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Games you missed: The Witcher

The Witcher is a PC RPG. It was developed in Eastern Europe. Those two traits taken together have a pronounced stigma. Games developed in this part of the world (particularly PC games) are thought to be buggy, unfinished, or broken despite some inevitable interesting ideas. Spoken dialog will, most likely, be awkward and poorly done. Crashes are expected. The Witcher is often lumped with other games and scoffed at by most gamers. There are always players willing to put up with the problems of any game to find the deeply buried redeeming qualities. Developers of these types of games have their own band of cheerleaders willing to overlook or downplay seemingly any faults. Therefore, it's easy for the average gamer to write off the praise The Witcher has garnered as the same sort of sentiment some players feel for other seriously flawed games. The Witcher needs none of that. The Witcher is a gem of a game combining the polish of big-budget US developed RPGs (I'm looking at you, BioWare.) while presenting a slightly darker, more mature story than those counterparts.

 Geralt of Rivia
 Geralt of Rivia

Geralt is a witcher, a phenomenon described best by someone else (I don't recall who.) as a dark medieval version of a Jedi. He has the strength of many mortal men and commands magical powers. Geralt is a very nuanced character and much of that nuance is up to the player with a refreshing lack of contrivance like the prescribed morality of recent games like inFAMOUS, and, to a lesser extent, Mass Effect 2. What I mean is this: those games give you choices, but the game already knows which choice is the good choice and which is the bad choice. This allows the game to shape outcomes of events based on whether you are basically good or basically evil. It makes sense in the context of a game. The Witcher, however, emulates the Dragon Age approach giving you multiple choices, each with consequences, none being clearly "good" or "evil." In fact, the word "emulates" is a terrible choice here as the game pre-dates BioWare's epic by more than two years.

Just as I claim this game doesn't have the caveats of those other wacky PC games, I must say the game does have its own caveats although they are few and minor. The edition you will be buying if you should buy today is the enhanced edition which includes additional animation and corrected translations. This edition fixed some problems people had with the dialog in the original version. In its current incarnation, the dialog is not up to the standard of something like Uncharted 2, but it is more than serviceable. The voice actor playing the part of Geralt is excellent and has an appropriate soft-spoken gravelly quality. The biggest problem I have had with the game is the opening sequence. It is something of a tutorial in a confined area which is a very poor representation of the game which lies ahead. After an hour or two of being stuck in this small area, having your hand held everywhere you go leading you from one quest into another, the game sets you free into a much larger play area. The entire world is not open a la the Bethesda games, but describing the area as "open" is not inaccurate. You will receive both story quests and side-quests which you may complete at your leisure while within that area. Later, the game will move you into another large area. The game has proceeded like that through the first three chapters and appears to be continuing along that path. I am currently about to move on and have been told by an NPC that I should finish anything I want in this area before moving on as I may be unable to return.

 Combat in The Witcher
 Combat in The Witcher

Having played Dragon Age, the game is quite refreshing. It doesn't need to maintain a strict battle/story rhythm. It's content to let me spend half an hour talking with town bigwigs trying to feel my way through the political climate of the area. The story is excellent making this approach very successful. When combat does occur, it feels gimmicky early. The physical attacks are based on a rhythm. If you initiate each attack in the sequence with proper timing, you will continue the combo allowing you to perform the bigger hits later in the combo. Later, you'll start picking up new "signs" (the game's spells) and recipes to make the battles a bit more interesting. For the most part, combat is quick and doesn't get in the way of the real meat of the game.

I have logged 30 hours in the game right now and have no plans of slowing down. The game is paced perfectly for a working person like myself. I can sit down with the game for 30 minutes to an hour a couple of nights a week and have an intensely satisfying experience in which I have advanced my character and some sub-plots by doing a couple of side missions in addition to advancing the main story of the game slightly. The pacing complements that nicely.

What can I write about The Witcher which hasn't been written, and why would I write it now? This is simply stale, right? That might be true if not for a fantastic sale at GamersGate where the game is on offer for $6.78! This is no sponsored post nor am I earning any sort of commission. I picked the game back up a couple of months back after two false starts where I quit before finishing the tutorial and thought this the perfect opportunity to pass this gem on to you, dear reader. If you buy the game and enjoy it, please keep your eyes peeled because information has been trickling out about The Witcher 2 since the big reveal at E3. The developer has coded their own engine rather than repurposing an old BioWare engine as they did for the first game. Even though the repurposing worked remarkably well, this should allow them to edge closer to their vision.


