Digital Wanderlust, or You Can Never Go Home Again

So, what happened during “Top priority – Rest my wrist” week?

Well, there was the mildly amusing and somewhat painful observation that as the wrist in question healed, other parts of my body started to take turns aching.

Apparently, this is quite normal and to be expected, as one overworks the other muscles and tendons in compensation for the nonfunctional one.

First it was the other wrist (too much button pressing and door opening presumably), then the lower back protested, and yesterday the neck decided it hated life, committed suicide and went into rigor mortis for 24 hours.

I can only conclude that I’m getting old(er) and my posture is fucked.

The good news is that amidst this tag team symphony of minor strains, I ate healthily, slept earlier, stretched -very- carefully and whatever was bothering me that day seemed to heal itself up by the next day or two.

I imagine that within my body is a little ragtag cartoon group of muscle-repairing cells in an ambulance racing from locale to locate, going “Can things STOP breaking here for just a day, please? Sheesh…”

Or maybe that image just comes from Ghostbusters: The Video Game, one of the many games I’ve been sampling over the last 2-3 weeks.

As I was telling Syl in the comments over at MMO Gypsy, I think I’m done with MMOs for the time being.

GW2 has been becoming less and less of a home, beyond the obligatory raid night with friendly, understanding but not-my-generation people, and the lack of new and novel content is killing my interest slowly but surely.

Most of the achiever content that I cling to as a lifeline when the explorer isn’t sated is either done, or is SO long term that the anticipated grindiness stops me from even contemplating it. I -could- do it, but when faced with the question of whether to spend 12 hours incrementing tiny degrees of progress in GW2 or use those 12 hours to play other games, read and watch Netflix, well, the decision is a no-brainer. There’s no one I want to impress with herculean feats of treadmilling in a constructed game anyway.

See, the more I think about it, the more I think the allure of the MMO comes from two things. The first is the idea of a home and a community, a place you want to spend your virtual ‘second life’ in, surrounded by people you’re happy to live amongst. Hence the themes of longevity, of “I could stay here forever!” being an important consideration when people evaluate MMOs.

The second is the feeling of expanse, of openness, of discovery over a new horizon that a vast and deep virtual world that you don’t understand well yet and want to learn more about. Hence why people lament when any MMO world feels small, constricted, not open and go chasing after procedural sandboxes.

The tragedy of the second is that everything closes up and becomes smaller over the passage of time. GW2 was an immense bounty of new discoveries when it first launched, but now my perception of its world has shrunk to waypoints whose surroundings I can readily recall at will. Don’t get me wrong, the convenience is great for revisiting, but the point is that it was a lot bigger in my imagination when unexplored than after the fog of war disappears.

A mapped world is smaller, no two ways about it. A mapped world is great for everything that comes after, exploitation of its resources in fulfillment of goals and so on. But a mapped world means you already know what is coming up over the horizon as you get closer.

The more I think about it, the more I think the age of MMOs is past. An MMO cannot fulfill both themes at once these days.

How can it? A handcrafted world is finite, limited by the number of developers that can work on it effectively. The number of developers is limited by the number of customers and revenue it can generate. The age of the one single MMO where everyone congregates to is past, everyone is spread out to a million smaller online games now.

Even if we hypothetically assume a mythical game that attracts even more numbers than World of Warcraft pulled in its prime, there must be a limit to how many teams of developers can work effectively on its world without it becoming a Frankenstein mess that turns away players, dropping revenue, which drops number of devs.

A finite world will eventually feel small. It’s just a matter of time.

So then, let’s go for the infinite world. Let’s go for procedural generation on a way more refined and fantastical scale than any singleplayer game currently existing and do it well. Online. Massively multiplayer.

Assuming such a hypothetical behemoth works magically and perfectly, and we have a virtual world on the scale of Earth to explore and colonize and exploit… isn’t it likely we’re going to run into the problem of “Where IS everybody?” “Halp! I can’t find players to play with.”

Given limitless lebensraum, people are going to spread out. Sure, there’s probably going to be clusters of people forming towns and villagers because people are social creatures and like to be near each other, but how far are these towns and villages going to be from one another?

I think of A Tale in the Desert as a good small-scale experiment as to what this mythical MMO is going to look like.

At first, it’s going to look very nice. People will cluster in their towns and villages, forming little metropolises of trade and civilization, while the more adventurous wander out into the wilderness and start the exploration and mapping process.

