Tag Archives: Steam

January in Review

The Site

I remain mildly stunned that WordPress.com decided to forego their briefly traditional yearly summary report for people’s blogs.  So I’ll just take last year’s main chart and update it for the year.

2016trafficsources

Top Traffic Sources in 2016

Oddly, that list is almost all EVE Online driven, save for Reddit.  The majority of the Reddit traffic came from repeated links to my homage to/preservation of Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!

That aside, I do have more tangible WordPress.com issues to complain about.  The new stats page is still broken as I indicated last month.  Furthermore, comments have been acting oddly for a while now.  I will get a notification that somebody has left a comment on the blog, I will be able to see the comment on the admin page, but the comment won’t actually be visible on the post in question for quite some time.  The comment count on the post will take even longer to update.  And the comment in question won’t show up in the Recent Comments list on the side bar for ages, often only showing up when somebody else leaves a comment, which then follows the same routine.  Ah well.

And then, as the month went along, WP.com did another revamp of the UI, which made things tangibly worse for me.  But I can at least still find the old (and reliably functional) editor and most of the functionality I am used to hidden away under a menu at the bottom of the list.

Sanity is under WP Admin

Sanity is under WP Admin

They also changed up their subscription packages in a way that is going to complicate things for me, but I will get into that in another post at some point.  No need to spend all my anger here!

My blog did hit a record high number of page views this month… not this blog, my other blog.  CCP Phantom used a picture from the blog and linked back to its source in an EVE Online news post, which led to a spike in traffic yesterday.

350 views in one hour, when 3 views is the norm

350 views in one hour, when 3 views is the norm

As it so happened, traffic here was down… skill point posts are dull, I understand… leading to the first time ever when daily page views for EVE Online Pictures exceeded the page views here by 81.  Usually the ratio is something like 8 -20 to 1 in favor of TAGN.  Strange times.

On the bright side, at some point Google finally mumbled something about how they changed the G+ API and WP.com dragged themselves over to update that bit of code.

google-plus-logo-640

That connection broke just about a year ago for me, causing posts to be shared, but only with myself.  Not all that useful.  All you have to do to make it work again is disconnect G+ from your blog then connect again and it seems to start working again.  So now the five people who both follow me on G+ AND still actually use G+ will get spammed by my posts yet again.  Blame

One Year Ago

I had 16 predictions for 2016. (Results for those who need to know.)

I was also included on some sort of MMO info page thing.

It was the end of another Steam Winter Sale.

I was wondering what Early Access should really be.  I was also checking out which MMOs made PC Gamer’s latest list.

Smed was going to Kickstarter for Hero’s Song.  It got cancelled before I could finish the post about all the problems it had.  More than a bit of foreshadowing in that I guess.

People were troubled by a potential paywall in Rift.

The price for the Occulus Rift was announced, which led to quite a sum if all I wanted to do is play EVE Valkyrie.

In EVE Online I ran my first incursion boss.  We also got the first of the “no name” monthly updates.  Karma Fleet turned one.  CCP told us about skill extractors. Blog Banter 71 was about spaceships.  Also, there was some sort of conflict going on between I Want ISK and SpaceMonkeys Alliance.

In space we reinforced a tower and ran about in Typhoons and Jackdaws.  At the end of the month Reavers headed south to Wicked Creek to tangle with TEST.

Outside the game Battle Clinic, long a staple of the EVE Online third party universe, was set to shut down while the election process for CSM XI was kicking off.

Daybreak announced that they were going to port the five year old DC Universe Online to the XBox.

I went in to Diablo III to try out the Season 5 content.  I ran through the story quickly, but there was more to do.

I wrote a bit about The Force Awakens.

Finally, I was marveling at all the movies from 1986 that I remembered.  Aliens! Top Gun!  Platoon!  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!   It was a hell of a year for movies.

Five Years Ago

I asked 12 questions for 2012. Some of those questions are still pretty legit.  I also did what was for a while the annual LEGO minifigure round up.

I updated the About Page to its “Infrequently Asked Questions” format.  Has it really been like that for five years already?  It is probably due for an update.

There was that whole SOPA thing.  We still live in peril of its return.

I struck a couple of games from my watch list, as it seemed I would never go back to play them again.

I bought an iPad for our cats… judging by the pictures.

LEGO Universe joined the ever increasing list of departed MMOs when its free to play conversion failed to save it from extinction.

SOE gave us the subscription matrix for the EverQuest free to play transition.  As part of that conversion, EverQuest Mac was targeted for extinction as well. (Spoiler: It survived… for a while)  Meanwhile, somebody had an EverQuest cocktail shaker on eBay.