Whiskey Media freemium!

I'm a bit late to the party, but I just saw Kombat's excellent response to Dave Snider's tweet requesting ideas for a premium Whiskey Media. I have a number of ideas I presented the last time this came up, but I would like to reiterate those as I would love to pay money for them. 
This is a particularly timely question for me as I just paid another of my favorite web communities, I now have reddit gold membership which includes a "trophy" on my user page in addition to a few features and the promise of more features down the line. The gold membership is really little more than a donation drive right now. I paid $30 for a year, and I really don't care if I get anything else for it. In fact, I didn't pay to get the things they gave me in the first place. For me, it was a simple decision. Here's a site I love that is struggling. If I can pay the $30, and all I get is that the site survives, that is worth $30 per year to me. Maybe Whiskey Media needs to do something as simple as a donation drive like this even if only to get the ball rolling. Start out at a low price for charter members, give us some idea of what features you want to implement in the future, and hit "go." 
As far as the specific features I would enjoy, I definitely agree that existing features need to stay free. I believe the staff itself has stated none of the existing features will be taken away from users. The features I would most love are related to blogging. The Whiskey Media blogging platform is excellent and robust but needs a few more features to be complete. It would be really nice to be able to save drafts. There are many times I would like to start on a post and finish it later. Taxonomy features would also be helpful like tagging and categories. Here's a list of some other ideas for premium features not related to blogging: 

  • user video hosting
  • a VIP forum (This wouldn't eliminate all trolls, but, in general, people willing to pay are less likely to be trolls.)
  • user blacklisting (with which I could never see content from my blacklisted users again)
  • priority access to beta codes and giveaways
I imagine most of these would not be terribly difficult to implement. I have one more idea I separated from the rest as it would be more of a departure for the site. What if the site instituted a Bitmob-esque system whereby premium users' content has a chance to be featured on the frontpage alongside that of the staff? I would enjoy that. 
The Whiskey Media family of sites have some of the best community features around. It's difficult to charge for content on the Internet, but I would gladly pay for these existing features to be expanded upon. 
For those of you who would be willing to pay, what is the highest fee you could see yourself paying if all your desired features were implemented? I would top out at about $30 but $20 per year for those features would be really nice!

Steam sale wrap-up post

Steam sales make me fall in love with PC gaming all over again. This most recent sale was no different. I acquired 21 new games, 17 of which were for myself. Steam has a way of making you feel like a real asshole by suggesting for each purchase that you could give it as a gift. I digress. 
I'm going to wrap-up the sale with a silly (and hopefully fun) list of awards. Enjoy and please add your own in the comments. 

Most fun indie game I discovered during the sale but otherwise has nothing to do with said sale: 


Desktop Dungeons

Derek Yu has a way of taking a simple concept and layering in cool unlockables and fun things to discover to really make it an experience to be savored. If you played Spelunky you know what I'm talking about. (If you haven't played Spelunky and own an Xbox 360, you will soon have an opportunity to experience it for yourself!) Desktop Dungeons is a roguelike mated with a puzzle game. In terms of appearances, it resembles a roguelike in nearly every way. You start with a top-down view of a a randomly generated dungeon. The only part of the dungeon you can see are the tiles immediately adjacent to your starting position. You proceed to uncover the remaining dungeon along with the loot and monsters therein. You must seek out monsters close to your level to avoid being killed and to advance in level so as to have a chance at killing the higher level monsters in the dungeon. Each dungeon has a boss monster--a level 10 baddie who must be killed to finish the dungeon. 
Late game in a dungeon 
Late game in a dungeon 
Each dungeon is very compact--much moreso than a typical roguelike--which plays directly into the puzzle aspect of the game. Health and mana are restored as you uncover previously dark tiles of the dungeon. The player must carefully manage how much of the dungeon has been explored to allow for health regeneration in the late game. 
The player will also find spells throughout the dungeon. They come complete with clever names like lemmisi (let me see), the spell which reveals three random tiles in the dungeon. These will also play heavily into the strategy. The game employs some other elements as well which I will leave for you to discover. 
Games last about 15-20 minutes and most end with the death of the player character. Those which end in completion of the dungeon are rewarded with cool unlocks. The game is free and is a great way to burn a couple of minutes here and there or to cleanse the palate between more robust gaming sessions. 
Official homepage 

Most disappointed purchase (despite being incredibly cheap)  

The graphics are serviceable. The rest... not so much. 
The graphics are serviceable. The rest... not so much. 

