Christmas Challenge - Complete
Or at least the challenge period is over. To recap, my goal was to raise my SteamGifts won games played from 34% to at least 40% and hopefully also complete some of the games in that category I had begun in the past. So, how did I do?
The first pic was taken a day or so late so I had already gained a percentage point at that point. However, overall I only went from 34% played to 37% played in the past month (roughly). However, that does not tell the whole story. I spent time playing 24 games from my wins list, including beating or completing 16 of them. Some games taking longer than expected, as well as an unusual amount of good luck winning more games on SteamGifts during December set my overall percentage back.
I wish I could have done more, but I’m pretty pleased with the progress, and have been having a good time with most of the games I’ve played (a couple are asset flips and you all know how those go).
After two months back to back with significant self-challenges, I need to take a breather. By no means am I stopping fighting my backlog, especially my SteamGifts wins, but I need a little time without a goal hanging over me. I still really want to cut down on the “unfinished” category, especially the games I currently have installed and in-progress and in the process just savor some good games.
In a month or so I think I’ll be ready to set myself a new challenge, though you all will probably hear from me sooner than that.
Thanksgiving Challenge - Complete
Well, complete is a strange description seeing as I am still behind on playing my wins, but the challenge period I set for myself is over. Thanksgiving has come and gone and I am full of turkey. And the results?
Having played 38 games from my SteamGifts wins in the past 22 days, I raised my games played percentage among my SteamGifts wins from 23% to 34%, an 11% increase.
While I hoped to make an even bigger dent than that, I still am pleased with my efforts. I did focus more on small to medium games (and 100%ed quite a few), though I did also begin several longer games which I will be continuing playing on into the future. My new goal is going to be reaching 40% played by Christmas (December 25th), while completing or at least beating as many of the “in-progress” games as I can.
November’s Theme - Impulse Purchases
This weekend, however, I will be working on a game in the spirit of our monthly theme, Impulse Purchases. Deathtrap Dungeon was an impulse purchase from the most recent Halloween sale.
planetarian - the reverie of a little planet
One of the first games I completed for my Thanksgiving challenge (which I’ve been working on a couple days now, despite only posting here just now), it’s taken me about 4 years to get around to playing this SteamGifts win, and I really wish I had not waited so long. Despite not being the biggest fan of anime-style / Japanese visual novels, this was actually one of the good ones in my opinion. It doesn’t go in for all of the trope-y stuff. On the contrary, tells a very moving story with two interesting characters.
One thing I really liked was how well-written and natural the interactions between the protagonist (don’t think we ever got his name other than “Mr. Customer”) and Yumimi are. She’s obviously super-sweet and cutesy, but it didn’t come across as forced or out of place like I find in some anime or anime-style games. I guess part of it was that there were not the jarring switches of tone and/or characterization that are often done for humor’s sake in anime these days (and to a lesser extent fiction in general). The humor here was very understated, but that made the characters likable to me, and their relationship seem genuine.
I don’t want to say too much about the ending to spoil it for anyone, but I did like how it was left uncertain with a bit of hope. But that hope was within the context of a bleak world… it wasn’t quite the overly cheery “hope conquers all and makes it all better” kind of message some stories give.
In the US, Thanksgiving comes at the end of November as you may know. It is a time for gratitude, so seems a perfect season to push myself to put as big a dent in my SteamGifts wins as possible. So, I’m only going to be playing SteamGifts wins through Thanksgiving (November 22 this year). Afterward I’ll probably try to bump off a couple games that fit the monthly theme of impulse purchases.
Total Failure - Time to Start Again
Totally missed my target goals for last year, mainly because I did not play games at all all that much for a couple months after having gotten completely absorbed in a couple idle / clicker games preceding that.
Ready to get back to the joy of the grind though. Not going to let these games win.
End of Year Goals - October Update
|Games Beaten or Completed||10%||12%||20%|
|SteamGift Wins Played||21%||26%||50%|
|AStats Ranking||2035||1745||< 1500|
I have made steady progress on all of my goals, though my pace is a bit slower than it needs to be if I hope to complete them by the end of the year, especially the goal to have beaten at least 20% of my library. A combination of going a bit slower than expected, some games counting differently between total games and games recently played (e.g. Strong Bad’s Game for Cool People is listed as five episodes in my library but only counted as one complete on the recently played list), and new bundle games has meant progress towards that goal has been slow.
