Looking for Structure in an Unstructured World: The Importance of Insignificant Routines

Although you would never think it if you wandered around in my house, I am the type of person who absolutely thrives in an environment full of schedules, organization and routines. All those things I rebelled against when I was younger have served me very well more often than not in my adult life. Sure, I’ve had to adjust the way I do things to accommodate my anxiety, and re-adjust again out of consideration of my decreased productivity potential and increased need for rest after becoming chronically ill in my thirties. But in all that time I’ve never stopped loving a list – I’ve just learned to cope with my need for shorter, more manageable ones.

During times of increased stress – which I’m fairly sure the last few years have been for pretty much everyone who is paying any kind of attention to anything – I tend to lean on the crutch of routine, even insignificant routine, to cut down on the likelihood of dropping into a doom spiral or battling constant paralyzing anxiety. But I tend to forget that any system, no matter how well-designed, will inevitably break down over time if it’s not properly maintained.

I’m fairly good a building routines, but I can be dreadful about maintaining them.

Dakota and Charley are also a big fan of routine, thankfully.

Since about mid-April, I’ve been in a state where my stress levels have increased to the point where it is finally impacting my ability to be functional on a day-to-day basis, and that’s mostly due to the impact it has had on even being able to control the things that were previously controllable. I’ve mostly been able to keep to the routines that keep my environment in working order – the dogs are fed & walked on schedule, the bills are paid, and the groceries ordered and put away. But over the last six weeks or so, I’ve lost my grip on my habits that primarily exist to self-soothe, and make sure that I’m taking care of myself adequately.

There have been too many nights of poor sleep, too many days where I couldn’t force myself to cook so my food intake suffered for it. Just too many times where I got caught up in something I had zero power to effect, and in doing so, missed out on opportunities to improve something within my sphere of influence. I’ve allowed the gloom to fester, and I’m finding it takes more and more effort to control my temper. Probably the hardest pill to swallow is that – in theory – it should be far easier right now to maintain good habits & adequately recharge my personal batteries than it has been in years, and I cannot seem to keep it together even on a very basic level.

I’ll admit this post has gone far off the track that I had planned for it; my intention had been something a little bit lighter about how so much of modern gaming is designed around the player feeling the need to build routines, from MMOs with daily quests & content lockout schedules, to mobile games with login rewards, to single player experiences like Animal Crossing & Cozy Grove that rely on real-time mechanics. I had been engaging daily with several types of games with these mechanics even after taking a break from MMOs; Cozy Grove every morning, and a couple of mobile games on my tablet every evening. But over the last few weeks, I’ve abandoned all of these things that asked for regular interaction. For me, those daily insignificant tasks were comforting, and even while I have no particular desire to go back to those specific games, I’m feeling the loss of the meaningless structure they were providing me.

The fact that I’m able to – more or less – put these feelings into words makes me feel like I might be pushing through this particular rough patch. I’ve come to terms with the fact that, yet again, I need to take a hard look at my life as a whole and put some serious energy into re-prioritizing if I want to be in a better place than I am currently. The constant war against both entropy and stagnation is both physically and mentally exhausting, and I admit that I’m not entirely sure I’m up to the task of diving headfirst back into it, but I can’t shake the feeling that I need to do something.

Leaving Azeroth

When I logged into Battle.net on March 12th to cancel my World of Warcraft subscription, I confirmed what I already knew – I hadn’t logged in for more than a full month. A few days prior, I had skipped out on our first raid of 9.2. I hadn’t intended to miss it, but I’d had a couple of really rotten days in a row, and not only was I not in the best headspace for learning new things, time had gotten away from me, and I hadn’t even managed to do the most rudimentary prep for it.

That was the last straw. I finally had to confront the complex feelings I’d had about the World of Warcraft, and my place in it, that I’ve been struggling with pretty much since the middle of the first tier of the expansion. The only thing that I’d been hanging on for was to keep spending time with the friends I’ve had in game for over ten years now, but since I can’t even push myself to do the barest minimum in keeping up with the game outside of raiding, I’ve managed to even spoil that for myself.

