#RacingGameMonth – A Story in Three Parts

Want to know more about #RacingGameMonth? Check out the Community Game-Along page!

Racing games really aren’t my forte. There are genres I am … not so good at, but I am just downright dismal when it comes to operating a motor vehicle on a computer screen. My inability to (virtually) drive is the reason I never got very far in L.A. Noire, and the only reason I can tolerate driving in games like the Saint’s Row series is that there’s absolutely zero penalty for demolishing car after car trying to get from Point A to Point B.

Still, in the spirit of community, and due to the fact that I have a handful of racing games in my library from various bundles through the years, I decided to give it a fair shake.


Part One – Table Top Racing: World Tour

I’m not sure why I thought this would be a super-casual, extra-easy-for-total-noobs racing game experience. Maybe because the it’s little toy cars, and how hard can that be?

Hard. The answer is hard, at least if you’re me.

There are six cars in the first race. Which means I came in dead last.

Now, I didn’t just come in dead last once. Nope. I came in dead last over and over, even after using the pity money to upgrade my adorable little truck multiple times. I was not getting the hang of this. Not with the keyboard and mouse. Not with a controller. Not for anything could I manipulate a toy car around this little itty bitty race track. It wasn’t even an overly complicated track.

I set it aside, figuring I’d go back and push through later in the month, but as usual, I got distracted. Since I picked this up in a Fanatical bundle way back in 2018, it doesn’t make me particularly sad to leave it mostly unplayed.


Part Two – Forza Horizon 4

Yes, I fully appreciate the flying leap I took here. But I promise, it wasn’t my idea. I picked up XBox Gamepass for PC this month, and got a recommendation from one of the Community Game-Along organizers via Twitter.

Accessible. Accessible is good. Well, I turned everything all the way down to see how I’d do. If it was a cakewalk, I could always turn things back up.

Want to guess how many cars were in the race? Did you guess 12? If you did, you would be correct.

This is me. Taking out a stone wall. Clearly, this is going very well indeed.

In all fairness, Forza Horizon 4 is gorgeous. Given enough time, I probably could have started to get a handle on things with all the training wheels fully engaged. But I figured, if I was going to wreck stuff anyway, shouldn’t I play something where at least that was the point?


Part Three – Carmageddon: Max Damage

Carmageddon: Max Damage is … the ultimate antidote to racing games!!

from the Carmageddon: Max Damage Steam page.

Why I didn’t just start with a game that rewards me for driving badly, I will never understand. I’m still playing on the easiest difficulty, mind you.

I’m a fan of alternate win conditions. Especially ones that don’t require me to stay on the track. And first race in?

Yep. Crash into the other cars over and over to profit. This I can do.

Initially, I was a little surprised how much I was enjoying Carmageddon: Max Damage because it is still actually a racing game, and let’s be real – it’s totally cheesy. But it totally scratches my mayhem and destruction itch. Usually it comes via shooting things – a lot of things – but I also can do the whole demolition derby thing.

I will likely play this well into next month when I feel the chaos itch. I assume it will get harder and I won’t win every event the first time out, and that’s okay. It’s got a 15+ hour main story, and I picked it up in the dollar tier of a Fanatical bundle almost two years ago and proceeded to forget all about it.

Finding little nuggets of gold in the back of the library is why I have one, after all.

A Bit of Setback

It’s been a frustrating few days. For awhile now, my computer has been doing some really weird random crashing – sometimes just the game I’m playing shuts down, but more frequently, the whole thing locks and I have to hard reset it.

When it first started, it only happened while playing DMC: Devil May Cry and only if I forgot to shut down Discord before I started playing. Since then, it’s been happening in quite a few games (the remastered version of Borderlands, Civilization VI, Sunset Overdrive, and Spyro Reignited Triology). Sometimes it takes awhile to happen, sometimes, I’m lucky if I get to play for 15 or 20 minutes before everything freezes.

I’m not entirely surprised. I am by no means a computer wizard, and although I’ve managed a few minor upgrades, this system is over six years old, and wasn’t exactly cutting edge when I bought it. The downside of having a double gamer household on a fixed income is that it’s rarely feasible to put aside a couple thousand dollars to purchase new computers (and owning an old house means every time we get close, something more pressing breaks down on us).

It’s all Greek to me, but I found my parts list from when I ordered this PC in March of 2014.

Since I’ve previously replaced the cooling system, hard drive, and graphics card (as well as installing extra RAM), I’m guessing at this point, the motherboard is just showing its age. I’ve pulled the whole thing apart and cleaned it all out, as well as reseating all my components and checking my wires, and to be honest? That’s the extent of my ability to diagnose hardware, and the typical software issues I looked for aren’t the cause.

