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On Pacing

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On Pacing

Unread postby icycalm » 05 Feb 2017 02:25

Helios wrote:In terms of pacing what's the best way to play videogames? By pacing I mean things like when to switch to another game, playing in short bursts vs. longer sessions, etc.

I wrote:I don't even know why anyone would be wondering about something like this. Obviously it depends on the person and also a great deal on the genre, e.g. Civ vs. Asteroids, etc. I do have some general habits, but I talk about them when the need arises in individual reviews and essays. I wouldn't know where to begin to assemble all of those fragmented observations and post them here for you, nor do I have enough of an interest on the subject to attempt to formulate a theory of pacing that you seem to want.

Helios wrote:On the subject of pacing in games. Since my last question was too specific. If you had several games you wanted to play and they were all different genres would play them in an alternating fashion (i.e. after you do a fast paced arcade game you play a more thoughtful turn based game), do them in batches (all turn based games first) or some other method? Or is this just the type of question where there is no real broad formula?

I wrote:I would just play whatever I felt like playing, dood.

I wrote:Your question about pacing even makes it sounds as if you don't play games at all.

Sometimes I feel like only playing strategy games FOR MONTHS. For entire months I only want to play strategy games.

And other months I only want to play arcade games. In Japan I played arcade games almost exclusively for nearly THREE YEARS.

The way you phrased your question you make it sound as if there are people who sit down and play 12 genres in one day.
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Unread postby icycalm » 05 Feb 2017 02:33

One thing that occurred to me was that my brain generally dislikes abrupt changes in genre, i.e. in going from say an arcade game to a grand strategy game. There is a sort of inertia involved, so that if I am playing something twitchy my brain will be in a certain groove, so that the idea of suddenly slowing everything down from 20-min short bursts to start a turn-based grand strategy game that will last for days is distasteful to it. And vice-versa: when coming off a few hours of a grand strategy title, the last thing I want is to play something physically demanding, since I am so mentally tired by that point that my reflexes et al. have also taken a hit and don't feel up for a physical challenge either.

Switching between genres that are very close together, on the other hand, as in e.g. FTGs and STGs, comes naturally, and I use such changes to extend the overall session in both genres, in a similar fashion to how a person will eat much more, overall, in a buffet-style restaurant than when ordering a la carte.

Generally speaking, a day is either an action day or a strategy day for me, and if we are talking about grand strategy, it goes by weeks, since that's how long a single game lasts in that genre.
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Unread postby icycalm » 05 Feb 2017 02:43

I also remember telling recoil in the Discord recently that to make any significant progress in STGs beyond the first two or three stages he has to play at least 3-4 times a week, and for at least a couple of hours per session. So, for some genres, your pacing habits will need to match or exceed the genre's minimum requirements for you to make progress in them, past a certain point. This is also true of arcade games as tough as e.g. the Makaimura games. I am not telling anyone to play something when they don't feel like it, but I am saying that, if the game is tough enough, and if you don't feel like playing it as much and as often as it demands to be played, you won't be making much progress in it. So just know this and don't be surprised when your progress stalls.
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Unread postby icycalm » 12 Feb 2017 18:44

From Discord:

Been looking for a JRPG, but all the Namco titles are still expensive

I hear Berseria is good from a few of my JRPG fanatic friends (edited)

I want it on Steam and I want it for less than $10
If anyone has such JRPGs recommendations, let me know

I used to play JRPGs in my younger days, but I haven't really messed with them in a while

If they are good looking enough I like to relax with them
At the end of a long session
After my brain has been fried with STGs and action games
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Unread postby icycalm » 30 Mar 2017 16:27

From Discord:

@Qpo Are you interested in Siege? ... 15-pc.html

a little bit
I don't want to be playing too many games at once since the hours will keep racking up
and PS2 is much more interesting so I don't want to jump into that as well

