Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Dispassion Of Diversity - Part II

This post is part II to this post.

Alright I promised I'd reveal my plan for fighting the "decision doldrums" when it comes to deciding what to play from a large library.  This strategy has worked well for me for quite a few years now, and that's largely because it's so simple.  It boils down to forced variety.  Forced variety not only keeps things fresh, but it also helps to narrow down your selections when the time comes.  Here's how force variety works for me:

Every time you play a new game, you play it on a different platform than the last, and in a different genre. 

Let's say I just finished a classic Playstation Japanese Role Playing Game.  What should my next game be?  I could play another PS1 JRPG, but that wouldn't feel as fresh as something entirely different.  So I opt instead to play a Wii game.  But I don't play a Wii JRPG, instead I go with a Wii platformer.  When that's done?  Howabout a Vita FPS or a DS adventure title or a PC flight sim?  This method of forced variety insures that every time I play a new game it feels fresh, and also narrows down my options when it's time to pick.  It's a simple strategy that has worked great for me since I've employed it.

Now whether my method will work for you, depends on your own gaming resources.  Personally I have a tremendous amount of games and platforms to choose from as a byproduct of decades of gaming enthusiasm.  But if you're a younger person, or not as much of a fervent collector, you may have only one or two platforms to choose from.  That's fine, because you can still mix up the genres each time you choose a new game.

Thus far we've relied on purposefully changing platform and/or genre with each new play choice. However, this method doesn't necessarily apply if you're a genre connoisseur.  And I know you folks exist.  Some people only play online FPS, or only visual novels, etc.  If that's how you roll, you'll need custom advice to meet your distinguished tastes.

Let's look at what a genre enthusiast can do to enforce variety then.  Mixing up the platforms is still a possibility.  An adventure game on the DS will feel different than an adventure game on PC, or one on Android, for example.  Consciously platform jumping will help, but if you don't have a lot of options in that realm, here's a different strategy.  Try mixing up the budget of the game.  Did you just finish an Xbox One AAA shooter?  Make your next shooter game one of an indie production then from the Xbox Live Arcade.  The juxtaposition of the budgets will make the experience feel fresher, and you can still stick to your favorite genre.

All of the above said, if you think enforced variety is just too much effort, there's one last easy trick I'll share.  It's called intended derived stochastic probabilities deployed via contextual established frames.  Yeah you're right, I totally made that up.  I'm merely talking about picking something random out to play, but with a twist.  So here's what you do next time you don't know what to play.  Take a glance across your library, and write down a dozen games you have a passing interest in playing.  Don't think too hard about it, just write down the first dozen or so that come to mind.  Then put those names in this box:
(If this link ever dies, there's plenty more like it on Google.)

Now let that site randomly choose one of those twenty-odd games out for you.  But, you must play whatever it chooses.  Don't second guess the whimsy of space time powers outside our contemplation.  If upon play the randomly chosen game sucks, just repeat the same process until you find one that sticks.  And keep up this process until you're done with the dozen you first chose.  When that list is exhausted, you can start a new dozen list.  (This also helps to whittle down the dreaded backlog.)

And that's it folks.  Enforced variety, or random choice... both methods work just fine.  They're easy as pie.  Next time your eyes glaze over staring at all your games, I hope these techniques help with your decision doldrums.


  1. Goddamit, I lost a huge comment I posted to this shit.

    To keep it short this time, I think one critical factor to actually try new games is how convenient is it to do so. My current setup has my gaming laptop connected to an hdtv, so it has let me to prefer more controller freindly games to play. The fact that steam has been working its way to be like this, while allowing you to add external games and have them nicely represented in its Big Pciture grid pushes me more and mroe into this path. Tools like ICE ( and "frontends" like Retroarch (which is controller friendly too and can load a state where you left off last session) have almost sealed me. Since most classic console emulators load up rather fast and entire game catalogs can be dled on one night, I can just try a new game every time, and retake a previous game exactly where I left off with a load of convenience most computer aand modern console games lack. Pick a game and just run it. No more hassle. Its rather netflix esque in its appeal.

    As grown ups and more responsibilities and shit, all these comfortability enhancements help me a lot in trying "new" games and play them further at any given time. No longer I am bound on most technological and design retrictions place on a given game and allow me to have a more convenient freedom of choice. If I want to try a new jellybean, I spit the current one and chug the new in a short time, no time invested in unwrapping nor in cleaning my taste buds; and if i end up prefering the older one, i can do the same.

  2. It sounds like you think of your gaming now as more of a sampling tray than a main course. No harm in that if you want to experience as much variety as possible. If your goal is not to finish games but rather to play as many as possible, than your approach fits that methodology well.

  3. I probably glorified a bit too much the scenario and hyperbolized my point, rather that the inconvenience of figuring out if a thing would even run on my rig (whoop, Blur needs to be in C: to work!, King of Dragon Pass cant even start if you use a fucking logitech mouse!, RUSE never finished loading for reasons still unknown!, The Sims 2 takes almost 30 minutes to load! - all of them real experiences i dealt with), or have limited save points at least on the beginning (First save point on Nocturne is almost 30 minutes after!, Valkyria Chronicles needs to download an update that will take my entire evening to download before I can boot it, and will tell me about it when I want to play it and not before! NBK2k14 needs you to create a 2k account and set up a whole player profile before you can even try a simple dunk!). Im all for investment on a game and such, but sometimes many games make me feel they are trolling me. Many times I cant invest into an uninterrupted gaming session, which is why I have gone an appreciated more this emulation approach. Long Ass Unskipable Cutscene and I have to leave for an emergency appointment? Exit retroarch at any time and when I load it up again I will resume the cutscene. Compatibility Issues? Only if the game has emulation issues, which has been rare for me to suffer.

    Much like I enjoy ending series in Netflix, I also play games (that are worthy) to the end. But no longer I have to commit a frquently unfeasible investment if it turns out the game is ass (which happens more often than I would have wished) and would rather start another game.

  4. Also, MisterJones here in case you hadnt figured out, haha.

  5. Good to see you MJ (also saw you on LinkedIn). Man you have my sympathies about your gaming woes. Actually two of the things you mentioned, 'modern gaming inconveniences' and 'when to know if a game is worth finishing or not', are both topics I want to do posts about in the future.

  6. Dragons Dogma is a fine example of the former. Its a great game overall (probably my current favorite arpg), but hell, tvtropes nailed down my biggest beef with it:

    Loads and Loads of Loading: Just to get into the game, you go through (none of these is skippable):

    Checking HDD for free space...
    Checking trophy data...
    Title Screen: Press any button
    Auto-save warning
    Checking saved data...
    Checking downloaded content...
    Launching in offline mode...
    Connecting to server... (if online)
    Main menu: choose to launch game or manual.
    Main menu: choose New/Load Game
    Checking downloaded content... (again)
    Loading actual game

    It doesnt take terribly long, but such stuff starts to wear on me eventually.

    (unrelated: ever took a pick at my old blog dump? :p