Category Archives: Steam

Quote of the Day – No Porn

So we’re not going to see asset flips, and we’re going to explicitly say no to porn games or other intentionally controversial games

-Tim Sweeney, Gamasutra Interview

I have been waiting for somebody to play the quality card… or at least the “no porn” card… against Steam since the day Valve announced their policy of trying to be as hands off as possible when it came to which games made it onto their service.  A policy that they couldn’t stop from biting themselves in the ass with even after they gave themselves a loophole to avoid just that.

But now Epic Games is stepping up to the plate when it comes to their store.

Not that this is a surprise.  In the online video game storefront market Steam is the undisputed king, and the only way you make gains against an entrenched competitor like that is to play to your own strengths and against their weaknesses.

Epic has been using its generous revenue policy and its control over the Unreal engine to get developers to make the jump to the Epic Store, including some exclusives.  That gets stuff in the store, but the customer doesn’t really care what the revenue deal is unless there it makes the price lower, and Steam sales are tough to beat for those patient enough to wait.

So now Epic is assailing Valve, if somewhat cautiously, on another front.  Now they are playing the quality card, indicating that they won’t be hosting crap or porn or games that just want to be edgy or controversial.  And that is fine.  We get all angsty about freedom of expression in the US, but the constitution only applies to the government censoring you.  A retail outlet refusing to sell your horrible game… or even your excellent game… isn’t a problem at all.  If it were, I doubt WalMart would still be in business.

Interestingly, Tim Sweeney also made the distinction between the Unreal engine side of the company and the store front.  They won’t be policing what people do with the Unreal engine once they license it.  But they are also making it clear that just because you are using the Unreal engine doesn’t mean there will be a spot waiting for you in the Epic Store.

We’ll see how well this plays out.  Epic doesn’t have to become Steam, they just have to grab enough exclusives… and give away enough free titles I guess… to make their store front a must have for some critical mass of gamers.  They still don’t have anything that interests me enough to sign up, but the titles I play tend to come straight from the studios that make them in any case.

Steam Policy Plays Out as Expected

This took a bit longer than I thought.

Back in June of last year, when Valve announced that they would no longer do any sort of curation of games being submitted to Steam, I figured we would see some horrible game as a test case in the next three months that would prove they couldn’t pretend the games they were profiting from had nothing to do with them.

Actually, given that they almost immediately played the “trolling” card to block the game Active Shooter, I thought maybe they had quickly figured out that being as hands off as they were saying wasn’t a viable plan after all.  (That Valve then quickly announced that Steam was expanding into China, where all content would need to be heavily curated, was merely the delicious irony icing on this otherwise sad cake.)

But here we are nine months down the road and Valve has managed to thread the needle between not curating content and not damaging its own reputation by selling something truly offensive, to come out look bad on all fronts.

Seriously, as I said elsewhere, it is like somebody at Valve asked, “How can we do the right thing and yet still look bad to all parties?”

The test case was a game called Rape Day, which started getting press the moment it popped up on the site as coming soon.  On Wednesday the Steam blog posted a statement saying that they would not be hosting Rape Day on the service.

Over the past week you may have heard about a game called ‘Rape Day’ coming soon to Steam. Today we’ve decided not to distribute this game on Steam. Given our previous communication around Who Gets To Be On The Steam Store?, we think this decision warrants further explanation.

Much of our policy around what we distribute is, and must be, reactionary—we simply have to wait and see what comes to us via Steam Direct. We then have to make a judgement call about any risk it puts to Valve, our developer partners, or our customers. After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think ‘Rape Day’ poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won’t be on Steam.

We respect developers’ desire to express themselves, and the purpose of Steam is to help developers find an audience, but this developer has chosen content matter and a way of representing it that makes it very difficult for us to help them do that.

This response, of course, satisfied almost nobody.

