Do Nothing, Save Money
It’s amazing the value of doing nothing.
Recent Steam sale? Bought nothing. There are like 30 items on my wishlist, but none of them are particularly… buyable? For example, I have Sekiro on there but A) it’s a newer game that won’t see a deep discount, and more importantly B) I have no means of playing. I’m actually coming up on the end of my 4-week baby probationary period (i.e. paternity leave), but that just means a new reality of daily babysitting and the same lack of any ability to do much of anything after work still.
Recent Amazon Prime Day? Well, I did buy some house stuff because I’m a bleeding heart liberal that nevertheless enjoys next-day delivery of… let me check… 100 ft extension cords, razors, fish food, and USB chargers. More importantly though, I did not buy that PS4 Pro $300 bundle despite the fact that I was actually browsing Amazon right when it went up.
If I’m honest, it was less willpower and more dithering. “Surely I would play it! Totally different scenario from the PS3 I have hooked up next to the monitor I’m currently typing on.” “If I’m buying a console for no reason, why not a Switch instead? There are fewer Playstation exclusives I’m interested in, plus it’s portable when watching the baby!” “Yeah… but Final Fantasy 7: Remake.”
“…aaaaaaand it’s gone.jpeg.” “Success baby.jpeg.”
I have talked in the past about my digital hoarding predilections, insofar as it is more centered around avoiding paying MSRP. A good deal on a game that I want to play eventually is very enticing, because when the mood strikes, it strikes hard and turns any other game into ash in my mouth. This used to be a big problem.
Now? I have accepted my fate. I play phone games and browse Reddit for nine hours, then maybe play something equally mindless, like Fallout 76 or now Graveyard Keeper when off baby duty. Could I jump back into Divinity: Original Sin 2? Not really. I mean, I could play it, but I’d probably be interrupted every 30 minutes or so, and only have about two total hours in any case. When that becomes your gaming time horizon, your tastes shift.
I am hoping that things will eventually settle down. My child doesn’t sleep through the night, or even in a crib for longer than 15 minutes yet. I think babies are supposed to though? I have no idea. All I do know is that sometimes doing nothing is the correct answer, which just so happens to correspond to my existence at the moment.
Christ, I just want to sleep. And play videogames.
Just to contradict Bhagpuss, let’s talk about the Steam Summer sale.
Actually, Steam sales are kind of irrelevant these days, as most digital retailers either match or beat even the best discounts most of the time. For example, Steam currently has a bundle up for Prey + Dishonored 2 for $28.33. If you pick up Prey for $15 on Steam individually, then you can buy Dishonored 2 for $13 on DLGamer and save yourself… thirty-three cents.
An actual example would be something like Conan: Exiles. It’s $24 on Steam and several other retailers, like Amazon. Well, I have one of those Amazon credit cards which gives you 5% cash back on purchases. So, we’re back to the big bucks in saving… $1.20.
Hmm. Perhaps we are indeed way past the commodification stage of gaming.
On a somewhat related topic, you might have seen people talking about the new Steam tool which allows you to check your total money spent on the platform from the beginning. Some people have posted their numbers rather guiltily, or celebrating their “low” scores. My own personal spending was around $2100, but I was curious as to how long a time-span that covered.
So, I scrolled and scrolled till I reached bedrock:
Across eleven years, that comes out to about $16/month in entertainment. Humble Bundles and the like are not counted, of course, but I still feel more thrifty than guilty. During my Magic: Online days, I would routinely drop $10 to enter a Draft tournament that could be over within 30 minutes, to say nothing about what I spent on paper cards over the years. And, of course, most of us have years-long histories of MMO subscriptions behind us instead of, or in addition to, these numbers.
Still, I get the guilt. I have a wishlist of games I’m tracking across various storefronts, despite the fact that my library is filled with unplayed titles. Part of it is “collect them all,” but a larger part is avoiding “I feel like playing X right now, but the game isn’t on sale anymore.” For example, I’m currently on a survival kick and have an insane urge to play State of Decay 2. It’s not on sale though, so I’m looking at all the other games I have and playing those in the (vain) hope that it will scratch the itch. But it doesn’t. Close, but not quite. But I feel rather lucky I already have The Forest, and Subnautica, and a handful of other titles to tide me over until either the target game goes on sale, or the craving subsides.