Gothic 3 

There were several disappointments coming out of this sale. Most of them were daily deals and were picked up on impulse (the idea not the service ;). Among these, the most disappointing game was, by a nose, Gothic 3. The reason this was more disappointing than the two Painkiller games I bought or Flatout: Ultimate Carnage is that I believed Gothic 3 had a chance to be something. The reviews weren't all that bad. Also, it was born of a highly regarded PC RPG series. In the very recent past, I have become enamored with the PC RPG or, to be a bit more contemporary, the Western RPG. It is a genre I couldn't wrap my mind around for a long time due to being funneled through stories for many years by Japanese RPGs. The breadth of possibilities was paradoxically crippling! No more though. Now, I count this as possibly my favorite genre. I have gotten much fun and play out of Fallout 3, Oblivion, Dragon Age, another game to be named later, and others. Gothic 3 had that spark... in my mind, at least. I'll admit to playing very little of the actual game. The few minutes I tried were a terrible 3D fantasy beat 'em up. Click to swing until the enemy falls down. Repeat until all enemies are down. *Yawn* 

Former Steam purchase not made during this sale but re-discovered during it nonetheless  

 The Witcher does a great job capturing the desperation of the commoners.
 The Witcher does a great job capturing the desperation of the commoners.

The Witcher 

The Witcher and I have a tumultuous relationship. We've had two false starts which is usually enough for me to stop trying. However, I felt strongly there was still something there. Now, we are in the honeymoon phase. The only reason I can muster for my lack of interest previously is that I never actually made it through the opening part of the game. (Yes, I know I have a short attention span.) Once you get through the tutorials and the first mission, the game opens up and stops holding your hand. You are thrown into a much larger region with plenty of quests to complete, people to talk to, and things to discover. The rhythm-based combat isn't perfect, but it becomes more satisfying as you learn spells ("signs" in the game's parlance). I strongly prefer it to the combat of Dragon Age (which admittedly is not saying much). Character advancement is very rewarding, and the story is adult in a way that makes even Dragon Age seem a little silly. I'm at about 15 hours currently, and I can see The Witcher and I going the distance. 
I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the bizarre card-collecting sex mini-game. 

Most pleasant surprise  

No Caption Provided

Sam and Max: The Devil's Playhouse  

This shouldn't be a surprise as Telltale is at the top of their game. The point-and-click adventure genre hasn't had it this good since the '80s. Everything I have purchased from them has been a delight, but this latest season of Sam and Max is even a cut above the fantastic games they've been turning out for years now. It has a level of cinematic polish that caught me off guard. It would be redundant to say a Sam and Max is funny, but this one is especially so. Despite my rabid Monkey Island fandom, this has trumped even Telltale's Tales of Monkey Island as my favorite adventure game. 

Most bizarre game purchased  

 Part of the game involves drawing symbols on the screen with your color. I have never done this successfully.
 Part of the game involves drawing symbols on the screen with your color. I have never done this successfully.

The Void 

All I know about The Void is contained in this alarmingly short paragraph. You are dead. You are collecting hearts which will convert the color (which you must also collect) into a kind of color you can use in the world to either kill things or bring them to life. Also, all the characters appear to be nude and may be at least partially anatomically correct. It's twice as creepy as all that makes it sound. Enjoy! 
Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me about the awesome, terrible, and/or bizarre games you picked up from the sale!

Steam sale strategy guide

I'm a little late with this, but there are still a few days of the sale left. 

Steam is currently having one of its periodic fire-sales. Hundreds of games on the PC digital distribution service are currently marked down to prices apparently set by Malfunctioning Eddie. Steam has sales every weekend, but these major sales take on a particular structure which lends itself to a strategy when deciding what to buy.

I start by making a list of games I want. Feel free to derive inspiration from my own list:

  • Painkiller
  • The Maw
  • Jolly Rover
  • Lead and Gold
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  • Saira
  • Overlord 2

Steam makes maintaining this list easy now with the Wishlist feature. Simply add all these games to your Steam Wishlist. Now, it may be a good idea to go through the sale listing and see if there are any games you missed. Here's the important (and most difficult) part of the strategy: restraint.

You'll be tempted to immediately blow your load on everything in your wish list that's on sale. In my case, that's Painkiller, The Maw, Lead and Gold, and Overlord. What you need to do is exploit the structure of the sale I mentioned previously. These sales consist of a number of games that are on sale for the duration of the sale along with daily deals. Often, the two overlap. What is on sale for the duration may go to a daily sale at some point. That's when you want to buy as these markdowns are even more dramatic than the regular sale. Keep your list nearby, and check the daily deals each day. Until today's sale goes up, Overlord 2 from my list is currently one of the daily specials. The game is currently $6.79. The entire Overlord series (including Overlord 2) is on sale for $4.50! I am buying it at that price. I will save the rest of my games until the last day of the sale (July 4th) or until they are a daily sale item, whichever comes first.

Using this method, you will get the most out of Steam's big sales. Nothing hurts more than buying a bunch of games as soon as the sale opens only to see them one-by-one come up as the daily deal for an additional 20% discount over what you paid.

Have fun, and be sure to save some money for the rent!


Nickel and dimed by BioWare

Not every DLC pack for Fallout 3 and Borderlands was stellar. Fallout 3's packs were all solid with some being better than others. Borderlands mis-stepped with Mad Moxie, but the others were good. (Note: I have not played the last pack because it corrupted my character. However, it was critically well-received.) Anyway, those packs were each content rich and added to the existing story. BioWare is taking a different approach with DLC for their most recent releases. This DLC is typically very small and fits into the story already in place rather than adding content to the end. It may seem to you these are two equally valid approaches. I am here to tell you that you are wrong.

The amount of content in these packs is not entirely unreasonable... in a vacuum. Unfortunately, the DLC space, while young, is not brand new. This puts Mass Effect's paltry DLC efforts into the same marketplace as those of Fallout 3 and Borderlands. I'm sure Mass Effect 2's DLC is fantastic just as was the rest of that game, but, for most of us gamers, it is difficult to ignore the value we are getting for our dollar. Fallout 3's shortest DLC addons were about five hours long at $10. Mass Effect 2's hour-long Kasumi loyalty mission costs gamers $7. The math is easy; you'll pay $2/hour for Fallout 3 DLC versus $7/hour for Mass Effect 2 DLC.

That fact is I really loved Mass Effect 2--perhaps even more than Fallout 3. I would have paid $7 for more of that even though it was criminally short if not for one fact. I, like many of my fellow Mass Effect 2 fanatics, had already completed the campaign by the time of the addon's release. The addon, unlike Fallout 3 addons, inserted content into the middle of the game. For the completionists in the audience, this is not a problem. They will gladly fire up a new campaign and play it just to get to the DLC. I'm more of a tourist; I typically go through the game, experience what it has to offer, and reflect on the experience never to go back. I certainly don't want to replay a bunch of content just to get to the new stuff I have paid for. I relished the Fallout 3 content because it was all free-standing. It didn't depend on the player's position in the campaign. This makes it appeal to many more types of players, myself included.

Will BioWare learn and correct the errors of their ways? Most likely not. If this DLC sells reasonably well, they will have succeeded in selling a smaller chunk of content to players than what Bethesda and Gearbox have provided for their players at a nearly comparable price. This will provide them positive reinforcement and all the incentive they need to keep cranking out tiny packs and overcharging us for them. My only solace is in knowing they won't fool me into buying them.

The arcade is dead. Long live the arcade!

Some of you may know that my friend has been building an arcade cabinet for me for some time now. He recently finished it, and it now has a happy home in my basement with the rest of my toys. It turned out really well. Here's a quick video tour of the cabinet. Feel free to post questions or comments. I will respond to everyone I can. 
The video is in HD, but you may have to click through to see it that way.
If you're curious and want to know more, check out this video I did for my blog while the cabinet was still in progress. 

