Alasdair Duncan is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming that is not Fraser Brown. A long time Destructoid community member and forum moderator, he covers adventure, puzzle, FPS and all kinds of games on the PC. Watch, as he adds more games to his Steam library with only the vaguest hope of ever playing most of his games.
Alasdair has been gaming since his mother bought a Commodore 64 back in the early 1980's. He adores Deus Ex, GTA Vice City, Team Fortress 2, Borderlands, Super Mario Brothers 3 and all those weird indie titles on Steam.
You can meet Alasdair at places like PAX where he tries to convince people he isn't a) drunk or b) Irish.
Earlier on this year, I made the decision I had to finish more games and to make an effort to try and reduce my backlog. The reasons for this were twofold; I had received an X-box 360 for Christmas and after moving back from Australia I had no console games. As such, it would be a good habit to get into before I eventually amassed a big collection of games that would mainly be unfinished, if my past habits were anything to go on. The other reason was my Steam catalogue was still filled with unfinished games, the result of being too spend-happy when it came to sales and my seeming inability to turn away from a bargain.
So, I wrote up a blog entry declaring my intentions to reduce my backlog and to commit to finishing games before getting new ones. I think the year ended up with a mixed result for me but Iíll break the challenge down into two separate parts. First of all, Iím going to list all the games I played from start to end in 2011, listed by format:
Back To The Future Episode 1
Back To The Future Episode 2
Back To The Future Episode 3
Back To The Future Episode 4
Back To The Future Episode 5
Max Payne 2
Portal 2 (single player only)
Puzzle Agent 2
Sideway: New York
Mass Effect Galaxy
Assassinís Creed 2
Batman Arkham Asylum
Dead Space 2
Deus Ex Human Revolution
Mass Effect (twice)
Mass Effect 2
Age Of Keflings
Beyond Good and Evil HD
Dead Rising Case Zero
Dead Rising Case West
Dead Space Ignition
Pac Man Championship Edition DX
At the start of the year, still lacking disposable income, I managed to get some cheap XBLA titles, also I decided to make the commitment to getting all the achievements for any XBLA game I got (even if this meant getting some lacklustre DLC later down the line). The only XBLA game I didnít complete was Half Minute Hero Super Mega Neo Climax which I didnít really enjoy. Aside from that, my XBLA games were completed before I bought another one, especially in the case where I got Dead Rising Case Zero when it was on special offer, completed it and then picked up Case West before the sale ended that week. If you want to see how well I did achievement-wise, you can look at my achievement list on my Giant Bomb profile.
With the 360, I did just as well as I mainly got games that Iíd either played before (I had owned a 360 whilst living in Australia but left it there when I moved to Scotland) which is why I picked up titles like the Mass Effect series (which I played through to get a save file setup for ME3) and Batman Arkham Asylum (which I wanted to play again). I was really excited for titles like Deus Ex Human Revolution, Dead Space 2 and L.A. Noire so I had the motivation to get through them. The only thing I didnít finish up was Need For Speed Hot Pursuit which was a Christmas present. Itís a great game but I found myself reaching that glass ceiling that I experience with sports or racing games, that point where no matter how hard I try I just canít reach that next level of skill.
I actually lacked a PC for almost half the year but I got a decent laptop in the Summer and was able to play some more games. Previously Iíd completed titles on my parentís iMac which made me grateful for the PC+Mac Steamplay options that I had available to me. The Back To The Future episodic games were good as they could be completed within a couple of hours and there was a new one each month. However with my new laptop, fell back into my bad habits, installing Team Fortress 2 and playing that instead of getting laid into my backlog and new releases. And yes, I still bought plenty of Steam games and more than one Humble Indie bundle which meant I added about a dozen games that I didnít complete.
On reflection, I think I did pretty well with this year; I completed over 30 games for the whole year (compared to 10 from the previous year) and I did get into the habit of sitting down and finishing games, at least on the X-box. A big factor would have to be my lack of funds this year, meaning I really only could play the games I was really excited for; there was no just going out to a games store and just blowing my money on a game I wasnít 100% interested in, just for something to do. On the PC, thereís still too many distractions for me; I can jump on Youtube, IM or the forums if I get frustrated with a game and want to put it down for 5 minutes. And if itís not some internet distraction, itís another game: get frustrated or die in Defence Gird, I could play Rock Of Ages or Orcs Must Die with just a couple of clicks.
Beating My Backlog
The other part of my challenge was to reduce my backlog from having 60% uncompleted games to 50%. Well I did achieve this but only by virtue I was adding a lot of games which I then completed, so I didnít really make much of a impact on my pre-2011 backlog. The only games I did complete from before 2011 were Braid, Max Payne and itís sequel; aside from that I only really completed titles that I got in 2011.
Also, I cheated. When I bought a lot of games for the PC I just didnít actually add them to my backlog unless I played them for more than 10 minutes or so. Again, I spent a lot money on bundles and sales that my backlog would have shot back up to the 60% mark. Towards the end of 2011, The Backloggery introduced a feature to have you list games as being ďunplayedĒ rather than uncompleted. So for instance something like Sanctum or Sol Survivor would really be ďunplayedĒ rather than being ďunfinishedĒ. I think this might be a good way of again, helping me finish games. I could dip into my ďunplayedĒ games when I had no ďunfinishedĒ games on the go. So once 2012 rolls up Iíll start on re-organising my PC backlog again.
Did I follow my own advice?
Earlier this year, I posted some tips on how to possibly beat your backlog; now itís one thing to give out advice but itís another to actually follow it, so did I actually follow my own advice? Well I stuck to normal on nearly all games and it served me well. I rage quit less than I used to and my ego didnít suffer it. I avoided games during the year, that when they approached I looked at them and thought ďI donít think Iím gonna enjoy this, Iíll pass for nowĒ. I mean, no monies helped that decision too....
ďResist temptationĒ Ö. oh man, did I fall foul of that one. I still bought plenty of games that I ended up no touching or playing for 5 minutes. Thatís the one habit I need to change: itís the one that means Iíll end up with plenty more games I doubt Iíll get through. I did avoid multiplayer distractions, however the change to free to play and the creation of a Dtoid server meant I did get back into playing TF2.
So on the whole, I still think I did pretty well. I think next year Iíll do better though. If I can get work Iíll be saving up for a desktop PC purely for games, so Iíll be able to get through some of the more graphically intensive games from my PC backlog. Iíll still be frugal when it comes to purchasing console games but then I see that the MGS HD Collection and Catherine get a UK release in February, Max Payne 3 is in March and Mass Effect 3 and Bioshock Infinite are due to hit before April 2012. Argh! Iíll give it my best shot though.