The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
vic oakland
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Balance: Backlog, collecting, supporting new games

by vic oakland Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:51 pm

First off, I'd like to say how much I appreciate this website and community and that what follows is just my own two cents, I hope it's helpful and I've bolded my main points if you want to save time. (Also, if your main concern is backlog, make sure to read dsheinem's excellent post below, which can serve as an essential guide to dealing with backlog.)

I just completed a visual catalog of my collection (which I highly recommend)...and to put a cherry on the top, also picked up a new system (PS3) which has moved me closer to current gen gaming than I've been in over a decade. :) However, all told, after many years of retro collecting with a budget of @$50 per month, I've got well over 450 games (mostly PS1/2), so backlog and collecting issues are forefront in my mind. As well, with a new system, I've recently had the pleasure of finishing some games I bought new...which just feels good.

So here's some of my rough thoughts on the topic of backlog, collecting and buying new games to kick off 2014.

1. There's no shame in backlog. It's pretty unavoidable at this point. It's hard to judge having a backlog when you can now generate an unplayable backlog on a budget of $20 a month.

2. There's also absolutely nothing wrong with collecting for collecting's sake. Since I've been a collector I've enjoyed stuff short of actually playing the games in my collection like enjoying box and case art, disc art, manuals, watching the opening movies and listening to a game's music, sharing games with friends and discussing games online. Also, it's sometimes cool just to lay out sections of my collection and take some small pride in having found a bunch of really cool games in decent shape over 15 years of collecting. Heck, that's all some people with other types of collections are able to do! Video games have the bonus of being interactive entertainment, but the games are sometimes nice as cultural artifacts themselves.

That being said, having bought a new console for the first time in what feels like forever, I am also really enjoying the feeling of buying a new game with the express purpose of playing it right away and finishing it. It also feels good to support developers again...and to play something everyone is talking about. So, on some level, I'm torn, because this feels like a more natural way to collect and game and, in reality, I used to do this! ie. Buy a game, finish it, get into the series and then buy other, related games and expand the collection that way. That's not a bad way to collect games.

That brings me to a couple other thoughts on this topic.

3. There's absolutely no shame in only partially playing a game from your collection or using a FAQ , in fact, that's sometimes the more appropriate way to go. There may not be time to finish a given game...or finishing might be a real chore given how the game was designed. Also, it's a valid point of view to say that some large part of the charm of a game can be found in a few hours of playtime instead of the forty, or fifty, or ninety a hardcore fan might give. If clearing your backlog means finishing every game at 100% unaided...only people who don't collect games, or sell off most of their collection, will ever have a clean backlog.

4. Some of the best genres of games are pick up and play, like shmups, fighters, puzzle games, rhythm games, arcade compilations, and side scrollers. Of the approximately 450 games I own, I actually got out the disc and logged serious time with more than half...250 games...in the past year at some point, and it was actually not that hard to do when you consider how many games you can play in an afternoon of retro gaming. One of the best reasons to play retro games is to take a break between longer games. And old school series like Metal Slug, Street Fighter Alpha, R-Type and Samurai Shodown are games I've kept coming back to in small bursts for years. I may only play Rival Schools three or four hours a year, all told, but I'm very glad that I have that option whenever I want.

5. The biggest barriers in my backlog are long form games that occupy the same niche. For example, for awhile, the bargain bins were full of strategy and tactics games...and I'm a sucker for the Dynasty Tactics, Kessen, Nobunagas and Romance of the Three Kingdoms type games and picked up a bunch of them for cheap. Now they are sitting there staring at me...and I know that there's really no chance I will complete most of them, much less all the Shin Megami RPGs and Nippon Ichi games in my collection. The same goes for series that went on fire sale last gen, like Onimusha, Sly Cooper, Hitman, and Prince of Persia. I didn't lay out much, if any, money on these discs...$3 apiece?...but they represent countless hours of backlog of similar types of game experiences. On top of which, I've also collected a bunch of lesser known games at good prices like Kya, Bujingai, Ring of Red, Chaos Legion, Drakengard and Blood will Tell. This makes for tough backlog choices. If the choice is between Dual Hearts, Radiata Stories and Steambot Chronicles or diving into Breath of Fire 3 or 4...that's a good problem to have...but it is still a problem!

That brings me to this conclusion about balance.

6. Part of collecting at this point is accepting that you're simply not going to finish every game. You can't. And the best response, in my book, is to find a balance between retro collecting for collecting's sake..enjoying gaming from your backlog...paring down your collection from time to time, either through selling or archiving...and buying new, current games to support the developers that make the kind of games you like the most.

