Rethinking my gaming

cowderIt’s been a weird time right now for me.  I don’t know if it’s the mid-summer whatevers, but how I’m gaming right now isn’t working for me.  I’m feeling too scattered in a gaming session, and I know that you’re out there right now shouting, “Maybe that’s because you try to play a dozen different MMOs, ya chowderhead!”

Which is true.  My head is 56% chowder (New England clam).

So I’ve been doing a lot of thought about how I’m gaming, what satisfies me, and what feels either more stressful or like a job.  I’ve come up with a few conclusions:

  1. Something’s got to change.
  2. I don’t like trying to hit three to five MMOs in a night.  I’m not getting enough done in any of them in a play session and I spend too much time logging off and back on.
  3. I have loved our guild’s Secret World Monday nights.  It’s nice knowing that *this* will be the game I play every Monday.
  4. I need to work in some exercise into my day, and the only real free time I have is at night.
  5. I just can’t settle down with one or two MMOs.  Part of what I love about MMOs is how different they are and the fun of exploring all of them.  I want the freedom to keep trying new ones, returning to old ones, and so on.

It really comes down to two different approaches I could take right now.  I could either focus on one or two MMOs and most likely burn out on them and feel like I’m missing out on too much other stuff, or I could rotate games on a nightly basis.

The latter isn’t something I’ve ever tried, but I’m going to give it a go to see how it flies.  Maybe a two-week trial or something.

The plan is to map out my week so that I tie a game to a specific night, and hopefully sync that up with friends or a guild to play with.  I’m also going to kick off my night session with a half-hour of exercise-slash-reading (huzzah for stationary bikes and Kindles), vowing to get that done before I settle in to game.

I don’t have a specific schedule in mind yet, but I can say that I feel a bit relieved at changing this.  I like a nice fat game session and there are a couple of other MMOs I wouldn’t mind working into the week.  I might just schedule the week nights while leaving weekends as free-for-all, anything-goes.  I won’t be a serious raider (or probably even a casual dungeon runner), but it will give me time to work on a main character in that game and stay on top of the latest content.

I’ll definitely be sticking with TSW, LOTRO, and RIFT.  Guild Wars 2, probably, although you already read my frustrations with it yesterday.  Maybe I just need to ignore the living story for now and do my own thing.  Fallen Earth?  I’m loving it right now but I don’t know about a long-term stay in that game.  It’s a serious time hog.

So what titles would I like to work in?  DDO, oddly enough.  The expansion has me excited and if I could find a weekly group, that’d be fun.  Now that Defiance is $10, I might give that a look.  Anarchy Online is a big perhaps.  Other prospects include City of Steam, EverQuest 2, and SWTOR.

Does anyone basically just play one game on one specific night of the week?  I’d love to hear how it works for  you.

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18 thoughts on “Rethinking my gaming

  1. Wilhelm Arcturus July 30, 2013 / 1:15 pm

    I have struggled with that sort of thing off and on. I would like to be playing and making progress in multiple MMOs, but I have found I can really only play two at any given time. Sometimes I get three in the air, but then one becomes the clear loser compared to the other two. I am playing EVE, LOTRO, and, in theory, Rift. But I only play Rift when our group gets together, and our group has had an issue with that this year. The problem with MMOs, they demand your time.

    And my two MMOs end up being the two where I am playing most with friends. So I hardly seem to get any say at all in the matter.

  2. tsuhelm July 30, 2013 / 1:24 pm

    I struggle with 1 MMO (lotro) but I suppose wife and kids are like playing 3 MMO’s simultaneously!

  3. flamingbard July 30, 2013 / 1:43 pm

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines of needing to work on a schedule of sorts. I have so many games I want to play but my time management skills suck. I tried to get a weekly night going in LotRO with my son and his wife but that failed miserably. I think part of my problem is that i’m burnt out on MMOs at the moment.

    Tonight is the first night I’m hitting my exercise bike again (reading The Hobbit while I bike). That’s a great plan and I like that I’m not the only one who needs to doing something else while exercising. 🙂

  4. bhagpuss July 30, 2013 / 1:47 pm

    Like you I want to experience as many MMOs as I can. It certainly is difficult to do justice to more than a couple at once because even the most casual-oriented of them require a good deal of time to make significant progress beyond the very early levels.

    Going back a few years it was easier to manage because a) there were fewer MMOs and b) most of them required a subscription. It wasn’t really worth paying for more than two of them simultaneously. Nowadays the number of MMOs you could be playing runs into three figures and only a handful of those cost anything at all, which makes choosing a lot harder.

