Talk about anything and everything Squad-related here -- what you've been playing, what you're looking forward to, and how big your Pile of Shame has grown after that last Steam sale...
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Angry Jedi

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One at a time or all at once?

by Angry Jedi » Mon Mar 16, 2015 5:02 pm

I'm often curious about these questions, and then usually forget to ask them, so I'll ask them now while they're actually fresh in my mind.

Question 1: How do you tackle the list of games you want to play? Do you play a bunch all at once (not simultaneously, obviously) or concentrate on one at a time?

Question 2: Do you tend to finish everything you start? And if so, how thoroughly? Do you count "having seen the credits roll once" as having beaten a game, or do you like to take aim for a Platinum trophy? Or a complete 100% clear? (because those two things aren't always the same thing!)

In my case, I tend to concentrate on a single game at a time, be it a PC, handheld or console title. Well, actually, technically this isn't quite accurate as I tend to juggle said "single" game with Final Fantasy XIV, but otherwise, yes, I have one single non-MMO title on the go at any one time, and I tend, in most cases, to want to beat it before I move on to something else, particularly if it's a story-centric game.

As for whether I go for a Platinum trophy or 100% clear, that depends entirely on the game. I tend to go for a Platinum if the game is one I've enjoyed a lot, and tend to think of the Platinum as a mark of appreciation to those who have worked on it; we all know by now, surely, that trophies and achievements are used as much for metrics as they are for player incentive, and that most (discounting trophy whores) Platinum trophies attained can be interpreted as someone having enjoyed a game enough to want to see everything it had to offer, and I bet there's a fair few devs who look at those statistics with some interest.

Both of these things are a bit of a change from how I treated games when I was a youngster. Whether this is symptomatic of the increased depth of modern games, changes in my own attitude or a bit of both is debatable, but I do vividly recall owning an awful lot of games in, say, the Super NES era, and never coming anywhere near beating any of them. I remember clearing all 96 levels of Super Mario World being a really big deal and, so far as I can remember, that is pretty much the only game I beat until the PlayStation era, when I think Resident Evil 2 and Final Fantasy VII were the first games I played through to total and utter completion, seeing everything they had to offer. From there on, I found myself being more and more drawn to complete games I played once I started them, even if they weren't the absolute best, and developed an appreciation for looking at a game as a complete work rather than making a snap judgement based on the first hour/level or two. First impressions are important, of course, but ultimately it's not always fair to judge something until you've experienced all of it.

I've found this willingness to give things more of a chance than many other people would to bring me in contact with some truly fascinating and memorable experiences, and this is indeed part of the Squad's philosophy. I doubt, for example, that I'd think so fondly of Nier if I'd given up on it after a couple of hours, for example, and I most certainly wouldn't be as much of a fan of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series if I'd taken the first game's sub-30fps frame rate and repetitive, clunky gameplay at face value. But this doesn't just apply to games that are, shall we say, less than critical darlings; there are certain experiences out there for which it's essential to play through the whole thing before making a judgement about it. Visual novels are perhaps the best example -- would you review a book without having read all of it? -- but this also applies to pretty much anything where the story takes centre stage.

I've always described myself as a "narrative junkie", and this, I think, is what drives me to focus on a single title and see it through to its conclusion before I move on to something else. I find it difficult to keep several games' stories straight in my head at once -- even though I have little trouble doing so with, say, several TV shows at once -- but, moreover, I find it tricky to prioritise which ones to play if I find myself enjoying several things equally. More often than not, any time I try to juggle several things at once, one thing ends up taking over and another falls by the wayside, at least temporarily. This isn't so much of a problem with short games like adventures, but when we're talking lengthy RPGs, that can be an issue!

So how do you approach your pile of shame and/or swathe of latest hotness, Squaddies?
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Re: One at a time or all at once?

by Beige » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:01 pm

No surprises here, but...

a) We ususally have 2 games going on in the household - "his" and "hers" though this is flexible and occasionally goes up to 4 at a time though never more. These games tend to highlight desperate genres almost always, so if one of us is playing a story-heavy RPG, the other one won't be. Typically Lynette is on point for playing RPGs, sims and visual novels while I am on point for playing "anything else". Lately we have been playing a lot of co-op which sort of cuts both ways. Other divisons are "action game vs atmospheric game" or "game you can play in short bursts vs game you can only play in large chunks".