Anyway, this is the current list of games on my radar:
- Conan: Exiles ($24)
- Final Fantasy 15 ($25)
- State of Decay 2 (no sale, $30)
- Divinity: Original Sin 2 ($36)
- Far Cry 5 ($45)
- ARK DLC ($12)
- Kingdom Come: Deliverance ($42)
- Prey ($15)
- Dishonored 2 ($13)
- Metal Gear Survive ($25)
Of those, I’m heavily leaning towards picking up Prey & Dishonored 2. And Final Fantasy 15. And Conan: Exiles. Because reasons. Well, mainly because Subnautica and The Forest aren’t cutting it anymore and I don’t have the hard drive space for ARK and I need to purchase all the things all the time and hoard digital games like pieces of wood to craft a shack in a post-apocalyptic world.
/breathes in a paper bag
Or maybe I do nothing. Play the games I have, let the seasonal sales pass, and reevaluate my options during the next major holiday. Considering Alpha 17 for 7DTD will be coming out in a month or so, and the Fallout 76 Beta will (presumably) happen before November, I could wait it all out.
Or maybe I just buy the fucking game I want and play; get it out of my system and on with my life.
Cyber Monday now behind us, it is time to take stock.
First, I did not buy a PS4. The loss of the +$50 Gamestop/+$60 Kohls gift cards was simply too great, psychologically. Well, that, plus I could not find a normal $200 PS4 deal to save my life. There was a slight chance of some late shenanigans involving Office Depot selling $100 Gamestop gift cards for $80, but why go through all that trouble – especially having to go outside – if none of the $200 deals are around? Having said that, apparently Gamestop sells Amazon gift cards, so one could imagine someone going through the hassle of stopping by multiple stores in order to achieve a 20% discount at an online retailer.
Second, I have been playing No Man’s Sky and it has consumed my life. I’m 30 hours deep already.
Third, I did end up buying a phone. Specifically, the Moto G5 Plus from Amazon. I waffled on the Honor 6X because ~$150 seemed like a lot for +1GB RAM and +16GB space over my current 5X. Well, the G5+ comes with 64GB internal memory and 4GB RAM straight up. Yes please. I played the holiday pricing game a bit too close though, and missed the $180 deal for a new phone, so I settled for an Amazon Warehouse resell for like $160. There aren’t supposed to be any scratches on the screen itself, but you never know until it shows up.
Finally, I took all this week off. No particular reason, other than I had to use time lest I lose it. My original plan (beyond normal IRL errands) was to give FF14 it’s one last huzzah before they take another $15 from me. While it’s still possible, No Man’s Sky makes it unlikely. We’ll just have to see how the rest of the week goes.
Good Guy Best Buy
[Blaugust Day 21]
Just like with Amazon, Best Buy decided to look out for me by dissuading my GTX 970 purchase.
The amusing thing is I finally felt ready to pull the trigger, after all my prior dithering. The final push? Best Buy had the Zotac GTX 970 version up for $329.99 with a price match guarantee… and Amazon had the same exact model for $309.99. Sweet. So I’m going to price match the $309.99 and then whip out my
trap card 10% off coupon. I balked previously at graphics cards that barely moved on price, but getting one at $279 is another matter entirely. Plus, the free game code included this time around is Metal Gear Solid V, which is actually something I want to play. So, technically, I’d be getting the video card for less than $250.
When I tried calling Best Buy yesterday, there was simply a recording that stated “due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to take calls at this time.” Uhh… okay. So I tried once again tonight. And, as I should have expected, the answer was “No.” Or more specifically, they weren’t going to do both.
Technically, I could still realize some measure of savings by using the 10% coupon: about $13 or so off the Amazon price. But here’s the thing:
There is no in-store pickup options available and the order takes 6-10 days to process. And it apparently takes tiny children an additional two weeks to hand craft the video card before it arrives at my door. Seriously, 25 days from order to arrival? The scenario is especially ridiculous if all I was doing was looking for the price match, considering this is the competition:
That little Prime symbol means it will be in my hands in two days. Two days. I could order a video card drunk and have it arrive while I’m still hung-over, depending on the bender I went on.¹ The days in which you could just price match Amazon are ancient history, myths spun in the abandoned break rooms of Circuit City and Blockbuster. Shipping and handling? GTFO. It’s 2015, people – if the UPS guy isn’t ringing my doorbell before I even click the purchase confirmation button, you’re doing it wrong.
