A Different Type of Gaming Backlog Is Weighing Me Down

Ah December, a time for many things, but chief among them, sales. Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to merge into a week or month long excuse for retailers to discount their tat. We all invariably end up buying something we don’t even need, turns out most of those products might not even be too great a deal after all.

Face it, you’ve been doing this for years with video games too. Valve (and now others) have offered you an unmissable deal during winter sales; £15 for that shiny video game which was £30 but a week ago!?! Then it sits in your library for six years and you see it again for £2.50, you curse your impulsive nature.

Meanwhile the backlog of video games continues to grow.

I’ve curbed my own spending and growth of my video game backlog as a result, instead opting to play titles I already own faster than I can buy new ones. Today I’m going to write about a different kind of backlog though, and this is a war I’m definitely not winning. I’m talking about magazines.

I’m of a generation which can still remember a time when the internet was, shall we say, not as prolific as it is today. Sure it existed, but it was expensive, slow, complicated, charged by the hour even. Thanks CompuServe.

Now, it’s in our very pockets; at the top of a mountain, even in the murky depths of the London Underground, you can still get online. You’re moments away from the latest video game news, reviews, videos, tips, cheats. Streamers are now playing billions of hours for your general entertainment. You can often download these things for offline viewing as well. Essentially, there is little escape.

While we’re all staring at our phones, ask yourself, when did you last see someone reading a video game magazine? When did you last read one yourself?

The magazines still exist, some of them have been going for decades, some have come and gone, fading into obscurity and difficult to even find mention of any more.

In this modern age, the news and general content of such a publication is extremely old compared to what we can get online, even when its printed and delivered double quick immediately after something like E3, we’ve already seen and read it all. Despite this, in my life, there exists a sizeable backlog of video game magazines.

Subscriptions to the Official Xbox and PlayStation magazines came about when those consoles were purchased. Edge magazine was first read with a free Readly subscription, then a print subscription to the magazine was purchased when the Readly subscription deal expired.

There’s nothing quite like the real thing. Edge in particular is simply a work of art, both in the word content and in the presentation of it, just amazing stuff.

Despite Readly being incredible value for money, I cancelled it, in favour of real magazine subscriptions.

The act of collecting something physical, tangible, it just can’t be beaten for me, though it is difficult to explain. My game collection has largely been Steam and digital since 2004, but in recent years I’ve grown to appreciate the sense of ownership and nature of collecting physical things more generally.

There’s just one problem, the same problem many of us have with our video game backlog. Time. I can’t read these damn things sooner than they drop through my front door. It’s a running joke in our house when they arrive, staggered throughout the month, 13 times per year each! “I haven’t finished last months yet!”

The ones I haven’t read are kept aside, so I can keep tabs on them. My current total of unread video game magazines? A shameful 38. That’s a huge, heavy pile of magazines completely unread. This hurts more than hundreds of un-played video games.

  • A years worth of each magazine subscription
  • It’s taking up physical space, we’re about to move again
  • I spent real money on these things
  • I want to read them… I have been reading them! I’ve been trying to keep up with this for the last 18 months when life got busy and this backlog started.
  • I carry at least two or three of them around with me throughout the working week

My wife tells me to just cancel them, or at least the ones I don’t read, but I can’t bring myself to do so, eventually they do get some attention and make it to the “finished” pile.

I can’t be beaten by this, I won’t be beaten, the march to backlog victory will continue. Just another 200 or so video games to actually play afterwards. No big deal.

Do you still read video game magazines, what about the now difficult to find strategy guides? Are you happy to get your fix online, from the big sites or the the WordPress community?

Hitting Reset On No Man’s Sky

I was there with files preloaded, ready and raring to go, like a couple hundred thousand people, the day No Man’s Sky launched in 2016. That number surprised me, it surprised Hello Games too.

It became obvious fairly quickly there were issues with the game, particularly with that many people playing on day one concurrently; for me, it was mostly performance issues, even with a decent new PC I’d built a couple months earlier.

For the first few days, it was unplayable, the frame rate was unpredictable, it was giving me headaches. I was in denial, I wanted to love this game, I was ready for it to be the one. It was not the one.

After several weeks of trying new nVidia drivers, patches from Hello Games, tweaks from the community, about 14 hours in, I quit, it just wasn’t working for me, on any level, not just technically.

nms-vehicle
Vehicles for mining and exploring, just one of the post launch additions

Hello Games on the other hand, they have not given up on their creation, far from it.

Despite the continued avalanche of abuse they’ve faced since the game was released, they’ve been listening to their community, adding features, fixing bugs. Business as usual.

Here we are, a full twelve months down the line, a third major update has been released to coincide with the 1 year anniversary of the original release. It’s a pretty substantial update in its own right, but here’s a slice of what has changed across three major updates.

  • New game modes (Normal, Creative, Survival)
  • Base building, farming, deploying equipment in the field
  • Purchase freighters
  • Online base sharing, owning multiple ships
  • Numerous graphical enhancements, including high resolution textures, PS4 Pro support
  • Land vehicles, permadeath, photo mode
  • Procedural mission system, 30 hours of additional story content
  • Improvements to planetary biome variety and visual quality, new rare exotic planet types
  • Crashed freighters, terrain editing, portals, low flight, improved space combat
  • Joint exploration, wait what?

OK, now that is interesting. Multiplayer has always been a sore point with this game, many people believe it was promised but not delivered.

Personally I don’t remember either way, but I didn’t buy it for a co-op experience, although I would gladly try it.

Visualised by strange floating orbs, up to 16 players can see and communicate with one another, and explore the universe together.

While interaction with others is currently very limited, this is an important first step into the world of synchronous co-op in No Man’s Sky.

All of this, along with the passing of twelve months, has made me think, “Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to start again?”

So start again I shall, heck, they even “reset the universe” for one of the patches, so I’m sure I can bring myself to start a new save and try to love this ugly duckling one more time.