Defenders of the game, including the developer, pointed out that the game was hidden behind the “adult content” tag, so you had to opt-in to even see it and, of course, on a service rife with murder simulators how does rape stand out?   How does Grand Theft Auto V get a pass?  Per the developer:

You can’t reasonable [sic] consider banning rape in fiction without banning murder and torture

That the developer chose to emphasize a particular aspect of the game by choosing to title it Rape Day seems like they were looking for easy publicity.  The developer still plans to sell the title directly, and it will likely see much more success now that it has been in the headlines of various new sites, both gaming and mainstream.

Meanwhile others, myself included, looked at the game and wondered how that wasn’t straight up trolling given the past statements from Valve.  Did #MeToo pass its expiration date or something?  Did this occur during Women’s History Month by accident?  (Happy International Women’s Day by the way.)

Also, while I understand the whole “case by case basis” thing, since that is how real life works, I think they would have been better off reviewing the game before they let it appear on the store front, even behind the adult content tag.  Another random dev complaining about Valve rejecting their game would have been lost in the background noise.  This is only a story because Valve put it up on the store like they had approved it already.  And maybe they had.  I don’t know and Valve isn’t saying.

But whether or not they had approved it, their brief saying that the game would not be made available on Steam managed to squander any positive from the decision.  A strong statement, or even a lukewarm one, indicating that this game was not going to be on Steam because it crossed a line that Valve, as a company, could not endorse might have managed to wrest some good will.

Instead, we got:

After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think ‘Rape Day’ poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won’t be on Steam.

“Costs and risks” could have been maybe meant to indicate something to do with the Steam community, but in that dry statement is comes off a lot more like a worry about some impact to the bottom line.  Feeling that endorsing rape might not be financially advantageous doesn’t win you much sympathy.

And so it goes.  Valve ends up looking good to almost nobody.  Depending on your point of view, they’ve either managed to betray their statement about not passing judgement on games or they’ve nearly come close to affirming rape as an acceptable entertainment option in their online store, only having been waved off at the last minute by bad press.

All of which was an entirely predictable outcome when they announced this nine months back.  I think they made the correct decision.  I am mostly bemused by how Valve managed to make things much worse for itself than they had to.  I hope they have a serious after action meeting to keep this level of stupid from occurring again.

Some further reading, none of which makes Valve look very good:

Taking a Nibble out of Steam

The big news in early December was that Epic Games was going to create their own online digital games storefront to compete with Steam.

Steam is big.  Big enough that no competitor is going to show up and hit them with a single knock-out blow.  EA couldn’t do it.  GoG certainly couldn’t manage it.  Amazon might have a shot via Twitch some day.  There is Discord gamely trying.  The Microsoft store persists out there, if you want the non-Java Minecraft of the remastered version of Age of Empires.  And recently Apple has been talking about a Netflix-like “games as a service” service.

And, despite its dominance, Steam is not unassailable.  Steam is vulnerable on a few fronts where an upstart could steal part of their pie.  There are viable markets to be invaded in the Steam portfolio.

Because who wants to be Steam anyway?  Is somebody else itching to be the top purveyor of Hentai themed Minesweeper knock-offs?  Let Valve remain king of their garbage heap.

Still, Steam was clearly their target.

Back when the Epic Store was announced, their big play was aimed at the development side of the equation, where Epic was planning to take only 12% of the sales price… and waive the fee for their Unreal engine… compared to Steam’s 30% cut.

Look how much more Steam takes

This prompted some questions.

This silliest was asking if Steam “deserves” a 30% cut.

As Clint Eastwood said in Unforgiven, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”  What made this especially silly was that this came from the developers, who honestly ought to know better.  That is the same group that howled over every possible barrier to entry that Valve set up for Steam, because being on Steam was their only chance at success.  Well, 30% was the cut when they were on the outside desperate to get in, but now that they’re in that cut is too much.  It is as if people just complain about everything… which they do. (I also feel like pointing out the cut that studios got back in the brick and mortar retail days.)