Sure, I technically meet the minimums our guild requires, almost entirely due to raid drops from the previous tier, since I’ve been doing almost nothing but logging on for raid for months now. And I’ve never been a top performer, not by a long shot, and as time goes on, it takes me longer and longer to learn the fights. I spent most of the last tier feeling more like a dead weight holding the raid back than as a useful member of the team. I no longer bring any kind of unique utility, and I’ve been scaling back on my administrative tasks for quite awhile now. While I don’t doubt my friends still want me around, I am equally sure that they don’t need me anymore.

I’m hesitant to say that this is a forever goodbye – in a few weeks, Blizzard will be announcing a new expansion, and maybe it will reinvigorate me. Maybe I’ll get an attack of FOMO and decide I’m not willing to miss yet another end-of-expansion boss kill. Maybe this subscription lapse will only last a little while. But it feels like the end of an era, like leaving home for the last time, and I’m far more emotional over the whole thing than I have been any other time I’ve taken a break.

This blog is supposed to be primarily about gaming, with a smattering of my other hobbies & interests. As such, I usually tend to shy away from talking about anything overly serious, personal, or worst of all, personal and serious. It doesn’t feel like the right space for those things, most of the time. But I’m about to get pretty heavy for a minute. If that’s not what you’re here for, peep the cute dogs below and then move on.

It’s not about the game, not really. It’s about losing yet another community, one of the last few places I feel like I fit in. I cannot separate the feelings I’m having about stepping away from a video game that I have been finding myself increasingly frustrated with for about six years – since Warlords of Draenor gave us the earliest iteration of Mythic dungeons – from the other grieving and losses I’ve felt over the last two years since COVID19 showed up. Now, watching so many people in my orbit jump on the bandwagon of “Time to return to normal!”, I’m having a harder time than I have at any other point in the pandemic. I’ve known all along that as someone with a chronic illness and increased risk of long-term complications that I would be treated by society as expendable, but now I’m feeling like people I know and care about see it that way as well, and it’s absolutely wrecking me.

My official diagnosis is Fibromyalgia. My symptoms started after I caught a virus, and was the sickest I have ever been in my life. It was the spring that everyone was worried about H1N1, and I had no idea that the week before I caught it was going to be the last time things were ever “normal” for me.

For about six months after I “recovered”, if I wasn’t at work or at doctor’s appointments, I was sleeping. Spending 14 or more hours in bed on a weekend was commonplace. It didn’t matter – I was still exhausted all the time. The primary care doctor I had then didn’t believe there was anything actually wrong with me except my weight, prescribed exercise for someone who was tired, in pain, and falling asleep at the wheel, and managed to drag his feet long enough that I lost both my job and my health insurance before getting any answers. I was in my early thirties at the time.

It was about another year before I could access health care again, and start working towards a diagnosis and eventual treatment. In a way, the delay was probably best; by the time I had a name for what was happening to my body I had mostly become acclimated to it, and didn’t expect it to be something fixable anymore. I learned to live within my limitations – I had already grieved the life I expected to have. Nothing was ever going to be the same for me again.

I think if you talk – really talk – to anyone with a disability or chronic illness, they are likely to have a similar story. It’s not just an adjustment, but a loss, and there is grief. There is no getting better or returning to normal. The pandemic we’ve been living through for the past two years is the same, except society hasn’t accepted its limitations. It keeps pushing itself too far, doing more and more irreparable damage, stubbornly taking a bad situation and making it worse over and over.

The world is sick. It isn’t going to recover, and it has been – so far – unwilling to accept this fact.