I guess you could say:
On console / Steam? - One primary game for each person in the household (Lately it has been Stein's Gate vs Hand of Fate. I finished Hand of Fate and moved on to Castle in Darkness, Stein's Gate is still happening.

On Portable? - Simultaneously with Console, 1 per family member though lately this has been Monhun for both of us.

"Toying with"... not much. Super Time Force? I don't do gaming polygamy.


b) Through to completion? Always. I can still count on one and a half hands the number of games I have NOT finished to completion in my 30 or so years of playing video games. This is due largely to me being very selective about what I play. I never start anything I'm not prepared to see through to the end.... the only thing I can even think of in the last 5 years we started and didn't finish would be Tales of Xilia and before that.... almost nothing.

c) 100%? Rarely. I tend to have a threshold for all games that splits "busywork" off from the core game experience. Said differently, it's crucial to me that I play Dungeon of the Endless through to the point where everybody escapes level 13, but I couldn't care less whether or not we get the achievement for doing 20 levels with the Infinite Pod. I guess you could say "have you seen the full breadth of content?" or did you play the game through to the point where "Credits roll?" Then you can stop. If not, keep going. If there are meta-cheevos that involve huge expanses of effort beyond "Credits Roll" (Get all cards unlocked in Hand of Fate, for example) you'd better have a damn good reason.

The big attractor for me about most games is the hindsight "takeaway" you're left with at the end of the game after "Credits Roll". I need to be able to hold the entire experience in my head start-to-end and evaluate whether or not it was worth my time. Many games start out Worth Your Time and then end badly (Mordor for example) while many others (like Nier and other Squadworthy titles) ramp up in the late game to be something special and memorable on the takeaway front. 9 times out of 10 you will remember the Something Special (Spec Ops) and this will go on to become a happy vacation memory you will treasure even 5-10 years out. A game like Darksiders which is fun end-to-end but which ends without a significant takeaway after Credits Roll is a good example of the type of game I have less and less tolerance for as I get older. I have too much going on to care about junk food disposable / forgettable games in my life, so no Far Cry for me at least not now.

Interestingly, a side factor of this is that I almost never play games that do not posses the trait "finishable". You won't find me ever playing something like an Endless Runner, Pac-Man, Score chaser or MMO. Anything designed to be either a timesink / timewaster or a skinner box is straight out, ain't nobody got time for that shit.

Some games like Monster Hunter really stretch the line fine between grind and game, but the progression in MH is so glacially slow yet so rewarding that I find you can equate it to something like reading War and Peace. When I look back on my months last summer hunting Rathalos and Lagiacrus, all I have are great memories of an awesome time so I count that as a win on the takeaway front despite the enormous time investiture. These kinds of epic games are few and far between though. If you ask me to commit to an 80 hour experience (or 150 in the case of Monhun) then you'd damn well better pay out in 7-7-7s at the end of the ride. I'm looking at you Bravely Default.

This is the chief reason ATM why I have not been able to get excited about Dragon Age: Inquisition despite by all accounts its high quality and tailored Markbait presentation. I am not interested in a 200 hour RPG that could have been a 40 hour RPG, though I have no doubt I will play DA-Inquisition in due time when the slow season starts. Too burned by Ni No Kuni and its ilk.... burned enough to quit Tales of Xilia halfway through, that's how much.

I don't forsee anything happening in the next few months that will disrupt my pattern of feeding on high-nutritional value indies, encapsulated experiences and the occasional Bloodbourne type 40-hour or less "2 week investment" game. The length of most games I play is "More or less a season of TV" with the occasional "more or less a season of Anime" which is longer.
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Re: One at a time or all at once?

by RedSwirl » Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:39 pm

I've actually started waiting to buy games. I no longer buy a game unless I'm ready to play it almost immediately, unless it's on a ridiculously low sale.

Basically, when something comes up I ask myself:

1) When am I going to play this game?

2) Will the game be on sale again at a lower price before that time?


This has saved me a shitload of money and very nearly frozen the growth of my backlog. On the flipside, I also bought a total of like five games throughout the entirety of 2014, only three of them being full retail-sized games.

