Diary of a year of not buying video games (or books): April 2016

This was the easiest month so far! I’ve shelved Pillars of Eternity. I know that this game is good at its core, I know the mechanics more or less work even though combat feels mostly random to me. But after 19 hours of trying to ignite my nostalgia and failing, I couldn’t continue. Also, inexplicably long load times. Very annoying.

I didn’t dare to browse the Steam store or GOG’s new entries. I fear this might trigger some sort of anxiety and buying urges. Having Steam set so it doesn’t show the store is nice, and there’s also a box in Steam’s settings to turn off notifications. So now Steam starts directly to my collection and I don’t even notice if any new games have been released.

One evening I had an epiphany that I don’t want to continue Escape Goat 2. The first part was fantastic. I enjoyed that game and I finished it. I fell in love with the pixel mousy. But the second one completely fails to connect to me, and I don’t know why.

I started Shadow of Mordor and that was my main game this month. If you play this after Quake, the controls in Mordor seem unbearably floaty and wobbly and disconnected from the happenings on screen. The controller support wasn’t for me at all, I want to invert one axis of the right stick but not the other, and Mordor doesn’t seem to offer that, but the keyboard controls are mostly okay. It feels odd to play a reasonably current AAA title on Linux. Thank you, Feral Interactive.

On another note, Feral released their Linux port of Tomb Raider (2013) just toward the end of this month. It’s another excellent one. Feral are turning out to be immensely gifted porters, often their ports have better support than the original product they’ve ported. Shadow of Mordor runs smooth as butter, and with Tomb Raider I expect the same. Notice how another game snuck into my list like that? I’d bought Tomb Raider a while ago, so it’s not cheating (really, it’s not!) but never really played it through WINE. Now I can try the native one.

Detachment from opinion

I took this month to practice detachment from opinion. My own opinion, of course, which is always hardest. But also those of others who say that this or that game is really great. I should know better already, because this kind of thing has bitten me in the ass before.

When I was a budding little geek, I thought Final Fantasy VI on SNES was really great. It scored amazingly in reviews, game journalists the world over were orgasming spontaneously just looking at the box art, and I was playing my imported US copy for at least three hours every day.

How could I have been so addicted to this?

The addiction was so strong that I didn’t even allow my friends to play anything else (you know, multiplayer) on my SNES when they came over. They had to watch me play a game that’s very boring to watch instead. This was before Twitch, so watching a sweaty nerd fondle a controller was not considered interesting yet.

Years later I bought a PSX to play Final Fantasy VII because, again, reviewers were in heat and I had good memories from the previous game. Somehow I slogged through VII, not really enjoying anything. The overlong cutscenes, the shitty story (IMHO; I was reading proper stories from books at the time and sort of snobbish toward game storylines), the repetitive battles, bleh. But I stuck with it because it was supposed to be good.

FF VIII, IX and X went the same way for me. I didn’t enjoy these games, but someone said they were good, and at some point I’d enjoyed an earlier game in the series. If you detach yourself from an opinion you form that way, you can see more clearly. You feel the game is shite, you’re not having a good time, you wasted your money, you’re wasting your life, it’s better if you stop.

A stroll through Nostalgiaville

In the same vein: I heard from I HAS PC that EverQuest: Next was cancelled. I’d played the original EverQuest for hundreds upon hundreds of hours and I was hoping that EQ:N could capture the feel of the original but transport it onto modern PCs. It seems those hopes are dead now, but Daybreak Games used the best possible reason to shut down development: The game wasn’t fun. I can respect that.

Ah, Everquest! This is Kelethin, the wood elves’ tree town in Greater Faydark. See how I even remember the name of that place just from looking at a screenshot?

The good thing is that through that news post, I rediscovered two blogs (and associated people) I really liked back in the day, but that I’d lost when moving between RSS readers. With no further ado:

I’m happy to have them back in my news feed. And they tickled my nostalgia so I might try Project 1999 once more. It wouldn’t be cheating because it’s not a newly purchased game. I still have EverQuest, Scars of Velious and Shadows of Luclin on CD-ROM. CD-ROM, I say!