Maybe it’s because I’ve already been through this so I have the experience to reflect on, or maybe it’s because I know that yes, it absolutely can happen to me, but I’ve mostly decided that for me, there will never be a return to the way things were. I will probably never eat inside a restaurant again. I’ll never see another movie in a theater. I probably will never travel by airplane or go on another cruise. None of these are things I’m willing to give even more of who I am to experience, not when I’ve already had to let go of so much of who I wanted to be.

But no one that I used to spend face-to-face time with in the before time is willing to give these things up. For them, things are improving, while for me – who has been fortunate enough to have fared pretty well overall during the past two years – they’re getting worse and worse. My world is getting smaller with every choice the people around me are making for themselves. I don’t blame them, exactly, but it’s hard to be left behind.

It’s exhausting to feel like, by advocating for myself, I’m being a killjoy and a burden, and not being able to not do that offline is also a huge part of why I’m leaving my friends in Azeroth. I can choose to not be a burden to them, so that’s the choice I’m making. Coming on the heels of the realization that the more “normal” society at large wants to be, the more risk I’m at every single day, despite how much I’ve already given up, withdrawn from, and continue to avoid, it’s painful, but it also feels like the right choice, at least for now.

Nothing Is For Everyone, But Everything Is For Someone

The original Adam Ellis webcomic that spawned a thousand memes.

As much as I like to talk about games, and sometimes even myself in relation to the games that I play, I generally try to avoid Gaming Discourse. Gaming discourse is full of a whole bunch of anonymous folks on the internet who want to tell me that my opinion isn’t valid because I’m (a) female, (b) old – well, middle-aged at least, and (c) Not A Real Gamer for some reason or another (see points a and b). Heck, the last time I commented about someone else’s gaming opinion, I wasn’t even trying to start an argument, and I got jumped on and told how incredibly, terribly wrong I was. Really, it hardly seems worth it most days.

I actually starting writing this post shortly after that, but I let it linger in drafts because I wondering if perhaps it was too confrontational. I don’t like picking fights, I don’t even really care much for a spirited debate anymore. People – especially people on the internet – seem to want to die on the tiniest of anthills these days, and I can only assume being right – even if it’s just in their own mind – gives them some sort of satisfaction in an increasingly unsatisfying world.

… but we all do something in the name of escapism.

Which is kind of a perfect time to loop back to talking about gaming, because I would guess that escapism is precisely what most people get out of video games. Most folks who played games as a child, and are still gaming in their forties or fifties, and maybe a whole lot folks younger than that, probably remember a time when your gaming choices were limited to a handful of titles, and maybe you liked them a lot. Maybe you didn’t like them much at all, but you played them anyway because they were what was available to you at the time.

But if you’re playing video games right now, in 2022, even if you’re on a budget, that’s really just not the case anymore. Each game on Steam has a unique number in its URL, and those numbers are currently seven digits long for new games being released. That’s over a million games right there! Obviously, games have disappeared from the platform over the years, but once you start adding in other PC platforms, console games, and mobile games, I feel pretty safe in saying that there are – quite literally – millions of games you could be playing right now instead of reading this post.

I also think it’d be fair to say that your average person probably won’t play a million games in their lifetime, never mind every single video game ever made. It’s not a rational prospect. Time, energy, and attention are all finite resources. So maybe, you think, maybe it wouldn’t be awful if there were a whole lot less choice out there.

But here’s the thing – there are almost 8 billion people on this planet. Now, I’m not trying to say that every single one of them plays video games regularly. I won’t even try to say every single one has at least tried (or will try) a video game at some point in time. But there’s a lot of people out there, and a lot of that lot might play something every now and then, and guess what? A lot of them are going to like some things, and hate other things, and the things they like and hate won’t be the 100% the same as everyone else’s preferences.

I feel like I’m getting reductive now, but the increased availability of technology at a reasonable price point means more people have access to video games. More types of games are being made, catering to niche markets and are attracting new people to the hobby. While I’m sure there are some people who obsessively decorate their island in Animal Crossing one day, and wreck noobs in Call of Duty (is that still even a thing?) the next, you’re likely to find more people who play one or the other, but not both.