Prompted by comments from others, I asked why those who sought an old school MMO experience were not out playing Vanguard.

Blizzard said they were going to be too busy in 2012 for a BlizzCon.  Speaking of Blizzard, I hit level 85 at last in WoWAnd then there was a panic about Diablo III maybe launching in February. (It didn’t)

Turbine announced that their fall LOTRO expansion would be Rider of Rohan.

There was an odd divergent current about Star Wars: The Old Republic, with some declaring it dead already (one month in) while others were still in “best game ever” mode.  My favorite (now deleted, but still on the Internet Archive) angry post called it a hate crime.

I was starting to moan… more loudly… about how free to play makes an MMO focus heavily on cash shop content… to the detriment of the game in my opinion.  This was prompted, no doubt, by those wings.  Smed, on the other hand, was very happy about free to play.

In EVE Online the war against White Noise came to a close, leading to a quiet time in the north.  But a conflict with Raiden was looming.  during the lull, I recalled my first PvP death in EVE and celebrated that Garde drones now actually went *pew* *pew*.  Boring no more!

In Rift, the instance group was kicked off its server.  We regrouped on a new server.  We were also warming up and starting to work as a group again in the Iron Tombs and the Darkening Deeps.  That last was a struggle.

The Type 59 tank was pulled from the cash shop in World of Tanks.

And, finally, there was Pop Muzik.

Ten Years Ago

I wrote 59 blog posts, which remains a monthly record here at TAGN.  Of course, that was before Twitter, so I was more likely to do shorter posts.  If I had the patience I would track the average word count per post per month over the life of the blog to see how I changed from short posts to more of a long form/long winded approach.

I gave a brief recount of 2006 in what I find is my first high/low post on the blog.  I had forgotten that I had done that post.  I also uninstalled some games I was no longer playing.  I was also looking forward towards Lord of the Rings Online.

The MMO blogesphere starting talking about generations of MMOs, and I asked if we had even gotten past the first generation, then quoted Wikipedia’s take on the generation debate.

The instance group in World of Warcraft finished up the Scarlet Monestary and rolled through Razorfen Downs.

Blintz, my fae swashbuckler in EverQuest II was just digging into Zek, The Orcish Wastes, one of my favorite zones in post-cataclysm Norrath, as well as hunting for Blood Talon in order to get my dwarven work boots.

Scott Hartsman described some of the goals for the EverQuest II expansion that would eventually become The Rise of Kunark.  I also discovered that Sony slipped a promo for the Transformers movie in with the Echoes of Faydwer installation.  That was back when SOE was under Sony Pictures.

I played in some of the Vanguard open beta, once I got it downloaded.  The team was still working on a lot of polishing and features. The launch date was announced somewhat late, but when the game actually launched (on the same day as the much maligned Microsoft Vista), I declined to buy the box even though it was on Station Access.  I thought one of the game’s potential flaws might be the inability to make a “hot” character. A female half-elf was the best I could manage.  The character models were not pretty despite a profusion of sliders and options in the creation process.

Blizzard launched The Burning Crusade without the usual first day disasters that generally accompanied an expansions back in the day, though I couldn’t figure out why I bothered to buy a copy.  I was wondering how long it would hold its $40 price tag.  It stayed at that price for quite a long time.  These days we get a discount before a game even goes live.

Given that expansions were on my mind, I was wondering what the best timing for expansions really was.  EverQuest was still doing two a year back then, while Blizzard took more than two years to get to its first one.

I gave a brief review of Massive Magazine issue #2.

And I found that SOE had provided the industry standard definition for the word “soon.”

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. I Will Play Candy Crush No More Forever
  2. Daybreak Doomsaying
  3. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  4. The End of Landmark Foretold
  5. Would You Rather Fight Than Switch?
  6. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  7. 2017 – Predictions for Another New Year
  8. Opening the New War at F4R2-Q
  9. Falling Back in Catch
  10. Too Fast Through Tristram!
  11. Steam Winter Sale 2016 Results
  12. Seagulls Stop it Now!

Search Terms of the Month

what does dellmon mean
[Been asking what he means for years]

pretty alien sto
[The one in Kirk’s quarters]

everquest imperfect diamond
[Summed up correctly]

what is vanilla wow
[A unicorn we all want to find or slay]

Broadband Advertising Church
[Our Latency of Perpetual Round Trip?]

