Editorial: Getting Back on the Horse

Not that my friends will let me forget for long. Hit enter!
Real 4X games like this have never been my forte. Once things get complicated enough, I just forget what’s going on.

Sometimes, stout readers, it is important to try again. In my gaming exploits there have been many casualties of disinterest, many failures on the part of the game or me as a gamer to keep booting up and moving forward. There have been fewer, but noteworthy, instances of skill impeding my progress in a game. In this writer’s observation, it is a common thing for skill with numbers to go in hand with a skill for tactical appraisal. Lacking the former I found it little wonder games featuring more open ended tactical play were difficult for me to grasp. While I may be able to command the English language better than some, I cannot rightly say so about my ability to memorize reams of functions and statistics or to plan out long term strategies. For these reasons my attempts to play certain PC gaming heavyweights have gone awry, to say the least.

At the behest of some friends I was initially thrown into games like StarCraft II, Civilization IV(and V), League of Legends and a couple other similar entries that incorporate some or all of the elements from the so called 4X genre of strategy games (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate). These friends, being primarily long time PC gamers, were excited to invite me (circa 2010) into this new world of gaming and to share some of their old and new favorites with me that they played regularly. Most (all, now that I think of it) of my friends are also mathematicians of some description, involving themselves in scientific or engineering fields where actual money can be found, I am not bitter about this.

It would was a hard thing to acclimate to as I was at a deficit of experience, aptitude and eventually interest in these games. When that happened I simply bowed out of those games, as I did not have the patience to learn and they mostly not the patience to teach. It remained this way for a few years as they continued to play (mostly just Civ and League). With a recent financial obstacle keeping me from suggesting new premium titles for all of us to try, I decided it was time to rejoin them in these old standbys. Perhaps some error of recollection was involved in this decision, but I feel willing to retry and they seemed happy about it. Time has passed since I was new to all things PC, even some fairly basic things like familiarity with keyboard and mouse controls, and some PC strategy-like titles have gotten me much more familiar with the control scheme of real 4X games.

Now I hope to take this idea, since I will not be buying a new game for a while, and apply it to all of my backlog. Some of my unfinished games were good games of their genre, I was just unable or unwilling to learn them. The PC sleeper-hit Frozen Synapse comes to mind, with its immense capacity for strategy. It allows the player to plan every movement, pause, and action of their characters in a turn based environment where all of the commands are entered and combat resolves between both sides. A neat idea, but utterly overwhelming to me at the time.

I may have to look past the horrendous characters, but this is not unfamiliar ground for me in a JRPG.
The Pokemon collection aspect of this game was lost on me, since I’m not a big Pokemon fan. The idea of it sounds fun.

On the console side, there are fewer games I was plainly incapable of completing (except perhaps Ikaruga) but a few with mechanics I was not interested to learn despite the praises I heard about them. Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and a game every regular reader knows all to well, Vagrant Story. I cannot promise I will get to every one of these games, but I do want to restart some of them, plus whichever ones I am forgetting at the moment. While I understand and fully support playing games one immediately finds interest in, I think there is also merit in dedicating some time and committing to a particular game. I think that if, after this second concerted effort, I cannot crack into some of these games then perhaps they truly are best left alone. But for now I am looking forward to seeing how far I can get myself in these lost gems, after all I might just find something I really love. And it is not like initial interest in a game is always an accurate measure or indicator of interest later on. Many games I thought I would like still sit unfinished, but at least not many sit wholly unplayed. For that list I might want to devote another article for another time.

Until then, why not let me know what games you gave up on? Were there any you stopped playing because you were not good enough, or were they all just from disinterest? After the expense of the holidays I can assume my predicament is not entirely unique, so why not take this cold downtime to crack open an old forgotten game on your shelf and give it another shot? Unless you have too many new games incoming as gifts, in which case I hate you. Stop enjoying new things and wallow in past failures with me!


  1. I generally stop playing games when something new comes along. There was once a time when I’d replay older games in my collection for fun (Grandia), but sadly I have less time to do so these days, and I always want to try that next new game.

    Also, Steam sales don’t help. Guess I’ll be buying a few games over the next couple of weeks.

  2. Well, I must admit I fall prey to the new-and-shinies before finishing what I started. My advice to keep this from happening often is to just buy fewer games. Not being able to afford them helps lol

    However, those steam sales kick in and it just becomes that much more difficult to resist purging what little spare cash I do have. MGS Ground Zeroes is now finally at a proper price point AND on PC (though I don’t know my CPU can hold up, I need an upgrade but once again I cannot afford to spend that cash at present). It’s also well priced on PS4. Borderlands 2.5 is still about 50 bucks, which is too much imo. I’ll nab that when it’s closer to 30.

    Know what? Just don’t open the Steam store page. Just pretend it’s broken. You’ll save a ton.

  3. I’ve got 30 games on Steam, and that seems like way too much. I can’t imagine what it feels like to have 300. The pressure, the pressure.

    There’s nothing wrong with not finishing a lot of games. They take a long time! Especially when they’re bought on a whim or recommendation. If we’re talking about a game you’ve been looking forward to for a while, or one from a favorite series and/or developer, etc., then you should probably give it a much more committed shakedown before switching to something else. Or make it a point to return to it regularly. But say you bought a CD and didn’t like it, or just thought it was okay, would you make yourself listen to it over and over for at least 20 hours to make sure you got your money’s worth? No, it was a mistake, move on and try not to let it happen again.

  4. At this point I’ve got about 200 games on Steam, mostly from Humble Bundles. i managed to hold off buying anything new on the first day of the sale, but Gal Civ 3 went on offer and it was just too tempting to pass up.

  5. @Matt: I see your point, but a wise man once tweeted “The most sublime enjoyments are those which are challenging–which require study and revisiting–which require a personal investment.” And I do not yet think this game is not to my taste so much as it is just beyond my understanding at the moment.

    I have come to greatly enjoy games I was terrible at before, even games I once thought I had no interest in. So I am willing to give Civ 4 (in this case) more of my time. I might not prefer to drop a game, but I am not shy about ditching something I do not enjoy as many of my 2014 purchases sadly ended that way.

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