Meditate before that purchase

I think I managed to grasp another bit of the game buying mechanic. I would often buy a game because it looks exactly like what I might want to play, without too much research on it beyond finding a review or two.

Instead when I was a kid, I couldn’t just buy a game a month, I really had to focus on what I wanted and whittle down the list of potential purchases from two dozen to one or two titles. This experiment dragged that feeling back to the surface. I have 24 games on my Steam wishlist, but if I try hard to remove everything that’s just an incremental update of a concept I’ve already played hundreds of times, I might be down to 10, and if I further reduce that to what I really feel like playing (and only after finishing everything else), I might have one, two really creative titles.

I hope that when I allow myself to buy games again, this will make the first purchase as satisfying as those childhood games were. If you think I’m overthinking this, remember that I consider what I’m doing here to be fighting an addiction.


Hyper Light Drifter finally came out, and so on the wishlist it goes. Felt the itch to buy it, but I still have so much to play, and it’s not worth breaking the vow for.

Darkest Dungeon. The whole game breathes hopelessness and despair. How I enjoy that.

Darkest Dungeon has had its Linux version released. Definitely still interested.

Added Enter the Gungeon to the wishlist but removed it again after I saw it has a camera system that makes me vomit, it has screen shake that makes me vomit and it has no saving which makes me sad.

What’s left

Titles in bold are the ones I’m currently focusing on.

  1. The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human
  2. The Banner Saga
  3. Chaos Reborn
  4. Crypt of the NecroDancer
  5. The Curious Expedition
  6. Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition
  7. Dropsy
  8. Hand of Fate
  9. The Long Dark
  10. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  11. Nuclear Throne
  12. Outlast
  13. Quake
  14. Ronin
  15. Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Extended Edition
  16. Star Wars: KOTOR II
  17. Tales of Maj’Eyal
  18. Tomb Raider (2013)
  19. Transistor
  20. Victor Vran
  21. Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut
  22. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

The mobile section is missing this month because I’ve realized the error of my ways and stopped playing mobile games.

Enjoyed this? Read the other posts in this series.

Header image by Derrider45.

0 thoughts on “Diary of a year of not buying video games (or books): April 2016”

  1. Fun reading through these!

    The problem now at my age (42) is that I have so much disposable income (comparable to when I was young, not comparable to Bill Gates) that spending 20-60 bucks is as easy as a click of “paypal”. My last three purchases where all on a whim. I like your Meditate before purchasing thought.

    Also, the EQ progression servers I LOVED compared to p1999 – it is all of the old nostalgia with all of the new creature comforts (maps, UI, xp increase, etc.). Downside is that it is a subscription. (sorry to comment on such an old post!)

    1. Comments are always welcome 🙂 Just reread the posts and man, the language needs some reworking (I was just adding new thoughts as they appeared throughout the month). I have the same income problem, and with all the cheap bundles and sales it just makes it worse. After a year I’ll do a summary article where I pick the five or six things that I thought were most important in getting enjoyment again from gaming. Would have loved to try the progression servers for the nostalgia, but man, what a time sink 🙁

      1. They fixed the time sink part (somewhat) with the XP rates. You also get monthly daybreak cash with your sub (which I always bought XP boosters…) Also, doing fun old grinding things (orc belts) would lead to full levels upon turn ins. Over a short period of time I got my Wizard, Enchanter, and Ranger all to level 30 doing the Crushbone -> Unrest leveling curve. Was tons of fun!

        1. Hmm, tempting! I do also enjoy Shroud of the Avatar because it has a sort of similar atmosphere to old EQ (in my eye at least), but getting back into EQ is something that might work. I can maybe afford the time, since I don’t buy any new stuff 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *