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Revisiting my “most wanted” game list from 10 years ago

The other day I stumbled across a list I made back in 2013 of my 27 most wanted games. Because blogging can be a time machine this way, I thought it’d be interesting to pull up that list and see which of those games (a) released and (b) I got and enjoyed. Also, we get to point and laugh at my foolish longing for projects that turned out to be disasters or vaporware.

Here we go!

1. WildStar – Released and absolutely loved this game, even though its group content (dungeons, raids) were too technically difficult for casual players. Housing and world and characters were the best, and I am still a massive fan of its cosmetic system. Sadly, F2P and subsequent content releases didn’t do much to turn the downward trend of the game, and it was closed.

2. EverQuest Next – Never launched. I still give Daybreak the evil eye over giving up on this project. Seriously, we could be five years into playing this by now!

3. Wasteland 2 – I actually own this but haven’t really played it, mostly due to reports of its difficulty level and overall polish. Heard Wasteland 3 is much better, but haven’t gotten that yet.

4. The Walking Dead Season 2 – I was a die-hard fan of the Telltale Games back in the day, so I definitely played through this and the other entries. Can’t remember much about it, unlike the first season.

5. Dreamfall Chapters – The Longest Journey was and is one of my all-time favorite adventure games. Dreamfall was… OK. The Chapters were less-than-OK.

6. The Sims 4 – Have it, played it last week, still like it a lot even though I do wish they’d move on to Sims 5 already.

7. EverQuest Next Landmark – I mean, this came out at least. Wasn’t really my thing as a very unstructured sandbox, but I liked the visuals and cheered on the community.

8. Shroud of the Avatar – HAHAHAHAHA what was I thinking

9. Star Citizen – And 10 years later, we’re still waiting. Not anticipating any more, though.

10. Starbound – I played this for a few hours back in the day. I just never got into these Terraria-like games, sadly.

11. The Long Dark – Another launch and purchase from me. I liked the world-building and some of the survival aspects, although the story really didn’t impress me and the difficulty was sometimes too brutal.

12. Cube World – When Trove came out, I didn’t need this any longer. And I didn’t really need Trove that long, either.

13. Out There – I was hoping for a strong FTL-like experience and felt let down with the end result. This was a single-session try for me.

14. Wasteland (remastered) – I guess I was really into the Wasteland games — or the idea of them back in 2013?

15. The Repopulation – Yeah, this MMO crashed and burned so hard. Such a sad, long, messy dev process.

16. Wizards & Warp Drives – Looked interesting when I saw it at PAX, but it never launched.

17. Firefly Online – Was barely even a concept… and also never launched.

18. Spacebase DF-9 – Double Fine did the space base sim concept very dirty. Had a horrible release, I never touched it.

19. Broken Age – This Double Fine adventure game got a better reception, but the final package didn’t look appealing to me for whatever reason.

20. City of Titans – Oh, we’re never going to see this superhero MMO launch. Never.

21. DayZ Standalone – I guess when H1Z1 and State of Decay came along, I quickly got my fill of the zombie-survival trend.

22. TUG – If I recall, TUG ended up vaporizing into nothingness. No big loss.

23. Elite: Dangerous – Launched, yet I simply couldn’t get into this. It looked and felt empty, and the controls weren’t that much fun to fight against.

24.The Elder Scrolls Online – Hey, here’s one that released and I’ve enjoyed for a very long time over a period of many years now. So a win!

25. Tablet versions of FTL and Hearthstone – Yup, played both. Probably Hearthstone more. Don’t play them any more, though

26. Project Eternity – This became Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity, which I played and liked an awful lot.

27. Torment: Tides of Numenera – Obsidian’s PlaneScape Torment spiritual successor was a huge letdown, but I did get pretty far in it.

Posted in General

It’s the APOCALYPSE for Bio Break!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a post about this site itself, because usually there isn’t a need. But today I am going to announce a pretty big change for me and for Bio Break: I’m going to cut back on posting from five days a week to three days (Mon-Wed-Fri). Plus music posts as needed.

OK, so maybe it isn’t the apocalypse, but it’s a significant shift for this blog. I remember when I started it in 2008, I only intended to write two or three times a week on it… and instead made it pretty much an every day kind of thing. I wrote as the passion took me, and that was usually daily.

But as I’ve expressed in a few posts over the past few months, I’ve had a hard winter in terms of my mood and interest. Sometimes that happens when I build up so much of a routine that I fall deep into ruts and feel trapped by the obligation of meeting deadlines. And my life has been incredibly busy this year, with a lot of other responsibilities and family focus.

