Gameplay Statistics – Week 7

Monday, October 16, 2017 – Sunday, October 22, 2017

Days of the week in which games were played: Thursday
Total number of video games played: 1
Total video game duration: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Communities involved: N/A

Game Platform Duration
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen PC/Steam 3 hours, 30 minutes

Total number of non-video games played: 0
Total non-video game duration: N/A
Communities involved: N/A
Number of supplemental game or game-related activities: 0

Tags: PC, XCOM


Lackluster Motivation

Exactly what I had feared during my previous week of binging hard on XCOM came to pass this week.  My life had become so busy and I had taken several days off to focus on my real-life responsibilities, so I found myself forcing some play time into Thursday night.  It was quite difficult to get into it at first because I was exhausted.  Most of my time at work, which includes very long 10 and 12 hour days sometimes, is spent at a computer.  After about an hour, I finally started to regain that flow feeling; eventually, the play time started to feel good but I ended up staying awake until 1 AM to defeat one of the Chosen, one of the minibosses introduced in the XCOM expansion I was playing.  Consequently, I was very tired at work the next day.

Chosen Miniboss Challenging Us to Fight!

Scary Bitch

Mordenna's Strengths and Weaknesses

She’s dead now

I managed to get some great screenshots, but, overall, it was a lackluster week of gameplay.

Enemy Soldier

Bad guys are getting quite strong at this stage – 30 hours deep

Let’s hope the following week the trend doesn’t continue.  The most exasperating part is that I find it quite difficult to balance work and play.  I have so many things going on in my life that when I do finally get a moment to relax, it’s as though I don’t even have the energy to provide the inputs to play a game.  I would much rather do something entirely passive, like watching a movie.

Hacking an Advent Soldier's Mind

Skulljacked – Hacking an Advent Soldier’s Mind

I consider myself a completionist, and I like to progress through every aspect of a game in a structured and exhaustive manner.  I even take this approach with non-linear games, carving out the content into sections and completing them all until there’s nothing left to do.  I am left with a sort of empty feeling when I lose interest in a game, and often never get back to them.  This aspect of my personality, the completionist, is often at odds with the motivation I feel towards games.  Sometimes, if a game goes on too long, it starts to feel like an obligation, a chore.  As I get older, I am drawn less to games that take dozens of hours to complete.  I prefer to stick to 10-15 hour games, that is unless I have the time to spend.  I think this is why I do long video game binges on holiday periods or when I have time off work.  I am taking advantage of the long duration of free time so that I can focus and get into the flow state which feels so pleasant and satisfying.


Works Cited

Firaxis Games. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. 2K Games, 2017. Microsoft Windows. Computer Software.

Gameplay Statistics – Week 6

Monday, October 9, 2017 – Sunday, October 15, 2017

Days of the week in which games were played: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday
Total number of video games played: 1
Total video game duration: 11 hours, 30 minutes
Communities involved: N/A

Game Platform Duration
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen PC/Steam 11 hours, 30 minutes

Total number of non-video games played: 1
Total non-video game duration: 4 hours, 30 minutes (Settlers of Catan)
Communities involved: Co-workers
Number of supplemental game or game-related activities: 0

Tags: PC, XCOM, Catan


In the Groove

This week’s gameplay was great.  I was fully in the zone and experienced prolonged periods of being in the previously mentioned flow state.  All of my gameplay for this week consisted of XCOM2: War of the Chosen.  Unfortunately, I did not finish the game, but I did have an awful lot of fun.  Early in the week, I modified one of my soldiers to reflect the real version of myself.  The game takes place somewhere in the mid-21st century, as indicated by most soldiers’ ages being between 2000 and 2010.  Accordingly, since my own birth took place in 1982, I made an old-man version of myself.  I made him the Specialist class because those are the hackers in this game and I identify primarily as a technophile.

Soldier of Myself

Soldier of Myself

I even gave him a biography.  I thought this was interesting because this enabled me to hold an additional subject position in the game beyond the Commander while this soldier was being sent on missions.  That is, even though I identified with the Commander primarily, I also identified with the soldier.  This revelation revealed that it’s possible in video games to hold multiple subject positions within the same game!

Soldier Biography

Soldier Biography

Binging on this game all week felt great, but I was concerned that, since I couldn’t complete it this week, I might not have time to binge again so much next week and therefore might lose interest.  Interest probably isn’t the right word.  Captivation is probably more apt.  This is a problem I encounter a lot playing games as an adult with many responsibilities.  If I can’t “sprint to the goal” and have to take large breaks while playing (as in days or weeks at a time), then I find it exceptionally difficult to get back into the flow state when returning to the same game.  I think this is a function of dedication and focus.  This effect doesn’t just manifest with games, but also in my work life and daily responsibilities.  The longer I leave something on the back-burner, the less likely I am to return to it in a timely manner, if at all.

Saturday Night is Alright for Board Games

Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan – I’m the green pieces dominating the middle of the board

I had some colleagues from work over on Saturday night for Settlers of Catan.  I first played this game once about 15 years ago, and then did not play it again until late last year.  I recently purchased it back in May, and this was the 7th game I’ve played since starting again in 2016.  It was so much fun to have a social experience and a good exercise in being a good sportsman.  This is because I won the game!  In fact, out of the 7 games I’ve played, I’ve won 6.  So my “Catan Career” has been a really great exercise in grace and humility in victory because this game can really raise people’s temper!  Starting with the following disclaimer was a good idea, and a practice I will continue in the future: “no matter what happens during the game, let’s remember that we’re all friends here!”  It also felt really great to host the game and be able to provide the experience.  Catan is a resource-based game which has many elements now found in strategic video games (like collecting resources and upgrading cities, for example).  The game was very expensive to buy: $200 for the base game, Cities and Knights expansion, and the 5-6 player expansion packs for both.


Works Cited

Firaxis Games. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. 2K Games, 2017. Microsoft Windows. Computer Software.

Tueber, Klaus. Catan: Cities & Knights. Catan Studio, 1998. Board Game.

Tueber, Klaus. Settlers of Catan. Catan Studio, 1995. Board Game.

Gameplay Statistics – Week 5

Monday, October 2, 2017 – Sunday, October 8, 2017

Days of the week in which games were played: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Total number of video games played: 2
Total video game duration: 15 hours
Communities involved: N/A

Game Platform Duration
Super Mario Galaxy PC/Dolphin (Wii) 45 min
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen PC/Steam 14 hours, 15 min

Total number of non-video games played: 1
Total non-video game duration: 45 minutes (Fluxx)
Communities involved: Co-workers
Number of supplemental game or game-related activities: 0

Tags: PC, Dolphin, Nintendo, Wii, Mario, XCOM, Fluxx

 


Games for Change

When I started my new job as a junior project manager, I relayed an anecdote my new boss about a game about change.  In my new position, a large component of the work involves change management, and I spoke about the game in this context.  The game is called Fluxx, and its a card game with the basic premise that there is only one basic rule at the outset.  As cards get played, they contain new rules, new victory conditions, and dynamically evolving strategies.  Fluxx is the “game with ever-changing rules.”

Fluxx Cards

Fluxx Cards

My boss decided to buy me this game as a gift after I had been working for a month, with the suggestion that we play it with the project team as an exercise in change management.  That chance finally arrived as I was on a business trip and we had some spare time on the Wednesday of this week.  To be honest, however, this game may have been a bit too much to keep track of for my boss and the colleague I was playing with.  A round of Fluxx can last anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour (according to the box).  This game lasted 45 minutes, and it seemed my opponents were losing their patience with the substantial number of “new rule” cards to keep track of on the table.  I enjoyed myself, even though I lost.  I decided that this game should probably be reserved for groups with a more pedantic bent (for lack of a better term, nerds).

When September Ends

September was a very busy month for me.  Having more free time this week than I have had since May, I binged on games, hard.  This was the biggest gaming binge I’d had in about 10 months.  It felt amazing to get lost in a new version of one of my favourite games. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen is mod for XCOM 2 which came out in August 2017.  It keeps the original game intact while adding a new introduction, new game mechanics, and an all-new plotline with additional enemies and bosses while retaining all of the elements in the original game.  All of the original story elements are intact, but this mod merely adds more on top of those already existing.  When XCOM 2 first came out in February 2016, I binged hard on it at that time as well.  Same with the series reboot, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which came out in 2012.

I am quite familiar with from the XCOM franchise.  The original XCOM games were released for MS-DOS in the mid-1990s.  There were a handful of games released with the common theme of battling against an alien invasion force, some of which were based on land and some under the sea.  I was obsessed with them back then, and am obsessed with them now.  The primary gameplay mechanic remains unchanged in the modern successors, being a turn-based tactical strategy game, with some minor tweaks.  As a matter of fact, the original XCOM: UFO Defence is regarded by many (including myself) as the seminal game in the turn-based tactical strategy genre.  That being said, those familiar with table-top RPGs will recognize that XCOM is their digital progeny, especially where combat is concerned. Major improvements abound in every other aspect of the new incarnation of the franchise and every subsequent release.

Original XCOM Screenshot

Original XCOM Screenshot

I spent the entire weekend getting deep into War of the Chosen, while also barely scratching the surface of what the game has to offer.  If I had one complaint about the game, it’s that it takes too long to complete.  I have a love affair with the XCOM franchise, and I think that’s one of the main reasons why it’s one of the rare titles nowadays that captures my attention entirely; it has nostalgia while also having all the bells-and-whistles of a modern game.  It’s absolutely gorgeous from a graphics perspective.  It’s very easy for me to get “in the zone” with this game.  I didn’t know what to call this state in my earlier writings for this course, but from now on I will use the term defined by Diane Carr as the state of “flow [, which] incorporates immersion and engagement and is experienced as ‘an intensely pleasurable, optimum state, incorporating focus, euphoria and high levels of motivation’” (qtd. in Bradford, p. 58).

In my previous blog entries, I mentioned the distinct problem of having a hard time getting into games as I progress further into adulthood.  With XCOM, that problem disappears if I am given enough time to play it.  I only hope I can beat it before my free time is diminished again, or I lose interest because of a long break.  This is something that tends to happen a lot and seems to be the case for not completing Super Mario Galaxy, which I only played momentarily this week (before becoming consumed by XCOM).  That might be another area of inquiry for future blog posts.  In the meantime, next weeks’ blog post will likely be encompassed by XCOM 2: War of the Chosen as well.


Works Cited

Bradford, Clare. “Looking for my corpse: Video games and player positioning.” Australian Journal of Language and Literacy (2010): 54-64. Web. 11 October 2017. http://medi265.dougstetar.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Bradford_LookingForCorpse.pdf.

Firaxis Games. XCOM: Enemy Unknown. 2K Games, 2012. Microsoft Windows. Computer Software.

Firaxis Games. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. 2K Games, 2017. Microsoft Windows. Computer Software.

Mythos Games, and Microprose Software. XCOM: UFO Defence. Microprose, 1994. MS-DOS. Computer Software.

Gameplay Statistics – Week 4

Monday, September 25, 2017 – Sunday, October 1, 2017

Days of the week in which games were played: Monday, Tuesday
Total number of video games played: 1
Total video game duration: 3 hours
Communities involved: N/A

Game Platform Duration
Super Mario Galaxy PC/Dolphin (Wii) 3 hours

Total number of non-video games played: 0
Total non-video game duration: N/A
Communities involved: N/A
Number of supplemental game or game-related activities: 0

Tags: PC, Dolphin, Nintendo, Wii, Mario


Attitude is Everything

The last couple weeks I was in a really bad mood.  Perhaps that’s why I felt so negative towards the small amount of game time I had. This week was different; things had slowed down a bit at work, so I was able to get some more game time in.  Recall that previously I had felt the novelty was wearing off rather quickly for the Wii games I was playing on Dolphin emulator.  This week I was able to dig in a bit deeper and actually started to feel a bit of challenge with Super Mario Galaxy.

One of the things that kept my attention was the diversity of the levels.  Super Mario Galaxy is a dynamic gameplay experience, and the bosses and mini-bosses are a real treat (even if they are a bit too easy for someone like me).  The video above and the one below show my first encounters with each of these bosses.

Because I didn’t have so much on my plate this week, I was able to play long enough to get “in the zone.”  In the previous weeks, I had waded through the beginning levels of Galaxy at a snail’s pace.  It wasn’t that interesting because they were the early levels and I was learning the ropes.  Although the controls in Galaxy are intuitive, the whole gravity aspect takes some getting used to.  It’s the camera flips and reorientations that are tricky.

Which way is up again?

Which way is up again?

In the 3 hours I played this week, I was able to obtain 28 stars.  Compared that to the previous week where I had taken 4 hours to obtain 22 stars, and those were the easy levels!  This time around I was completing some levels in under 4 minutes.  I also had to look online for hints for some of the hidden stars.  This was much more satisfying than my previous attempt at Galaxy.

One particular novelty I enjoyed was the special “comet” stars which act as modifiers on already existing levels.  For example, after I defeated the Bouldergeist (in the first video above), I had the option to go back and do it again with the “Daredevil” comet.  This means if you get hit once, you have to restart the level.  I found this far more satisfying to complete than the relatively trivial vanilla stars.  I felt good after my game sessions this week.  They offered me a chance to relax and unwind at the end of a crazy September.  The feeling of making quick progress through the game affected me greatly.  I think it tapped into my desire for instant gratification.  This feeling wasn’t getting exploited in previous gameplay attempts at Galaxy because I was still learning and the beginning levels weren’t much of a challenge.


Works Cited

Dolphin Emulator Project. Dolphin 5.0. Independently Published, 2016. Multiple Platforms. Computer Software.

Nintendo EAD Tokyo. Super Mario Galaxy. Nintendo, 2007. Wii Console. Console Software.

Nintendo. Wii Console. Foxconn, 2006. Console Hardware.

Gameplay Statistics – Week 3

Monday, September 18, 2017 – Sunday, September 24, 2017

Days of the week in which games were played: Sunday
Total number of video games played: 2
Total video game duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Communities involved: N/A

Game Platform Duration
Dead Cells PC/Steam 1 hour
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword PC/Dolphin(Wii) 30 minutes

Total number of non-video games played: 0
Total non-video game duration: N/A
Communities involved: N/A
Number of supplemental game or game-related activities: 0

Tags: PC, Dolphin, Nintendo, Wii, Zelda, Dead Cells, Steam


Not Enough Time in the Day (or Week, for that Matter)

This week my gameplay was woefully short.  Between working two jobs, with school on-top, it was extremely difficult to find time to play any games at all.  After not playing for over 10 days (since the previous week), I managed to get 90 minutes in on the last day of the week.  I was writing my game review on Sunday, and had found it challenging to even choose a game to write about.  I picked Dead Cells because there wasn’t a review posted on my favourite gaming magazine, PC Gamer, and I had spent a fair amount of time playing it through the month of August.

Dead Cells Title Screen

Dead Cells Title Screen

It felt good to play this game again, but the feeling was a bit tarnished by the fact that I had to write about it.  I was partially playing the game because I had to get some screenshots for my Game Review assignment.  It was fun for awhile, but very difficult to get “in the zone” and forget about the responsibilities of day-to-day life lingering in the back of my mind.

Dead Cells Starting Out

Dead Cells Starting Out

I played until I died.  After I grabbed a few screenshots and wrote the draft for my Game Review, I decided to go back to the Dolphin emulator that I was enjoying the previous week.

Skyward Sword Box Art

Skyward Sword Box Art

I fired up The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword because I had heard it was the best iteration of the game for the Wii platform.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the tutorial sequence before I was bored.  I was just too tired to get into the game having worked 65 hours over the previous week.  The game looked good on the Dolphin Emulator, but the art style wasn’t amazing, and some of the characters looked really silly.  I think the high-definition scaled-up resolution might have brought out some of the flaws in the ridiculous-looking characters (caricatures?).

I really think I could have benefitted from getting lost in some quality game time this week, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t possible.  Perhaps next week would be better…


Works Cited

Dolphin Emulator Project. Dolphin 5.0. Independently Published, 2016. Multiple Platforms. Computer Software.

Nintendo EAD. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Nintendo, 2011. Wii Console. Console Software.

Nintendo. Wii Console. Foxconn, 2006. Console Hardware.

Motion Twin. Dead Cells. Steam, 2017 (Early Access). Microsoft Windows. Computer Software.