“pantheon: rise of the fallen” pipe dream
[So you may think]

Diablo III

The 20 year anniversary event, The Darkening of Tristram, got me to patch up and log into Diablo III again.  It was an interesting little distraction, some additional content, but beyond superficial graphical tweaks, it had about as much to do with 1996 as Twitter and the iPhone.  It did get me to go find the soundtrack from the 15 year anniversary, which is available on iTunes.  But I got the bulk of the achievements and the pet all the same.  I am just not sure that the event is something that will necessarily be a draw for people every year.  Anyway, if you want to see it this year, you had best patch up and try it, as it is supposed to go away soon.

EVE Online

I started off with a bang in New Eden around New Years, with the battle over the two Fortizars.  But then it was back to work where I caught the flu that was going around and I found I didn’t really have the stamina for ops at that point.  I joined in the return from Catch, but that was about it.  Once I was better I started getting my carrier together to see if I could join in on the promised training ops.

EverQuest II

Somewhere along the line I fell off the wagon when it came to Norrath.  The single quest chain I was able to find wasn’t thrilling me so I was just logging in daily to do a couple of crafting writs and maybe just enough harvesting to get the daily loyalty token reward.  I have about 500 of those and have yet to spend a one.  I haven’t unsubscribed yet, but it seems likely to happen before the next billing cycle.

Minecraft

While I was slacking off elsewhere, I was putting a bunch of my free time into Minecraft.  Not only do I have a big project under way, but I was ill for a week or so and Minecraft is conducive to playing when you’re not feeling well.  The long road hasn’t reached the half way point yet, but I moved the end of the road forward several kilometers over the course of the month.

Pokemon Go

Bad weather and illness kept me from playing very much… though there was at least one evening where you could have seen me leaving the house past 10pm to get in the car in order to drive the half mile to the nearest Pokestop because dammit, it was Day 7 of my streak and I wasn’t going to give up on that big payoff just because I wasn’t feeling well.

  • Level: 25 (+0)  Almost to 26, but not quite.
  • Pokedex status: 111 (+5) caught, 137 (+3) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Anything second generation
  • Current buddy: Nidorino

Pokemon Sun

As with a couple of other titles, I fell off the Pokemon Sun bandwagon for a good stretch of the month.  You would think that Pokemon would be a good game to play when you’re sick, but for some reason whenever I picked it up, I fell asleep.  Late in the month I did finally get back on track and finished up the final trial on Poni island, finished the main story line, and made Nebby get in the goddam bag for the last time.  On to the Pokeleague and then endgame activities.

Steam

For once the Steam Winter Sale actually distracted me from other games.  I bought a few budget titles and actually played through them.  Train Valley probably got the most attention.  I did start off in Stardew Valley, but wasn’t really in the mood to get through the inevitable initial hurdles any building/farming sim puts you through.  I will get back to that later.

Coming Up

The Activision-Blizzard 2016 financial report ought to be rolling in next month.  While the first rule of subscription club remains “don’t talk about subscription club,” I do look forward to seeing what I can divine from whatever clever number arrangements and MAUs charts the company puts out.

There is the inevitable monthly patch headed for EVE Online.  Also the CSM 12 candidate period will be in full swing and we should know by the end of the month who will be on the final ballot.  Then there is the Winter War in the south and a plan for another Burn Jita, though no final date has been set for the latter yet.

There are some things afoot with Lord of the Rings Online… something about a horse… while their partners at Daybreak will be putting and end to Landmark.  And, as I mentioned in the post earlier today (I am writing this before I have written that post, so I hope I didn’t forget to write it!) there is some distant rumor that we might hear something later this week from Turbine about the final fate of Asheron’s Call... something besides “bye!”

Also, wasn’t the EverQuest II Race to Trakanon server supposed to close in January?  I haven’t seen an announcement yet.  Was the team was too busy with server issued this month?  Maybe that will be something for February.

Also, after writing a ranty opinion piece about an EverQuest successor, I suddenly feel like I should got back and revisit a few other opinions.  Maybe.  My writing has strayed from opinions towards reporting on what I am doing over the years.  It might be time to update some views that may have been altered with the passage of time.

And, in a final question, when did my month in review posts start passing 2,500 words on a regular basis?

The Challenge of Train Valley

I brought up Train Valley as one of the titles I bought during the Steam Winter Sale.  It wasn’t quite what I expected it to be… but you never know what a game really is until you start playing it.  I am not sure exactly what I expected, something more free-form or open world, like a Minecraft rail mod, or maybe a more hands on Ticket to Ride.

trainvalley

Train Valley is not either of those.  Still, it looked to be a fun little game so I played on to see what it offered.  It seemed simple enough, you just build tracks between stations and then send trains back and forth.