I don't think there's any way around this situation, with services like PS+, Steam, GoG, HD Collections, and bargain bins all vying for your gaming dollars in addition to new stand-alone games crying out for support.

It's all about balance and perspective.

7. Finally, I'd also add, having kept a budget is something I'm glad I did. That's part of balance, too. In some ways it's like a built up reserve. I can always sell off some games if I want to raise some $$ for something new. And, realistically, while it's not like any of the games I've bought have appreciated at all...I can nevertheless sell most of them for close to what I bought them for without costing me much of anything...and that feels good, too. I feel that keeping to a steady budget allows me to have a healthy attititude about collecting, backlog and buying new games.

Hope you found this helpful.
Last edited by vic oakland on Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:19 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Ack
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Re: Balance: Backlog, collecting, supporting new games

by Ack Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:53 pm

Good man. I highly approve and agree.
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Ziggy587
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Re: Balance: Backlog, collecting, supporting new games

by Ziggy587 Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:09 pm

I only just skimmed, I'm gonna have to give this post a thorough read when I get the chance.
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Zing
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Re: Balance: Backlog, collecting, supporting new games

by Zing Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:13 am

I certainly feel there is shame in using a FAQ. There are more than enough games to play. If a game requires a FAQ to be completed or even just enjoyed, then I simply stop playing it.
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Re: Balance: Backlog, collecting, supporting new games

by AppleQueso Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:38 am

I've been saying #2 forever.

The backlog thing, I don't think the problem is that people feel shame in having a backlog, I think the problem is that people stress way too much over a backlog to begin with. When you're playing games out of an obligation, it's kinda no longer a fun activity.

Collecting (with the intent to play) is about building a library to play at your leisure. Stressing because you haven't gotten around to literally everything yet just isn't worth it.
vic oakland
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Re: Balance: Backlog, collecting, supporting new games

by vic oakland Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:34 am

Zing wrote:I certainly feel there is shame in using a FAQ. There are more than enough games to play. If a game requires a FAQ to be completed or even just enjoyed, then I simply stop playing it.

Thanks for challenging me, but tbh, my experience is just the opposite. I set the game to hard and use a FAQ to help me through and have a lot of fun in the process. I always try to puzzle it out myself, but never to the point of losing sight of having fun.

I used a FAQ with Valkyria Chronicles and the Last of Us...and watched an expert playthrough of R Type Delta...and feel like I learned to play the games better and got more out of them.
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dsheinem
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Re: Balance: Backlog, collecting, supporting new games

by dsheinem Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:52 am

Edit: will post this back after a bit…being revised...
Last edited by dsheinem on Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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alienjesus
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Re: Balance: Backlog, collecting, supporting new games

by alienjesus Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:59 am

dsheinem wrote:1) Join in on some kind of community effort to tally and discuss beaten games. For me, the "Games Beaten" thread that we have here has done just that and has been the single most important motivator in helping me tackle a backlog. I do not recommend using Backloggery or similar sites unless you also engage that community while moving through your list.


I pretty much agree with you on this point, although I think Backloggery is a fantastic resource. Being able to mark off games in your collection and see how your backlog changes is almost a game in itself. For what it's worth though, I'm also an active member of that community, so that also helps.

5) Move on. Don't spend much gaming time playing things you've already beaten. Don't spend your time trying to 100% everything if you've already completed the main quest. Don't worry about reading every last line of dialogue and uncovering every last secret by working on multiple playthroughs. These activities are fine and fun if you aren't on a quest to get through your backlog, but they can be kryptonite to any serious attempt.


On the other hand, I have the opposite problem here. More and more lately I want to go back and play some classic games, but I always feel like I should also be playing all the new ones (including 'new' retro games i've picked up). I need to try and fins some time to just enjoy an old favourite again.
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Re: Balance: Backlog, collecting, supporting new games

by AppleQueso Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:54 am

I'd say my playing in general is probably 50% replays and 50% new experiences.
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Luke
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Re: Balance: Backlog, collecting, supporting new games

by Luke Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:24 am

AppleQueso wrote:I'd say my playing in general is probably 50% replays and 50% new experiences.


80% Replay, 20% new for me.

Possibly closer to 90% replay, 10% new.


Great posts by both Vic and Dish.

One point (okay, there will be more than one point) I'd like to add to the Game FAQ talk:

I don't like 'em and they suck the fun straight out of the game for me.

But growing up Nintendo Power was definitely used as a resource when trying to beat games. The illustrations, the screen shots, and the solid advice made game guides fun. But looking at terribly written FAQ's online isn't the same.

There are also some strategy guides that I solely bought for reading. Some make you feel like you are almost playing the game. But going to a webpage, clicking on a FAQ, and typing something after ctrl+f, isn't for me.
Last edited by Luke on Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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