Still on the silly side of things were people wondering if prices might be lower on the Epic Store given the smaller cut Epic planned to take.

As if.  I bet the devs complaining about Steam’s cut would argue vehemently against this.

There is a stubborn ignorance out there that still assumes that cost and pricing are somehow linked.  The two are not, save for cost represents the floor above which most companies would like their pricing to remain.  But a year back we had a long discussion about how much it costs to make video games, at least top tier AAA games.  So one might argue that video games is an industry where that floor isn’t even part of the equation.

Pricing is based on what the market will bear and what your competitors are charging.  We pretty much know the price of any big name game coming from EA or Activision before they announce it.  It is going to be $59.99.  Do all those games cost exactly the same to make?  Or is there just an industry price beyond which studios believe they cannot stray lest it have an impact on sales?  I think you know the answer.

More on point were end users in touch with reality asking why they should care about the studio’s cut if prices remained the same.  If you’re already invested in Steam and have a big library there, what would Epic’s store offer besides the inconvenience of another login to manage?

Well, we got the answer to that.  Exclusives!

It is the console wars all over, writ small.  How do you get somebody on to your platform?  Offer something that the competitor doesn’t have.  Epic already had Fortnite, so that was a given.  But they needed something else.  They needed titles that Steam wouldn’t have.

When they managed to snag The Division 2 back in early January, that was news.  That gave Epic a big title that Steam would be denied, though UbiSoft would still be selling it directly as well.

This past week though fewmets hit the windmill when it was announced that publisher Deep Silver would be selling Metro Exodus on Epic’s store.  That catch here was that Metro Exodus had already been available for pre-order on Steam.  That availability was turned off with the news.

Note from Steam – When You’re Number One You Never Name the Competition

While Deep Silver said they would honor pre-orders, this got people to howl, and all the more so because the price on the Epic Store was $10 less. (You might be tempted to claim this as evidence that there will be a benefit to consumers on the pricing front, but I’d as soon bet that Epic offered additional incentives to get Deep Silver on board and at a lower price.)

That is how you get the market to take you seriously.  So seriously though that people were talking boycotts and such and Deep Silver eventually had to clarify that Metro Exodus would be available on other platforms come February of 2020.  At least you know it will be cheaper by then I guess.

This sort of thing isn’t going to turn the Epic Store into a full fledged Steam competitor.  But I don’t think they want that.  This will make Steam take them seriously though, as it takes money straight out of Valve’s pocket.  Metro Exodus was going to be worth more to Valve than a few thousand more indie titles cluttering its store front.  And given the persistent rumor that the only reason Epic has a storefront is because their parent company, Tencent, is to hit back at Valve for going into the China market with Perfect World Entertainment rather than them, and it seems to make a bit more sense.

Anyway, I don’t think Steam is going anywhere.  Valve is too entrenched to be moved quickly.  Epic will be another minor player, taking a bit of the riches from Steam.  There is a temptation to compare this to what is happening with video streaming services these days, where Netflix has lost its grip as every major player has decided to open up their own service.  I suspect that will shake itself out on its own when people vote with their wallets and a bunch of those services find they were doing better just licensing to Netflix or Hulu.  But on the video game front it is different, as there is no subscription to pay… at least until Apple shows up… just some logins and front ends to manage.

Some players are always going to be big enough to roll their own.  EA’s Origin, for example, is less the Nordstom storefront they promised and just them having their own online store so they don’t have to share with a competitor.  You don’t even need it for all of their games.

Likewise Blizzard has their launcher-and-store combo, which Activision, lacking their own, has decided to use as well.

Others, like UbiSoft or Paradox, play both sides of the game, listing on other storefronts while maintaining their own as well.

And Steam abides.

Others on this topic:

RimWorld Sometimes Be Like That

People I know have been getting into RimWorld of late, which got me back to playing it as well.  It exited early access back in October and had actually changed a bit since I last played.  The changes were mostly in the details rather than any grand direction, but I did spot a few.  Having to stay indoors due to some toxic fallout was a new one on me, for example.

