Blog Wonderings, More Lent Stuff, And What I Plan To Do Afterwards

After looking through my blog stats, it seems that my most popular blog post has been the ‘My Craft‘ post about Minecraft. With almost three-hundred views, it soars above the rest of my posts, the closest being twenty-eight. Not twenty-eight views difference, just twenty-eight views. That’s pretty damn impressive. And it makes me wonder what I did in that post that makes it so different to the rest of them. Was I simply pandering to a more popular game at the time? Or was it the easily found nature of the post itself? I assume a lot of people Google ‘Minecraft‘, and quite a few of my hits come from Google (slightly in front of Twitter and Facebook), so it seems that more searched games equals more hits. ‘What a surprise’, you might sarcastically comment. Well, it sort of is. I thought I already was talking about popular games, but there seems to be a difference between ‘popular’ and ‘most searched’. Minecraft is obviously well-searched for as it lacks a tutorial, and has taken the internet by storm recently. It also seems a lot of hits came from the images used in the posts. Still, despite the slightly obvious nature, it gave me some food for thought about future content, especially about what my readers want. What do you want to see in these posts? Does it even bother you? You might just read this for shits-and-giggles for all I know. I dunno why you read it, but as my readers I see you as important. So what would you like to see more of?

Away from that, Lent is going as you’d expect it to, with a few exceptions. I suffered a family bereavement recently, and that almost caused me to fall off of the wagon, so to speak, but I’ve managed to keep my willpower thus far. That said, the funeral is not out of the way yet, and I’m presuming that will be the most stressful time. With the addition of an application on my phone that allows me to play text-based MUDs anywhere with a phone signal… I can see that it’ll be difficult, even though I’m sure that no-one will hold it against me if I really need to escape that much. I don’t think I’m that much of a slave to games though, or at least I hope not. I guess I’ll have to ask Master Warcraft about that later, after my daily flogging.

So, I briefly mentioned some form of game lottery in my last blog post and I’m sure you’ve all been chomping at the bit in anticipation for more news. Or you’ve forgotten all about it. Either way, I still don’t have full details. This is partly down to the aforementioned bereavement and my own personal laziness, but I do have some more details to share:

I. The games will be selected from my current PC collection. No games from consoles will be considered, as it’s just far too much hassle to cart them around with me. At least the majority of my PC games are on Steam, or already with me.

II. All applicable games be entered into a hat and chosen at random at the start of whatever slot. I might change this and set out a schedule before I start, simply for ease and a grim acceptance of the trash to come – I own The Matrix: Path of Neo; I really, really hope that doesn’t come up.

III. No MMOs of any kind. Pretty obvious why not, really. I don’t want to needlessly spend money on subscriptions. So Champions Online, Lord of the Rings Online, World of Warcraft etc., shall not be entered. Even if I already have an active subscription (as in WoW‘s case) I simply cannot be bothered to make an exception. Even free-to-play MMos like LotRO won’t be entered, due to the relentless patching and sheer bollocks that come with it.

IV. Once the game has been chosen I play that game, and only that game, for the time period (more on that later). Should the game need to be downloaded, and cannot be downloaded within a decent amount of time (or restrictions on bandwith), it shall be passed over to the next free slot and another game be drawn.

The time period issue has been giving me a bit of a headache recently; I cannot decide which amount of time would be best. My collection of PC games is extensive – one hundred and thirty-nine games on Steam alone. I generally buy things if they’re on offer and sometimes never play them. Playing through my entire collection of games, even if it’s a game a day, will take the better part of a year. Doing it weekly will result in several years worth of gameplay from those games alone. And that’s without buying any new games. And that would also make me more than slightly misanthropic. My main options at the moment are: daily; three days at a time; and weekly. Daily, whilst giving me a much larger range of games to play, doesn’t offer me very much scope to play the game, and very little time to do other stuff such as university work. Weekly, however, gives me time to play the game, do other stuff, and crucially, gives me time to get bored of it. One of the major points of this exercise (apart from to actually play some damn games) is to test myself, and to see how long I can play one game without going completely mad or actually getting addicted. At the moment, weekly seems like the best idea. Three days seems like a more extended version of the problems with the daily schedule, and probably won’t be chosen. Not to mention, during a weekly schedule, I can have Sundays off to relax and write up my post on the game, even if I don’t update throughout the week. Expect tears and insanity from this.

These rules are somewhat flexible, at least until I start the lottery, and are likely to be changed. For instance, I may allow myself to play certain MMOs like Achaea or Wurm. Mainly because getting past a weeks play in either game will be hell. I’m beginning to think that I’m slightly masochistic, or that I actually hate myself. And at the moment, it seems like the littery won’t be a running a running thing. I’ll likely do a week of it whenever I have the time, due to university demands, girlfriends, social life… all those meddling things that interfere with playing games whenever possible.

I will be writing a post about the games I’d most like to play and those I really wouldn’t, and the reasons why, soon. And I promise it’ll be a lot more fun to read than this post has been. Hell, Lent hasn’t given me much to write about, except the odd craving for an unexpected game. Actually writing about games again from a retrospectice viewpoint should be fun.

And that’s How, for now!