Simple track layout

Simple track layout

Each level starts with a couple of stations and more get added as the level goes along.  Trains then appear at each station and you click on them to start them off and then make sure they arrive at their destination.  Piece of cake.

You play through various scenarios, which are akin to levels, as you need to succeed on one in order to advance to the next.  The scenarios are divided into various geographical areas, starting with small European countries, then the United States, then Russia/USSR, then Japan, and finally Germany.  Germany is actually a DLC addition, but I bought the whole Train Valley package, including all the DLC which included Germany and the soundtrack.

The first set of scenarios

The first set of scenarios

There is a postage stamp theme to the scenarios and they each have some bonus goals, called “Advanced Objectives” associated with them.  For each goal you manage you get a cancellation stamp on the level.  I would guess that there is a range of about 20 standard goals which get re-used in different combos throughout the scenarios.

Bonus goals for the Tokyo scenario

Bonus goals for the Tokyo scenario

Those goals do not actually enter into your ability to successfully complete a scenario.  They just add up for achievements and provide a bit of extra challenge.  The final round in each region doesn’t even have extra goals.  In fact, you can do all sorts of things wrong… crash trains, send them to the wrong station, lay out your track badly… and still complete a round.

The gating item in each scenario is money, something I didn’t fully grasp until I was into the series of US levels. (And yes, I am using “levels,” “rounds,” and “scenarios” interchangeably, deal.)  There I actually started running out of money, at which point you are declared “bankrupt” and the round ends.

Laying track costs money.  Removing structures that may be in the way of where you want your track to go costs money.  And then there is a tax on your rails that you pay at intervals which takes money out of your budget.  So there is a constant drain on your cash.

To earn money you have to get trains to their destination.  The sooner they roll out and the sooner the arrive, the more money you get.  You can even call for “extra” trains.  (One of the standard bonus objectives is to have 5-10 additional trains run during the level.)

Levels start out with just one train and a station or three, but then things heat up and soon you have trains waiting to go and more stations to hook up and you have to consider how to lay things out so that a train from any given station can get to any other station.  And if a train waits in the station too long, it will eventually just go, rolling out onto the rail line and mucking up whatever you might be trying to do.

I think I got this one laid out okay

I think I got this one laid out okay

You can see on the level in the screen shot above that there is a tunnel.  That is an added complication that rolls a train at you every so often.  More complications.  And when trains crash, that costs money too.  There is a loss for the train, the need to clear away the damage, and the building of new track.

I started going bankrupt occasionally on the US levels until I started paying closer attention to my budget.  It wasn’t until the Russia/USSR levels that this became critical.  At the “Iron Curtain” level the initial stations are far enough apart that you have to thread exactly the right path or go bankrupt immediately.  Again, more attention to budget and pathing required.

Still, I made it through that and into the Japan levels, which were the original end game.  Here is where I started having to take a few swings at the ball in order to finish a level.  The Sapporo level took me more than a few tries as it is a tight layout and throws trains at you from off map… fast trains… fairly often.  Still, I managed it.  I didn’t get any of the bonus objectives, but I made it without going bankrupt.

Then I arrived in Tokyo, the penultimate of the Japanese levels.  The trains are long and fast and show up at a rapid pace once the level started moving, you end up with a lot of stations, space on the ground is tight, and to get the layout you need you have to destroy some expensive buildings.

Starting off in Tokyo

Starting off in Tokyo

You end up with a fairly generous starting bank account, but having that first train show up wanting to get between two difficult stations can strain your budget almost immediately.  In the screen shot above I am blowing almost half my initial capital for the first stretch of rail, and I still have four stations unconnected.

I tend to start off okay… if I get a good first train or two I can often add a couple of extras just for a bit more cash… but eventually I hit a point where things begin to spin out of control.

Things begin to go badly

Things begin to go badly

In that screen shot the train in the upper right is going to leave the station, ready or not, two trains have collided at the green station, I haven’t finished repairing after the collision at the purple station, the red station isn’t even hooked up yet, and every station has a train ready to go.  And, as I noted, the trains are long, the freight trains are fast, and the passenger trains are faster.  I forget to set one switch correctly on the tracks and it is like an air traffic controller mistake and everything is going to end in disaster.  I go bankrupt… or quit when I know that is headed my way… every time.  I’ve had the rails full of stopped trains, another train threatening to go in a couple seconds, the game paused, and no solution in sight more than a few times.

