Another end of year, another end of year post.
This has been a rather busy year on the personal front, what with the birth of my son and all. Our little family unit has settled into a reasonable routine that affords me exactly two hours to play videogames each day. And do chores. And any other house projects. So, basically, about 40 minutes of gaming at most. Have I mentioned that I can’t wait for this little guy to grow up into a proper Player 2?
We did this on purpose, for the record. Anyway.
The gaming goals from last year:
- Seriously, dude, play some of those PS3 games [Nope]
- Clear at least one story path from SWTOR [Never got off the first planet]
- Finish up the PoF story content in GW2 [Got distracted doing Season 3 stuff]
- Clean up Steam library by removing titles not likely to play [Yes!]
- Be a (passably) responsible gaming dad [Absolutely]
I talked about Guild Wars 2 last year for a while, and I find it interesting that it remains a topic at the end of this year. Here lately, I have even taken to logging in for two minutes just to click on the calendar rewards and then log off to play something else. Story progress has stopped for me, but I did spend a few weeks (loosely) transitioning my Necromancer into a Reaper, e.g. greatsword elite spec. We’ll see if it remains a topic into 2020 though, or if I abandon it like ArenaNet.
Zero progress on ye olde PS3. It has successfully prevented me from purchasing a PS4 though, so that’s nice. What’s also interesting is that some of best games I played on it back in the day are coming to PC again. For example, Journey. It’s an Epic Store exclusive, but it’s there. I’m sorely tempted to buy it again, actually.
The SWTOR thing was a rather passing fancy. I think I logged in twice. It’s still installed.
Cleaning up my Steam library is actually something I have committed to and have continued to this day. Things are a bit weird with subscription services like the Game Pass, but in 2019 I have played:
- Quantum Break
- 7 Days to Die
- Path of Exile
- Surviving Mars
- Tooth and Tail
- Kingdom Come: Deliverance
- Hyper Light Drifter
- Heat Signature
- Slay the Spire
- Final Fantasy XV
- Oxygen Not Included
- Streets of Rogue
- Graveyard Keeper
- Fallout 76
- Outer Worlds
- Divinity: Original Sin 2
- No Man’s Sky
- Warhammer: Vermintide 2
- Cultist Simulator
- Sundered: Eldritch Edition
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
- Ryse: Son of Rome
- Skulls of the Shogun
- Mini Metro
- Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor
- Far Cry Primal
- Hotline Miami 2
- Guild Wars 2
That’s about 40 games I spent at least an hour or two playing through the year. Of those, it’s been 7 Days to Die, Oxygen Not Included, and Slay the Spire that I have played the longest. Which is amusing to me because I typically balk at playing games like Civilization wherein there’s no “point.” Perhaps I just don’t like the Civ series as much as I did way back in the day.
Looking towards 2020… wow… 2020, eh? Who’d have thought we’d make it?
Anyway, I definitely see 2020 as the year of the subscription gaming service. We have gone from having an embarrassing Steam backlog to an embarrassment of riches between the Game Pass, Origin Premier, and Uplay+. Nevermind Humble Choice, which similarly delivers just short of a dozen games each month.
Beyond that, there are a number of high-profile releases I’m looking forward to playing. Final Fantasy 7 Remake (March). Cyberpunk 2077 (April). Last of Us 2 (May). Then you have the PC release of Death Stranding and Borderlands 3 (cough), general release of Dying Light 2, and the mythical Wastelanders expansion to Fallout 76. I used to worry about getting caught paying full MSRP for games I really want on Day 1, but how many will be covered under some subscription or another? Well, other than the PS4 exclusives. Which probably means I need a PS4…
On the MMO front, the Shadowlands expansion will be coming out for WoW in 2020 sometime. As before, I do have a passing interest in playing WoW with each new expansion, if only to see how many different variants of the wheel they can re-invent. I just wish they would not start with the square one every time.