On the other hand, I’ve moved up the AStats (achievement tracking website) ladder faster than I expected, and my SteamGifts wins plays have come at about the pace I planned for. While the progress seems a bit slow on the latter, I have a plan in mind. I like to play games of a similar theme together, and right now I’m focused more on horror / spooky games (because of Halloween). I am playing some other games, but really going to be doing mostly horror / monster type games for the most part this month, and that limits my choice from my SteamGifts wins. I’ll make up for it in November, and am sure I will hit the 50% mark or more by the end of the year.
I know I promised regular, short updates / reviews of games as I finished them, but I’ve been slipping in and out of depression, and just fell way too far behind on that. I will try again to get regular with that starting this month.
Always Sometimes Monsters - started this a month or more ago, but its slipped through the cracks, going back to it very soon
Amnesia : The Dark Descent - same story as above
BIT.TRIP Presents… Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien - started this a couple weeks ago, playing a little bit every few days, I’m about 3/5 of the way through
Choice of the Deathless - really well written choose your own adventure game with an interesting story / scenario, played through it once a month or so ago, but probably will try to finish 100%-ing it soon
Gateways - fun little puzzle platformer, seemed to fit since I just finished Portal 2 and am working on Half-life 2: Episode 2 now, its basically a 2-d Portal game
Guns’N’Zombies - kind of fun, mindless arcade shooter that I started a week or two ago, only about 1/5 of the way through I think
Half-Life 2: Episode 2 - I started this last week, am about 1/3 of the way through, this is the only Half-life game I haven’t 100%-ed yet
Victor Vran - started this a couple weeks ago but got caught up in other games and haven’t been back to it yet
The Wolf Among Us - 100%
I honestly was really tempted to sell / trade this game after I got it from the recent Humble Telltale Bundle, but so glad I did not.
The story kept me engrossed from start to finish (and the ending even leaves me wanting more). It was expertly written both in terms of pacing and thoughtfulness. The latter particularly is something that many games do not seem to quite get right. The Wolf Among Us however managed to take somewhat familiar social problems and weave them into a situation where the ideas of choice and responsibility are explored. The game does feel like it has a bit of a slant perhaps, but it’s not glaringly egregious like some other games I’ve played or seen played. Overall, the author seems to be able to recognize the complexity of such situations and how many different ways people may validly respond.
That said, the one thing that did drag the game down a little for me was how annoying so many of the characters were. So many of them want help, but at the same time want to jerk your character (the sheriff) around. And then when you catch them in their lies and pressure them to be honest and helpful, they act like it is somehow you that are in the wrong for not falling for their nonsense. Many of the other characters around were equally shocked if you actually did anything productive to cut through the BS and outright violence thrown your way.
Still, there were at least a couple moments were it was acknowledged that you, the player, are doing the right thing in a terrible situation by at least a couple characters. And, as important, most of the jerks end up getting theirs if you play your cards right.
Finally, I’d like to note that although it’s a bit more like an interactive movie than a game (no real puzzles or possibility to fail unless you’re VERY VERY bad at quicktime events), the “combat” still feels really satisfying.
As far as the challenge of 100%-ing it: it was quite easy and did not require even a full replay. I just had to replay a couple chapters at the end to pick up a couple missing fable entries.
Long Term Goals
As alluded to in my last post, I want to set down some specific goals for myself to complete by the end of the year. In other words, I have a little over four months from this point to reach these goals.
|Games Beaten or Completed||10%||20%|
|SteamGift Wins Played||21%||50%|
|AStats Ranking||2035||< 1500|
I will make a monthly status report, updating my progress on these goals, and possibly raising my goal if I find them too easy. I also believe I will start doing individual posts for each game I complete or which I play to the point I am leaving it currently (e.g. simulator, sandbox, fighting etc type games that have no clear end). I feel like writing a little review will allow me to reflect on my experience and “digest” it a little more (so I am not totally rushing from one game to the next) and will allow me to keep my writing skills up. Hopefully these little reviews will be interesting and/or useful to others.
