Sorting Out Virtual Stuff

Last week’s lament seems to have gotten to the root of the problem in a roundabout manner.

Clutter in all my virtual houses was creating clutter in the mind, and making it difficult to take in more input – be it actual digital stuff, or just thinking about acquiring more digital stuff.

One thing I’m not good at is handling the urge towards crippling perfectionism, which then turns promptly into procrastination.

That is, if I can’t clean it all up to picture perfect standards, I may as well not start at all.

This is a line of thinking that leads absolutely nowhere.

So in small, baby steps, going real easy on myself, I tried to nip away at the problem from different angles, like a baby piranha trying to eat a brontosaurus.

Problem, The First

Overloaded Guild Wars 2 inventories make it impossible to do anything.

You can’t play, more things will come in to clog the works up. You can’t move them anywhere, because there’s no more space left. Throwing them away is a waste, because you never know when you’ll need a ton of them, and/or make a killing selling stuff on the TP.

You could use them, but you’d have to figure out exactly which esoteric ingredients need using in what precise order, which means lots of wiki recipe reading… aka absolute tedium.

Eternal ice and eitrite ingots were the main panic inducing currencies, because I get to do strikes once or twice weekly, after raiding. When you’re not actively doing anything else with the game, this adds up.

Illuminated boreal weapons were bottlenecked by a lot of tedious mystic forging and/or buying ingredients towards amalgamated draconic somethings. I made one or two, then left it on the back burner.

Eternal ice can be converting into other Living Story currencies, which is the main reason I’m hanging onto the main morass. I just haven’t figured out exactly how much I need of whichever currency yet.

The last option was to use a smidgen of the excess into building larger sized boreal bags. This is attractive for multiple reasons – use up some excess currency and get more space, and literally get more space by owning bigger bags.

The bottleneck here is Supreme Runes of Holding, which are obtainable by gamble-flushing stacks of ectoplasm in the hope of getting lucky. Or buying it off the TP for 8.5-9 gold each. Not exactly cheap, which is why I never did anything about it earlier, but I’ve been accumulating raid gold and not spending these past months, so… eh.

3 Supreme Runes can net 28-slot bags, which is a distinct size improvement from my regular miserly 18-slot or 20-slot ones.

So I made a couple and did some desultory cleaning up.

I’m sure it will still induce anxiety in most people, but hey, there is some visible space. I have some room to play tetris with things, and that’s about all the motivation I can muster for this game and this project, so… good enough.

Problem, The Second

Disk space was more of the main mentally pressing issue.

The C: drive was running at some 8 GB remaining out of a 238 GB SSD (ostensibly it’s 256 GB, but apparently Windows and hard disk manufacturers count GB in different units of bytes.)

The other SSD wasn’t doing much better (20-30 GB out of 238 GB), nor the 1 TB hard disk drive (80ish GB out of 931 GB available.)

Since that is a lot of STUFF taking up room to deal with, I thought I’d attack it from the easiest target for the biggest impact front.

I ran Spacesniffer to visually see the conglomerations of folders taking up the MOST space.

Turns out that the only big things in the C: drive were Windows, Guild Wars 2 and Path of Exile, plus some scattered stuff in Documents folders. GW2 was pushing 47 GB, PoE 30ish GB, and Windows in that 30-40GB ballpark.

It gradually became obvious that keeping the three together would not help the C: drive any, nor are any of them viable candidates for immediate removal. So the last option eventually clarified itself as move either GW2 or PoE out of the C: drive and into another drive.

Yours truly is a lot less confident about GW2 acting right on a non-C: or non-SSD, so that eventually distilled itself into next action: Transfer PoE out of there, and into the other SSD (since I do still want PoE to perform nicely.)

Segueing Issues, The Third

Cleaning up the other two drives to make a bit more room was essentially a collaboration between Spacesniffer and Steam.

Most of the large space hogs were Steam games. I took out 40 GB of Van Helsing 1 and Van Helsing 2. I’ve played the first game, once upon a time, and was sort of halfway through the second. I figure I have a ton of other ARPGs I’d rather get around to first, so I can install them again later, if ever.

Attempting Talos Principle for the third time was the right time.

Laser and block puzzles are fun. The recording ones can go to hell.

I raced through most of the puzzles in four days or so, only going for hints and outright solutions for stars and some later puzzles that got a bit too headachy and tedious to deal with.

The main head rush was the joy of insight, of being able to figure out something new, logically or intuitively, from the components at hand.

Getting to see pretty scenery in super-ultrawide didn’t hurt either.
Oddly, the second world reminded me a LOT of A Tale in the Desert visually, just with more graphical sparkle.

The difficulty started to get a little out of hand during the later puzzles of the third and final world. I started feeling a little antsy and impatient, so I went for only the easy and medium endings, and gave up on the most completionist Messenger ending. There was also Road to Gehenna DLC I picked up in a bundle somewhere, which mostly provoked a “oh no, not -more- puzzles” response, so that quite decided things.

As much fun as annoying and chating with the Serpent is… when you’re sick of the puzzles, you’re very much done with Talos Principle.

Out went another 20 GB, with much relief. I can always reinstall later if I ever want to re-do the Messenger ending, or if I’m finally ready for more puzzles.

I gave BATTLETECH a go.

It was surprisingly text-laden and crunchy, systems-wise. Seemed very faithful to the original tabletop franchise, from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about said franchise.

It was also amazingly unforgiving. I died twice in the tutorial and had to restart from scratch, mostly because I had no clue what I was doing, the tutorials didn’t tell me, and the controls and UI were a little obtuse.

It took a little skimming of some third party guides to begin to grasp the initial basics – like being able to selectively choose weapons to shoot, what “health” was (aka armor and structure), and the odd turn/phase order.

I dunno, but I kinda needed this screen in the ACTUAL first tutorial mission, not AFTER I gained enough knowledge to complete the tutorial.

Being really stubborn, after a brief ragequit and some reading, I played like a really careful X-COM strategist for the third tutorial attempt and blew through with flying colors and a lot less instant death failure.

It still felt slow and tedious, and I had no clue what I was doing on the first story mission after the tutorial, and it was a 30 GB monster. So I gave up and deleted it.

Of course, after that, I got curious enough to Google “Battletech slow” and learned there are mods / easy ini fixes to adjust the pacing and everything, so eh, maybe. I’ll reinstall it when I’m ready.

On one hand, I really find the concept of playing some big stompy robots and strategically shooting up hit locations magnetically attractive. On the other, the thought of needing to understand every last stat and detail of every single Battletech mech and weapon in order to play well is a little off-putting.

Not to mention, Battletech’s apparent habit of cheerfully killing you off ruthlessly if you didn’t immediately know the correct approach to deal with a particular situation. (Destroyed twice in tutorial mission; promptly shredded up by turrets in first story mission while trying to work out how to get LOS to a turret generator to destroy it.)

This Dark Souls difficulty thing is a trend that is getting out of hand.

And then there was SOMA.

I finally completed it today.

Really happy about that. Possibly a little too happy, given that it’s supposed to be a horror game about undersea robot monsters.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that I get bored shitless with walking simulators, really quickly.

I really need the ability to interact and WHACK things with a stick, at the very least. Heck, even Subnautica lets you stab things with a knife, if ineffectually. Most of the time, you would still play as intended, if only because killing things with the death of a thousand paper cuts is beyond tedious, but one needs the option for action, in order to feel less artificially restricted.

Since horror stealth games are an immediate NO GO zone – because jump scares feel artificial and jump scares where you die immediately if you didn’t crouch and wait for eons in darkness while listening to scary noises are time-wasting bullshit – doing it walking simulator style with no immediate death possibility was the only way I’m ever completing the game and the story.

The story was not bad. I can understand why people like it. There’s a certain Gone Home verisimilitude in poking around the leavings of a setting and other peoples’ belongings. I half-enjoyed that part, except the controls felt a bit slow. The thematic and moral questions were quite good for stimulating philosophical thought on issues of humanity.

The body horror bits were a little lost on me. Yes, there was a great deal of aesthetic ugliness around the place. But eh, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps the ugliness is also about adaptations to a deep sea environment. At one point, I also thought that if we were shrunk to the size of a cell and crawling around the human body, it would also look like a godawful gory mess of horror too.

At any rate, it wasn’t a waste of time to experience it once, and I’m also VERY HAPPY that I don’t have to waste any more time experiencing more of it. It is DONE. Finally. Strike off another 20 GB.

The end goal of all the rampant deletion is that all three drives are back to a nice looking blue in Windows Explorer, with ~40 – 140 GB free space remaining. One has a little more mental bandwidth. (Ironically odd statement, since as far as I checked, I’m not an AI or a brain scan reliant on disk space. Yet.)

It’s also helped to target a few more low-hanging fruit goals of games to play and deal with first. Ample disk space is a very powerful motivator.

New Acquisitions, The Fourth

Sorting out the whole Steam nonsense was next on the list.

In went this month’s Humble Bundle Choice serials. I even managed to install some of them to try out before the month is out.

Off the list for me were Verlet Swing (too absurdly trippy for me) and Yuppie Psycho (I don’t really enjoy horror genres enough to play through ’em. I’ll watch someone else play, no problem, but firsthand playing them isn’t really rewarding enough for me.)

In went the Road Trip Special purchase.

Turns out, it’s all DLC.

With all the games I’m now motivated to play through and boot off the hard disk, I don’t actually see myself needing any new games for the time being. At least, I can certainly wait till the Christmas sale.

I do have about $6.50 in local currency or ~$4.70 USD of odd duck games (ie. games with known issues like glitches or pacing or just not very fun, but the concepts sound interesting to explore for cheap) sitting in the cart. I may or may not jump on it later tonight.

But it’s also interesting that I ended up prioritizing the purchase of DLC for games I -know- I enjoy.

I received Boundless free from Chestnut. Given that I’m 430+ hours into the game, I’m starting to feel like I should give the company something in exchange for all this enjoyment I’m having with it. So I did.

I don’t strictly need the deluxe edition upgrade. I was doing fine without it. But as a thank you, with some bonuses attached, I feel pretty good about it.

I get a month of Gleam Club (worth $5usd a month) where I don’t have to worry about keeping beacons topped up – granted, stuffing 10 foliage worth of fuel into my small number of beacons per month is no big deal to me either. The Gleam Club comes with colored chat text, which I am unlikely to use since I am not a chatterbox, but perhaps I can get some use out of emojis in signs.

I get 500 cubits and 10% more plots, not as if I was running out of the free cubits or plots any time soon either.

And I get to make a special weapon called the Golden Fist, which I could have bought from other players or asked other players with the Deluxe edition to fire off my machines to make them. Still, since I now have the ability, I mass crafted 10 of them and will eventually have to get around to forging them and then taking them for a spin to see how they work. (I could have just stuck to normal slingbows also, which have more range than the fist weapons.)

Virtual House Expansion, the Fifth

The Boundless base has been extended in three compass directions with extra plots, to reserve space for future planned expansions of storage, farms, and machines.

I’ve been digging out the holes slowly and steadily, but have been interrupted in these pursuits by the arrival of exoworlds, in shiny colors, that I feel like I need to snatch up, before they disappear in a few days.

Being someone who loves the color green, I so want to stay on this planet forevah!

The sorting/tidying/cleaning/ordering bug has hit well enough to at least do a tiny bit of a constructive thing.

In this case, the new basement corridor that will eventually lead to rooms of machines. Initial sketches using placeholder blocks, while the actual marble and concrete were still getting mixed up and crafted in the machines.
The more-or-less finished product.

Mostly less, because I added a bit more decoration on the mid-level stair landing, and I want to do something more decorative and make a proper fountain/water feature later on.

(The water was left over from trying to make a safe landing spot in the basement, before giving up and doing the L-shaped ramp as stairs route.)

Addendum, the Final

I’d intended to get a quick 30 min game out of one of this month’s recent Humble Bundle Choice, so that one could feel virtuous about actually having played a game I newly own.

I wound up nearly 2 hours into it.

Suffice to say that Beat Hazard 2 is still pretty durned good.

Mind you, it takes a little getting used to.

There’s a Steam review on it where the author calls it “How to make yourself legally blind 2: the game.” Accurate.

My first encounter with its predecessor Beat Hazard, and I recoiled like a vampire from its riot of color and sheer visual excess.

I was ridiculously motivated by Steam achievements in those days though, and there was one nasty one in Beat Hazard that was in the way of my brilliant completionism. So I gritted my teeth and just stuck it out.

