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Friday, March 18, 2016

Chp 601. Reaching the 250

Needless to say, the fact that I haven't updated my blog for a month shows how busy I've been lately. Last month, I broke our company's record of coming to work for an ENTIRE month. Yup, that included the four weekends in the month of February as well!

The one day I didn't go to office last month was on 10th, but that was because I had to travel to Mumbai for a client meeting (the celebrity who invited us over to his house). So technically, that still counted as being present at work :P

Now I'm not going to bore you with what I do at work, but in this post, I'd like to cover one of the biggest stress relieving factors I've been experiencing the past few months, and that is playing games.

You might consider that ironic - Why would somebody who spends every day, from 8 AM to 10 PM developing games, finally gets to sit and relax by… playing games? Well, that's the difference between being a Game designer and being a Gamer. When I'm at work, I do just my work. But when I'm immersed in a game outside work, I just enjoy the flow. I don't need to think about the user onboarding, the core game loop, the level design, the game economics, the retention and monetization strategies, the branding and promotional campaign etc etc… I. just. enjoy. the. freaking. game. :)

Recently, on Steam, a very popular online gaming platform, I managed to reach the "Game Mechanic" milestone! That means I now own 250 games!

[click on above pic to view more details]

"Owning" a game at Steam refers only to games you have actually bought. It doesn't apply to F2P (free to play) games, unless you have bought the retail licenses of those F2P games as well. I'm just a "1 Years of Service" badge owner at Steam so yeah, it may look like I've spent a lot to own 250 games in such a short span of time. But actually, I didn't. 

I mean, yeah, I did spend quite a lot, but I only buy games when there is a sale going on. So the actual worth of all the games I currently own is much much more than the price I paid for them. I may be a noob in terms of Steam experience, but many of my friends who have been on Steam for 6-8 years gave me a very important advice - "NEVER buy a game on Steam unless it's on discount. And believe me, it WILL be on discount one day".

And so I wait for the best weekend deals…

the bundle deals…

the franchise deals…

the publisher weekend offers…

…and when there is no good discount available, I utilize the discount coupons I get when I craft a new badge.

And so thanx to all that, I am now the proud owner of 250 games on Steam. Do I regret spending money on games? I actually feel good about it because of all those years I used to spend downloading pirated games. This is my way of paying back to the game dev community. Now that I too am a game developer, I totally understand the hardship and sweat one must toil in this industry. Like I mentioned in the very beginning of this post, I didn't even get a single day's holiday throughout last month.

Ps. I'm not trying to get all preachy or sanctimonious on you. If you wanna continue downloading free pirated or modded games, hey that's up to you, bruh. I'm not judging you in anyway. But if you do come across an extremely good game on torrent, especially one that had been developed by an unknown Indie studio, it would be nice if you could purchase the game or make IAP (micro-transactions), just to show your support to them.

After my last blog update about Steam games [November 2015: Bitten by the Steam sale bug] when I bought the Valve Bundle, I went on a couple of more shopping sprees :D 

I usually buy bundles. Buying a bundle is very effective for a new Steam user like me because, it's very likely that I don't have any of the games in that bundle yet. But to a seasoned Steam user, there's a good chance that he or she is already in possession of some of the games in that bundle, hence making the Bundle offer useless.

Here are some of the new games I have bought recently.

How many of them are you too playing, and which is your favorite?

[Click on all pics to enlarge to a new window if you want to have a clearer look at the titles]

As you can see from above, "The Cave" is one such game I downloaded via torrent a long time ago. Beautiful game, great concept and intriguing level designs. I bought the game this time just to show my support to the developers.

Awesomenauts is another game I think most Dota players will like. It's a 3v3 platformer version of Dota, with different heroes and upgrades. As I'm not a Dota fan, it didn't excite me that much, plus there is no concept of "team match-up balancing" factor as in Team Fortress 2. I was in an online match on a pub server when my two randomly selected teammates either disconnected or rage-quitted. Instead of balancing the game and making it 2v2 from 3v1, I was given two lame-ass bots as teammates.

As you can see from above and below, I really love games with great narrations. To me, that's one of the first things I look for in a game. How deep is the plot, the concept, the progression. I like playing mindless hack-n-slash games too, but at the end of the day, the game that I truly enjoy is the one that just takes me on a journey. A good game is something that should make you feel like you've just read a great book. 

I really am not fancied by rich graphics and sfx that also require top end processors and RAMs. An exception to that would be "The Talos Principle". It is one of my favorite games so far. Beautiful rich graphics, more than just playing the game and solving interesting puzzles, I am thankful for the awesome experience the game is giving me. If I was to recommend one game to you from this post, it would be this.

Lately I've been playing a lot of co-op games too.

I've also bought games I already have on my mobile phone, like Hexcell, Hook, Lyne, Super Hexagon etc because I like those games, and they also have steam achievements and steam trading cards :D Steam achievement is a great way to track your progress (and also boast to others about your performance). Steam trading cards let you craft badges, which levels up your Steam XP. Currently I'm a level 27. :)

My only complain about these "small" games is that, most of them do not have the ability to sync your progress across different systems. I have Steam installed in both my home and office PC. When I play TF2 or a campaign on Torchlight, I can easily continue my progress when I go to office or vice-versa. But sadly, smaller games don't have that option. I gotta play all the levels again, even though it shows that I have already unlocked the achievement (from the other PC). 

Perhaps one of the weirdest games in my recent collection is "Shower with your dad simulator". The very name itself is WTF. And it is weird and funny as hell. There are different types of challenge modes, and much as it is fun and "different", I realized a lot of my colleagues had stopped sitting next to me in the cafeteria after they saw me play this game in office, lolz.

There are a lot of games I haven't installed yet. As I said before, I buy the games only when they are on discount. I also try to make sure they have an "overwhelmingly positive" or at least "very positive" review from other Steam users.

Right now, I am reliving old memories again. I recently purchased the Age of Empire bundle, which included all the AOE, AOM and RON series, along with the Total War bundle which included all the Total War games, the Company of Heroes franchise, and the huge Eidos Anthology pack which included all the Lara Croft Tomb Raider series, the Thief series, Deus Ex series, Hit Man series etc. That was definitely my biggest bundle package after I bought the Valve Mega bundle last year.

As of today, I am currently stuck in mission 4 of the "Joan of Arc" campaign of AOE II's "Age of Kings" game. And believe me, I've played all these games a long time ago, but I used to play most of them using cheat codes. Now, I cannot use any cheat codes if I want to unlock Steam achievements, and so that really brings in a new gameplay experience for me. Remember woodstock, pepperoni pizza, bigdaddy, marco, polo, cheese steak jimmy's? I still do to this day, hahaha. But yeah, I won't be playing like that now.

Hence a campaign can easily go to 2-3 hours without cheating. Which I guess is a good stress buster for me :)

So do add me on Steam, I have also gifted many games to my friends :) My steam id is Mizohican. Cheers y'all.