The long and the short of it is that I’m adjusting several smaller things in my life — partially to shake things up, bump myself out of the routine; partially to cut down on unnecessary time sinks to make room for other things I’m more excited about. And while I still do love to write and talk about MMOs, games, and other nerdy interests, it’s been a bit of a push to get to five posts every week (on top of my duties at Massively OP, which always get first priority in this field).

Another reason for the change is that at any given time, I’m really just playing about three games. Three games, three posts a week, that fits well. And I’ve also been pouring more of my time and writing interest into my cult movie review blog, Mutant Reviewers, along with a growing team.

I’ll still be playing games. I’ll still be blogging about them. It’s just going to be two fewer posts a week, and I think that’ll help me out a great deal. Thanks for reading, and have fun playing wherever you find yourself this week!

Posted in General

6 ways to fall back in love with MMOs again

Recently, YouTuber Lucky Ghost posted a great video addressing the frequent topic of burnout in MMOs and how players can fall out of love with the genre entirely. In the following video, he gives six ways to shake yourself out of the routine that I thought were very much worth sharing. I took a few quick notes, but I commend the video to you to watch.

  1. Don’t be a hamster — Get off your daily “wheel” and do something, anything, different in your MMO than your daily routine. Branch out and explore your world. Try new things.
  2. Dare to be inefficient — Stop min-maxing and experiment more. Give yourself permission to be less-than-optimal. Don’t treat the game like a job. See where your journey leads you.
  3. MMOs are a game, not a marriage — Try different titles. Try to understand why popular MMOs are popular. Give your regular MMO a break from time to time. Play more than one MMO in your life, even if you’re a huge fan of it. Sometimes “new” is better than “best.” MMO entertainment declines over time. Move on when an MMO becomes stale. Take a chance on other titles.
  4. Make friends in the MMOs you play — Connect with a social circle. Memories are better made with others. Join a good guild. Look for upbeat, positive, enthusiastic people and join up with them.
  5. Avoid the meta — Don’t over-research MMOs in advance of new content drops. Enjoy exploration and learning. Jump on board brand-new launches. Be open-minded at trying something new. Try content before you reflexively google or wiki the solution. Don’t spoil yourself and choose to go in blind. Find people who are cool with not chasing the meta.
  6. Play a variety of games — You can shuffle through multiple titles for variety. Play games outside the MMO genre. Play MMOs that are very different than the standard. Try CRPGs, survival games, ARPGs, etc. Recharge your appreciation of MMOs by turning your back on it for a time.
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My wishlist for the perfect space MMO

Once upon a time, the mighty space sim was one of the most coveted of PC games. Thanks to titles like Elite, Wing Commander Privateer, FreeSpace 2, and Freelancer, aspiring astronauts with a capitalist gleam in their eyes had a bevy of riches. And while the genre fell out of favor around the turn of the century, there have been some great single-player titles (Rebel Galaxies Outlaw, Everspace) for those thirsting for this kind of experience.

Yet as an MMO fan who used to live and breathe space sims, I’ve found representation in the online arena quite underwhelming. Sure, there are plenty of titles, but none of them offer the full package to give me that classic Privateer experience.

No Man’s Sky, EVE Online, Elite Dangerous, Star Citizen, Star Trek Online, Dual Universe, even Vendetta Online — all have some solid strengths. But each falls short of delivering a space sim that hits all of the marks that I’m looking for:

  • Primarily a PvE, non-gankfest MMO
  • Lots of freeform exploration
  • Fun combat
  • A sense of style in its visuals and ship design
  • Actually released and not a money sink of a pipe dream (RSI, I’m talking at you)
  • Ability to land and explore planets, stations, and other ships on foot
  • Very user friendly and widely appealing in design

But above these points is a desire for that addicting gameplay loop where you start with an extremely basic junker of a spaceship and head out into the galaxy to make your fortune through a variety of activities. Earth and Beyond had some of this, but of course it bit the dust years ago and nobody was that quick to follow up on it.

Probably the closest to what I’m looking for is No Man’s Sky, and even that’s never gotten close to hitting all my buttons. I appreciate that it’s nudged into MMO territory, but it still feels first and foremost a ground game with space portions tacked on. And we’ve got plenty of ground games.

I can envision pouring night after night into sailing my ship around the cosmos, carving out profit from mining, fighting, mapping, missions, trading, bounty hunting, and so on. Extra imagination points to a fully customizable interior of the ship, too, which could host friends who pilot over for a shindig.