But I persist.  Somebody even put together a page of rail layouts that seem to work… I searched for that after a lot of runs at Tokyo… which I am not miles away from on this level, but you need to earn cash to tear down buildings to get it just right, and even then it is a near run thing.  This is the twitch reaction level for the game so far.  I not only need to get the rails laid right, but I need to keep the switches set and the trains going in the right direction… and forget about the bonus objectives.

I haven’t even seen ze German layouts yet.  Not bad for a $3.39 investment.  I have gotten my money’s worth in play time out of it, and I still sit down every night and take a few runs at Tokyo.  I’ve just got to make fewer mistakes to best it.

Steam Winter Sale 2016 Results

Another Steam Winter Sale has come and gone.  I think it was “Winter” this year, and not “Holiday,” as it has occasionally been in past years.  I didn’t take a screen shot of the banner.  Whatever, you know what I mean.

The usual array of things happened.  There was opening day pricing comedy.  There was an event in which to participate, in this case the first ever Steam awards.  There were cards to earn by voting and by reviewing queues and badges to craft when you collected enough cards.  And, of course, stuff was on sale, with price marked down anywhere from a milquetoast 10% (looking at you Civilization VI) to a riveting 75% and beyond.

I will take those topics in order.

Pricing comedy this year, as every year, happened just as the sale launched.  This year’s twist was things appearing in the wrong pricing category as opposed to the usual absurdly low or even negative pricing that has happened in past sales.  That was all fixed pretty quickly, but not quickly enough to keep me from getting a couple of amusing screen shots back when the sale launched.

The event, The Steam Awards, was an attempt at…something.  The categories were presented before the sale and people were asked to nominate titles for them.  Then the top nominees were presented, one a day… except for the last day of voting when we got three… for people to vote on.  For each vote you got an event card.

The problem with the whole thing is that, in allowing community nominations and voting, I am not sure they can replay this as an event again next year… unless they radically change the categories.  Fans of certain games will persist in being fans and will nominate and vote for the same thing every year if you let them.  Anyway, the winners were:

  • Villain Most in Need of a Hug – Portal 2
  • I Thought This Game Was Cool Before It Won an Award – Euro Truck Simulator 2
  • Test of Time –  The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Just 5 More Minutes – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Whoooaaaaaaa, dude! – Grand Theft Auto V
  • Game Within a Game – Grand Theft Auto V
  • I’m Not Crying, There’s Something in My Eye – The Walking Dead
  • Best Use of a Farm Animal – Goat Simulator
  • Boom Boom – Doom
  • Love/Hate Relationship – Dark Souls III
  • Sit Back and Relax – Euro Truck Simulator 2
  • Better With Friends – Left 4 Dead 2

You can see descriptions of the categories and the other titles nominated at the official Steam award page.  As you can see, there are some dupes in winners and some titles a that are a bit long in the tooth.  You expect that for the Test of Time category, but maybe not for so many picks.  I would have to say that the most fitting winner is probably Goat Simulator, while the biggest travesty is that a Civilization title didn’t win the Just 5 More Minutes category.  But then, I don’t play CS:GO.

On the card front, I collect many cards, voting and running my two queues every day.  I actually managed to craft one badge but that was it.  Going through the queues I did add a couple of more titles to my wish list, so op success for Steam on that, though I am note sure they needed to send me an email about every single item on my wish list that was on sale.

Then, finally, there were games on sale… and unlike the last couple of events, I did actually buy a few items this time around.  Here is what I picked up:

Dirt3 Complete Edition  – $2.99

dirt3completeedition

Probably the best value of the sale for me.  An older title, it looks good and plays well on my system.  While it clearly believes you should have a game pad to play, I managed to make to with the keyboard controls.  In casual mode you can do the tour and steer while the game limits your speed to what will keep you on the track, so you can pretend you’re instantly good at the game… just don’t turn off some of those helpers or you’ll find out how bad you really are.

You get to drive lots of different cars, including retro models (70s, 80s, and 90s) like my old friend the Lancia Delta.  I like the rally courses a lot.  Not too keen on the gymkhana drifting and tricks aspect that are a mandatory part of the tour mode.

It also has a decent replay mode that lets you watch your race again from various angles and will allow you to upload the video to YouTube directly should you so desire.  I have yet to so desire.

Atari Vault – $7.99

atarivault

And impulse buy.  I actually have an old copy of the Atari classics that probably dates from 2000 or so that still sort-of works when I have a burning desire to play Adventure or remind myself just how bad some of the Atari 2600 games really were.  But I figured I wouldn’t be amiss getting an updated version.