PC is not dead

PC gaming has been "dying" for the past two console generations, but there is a passion shared by both gamers and developers who love the platform which seems to keep it afloat. Unlike arcade gaming, PC gaming has been able to evolve itself away from extinction by exploiting its unique advantages over the console platforms.
Take distribution, for example. If you want to sell a product, it is absolutely crucial to be able to get that product into the hands of consumers. Traditional for video games of all kinds, that meant a box on the shelf at a retail store. For some time, the shelf space devoted to PC gaming has been shrinking at stores to its currently absurd presence bordering on non-existence. If you could take this information back to someone ten years ago, they could reasonably assume that PC gaming is on its way out. Instead of giving in, the PC scene has taken this attack against it and, jiu-jitsu-style, turned it around into something of an advantage. The problem with retail distribution is that it creates more overhead all around. PC gaming, however, in its attempt to survive in the face of the growing popularity of plug-and-play console gaming, has given birth to a number of alternate distribution systems utilizing the ever-increasing speeds of home Internet service. In doing so, they have drastically reduced overhead for game developers small and large and have allowed bigger margins to help combat the problem of smaller audiences.
Fortunately for gamers, the PC seems to have enough tricks up its sleeve that it isn't going anywhere unlike our beloved arcades of decades past. It is an incredible platform offering advantages which are within reach of the game consoles but bring about fears from big-wigs of diluting the simplicity of those platforms. Those fears are certainly justified. About a year after launch of a new console generation, any mid-level gaming PC can outperform the most advanced gaming console which is, by its nature, frozen in time. From that point forward (and often earlier) PC gamers can enjoy higher framerates, better resolution, more detailed textures, and a plethora of other technical benefits in addition to user created content for nearly every game, flexible control methods, and (often) more robust online connectivity. If not for their simplicity, I couldn't see a reason for owning a gaming console outside whatever exclusive releases those platforms provided.
Cost is often cited as a key barrier to entry in the argument of PC versus console gaming. By nature of the fact that PC hardware is constantly changing, the cost of a gaming PC that will compare to current consoles is always dropping. I'm in the process of retiring a PC that was put together for about $350--less than either my 360 or my PS3--which can run nearly any current PC game at a respectable framerate in 1080p. I'm running games which were released on both platforms (console and PC) at a resolution 50% better than the console counterpart.
This is not to say I don't love my console gaming. I often find myself retreating to my 360 and PS3 after frustrating bouts with drivers, hardware, and other configuration nightmares. However, there is much to be said for the underdog that is the PC. Simplicity and flexibility are at opposing sides of a continuum; PC gaming has boldly staked its claim in a region where gaming consoles will forever fear to tread.

My Inspiration

I rarely think of things to write out of the blue, and indeed this post was inspired by my recent gaming PC purchase which itself was inspired by the fantastic time I have been having with a few recent game purchases which are, too me, uniquely PC experiences. Two of them are, in fact, also available for game consoles. The first is Dragon Age: Origins which has been discussed at length with even much of the community acknowledging the fact that it is truly a PC game with a console port also available. The second is Left 4 Dead 2 which is available in much the same form on 360, but, from my perspective, you cannot properly control a shooter without a keyboard and mouse. The third game is currently confined to the PC platform although it will ultimately be avaliable on XBLA: Spelunky. (Note: If you have not tried Spelunky, I highly recommend you check it out. It is a free game for Windows.)
Getting back to my recent PC purchase, a couple of friends requested I post my build. It is a very modest system by some standards (and I'm sure quite decadent by others). Here it is for anyone interested:
For those of you who made it this far, I would love to play some L4D2, TF2, UT3, or even something else. Feel free to add me to your Steam friends!

Podcast trends to avoid for 2010

One of my favorite pastimes of 2009 has been listening to gaming podcasts. The volume of incredible content produced by both gaming journalists and mere gaming enthusiasts is staggering. This community is both large and close-knit which is perhaps what allows certain annoying trends (which I liken to receiving a handjob with a cheese grater) to become pervasive across much of the available programming.

Let's cut to the chase. Podcasters, stop doing these things in 2010 (or sooner if possible):

  • imitating the loser trumpet sound from The Price Is Right- I never want to hear the human voice trying to make a trumpet sound again. I've heard this sound at least twice a week for the past 50 or so weeks. It's like a cute cell phone ringtone: funny the first time, nails-down-a-chalkboard each subsequent time.
  • contrived, shoehorned segues- Unless you are being ironic (and then only incredibly sparingly), do not try to devise some ridiculous on-the-fly segue into your next news item. We're grown-ups. We realize the news stories are not necessarily directly related to one another. We're OK with that. Newspapers don't feel the need to segue one story into another, and they've been doing this for hundreds of years. What makes you think you know better?
  • keep meta-talk to a minimum- Tell me as little as possible about your podcast/website over the course of said podcast. Don't give me a long-winded introduction to everyone on the podcast every episode. Introduce anyone who is not regularly featured, and put a bio for each of the regulars on the web page for your podcast. Don't tell what you are going to do over the course of the next hour or two; just do it. I will figure it out pretty quickly all the while being entertained much more efficiently than I am by excessive navel-gazing.
  • (optional) if you are relatively unknown, stick to the topic- If you're just some guy who started a podcast out of his basement, chances are I, a first-time listener, do not want to hear how awesome that party was last night. In fact, I don't really want to hear that no matter how popular or well-known you are. I constantly try new podcasts and have to ditch most of those because there is twenty minutes of garbage about the podcasters' personal lives before they get into discussing the alleged focus of their show. This is a delicate balance because you want some of your personality to come through; that's one thing that makes your show unique. At least make your anecdotes quick and/or funny and remotely related to the topic at hand... unless I know you in which case you are exempt from this rule altogether. ;-)

I post these helpful tips not to be inflammatory but as a community service. Many of the shows that employ these techniques have other redeeming qualities that result in my desire to continue listening. Shows that have no redeeming qualities can feel free to do all these things because I have already filtered you out. Most importantly and, even if it means ignoring all of my aforementioned guidelines, keep putting your stuff out there. After all, if I don't like it, I can always unsubscribe, right?