Fortunately the few times I have been hit by that it has been a short duration event, though the description indicates that it could go on for a long time.

I usually play the default scenario without mods and my early game often follows a similar pattern.  I try to be careful in selecting the characters I start with, making sure I have some coverage on all skills.  Inevitably I realize later that the person I need to do something, like research, will end up also being the only person who can plant crops and they spend most of their time on planting.

And then there is the usual scramble for shelter, beds, storage, then cold storage to keep food fresh, then actual food, which involves some planting.  Then I try to get by on the few survival meals and the local berries and animals until the initial rice crop comes in.  And then the potatoes eventually are ready for harvest and I find that I have so many that my food storage is full.  But if I have gotten there at least I get through the first winter and can go on expanding from there.  If a blight hits the potatoes though, it can be tough.

We were comparing notes on Slack about the current state of our various games and I mentioned that I was entering what I would consider the end game with my current colony.  I had research up to the point where I could build components and advanced components, which freed me from yet another constraint.  I had two people with high intellect skills that were swapping off on research and were going at it so fast that I was going to be able to fill out the rest of the tech tree.  I had turrets up for some automated protection, IEDs planted around some of the usual attack routes, everybody who could carry a gun had a light machine gun or an assault rifle, save for my best shooter, who had an excellent quality sniper rifle, and I had half a dozen big dogs trained to help in defense. (And to haul, which is the most useful pet thing ever.)

My colony at that point had grown to 14 people.  Most of them were getting along.  Six of them had paired off into couples.  Morale was high.  Meals were lavish.  The place was clean.  About the only complaint involved tattered clothing, which is always a pain because each character clings to their favorite piece of worn clothing like an eight year old.  I make them drop their worst item, they go pick out a replacement from the warehouse of clothing I had setup, the complaint goes away.  Then I allow the old piece of clothing to be picked up, because it is laying on the floor where it was taken off and the character immediately runs back, takes off the nice new pants or whatever, puts on the old ratty pair, and then starts complaining about having tattered clothing again.

Anyway, things were looking good.  I could see the research wrapping up, me building some final items, and then getting the hell off the planet for the win.

However, the AI seemed to sense my hubris and decided to teach me a lesson.

It started off with a big raid.

There were eight in the raid, but it didn’t seem too bad.  They were forming to the south and were not attacking yet.  I looked at a few of them and they had pistols.  They weren’t going to be the push overs that another local tribe was, they were coming at me with spears and bows and I had been mowing them down and sending them flying pretty handily, but it should be manageable.

I grouped my fire team into a sandbag pit at the south of the camp and prepared to lay into them as they approached.  As they attacked things seemed to be going okay until one of the attackers got close and threw a grenade into my defenses, and then another.  That blew out the sandbags, tore a hole though a granite wall, destroyed a turret, and wounded everybody on my team, incapacitating five of them.

A couple of the wounded were still firing and the dogs were out and attacking, so they managed to defeat the raid, but now my colony was in a bad way.  In the rush to get things back together four of the dogs died, the other two were wounded while four of the incapacitated colonists died within the next hour, with a fifth dying off the next day when another raid hit and he was killed by the spears and bows group as I was low on defenders and had to haul him out of his hospital bed to help fight.

So my colony was a mess.  Defenses on the south were gone, there was a big hole in the main building, there was blood and mess everywhere, and no one had gotten around to burying the bodies.  Morale was taking a serious hit.  All three of my couples lost one person.  Everybody was despondent.

RimWorld is as much about crisis management as it is about base building.  I likened this situation to being a manager at a high tech firm after a big layoff, something I’ve been though.  You have less staff, the same amount of work to do (if not more), and morale is at rock bottom.

The only good news was that one of my non-violent colonists had managed to recruit the prisoner we had been working on, so I had a fresh person who could handle a weapon.  There was that and the smokeweed crop had matured, so I expected there would be some binges on that front.

