Gameplay Statistics – Week 9

Monday, October 30, 2017 – Sunday, November 5, 2017

Days of the week in which games were played: Tuesday
Total number of video games played: 1
Total video game duration: 4 hours
Communities involved: N/A

Game Platform Duration
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen PC/Steam 4 hours

Total number of non-video games played: 1 (Disc Golf)
Total non-video game duration: 3 hours
Communities involved: Colleagues
Number of supplemental game or game-related activities: 0

Tags: PC, XCOM, Disc Golf


One Night of Games

On Tuesday night I managed to get in a late binge of XCOM again.  At this point in the game, I’m just trying to beat it.  I’ve started to realize that 50+ hour games just no longer fit my lifestyle.  I wish there were more deep, exciting, engaging 15 hour games.  Games that I could beat in a weekend binge if I wanted to.  I felt good while I was playing, but unfortunately I stayed up too late and was sleepy at work the next day.  Probably not worth it in the end.  I really would like to beat it before the semester is out.  I hate leaving things incomplete and that’s a real problem for me because it often leads to wasting time with activities I am no longer interested in.

Disc Golf

Twice this week the weather was good enough to get out on the Bowen Park disc golf course.  This is a game I’ve been playing off-and-on for about 7 years now.  We have a world-class course here in Nanaimo.  I went with my colleague James from the Students’ Union and his step-son.  It was so much fun to get outside and throw the disc around.  I wasn’t too worried about my score because I hadn’t played in so long, and was just having a good time while also getting some exercise.  It reminded me that I need to get out more, especially during this time of year when it starts to get dark.


Works Cited

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

Gameplay Statistics – Week 8

Monday, October 23, 2017 – Sunday, October 29, 2017

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

Game Platform Duration
Star Control 2/Ur-Quan Masters PC/Steam 30 min
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen PC/Steam 1 hour

Total number of non-video games played: 1
Total non-video game duration: 30 minutes (Fluxx)
Communities involved: Colleague and his girlfriend
Number of supplemental game or game-related activities: 1

Tags: PC, XCOM, Star Control, Fluxx


An Abysmal Modicum of Gameplay

This week I hardly had any time to play games at all again.  As was the case before, even when I had some free time to play, I didn’t have the motivation to do so.  It had been awhile since I picked up XCOM, so I played a little bit on Saturday afternoon.  I was distracted by more appealing activities in the form of getting another old game from my teenage years running.

Star Control

Steam advertisements caught my eye this week with the announcement of a new game in the Star Control franchise, Star Control: Origins.  They had a special pre-order price which I immediately took advantage of.  I bought a package that included older Star Control games like Star Control 2: The Ur-Quan Masters.  This was an amazing space RPG that came out in the 1990s, and I played with great enthusiasm.  I immediately installed it, but was underwhelmed with the graphics and clunky gameplay.  I was tinkering with the game settings and wanted to know about the keyboard setup, so I did a quick google search and stumbled across a fan-made HD version of the same game which I immediately downloaded and installed.  WOW, this game looks great!

Star Control 2 Screenshot

Original Game on Steam Screenshot

 

Star Control 2 HD Screenshot

HD Remake Screenshot

I felt good about getting another piece of my past working on the PC, and decided to put it down for another time when I had more availability to play games.  It was a short week.  The main theme was a lack of effort on my part, I would rather just watch a movie or read a book.  Again, I think it’s because I’ve been so stressed out and just need complete relaxation.  One thing I’ve noticed about games as I get older is that not all of them are relaxing!!!


Works Cited

Czanik, Damon, et al. Ur-Quan Masters HD. Sourceforge, 2002 (Creative Commons). Microsoft Windows. Computer Software

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

Toys for Bob. Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters. Accolade, 1992.  MS-DOS. Computer Software

 

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.