    I currently have more than two dozen MMOs on my hard drive, around half of which I am actively interested in playing. Add a couple of browser-based games and I’m looking at around fifteen MMOs. Clearly that’s not going allow for in-depth play in all, or even most.

    What actually happens is that I have a “focus” MMO (very occasionally two, never more than that) which I play for the majority of most of my gaming sessions each week. It’s usually, although not always, the most recent major title or an older major title that’s recently received a large content drop like a full expansion. I don’t generally need to chose that game, it chooses me, demanding to be played first and longest every day.

    That game gets the lion’s share of the evening but around an hour or so before bedtime I’ll log out of the focus MMO and play an hour of another one, not always the same one every night. At the weekends the focus game will get about two-thirds of the available hours, the other third being spread between several others.

    I don’t have a plan or a schedule for what gets played when. It’s dictated partly by mood and whim and increasingly by what special events (bribe, you might say) are on offer. The latter is working less well as a method of choice now every game company seems to have some kind of time-limited special event every couple of weeks, though, so I’m moving back more to a whim-based system!

    The other deciding factor is what Mrs Bhagpuss is playing. She’s much more likely than me to play one MMO for long periods and if she happens to be playing one I wasn’t planning on playing then, as Wilhelm points out, other factors than my personal choice come into play.

    For me, having a rota of specific games on different nights wouldn’t work and I suspect that it won’t work for you. In a way it’s adding another layer of stress. What if you miss a couple of sessions and get behind? What if there’s a big must-not-miss event on Tuesday in a game you play only on Thursday?

    If it was me, I think I’d set smaller goals for each MMO that I could achieve in single play-sessions and be flexible about which I played when. Good luck with your new schedule anyway and don’t forget to tell us how it goes.

  5. Ocho July 30, 2013 / 1:47 pm

    I do not have any game I just play on certain night. I can’t because I never know when I’ll be playing any game next, let alone on a schedule. During the summers, I tend to be very active. Going out on weekends, weeknight ultimate with friends, impromptu bar hopping, heading down the shore, etc. So my gaming takes a far backseat to anything else. It comes down to reading a book, playing games, or watching TV. If I find some free time, I can pick one.

    To that end, I’ve tried to do what you’re thinking of with the one game per night rule. I even extrapolated and made it a rule that I couldn’t play the same game I did the night before. I could pick any game, but it just couldn’t be the same two nights in a row. However, with my summer schedule so full of holes, it didn’t make a bit of difference. Playing more than one game felt like I wasn’t making progress in ANY of them. However, with the schedule you have already in place with multi-per-night, you might be able to make it work a lot better than I did.

  6. Scormus July 30, 2013 / 2:36 pm

    I only really can play any appreciable amount of time on weekends, and I have tried splitting up the weekends between 2-3 games, only to find myself unsatisfied. I find that spending a few weeks with Game A, then a few weeks with Game B, and only doing that rotation with 2-3 games, works best for me. I get a good amount of time with each game, but not so much that I end up burning out. Currently doing this with Rift, TSW and Neverwinter (in that order), and having a good time.

  7. flosch July 30, 2013 / 2:55 pm

    Yeah, maybe that’s because you play too many games at once, you chowderhead! 😀

    Seriously though, I’ve been admiring your ability to structure your game time that well over that many games. I have no idea how you do it, I typically have three games tops in my rotation, and that’s typically one main and two side games. Often enough, I don’t have any side games at all.

    Your diea makes sense though. Playing one game a day should allow you much more immersion and not having to closely watch the alarm clock while you’re running around. Not as much memory swapping needed that way. 😉

  8. sente July 30, 2013 / 3:34 pm

    Right now I have 3 MMO games on my agenda and two of them get the bulk of my game time – Age of Conan and Firefall. TSW is the one that gets a bit less time nowadays and somewhat irregular play times – there is simply not enough time for enough attention to three or more games at once.
    I would love to do more, but realistically that does not work. If I start to burn out on something I will generally take a break and switch in something else, or switch priorities between the games I play now.

    I do not have a fixed schedule for each day, but typically I only play one game per day or possibly two – but one with a quite short session and the other with a bit longer session then. There is always one game that will be the “main” game for the day.