When colonist morale gets to low they can suffer a mental break, at which point they go off and do whatever it is they takes them on their own.  Some wander or hide in their rooms.  My main researcher, who lost her husband, went off on a smokeweed binge.

But sometimes the reactions are destructive.  I had one colonist throw a tantrum and start breaking things.  That didn’t last too long and was pretty well contained.  But then another colonist broke and went on a fire starting binge.  He ended up in the cold storage for food, setting fire to the potato crop stocked in there.  Apparently frozen potatoes burn very well in enclosed spaces.  The fire in there got out of control, with the temperature rising above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, incapacitating the people who ran in, one by one, to try and put it out.

So I had to haul people out of the fire and just let it burn out.  Since it was by the kitchen and the dining area, all of my prepared meals went up in the conflagration.  Fortunately I hadn’t used wooden walls.  Stone kept the fire contained.

But now, with the only remaining cook incapacitated in a hospital bed, the colonists were reduced to eating raw potatoes, which added to the morale problems.  That set off one colonist who went berserk and started attacking people.  He happened to be a melee combatant too, so had a steel gladius equipped.  He killed everybody in the hospital room and the remaining dogs before he himself was shot dead.

Corpses and blood

Then there was another raid.  At least it was the bows and spears team again.  But after that I was down to three colonists, all wounded, the colony was a disaster, there were unburied bodies all over, and all I could think was that my statement about approaching the end game now seemed premature.

And, of course, the three remaining colonist were all complaining about their tattered apparel.

But that is the way it rolls some times with RimWorld.  And it is always fun to see if you can bring things back from the brink.

The Passing of Another Steam Winter Sale

The 2018 Steam Winter Sale has come and gone.

I collected some cards, went through my queue every day, got my Steam level up to 20, and, like SynCaine, bought no games for myself.

I was actually considering buying a couple, but for some reason it was in my head that the sale ended on the 4th rather than the 3rd, so when I logged in on the what I thought was the last day the sales were all done.

Oh well, it isn’t like they won’t be coming back again.  We have long since been trained to wait for sales.  And there wasn’t anything I was considering that I was going to jump on right away.

I think the highlight of the sales for me these days are going through the daily queue of games Steam thinks I might like.

Occasionally it shows me things I might like.  I thought MewnBase, a cats in space base building game, was interesting.

My daughter wanted that, so I bought her a copy.  She played it for a bit and said it was pretty good, if a bit more hard core than she expected.  Your cat is going to run out of oxygen.  But not bad for an early access title.

Mostly though, the queue is for comedy as Steam tries to dredge up 36 titles it hasn’t shown me before based on what its algorithm thinks I like.  This tends to be self-defeating as I will wishlist some of the silliest stuff just to reference later only to have Steam jump on that and show me more of the same.

For example, at one point it showed me the title Seed of the Dead, which was described as a “A heart-pumping fusion of zombie FPS and erotic dating sim!” complete with the usual set of Anime girls either bursting out of their blouse or in a too-small school girl uniform.

I can’t link that on the Steam web site because it is flagged as adult.  But I put it on my wishlist to remember it only to have my next run through the queue filled with Hentai porn puzzle games.  I had not considered that Mine Sweeper could be used as a vehicle for titillation, but if you clear all the mines you get to see it all I guess.

Ignoring a streak of those managed to get me out of that trap.  It was pointed out to me that I could avoid that sort of thing entirely by telling Steam to block all adult content, but then how would I get my quarterly update on what is lurking on the service.

Having slipped the anime porn thread Steam put me on to the Battle Royale trend, which I predicted will hit peak saturation this year as the me-to crowed tries to jump on for an easy win.  We’re still in the point where the ideas have a bit of charm, like Super Animal Royale, where you play as creatures of the forest in a 64 player battle arena death match.