As for actually tackling the backlog, I've fallen into a pattern of planning out "odysseys" where I'll group together backlog games by genre. You've already seen the thread I made on space games, and I shall continue that odyssey with Freespace and maybe StarLancer and Freelancer later on. A while ago I also wen through a sort of immersive sim odyssey where I started with Ultima Underworld and moved on to Thief, Deus Ex, and Arx Fatalis along with System Shock. One day I'll finish my tactical shooter odyssey with Rainbow Six 3 and SWAT 4. I thoroughly enjoyed the old school FPS odyssey I took through DOOM, Duke Nukem, and Shadow Warrior. I think I'll continue that through Rise of the Triad and Star Wars Dark Forces. The longest odyssey I have planned is probably the one on isometric CRPGs. I haven't played a single isometric-style RPG in my life, and intend to start around the beginning of them with Wasteland 1. From there, I already have both old Fallout games, both Baldur's Gates, both Icewind Dales, Planescape, and the Temple of Elemental Evil sitting on my hard drive and GOG accounts.

Platinum/Trophies? Don't Care. They don't get me anything so I don't bother. Back in the day I would actually strive to 100% a game when doing so actually unlocked something like an extra area or a new playable character. Now I just unlock whatever I feel like unlocking, and most big games these days don't hide cool stuff behind objectives or trophies.
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Re: One at a time or all at once?

by A.I Impaired » Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:37 pm

I never force myself to play a game if it doesn't vibe with me on a particular day. Consequently I am sure many games with rough spots have found themselves unfinished, with some diamond like experiences yet to be harvested.

Trophies? Forgetaboutit. I am not motivated by trophychievement things.

I do have a rule though, no more than 3 current 'projects'. That rule is there precisely because I had the 'All at Once' approach and
found myself never really giving any game the time they deserve. To me though, life is too short to waste on a game I am not into.
I start many games off gung-ho and have a great experience.... many JRPG's come to mind .... only to find myself dragging through grinding that seems to not motivate me enough to complete the game. I dig many a premise, but a game as a whole needs to pace itself well for me to give it all my time. Im not talking call of duty here. On the other end Michael Bay syndrome exists. In that case I will probably easily complete the game, but actually feel as though I wasted my time in a whole other way. I believe in action that doesn't require crumbling buildings to build tension, of course. I like subtlety, but that doesn't have to mean monotony.

So yes, if the game goes too far on one end or the other... it might get tossed out of my favor. Sometimes though a game will give me just enough motivation to wade through some of its crap. Yakuza series, you kept me invested even with your constant repeating street brawls.... and I feel ok with what you are. The SoS sometimes even motivates me to go back and weather some of these shitstorm laden games to await some rather rewarding and beautiful outcomes... I aknowledge that is possible with some games, but for the most part I aint got time for that. Except for with Dark/Demon's Souls..... thanks to Beige and company for getting me to stick with those. That said, if I didn't have a wiki in one hand and a controller in the other I would loose motivation super fast.
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Re: One at a time or all at once?

by Calin Kim » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:53 pm

1) I play whatever I want to play when I feel like playing it. If this means that I dig out the Sega Genesis and boot up Phantasy Star IV, then that's what I'll do. Normally I play something that counts as a "backlog" game, but there are some times where I don't feel like a narrative, and I just want to play Street Fighter IV. I have a backloggery account that I sort of keep track of things on, but I'm not entirely sure that it's up to date. Also, I have Playstation plus which means I end up with just way too much stuff to play all the time.

2) I have started and not finished the following games in the last year or so: Ni no Kuni, Mass Effect 3, Bayonetta, Batman Arkham City, Crysis 2, Far Cry 4, Metro: Last Light, Bioshock Infinite, Portal 2, and I'm sure many more. So, uh, no I guess I don't feel the need to finish the games that I start. If a game really grabs me I will finish it, but I don't feel guilty for playing Portal 2 for an hour, getting frustrated with it, and leaving it to collect dust. If I really thought it was worth pursuing I would probably be playing it.

I think I'm about halfway through Ni no Kuni, and I actually want to go back and finish it up, but I also don't really feel like putting in the time to do that. I don't know. All of the bullshit managing familiars started to feel like I was at work with a spreadsheet in front of me. For some reason grinding out mantras in Digital Devil Saga doesn't piss me off, but leveling up familiars in Ni no Kuni does. I'll probably actually finish this one, but I'll be damned if Level 5 doesn't craft some awesome systems with one idiotic decision thrown in. Level 5 is so consistently disappointing...

I don't like trophies at all. I turned them off on my 360, and if I were less lazy I would figure out how to turn them off on Steam and PS3 too. I think Achievements are one of the worst things that's happened to gaming. I put it right up there with online multiplayer.
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