But then everything around the civilized centers will be known, and the explorers will either venture even further away or grow bored and leave. People attrition from real life all the time in games, so these villages will wind up with abandoned house lots, imitating a form of urban decay. Other players look around, realize their community is breaking up and will either leave the game or accrete to another community in-game, preferably the largest and most populated one.

It will take an act of God for the most social and rooted to their homes to pack up and move from what-is-known and move to lands unknown. (In other words, not bloody likely. Even a dragon invasion on the scale of the Cataclysm is more likely to just chase the homemakers from the game when they’ve had enough of large scale change, or make them more stubborn to rebuild where they’ve decided to live.)

So at most, the ideal MMO of tomorrow is a small known world of established communities with some kind of connected interrelation with the more nomadic explorers that venture into the always-shrinking-once-mapped unknown.

There are so many things that could wrong in this MMO. If the communities don’t need anything from the explorers, there will be no reason to explore. If the explorers don’t need anything from the communities, there will be no reason to have social dealings with them.

Maybe -everybody- wants to explore, and so there will be towns but no one’s in them because everybody’s out in the wilderness. Maybe the balance of self-sufficiency is such that everybody just trundles out to find a nice spot of wilderness for themselves – RIP towns and social communities. Maybe there is too much inter-dependency and reliance on others for today’s players to accept, so few people want to play anyway – RIP MMO.

Anyway, such an ideal hypothetical MMO is years from coming into existence. Much less ambitious fare will come into the picture first, and I’m not at all sure I have any interest in those.

Anything with Fed-Ex fetch quests and collect 10 bodyparts after killling 99 mobs is right out of the equation. So done with those.

Tropes like holy trinity combat, raids, dungeons are pretty likely to show up in MMOs because that’s what most players are familiar with and used to. They do absolutely nothing for me.

To add a little insult to injury, region-locking for most smaller F2P MMOs is a thing. It becomes a principle not to pay any money to companies who are content with smaller pieces of pie in today’s globalized internet-linked world.

Innovation is expensive and dangerously risky. Not innovating produces stale MMOs that enough people will play to keep a small company alive.

Personally, I’m done with stale MMOs.

So over the last 2-3 weeks, this was what I did instead:

Games Played

  • Endless Legend – up to turn 85 of a Broken Lords campaign
  • Deathless: The City’s Thirst – finished a playthrough
  • Learn Japanese to Survive – Hiragana Battle – got up to 15 Hiragana word/letters?
  • Crusaders of the Lost Souls – lost count of the resets, idols in the 100-200+ range
  • Defender’s Quest: Valley of the Forgotten – in some spooky cave levels
  • Human Resource Machine – got to puzzle level 17 or so
  • Minecraft: Story Mode – playing on mobile, finished episodes 1 and 2
  • Reigns – also on mobile, finished a playthrough, didn’t manage to trick the devil, but not for lack of trying, gonna restart and try again
  • Minecraft: Simply Magic modpack – was doing good fulfilling my nomadic urge to wander and explore, until the last update crashed the client and I couldn’t move back a version. RIP.
  • Minecraft: BeeHappy modpack – so now I’m growing bees in a skyblock map!

 

Books Read

  • Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone (Book 2 of the Craft Sequence)

 

Netflix Watched

  • Van Helsing – binge-watched the entire season 1, the zombie apocalypse with vampires instead of brainless zombies
  • Bitten – got up to season 2, episode 3, based on Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld books, the books are way better, but it’s interesting to see the casting decisions and how like or unlike one’s image of the characters they are
  • Minority Report – watched again for fun, looks so dated now
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – made it through episode 1, which was like floating through a drug-haze of surrealism. I am convinced it will all tie together in the end, but it’s such a hard slog at the beginning that it’s hard to continue.
  • Trollhunters – binge-watching like crazy, up to episode 17. I am totally going to buy a ton of troll toys / collectibles when they finally come out. Got so many 80s cartoon and Amblin movie nostalgia flashbacks while watching – intelligent not-just-for-kids plotlines, what madness is this?

 

endleg-brokenlords

In other words, I expanded inexorably through a fantasy landscape as a faction of fallen spirits encased in suits of knightly armor; juggled politics and morality as a necromancer lawyer negotiating water deals to prevent the desert city Dresediel Lex from drying up; and fought shadowy Hiragana warriors whose only weakness is enunciating the sounds they represent.

hiragana

Perhaps the most entertaining Spaced Repetition System ever created. This is ‘a’ – aka a man standing upright with two arms outstretched and a swirl of magic about him, going “Ahh!” Or maybe that’s just how I’ll ever remember what this word/character sounds like.