Maybe I need to branch out into text-based MMOs, as space sims have always been far more popular there. Still, it would be nice to have that graphical angle to enjoy as well…

Posted in General

Taking a life audit of geek hobbies

As I alluded to before, I’ve been struggling a bit with seasonal depression this year. Nothing super serious, just “feeling blah” more often than I normally do. And while stresses at work and the long winter have played into it, I started to suspect that part of it might be an imbalance in my life’s priorities. Sometimes I unduly lean on games and other geeky hobbies to provide the enthusiasm and passion for me to get through an otherwise drab day, which starts to elevate those hobbies into positions of increasing importance.

That’s not good when those hobbies are already a tempting alternative to other things that should be important, and so I’ve been taking an audit of my schedule lately and started to shake things up — and put certain activities in a more confined space. For example, it’s been so easy to come home from work and want to veg out in front of a computer game than spend time with my kids (all of whom are homeschooled). I’ve been very convicted lately that as much as I do spend time with them, I need to be investing more of myself in their lives. My wife and I have been working to carve out more time for each other instead of being frequent ships-crossing-in-the-night as well.

So I’m definitely cutting down on gaming time, pushing it firmly back into “only after everyone’s asleep” territory instead of how it’s been creeping into other hours. I’m looking for ways to be doing more with my kids, taking them along on chores, playing more card games, or going on walks with them. Just being more “present” than I’ve been is important to me, and I’m making that one of my big goals for 2023. Is it too late to set resolutions, in March? Oh well, I’m doing it anyway.

I think it’ll also help to introduce more variety in my week. For example, I’ve been reading a lot less in the past few months for no reason that I can identify. I need to get more “sun time” out of the house, weather permitting. And I’ve gotten back to my long-neglected novel, which needs another editing pass.

While I like gaming and can point to some positive outcomes of spending time in MMOs, it’s not the savior of my life or the purpose for my existence. I have to keep it in its place and focus a little more on the things that have an even greater impact on me and others.

Posted in General

Sorting out four tiers of personal MMO engagement

Engagement, to me, isn’t just number of hours spent in a game but the attitude and feelings toward that game. I can spend a lot of time in games that I’m not hugely excited about that moment, after all. There’ve been times that I haven’t had a lot of space to game but I’ve been really revved up about a particular title.

So I was thinking about four tiers of gaming engagement that I’ve seen in myself and others — and how it relates to how we are sucked into the gravity well of a game and drift from it. These are all for titles you can play at present, not attitudes toward games-to-come.

Pumped Up

At the highest tier is when you’re absolutely excited about a particular MMO or game. It’s just clicking with you on every level. When you’re not playing it, you may be thinking about it or looking forward to getting some more time with it again. It’s at this level that you can envision yourself with the game for a long, long time. Often the words “addicted” or “hooked” come into play.

This may be one of the more ephemeral tiers, too. While we may find games that are exciting for a short duration, sustaining that is a rare trick indeed. This tier is most common in brand-new games to us, as the newness factors into the sense of discovery, but it can also happen when you come back to a game after a long break, have your perspective refreshed, or experience something new (patch, class, expansion) within the title. Sometimes you simply find yourself ascending to this tier for no discernable reason.

Chasing this feeling is why I often find myself jumping around to different MMOs, because at this tier I have the most fun, period.


You may not be totally on fire for a game, but you know what? You’re having a pretty good time, all around. You play regularly, you’re feel very comfortable, you have social connections, and you’re stuck on the game to a degree. It might well be a title that’s passed the test of examination and time to be a mainstay in your rotation. If you need to take a break, it’s no big deal, because you’re secure enough in your relationship with this game that you know you’ll be coming back before long.

A whole lot of MMOs that I’ve played over the years sit in this tier for me. They’re no longer a feast, but they’re a filling meal. When I’m content with a title, I’m in a groove with it and usually play them for lengthy stretches.


In this tier are all the games that you don’t necessarily mind playing — when you play them. There’s nothing that compels you to log in, nothing that has you buzzing with anticipation for your next session, and nothing that’s really “sticking” you to the game’s features, social scene, or progression. But you know what? It’s still a decent enough time when you do play it. You don’t regret spending an evening in its confines… you just wish that it would jive with you better, somehow.

There are plenty of games that hit this tier for me, and those are the ones I’ll play for a day, two days, a week… but rarely longer than that. I bounce right off of them with no hard feelings involved. Maybe the next time I come back, it’ll place higher.