Train Valley – $3.39

trainvalley

Purchased on something of a whim, this did not turn out to be quite what I expected.  There was a promise of sandbox play and I had dreams of large rail empires… I mean, look at all that track I have laid in Minecraft.  But the game itself seems limited to one screen of area on which you are allowed to play, so your layouts cannot get too sprawling.  Meanwhile, the sandbox mode is more in the vein of a developers sandbox in which to experiment as opposed to what you might think of as a sandbox in the MMO world.

Simple track layout

Simple track layout

Still, it is a fun little game in its own right and I spent a few hours playing it so far… and as I made it through various challenges I did manage to get more than my fair share of head-on rail collisions.

Prison Architect – $7.49

prisonarch

I did not buy this for myself but for my daughter who, upon learning of the Steam sale, put a few titles up on her wish list and then came over and mentioned this to me.  So I bought her this, and she actually played the hell out of it over the holiday break from school.  It looks pretty good and is one of those systemic process models where feeback loops (positive or negative) quickly make themselves apparent.  So I watched over her shoulder as she built cells, suppressed riots, and tried to figure out why the inmates inexplicably refused to the dining hall.  This has been on my wishlist and I might pick it up for myself the next time it goes on sale.

Stardew Valley – $9.99

stardewvalley

Another one for my daughter, whose wish list is limited by the fact that she has an iMac.  I was actually a bit surprised to find this title was available for MacOS.  I’ve heard lots of good things about it and it made the Steam Top 100 for 2016, a list based on sales revenue, which isn’t bad for a game with a $15 base price.  My daughter started playing it and got into it right away, though she was still feeling the draw of Prison Architect, so went back to that.  But she enthused enough about it that I bought a copy for myself before the end of the sale.  I have yet to launch it, but it is now in my library.

So that was it for the Steam sale.  I was going to buy Doom, which was 75% off, then totally forgot to on the last day and found it full price when I looked back to do it.  Probably for the best.

I did actually buy a few things this time around, but didn’t splurge.  I tried to keep it to just a few items so that I would play them rather than simply collect them.

The Steam Winter Sale 2016 Begins

The annual Steam Winter/Holiday sale is here again and, true to form, the usual bits of comedy were present as it kicked off at 10am yesterday.  Past years have seem sim-applied discounts yield negative prices on the opening day.  This year Steam thought they would try something different.

Ten dollars is how much again?

Ten dollars is how much again?

Even if I searched for games under five dollars, Steam seemed unwilling to go that low.

Look, go find more money and buy some of this...

Look, go find more money and buy some of this…

This years shtick is a set of game award for various categories.  Earlier in the year Steam asked for nominations, now we get to vote on the top five to choose the winner.  Or, you can try and vote.  It didn’t seem to want to register mine.

Russian Hax I Bet!!!

Russian Hax I Bet!!!

But I still got my Steam Holiday trading card for trying to vote, and that was the important bit, right?  I collect the cards.  I am not sure why, but I do, so I also went through to recommendation queues in order to get two more cards.

Then it was time to get down to what a big Steam sale really means to me.  We have grown so used to them that the idea of deep discounts really doesn’t trigger any sort of binge buying need within me.  Instead, it has become a test for my Steam wish list.  I put things on the wish list that I think I might want to get some day… but not today… with the assumption that if they get marked down, that will make the decision for me.

When we get to the big sale and I see some of those titles marked down as much as 75%… and if I still don’t buy them then, I have to figure they don’t really belong on my wish list.  So I am staring at Doom, which has been marked down to under $20 and wondering if I really want it.

On the flip side of that there are items on my wish list I know I will buy, but only when they get a serious discount.  10% off Civilization VI just isn’t going to get me there.

Ten percent off?

Ten percent off?

I am playing other games right now, I don’t NEED to devote hours and hours to a new Civ title just yet.  Also, I remember the last real Civ title I bought going 25% off in a Steam sale just two weeks after I bought it at full price.  I demand a better discount!

Also, I am not sure Steam needed to send me an individual email notification for a bunch of items on my with list to say they were on sale.  A single “Steam Winter Sale Time!” email would have been good enough.

Then again, those email messages might stand me in good stead, seeing that I cannot even log into Steam this morning.  The independent Steam Services Status page shows the whole thing to be down right now, so there is no getting online right now.  Offline mode is all I can do, and you don’t get any Steam Sale items that way.

Yeah, the internet is not the problem here

Yeah, the internet is not the problem here

I will have to check in again later… have to get those trading cards.  And I am still pondering a couple of items on my wish list.  I may yet buy something this season.