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Earned 7.79 tredecillion gold; summoned barbarians and rangers and knights to fend off a rampaging army of undead revenants;

defenders

(while avoiding being traumatized by a ghostly barbarian’s manhood)

wrote spaghetti code to struggle to the next floor of a soulless office building;

hrm

went on a Minecraftian animated adventure to assemble the heroes of the Order of the Stone in order to save the world; lived and died as a lineage of 63 cursed kings making tradeoff decisions to keep church, people, army and the treasury neither too low nor too high; wandered the wilderness, made a cave in the side of a mountain and started learning magic; and bred bees.

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Lots of bees.

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Industrial apiaries filled with bees. (The ugly yellow block things.)

Feels like the journey’s just beginning.

 

The Repetitive Nature of Games and Why Endgame is Elusive

Here we go round the mulberry bush...

Scree’s back! And the criticism this time is repetition.

Here’s the dirty little secret: games -are- repetitive.

One of the points of a game is that it lays out a set of rules and you repeat and iterate on the scenarios it presents you with till you get better at it and “beat it” or “win.” Games have a learning curve.

The nirvana that everyone is seeking is that perfect state of flow, where one’s skill level perfectly matches the level of challenge so that one is deeply engaged.

(Image from Wikipedia.)

(Image from Wikipedia)

Problem is, everyone is different.

One game’s level of challenge may match one player perfectly, while another may find the challenge too difficult and thus end up worried and anxious.

I’m not sure that graph is accurate on the lower scale, where relaxation is graphed at a higher skill level than boredom.

For some, it could be the other way around, where high skill level and low challenge leads to boredom, while a medium skill level and low challenge leads to finding the activity relaxing.

Then again, for others, it’s a lot easier to be bored than it is to really relax – one may need l33t Zen monk skills in meditation to achieve proper relaxation, while nearly anyone can be bored outta their effing mind on a regular basis.

It’s in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

It really comes down to what kind of repetition you find fun (or will put up with) in order to do something that you feel is enjoyable.

Different people reach different answers.

Scree finds that PvP produces a new situation every time it occurs. Those who prefer PvP tend to claim that they are drawn to this because the skills used can be the same, but the opponents are different, creating sufficient variety for them.

I’m especially tickled because I somehow managed to find that WvW was too repetitive and burned myself out from the game format some time ago.

You see, personality-wise, I’m very low on the competitive Killer Bartle scale. I’m just not really interested in the whole metagame of guess and second-guess your opponent in order to get one-up on them and win. So my tolerance for repetition on things PvP tend to be rather low, a couple rounds played for fun and variety… done.

Even in that eden of PvP, Eve Online, the blogosphere has been exchanging a little quote of the day highlighting a core repetitive aspect of the game.

Getting from one place to another apparently involves a lot of the same steps repeated over and over – turn off and on autopilot, manually warp to zero per jump gate. The only variety is what manner of shark awaits you at each step.

For some, that’s enough to consist of quite an adventure, and they willingly acclimatize themselves to the game’s little repetitive quirks to get the bigger experience.

I’ve been playing Don’t Starve quite a bit over the last few days. I easily get to my second winter and often get to days in the 100+ range. But then, I turtle.

homesweetbase

I turtle A LOT. I don’t play RTS games on a competitive basis because I tend to derive more pleasure spending two hours teching up to EVERYTHING and then creeping in the equivalent of siege tanks or battlecruisers to slowly demolish the computer’s bases one building at a time over outsmarting a real life person, who can turn out to be exceedingly obnoxious, win or lose.

I get that a lot of clever people have discovered they can shortcut this process and created dozens upon dozens of other strategies they can use to win against another party trying to turtle, which leads to more counter-strategies to defend against this, which leads to more counter-counter strategies to get the upper hand, unsoweiter.

I get that this is a delightfully deep metagame for some.

I admire it from afar with videos and commentators to help me understand it, but I choose not to spend a good part of my life learning one game to such a high degree of focus.

Back to Don’t Starve. I build a base. Preferably near 5-6 rabbit holes.

I expand it. I make a little tooth trap alley to the side to fend off hounds.

icallitthehoundnommer

I engage in tons and tons of repetition, including chopping wood for a day or two, gathering grass and twigs for another day, checking on my nearby spider den with pigs (aka silk farm) to make sure it won’t ever overgrow into a Spider Queen, catch and cook meals for another day or two, spend another day or two figuring out and reaching the next source of rocks and flint – just to prep for an expedition that may extend me into unexplored territory and necessitate a secondary base/firepit or an overnight stay not-at-home-base with a campfire.