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Lent, why it sucks, and cravings

First off, I’d like to start this post in a beautifully stereotypical manner: yes, I’m going to apologise for my lack of posts within the last six months or so! What a unique way to write a blog! Anyway, I’d love to be able to only blame university work for my lack of writings, but that simply isn’t the case. Sure, recently I’ve been pretty snowed under with deadlines, reading and work, but the majority has been pure laziness on my part. And I haven’t really had much to say. Usually when I play a good game, a blog post will just start in my head and I’ll have a fairly good idea of what to say. That just hasn’t happened. Perhaps the games recently have been as boring as fuck. Since these have included Bulletstorm, Europa Universalis Rome and Battlefield: Bad Company 2, I somehow doubt it.

Anyway, I won’t be posting anything strictly game-related any time soon, as I’ve been convinced to give video games up for Lent. I’m not a particularly religious person, at least not in the sense of Lent, but doing something like this is a challenge, and one I was sort-of happy to accept. Hell, it gives me more time to read, which is a relief; my ‘to-read’ list has been steadily rising since Christmas.

It’s also given me time to think about stuff to do for this blog. For a while I’d been looking for a project to help this blog stick out in the blogosphere, and whilst I’ve had a few ideas knocking about, nothing has really stuck. This time though… this one might actually work, as it hinges on the very thing this blog was named after: my legendary propensity to be distracted.

I have a rather large collection of games, considering my relative youth in PC gaming. Some I bought because they were genuinely wanted, and then got bored of (Dragon Age, Saints Row 2, Red Faction Guerilla etc). Others I bought because they were cheap on Steam or Gamestation, and have never really played (ARMA, Hitman: Blood Money etc). My idea is to take this list, and to play them. In a random order. From a hat. Possibly of the camp-cowboy variety. The basic idea is for me to learn some form of patience and sticking-power with games, and to actually play the games that I seem to have wasted so much money on over the years. Hopefully, this will work.

Hopefully.

Anyway, there’ll be more on that story later. Back to Lent, and why it sucks. As mentioned, I’m off games for fourty days. It’s really nothing other than a pure willpower exercise and competition against my girlfriend, who has given up something she adores in compensation (chocolate). It’s not going too badly, other than occasionally being tempted by seductive sultresses of games. Two vixens in particular (which I hadn’t expected to be attracted to) are Wurm Online and the MUD Achaea Online. Both very deep games, and both are total bastards to get into. Somehow, my almost sexual lust for gaming has landed on two of the ugliest motherfuckers around. For some reason, these are the ones I really want to play again. Yes, despite almost everyone in my student being entraced by Minecraft (and making some rather impressive structures) I am instead craving two games which I have taken up and given up several times before. Gah!

I have played Wurm Online before, and I always meant to write a post about it. Unfortunately, once I’d stopped playing the game and had actually sat down to write the post I was on the waning edge of my obsession and writing about the game in a positive light seemed like a nigh-impossible task. Another chance to write a post would be nice, but… to put it in perspective, the last time I played Wurm, I spent eight hours in a hole, mining myself a safe haven. That’s eight real-time hours, not in game hours. In a hole. Mining. I passed twenty-four hours of gaming within three days. For me, that amount of game-time is ridiculuous. I was hooked.

It seemed like the key were the goals I’d set for myself. See, Wurm places you into a fantasy setting, complete with goblins, and gives you one task; to survive. You’re on the frontier, and you are the first wave of civilisation into this wild area. It’s up to you to ride the wildness and to tame it. It’s a very compulsive idea, and I soon found myself grabbed. My short-term goal was to build a house. And I was hours away from doing that, even several ideas into the game. And I wasn’t even going for a mansion: I was aiming for a garden shed-sized building. One block in size. Even something as small as that was many hours work away, because of the skill system.

The skill system in Wurm is deep. And I mean deep. For instance, Carpentry is one of your main skills that splits into other sub-skills: Fine Carpentry, Toy Making, Fletching, Bowyery, and Ship Making. Each one levels up differently, and each is needed for different items. To gain points in a skill, you must create items, knock down trees, kill things – whatever ties into the skill. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. To create a simple mallet, you first cut down a tree, chop that felled tree into logs, carve that log into a wooden shaft and mallet head, then try to put them together. If you’re lucky, now you have your mallet. Should you be mortal like me, then it’s more than likely that you failed at some point along the chain and are now sitting in a pile of scrap wood, weeping at your inability to carve a simple wooden shaft. To begin with, each link along this chain has a chance of less than fifty percent of working, and combining the mallet would be much lower. Obviously, this goes up as your level increases, but the differences are slight, especially in the early stages of the game. To add insult to injury, your shaft may have gone into the head, but might now need filing, sanding or even, hilariously enough, bonking with a mallet to finish it off. Catch-22 scenarios like this are fairly common and this is very much a game for the hardcore and/or stubborn.

But anyway, enough of that tangent. I’m sure an actual post for Wurm will follow at some point. The ironic thing is, writing this has only made me want to play it even more. Fuck.

On that note, I’d better leave before I knaw my own arms off in lust for gratification from an interactive-visual medium.

Farewell!

Should you be the self-hating type, or just curious, Wurm Online can be found at http://www.wurmonline.com.