to character screen, logged in or tried to- as the computer began downloading the whole of Marhan’s Grotto again (you pretty much download each zone bit by bit in GW1, something that usually makes the wait time less annoying) and the whole system kind. of. slowed. down. and. was. like. wading. in. molasses…

Then I realized that there were only 746MB free space left on the C:\ drive and the download was barely 25% done.

Ruh roh.

Plans to peek back in GW1 rapidly went out the window and I started looking for stuff to delete instead.

This just as quickly escalated down an entire afternoon and evening of Adventures in Freeing Disk Space and musing about my gaming habits, economy and psychology all rolled into one.

discspace2

For instance, the biggest hog of my disk space is The Secret World.

I usually try to leave MMOs that I -might- have an urge to go back to installed, since it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever casually pop in again if I have to sit through a whole day’s download to do so.

You may note that the other two space-hogging culprits are also MMOs, also not being currently played, and all now using a free-to-log-in-and-play-casually model.

Subscription MMOs? Gone.

I simply have TOO MANY other games I could be spending my time and disk space on, to say nothing of having to specially log in to a website, re-enable my account and resubscribe for a month, just to check on what has changed.

Economically, if I had to pick just one of those three MMOs, I’d probably keep LOTRO since I’m still in love in the lore and landscapes, and do check back once a year for Weatherstock. Even if I don’t think I could ever bear to level again, be it a new character or try to push out of Moria.

I was tempted to kill off The Secret World, if only to reclaim the most space back and rationally knowing my toaster struggles to handle it graphically and memory-wise. But the way it presents its quests, and the flexible AP/SP skill system promises an intriguing basic solo leveling experience if I ever felt the urge for modern conspiracy again.

RIFT would be the loser if I really needed one to go. Despite the flexible roles each class can take, I was left uncomfortable with how cookie cutter it ended up as there were distinctly mathematically optimal ways of speccing talent trees for different purposes, and I felt I had no future in an MMO with raids as a primary focus. Still, I can’t shake off the clingy feeling that maaybe one day I might want to log in just to look around.

Which is neither probable nor sensible, to be brutally honest.

Dawn of War 1 and expansions takes up the next 11 gb. Terribly old game now. Have I ever gone back to it after finishing a campaign or two or three with some races? No. But nothing matches it (not even its sequel) in terms of being able to put out so many visually awesome Warhammer 40k models in all their racial variety, and I just can’t get rid of it.

KOTOR2 and the GoG directories (containing Arcanum, Stonekeep and Beneath a Steel Sky among others) naggily remind me that there were some old games I wanted to get around to playing. *sigh*

Doom 3? I’m positive I was almost 3/4 of the way through or nearly to the end, but those levels just kept going and going and I got tired. But the sunk cost fallacy induced me to keep it around. I really should just dedicate an hour or two and FINISH it, just to put closure on it after… (checks the folder date) 6 years. Dayum.

City of Heroes got a massive trimming some time back since I saw no reason to keep the client to a defunct game around. I wasn’t going to reverse engineer anything anytime soon. Most of the folder went into an external hard disk backup. That one gigabyte left is mostly screenshots. Thanks to this blog, I love having a whole bundle of screenshots available on demand.

It’s kinda sad that my Adobe and Microsoft Office folders barely compare.

I ended up nabbing the disk space from other folders, temporary downloads, music/videos that I won’t bother you with.

Though it did come as a bit of a shock to realize that iTunes was hogging 15 gb of space just from backing up my iPad. (Yes, that ancient 16gb device is just as crammed.)

On a bit of a curiosity roll now, I checked out my other drive:

discspace1

Uhhh. Yeah.

There’s ~2.7 gb worth of screenshots in the GW2 folder (and I’ve been moving them periodically out to backup) if you’re wondering why my GW2 directory is bigger than yours.

(That PSA about moving out your GW2 screenshots before they hit 1000 on Reddit a couple days ago? Knew about it MONTHS ago.)

The next 9.3 gb are reminding me that I should continue the 10/10 project for at least one more day and so get rid of Runes of Magic that way. I really need to stop being one MMO obsessed for a while.

Black Isle and BaldursGateTutu? Because Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II and Planescape: Torment are classics. I did intend to play them again some day, but even if I never do, they can be enshrined forever for all I care.

Yes, I have two copies of A Tale in the Desert. I dual-accounted it. Some games you dual account for a better experience. I am given to understand Eve Online swings that way too. (Though in both games, this can be offset through being massively good at socializing and joining player organizations. Extroverts network. Introverts multi-box.)

Restaurant Empire 2 is part of the cheesy cooking games collection. Just because.

The elephant in the room that we are trying not to talk about is naturally, the Steam folder…

steamspace

There’s more but I wouldn’t want to scare you all. Or have my account stolen.