Addendum: The Steam Sevices Status page has a new graphic up for the situation:

Steam Winter Sale 2017

Steam Winter Sale 2017

EVE Online Free on Steam this Weekend

In order to celebrate EVE Online’s 13th birthday tomorrow and its becoming an unruly teenager… like it hasn’t been behaving that way all this time already… you will be able to download and play the game for free on Steam.

A 1pm cut off on Sunday seems a bit chintzy...

A 1pm cut off on Sunday seems a bit chintzy…

That means, if you start today… and the whole things starts today… at some point… maybe 1pm Pacific time… you could potentially get in as much as three days in New Eden to experience the furtive, achievement based tutorial, learn about skill queues and how long it will take to fly a battleship, see all the scams in Jita, and at least experience how cool the sensation of flying in space can be.

I think starting as Gallente gets you the prettiest nebulae.

Gallente rookie ship zipping about...

Gallente rookie ship zipping about…

Of course, if you REALLY wanted to try out the game… and maybe not have your account totally locked into Steam for no real good reason… you could always just go to the EVE Online web site and get a 14 Day free trial.

Or, if you were feeling especially interested and a bit generous, you could get a 21 Day free trial by clicking on my buddy link.  Exactly one person has done that in the last three years, though I admit I don’t flash it around either, keeping it hidden on the side bar of my other blog.

Okay, the three day Steam offer does say “no restrictions,” while the trial offer has some walls around it, there being some skills and such that you cannot train on trial accounts.  But you’re not going to have the ISK or a reason to train those skills in just three days, now are you?

Anyway, my cynicism aside, happy birthday to EVE Online.  Come fly around in space for a bit.  Goons won’t scam you, I promise.  You won’t have enough ISK to be worth the effort.

Another Steam Winter Sale Fades Away

One last poke at 2015… for now.

I always want to use water vapor as a metaphor when I write about Steam.  As it turns out however, water vapor is relatively untapped as a source of humor, though Wikipedia assures me that as much as 80% of electrical generation involves steam in some form or another.  Also, autoclaves.

So the best I can manage is something about dissipation or condensation… which I think both accurately describe some aspects of the just past (should be done before this posts) Steam Winter Sale.

Through 10am on January 4th, which is today...

Through 10am on January 4th, which is today…

The dissipation aspect was the nature of the sale itself.  As I previously noted, gone were the daily deals, flash sales, and other usual methods to get us all to stare at the Steam Store wondering if we should buy now or delay.  Everything that was going on discount was at the same price throughout the sale.

That took a bit of the edge off of things for sure.  One could ponder one’s wishlist at leisure and decide if the price was right… though I must admit that my own wishlist is sort of a video game purgatory, where games are sent to linger in an uncertain state, neither purchased nor ignored, for years at a stretch.

Then there was condensation, an opposite action in order to give focus.  In this case, the usual holiday card game required you to go through three recommendation queues each day in order to earn the cards.  Just the sort of minimal OCD sort of activity that works for me.  I went through every day, earning 39 cards, which I guess means that the sale was 13 days long… or maybe I missed a day.

Cards obtained

Cards obtained… and there was no tomorrow when I got this message…

I actually got enough cards to complete the set for once, which allowed me to craft a badge of some sort… not sure what that did, but it got me to level 9 in Steam levels.  I actually badgered Gaff to trade me the one card I needed and, after he finally consented, got that card in the next set of draws.

The queues themselves… which is a feature that showed up like a year ago… I think… are made up of 12 games that Steam thinks you might like based on your past purchasing behavior.  I had run through a couple queues back when they first launched the idea, but haven’t really looked at them since.   And then they became part of this event and I looked at a minimum of 39 of them… more I think, since at least one day I did an extra one, and then I did an extra one yesterday because I suddenly couldn’t remember how many games were in one.  And I went through them with moderate care, not just ripping through them to get my treat at the end.  So, by the last day I had looked at a lot of games.

Some Stats Steam Has on Me

Some Stats Steam Has on Me

I did add some to my wishlist… I think I had 20 games there to start with, though I took a few off as I added more… so maybe 20 games added total.   And, of course, I flagged more than a few as “not interested,” all of which left me with a few observations.

-Jesus there are a lot of games on Steam!  Somebody probably has an absolute number (Google says “more than 6,000”), but there is a difference between a number and actually wading through a few hundred.

-We still need to master the whole online interface for shopping.  Sure, there are more than 6,000 games on Steam, but you only ever see maybe a dozen at a time on the front page and devs are so inconsistent with descriptions that search likely won’t find everything you might want to see.

