1. Operation Backlog has begun in earnest – even though I did sorta end up buying Need For Speed Rivals as a PC Download from Amazon because it was on sale and I had an extra $5 discount AND I already had a gift card balance, and, so, yeah. I’m a little disappointed in it, though, which I’ll get to in a bit, and so with that said I do feel very much like I can fully engage with the backlog. And there was this nice little bit of encouragement from Polygon, today:
Buying games on sale can feel like sending a message in a bottle to possible future versions of yourself, but finding and opening those bottles, and having them enrich your life, is like nothing else. It’s an investment in our own future, and it helps support the industry today.
There’s nothing wrong with your backlog, as long as you’re not going into debt to buy games you may not play in the near future. You shouldn’t be ashamed of the stack of games that seem interesting but remain unplayed. They won’t spoil. They will be there when you need them. And the people who made the games? They’re more than happy to have your money and interest.
Your backlog isn’t a source of shame, but a matter of pride; it’s a well-stocked library from which you can take comfort, a pile of blankets waiting for a cold night.
There’s a neat feature in Steam that lets you organize the stuff in your library by categories of your own designation. I didn’t even know it was there, to be honest, and I only discovered it by a combination of wishful thinking and the sheer, dumb luck of an accidental right-click. It’s a very small feature, and not one that’s necessarily all that noteworthy, except that it is exactly what I need in order to keep myself from getting distracted by other things. Moreover, the fact that I can’t really do this with my XBLA library or my PSN games makes it a feature that I appreciate all the more, which is why I’m bringing it up in the first place.
The point is, this is what I now see at the top left part of the screen when I open up my Library page in Steam. It’s a to-do list, easily managed and maintained, and cleansed of the other distractions in my library.
This Operation Backlog project is a little intimidating, is the thing.
Because even after organizing all this stuff (and then procrastinating by creating 2 more categories, one of which is for stuff like AC4 and BAO, where I’ve beaten the main game but still have tons of collectibles and side stuff to finish), I kinda just sat at my desk, staring at this list, not knowing where to start. I suppose that the reasons why these games are in the backlog at all is because there was something a bit…. off… about them at the time of purchase; maybe I was already fully engaged by other games, or perhaps I tried them for a few minutes and for whatever reason couldn’t get sucked in quickly enough.
I did end up starting Outlast last night, for some stupid reason. When it comes to horror – be it movies, games, even books – I get startled and frightened very easily, and being that I’m already in a heightened state of anxiety because my wife and I are binge-watching Breaking Bad, I had a feeling this wouldn’t be a particularly long play-session. Sure enough, it wasn’t; the first real jump-scare happens around 10 minutes in (the Library, for those of you who’ve played it), and I audibly shrieked in my chair, and as soon as I got out of that room I turned the game off and went back into the living room to watch football.
It’s hard to pick one game out of that list to get started with, I think. Rayman Legends is excellent but I find that I really only want to play it in quick, short bursts – same thing goes for BitTrip Runner 2, as a matter of fact. I’m probably free of my anti-Diablo bias at this point, so I suppose I could get back into Torchlight 2, but I don’t necessarily want to start this project with a 20-40 hour clickfest slog. I’m still scared of XCOM, and after that spectacular Polygon piece about the Spelunky eggplant run I’m seriously wondering what the hell I was thinking even picking that game up in the first place.
I’m starting to think I should give Kentucky Route Zero another go. I think that’s my speed right now. And maybe on the side I’ll get back into Shadowrun Returns, which I recall enjoying.
2. So, yeah: Need for Speed Rivals. I’m an idiot for buying it on the PC, where absolutely nobody is playing it, and also because if I were to suddenly splurge on a PS4 right now, that’s the one game I would’ve picked up (unless I wanted to play AC4 again at full price). My initial impression with it is that it’s basically a souped-up version of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, except it’s always online – which means booting the game up and finding a server can take a long, long time. Also: you can’t actually pause the game, which is completely insane – if you’re in a single-player race and you miss a turn (because some arrows are easier to miss than others), you can’t restart (or, at least, I don’t think you can; I tried to find the option, and while I searched for it my car drove into a tree). What I really should do is get back into Need For Speed Most Wanted, which I actually was enjoying. At least I didn’t actually spend real money on it…
3. Finally: I normally don’t do any behind-the-scenes stuff here, but what happened on Friday was pretty incredible. I’d written that piece about in-game collectibles, and in the promo tweet for it I included Patrick Klepek’s twitter handle, just simply in the hopes that he might see it. Thought nothing of it. An hour or two later, I hopped onto this blog’s dashboard to check something, and saw that my hit total was abnormally high. I quickly discovered that Patrick had retweeted my link with some positive feedback, and by the end of the day this site had seen more visitors – over 1200 in all – than in all of 2011 combined. (See (1) below.) What’s more, the spillover into the following day was also the 2nd biggest day this site’s ever had (see (2) below). I’ve removed the actual numbers, but the spike is pretty obvious:
It should be noted, here, that I don’t do this blog for the sake of getting “numbers”, or anything like that; if I was doing this for the sole purpose of generating traffic, you’d be seeing a lot more stuff like a list of 23 things Microsoft needs to do to improve the Xbox One’s chances accompanied by animated cat gifs. That’s easy, and dumb, and it’s the sort of tactic that I think is going to flame out pretty spectacularly in a year or two, when people have even less active attention spans than they already do. (Personally, I believe there is an audience for thoughtful discussion and analysis, and that’s the sort of audience I’d like to attract.)
I do this blog because I want to get better as a writer, and because I would like to do this professionally some day, and the only way to do that is to write and write and write, and apply, and pitch, and apply, and pitch, and write and write and write, and hope that somebody notices. I’m glad that people come here, of course, because I do want people to read what I write; it’s just that I don’t want to be a dick about getting people here.
All that being said, that spike above was pretty goddamned awesome. (And I did end up reaching out and thanking him, and he was very cool about it.)