When Winter comes, I run back to civilization central and my tooth traps and spend a good half my time just chopping wood and keeping the food supply going. Because I don’t want to starve, thank you. (Or freeze.)

NOT FREEZING.

NOT FREEZING. FIRE LEVEL ABOVE DESIGN PARAMETERS.

On the other hand, Azuriel would probably stab his eyes out from the repetition I engage in with the same game. He prefers forward adventuring progress.

Me, I haven’t even seen Maxwell’s door in many of my worlds, and never stepped once through it. I prefer a slow and steady stable state with some incremental creep.

My guess is that each person’s preference for how much excitement and adrenaline rush and thrill versus relaxation they want in their games is different.

(The old hard fun vs easy fun war again. There’s actually two more types if you follow the link.)

For those who find they enjoy a game that is short and linear but continually ramps up the challenge till the content is all done (like Portal and Portal 2), MMOs are going to be an inherently disappointing affair. Once they’ve mastered every challenge they care to, that’s it, done. Finite content is finite.

Time to go on to another game or another MMO, at least until the devs have enough time to produce more content to devour.

An endless endgame?

Whatever it is, it’s going to repeat -somehow-.

WoW raids are a delaying tactic. Kindly repeat the same fight but with the variation and difficulty of cat herding a lot of players with different schedules and skill levels for an RNG chance of desirable loot. Hopefully, this takes you long enough so that the devs can produce the next raid for you to do something similar till the next patch.

If you think that in Everquest Next, there won’t be players who will be searching for and making a point of repeatedly killing the most desirable mobs… I think that you’re sorely mistaken.

One hope that it has of stretching gameplay is the possibility of player-created content, which provides supplementary content to dev-created content, just like how mods can extend the lifespan of a single-player game.

Clarity of preference is important, rather than just dismissing a game as “too repetitive.”

I suspect that Scree prefers “impactful” games. A game where player actions can mean a great deal. Where player actions form the meat of the content via emergence. Where hopefully the NPCs have enough AI to form meaningful, discernable patterns that can be exploited but not TOO exploited.

Well, we’ll all be watching upcoming PvE sandbox games to see if they manage to achieve this elusive holy grail.

A lot of this stuff tends to break the moment you throw the “massively multiplayer” part of the equation in.

We’ve learned that player-created content tends to give rise to “xp farms” where players design, create and run repetitively an optimized encounter so that they can reach max level (and level alts) at the best possible speed. (Thank you, City of Heroes and Neverwinter. Possibly Everquest 2 too.)

We’ll see how fast ingenious players can map the world sufficiently to determine node spawning patterns (must farm crafting materials, y’know!) or provide trackers for mob movement or spawns to determine the most probable places to head to for xp/loot/combat action.

Case in point: observe niche game A Tale in the Desert – randomly spawning mushroom locations produced a shroomdar. This game barely attracts 1000 players at the best of times.

Do you think the combined brainpower of a popular MMO cannot crack what a single team of developers code? Or at least harness the power of massive crowds via  individual player reports? e.g. see GW2 dragon timers before the API was made available.

If you have xp in a game, players will figure out the best way to get xp fast. Even (and especially) if it means repetition.

Skills-based, not levels, you say? I point you to Darkfall and its stories of skill grind, where at least some players will macro it, or engage in the equivalent of leaving a weight on one’s keyboard a la Morrowind or other Elder Scrolls games.

If you have loot in a game, rest assured players will repeatedly do whatever it is to gather it.

Ideally, they are enjoying the activity they repeat. (Note: level of enjoyment varies based on player personality and preference.)

Whether that activity is combat (versus mobs or against other players), or gathering some form of resource (xp, gold, shiny loot for stats or looking pretty, craftables, luxury collectibles), or exploration and discovery or yes, even travel and commuting from point A to point B.

Eventually though, a player is bound to get bored of whatever repetition they were engaged in and wander off. Or burn out if they weren’t careful enough. Part of the gaming life cycle.

The real questions are:

  • Do they wander off to another activity in the same game?
  • If they wandered off to another game, do they ever come back to the one they left? (Check things out or pick up where they left off?)
  • And how frequently do they do it?
  • (Oh, and do they give the devs any money for providing such experiences in the meantime, of course. 🙂 )

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

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.