MMO Mindhack

I was a big fan of WoW for a period of a few months immediately following it's release. Like many players, I became at least mildly addicted to the game. I have tried several MMOs both before and since then but none really stuck the way WoW did. I have recently picked up a copy of Aion, and it seems to have many of the hooks WoW has with even more refinement. Here I am about to be firmly in the grips of an MMO again which brings to the fore an important question: Are these games actually fun?

No Caption Provided

Braid developer Jonathan Blow aired his thoughts on the subject in an interview in which he says MMOs are "unethical" because they use false rewards rather than gameplay to trick a player into continuing in the game. " many people spend their lives chasing easy/unearned rewards." It's no doubt that the sense of accomplishment derived from completing a level in Braid or Portal is wholly different from that of gaining a level in an RPG. Most RPGs reward perseverance rather than skill. Anyone can throw enough time at something to eventually hammer through if the task allows for that, but skill is a real divider. Some players will complete a game like Braid while others will not often without regard to the time spent playing.

By carefully spacing out rewards, are MMOs and often RPGs in general tricking us into believing we are having fun? If we, for the sake of argument, assume this is the case, is it not then worth examining whether being tricked into believing you are having fun is any different than actually having fun? If I think I am having fun am I not actually having fun?

This relates closely to what players often refer to as " the grind." Fun is nothing more than a state of mind. If your fun is based on a contrivance like scheduled achievement, it is, in my opinion, real fun but it is a very shallow fun. It won't take very long for your mind to reduce the activity down to what you are actually doing and to realize that the activity isn't fun without the shallow reward system. Even in saying this now, I still think of Aion as a fun game despite the fact it employs this very technique. A conscious examination of the facts is almost futile in overcoming it. It seems that only exposure to the grind over time can truly dispel the pull of these games.


Collecting vs. Gaming

I am somewhat obsessive. I acknowledge this--even embrace it. Often I embrace it to a troubling extent. The past few months of gaming have been a shining example.
I had been a gamer all my life until a few years ago. It was near the end of the PS2/Xbox/GameCube generation when I decided to list every product I owned related to gaming on eBay. I rarely sold games prior to this so this particular selling included extensive collections for each of the three consoles along with the consoles themselves and nearly every accessory you could imagine. This sounds like it could be very traumatic or, at the least, may have been triggered by some traumatic event. It was not. It was simply a change in philosophy.
The reasoning for this is outside the scope of this post, but it was a time in my life that highlighted particularly well a flaw in my personality: an addiction to collecting. When I begin to gain interest in a particular pursuit or hobby, I can easily lose sight of the "prize" if you will. Instead, the collecting of the objects pertinent to the given hobby can become ends unto themselves usurping the original intent of the hobby. I write this because I feel myself falling into the same traps of my past.
In September, October, and November, I have purchased many games.

I have no business buying half as many games as I have. I work a full-time job. I have a family. I have a young daughter, and I don't even take any time away from her to play them. That means, out of all these games, I might be able to finish four of them by the end of the year (if I'm lucky). My mind has a way of carrying things much farther than that of the average person. In some cases, this is not a problem. In some cases, it's really an asset. When it comes to collecting, it is not. My reasoning is almost sub-conscious, but I have observed it. How would I choose between any two of these games? If I'm going to have one great game, why wouldn't I have all the others? That's the essence of what happens in my brain that leads to this kind of madness.
My only saving grace is that I have incredible brakes. In fact, I have already utilized said brakes to great effect. To be fair, only two of these purchases happened in November: Dragon Age: Origins and Torchlight totaling $60. I saw the problem re-forming and dealt with it, but, once this realization fades and my enthusiasm swells, I could easily be back in this place once again. I can't possibly reconcile buying more games than I could play with any sort of "logic," but, when my compulsive tendencies kick in, I'm nearly powerless to resist.
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