-How many Call of Duty titles has Activision made at this point?

-You buy one freakin’ Amine themed game (Valkyria Chronicles) and Steam feels the need to show you every other one it can find.

-Flagging something “Not Interested” seems to only impact that particular title.  Flagging half a dozen Anime themed games seemed to do nothing to abate the flow of them through my queue.

-Likewise, flagging something “Not Interested” when it is part of a series of games doesn’t seem to have any impact on being offered other games in the series.

-Removing something from your wishlist though, that makes that particular title appearing in your next queue pretty much a lock.

-There are way too many games out there, judging by description alone, that were made by grabbing 2-4 words from this list and running with it:

  • Sandbox
  • Survival
  • Shooter
  • Roguelike
  • Builder
  • RTS
  • Simulation
  • RPG
  • Story-drive
  • SciFi
  • 2D/3D
  • Platformer
  • Unique
  • Adventure

-There seemed to be a correlation between how dubious/low reviewed/indy a given title was and how much their description leaned on the 2-4 words they chose from that list.  Quality titles (subjective observation) don’t seem to go with those words in their description, all the more so since Steam has tags for that sort of thing.  (Also, remember when Steam tags were the end of the universe?)

-On the flip side, I only saw this used in a description once, and more is the pity; “retrofuturism.”  That is a word worthy of your game’s description.

-There are a load of space sim games out there.  Seriously, if you’re preaching that people must support Star Citizen because there are not enough space sims out there, you just aren’t looking very hard.  Okay, yes, nothing out there is aiming as high as Star Citizen, but there are a lot of niche titles on Steam that would likely tickle some aspect of your space sim needs until Chris Roberts finishes his magnum opus.

-There aren’t very many cowboy games.  Or at least there were not any in my queues.

And how well did all of that wading through queues work out for Steam?

If they were looking to get some money from me, not very well.  I ended up buying no new titles during the sale.

Which does not mean I did not add a new title to my library.  In one of my queues was a game called Endless Sky that I almost flipped past until the words “Escape Velocity” jumped out of its description.

Escape Velocity was a game from Ambrosia Software that I played the hell out of back in the 90s.  That was a long time ago on an operating system far, far away.  That triggered a moment of nostalgia, which I almost let pass… until I saw that Endless Sky was free.

I am not sure how “free” for a game with no add on sales is working for Steam, but I grabbed it and invested a few hours into it over the weekend.  While it is a work in progress, it does feel like the Escape Velocity.

So out of all of those daily queues, that was my big score: a free game based on a game I played about 20 years ago.

I am not sure that is the retrofuturism you were looking for.

Was there anything else worth getting during the sale?  Anything that couldn’t wait until summer?  And did Steam’s holiday queue magic work on you?

Steam Holiday Sale – Even Valve Seems a Bit Bored

The Steam Holiday Sale went live on Tuesday with the usual sudden surge of excitement and the occasional error.

Best Deal Evah!

Best Deal Evah!

There were a few items discounted into negative territory.  The best I saw was Quake, which Steam was apparently prepared to pay you $9.85 if you would download it.

To borrow another Tweet, Van Hemlock had a good summary.

But once that settled down and prices got adjusted and discount math was correctly calculated, the sales event seemed to be happily under way.  Nearly everything on my wishlist is on sale, and I am once again tempted by Cities: Skylines and Project CARS.

Of course, all of those other unplayed, or underplayed, games in my Steam library are giving me baleful stares.  Their mere presence inhibits my ability to buy anything new.  And when combined with the knowledge that there will just be another Steam sale later if I don’t buy anything this time around, any sense of urgency is lost.  That one time emotional response of, “I’d better buy this now, I might want to play it some day!” has been replaced by the feeling that unless I want to play the game RIGHT NOW, I can wait until a later date.

So yeah, another “tired gamer in a malaise” story here at TAGN.

The odd bit is that even Valve seems a bit less into the whole Steam Sale too.

Gone are the events.  You get holiday Steam cards for just browsing games.  The daily deals and flash sales, ever the bane of the OCD in people obsessed with getting the best deal, are gone.  There is no need to keep checking back every few hours.  The price cut on the title you are interested in is going to be the same throughout the Holiday Sale.  That old flow chart about when to buy is history. (So many versions of it out there.)

So no rush.  You can sit an consider your purchase or make lists of games people should buy or otherwise reflect on the sale in peace, without anybody nudging you to get on with it because it all might be different in an hour or three.

All of which is something of a relief.  A new normal has emerged.  And though I kind of miss the special nature that a Steam sale used to have, you cannot recreate that forever.