I think my computer is just ready to retire, but I’m not quite ready yet to let it go. So for the foreseeable future, it looks like I’ll be playing mostly lower-spec games in shorter stints and saving often. I’ll also probably be spending more time on other hobbies, because my frustration threshold has been so very very small.

#Blapril2020

I don’t think it’s going to come as a huge surprise to anyone who reads this that I have been struggling, not just with blogging, but with gaming in general for awhile now. Although I’ve had a chronic illness for enough years now to have mostly adjusted my life & my expectations, my health has been somewhat worse than usual the past few months, and when I combine that with my social & household obligations, I’m finding it’s not leaving me with a whole lot left over for anything else.

In fact, I was just starting to consider putting this blog on some sort of official hiatus when Belghast announced that, in light of the social distancing requirements of a global pandemic, we’re going to do Blaugust early this year.

Now, I can appreciate just how fortunate I am that in a lot of ways, I am far less affected by the threat of COVID-19 than your average person. We are able to continue paying our bills, we are food secure and at zero risk of losing our housing. Even still, there is so much awfulness in the world at large, how can I not get on board with celebrating the oh-so-nerdy things that keep us going when everything is kind of awful and you need an escape?

So, I’ve signed up for Blapril. I’m going to make this a priority again.

A (Micro) Transgression

I knew I was going to have issues with Low-Spend 2020, and just over a month in, I’ve made my first forbidden purchase.

I’ve been on a kick for mobile slot machine games lately – more so since I discovered that some evil geniuses have decided to add quests to the mindless game play loop.

Normally, this would be just another guilty pleasure, nothing worth even mentioning, because despite these types of apps being absolutely infested with microtransactions, I’m pretty good at resisting the lure of “free money” (which isn’t actually even money!)

But here’s the thing – I also fully believe that if you’re enjoying a free-to-play game, no matter how inane, it’s actually a good thing to throw a couple of dollars at the developers, just as long as you never go over what you would have paid for the game if you had bought it outright.

Last night, I got home late, I was tired, and was unwinding with a slot-machine focused quest or two, and one of those amazing deals popped up. And I thought, I’ve been playing this game every day for over three weeks now, I should toss a couple of dollars at it.

And without any more thought than that, I did.


Obviously, I’m not going to waste a lot of time lamenting that I failed in my low-spend goals over a measly $2.11. I’m still in it for the year, but I wanted to make a short post in the interest of full-disclosure.

Sometimes, Procrastination Pays Off

I have had the itch to go back to World of Warcraft for a bit now, but I’ve been procrastinating on actually re-activating my sub. Sure, I could let you all in on some of my MMO neuroses by listing off a bunch of reasons, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there was one that was stronger than the rest.

See, when I re-upgraded to Windows 10 a couple of months ago, one of the things I forgot to back up was my World of Warcraft addons folder. I have always run a ridiculous amount of addons, and I had some deep dread about having to figure out my UI from scratch.


Well, a couple of weeks before the big upgrade, I thought that my harddrive was starting to go, so I had bought a replacement and cloned it. However, once I fiddled around with all the cords in there, all of the hard disk ridiculousness seemed to resolve itself, so I’m thinking it was a loose cord or something, and I promptly put the whole thing out of my mind.

Well, some oddball glitch caused my computer to boot from the wrong drive last night, and after a few very panicky moments trying to figure out what exactly had happened, I realized that this was a blessing in disguise. My addons folder was on the cloned drive, and I could simply copy it to the drive I am actually using!


After a little more fiddling, and safe removal and storage of the backup drive so that I could avoid any more odd rebooting shenanigans, I have all of my addons back, and updated, and well, I guess I’ll be dabbling in some World of Warcraft this weekend.

Low-Spend 2020: Putting a Halt to Impulsive Game Purchasing

I’ve known for awhile that I have a problem with impulse purchasing, but I try not to think about how big of a problem it actually is.

I have not actually played anywhere near that many games – I do tend to idle for cards, which makes at least that portion of my calculator very very wrong.

Of course, bundle buying absolutely throws the account value out of whack. On the other hand, this is only games I own on Steam, and it’s still way too many. So I’ve decided to slow my roll next year, and stop buying things just because they’re cheap or they look interesting or I’m having a bad day.


Low Spend 2020 – Allowed Spending

Subscription Spending

I’m allowing myself the full 12 months of Humble Choice, as well as one paid MMO subscription and one paid gaming subscription service at a time.

Non-Subscription Spending

I am allowed to spend up to $50 gifting games to others during the Summer and Winter Steam sales, and I am allowed to purchase non-Collector’s Edition expansions for World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online. Additionally, I may elect to purchase one new co-op game or MMO to play with my husband if something comes out he’s excited about.


