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).

A Clean Slate

After a bunch of frustration with my not-entirely-kosher Windows 7 install – culminating today in being unable to open a PDF file to pay my electric bill – I finally bit the bullet and found a repair utility that would allow me to update to an entirely kosher version of Windows 10.

Unlike the last couple of times I’ve had to deal with PC problems, for once, I didn’t lose all my files, but any programs that were installed? All gone.

Getting the functional stuff back online was easy – I keep installers for most of the things I use all the time in my downloads folder. Reinstalling my web browser (because, no Edge, no), Discord, Steam, and the other launchers I use took minutes.

Now, the game re-installation marathon has begun. I grabbed Ode and Aven Colony right off the bat – I have one more level to go in each, and I plan to finish those up over the next couple of days. But everything else is a clean slate – thousands of games at my fingertips, and with nothing installed, every one of them is just as likely to get played next as any other.

And since I was updating my OS anyway, I decide to opt in to the new Steam beta. Now, maybe it’s just me being resistant to change, but I don’t love it.

It’s not just that it feels slow and clunky (which it does), but it feels like it’s just not up to the job of dealing with as many games, and as many categories, as I have. It has also, somehow, resurrected from the dead any of those old free to play titles I have long since uninstalled and they had previously disappeared themselves from my libraries. Which would be fine, I suppose, but it has also resurrected categories that no longer worked for me, so I now need to recategorize to get rid of those categories, and …

Look, I like organization. I don’t like the process of getting organized.

Sure, I could opt back out for the time being, but that’s just stalling. I’ll need to figure out how to make it work for me – at least until GoG Galaxy 2.0 hooks a girl up with a beta key.

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?


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?

On My Not-So-Successful Attempt at Streaming

Around the end of last year, I got the itch again. I still had no real idea for a blog, or a video series, or a stream or anything else, but I wanted to do something.

So I did what indecisive nerd girls do – I went to Twitter and posted a poll.

Now, obviously, seven people is barely even a minuscule sample size, but since I’ve never really bothered to grow my Twitter beyond a small corner of the internet populated by people I already like from other interactions, well, I wasn’t expecting much.

So, I decided to give streaming a whirl. I spent a day or two whipping up some graphics, setting up my channel and agonizing over my overlay. I decided to pass on having a main game, and do a variety stream. I figured it was good opportunity to delve into the nearly-forgotten portions of my library and give some screen time to games that people weren’t already talking about.

I wish I could tell you that I failed on scope. No. I failed on tech. I refused to get a webcam, because gaming is my chill time, and I wasn’t going to get all dolled up to sit in front of my computer and relax. I managed to do a whole stream with no sound – something I would have realized a lot sooner if there was anyone watching it. I found myself dreading streaming instead of looking forward to it.

It just wasn’t my medium.

And to be honest, although I like the idea of video game streaming, I don’t even really watch streams. I stopped using Twitch on anything resembling a regular basis when SMITE moved its E-Sports games over to Mixer. I don’t even care much for video walkthroughs or Let’s Plays.

Although I usually have one or more multiplayer games in my rotation, I grew up with gaming being something you basically did alone. If you were lucky, you had people to talk about it with, but it was rarely a social thing in and of itself.

So, on this first day of Blaugust 2019, I’m glad to be back home, with the written word, and oh-so-many delightfully nerdy things to write about.

You won’t be seeing me on stream anytime soon.

The Difficulties of Being a Generalist

I’ve always been mildly envious of people who know exactly what they want. Who love a thing so unabashedly and completely that they rarely get distracted. Those people tend to excel in whatever their chosen discipline is – or for our purposes, their chosen hobby.

I am a generalist. I have been a generalist for as long as I can remember. There are so many things I love and adore, I would need ten lifetimes to get even reasonably competent in all of them, and at least half a dozen to even experience all the things I would like to experience.

Yep, that’s a nerd girl problem for sure.

My house is cluttered with supplies for a multitude of arts & crafts projects. The list of movies and TV shows I want to watch is so long and overwhelming, I frequently find myself tossing something on the television that I’ve seen a million times over because it’s easier than choosing from all of the worthy (and perhaps the not-so-worthy) options I haven’t seen. The only reason my TBR pile isn’t scattered over every flat surface is that I went primarily digital years ago.

And then, there’s the video game library.

While that’s not a completely accurate number, it’s close enough for our purposes.

When I started my game-a-day blog back in 2016, I though my library (which was certainly less than 500 games) was unmanageable. And it probably was. Just over three years later, it has become such a mighty and unwieldy thing, I find I do even LESS gaming than I did before. It’s become my “What to Watch” conundrum all over again.

It would be easy to blame deep discounts, and the proliferation of bundle options, but let’s be real. It’s a problem that comes from being a generalist*. I want to play ALL THE GAMES, but honestly, who has time for that?

So I keep building up my digital library at a faster pace than I could possibly work through it, and then, when I have time to play, I frequently find myself suffering from paralysis of choice, unable to commit the precious commodity of leisure time to any one suitor.

I’ve joked for years that my Steam library isn’t a backlog. It’s a retirement plan. It’s a security blanket for the time when time is abundant.

Yet I also understand that there’s a deep flaw in that reasoning – new games will keep being made, put on sale, tossed into the Humble Monthly, and I will keep acquiring faster than I can enjoy. It’s a hoarding behavior I haven’t been able to overcome, and one that’s been enabled by the digital marketplace (because can you imagine having that many physical games – where would you put them???).

In the past year, I’ve tried to remind myself that some games are not for me. I have stopped adding things to my library that are praised for being “fiendishly difficult” – I know my reaction times are not what they were 20 years ago, and they weren’t great then. All the critical acclaim in the world isn’t going to make that any less true, and I’m not here for frustration.

What I want from games is an experience. Challenge my mind. Tell me a story. Show me something beautiful. Make me think. Make me smile. Hell, make me cry like a baby.

I’m ready to play now.

*Ok, time to say what you’re all thinking. The real problem is a lack of self control when it comes to things that are cheap or free. I’m a damn Yankee, and I’m not going to apologize for that. I’m 41 years old – I’ve learned to love that part of myself.