Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: 50% Milestone Goal Met!

One of my goals for 2018 was to reach a milestone of having played (over) 50% of the games in my Steam backlog. This month, I’ve been nudging closer by prompting myself to try a new Steam game each week.

Last night, for the first time in years, the calculator reported that I’ve played 50% of the Steam games in my library! Given that this number is 245 games, this is no little thing!

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My other goal this year was to not buy a new game if I wasn’t interested in playing it almost immediately. I’ve pretty much stuck to this.

This week, for example, I obtained my Project: Gorgon Steam key from the Kickstarter, so I made sure to install the game and poke around in it a little bit last night. Once I have more time to sit down with it, I’ll be sure to post about my new experiences in P:G.

Aside from this, I finished Back to the Future: Episode 3 last week. I had an itch to try a city builder this week (mostly because I’m interested in Surviving Mars), but didn’t want to buy another game right now. So I started playing around in Tropico 4 last night instead. I put in about 2.2 hours, making it through all the tutorials and starting my first island.

A Look Back

When I first started the Steam Challenge, my backlog looked like this:

steaminfo

Dang. I was worried about just 60 unplayed games back then? Now I’ve played 123!

This was back in 2014, so that’s an average of about 46 new games a year. Wow! What was I thinking? Also, keep in mind some of these games came from bundles and some were gifts over the years.

Also, this counts software titles in the stats, such as RPG Maker and GameMaker Studio, Art Software (Spriter Pro), and other things that are not games. For example, my “games” number shot up over the holidays because I picked up several pieces of game making and art software… not because I bought actual games.

Most of these games I bought between 2014-2016. Last year, I cut back on buying games for Steam… because of the Switch. Games are often more expensive on the Switch, which leads me to cull Steam purchases.

I also notice that my Steam wishlist has shrunk significantly last year (and a number of these are actually DLC for games I already own). I’ve been moving indies off of my Steam wishlist to my Switch wishlist as they’ve been announced. I’m also finding that I’m turning away from tempting sales, staying away from bundles, and skipping out on everything except good deals on games I really, really want to play here and now.

Surviving Mars is an example of that. I’m interested in it. I just have too many other games between Steam and Switch to justify getting a new game right now. So, instead of picking up Surviving Mars, I decided to play Tropico 4 (which it was compared to).

I have absolutely no interest in systems like Humble Monthly be cause I absolutely shudder to think of the mass influx of games it would bring to my backlog… Most of which I’m not interested in, or already own if I am interested in it.

In fact… I’ve gotten to the point where I won’t even take freebies or cheap games because the thought of inflating my backlog numbers turns me away. Not to mention, most (not all, but most) of these cheapie games are probably shovelware anyhow. (Sorry.)

My Top 10 Games

I decided to take a moment to list my top 10 games by time played. I will note that some of the numbers are vastly inaccurate, because Steam (at one point) didn’t record my time if I listed myself as offline, or if the Net was down. I pretty much always list myself offline (if I’m not playing with friends) just so I can focus on the game I’m playing without interruption.

Luv you guys, but I’m so easily distracted! ❤

Starbound, for example, should have a ton more hours to it. There are some games that didn’t make this list that might have if the hours were more accurately reflected here. But, oh well.

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I also listed more than just 10 here since RPG Maker, Spriter and GameMaker Studio 2 are not-games. As I noted before, software titles get tossed in with the games.

Yep, 7D2D beats out all the rest of my Steam games by a long shot. Starbound just overtook Stardew this past week as second place (again, my Starbound numbers should be a lot higher). And I’m ashamed to have played so much H1Z1 (Just Survive) in the past.

As you can see, I have issues clearing my backlog because these endless sandbox or tactical games always suck me in. Only Torchlight II and Walking Dead are games that have any sort of true ending on this list. It’s pretty terrible, but I really do love good sandboxes!

Anyhow! It feels good to finally have a balanced point on my backlog. My next goal is to reach for 60% of all backlog played. I may spend some time culling some titles — for example, the backlog also includes duplicate titles. Like this:

duplicates

ori

So, I didn’t actually purchase a second copy of the game, but the new GOTY or Definitive Edition was automatically added to my Steam account because I owned the original. This still counts as two games in the backlog stats, though! Not fair! I have several of these.

So, I’m going to see how many of these I can clear out to get a better idea of where my stats actually stand. I’m probably going to do the same thing for any software-not-games I’ve purchased but never launched, just to clear up those stats as well.

How goes your Steam backlog? What does the Calculator say? 

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Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge, Steam Gaming

Steam Challenge: Guild of Dungeoneering

Game: Guild of Dungeoneering
Time: 40 Mins (But Will Play More!)

One of my goals for this month is to get back to trying one new Steam game from my backlog each week. I started this month with this game – Guild of Dungeoneering. I think I picked this up in a bundle somewhere, but it looked interesting, so I gave it a try.

I really wanted to put more time into it before I wrote a post about it, but I feel like I have enough of the gist of all the major ideas and systems in the game. Actually, the whole game is a set of inter-working systems. But it’s easy to look past that because it’s just so darn charming.

I mean, just check out this intro song:

What is it?

The game’s Steam page describes itself as this:

Guild of Dungeoneering is a turn-based dungeon crawler with a twist: instead of controlling the hero you build the dungeon around him. Using cards drawn from your Guild decks you lay down rooms, monsters, traps and of course loot!

This does a good job of describing the game at a high level, but I want to go a little deeper into it than that.

The first thing I noticed was the cute, hand drawn art style and the fun tavern-song music. These tavern songs are woven between scenarios, usually on a loading screen, and are often quite amusing. I knew I was in for a quirky ride with this game from the get-go, and it didn’t disappoint.

So, the story begins as you decide to break away from the official Guild to make your own. I mean… you can do it better, right? This includes building up a guild hall of various rooms, and hiring adventurers to do your dirty work for you.

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You then send your hired hands out into dungeons. These dungeons have objectives to fill.

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Sadly, poor Mervin didn’t get very far before he met his end. It took me a few hirelings to realize that bats (which can sap life) are not a choice enemy in the beginning.

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But all is not lost — when one dies, another immediately takes their place. Also, the gold the first adventurer brought home remains, and you can use that to build up your guild hall like so:

20180308074538_1 There’s even a nice little grave yard to remember them by…

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Building up your hall unlocks new types of hirelings…

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And also increases the loot pool for each fight you win.

Build Your Own Dungeon

Let’s take a moment to talk about the dungeon building aspect of this game. It’s pretty cool! And in the end, if your hireling loses the fight, you’ve only got yourself to blame. You built it for them, after all! 😉

So, when you enter a dungeon, it’s only half built like this:

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The random cards you get in the bottom corner are what you use to build the dungeon, and connect the parts. Usually the goal of the dungeon is on the part that you can’t reach yet. You can place up to 3 cards per turn, or end the turn early.

You can also place treasure cards (if you have one) and enemy cards in the rooms. So, really, you pick your own encounters to a certain extent.

When your hireling goes to battle, it’s a different sort of card game.

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The cards you can get in your hand are directly related to the gear that your hireling is wearing (I’ll show that in a moment). The blue cards at the top are your pool – you get to play one card per turn.

The outcome of the cards are indicated by the icons. For example: the red fist is an attack that will take away one enemy heart. There are cards that cast magic, that restore health, that block enemy attacks… all sorts of things.

When you beat an enemy, you get your choice of loot:

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Each of these items will add a new kind of card to your deck, influencing the skills you can use. If you don’t like any of your choices, you can take gold instead.

Again, as you build up your guild hall, you can purchase an expanded loot pool that gives better drops each time you beat an enemy.

So, basically, you send a hireling in. You build a dungeon, place risks and rewards, and choose the loot that will help them beat the quest. Then you take the gold they earned back, build up your guild hall, and repeat.

It’s a neat little set of systems, and the dungeons are short. So you can pick up and play in spurts if needed. It has a quick tutorial, and eases you into the game without too much of a learning curve. However, seeing that my first few adventurers died on the first dungeon (darn bats), it’s not a total pushover, either.

Recommended: 

yes

Give it a shot if this sounds like something you’d enjoy. I’m sure you can get it at a good price during a Steam sale, if nothing else.

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: What Remains of Edith Finch

Game: What Remains of Edith Finch
Time: 3 hours

I received this game as a Christmas gift, and finished back over Christmas holiday. I’d heard of this game before, and had wanted to try it out, so this gave me the excuse I needed to get that done.

I don’t want to say too much about it, because this is a game that’s very easy to spoil. I went in pretty blind, and suggest that if you’re interested in trying it out, you do the same.

What is It?

The Steam store page describes it as:

What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of strange tales about a family in Washington state. As Edith, you’ll explore the colossal Finch house, searching for stories as she explores her family history and tries to figure out why she’s the last one in her family left alive.

This is pretty much all you need to know to play.

The environment is very atmospheric, and while I thought at first this might be a spooky game, it didn’t turn out to be. Now, that being said, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that unsettle or make you feel uneasy. There’s plenty of that to be found in these stories.

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Generations of the Finch family have lived and died in this strange, winding house. Edith comes here as a young adult to revisit her childhood home and to find answers for herself. Almost every member of the family has a story about who they were and what led them to their demise.

As you experience these stories, you fill out a Finch family tree.

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Once you complete the game, and fill in the entire tree, you can come back here anytime to replay specific scenarios based on the family members. Some of these were disturbing enough the first time, however.

Some might call this a walking simulator. I feel the variations in the style of storytelling and mechanics you encounter between family members’ stories help to break up the feeling of the traditional walking simulator.

Again, I can’t really say a whole lot without giving much away. But there was a particular sequence that involved someone who worked in a fish factory that was especially brilliant. The overlap of gameplay and story really put me right in that character’s mindset in a frightening way.

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Anyhow, if there’s a nit to pick, it’s that the game is fairly short. While you can go back and replay stories, it only took me 3 hours of slow exploration to get through the game. For some people, this might be too short.

Looking back on it, I think forcing the game to be longer would have been detrimental. The game is compact for a purpose. It told the stories it wanted to tell, and left the rest to the player to figure out.

Also, the ending may not sit well with everyone. But that’s a call you’ll have to make for yourself.

Recommended?

yes

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Planet Coaster

Game: Planet Coaster
Time: 5.4 hours

Last year, I played Roller Coaster Tycoon for the first time ever. I loved it! And while I appreciated it for everything it was, I couldn’t help feel the itch of what-if. What if these mechanics were implemented into a more modern game engine?

That’s what I found in Planet Coaster.

Now, I’m not going to say that the two games are exactly alike — there are a lot of minor differences. But the feeling Planet Coaster gave me – one of building my amusement park and watching little virtual people pickpocket enjoy it — was very similar.

I’ve wanted to try it out, but the normal price deterred me. I saw it on major sale during the Steam Winter Sale ($12) and snapped it up.

What Is It?

It’s a roller coaster and amusement park building sim with tycoon elements thrown in.

The game describes itself as:

Planet Coaster® – the future of coaster park simulation games has arrived! Surprise, delight and thrill incredible crowds as you build your coaster park empire – let your imagination run wild, and share your success with the world.

Just a bit of PR speak for “amusement park tycoon game.”

I’ve read that some people had issues with performance in the past, and while I’ve not yet made a huge park, I’ve also not had issues with this game so far. I also haven’t really jumped into the coaster building aspect, but part of the amazing thing of this game is the massive creativity the players put into it.

On the lobby page, you’re greeted with avatars of Steam friends who also own the game (which is neat) as well as top Workshop creators. You can check out their cool stuff, and download it to your game if you like.

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While I haven’t really played around with the Workshop yet, I really like that it’s so up front and highlighted. Similar to The Sims, when you start appealing to the creative players to make content for your game, you establish a game that can last a long(er) time.

While I’m no wiz at tycoon games, I didn’t have any problem jumping into the first scenarios, even without seeing any sort of tutorial. The game felt familiar, immediately bringing back Roller Coaster Tycoon vibes, and I got the jist of it quickly. Like any sim-building game, I did have a few issues (mostly with food stands and paths) that I had to figure out.

Also, why are there so many thieves in all of my parks? Sheesh. I could hire nothing but security and I’d never get a happy balance!

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I didn’t get into building my own coaster yet, as this is generally not my favorite part of these kinds of games. So, I’ve yet to see if it’s more intuitive than Roller Coaster Tycoon was in this aspect. I know you can make some really amazing rides, but I always just had trouble making a basic functioning coaster. XD

This is a game I could totally lose hours and hours in, and I spent some time with it during my Christmas holiday. I’d love to return to it sometime, but there’s just too many games on my list right now!

Check out these themed coasters below to see how amazing and creative some of the players are!

Recommended:

yes

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Kingdom Rush

Game: Kingdom Rush
Time: 0.9 hours

I think I got Kingdom Rush in a bundle somewhere, and it was one of those games I wanted to just try to get off my “to play” list. I knew it had good ratings and that people generally had fun with it, so I went into playing this one with a pretty positive attitude.

What Is It?

The Steam page describes this as:

Get ready for an epic journey to defend your kingdom against hordes of orcs, trolls, evil wizards and other nasty fiends using a vast arsenal of towers and spells at your command! Fight on forests, mountains and wastelands, customizing your defensive strategy with different tower upgrades and specializations!

That actually sums it up pretty well.

I don’t often play tower defense games, but this one was pretty straightforward and simple to pick up. It introduced harder enemies with more skills as the game play progressed, but I never felt overwhelmed with new mechanics and critters.

It’s not too hard to grasp. You get a map, which changes with each scenario. On that map you have a point to defend, positions to place towers and spawn points where enemies appear.

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Different towers produce different types of troops, which you can upgrade using gold that you earn from defeating enemies. You can also place reinforcements and order troop positions. I played at a very easy level, but I can sense how this could get challenging at a higher difficulty.

You can eventually hire heroes, which get stronger and level up as the scenarios play out. And really… that’s all there is to say for this one. Cute little tower defense, cute art style, different levels of difficulty so you can play what you enjoy. Overall, good fun.

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I’d like to put some more time into this game, but I have a feeling other games are going to override this one in terms of time. I know there’s a mobile version of Kingdom Rush out there, and I think this would probably be an excellent little pick up and play for on the go.

Recommended?

yes

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Dog Sled Saga

Game: Dog Sled Saga
Time: 5.5 hours

This was a surprise Christmas gift that has been sitting on my wishlist since last year, back when I first heard about it and read the strong, positive reviews. I absolutely didn’t expect to be spending my Christmas building up a team of adorable pixel pups and racing them. But it was perfect.

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The game decorated for the holidays, too!

What is it?

The game’s page describes it as:

As a rookie musher, foster a dogsledding team whose skills will grow if they’re treated right. Week by week, get to know your dogs’ unique traits, and carve your story into the trails of the Mount St. Something region.

Dog Sled Saga has a pick-up-and-play dogsled racing. Each dog’s speed is hindered by hunger. Lob a limited supply of food to them to keep at full speed. Hazards on the track await.

This is a very basic overview of what to expect. I won’t say the game is extremely deep, but it does have some interesting systems (hiring workers, dog breeding) that you can dive into if you want.

The basis of the game is putting together a team, caring for them to keep stress levels down, and balancing the care with training to keep their skills sharp. Each dog has hidden special traits, abilities, likes and flaws that you only learn over time.

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Just loook at this faaace! Who’s a good boy?

Racing is the major aspect of the game, and the mechanics are pretty simple. The dogs move forward on their own, but become slower as they tire. You feed them snacks to motivate them again. Hold down the mouse button, which places a moving arrow indicator over your team, and time it so that you toss food to the right dog at the right time. It really takes a little practice to get used to, but isn’t that hard.