Jokes aside, the sad thing is that Best Buy might end up having the last laugh on this one. The Amazon listing doesn’t mention the Metal Gear Solid V promotion, and the Nvidia fine print mentions that it’s only applicable through authorized sellers. Waiting an extra three weeks to save $13 is one thing, but waiting extra for ~$63 is another. Plus, it’s not exactly as though I need the card right now anyway. Hmm.
So… yeah. There’s another glimpse into the madness that is my method.
¹ Always express your crippling alcoholism² responsibly.
² This is a joke.
Good Guy Amazon
[Blaugust Day 18]
Amazon’s Appstore is atrocious garbage. And it thereby saved me from giving them (and Blizzard) another $50 for Hearthstone.
See, there is a deal going on right now for Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion: 50 packs for $50. The current store offering is 40 packs for $50 or 60 packs for $70. Basically, with this deal you can get packs at $1 apiece instead of $1.17. Alternatively, if you download Hearthstone from the Amazon Appstore, then you can pay for packs and such using Amazon Coins. Which at one point were on sale for 5000 for $40 (20% off). And then if you waited until Amazon ran their other Coin promotion, you could get 10% Coins back, which then could be used to immediately purchase additional packs. The “example” Amazon uses is how $90 buys 87 packs versus 70 packs from Google Play.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on the state of our lives when we start considering how good a deal it is to spend $90 on a technically “F2P” game.
The bottom line is that Hearthstone will not install from the Amazon Appstore for me, and I need that version because you can’t spend Amazon Coins for packs otherwise. It will download the 660 MB file, start the install, and then hang (progress bar just cycles) until the install fails. I’ve followed all the incredibly helpful troubleshooting like “clear the cache” and “restart the phone,” up to and including both emailing Amazon for assistance and chatting with their representatives in Chhindwara or wherever, to no avail. I deleted my Google Play version of Hearthstone already – which, incidentally, works – so I know there is no conflict there. Hearthstone is not labeled as an option on the Amazon Appstore on my tablet. I even tried one of those Android emulators a few weeks ago when they were offering free packs to Samsung owners, but apparently my PC is one of those which needs a BIOS edit to mimic some setting or whatever.
So… fuck it. Nobody gets my money.
…in this particular instance. I’ll still buy Hearthstone Adventures as they release, and if Amazon delivered groceries to my area I might not ever step outside. But when it comes to this specific scenario, I… bite my thumb at you, Amazon Appstore.
About two weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that my 32″ TV just isn’t cutting it anymore. That almost seems laughably small these days, but it worked just fine back when I had it in the corner of the bedroom. Now that it’s ten feet away from the couch in the living room? Not so much.
I have no need for for 50″+ monstrosity, but some sort of upgrade seems appropriate. After poking around and seeing as how I could conceivably get a 42″ for $280, I started wondering “isn’t that about the price for a projector?” Yes, yes it is.
And thus began a descent into the madness that is projector shopping.
The basic gist is that you have to be absurdly careful. If you go to Amazon and just type in “projector 1080p,” all the projectors will show up. That is because A) they’re liars and thieves, and B) Amazon and most other sites are complicit with the deception. See, they’re “compatible” with 1080p signal, even though the projector will downscale your Blu-ray to its native 640×480 resolution. If you’re reading this on a PC, right-click on the Desktop and go to your resolution options and switch to… hell, my monitor doesn’t even go below 800×600. Nevermind. Point being, not only is that a resolution from a decade ago, it will also letterbox pretty much any media you would ever play through it.
The other end of the spectrum is legit, native 1080p projectors. Which will cost about $600+ on sale.
I’ll be honest here: I have spent entirely too much time looking at projectors in lieu of, you know, playing videogames. So here is what I’ve got, data-wise:
|Projector||Price||Resolution||Bulb life||Lumen||Zoom||Throw Ratio|
|Vivitek XGA||$299||1024×768||4500||3000||?||1.6 – 1.92|
|FAVI RioHD-LED-4T||$279||1280×800||20,000||500 ANSI||?||1.6|
The first thing to note is that top item: it is an example of a tricky Best Buy “deal.” Marked down by nearly $250, everything looks good… up until you realize that it is not native 720p. You might also note how all the other projectors I have listed there have LED bulbs which should last well past 6 years, assuming you run the thing 8 hours every day all year around.
