My awkward, depreciating beast of a gaming laptop from 2009 needed a bit of a pick-me-up - it was bloated full of Steam games and running hot enough to experience random slowdowns.
Though I hesitated for a while to add a premium product to an aging laptop, I figured adding an SSD as a second drive would help address both the storage problem and the heat problem. Any speed benefit would simply be a welcome consequence.
Though I'm a software developer by profession, between work, family and hobbies I don't get a lot of time to tinker with technology. Somehow I got this far without ever having seen an SSD in person. I felt silly walking out of the local PC component store paying $1 per MB until I got home and opened up the box for my Samsung SSD 840. To the eyes of a person who last installed a 3.5" hard drive in his desktop tower, seeing this this rectangular slat as a drive felt like the future.
After the painless drive installation (thanks YouTube and Google), I copied over my Steam folder (a lengthy process due to being limited to SATA II and Valve overselling how well Steam's self-repair of installed games works).
I have to tell you: after getting used to the incessant chirping of an overfilled mechanical hard drive for 3+ years, the complete lack of drive noise when loading and playing TF2 was eerie. Granted, the fans on this monstrosity are still louder than a launch Xbox 360, but they became the only noise. I guess cleaning out half of the primary mechanical hard drive served to silence even it!
I'm pretty excited about my laptop's new lease on life. Less heat, smoother games, quicker loads.
There's only one unfortunate part to this endeavor: now I want to build a desktop out of 100% new parts instead of just making minor tweaks to an obsolete laptop. I'm excited how much computer components have progressed over the past 3-4 years and I want to play with all of those new toys for myself.
Lately I've put a lot of value on my time. It's changed my gaming habits because while I can afford to buy any game, I don't want to buy or play many long games - the main cost to me is always time, not money.
This means the value of a game that requires long stretches to play is diminished unless it's easy to break up that play time into smaller increments (eg. RB3). Either that, or the game has to be so good that it warrants that increased attention (eg. ME2). As a result, I spend a lot of time on my 360 and PC but the only AAA full-priced games I've purchased for myself in 2010 are Mass Effect 2, Rock Band 3, and StarCraft II.
This doesn't mean I don't buy games. I am a huge fan of the downloadable space right now, as I'm getting a lot of value for my money and for my time. I very rarely spend more than $10 on a game or DLC, but when I purchase something like that, I know I can have a complete, satisfying experience and not have to schedule my life around gaming. I have so many fond memories of downloadable games and DLC in 2010:
powering through Shank on Hard
soloing General Knoxx and co-oping Zombie Island in Borderlands
grinding through 40 rounds of Survival in Plants vs Zombies XBLA
competing for high scores with my wife in Pinball FX 2
learning to play poker in Poker Night at the Inventory
playing through Mass Effect DLC and learning more about that world
I feel most moments playing any of the aforementioned games are rewarding and cost me little time and money. I spent as much time (or more) playing those games as I did playing the AAA games I bought. The games in my backlog I am very excited to find time for are things like Super Meat Boy, Limbo, and Costume Quest. The thought of diving in to AC: Brotherhood, Red Dead or Halo: Reach just feels like work instead of play.
I've been quite fond of the unified friends list on Steam. I was worried I'd miss that in Battle.net, since playing with friends is the way to go in StarCraft II. Turns out this game is so popular with my Steam and work circles that my Battle.net friends is always populated with some people to play with.
I've been playing unranked placement matches for a while (usually 2v2 or 3v3) and it's been fun. A friend and I recently got ranked and so we jumped into our division and tried some matches out.
I tell you, losing 3 times in a row in one-sided blowouts is demoralizing. I was worried I'd hate playing 2v2.
We got into our fourth match, and we had a strategy, but we built up for a while with very little noise. No early attack, no big signs of the enemy. Then, while scouting I saw the massive clump of Battlecruisers. I knew they were preparing to attack, but I decided I was not going to lose again. I just picked up my buildings and flew them away to my distant expansion. I completely ignored the Battlecruiser attack, took 8 Thors, and went on a rampage through all of the enemy bases. That now-thinned squad of Battlecruisers eventually came back to attack my Thors, but they were dealt with, and the Victory screen popped up. Turning a near-certain loss into a victory in about 2 min was so sweet.