It was the release of Elden Ring – a game I will likely never play – that brought me back around to this topic. My interests don’t align with the vision of FromSoftware Inc, but I would argue that they have every right to make an extremely challenging game without difficulty options, as well as that I have every right to not buy or play that game. I’ve decided it’s Not For Me. That’s not a value judgement in any way; it’s just a statement of fact.

When I say something is Not For Me, I mean precisely that. When for one reason or another, a game doesn’t work for me, I move on. There’s someone, or a hundred someones, or a million someones who would say that same game is everything they want it to be. I’m happy for those people, but it isn’t going to change who I am, or what I do (or don’t) enjoy.

It took me quite awhile to get to the point where I understood that there’s a big difference between something being bad and something not being to my taste. It took even longer for me to realize that absolutely no one cares why I don’t like the thing they love. This blog is my playground, and I still try to be conscientious of noting the difference between something that’s technically flawed and something I just didn’t personally enjoy.

And this is why – at least I think it’s why – I keep defending games that are niche, unpopular, or just poorly marketed. I may not like them all. I may not even like most of them. But the vast majority of them aren’t bad games. If all the truly bad games disappeared tomorrow – the games that don’t work right for anyone, or that absolutely no one has ever enjoyed – I don’t think the overall number of available video games would decrease significantly.

Whether or not you personally like a thing has no bearing on whether or not that thing should be allowed to exist. It has no bearing on whether that thing should be available. And it has no bearing on whether or not the creator should have spent their time and energy making the product they wanted to make. It’s just not up to you.

From Steam’s policy on what is allowed to be sold on their platform. Do I love this policy? No. Will I absolutely defend their right to have this policy? Yes, indeed I will.

Here’s another story for you: someone I played World of Warcraft with for many years has stopped playing that and moved over to Final Fantasy XIV as his main game. He still hangs out in our guild Discord, as do many other friends who have stopped playing for one reason or another. Heck, we even have dedicated channels for other MMOs because we all do a dabble from time to time.

Why is this relevant? Because despite me saying over and over that FFXIV is Not For Me, he continues to try to persuade me by telling me how great it is, and I politely (but with increasing frustration) remind him that I’ve tried it more than once, and it just doesn’t work for me. It’s not that I think everyone I know who loves the game is wrong, or lying, or lacks taste. I’m glad it exists, and I’m glad it’s successful and people are enjoying it. That doesn’t mean I want to play it myself.

In fact, I love when people tell me about games they’ve enjoyed. I love it even more when they take my specific tastes into account when making recommendations. Heck, I even love when people are excited about things that I have less than zero interest in. But sometimes, pushing the point over and over feels more like being told that I’m wrong or stupid, and that I don’t love so much.

So, um, believe people when they tell you what they like or don’t like, ok? I promise you, they know better than you do.

I’m not sure why this disconnect exists for so many people who are invested in this hobby. Why there are so many people who feel they have the sole right to be the arbiter of what is good and what should or should not be available to other people? For the most part, people who are screaming about the things they don’t personally like aren’t even trying to come at it from a place of valid criticism, but rather, a need to feel their choice of leisure activity is better, and therefore superior, to someone else’s choice so they can feel good about themselves at someone else’s expense. It could be about difficulty, or genre, development budget, or platform, but it happens over and over and over again.

It’s okay not to like something that’s popular.

It’s okay to love something that other people hate.

It’s okay to look at something and know it’s Not For You.

Not everything is supposed to be.

An Intriguing Prospect – Just One Percent

I don’t know if it’s just my tiny corner of the Twitter-verse, but man, my feed has been weird lately. I realize that society as a whole has become more than a little extra bonus loopy as of late, and sure, social media is going to reflect that, but the sheer bitterness towards whatever things other people are enjoying has seemed – at least to me – to have ramped up a whole bunch since the start of 2022.