  9. Yeebo July 30, 2013 / 3:38 pm

    I have a main MMO/ game that I play most nights alone. I rotate that freely as my interests change. The last few months I have been playing EQ II, however as of roughly a week and a half ago I have switched my focus to the Mass Effect series. I also have fixed groups that I meet up with particular evenings, one in LoTRO and one in SWTOR currently. It seems to work well for me.

  10. Nate July 30, 2013 / 5:11 pm

    So maybe as an echo to others, why doesn’t fun dictate what you play? I know you need to keep the blog current, but it starts to sound like work once you start scheduling. Maybe I am an oddball. I will say, that I have been playing a lot less of GW2 precisely because of what you mention. I play for fun, and I don’t want to feel like there is a timer counting over my head till this disappears. I feel differently about festivals/etc on other games, cause its usually short periods then back to normal. In GW2, they almost beat you over the head with it unendingly.

    Long story, I usually only play one MMO at a time, but I’ll swap around MMOs (have three installed right now: GW2, lotro and Rift) depending upon what feels like fun. If I don’t have time to dig into a MMO, then I’ll play something like World of Tanks that has much more bite sized chunks. Did I mention I love the move to free to play and buy to play? Subscription MMOs just don’t work for me anymore, I want that freedom to play whatever I want, when I want, without that cloud over my head about getting value from my subscription fee.

  11. Syp July 30, 2013 / 8:21 pm

    Nate, for me it’s a tug-of-war between wanting to play several different titles but sometimes becoming too absorbed in a single game to the detriment of the others. So the schedule is just an attempt to find balance. But I hear ya!

  12. Brian 'Psychochild' Green July 30, 2013 / 9:03 pm

    I still play DDO with the old guild, Syp. We meet on regular nights, which works well to keep our characters in sync; DDO is particularly unforgiving if characters get ahead/behind in levels. But, i find it works pretty well to let you settle into a pattern and regulate playing a bit.

    Good luck. 🙂

  13. Stropp July 30, 2013 / 11:30 pm

    Syp, in regards to the exercise thing, there’s a couple of things you can do.

    I read a recent study that said there was little difference between exercising for 1x 30 minute session, or for 3x 10 minute sessions. I guess each session is sweat inducing though. When you switch MMO’s spend 10 minutes on the bike or treadmill while they get all loaded up.

    The other thing I tried recently is standing at my desk. There are desks available that switch between standing and sitting positions. When you’re standing you are using lots of muscle groups as you change positions and while you’re maintaining balance. It might not be intensive exercise, but it some exercise.

    As for scheduling your MMO’s. I find myself in the opposite of your position. If I get into something, I usually always stay in it for the evening. Even if I want to do something else, I look up and more time than I scheduled has gone past.

    The only thing I can suggest here is if you are feeling scattered, are you having fun? If you’re not just pull back to one or two games a night. You don’t want to burn out.

  14. Neri July 30, 2013 / 11:42 pm

    My best friend and I went through a phase where Friday nights were “Let’s go get ROFLstomped in Arena!” and now we have “Death and Decay Wednesday” where we’re working on our newbie Death Knights on a fresh server together. It’s certainly not anything ground breaking, but for me, it really helps free up my other evenings for new adventures while still knowing that I’m not ‘missing out’ on the biggest reason why I still have a World of Warcraft subscription — playing with my friends.

    Scheduling certainly isn’t for everyone, and there is just no way that I would pencil in something every single evening, but it has definitely helped me get more bang for my buck. It gives me something to look forward to, which is something I have sorely missed in my gaming as of late.

    Good luck with your rotation! I’m very interested to see if it improves your own enjoyment in the poisons of your choice 🙂

  15. Telwyn July 31, 2013 / 3:41 am

    I’ve certainly struggled with this in the past. At present I play SWTOR leveling trio one or two evenings a week, usually on the weekend, but as the two other players’ schedules permit. Then I play GW2 at least a few sessions a week with my partner – usually on a Wed and during the day on the weekend if we’re not busy. Finally I have two or three evenings a week free for another game (EQ2 only at the moment) since my partner is raiding in WoW then. In a sense this doesn’t let one game dominate my free time completely, but I actually like that as I burnout on games a lot easier thesedays.

  16. Rowan July 31, 2013 / 3:40 pm

    I don’t know when you’ve decided to do Rift; but if you don’t already have a group, Belghast tries to organize stuff for House Stalwart to do on Wednesday evenings. I’m sure you’d be welcome.

  17. Syp July 31, 2013 / 6:39 pm

    Thanks Rowan, I’ll keep that in mind!

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