Still, everything feels like a minefield. How loud are the fans? How vibrant are the colors? Why doesn’t anyone list their goddamn throw ratios or the fact they have (or likely don’t have) zoom features? How does 500 ANSI lumen stack up to 2800 bullshit lumen? It’s a mess. How am I supposed to min-max this?!
So once again, dear reader(s), I am open to advice. I’m working with a 12-foot space that’s extremely light-controlled. I’m really just looking for something I can stick on a shelf behind the couch and hit that ~81″ of bare wall next to my computer. If I move my furniture around, I could probably get a little bigger projector space going. I’d love to hit the $300 price-point; if it’s anywhere close to $400, it better be far and away better than the ones I’m already looking at. Not looking to become a home theater enthusiast, I just want a bigger screen.
You Win, Amazon Add-On Program
Back in the day, one of the big draws of Amazon for me was the free shipping on any orders over $35. If you waited long enough to accumulate a decent enough shopping cart, it worked out rather well as you were spending more than $35 anyway. Other times, I would really want that $25 item right now, but was faced with the prospect of eating shipping costs and “getting nothing” versus just finding ten more bucks worth of whatever. Of course, that is kinda Amazon’s entire plan, right? Once Prime came out, my worries disappeared and these days I routinely pick up $15 items whenever I feel like it rather than saving for one big purchase.
Enter Amazon’s Add-On items. If you want a thing of $1.59 Scotch Tape, Amazon won’t ship it to you at all unless you pair it with $25 worth of other items.
So last week, I found some random item I wanted to get for someone. “$2 add-on, huh? Okay.” I started looking around Amazon for other things that perhaps I had been putting off purchasing. So I picked up a 3-meter HDMI cable for $7.50. And… err… let me look around some more. Oh, here’s an anti-static wrist strap for $6. You know, for that distant future in which I install another SSD or upgrade my video card or whatever. Then it was one of those shake bottles with the metal ball inside, for protein shakes, for $8. I was close now! And you know, I always wanted another end-table and here’s this one for $19. Done!
Oh. The end-table isn’t shipped from Amazon, so it doesn’t actually count towards the limit.
At this point, I’ve been on Amazon for almost an hour and decided to basically say “Fuck it” and bought what I want. Which was this:
So, you win this round, Amazon. And, I suppose, I win a little too.
Interesting Move, CCP
Way back in February, I was quoting Bullshitter in Chief, David Reid, on how Dust 514 could make EVE “the biggest game in the world at the end of 2012.” There are only 33 days left in the year for this to be theoretically possible, but nevermind.
At that time (and still currently), my questions focused on the “what the hell were they thinking with a PS3 exclusive” angle. The related followup question was how CCP planned to muscle into an already crowded FPS marketplace with a completely unknown IP (the FPS portion anyway); free-to-play will only get you so far, if no one knows about you.
Well, with all the game console browsing I have been doing lately, I have a partial answer:
Product FeaturesPlatform: PLAYSTATION 3 | Edition: 250GB Uncharted 3: Game of the Year
- The new 250GB PlayStation 3 System, with a built in Blu-Ray player, can hold over to 1800 Games, 140 Movies, 99,000 Songs, and 40,000 photos
- The PlayStation 3 system includes a free PlayStation Network membership for online gaming, streaming movies and music, and access to the PlayStation Store
- UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception Game of the Year Edition showcases Nathan Drake’s journey through new challenges and includes over $45 of Bonus Content
- With a 30-day trial of PlayStation Plus, access your instant game collection and download from a free library of hit games. Save over $70 with the PlayStation 3/Uncharted 3 Game of the Year bundle
- Dust 514, a free to play game available exclusively on the PlayStation Network, thrusts you into the explosive ground conflict of the EVE universe
- Included with this PlayStation 3 bundle is a promotional code for your personal DUST 514 ordinance pack containing a 7-day active skill booster, a permanent Armored Personnel Carrier, an assortment of digital items, and 2,000 Aurum to spend on in-game gear, weapons and equipment. Over $30 in total value.
That’s right, somehow CCP got Sony to include $30 worth of item shop goods in the, er… PS3 Uncharted 3: Game of the Year bundle. Because nothing says sci-fi F2P FPS like a 3rd-person action game.