There was also the warning sign games, the ones that indicate that the trend has ballooned dangerously, the games that start on the meta of the genre.  And so I saw Battle Royale Tycoon.

That isn’t to say such a game cannot be good, and BRT has positive response so far, but it is not the only game of that sort out there, a couple of them look just like the cheap attempts to cash-in on a trend that we always see.  I am reminded of all of the BitCoin mining simulators I saw during the summer sale.

And so it goes.  Since Steam has already shown me over 3,000 games in past queues, it remains interesting to see where it will lead me next.

The Steam Winter Sale also saw the Best of 2018 post for the store, which stack ranks the top 100 games in a several categories, including revenue and hours played.  Topping the revenue charts were:

Steam Top Revenue for 2018

As noted in the Steam blog post about these charts, being declared “Platinum” does not signify any particular dollar amount.  For all we know Grand Theft Auto V could have earned as much as everybody else on the list.  Instead, it just means a game is in the top dozen, the the ranks working out as:

  • Platinum: 1st – 12th Top Seller
  • Gold: 13th – 24th Top Seller
  • Silver: 25th – 40th Top Seller
  • Bronze: 41st – 100th Top Seller

Still, it is interesting to see who tops the list… and how many older games do so.  Especially Warframe, about which I hear almost nothing most days, but which has quite a following all the same.  And then there is how the chart changes.  During the summer sale they had the mid-year numbers.  A few of those that made the Platinum ranks in June couldn’t hold on until December it seems.

Top Sellers for 2018 back in June

It is interesting to compare that to the most played chart, which is broken out into groups representing specific number ranges.  The top of the chart for that was games with over 100,000 concurrent players.

Steam most concurrent players

It corresponds reasonably with the revenue chart.  I do think it is interesting that, down the list, you will find Civilization V ahead of Civilization VI for simultaneous players.  I suppose I am not the only one that found the newer title disappointing.

And so it goes.  Since the Steam sales have become seasonal I suppose I will just wait until the coming of spring.

My MMO Outlook for 2019

I’m going to try this again.  It isn’t quite the famous quip about insanity being repeating an action and expecting different results, but the results have not always been spectacular.  Though, in my defense, that has on occasion not been my fault.

For those seeking a history of this particular post, I have a list:

This time around I am going to make this less of a goal setting session, where I declare I am going to run off and play some new games… or some old games… or some games in between that I have not played before.  Instead, this is going to attempt to be more predictive.

Didn’t I just do predictions yesterday?

Well, I didn’t attempt to predict what I was actually going to play in 2019, so this is a different avenue.  I’ll open up with the usual suspects.

Easy Picks

  • EVE Online

Pretty much a lock since I played it 12 out of 12 months in 2018.  If I log in today and play, I’m covered, and it seems likely that I will do so and continue to do so over the course of the year.  As long as Reavers deploy a couple of times I’m probably good.

  • Pokemon Go

The other game I played pretty much daily throughout 2018.  It helps that this is the one video game that my wife and I play together.  Also happens to be the only active Pokemon title on a platform I own, since Nintendo is abandoning the handheld model and throwing everything onto the Switch.  Not that I am bitter or anything.

  • WoW Classic

I think this one is a no-brainer.  I will certainly subscribe and log in for the spectacle that will be the launch of WoW Classic.  The real question is how bad will it be?  I don’t mean to suggest there will be any glaring lack of fidelity.  I feel Blizz will be about as true to the idea as they can be.  The question will be how slammed will the servers be and how fragmented will the community end up as Blizz opens up more and more servers?

  • WoW Not-So-Classic

This one is likely a gimme as well.  While Battle for Azeroth just didn’t capture me, the fact that the same subscription will get you into both WoW and WoW Classic makes it very likely that I will log into the former to play.  There will probably be a boost in people on regular WoW servers corresponding to the length of the server queues on WoW Classic.