At some point, your brain learns to compensate and literally tune all the visual bling out as merely background noise. The trick is to just zone out and let your eyes defocus on the background where the lightshow is, while mostly feeling the rhythm of the music and focusing only on important things – like where your ship is, where the killer bullets are, and where to just spray your own bullets in the general direction of targets.

One big improvement upgrade on the original is that Beat Hazard 2 allows you to play your own music from any streaming site or Youtube by using desktop mic to listen and some third party music identification service to figure out what the song is.

Given how esoteric my music choice can be, that it identified correctly about 50-75% of the Youtube videos I was using as actual music tracks, that’s not too shabby. (We’re talking Melodicka Bros, Miracle of Sound, Wind Rose, Sam Tsui, etc. It kinda half gave up with earlier Miracle of Sound and Peter Hollens videos and it more or less surrendered with nightcore.)

What is pretty cool is that each track dynamically generates for you a new ship that you could purchase (with in-game cash, not real cash – sad we have to specify this now) and use.

So you might find potentially find good or bad ships, and tell your friends to go play those music tracks to get good ships, etc.

Each ship also has special missions to upgrade them further, mostly based about the artist or words in the track, so it keeps unlocking potentially limitless gameplay tasks.

But mostly, Beat Hazard 2 is about chilling to as intense or relaxing an experience as you personally want to make it (you can dial down visual intensity to 50% and use really slow songs, or if you’re score-motivated and highly competitive, then you need 300% visual intensity for the best score multiplier – in which case, good luck to your eyes) while listening to music you enjoy.

I could think of worse ways to waste 2 hours.

A Game For All Seasons Except The Winter of Discontent

Most days, I love my 1700+ game Steam library.

I collect free Epic Games like Pokemon, gotta catch ’em all.

That Itch.IO bundle for Racial Justice and Equality was like icing on top of a very delicious cake, straddling between two different game collecting hobbies – computer games & tabletop RPGs.

But there’s something about this season’s Steam summer sale that is just leaving me out of sorts.

Some of it is the bombardment of so many rectangular options to clarify and re-negotiate.

Yes, yes I know there are discounts. Are they discounted -enough-?

There are good games that I am tempted to play, but they’re only 25-50% off. My formula is usually to wait. So I should wait, except there’s a slight itch of temptation.

I’m ok making an exception for games that I’m really craving in the moment, but so far, that seems to be only PC Building Simulator (40% off), so that’s filed in the back of my mind to consider. I’m just not sure how long the craving will last, once I actually begin playing though.

There are other games that I’ve no intention of playing, games that have a shiny cover that I maybe should assess whether they should get wishlisted, games that sound good but aren’t at the right point of development or personal interest that deserve a wishlist spot yet, and a whole lot of other categories to parse every time my eye flicks across the screen.

The Road Trip Special is delicious, an additional 16% off, and I certainly don’t begrudge spending $21 of my local currency for $25 of games I want. But what games do I -really- want? As in, right now? And will play? As in, immediately. (And I shouldn’t overbuy either, because $4 off $25 is significant, but $4 off $100 is not very worth it.)

Some of it is that antsy, restless feeling of waiting for this months’ Humble Bundle Monthly Choice to come around, before I can fully assess my options and make a buying plan (if any.)

This month was terrible. I paused it. Maybe next month will be better? Maybe not? Two more days to find out. In the meantime, nothing is resolved, nothing is decided.

Some of it is the realization that I am losing track of all the games I own, across various platforms and web stores.

I thought I was going to pick up Finding Paradise as part of the Road Trip Special – if I hadn’t owned To The Moon before the play-along and wasn’t quite jumping to snatch up similar games, surely I didn’t own Finding Paradise.

Except when I navigated to the Steam page while logged in, it turns out that I do.

Now when did THAT happen?!

I check when I added the serial to Steam, and it says July 2019.

I immediately pop over to the Humble Store library, and boggle, because it shows up in the Library category, but not Purchases. The July 2019 Humble Monthly does not contain Finding Paradise. Adjacent bundle purchases also seem to lack the game.


Eventually, the mystery is solved when I figure out it actually turned up in the May 2019 Humble Monthly, and I only got around to filling in the serials of stuff I didn’t want immediately some time in July.