Sometimes dogs get tangled in the ropes and sometimes you need to adjust how far apart dogs are. Aside from that, you may have to avoid obstacles on the track and watch out for annoying trees that intercept your food toss. That’s really about it.

As your dogs earn “Perfect” food catches — which is totally up to the player getting the tossing time correct — they level up and their endurance increases. Your dogs also increase in fame for doing cool things, which brings sponsorship opportunities.

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As you start racing in higher leagues, the difficulty increases and you get more dogs on your team to manage.

I liked that the game saves after every day, so you can pick it up and put it down to play in quick bouts. Even the races are pretty short. So it’s something you can make progress in short gaming sessions if you need to.

There’s also a short story mode — nothing that’s going to change your world, but it exists, so don’t knock it. And there’s a rival racer who annoys you as you move up the ranks. It’s rewarding to beat him when he tries to pass you at the last moment in a race. I’m curious about who he is, though.

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And you, too, can have a Schnauzer named BOOMCHICKEN!

I’ve only just qualified for the 3rd league, which has increased my dogs to 4 in a team. I can certainly see how things will get more challenging from here. At the same time, there’s a really laid-back quality to the game. Once you get into a groove, and your dogs are buffed and making time, it’s relaxing and fun to play.

Overall, I’m having a great time with this game. I kinda knew I would. I still have a lot to unlock (like breeding), and lots of racing ahead of me.

If you enjoy cute pixel management games and think racing sled dogs sounds like a fun concept, check it out. You might enjoy it, too!

Recommended:

yes

Yes, if you enjoy this type of game.

 

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Winter Sale & 2018 Goals

So how has your Steam Winter Sale gone this year? My wishlist is… quite a bit lighter than it was going in. In my defense, I only bought two games this sale: Planet Coaster and SOMA.

Many of the other great titles I got were Christmas gifts from friends. Thank you!!

I’ve been really excited about my new game list, and I’ve put a bunch of time into gaming over this 4-day weekend! I have lots to blog about… but first, I wanted to take a moment to note my new Steam goals for 2018.

New Statistics

The first thing I want to note is that the Steam Calculator has just changed how they display statistics this past week. It puts the numbers in a slightly more positive light… but it still takes some getting used to.

Previously, the site would tell you “you haven’t played this percent of games”. For me, this percent was something like 53%. I was trying to make this number lower.

Now, the site tells you “you have played this percent of games.” It tells me that I’ve played 47% of games… and now I want to make this number higher.

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It’s still pretty bad.

Yeah, it means the same thing. Like I said, it’s a more positive spin… you want to increase our number instead of decreasing it.

My goal for 2018 is to get this metric above 50%. I’d really love to shoot for 60% this year. I’m not sure how viable that is. It depends on how many new games I get.

Playing Those Games

I honestly haven’t bought a lot of new Steam games this year, compared to the past. But every game I’ve bought this year, I’ve played for at least a little while. 

This excludes some games, such as stuff I bought in bundles that I never activated, or stuff that came from old bundles that I just recently activated. I also tried to play all my gifted games, but I don’t think I’m going to achieve that before the new year.

So my express goal for 2018 is that if I buy a Steam game, I play it. Like, preferably right when I buy it.

No more picking a bunch of games on sale and just stashing them away untouched. This is also good to do because there’s limitations on return time… So it’s better to go ahead and try a new game than to leave it sitting in your library only to find it’s a dud way past return time.

steamthisisfine

I’m also cutting back on bundles as much as possible. I still have a bunch of Humble Bundle games I need to sort through — either giving away the keys I don’t want or finally activating them. I really don’t need to keep buying more. A number of keys I get now days are duplicates anyhow.

So, those are my steam goals as I roll into a new year. Let’s not even talk about the growing backlog I have on my Switch… or on GoG…

Ahem.

How’s your Steam Winter sale going? Pick up anything interesting?