Other than what I’ve indicated above, I will not be purchasing any new games, or making any cash shop or micro-transaction purchases in 2020. This includes purchasing any bundles other than the Humble Choice subscription.

While I acknowledge that I’m still allowing myself a massive budget, I still feel like this will be an improvement over what I’ve been doing – which is just making game purchases without a whole lot of thought behind them. It’s not really about the money – although I love to shop, I don’t spend to the point where it strains our budget. But by always chasing the next great deal, I am not really enjoying the things I buy.


While it’s not restricting myself to only five games for an entire year, I am hoping it’ll encourage me to play through some more of my library, as well as better evaluate the worth of the various gaming subscription services that are out there.

One Year / Five Games

Oh, this is diabolical.


I might have missed this one entirely if Naithin hadn’t posted about it (and I read that right before bedtime too, so you bet I was thinking about it while I was waiting to fall asleep). Let’s be real – I probably couldn’t stick to this and would just take my beating. And I’m not so organized as to worry myself about categories – I’m just going to look at potential play times here.

Game One: World of Warcraft

I would definitely want an MMO, and this one was super-close. Like, I had already started writing about the Elder Scrolls Online close. But every time I’ve take an extended break from WoW (like, for example, now), I come back recharged and excited and ready to Do Stuff. Plus there’s pet battles. I can spend a LOT of time on pet battles. And I haven’t seen the Horde side of the last three expacs, so I probably wouldn’t run out of stuff to do, even if it wasn’t always the most exciting things.

Besides, I have a guild that’s been around for a good 10 years, and I miss those folks like whoa.

Game Two: Rimworld

I’ve been away from Rimworld a long time, but I haven’t forgotten how easy it was to lose myself in. Sure, all the changes since I played last would be overwhelming at first, but I don’t think it would take me too long to get caught up. Plus, I’m pretty sure there’s like 80 bazillion new mods I haven’t even looked at since I played last.

Game Three: RollerCoaster Tycoon Triple Thrill Pack

Another building game, you might be thinking. Yes. Another building game. There is SO MUCH content in this game, and I may even someday learn to build my own coaster that doesn’t kill people. This has the added bonus of being extremely low spec, so if something happened to my regular gaming rig, I wouldn’t be left game-less.

(this is where it gets really hard)

Game Four: Tales of Maj’Eyal

I’ve played enough of ToME to know I enjoy it, and there are currently over 1700 achievements to strive for. I can see this one holding my attention for many many hours.

Game Five: The Sims 3

Replayability and longevity have to be considered, and what game has more to do than Sims 3? I’ve played hundreds of hours already, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Add in a whole bunch of self-imposed challenge modes like the ones here, and I would probably never get sick of it.


Well, that was uncomfortable. My interests are so varied and my library so vast. Cutting down to a single MMO and giving up all manner of mobile gaming were probably the biggest sacrifices.

Thank goodness this isn’t a thing I actually have to do, although it certainly makes me less apprehensive about my plans to seriously limit my gaming purchases in 2020 (more info on that soon).

Bundle Key Clean Out – Part One

I decided to start my key clean out project on Fanatical – I have bought a LOT of bundles there over the last couple of years because the prices are fantastic, but I also knew there was quite a few duplicates.

Basically, my attitude towards bundles in general is that if the game or games I’m interested in are worth the price of the bundle to me, I don’t much care about the rest of it. Occasionally, there’s something that I think one of my friends would love, but mostly, if I don’t want it, or if I already have it, the key will just sit, unredeemed in perpetuity.

Yesterday, I learned that I don’t always even activate everything that interests me right away.

I ended up activating 31 keys to my own Steam account, and making up a four page GoogleDoc with a list of games I’d like to pass on to someone else who might play them. In a week or so, when I’ve showed the list around to the people I know, I’ll probably just toss the rest in a Reddit giveaway.

I still have three more sites I buy bundles from at least semi-regularly to clean out – IndieGala, Groupees, and of course, Humble Bundle. I expect Humble will give me the most decision-making trouble, as there have been a lot of really well-reviewed games in their monthlies that I’ve hesitated to activate because of how difficult they’re purported to be.


I don’t expect I’ll stop buying bundles anytime soon, but I’m leaning more and more towards purchasing individual games very rarely. I usually go to town on the major Steam sales, because holy endorphin-rush from getting a great deal, but between bundles, and giveaways, and the fantastic opportunities to play games via subscription services, even the quest for a bargain is starting to pale.

I would like to keep putting my game-buying dollars towards really great indie games, however. Now I just have to un-train myself to wait for a sale.

I Refuse to Ride the Hype Train

It really doesn’t matter what form of entertainment media we’re talking about, I am forever and ever behind the times. While that allows me to seek out things that suit my taste at my leisure, it definitely also has drawbacks.