I figured

I kind of have to check it out since it's a CS sequel but still

I don't get what you mean by "since the hours will keep racking up" though (edited)

when I play something MP I want to play it at least once a week, so the more games I have going at the same time the more time overall it will soak up

Oh I see
For me it's like that with a campaign
But campaigns end quickly
With MP, as long as I play say 20 hours overall, I feel like I have "played it"
And I can play 20 hours pretty quickly
Beyond that, it can go on the backburner along with a dozen other MP games
I am sure people think I play too many games
But how else would you know which ones are the best, so you can focus on them?
The ideal would be to play every interesting-looking game for around an hour
And then choose
The only thing keeping me from doing that is that games aren't free
If I hadn't had this mindset, I would never have discovered PlanetSide, and hence neither would you
You would still be playing Counter-Strike, like you have for 20 years
Or like the other dudes are still playing Donkey Kong
Beyond that, there is the initial "honeymoon" you get with games -- even mediocre ones (edited)
So the more games I play, the more honeymoons I get
And of course these honeymoons are better the better the game is
So, okay, maybe I won't have time to play Paragon and Overwatch and Siege and etc. to the extent that they deserve to be played, since my no.1 MP game will always be PlanetSide
But I can still get some awesome 20-hour honeymoons out of them
And my gaming life will be richer for it
Richer in new and diverse experiences
On top of giving me a God-like view of the gaming landscape without which you can't be a good critic
I am just explaining to you and to the others how I feel
That's why you see me hunting for deals, and for Steam reviews, and etc.
It all comes down to playing ALL the best games, not just one or two of them
At the end of the day, no matter how good PlanetSide is, I prefer 580 hours on PlanetSide and 20 on Siege, than 600 hours on PlanetSide (edited)
The idea of jumping into a new world with new sights and sounds and systems and figuring it all out with my friends while getting hammered by more skilled opponents until we eventually turn the tables on them electrifies me
I live for that shit
Once we have turned the tables enough times, it's like "meh"
I'll play more, but my mind will be off looking for new experiences
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Unread postby icycalm » 30 Mar 2017 18:09

I guess the point is that, no matter how superior a game might be, there will always be other games offering things that it doesn't. Siege, for example, has tripwires and barricades and surveillance cameras and the levels are almost fully destructible. Now wouldn't a PlanetSide with tripwires and barricades and surveillance cameras and fully destrictible "levels" be better? Of course it would. But no one's making it, so if I want to experience tripwires and barricades and surveillance cameras and destructible levels in an FPS, I have to play Siege. And in Crackdown 3 you'll be able to bring down entire skyscrapers. Imagine a PlanetSide with this kind of destruction! And imagine that, instead of strategy being virtually non-existent in PlanetSide, you had supreme commanders from Planetary Annihilation directing the three sides' war efforts. And imagine being able to see the entire planet, again as in Planetary Annihilation, instead of disconnected "continents". And imagine the planet in PlanetSide existing in the EVE Online universe, and being fully integrated with it, so that some players would choose to be asteroid miners and others grunts fighting on the planets, and everyone's actions and their effects ultimately interacting with everone else's. And given that this game doesn't exist, are you not doing a huge disservice to yourself by restricting your playtime to PlanetSide and shunning all these other great experiences you could be having?

I can liken this to my stance with restaurants. Some restaurants have great main dishes, and others specialize in desserts. Of course it would be awesome if my favorite restaurant also had the best desserts, but this doesn't always happen. So, when time and distance allows for it, I first go to the main restaurant, and then to the dessert place. Hell, sometimes I also go to a third place for a drink in-between, because many of the restaurants I go to don't offer fresh fruit juices. So I have my steak in one place, then the juice in another, and finally the dessert in a third place, if I feel like having a dessert that day (which I rarely do). The main course is the main meal, and it's the one I eat EVERY day and spend the most time and money on, but the other stuff is good and useful too, and it has its place in my diet, just like the smaller, more specialized games like Siege or Crackdown 3 have their places in my gaming diet, or a game like Shadow Tactics, for example, which to a casual reader of my essays might seem to have been rendered obsolete by Planetary Annihilation, though of course it hasn't anymore than PlanetSide rendered Rainbow Six Siege obsolete.

