At the beginning of 2016, I think I was focused on my new year’s resolution of trying to hunker down and commit to a single MMO for the bulk of my playtime. Now that the year is counting down its final days, I’m once again scattered to a good half-dozen or so titles. Instead of knowing exactly what I’ll be playing on a particular night, my evenings have become more fluid and shifting.
Since I certainly don’t have enough time to devote to all of the games equally and in great quantity, I have been resorting to two different strategies that have served me well. Nothing super-new, even for me, but I thought I’d talk about them once more.
Strategy #1: The blog post night
Sometimes I work pretty far ahead here on Bio Break; for instance, this post for Wednesday afternoon is being written on Sunday afternoon. I like having a buffer, particularly during busy weeks. But sooner or later, I come right up against needing a post for the next day, and I no longer have the luxury of writing stuff the morning of unless it’s an emergency.
So when I see that, say, it’s Tuesday and I have no Wednesday post, I’ll announce to myself that it’s a blog post night. That means that I will pick a game that hasn’t gotten coverage in a little bit and devote enough time to playing it to where I can get a story or post out of it. I focus more on documenting my journey, taking screenshots, and tabbing out of the game to work up the post. Generally this can take up a chunk of my evening’s game time, but I’m happy to do it. It’s a play-until-the-post-is-done kind of approach.
Strategy #2: The 30-minute session
If it’s not a blog post night, I’ve been utilizing my old “30-minute session” strategy instead. With this, I start a timer for 30 minutes when I log into a game, play it for a half-hour, then log out and into a different one with the timer goes off. I can generally cover at least three if not four titles during an evening this way, taking screenshots and maybe jotting down notes for future posts.
I know it sounds short and fragmented, but for me, this works. Thirty minutes is about my average play session in an MMO anyway, and the time limit keeps me focused (and not tabbing out to get distracted by reading various TV Tropes articles). I log in by asking myself the question, “What do I want to accomplish? What am I working toward?” and then do that thing. Maybe it’s one full mission in The Secret World. Maybe it’s covering more of a map in RIFT. Maybe it’s getting emissary quests and a little bit more done in World of Warcraft.
My only stumbling block here is the mental shift it takes to change up games every half-hour. Some nights I go with the flow and have no problems with the transitions, while others I’m scrambling to change finger memory and remember what I was doing last time and touch base with whatever guild I’m in in that game.
I used to play a solid 9:00 p.m. to midnight, even a few years ago. Now I’m around 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 or 11:00 instead. I don’t like stumbling from my computer into bed, bleary-eyed, but would rather have an hour to read or watch TV while I drift off.