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.

One thought on “A Game For All Seasons Except The Winter of Discontent

  1. I’ve been having similar, if less severe, reservations about the process. I mentioned it a few times on the blog but it makes for a very whiny, uninteresting kind of post. Mine, that is, not yours. In my case I am almost certain it’s down to the creeping similarity of all games. Yes, they can be categorized and sorted into types but these days almost every game is a list of tasks and a narrative. All of them.

    I do put a lot of the blame on the relentless growth of “story”. Games didn’t used to need stories They had situations and that was enough. And I’m not talking about sandboxes, which I’m starting to actively dislike, but the type of games I like. Simple premises like “complete this level – move on to the next” or “open all of this map”. I played ESO for a couple of hours last night and it was literally an unending sequence of instructions, conversations and tasks. I wanted to stop about half an hour before I did stop but there was just no pause. I couldn’t finish one thing without it triggering the next. And it was all about reading or listening to an actor read. My only function was to press keys to move the story on. That, in my opinion, is not “playinf a game”. It’s a half-assed, annoying mash-up of reading a book, listening to a radio play and watching a movie.

    I spent about the same time in GW2 working on the Dragon Bash annual achievements. That was a little more like “playing” and it had no narrative, thank god, but it was still, quite literally, ticking items off a list. It would be fine if it was one or two games but it’s all of them. My Time At Portia, which I love, does a better job of hiding both the story and the tasks but it’s still a series of lists you complete to move a story forward.

    These days I somteimes find myself thinking, as I play, “I’d rather be watching a movie”. I never thought that until the last year or so and it’s not because I’ve lost my feeling for games – it’s because games don’t want to be games any more. They want to be jobs or movies or books or crafts. All of which do all of those things better.

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