I have no doubt that in THE FUTURE, there will be a PlanetSide or PlanetSide-like game incorporating the new elements of Siege and Crackdown 3 and EVE Online, but on the one hand it's not available right now, so it's no good to me right now, and on the other hand this future game will be made precisely due to people like me also spending some time and money on the specialized contemporary games from whose constituent innovative elements it will be built one day. And until then, I will be playing PlanetSide and Rainbow Six Siege and Crackdown 3 and EVE Online, in whatever ratios my brain tells me is the optimal one for me, the same exact way that it tells me how much steak and freshly squeezed orange juice and dessert it wants, and needs.
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Unread postby icycalm » 30 Mar 2017 21:25

From Discord:

At least I don't think you play too many games and I realize the benefits I'm personally reaping from it
I had heard of PlanetSide 2 (and played Tribes 2 and Project Reality before trying it) but the point remains. Hadn't heard of PA or For Honor without you

I had "heard of" Siege too. Hell, I have "heard of" 99.9% of games ever released, but I wouldn't be installing it now if not for that guy's review
And look at that guy's profile
He has 4,000+ games (edited)
on Steam alone
4638 lol
almost 5000
529 games finished with full achievements lol
But that's what it takes to be a good critic
I am not saying everyone needs to be a good critic
I am just talking theory now, it's not really about you
You just provided me the impetus to launch into theory, and I will turn those comments into an article
The main point is that neither the people who play 2 games for thousands of hours, nor the ones who play thousands of games for minutes can be good critics
because they simply don't know which are the good games (edited)
The ones who fixate on a few games lack the breadth, and the ones who play everything superficially lack the depth
And you need to know WHICH games to invest more time in
If you play both PS2 and Siege, and put more time in Siege, you have bad taste
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Unread postby icycalm » 30 Mar 2017 22:13


But there are two reasons to have bad taste: a cultural, and a genetic one
The genetic is if you are aware of both PS2 and Siege, and perhaps have also tried both of them, and still prefer Siege
The cultural is if you simply never heard of PS2, or if you simply never heard the right things about it and hence never bothered to try it out, so you "prefer" Siege, simply because you haven't been properly introduced to PS2
Criticism can only help the culturally disadvantaged, it can do nothing for the genetically disadvantaged people
The only way to help the latter ones is sci-fi bioengineering; words can't do anything for them
And of course it is a spectrum, not a binary thing, so most people can be helped at least a little by criticism, but only up to the ceiling dictated by their genes
That's the main point of my Acquiring Taste essay -- it can be acquired, but only up to your genetic ceiling, just like everything else
And the job of the critic is to help you get there
He's like a personal trainer for your artistic taste
I guess this is how this train of thought connects with the issue of pacing
Whoever is reading my criticism to learn more about games from me would do well to study my playing habits, since it is through these habits that I developed my taste which they are trying to learn from in the first place
If you only play one game, you can't learn much from me (edited)
Which is why I am puzzled by many people's Steam profiles
because quite a few of them look absolutely nothing like mine
(having said that, quite a few of them look very much like mine too)
alastair's is one of the greatest surprises
he has 4000+ hours in Dota, right
So I am just in awe of the thought of how many amazing games he could have finished in that time
Basically all the best games of the past 5 or 10 years
Instead... he played 4000 hours of Dota
How much fun is that game anyway? (edited)
I really have to play it at some point
Or take Riksto
He bought a subscription, but hasn't visited the site in a month
Maybe longer
He doesn't read any of the content of the site, so what the hell is he doing here?
For a while I thought he was copy-pasting stuff to the LTC guys
But they would have asked him to copy-paste articles, so that isn't it
Many people here are basically weirdoes

