Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Matter of Time, Time Played That Is

When people shop for games, they want to know if what they're going to buy is worth the price they're paying. This is just like any product you'd buy, but it's arguably much harder with video games.

Video games are a subjective thing at their heart. How much enjoyment a person has with a game can be drastically different between individuals. Different game genres, art styles, levels of quality, and even developers can make or break a game for some, while others could care less.

So, people do their best to work with the tools available and try to turn a decision that's subjective into as objective a decision as possible. They read reviews written by an author they don't know with scores that are heavily skewed toward the high end of the scale. They watch video footage of gameplay and look at screenshots. Maybe they try a demo. And if they're lucky, they talk to their friends who own the game.

But why don't people share and look at time played? The amount of time someone spends playing a game can be an indicator of if they got their money's worth or not. If someone buys a game and only plays it for an hours or not at all, perhaps it's not worth picking up. At the other end of the spectrum is when a game gets played hours and hours, meaning, for some reason, the player keeps coming back for more. None of this tells you why a game might be good or bad, and you still run into the issue of whether or not you like the same types of games as the person the stats are from. All this considered, it can be used, along with other factors, to help in the selection of games.

Helpfully, Steam keeps track of how long you've played every game in your collection. Below, you'll find a compiled list of every steam game I own and how long I've played each of them. Take it with a grain of salt, especially those games with 0 play time, which could mean I just never found the time to play it.

What the Hell is a Klelith?

Lost in Neurons is an analysis blog written solely by Klelith that I've been reading since it started. I would be generous if I said its posting schedule was average. However, when a post does come around, it tends to swoop in out of nowhere with deep analysis on a vast number of subjects from gaming and technology, to fiction stories and funny videos.  He'll drop it off in the middle of the night with little warning and vanish before you realize he was ever there. 

This level of writing is beyond mine to say the least, so I have always forgiven Klelith for the sporadic   posting schedule. 

I've had the pleasure of knowing this writer for several years, seeing that he is in fact, my brother. I have been asking for ages for him to do a guest post about gaming for A Green Mushroom to no avail.  

I had all but given up when he offered to do all of his game analysis posts on this blog. Imagine my surprise!

All of his other thoughts on things like programming, technology, thoughts about life, fiction, and just existing will still be posted over at Lost in Neurons so be sure to check out his site.

The majority of A Green Mushroom's posts will still be done by me, but you'll know Klelith's work when you read it! Enjoy readers, and welcome aboard Klelith!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Time to Think

We're so connected all the time.  Between work and leisure time I'm constantly looking at screens.  Technology is amazing but it's invaded our lives.  It's not always a bad thing, but I find I need to disengage to recharge my mind.  I consume so much content in any given day that my brain needs time off.  I need to give myself time to think original thoughts.

Part of my problem is that not only work but also my hobbies revolve around technology.  I'm finding more and more that I'm a happier person overall if I take some time each day to be quiet.  Sometimes I just sit and think, but even more fun is playing with my daughter on the floor, talking to my wife, or taking a walk outside.  I love being around my family, but I love interacting with them even more!

And it's the perfect season to step away from technology.  I try to remind myself to enjoy the summer!  Minnesota winter is always lurking around the corner and it sneaks up fast.

Maybe this post will make you rethink how much time you spend in front of a screen, but mainly it's for me.  I'm still here.  I'm still thinking about games and I have a bunch of posts in my head.  But, for now, I'm taking a little bit more time away from screens to enjoy life.  As fall and winter set in I'm sure my posts will pick back up.  Until then, make sure you enjoy your summer too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On the Horizon

I was thinking about the summer slump today so I browsed ahead to the fall launch lineup and holy shit.  There are so many AAA titles coming out between September and November.  Let me run down a quick list of the ones I know I want.  Gears of War 3, Assassin's Creed Revelations, Batman Arkham City, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Modern Warfare 3, Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary.  Not to mention a bunch of others that I want to check out before I buy.

Many of these games are releasing within a week of one another.  It's crazy.  I know why they do it.  They want the holiday hype to drive sales from Thanksgiving until Christmas.  The logic makes sense, but I don't know if it's still the best idea when all of these other games are releasing at the same time.