  • Lord of the Rings Online

Lifetime subscription and the Legendary server… and the fact that I am still playing it right now, if not as actively as I was when the server kicked off… makes this another shoe-in for the list.  I may not last once it gets past Moria, but up until then I am probably in.

Somewhat Likely

After those titles we get into a more gray area.  Still, there are some candidates that don’t seem to be complete long shots.

  • EverQuest II

If things go badly for Daybreak, or if they have a good plan for the 15th anniversary of the game, it seems reasonable that I will be in for either a last look or another visit.

  • Project: Gorgon

The game I keep meaning to play seriously but somehow never quite get to.  I own it already, always a plus, and it gets good marks for its quirky nature.

  • Minecraft

Our server has been pretty quiet for the last year, but the panda update is coming.  That might at least get me back on long enough to scout out a bamboo grove to find them.  Technically not an MMO, but close enough.

Wildcards

Titles that might happen, if certain conditions come to pass… being something other than early access garbage being a key item.  I’m trying not to encourage the developer line about, “I’ll gladly ship on Tuesday if you’ll just buy my game today” by paying into that sort of thing any more.

  • EverQuest

Hey, it will be the 20 year anniversary of the game shipping come March 16th.  There is a distinct possibility that Daybreak will have something lined up that will make me want to log in, at least for a bit.

  • Atlas

Whether you see this as re-skinned Ark or not, a some people I know are getting into this… when it is running and you can log in… so there is the glimmer of a possibility that I might give it a try.  The whole early access aspect of it will be the factor keeping me away if I don’t play it.

  • Torchlight Frontiers

I don’t think it will ship in 2019, and I am not going to beta test it, which is what makes it a wildcard.  I’m interested to try it even if I am not amongst those publicly wetting themselves in anticipation of it.

  • Camelot Unchained

Didn’t I pay for this almost five years ago now?  It would be cool if there was something there both playable and worth playing.

  • Destiny 2

We got the base game for free back in October and I downloaded it.  So it is installed and ready to go if I decide I want to try it.

  • Diablo III

Also technically not an MMO, at least by my own measure, but if maybe Blizzard were to add something fresh to the game I could find myself playing again.  I enjoy it, but can only play through the story and seasons so many times.

  • War Thunder and/or World of Tanks

I have a bunch of time invested in both over the years.  They tend to be good games for quick action, but neither hole my attention for very long either.  Battles often become the same situation repeated ad infinitum.

  • Something Else New

I mean, somebody is going to ship something new this year, aren’t they?

Non-MMOs

Again, I don’t like to set goals, but I look at my Steam library and it there are games I know I will play and games I want to find time for.

In the former category are:

  • Civilization V
  • RimWorld
  • Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings

In the latter:

  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Grim Dawn
  • Afghanistan ’11
  • Space Engineers
  • Valkyria Chronicles

And then there are games on my wish list that maybe I might yet buy.  The Steam Winter Sale still has two full days left to run.

  • GTA V (mostly for the mod where you can play as the police)
  • O.G.R.E. (played the original board game)
  • Darkest Dungeon (The Wizardy-esque vibe keeps in on my list)
  • Frostpunk (Overlaps a bit with RimWorld though)

So there are some options.  We’ll see at the end of the year what I ended up playing and what fell by the wayside.  As like as not something else will come up mid-year and I’ll divert into that.

Reviewing My Game Time for 2018

Returning to the round up of 2018.

Most years I have something of a forward looking post in which I try to pick and/or guess at what games I might play in the coming year.  It remains a good reason why I don’t do monthly gaming goal posts or the like.  My ability to forecast my gaming mood is pretty iffy.

Well, sort of.

If I simply said I was going to play the same old stuff as last year and the year before, I would be pretty spot on.

Instead, these posts are also a way to try and convince myself to go play something new.  Sometimes the fact that I played nothing from the list isn’t my fault.  Look at the history:

There were years when almost nothing I was looking into shipped.