Through the magic of likes & quote re-tweets, I saw a tweet today from Jeff Vogel, founder of Spiderweb Software, that got me started thinking about a potential new project. He posits that the current trend of approximately 10,000 new indie games a year is too much, and throws out a suggestion to try to play even 1% of those games.

Note: In the thread that follows the original post, Mr. Vogel almost immediately corrected his math error. Ten thousand games a year is closer to 30 games a day than 300. He does not, however, back down from his original point that it’s too much.

I’m still not sure if the original point was that these indie game developers shouldn’t waste time creating, or that they should just let their passion projects fester on their hard drives. I’m a firm believer that if you want to create something, you should absolutely be creating something. Draw poorly. Write meanderingly. Make a wonky game or twelve. Give your soul the food it needs to survive this world, and if you can find someone who wants to pay you for the things you make? Take their money with a smile.

One percent is a mere 100 games, and my first thought was “That is absolutely completely doable.” Now, mind, I’m not saying it’s feasible for everyone; I have the luxury of significantly more free time than most people, a fairly broad interest in different genres, and a blog that would synergize nicely with just such a project. Several years ago now, I did a full calendar year of blogging about a different game every single day. That project was far less restrictive than this would be – I didn’t restrict myself only to new games, or even just games on Steam. In fact, I didn’t even restrict myself to PC games. If it was any kind of video game, and I played it, I could write about it.

It was just the tiniest seed of an idea, and I probably would have forgotten all about it in a day or two, but then, Mr. Vogel decided to double down.

See, I am going to enthusiastically defend the glut of indie games until the end of time. I do play them. In fact, I would wager I play far more indie titles in any given year than I do big budget games. Now obviously, this isn’t true of most people, and it’s probably not even true of most gamers. But I am glad these game exist, and that they are so readily available, and I know I am not alone. I’d be far more likely to “surrender to despair” if my only gaming choices were big budget titles that played exactly like the 27 big budget titles that came before. I love quirky passion projects, solo developers, bonkers concepts, and stories that break my heart. I want even more indie games for more types of gamers.

I’m so tired of the idea that there’s only one correct way to enjoy this hobby. I’m tired of gatekeeping. I’m just tired.

No, I feel like the biggest impediment to taking on this sort of project would be financial. Assuming an average price of $20 per indie game, this project would cost me roughly $2000 over the course of the year if I was purchasing everything I played. Obviously, I could bring that cost down with things like GamePass, bundles, and requesting review copies, but it would likely still be a hefty price tag.

At any rate, as much as I’d like to jump right on in – I have some difficulty resisting this kind of challenge, and the double-down definitely elevated the original suggestion into a challenge – I would most definitely need to give it more thought and get the parameters defined. Would demos of newly released indie titles be adequate? Would I need to do it for a calendar year, or is it something I could look at on a rolling basis (i.e. as long as the game was released less than one year from the day of posting, I’d be covered)? Where do Early Access titles fit in – would it be only the first year from EA release, or would only full-release games be applicable?

I do currently have 48 yet-to-release indie titles on my Steam wish list (with Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 being the only non-indie outlier), as well as another 48 that have released since February 2021. That doesn’t even take into account available indie titles on GamePass or that are already in my Steam library.

… I kind of feel like I have to do this now. I just need to figure out the shape of the thing.

Blaugust: Motivation & Momentum (or the Lack Thereof)

When Belghast first posted about Blaugust 2021, I told myself it’d be absolutely ok to go for one of the lower tiers. After all, I know I can do it – I’ve taken the Rainbow award for daily posts during 2019, and in the slightly different but ultimately similar 2020 Blapril.

But waking up on August 2nd without a post ready to go just felt weird, so it appears that I am going to try to put a little more oomph into this than I had originally planned on. Which is a bit awkward since my blog motivation has been super-low the past few months, which I think is due in large part to my overall motivation being equally low as of late.

The question then is this: where do you find motivation when it’s not in the places you would normally find it? When I start to lose motivation towards the end of a project, I can usually push through solely on momentum, but that’s not really an option at the beginning. Without motivation or momentum to rely on, I’m stuck with what always seems to be my default position of sheer stubbornness!

I’m still not sure exactly how Blaugust 2021 is going to go for me, but watching other participants come out of the gate strong and with a whole lot of gusto has invigorated me. I think my biggest stumbling block is not going to be the time actually spent writing but rather the time where I need to be doing (or at least thinking about) something interesting enough to be writing about.

… which this particular post probably is not, but in the interest of not starting out way behind, it’s what I’ve got today.

Welcome to Blaugust 2021, participants and readers!

#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.

Struggling With Skill-Cap

Every time I hear my husband tell one of his friend that’s I’m the “real gamer” in our house, I am never sure whether to laugh or cry. Sure, I play a lot of games, across a lot of genres, and there’s a fair few I’m even reasonably good at.


Every time I start a new game, I start on the easiest setting. This is a big part of why competitive multiplayer games never really last for me – difficulty settings aren’t a thing, and you have to be better than some other person playing to make any kind of meaningful progress. I call this hitting the skill-cap, and I tend to hit it early and often.

Recently, I hit this point in Warframe, and although I could still play – going back to completed missions, just for the pure joy of space ninja parkour with big guns, the fact that I cannot make progress down the game paths I’m most interested in have made the whole package far less appealing. The next quest I need to complete requires a mission type that I cannot wrap my head (or possibly just my fingers) around, and let’s be real, I have enough frustration in my life without pounding my head up against something that’s not only not enjoyable, but actually very frustrating.

With Warframe being a multiplayer game, I know I could probably wheedle a friend into helping me over the hump, or try queuing public to see if I can get some stranger to carry me without unleashing a torrent of abuse in my general direction. Neither of these seem like good (read, fun) choices, so I’ve shelved the game for the time being.

Now I’m running into this problem in DMC: Devil May Cry – the second game I’m attempting to play through for #CapcoMonth. For the most part, the “Human” difficulty level hasn’t been too frustrating, but I’ve found myself rage-quitting out of the game a couple of times now due to a particular jump sequence I just couldn’t seem to master. Yes, I’ve tried it with a controller. Yes, it was worse – I only find some assistance in switching to controller for 2D games.

Each time, however, I’ve been able to come back to it and eventually push through the rough spot. I don’t even mind the fact that I have to look up guides for the major boss fights because I find the combat so unintuitive – it’s a game far out of my normal comfort zone, and I really am on this ride mostly for the story.

Now, my failure to comprehend the combat in a meaningful way might be the end of the line for me – I have made it to mission 14, which is a long, repetitive boss fight. Because of the length, I cannot manage to keep myself alive long enough to complete it. I have no healing items, and although I’m consistently making it to the last phase, I can’t complete it. I’m not even sure if I can go back to a prior mission and grind out currency to purchase healing. This skill-cap might be a brick wall.

ETA: Shortly after hitting publish, I gave it one more whirl and with a well-timed cool down, I managed to end the fight early and am able to progress again!

Getting Over The Hump

You might think that with everything that’s going on, I’d be way ahead on my gaming goals, or at the very least, deep diving into my library to pluck out some long forgotten gems.

You would be very very wrong.

Each day has been a cycle of loading up a game, playing it briefly, and walking away irritated. After several days of this, I have come to the conclusion that it is not the games, but something going on with me that’s making pretty much everything not feel fun.

It might be a bit soon to say for sure, but I think I might be pushing past it.

Last night, I installed Majesty 2, and played a few scenarios. I’d poked at it a bit in the past, but never managed to adjust my strategies from the first game enough to get through the tutorial levels.

This time, however, I managed to make the leap, and in doing so, hurdled myself over the hump of nothing being enjoyable. I wouldn’t have guessed that a mediocre sequel that came out in 2009 would be the game that did it, but sometimes, you have to just go with whatever works.


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.