Current Game Progress
The Wolf Among Us - in progress, completed episode 1
Jack Lumber - installed, going to start tonight
Victor Vran - installed, may start tonight or tomorrow
Grim Legends 2 - installed, will start tomorrow or Wednesday, whenever I have The Wolf Among Us completed
Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age - to be beat soon
2064: ROM - to be 100% soon
Awesomenauts - on-going
SimplePlanes - on-going
Ichi - on-going
SpaceChem - soon to be started and will be on-going, worked on slowly
Flix and Chill: Millenials - near future
Enigmatis 1 & 2 - near future
RUSE - near future
Toadled - near future
Toki Tori - near future
Update: August 28
I’ve continued to make solid progress towards destroying my backlog
I still haven’t found time / ability to beautify my profile much. Also, I feel like I am a little “behind”, particularly in regards to playing Grim Legends 2, which I told someone I would be playing last week, but which it looks like I will play tomorrow or Wednesday.
So… my progress…
2064: Read Only Memories
This was a Steam Gifts win I was really excited about. I truly enjoy point and clicks, and they also hold a special nostalgic place in my heart. This really felt like an upgraded NES or DOS point and click, which I consider a win. Generally loved the art style and colors, and the music was amazing. The robot sidekick / main character (depending on how you look at it), Turing, was incredibly charming and well-written. Many of the other characters were great as well, and there were many fun, quirky moments.
However, I honestly found this game to be somewhat of a disappointment. There seemed to be fewer choices and/or puzzles than most point and clicks, with much much more monologues by various characters. And honestly, half the time I really didn’t care what many of them had to say (at least at the length they chose to go on about it). It felt more like a visual novel in some respects than a point and click adventure at times. The clues / leads in the game’s detective mystery really don’t go anywhere, leaving the player little to ponder over. Nor does the game seriously explore the complexities of a reality where there is the possibility for sapient robots, genetic splicing, and cybernetic enhancements. The game sacrifices both the detective story and the possibility for true, complex philosophical quandaries in favor of setting up straw men for the writer to knock down while trumpeting his own political / philosophical views.
There is even one point near the end where the player may be questioning the ethics of unleashing sapient robots on the world for any number of good reasons. However, if the player fails to endorse said plan, Turing overrules you, despite his previous claims that you are in it together (and the better game design choice to let the player actually be able to make choices.)
3/4 of the way through and I was asking, “Is it over yet?” I did beat the game, and I have 61% of the achievements. I’ll probably go back next weekend (or perhaps further in the future) to collect the rest. There’s one achievement in particular that calls for playing through the whole game in one sitting that will take all day someday.
Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey
Finished the grind to 100%ing this. Not much to say in terms of review. Straight-forward word-formation type game with a few twists in the forms of power ups and RPG elements. Good casual fun for a short time, but was getting a bit old by the end, just because it was so repetitive and had next to zero story whatsoever.
The Silent Age
Another Steam Gifts win. Although I expected this to be pretty good, this one exceeded my expectations. It was full of pretty clever puzzles and a story that kept me engaged right up to the end. I would have played it straight through had I not had to take a break for lunch at one point. The game is beautiful as well.
100%-ed this one as well.
Back to the Future: The Game
An old bundle game (Indie Royale I think?) Although it really felt like a Back to the Future movie come to life as a game (a huge plus), the puzzles were often rather obtuse, even worse than what I was describing in Grim Legends last week. It didn’t help that the game seemed to expect certain dialogue and events to happen in certain orders, and if you failed to do it just so, you might have to really struggle to get the necessary event to trigger so you could progress. I had to make liberal use of the in-game hint mechanic, and even referred to a walkthrough at one point.
Likewise, the story was a mixed bag. While the characters and voice-acting were great, and it really felt like a Back to the Future movie to me (cannot emphasize that enough), it suffered a problem I’ve seen in many movies / games (including 2064: ROM above). Part of the story’s message clearly is that people’s free will should be respected. However, at the same time, Marty (and to a lesser extent Doc) have an idea about how the past, present, and future “should” be. They will go out of their way to circumvent free choice in order that things play out how they “should”, and even in some cases to lead things to be better for themselves or their family and friends. Meanwhile, if the timeline is altered in other ways (by accident, by other characters, or in a way that makes things worse for themselves) or if free choice is being impinged upon (e.g. by someone ELSE manipulating feelings) it’s “bad”. It’s self-serving hypocrisy that never is adequately addressed, and is unfortunately rampant in many modern writers’ stories.
Despite that, this game managed to still be rather fun since, again, it feels like a Back to the Future movie, and the political / philosophical questions are overshadowed by the time-travel, mysteries, puzzles, etc.
Flix and Chill
Not going to write much here. I think most of you know this recent bundle game and the other junk that came from this publisher. Still, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Some mildly funny moments on the one hand. Some horribly clunky mini games on the other. Kind of cute though, and fortunately went by fast.