The crazy thing is, if one of those games released right now it would have all the press attention it wanted until September.  Think about how much Starcraft 2 dominated the gaming news last summer.  It was a great game, for sure, but a huge part of the coverage was because there wasn't a whole lot to write about.

So here I am in the summer, enjoying my time outside for sure.  But when I sit down to game I'm mostly fooling around with old JRPGs, XBLA games, and my fallback PC games.  If one of those AAA fall titles was available today I know it would get my $60 and I'm sure there are many more who feel the same way.  I guess we'll just have to wait until the frenzied fall.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Snap Judgements: MK, Ms. Splosion Man, Professor Layton

This time you get three games in one post.  How exciting for you.  This is what happens when real life gets busy and I try to play catch up with my posts.  Let's get to it.

Mortal Kombat
Platform: Xbox 360
Total Play Time: 2.5 hours

Mortal Kombat hasn't changed much over the years.  It's still full of over the top gore.  Overall, it's a fighting game on a 2D plane with decent controls.  I still prefer the Street Fighter series, but it's nice to see MK go back to it's roots with this game.  After a few hours of playing around with Fatalities I had seen all I cared to.  This is not a game that I could sink days into.  I have to admit that the fatalities appealed to my inner 13 year old, but besides that I wasn't overly impressed.

Ms. Splosion Man
Platform: Xbox 360 (XBLA)
Total Play Time: 3.5 hours

Ms. Splosion man is a satisfactory follow up to XBLA hit Splosion Man.  If you're a platforming fan and haven't played the original Splosion Man you should probably give it a look.  It's jumping mechanic revolves around the main character exploding, which you have to admit is awesome.  I'm enjoying this sequel, but I don't know if I would recommend it to others.  It just doesn't do enough new things to warrant the current asking price.  If it drops in cost pick it up for sure.  Until then, go visit the original if you haven't.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Platform: Nintendo DS
Total Play Time: 3 or 25 hours

Why is my play time 3 or 25 hours?  Good question.  I rented this game and played for about 3 hours over the first few days.  Then my wife saw me playing it, loved it, and invested another 25 hours or so to beat the game.  Professor Layton is a point and click adventure game with a series of puzzles along the way.  I liked the game, but my wife absolutely loved it.  Honestly, the best part was sitting down with her to play a game together.  As a friend over at Systemic Babble would say, it's a great cuddle game.  I couldn't put it better myself.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Console Quandary

I'm back from vacation and ready to write.  In other big news I just landed my first full-time salaried job!  I had a good couple of weeks.

I told myself once I got a full-time job one of my rewards would be a new gaming console, so now I have to make a decision.  Should I get a PS3 or a 3DS?  I really can't make up my mind.

The 3DS has a few awesome 3D remakes of some of my favorite games.  Namely, Star Fox 64 and Ocarina of Time.  I'm sure down the line they'll release some new Mario platformers, which I'll eat up.  Nintendo has also announced a new Smash Bros game for the 3DS and I don't want to pass that up, although it may be years away.

The PS3, on the other hand has a HUGE backlog of games already.  It's been out about the same amount of time as the Xbox 360 and has fallen in price many times.  The built in Blu-Ray player would be a cool added bonus.  I've wanted to check out the Uncharted series, Little Big Planet, Infamous, Warhawk, Demon Souls,  and God of War III.  The real draw for me here are the PSN downloadable games.  I haven't regretted any money I've spent on XBLA and I'm sure I would love the downloadable titles from PSN as well.  Off the top of my head I want to try Flower, the Pixeljunk series, Fat Princess, and 3D Dot Game Heroes.  Not to mention the Final Fantasy's available for download as PS One Classics.

Looking at my lists I can tell PS3 has a bigger backlog now, but I just love the potential of the 3DS.  The other reason I hesitate to buy a PS3 is because most of the games I buy are cross-platform and I'll always choose the 360 over the PS3.

So, readers, please help.  I truly can't make up my mind.  If you own a PS3, 3DS, or both, leave me some feedback in the comments.  I'll owe you one.