Now when I used this word “repulsed,” I don’t mean that the game is abhorrent and gross. I simply mean that it’s a title you come to and it pushes you away. It’s not the right time for you to be playing it, because you’re burned out on it, you don’t see anything that’s really that engaging, or it doesn’t click with your playstyle. It is the title that you know, almost instantly, that it’s not for you. Not now, maybe not ever. It’s shoving you away, and you have no problems going elsewhere.

For me, games at this tier are the easiest to make a judgment call to leave in the dust and look elsewhere. If only all gaming decisions could be so clear-cut.

Posted in General

The Case of the Golden Idol is a detective gamer’s dream come true

Recent I wrapped up playing one of my Christmas 2022 gifts-to-myself, which was the acclaimed Case of the Golden Idol. Having heard it favorably compared to Return of the Obra Dinn, I was pretty psyched to get into another detect-and-deduce title.

The Case of the Golden Idol is a 12-chapter game where you as some sort of nameless detective observer are invited to come into a mostly-static scene involving one or more murders. By clicking around and simply looking at the various tableaus, you gather up keywords and start to piece together what’s happened. There’s a “thinking” sheet that has to be filled out with the key words, Mad Lib-style, to come up with the proper solution.

So, for example, you have to figure out who everyone in a scene is, where they ate, what room they lived in, what they were doing in the time leading up to the murder, and — of course — who the murderer is. This requires a lot of logic and elimination, as you start by filling in the obvious clues and gradually work your way to the trickier ones.

There were three things that further distinguished this title in my mind. The first was the art style, which is kind of ugly and off-putting as if someone designed this with MS Paint. It’s not horrible, but it’s definitely not attractive. In fact, I’d argue that it makes the scenes look more disturbing. I was doing the first few chapters with two of my older kids, but they ended up “noping out” after one of the murder scenes was too disturbing for them (and this was just a simple stabbing, mind you).

Second, there’s the fact that all 12 chapters tell an ongoing story featuring connected characters, secret societies, personality conflicts, and the like. And third, all of the cases (save one, I think) involve the titular Golden Idol, a mystical object that grants the user a variety of magical powers.

Honestly, it’s this last element that felt most out of place here. It makes the game a lot more strange than it should, and some of the cases are influenced by the idol’s array of (non-intuitive) powers. I would’ve rather encountered just straight-forward murder scenes without this extra layer of the supernatural, but that’s just me.

Is it a good game? Yes, but with caveats. Because of how it’s designed, you’re only ever going to play through it once, so make it a good playthrough and try to avoid spoilers and hints. I think, depending on your detective skills, that it’s probably a five-to-six hour game. My biggest criticism is that not all scenes are equal. Most of the really good murder detective scenes come in the first half of the game, with the second part featuring more obscure and twisty encounters. I really started to lose interest by the last few scenes, and I wasn’t that impressed by the game’s big twist. But I feel as though I got my money’s worth, and it was certainly a singular experience.

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The games I’ve played the most on Steam

For fun, the other day I booted up Steam and sorted my entire library of 172 titles to see which games I’ve played on that platform the most. I don’t think I would’ve been able to accurately guess, especially since I don’t mentally track games I load through Steam, Epic, or through their own clients. But I will say that Steam isn’t a platform I use on a daily basis — really, it’s only for certain games at certain times.

That said, here were my results:

Star Trek Online (300.8 hours): This makes sense, as I’ve used Steam to play STO as long as I can remember. 300 seems kind of low for how much I’ve done in that MMO, but it’s still my most-played game here.

Rimworld (202.5 hours): Now this was a surprise, as Rimworld is still kind of a new game to me. I don’t think I’ve had it for more than a couple years now, but it fast became a favorite. But really, over 200 hours? That knocked my socks off.

New World (51.5 hours): This is since launch, so you can judge me for whatever standards you like with this number. I think it shows a player who’s dipped into the early game several times and had a few runs here and there but nothing long-lasting.

RIFT (51.1 hours): This is mostly from my return to RIFT since the old Glyph client went kaput (at least for me). Ah RIFT, you deserved so much better.

Fallout 76 (51 hours): And good hours they were! Like New World, I tend to have short but intense runs at this game but not for extended durations.

Mass Effect 2 (45.7 hours): This represents my one and only full playthrough of what I consider to be the best game in the series. Maybe I started up a second game at some point, but I know I finished it a ways back.