Suffice to say, of the 44 games shown here, 6 have not been tried yet (Nuclear Dawn, The Walking Dead, Psychonauts, Forge, Sacred Gold, Sol Exodus demo) and the remaining 38 have been at least been sampled.

Of the sampled games:

  • 3 had a very surface sampling before I put the game down, unable to go on for one reason or another – steep learning curve or didn’t like the setting or never found the time to go on.

(X3, SWKOTOR, Divinity 2 respectively)

  • 25 were played 1/4 – 1/2 of the way through or played lightly but not a game you can complete

(Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, The Last Remnant, Civ 5, Borderlands 2, Dungeon Defenders, DOTA 2, Morrowind, LEGO Lord of the Rings, Killing Floor, Men of War Assault Squad, Overlord, Culpa Innata, Worms Reloaded, Tropico 3, Titan Quest, Silent Hunter 3, Mark of the Ninja, Amnesia, Mafia, Sins of a Solar Empire, Frozen Synapse, From Dust, Civ 4, Sanctum.)

  • 6 were played 3/4 of the way through or played heavily but not a game you can complete

(Left 4 Dead, Dawn of War 2, Skyrim, Blood Bowl, Orcs Must Die, Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines,)

  • 4 were played “and completed” at least to one’s satisfaction, but usually with holes in DLC/expansion content

(Portal 2, Indigo Prophecy, Alien Swarm, Defense Grid)

I dunno. I’ve been staring at it all trying to see if there were any patterns as to why I chose to play some games but not others, and for longer periods.

There’s no real relation as to whether they’re GOOD games or not (as considered by either me or the community at large.)

I’ll tell you right now that I enjoyed most of the lightly played games just as much. Left 4 Dead 2, TF2, Civ 4 and 5, Borderlands 2, DOTA 2, Morrowind, Mark of the Ninja, and Frozen Synapse are all excellent games in my book, and very highly polished. The poorer games are From Dust and Culpa Innata, and I consider the rest decently good in their own way.

The only thing I can vaguely think of is that the more completed ones were short enough that one can get to the end in a very reasonable amount of time, or had a compelling narrative that I wanted to see the end of, or had interesting game mechanics at an easy enough to progress but steadily ramping up difficulty level or some combination thereof.

I do want to get to the end of Mark of the Ninja, Frozen Synapse and The Last Remnant – I may get around to the first as it’s a very recently bought game but I’m not terribly good at stealth, the second is -very- compelling tactically but time-consuming, and the third is a Japanese RPG, you know how long those things take?!)

For many of the others, I seem to have played them long enough to get the hang of the mechanics but got bored with the repetition or grew disinterested in the story and then got distracted by a new shiny.

Well, it was worth a reminder of all the other things I could be doing instead of playing just one game out of habit.

(And yes, I am aware Psychonauts and The Walking Dead come highly recommended. They’re now on the to-do list.)

P.S. If you’re interested in doing something similar with your own system, the program I was using to scan directory sizes is TreeSize Free.

About these ads

6 thoughts on “The Study of Choice in the Face of Scarcity – Disk Space Edition

  1. I’ve tossed everything but lotro, gw2, rift and minecraft (yeah, like that one counts) from my PC; I need space for Steam and expacs. at one point I realized that I wasn’t ever gonna play wow, aoc, allods or the other oddballs that I kept for whatever reason. it still hurt a bit tho – but then, these games are going nowhere.
    I currently still have FFXIV installed but given what disappointment the ARR betas were, I probably should make quick work of that also….meh.

    I run HDs on my PC at the moment, one SD for selected programs and two more storage disks. prices have come down for 2-4Tera disks so much over here that I recently replaced everything. now I have tons of space but keep acting like I don’t ;)

  2. bhagpuss says:

    When I run out of space on an HD I don’t delete stuff. I buy another HD, shunt everything I’m not actively using onto that and put it away.

    Of course, once it’s done I rarely if ever go back and retrieve anything, it just sits on a shelf, forgotten. Nevertheless it seems well worth the ¬£50 or so every couple of years just to save the time and trouble making the kind of decisions you outline above.

    And as for GW2 screenshots, I’m on my fourth folder now.

  3. rowan says:

    I don’t think I ran into the GW2 pics problem, but I already have two back-ups for TSW toons (screenies organized by character over there, but still 1000 pics per) and am going to need another soon.

    I guess I am lucky not to really use Steam, or other SP games in general. I’ve only used about half of my half-terabyte drive. Great post, I am glad I caught it. And thanks for the shout-out. :)

    Now I want to get in some game time.

  4. lazybasterd says:

    “… is that the more completed ones were short enough that one can get to the end in a very reasonable amount of time…”

    Hear, hear. Every time I hear about some new massive RPG/adventure game with 60+hours worth of content I just shrug and move on. Who has the time, or attention span for that.

  5. Sorry to put this here, but I just wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award! You can check it out here: http://valourborn.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/one-lovely-blog-award/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s