100% - ed this one as well.
Another from the same publisher as Flix and Chill. 100%-ed this in a half hour. Now just need to idle for cards at some point. Still, a half hour felt like too long to spend with this game (constantly bumping into people while trying to move forward is irritating).
Games I Started
Also this week I played around with SimplePlanes and Lethal League, both Steam Gifts wins. Enjoyed both of them, although I was disappointed with the controls in SimplePlanes. I’m not sure if I can tweak them to make them less sensitive or not. Still, there’s a lot to do, from designing planes to trying out other players’ designs to racing to combat. Had fun in the hour or so I spent with it. Lethal League was about what I expected. Unusual, but fairly simple, fighting game. It is fun in small doses but would get old if played too much I think (at least to my taste).
Both of these games I expect to play in short bursts off and on in the coming months, whenever the mood strikes or when I want something kind of casual just to mess around in.
I also tried to play Red Risk, a game someone gave me directly, but unfortunately it doesn’t run all that well on my computer. Will have to try it in the future sometime.
Games I Continued
I’m still grinding Awesomenauts, and I also spent a lot of time working on Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age. The latter I really, really wanted to love because of the art / idea / story behind it, as well as the AMAZING music, but unfortunately the gameplay has kind of let me down, and now I’m not even sure if I will be able to beat it without downgrading the difficulty. It’s that hard at times, with controls that are that difficult (also, I’m not the best micromanager of summons in games). I set it aside temporarily to calm down a bit. Will try again later this week, or perhaps next weekend.
Will be continuing Awesomeanuts and Megamagic. I plan to start Left in the Dark: No One on Board (SteamGifts win) and The Wolf Among Us today, and Grim Legends 2 tomorrow or Wednesday. I also anticipate starting Victor Vran this week. I’m sure I’ll play at least a couple more small-medium games besides those.
Also will be posting again later today with a notes on my goals for the remainder of the year and a clearer idea what games I have in mind for the near future. Also, maybe will do something about beautifying my profile.
Thanks for reading.
Update: August 19
A couple days ago I made my first post here and I received a very warm welcome. Thank you so much to everyone.
I sorted my uncategorized games that day, but now looking around the site more and other people’s profiles I see how fancy and organized things can be. I really need to step up my profile game here :)
As for games, I’ve continued to work on LetterQuest (short grind, probably another couple days to 100% it) and Awesomenauts (long grind, months of daily play ahead, I should have played more years ago when I had played the first time). Also, I completed Grim Legends: Forsaken Bride and also Hyperspace Pinball (had started it last week, then took a break).
Some thoughts on those games…
Grim Legends: Forsake Bride
I’m sure most of you are familiar with it or with other Artifex Mundi hidden object games. Lots of common story tropes plus typical puzzle solving and object hunting. But, I enjoy these sort of things. There is something charming about them to me, and I’ve been playing hidden object games since I was a kid (back then it was in books and newspapers). This took longer than I expected. I think part of it was just being distracted by friends while playing, and part was that it had an unusual amount of those adventure game: “What the hell do I do now?” moments. Usually Artifex Mundi avoids the latter.
I started out really enjoying this game. I love pinball, and this seemed like a nice casual option to break up the more serious play that I do in Pinball Arcade. Unfortunately, the more I played it, the more it frustrated me. This is one of those space / arcade games that likes lots of particles bursting everywhere really bright when anything dies / explodes. So, when your bright (silver and white) pinball strikes a target, suddenly bright light burst on the screen. Makes it hard for one’s eyes to keep track of the ball, especially since the physics is really wonky.
Now, I wasn’t expecting Pinball Arcade level physics here, but it was worse than expected. And added on top of that, there are black holes that move randomly around the play field in later levels. They add to the randomness of where the ball might go, and can sometimes drag the ball right off your flipper into the drain. In the end my emotions and sanity were nearly drained by this game.
Owing to the stress of finishing Hyperspace Pinball I decided to play some very low pressure games yesterday evening. I started Back to the Future: The Game (something I got from a bundle years ago) and also tried out Dream Pinball 3D (another long ago bundle purchase). Neither one has achievements. I plan to continue them today. My goal with Dream Pinball 3D, since there are no achievements or online leaderboards or anything, is just to get local highscores on each of the tables, beating the game developers’ default scores. Then I’ll feel like I can call it “completed” for lack of a better definition.