It is an interesting move, and certainly one that will garner some extra attention from whomever takes advantage of that bundle. I can’t help but get confused though, when it appears that the Dust 514 mention is missing from the other bundles like the 500gb Assassin’s Creed 3 and even the 320gb Uncharted 3 bundle. Did CCP only pay enough to get on the 250gb bundle instead of the 320gb? Surely there is no hardware difference, so did they just change their minds? Did Netflix out-bid them?
Regardless, I find myself even more intrigued by this unfolding drama than I was before. And, hey, now that I own a PS3 myself, I might actually go full gonzo and try it at some point.
Memorial Day Sales
In case you haven’t seen them yet, there are a bunch of sales going on this weekend.
There is a fledgling new indie game marketplace called Because We May. Until June 1st, all of the games up there are 50% off or better. Those include:
- World of Goo ($2.99)
- Osmos ($2.99)
- The Binding of Isaac ($1.99)
- Psychonauts ($4.99)
- Q.U.B.E. ($7.49)
- Cthulhu Saves the World & Breath of Death VII Double Pack ($1.49)
- Dungeon Defenders ($7.49)
EA finally got (one of) the memo(s) about why Origin is terrible compared to Steam, and now all (four) Origin games are 50% off. This includes:
- Mass Effect 3 ($29.99 but see below)
- Battlefield 3 ($29.99)
- BF3: Back to Karkand DLC ($7.49)
Amazon is also a place where sales occur:
- Syndicate ($17.99)
- Total War: Shogun 2 ($7.49)
- Mass Effect 3 ($25.99)
- Saints Row the Third ($16.49)
- Mirror’s Edge ($4.99)
Finally, Steam appears to be selling EVE for $6.80 again. Still not pulling the trigger just yet.
Can a Fallout TV Series Even Work?
Posted by Azuriel
While technically old news, Amazon is bankrolling a Fallout TV series. The newer news is that it starts filming this year. The guy behind Westworld is doing the first episode, and… well, if say much more, this paragraph will be longer than the original article.
Fallout is one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time. I have played all the major releases, including less popular ones like Brotherhood of Steel and, ahem, Fallout 76. It really wasn’t until the release of Fallout 3 before I realized that that was the sort of experience I had been waiting my entire life for: post-apocalyptic hoarding simulator. I didn’t need to have a quest to be motivated to explore a cave – the possibility of extra duct tape and aluminum cans was enough. And chasing that similar sense of satisfaction fueled my drive into and through practically every survival game that has been released.
I have zero clue how in the world they will translate Fallout to the TV screen.
Some people have mentioned that Fallout might be well-positioned to capitalize on the cultural zeitgeist of the day, e.g. the dangers of unrestrained jingoism. But that actually seems more like a problem: it’s going to seem too on-the-nose despite the source material always having those elements of dark irony. Vault-Tec running unethical experiments on their customers doesn’t quite cut the same way when we have Facebook and other social media doing similar things in the real world.
This is to say nothing on what sort of tone they will go for. I could easily see a Fallout TV ending up more of a slapstick apocalypse romp, with Bottlecap mines, Fat Man launchers, and Stimpaks magically healing broken limbs. Or I could see them trying to leverage more of the darker side of the series, Father in the Cave and similar tragic pathos. But in the latter case… where does the Nuka-Cola, caps as currency, Pip-Boys and the like come in? Super Mutants and Mr. Handy? If you aren’t including that sort of thing, I’m not sure what the point of it is being branded Fallout.
I just don’t see it. The world of Fallout could support little mini-arcs World War Z-style (the book), but an overarching narrative? Or even following the events of one of the games? New Vegas probably has the most coherent plot and story beats, especially if they include some of the DLCs. Well, maybe not the one where your brains are scooped out and you end up getting a teleportation device. Fallout 4 is a more modern tale, especially with the notion of synths and the philosophical questions surrounding them… but also prominently features teleportation by the end. It works in game form, but I don’t see it getting a pass on the screen.
God, I just imagined the first time they bring up a VATS-like effect and aim a Railway Rifle round at someone’s eyeball. There’s no way this doesn’t end up being goofy nonsense. Which I guess will be on brand, but nevertheless feels like the worst of all possible worlds. Which… is also on brand.
Posted in Commentary
Tags: Amazon, Fallout, Slow Motion Disaster, There's No Way This Will Work, TV