So that’s some money saved and I’m ready to rev it up whenever. (But now that’s $3.67 no longer to be counted as part of the Road Trip Special $21, re-assess, re-adjust, re-calibrating…)

Some of it is a disk space problem.

A limitless Steam library means nothing if you’ve only got 70gb or less of disk space available. Have you seen the size of the really chonky triple A games these days?

Sure puts a limiter on the resolution “I will play this immediately, once I buy it” if I can’t even get it installed.

But what do I remove in order to install said theoretical game?

Most of the games these days are essentially endless.

  • Warframe is 22gb, and I am quite likely to play it again.
  • Hitman 2016 is 67gb, but I’m not done with it yet, and I can’t even get Hitman 2 installed because of said limitation.
  • I was halfway to 3/4 through Shadowrun Hong Kong (9gb).
  • If I take out out Skyrim (9gb), I’ll never figure out how to reinstall the mods again.
  • Enderal: Forgotten Stories (13gb) is big, but if I remove it, I might forget I wanted to play it, and as a mod, it might vanish from Steam.
  • BattleTech, whew! is chonky at 34gb, and I really should play it and clear it, but am I mentally there for a strategic game right now?

On and on, the assessment goes. A litany of “I should plays”, “I’ll get around to it” and the dawning realization that I already have plenty of games that I could be playing without buying new shinies.

Except that the craving is for the gameplay experience of the new shinies, and not that of the halfway-throughs.

On the bright side, there are a few easier decisions. I took out Monster Hunter World as part of the quick assessment cleanup. Not planning on picking up Iceborne any time soon, and the main story was done with the help of the cheaty gear. Grinding for higher gear numbers is not really for me. I can reinstall it when we’re ready to revisit, if ever.

Some of it is currently being in a sort of definition limbo where desired gameplay experiences are concerned.

Usually, I’m pretty good at knowing what kind of gameplay experiences I need. If I need a calming walk in the woods, I have a game for that. If I want a fantasy escapist power fantasy of slaying 30 monsters in a single blow, I have a game for that. Puzzle game, adventure game, grinding game, farming game, check. Happy game? Sad game? Adrenaline pumping or meditative experience? Got plenty for each too.

Except that this begins to fail when nothing seems to sate.

The funny thing is, when I start and play any game, I am still engaged. I can still accomplish stuff and feel vaguely satisfied. I end play sessions fine. It’s the starting that is slightly problematic (which game should I play now) and the lack of any future ambition or desire for more in any game.

I log into Boundless and enjoy my little settlement. I crank out a few more blocks and put on some finishing touches on the next room I’m building. I go on wandering breaks to earn coins or see the sights or snatch up limited time opportunities, etc.

I jump into Path of Exile and continue chugging on leveling an Ice Crash Juggernaut build in SSF Harvest League. It’s going okay. It’s not super powerful as yet, it’s not explodey weak, there’s just room for plenty of improvements when one gets around to shuffling inventory and dealing with it.

I pop into Guild Wars 2 for my regular raids, out of a begrudging sense of obligation. When I’m actually mid-battle, I feel alright. When it ends, I find I actually enjoyed the whole experience somewhat. Except my inventory is a right mess, and I really need to get disciplined enough to deal with it somehow.

I am still inching my way through SOMA, one map at a time. I’ll get to the finish line. Eventually.

In a sudden burst of inspired aimlessness, I started up Talos Principle – a completely new game – and raced through the first world’s puzzles in record time, getting to a new stage of progress. The bite sized puzzles seem to be the closest to what I might find enjoyable right now, except that the prospect of so many -more- puzzles after is a little daunting.

I am “in between” games emotionally, while still “playing” them regularly.

Is it really play though?

Play is supposed to involve elements of discovery and learning.

I feel like I am either defining, clarifying or completing task lists.

That, or sorting inventory. My absolute nemesis. Defining, clarifying and placing objects into locations for easy access and retrieval, which also means I have to define, clarify and find said locations first.

I do this shit at work. I should do more of it in real life. I seem to be doing plenty of it while gaming.

Nothing is complete. Everything is in progress. My life is turning into one giant task list to GTD and incrementally catch up on.

I can do this. I am able to do this. But it is not, by any definition of the word, very much fun.

Shouldn’t I be playing games for fun?

I should.

Except I seem to have forgotten what fun is.