You might think that spoilers are the worst of those, but for me? It’s hype.

I’ve come to realize that once people start talking in terms of something being the best of the best, it starts plummeting on my personal to-do list. The more positive attention something gets, the less interested I become. It’s not because I’m some wacky hipster who couldn’t possibly like something that’s popular, but because there’s a tipping point, and once that point is passed, nothing can ever be as good as it has been made out to be.

Forgive me folks – I’m going to say something now that many folks will find horridly offensive.

Firefly was … fine. It probably deserved a second season, but in no way is it the best TV show ever made. Hell, I don’t even think it’s the best of the Joss Whedon shows. And Serenity? Don’t even get me started on Serenity.

I am fairly certain I would have enjoyed my time with the series more if it hadn’t been a victim of excessive hype. I might have even liked the movie better (but I highly doubt it – that movie just isn’t that good).

Take a moment to catch your breath if you need to. Cuss me out. I get that Firefly is absolutely sacred to a lot of people.

Despite really enjoying reading lists of All Time Best Video Games, I find myself passing over actually playing a lot of those games, despite having ample opportunity. I don’t own The Witcher 3. I’ve never played Portal. I played the first 30 minutes or so of the first Mass Effect, and never cared enough to go back. I still don’t know what Undertale is about, but I don’t feel the overwhelming need to play it.

Of course, despite being unwilling to ride the hype train, I certainly have no issues driving it. I love recommending games, and there are a handful that I find myself recommending over and over. I am single-handedly responsible for the presence of Psychonauts in the Steam library of about a dozen people I know.

Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing about games (and movies, TV shows, and books) that other people are loving, especially when I know we already have similar tastes. But I also don’t believe the perfect game – and by that I mean the game that’s perfect for every single player – exists.

Do you find yourself riding the hype train? If you do, are you more often pleased or disappointed by it?

The Game of Shame

Post inspired by this Reddit thread from /r/PatientGamers

Have I told you how much I love the Patient Gamers subreddit? Because I really do adore it – it’s such a different vibe from most of the other gaming focused subs. Once in awhile, someone really comes up with a question that speaks to me. This time, it was about Games of Shame.

This is not about backlog. This is a discussion about that one game you’ve played a lot… but never managed to finish. Maybe you love the first half, three-quarters, but you just get so burned out before the end. Maybe the game mechanics change and offer a different experience. Maybe a new chapter starts and the art style for that section sucks. Maybe you just can’t play one game that long. Maybe it just got insanely difficult at a certain point.

Whatever the reason, it’s the game you’ve played partway through multiple times. And you’ll even consider starting it again, knowing you might not finish. What is that game? And why haven’t you finished it?

RavingLuhn

Until the end of last year, my Game of Shame, the most shameful of them all, would have been Psychonauts. I played it back in 2005, bought it on Steam in 2011, picked it up for the XBox about a year later, and played it over and over. I loved just about everything about the game. Everything, right up until the Meat Circus, whereupon I died over and over and over, until I wandered off, frustrated.

But then something amazing happened this past December. I decided to start over ONE MORE TIME, armed with my trusty Logitech F310, and resolved that, this time, I would beat it.

I definitely thought it was unbeatable. Definitely.

It only took me about 13 years, but I could finally take Psychonauts off the top of my Games of Shame pile.


There are probably hundreds of games I’ve bounced off of for one reason or another. I couldn’t get past the first hour of the original Hitman, Fallout, Deus Ex, or Assassin’s Creed. I enjoyed my time with Just Cause 2, but I just … got sick of it. I’ve hidden dozens of games in my Steam library after I played them enough to determine they really weren’t for me. But in all of those cases, there are no regrets.

There are plenty of other games I see myself going back to someday, but that I’m also not terribly upset to not yet have finished. Maybe there’s a little shame, but it’s barely a speck.

Then there are the games that have no finish line. If, like in the case of Tropico 4, there’s a campaign, I might call it finished once I work my way through the scenarios, but I also know that a lot of games in the genres I prefer are never really over. No shame there.

I’m pretty sure that puts Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines firmly on the top of my Shame-pile. Another title I’ve bought three separate times, I failed to finish it for much the same reason as Psychonauts – the last part of the game just soared past my personal skill cap and limits for frustration. However, unlike Psychonauts, recent attempts to play resulted in even less progress than ever before. It feels dated and slow, and the early game seems like a horrendous slog.

I was hoping that news of the sequel would inspire me to give it one last go, but I’m afraid that – with this one – it’s just not going to happen.


Do you have a game that stands out to you as a Game of Shame? What’s stopping you from finishing it?