Speaking of terrible MMO design, there is supposedly a major patch for Final Fantasy XIV coming out that will finally address the chore that constitutes the first 50 hours of “story” in that game. I am not sure whether they will pull a Cataclysm or just give the story-skip potion to everyone for free, but I’m looking forward to it. If for no other reason than to quell all the people exclaiming that it has “the best MMO story” as if the steaming pile of shit you had to slog through to get there doesn’t bring down the average. Could you tell me why I had to sit in a DPS dungeon queue for 50 minutes to get some cheese for a Main Story Quest again? … that’s what I thought.
I suppose I should make some goals here, huh? Let’s go with…
- Play PS3 games so I feel less guilty about buying a PS4 for two games
- Otherwise play the games you want to play when you want to play them
- Stop playing the games you don’t want to play anymore
- Continue being a (passably) responsible gaming dad
Alright, 2020. Let’s roll.
[Blaugust Day 27]
Remember that GTX 970 card I ordered? It arrived Tuesday, but tonight was the first time I had a chance to dedicate to sweating bullets installing it. I’m not sweating because I’m nervous around electronics, I’m sweating because if something goes wrong, I’d be out a lot of money when alternatives were available. Plus, it’d be an embarrassing story, like failing your driver’s test 2-3 times when you’re the high school Valedictorian.
…you know, as a hypothetical example. I’d feel real bad for that
guy person. If they existed.
In any case, I cracked open my PC case and started poking around:
The hardest part of the 560ti removal was the damned power cables. In addition to having some sort of devil-spawn locking mechanism, they felt like they were super-glued on the card. Worrying about static is one thing, but the true nightmare to me is all the wiggling, pushing, and (cringe) bending of hundred-dollar electronics that sometimes becomes necessary.
After much consternation, I managed to unseat the power cords. At which time I unboxed the GTX 970 with the care of holding some distant cousin’s infant that they just threw into your arms like some kind of crazy person. Here is a comparison shot:
Incidentally, that gross-looking stuff in the sink is dust from inside my computer case. While I do periodically clean with a can of compressed air, in my immense wisdom it appears that that cleaning never extended to the video card’s fans. Absolutely filthy, man. I’m surprised the card never burst into flame. Now that I think about it, I’m not entirely sure how safe it was these last four years to have those dumb stickers stuck on the top of the circuitry. I had been assuming it was kosher since it came like that from the shop, but I never really did double-check…
Installing the 970 was pretty easy, by the way. Push it into the slot until it clicks, hand-tighten the case screw and then plug…
Turns out that when you upgrade to a smaller card, and the designers move the power plugs to the side for no discernible reason, you’re going to have a bad time.
So at this point, I start an increasingly desperate bid to cut the zip ties inside my case to free up more power cable slack so I can plug the damn thing in. First, kitchen scissors. Second, a sharp knife in a sawing motion. Third, the Swiss Army Knife I typically use to cut open packages. When that didn’t work, I tried the scissor attachment of the Swiss Army Knife. Success! I ended up having to cut through two zip ties to get enough slack to plug it in.
And here I am, having finished taking the card for a test drive:
I feel better about this investment already.
Having recently moved across town, I received the standard Post Office confirmation of address forwarding, complete with an envelope stuffed with coupons. One said coupon was for 10% off a single item at Best Buy. This prompted me to start looking at graphics cards again.
Spoiler alert: graphics cards are still stupidly expensive.
Or maybe not. Maybe they have always been around $300 for the upper bound of reasonableness. All that I know is that I’ve been staring at the GTX 970 series for months and the prices never seem to budge. It’s not even a matter of whether I could afford the card, it’s the principle of refusing to voluntarily pay MSRP for anything. That and the fact that I don’t need an upgraded graphics card to play any of the hundreds of games still sitting unused in my Steam library.
But… well, I’d kinda like to play GTA5 and Witcher 3, you know? My present rig is about four years old now, so in the scheme of things perhaps an upgrade is overdue. About the only modification I’ve done over the years is replacing the boot SSD after it died a few months ago.
Still, without a price drop, I don’t know if I’m going to do it. I’m not a #PCMasterRace powergamer that needs everything on Ultra; I just want to play relevant games at 60 FPS and 1080p. And honestly, it’s even harder to justify a card upgrade for just two games. I mean, the rest of my library will look better too, but… yeah. I dunno.