Oh lol, i tried visiting your site a couple of days ago, but it was down

I don't think so lol
I really think that there should be a sharp division between GAMERS and say, fighting game players
Or shooting game players

well, I couldn't connect to insomnia atleast, but works fine now. (edited)

The latter are not really gamers
You can't use the term if you only play a couple of genres
On the other hand, swimmers are athletes
I wouldn't deny that
But the analogy is not a good one, because all sports exercise the body, while some games exercise the mind only, or the body only
No sport really exercises the mind: that is indeed written into the definition of sports: that they are mainly physical pursuits
Whoever doesn't like open world games is not really a gamer
anymore than someone who doesn't like color movies is really a movie lover
I have sort of talked about this in the Set Theory essay, but it needs to be elaborated in conjuction with other ideas
All these things come together in the end: genetics, genre preferences, people's Steam profiles
And either something is superior and everything else is inferior, or else we can't have value judgements and criticism is worthless
And if something HAS to be superior, it can't be Donkey Kong, or shooting games, or fighting games or Counter-Strike
because in that case there would be no reason to make any more games, since all those games already exist
And indeed, as far as the guys in the King of Kong documentary are concerned, and guys on and Shoryuken or the CS and Dota guys with thousands of hours in their profiles, there is indeed no reason for new games to be created
Which is why they trash every new game that is created
And especially the company that's making the best of them: Ubisoft
This is the main problem I have with the genre guys: they give us no alternatives
I am prepared to listen to a counter-argument to my theory of the ULTIMATE GENRE, but the genre guys have no counter-argument
The most they can manage is "different strokes for different folks" which is a truism that puts an end to theory and criticism
For the most part though, they are too busy playing their one or two games to have the time to read anything, much less think about it, much less formulate arguments
Things therefore would be much better if they DIDN'T DISCUSS THEORY AT ALL, or even any games that don't belong to their favored genres
And precisely because they do not heed this advice, and post about stuff they know nothing of and that don't concern them, the videogame world is so full of stupid memes, like "Ubisoft and EA are bad companies", or "open world games are boring", and so on, EVEN THOUGH THOSE ARE PRECISELY THE MOST POPULAR COMPANIES AND GAMES lol
Which is where the pseudo-intellectuals come in, and with the help of communist and hipster theory provide the formulas for hatred of precisely the best companies and genres
So you have the weak-minded genre players on the one hand, and the weak-minded pseudo-intellectuals on the other, and then you add the natural homo sapiens instinct to follow the pack, and you end up with the popular memes we all know and love DESPITE THE FACT THAT IN THE REAL WORLD PEOPLE BEHAVE IN THE EXACT OPPOSITE WAY THAN THAT DESCRIBED BY THE MEMES
Otherwise it is inexplicable how the biggest sellers on Steam are also the most panned
If CoD is so bad why does everyone keep buying it?
There are really two levels of existence. The one is what people actually play: and everyone should be free to play whatever the hell they like.
And the other level is the level of theory.
And at that level, everyone should NOT be able to say whatever they like.
Or at least, they should be ridiculed if they say ridiculous things.
Of course the things people say at the level of theory are a direct consequence of the games they play, which are a direct consequence of their genetics.
So when you ridicule their theories, you are basically ridiculing their genetics, and that's why great critics are so hated.
But there is a very easy solution to this: if your theories are being ridiculed STOP TALKING.
Actually, even that is being done.
That's why we haven't heard from Tim Rogers and his ilk for years.
Or Kierron Gillen
Even Leigh Alexander moved on
It just takes them many years to realize they have nothing to say, and then they just fade away
And you never hear from them again, and no one links their old stuff anymore because they sucked
Of course they are linking NEW stuff that sucks, but that too will fade soon enough, and all you are left with is me
Better get back to finishing those books then
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