Fallout 4 (41.2 hours): This made me laugh because I don’t really remember that much about Fallout 4 and don’t feel like I got that far in the game at all. I guess I must’ve, though!

Chrono Trigger (31 hours): I think this represents playing it through about twice, which sounds right.

Starbound (28.3 hours): OK, I think Steam is lying here. I don’t remember what this game is, nevermind getting it and playing it over 28 hours. I do have one post from 2013 about it, so I guess I must have?

Chrono Cross (23.8 hours): And there you have the official number of hours that it took before I got really bored with the slow storytelling pace and glitchy game performance.

Detroit Become Human (20.2 hours): A good game but a tad on the long side for an adventure title.

Wildermyth (20.2 hours): A few campaigns in those 20 hours with hopefully more to come!

Posted in General

The simple and satisfying appeal of the MMO grindfest

Lately I’ve had an occasional craving for a very specific — and old school — kind of MMORPG experience. And it’s one that both WoW Classic and New World have given to me when I wasn’t fully appreciating it at the time.

Specifically, it’s a craving for a good old fashioned grindfest RPG. Maybe “farmfest” is a better term? What I mean is an MMO where you start with a pretty barebones character and don’t get a bulk of your gear handed to you from an easy questing track. Rather, you get out there and grind and grind on mobs for those sparing drops, which are made all the more precious when they turn out to be upgrades in some fashion.

It may sound dull — and be tedious in the extreme — but there’s a deep satisfaction from this kind of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” approach that’s lost on most modern MMOs. Embers Adrift might be another title to put in this category.

But this is why vanilla WoW Classic felt so weirdly refreshing in a way that TBC and Wrath Classic didn’t. Loot genuinely felt special, even when it was a grey item that was still an armor upgrade. A six-slot bag in those first few levels or a trinket scored in your 40s… that was something to be celebrated just as much as dinging a level or getting a new skill.

I think this is why I really dig New World for stretches of time. That game’s not that generous with the loot either, and so I loved setting up shop in an enemy camp and farming mobs while also keeping an eye out for supply chests. Grinding for loot that you can immediately use (and even see) feels so much more fulfilling than grinding for reputation or all of these other MMO chasers.

Just a thought. Not my primary goal while playing, but something that I’ve been thinking about. I honestly wouldn’t mind if more MMOs had a special ruleset server that greatly decreased or even eliminated quest loot rewards to make the challenge about finding gear in the wild and then either using it or trading/selling to others.

Posted in General

Thoughts on Marvel Snap after three months

It’s now been about three months since I first downloaded and got hooked on Marvel Snap. Since then, this mobile card game’s seen pretty regular play from me, particularly when I’m exercise biking in the morning or getting ready to head off to bed. And I’ve got to say, it’s really held up.

I love it because it’s not crazy complicated or requires attaining four copies of 24 different cards just to make a deck. You quickly get a good starter assortment of cards and then slowly build onto that with unlocks. I’m somewhere around collection level 1700, so I’ve got a nice well of cards to experiment with for decks. I’ve created seven or eight decks that I rotate through — two are loaded with general purpose, great-for-any-occasion cards; one’s all about boosting non-ability cards; one emphasizes ongoing abilities; and so on.

I don’t dominate, but I can comfortably say that I win more than I lose. Strategy is a huge part of the game, to be sure, but there’s a nice layer of bluffing and psyche-outs that lays on top of that. Trying to anticipate what your foe is going to do can make for delicious turn 5 and 6 reversals. There’s nothing better than the feeling of when an opponent snaps — and then you pull the rug out from under them and win anyway.

I also groove on the aesthetic of this game. I’m not the biggest Marvel comic or movie fanboy, but I’ll admit that the card art and the little animations that go with each add a lot of personality. And I was excited to get both Jubilee and Hazmat’s avatars this month, as both are pretty cool. I’ve been hoarding my gold for a big bundle, although I did spend 1200 gold the other night on a particularly awesome Psylocke variant.

Two out of the three months I’ve been playing, I paid for the seasonal pass. I get a lot of enjoyment out of this title, and so I feel good about dropping ten bucks on it for extra rewards. It’s the only mobile game I’m spending money on anyway, and there’s no slippery slope here for me. It’s either $10 or nothing, but certainly not more.

A lot of people sweat getting certain series 4 or 5 cards, but I’m not going down that route of madness. Right now I’m saving up for a Luke Cage so that I can build a proper Hazmat deck, but until then I’m pretty satisfied with what I’ve got.