Given the fact that new titles of interest are pretty sparse, my 2018 list, posted back at the beginning of January, was focused on older titles I had not played.  I put together a list of “classic” MMOs that I had not played, listed out the pros and cons of each, and figured I should go back and give one a try.  The list was:

  1. RuneScape
  2. Ultima Online
  3. Dark Age of Camelot
  4. Anarchy Online
  5. Silkroad Online
  6. Maple Story
  7. Entopia Universe
  8. A Tale in the Desert

And, to give myself some minimal credit this year, I did in fact go and play Anarchy Online for a few hours.  I have the screen shots to prove it.  But I didn’t spend much time with it and I didn’t make any attempt to play anything else on the list.

In think the big lesson from that was that nostalgia is necessarily transferable.  I’m okay going back and playing EverQuest now and again and dealing with all the archaic aspects of it, but only because I was there when that was the state of the art.  Anarchy Online just felt old and awkward without any redeeming happy memories.

So what did I play in 2018?  Well, I have a handy chart for that!  Belghast does a chart like this, and I have copied him before and am back at it again.

2018 MMO Play Chart

EVE Online was the staple of my MMO year.  I’m not as invested in it as I once was, but I enjoy watching it and talking about it still and I am good for a few fleet ops a month.

Pokemon Go is sort of an MMO, and getting more like one as time goes along.  It is also the one game my wife and I play together, and it doesn’t take much time out of your day to keep up.  It probably helps that my work campus has six Pokestops and a gym.

World of Warcraft ebbed and flowed.  I was finishing up Legion early in the year, unlocking flying and all that.  Then there was a break before I came back in the warm up to Battle for Azeroth.  I still have things to do there, but have wandered off yet again.

Minecraft, despite our world being very quiet of late, still got some attention from me, usually around big public works projects.

I spent some time with Rift Prime.  That was nice to go back to for a bit, though it also wore out on me after not too long.  But that’s okay, I only feel nostalgia for the base game.

EverQuest II came and went twice.  I did have a pretty good run with my berserker up to level 100, at which point the game went back to its coy mode of indicating where I ought to go next.

But EverQuest II crapping out was fine because the LOTRO Legendary server came along and, despite my skepticism, I was clearly into that.

I did take a serious run at Shroud of the Avatar.  It is an odd, awkward, seemingly deliberately archaic game.  I wanted to like it a lot more than I actually did like it however.  As happens with these sorts of things, in the end my subconscious won’t let me log in and waste time playing something that I am not really enjoying.  At least not for very long.

Then there was the flash in the pan for both Anarchy Online and Black Desert Online.  I played both for about the same duration and then walked away.

So that gets me through MMOs.  But I did play some other games over the course of the year.  I mean, look at that big empty space in June.  I was surely playing something else.

Steam can tell me what I was doing.  According to it I spent time playing the following this year:

  1. Civilization V
  2. Vietnam 65
  3. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings
  4. Bomber Crew
  5. Fallout 4
  6. Oxygen Not Included
  7. RimWorld
  8. Stellaris
  9. Sudden Strike 4
  10. Hearts of Iron IV
  11. Train Simulator 2018

Some of those I have written about, like Vietnam 65.  Some are games I just return to over and over, like Civilization V and Age of Empires II.  There are a couple I should write about, including Oxygen Not Included and Bomber Crew.  Then there are the usual tales of buying things after 8pm on Steam because they were on sale despite the fact I could guess these games were not for me.  Fallout 4, Sudden Strike 4, and Hearts of Iron IV all got me to fall into that trap.

Lesson there, don’t buy anything with the number “4” in the title.

And finally there is Train Simulator 2018.  There is a post about that coming.  Basically I said I would do something with it if the right circumstances arose… and they did.  So I felt compelled to live up to that past statement.

That is where I spent the bulk of my gaming time in 2018.  I think for 2019 my forward looking statement will probably be simply more of the same.  We shall see.  It isn’t January yet.  I often come out of the holiday season rested and optimistic.