Bit of a mismash of thoughts today, as 2016 gets going.
Originally, my plan for January was to keep going with Disgaea 5, and finish the post game. At this point, I’m convinced that isn’t going to happen. Why? There’s two reasons. The first is that I’m at the point in the post game where the grind level goes way up, just to make numbers bigger. With highly limited gaming time, grinding holds very little appeal over a game that offers a more well rounded experience (like Disgaea 5 did before getting this far into the post game). That resulted in it starting to feel like a slog rather than fun, and at this point I’m too old and too busy to play something that isn’t fun.
The other reason? I got Pillars of Eternity as a Christmas present.
It sunk it’s teeth into me and will not let go. Grinding out XP can’t compete with a whole new world to explore. I’m sure I’ll have more to say later as I get farther into it, but so far it’s a gem that I missed when it launched.
Countdown to XCOM 2 Day
The big difficulty Pillars of Eternity has for me is that I pretty much need to finish it before XCOM 2 is out. I loved XCOM: Enemy Within, and the way they’ve inverted things in XCOM 2 with you now being a resistence group willl really mix things up. I expect that to completely monopolize my single player gaming time once it’s out.
The biggest downside to XCOM 2 is price, and that’s a global game pricing issue. I’m in Canada, and unlike places like Australia, Canada tends to pay the US price in games. For the last few years that had been working out pretty well, even when Steam shifted recently to doing transactions in Canadian dollars (until a year or two ago, all transactions were in US dollars).
Then, the oil market tanked and the Canadian dollar tanked with it. Here’s a five year chart vs USD, from XE.com:
As recently ago as the middle of 2014, $1 CAD was worth around $0.95 USD, which meant prices were more or less at parity. It went downhill fast from there, and games that were $50 became $60. Then $70. The fancy edition of XCOM 2 on Steam is pushing up towards $100, and it’s not getting any cheaper. This is a perverse incentive to pre-purchase, because the longer I wait to pay, the more expensive the game gets. Steam hasn’t adjusted their price again recently, but there is now talk of the dollar dropping below $0.70 USD, in which case they’d almost certainly have to.
This is also affecting things like imported food products, and, well, imported everything. Other people have it even worse, like Brazilian gamers, as they’re facing a steeper currency devaluation. It’s just one of those things that American gamers don’t have to think about, as games are priced in USD and stay the same price no matter what the US Dollar does. In other countries, gamers on a budget benefit from keeping an eye on future trends in foreign exchange rates.
I have a two year old son. He obviously likes to play, but he doesn’t care for things like rules. This was most apparent when I showed him my new box of Formula D, which is a F1 racing board game.
He loves the board, because it’s a race track. He loves the pieces, which are race cars and dice. He has no interest in the rules whatsoever, as he plays his own version. His version is: roll the dice, cheer at the number you got, then do whatever you want. Also, if daddy’s winning, his car suddenly has super glue and can stop daddy’s car. Or crash it off the road. Or make it go sit on a boat in the Monaco harbour for a while.
Board games are pretty ideal to introduce him to gaming, because they’re physical and easy to manipulate. They also don’t care if you invent your own rules, which gives a version that he likes. The first thing he asked when he woke up today is if he could play race cars again. It was pretty awesome.
Social Gaming, sans MMO
I’m fairly sour on MMOs right now, for the reasons I’ve stated numerous times before. That leaves a bit of a gap because while I love my single player games, I also like gaming as a social experience.
I’ve been getting the social aspect a few other ways:
- Board Games. We have a board game cafe in town, which is a delightful way to go out for an evening and try a new game. You pay a cover, grab a game off their rather expansive shelf, and start playing. They also have food and drink available if you want it.
- Pen & Paper RPGs. I’m in a D&D game and a Pathfinder game, and when those are running it’s a highly social event.
- Artemis Starship Bridge Simulator. I bought a copy of Artemis and have most of the hardware needed to run it, so when people come over with laptops, we set it up and play. I have a game setup for this Saturday, and someone in town asked if they could play from their house. I turned them down, because the experience just isn’t the same when the Helmsman is somewhere else and talking over voice chat, as compared to everyone being in the same room.
The social aspect is pretty important to me for these games, as it’s something I can’t get elsewhere. MMOs used to fill that need as well, but as the developers have moved towards making everything single player and “random people you never talk to again” dungeon finder oriented, I just wasn’t getting what I wanted out of them.
Not to mention how expensive subscriptions are getting with the dollar’s decline, and how F2P games have a tendency of turning into exercises in “pay us to make this annoying nonsense go away” or flat out pay to win schemes.