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Monday, April 20, 2015

39% = Mission Accomplished

I did it. After unlocking the Menace of Magneto achievement yesterday while playing LEGO Marvel Superheroes, I raised my average game completion rate up to 39%. I've been writing my last few blog posts how I'm trying to raise my percentage before the Steam Summer Sale (I would put a link to them but you can just check my blog history on the right).

I set the bar really low for this goal. No clear percentage I needed to hit; as long as I raised it by one percent I would be happy and considered my attempt a success. Yesterday I did that. And it felt good.

Why'd it feel so good? Because I didn't realize I had raised my percentage until a few hours after I did it. By setting the bar so low and not putting a lot of pressure on myself, I've been able to achieve what I wanted to achieve the most: playing my games and not worrying about it.

Not simply to play them for the sake of playing them, but to enjoy them. To go back to a time when I was excited to get my hand on ANY game. Somewhere in the 25 years that I have been gaming, I lost that feeling.

I look at my Steam library (or Wii U, Xbox 360, 3DS, etc.) and I feel overwhelmed. "THERE ARE TOO MANY GAMES!" I would yell in caps. I would stare at my collection, undecided on what to play, and then not play much of anything as a storm cloud floated over my head and rained down the feeling of never being able to play my games ever.

But I'm on a mission to change that. Raising my Steam percentage by one percent is only the beginning. Technically, yeah, I did what I set out to do. But I'm not done. It's only one game, one percentage, one challenge. There's a lot more to play and do.

And for the first time since I started this blog about five years ago, I feel excited and unafraid of what lies ahead.

Let's not forgot about the Humble Indie Bundles

As I'm writing this, the 14th Humble Indie Bundle will end in under two hours. I mentioned briefly in my previous posts about the upcoming Steam Summer Sale, that I have a large amount of games in my Steam account from the Humble Bundles.

A lot of those purchases were impulse buys, and whereas I only wanted two or three of the games I ended up with more than I could handle. Looking back on it I've come to realize that a few of those games might never, ever, get played.

I also mentioned that I'm going to be more conscience of this when it comes to future indie bundles, and try not to buy eight games when I only want one. Chances are, that one game will go on sale another time through their store or on Steam, and I can buy it then.

All this inner dialogue manifested into blog form, was so I could be aware of impulsively buying Humble Indie Bundle's and how it negatively affects my Steam library by: adding to my never ending backlog, lowering my Steam percentage, and creating an unrealistic view of what my library means to me.

In the future, I said to myself, I won't impulsively buy a Humble Bundle unless I want ALL the games. I said this to myself a few days ago.

Last night, I bought the 14th Humble Indie Bundle. I paid $10, so I could acquire every game offered.

I only really wanted TWO games.  I did what I told myself I wasn't going to do.

Do I have a problem? Is there something wrong with me?

Let's talk about it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Planning my Steam bean dive

The Steam Summer Sale is fast approaching (like two months from now) and I've been mentally and physically preparing for it by writing blog entries and playing games. My "goal" is to play games from my Steam library consistently enough to build up my Steam percentage by the time the Summer Sale begins.

The main point of this is to avoid buying games from the Summer Sale without feeling guilty.

If I go into the sale on a hot streak of playing games for two months straight, then surely I can keep the momentum going afterwards including those new game purchases, right? Hopefully, if I don't burn out by the end of it.

I've been slowly dissecting every part of my process, from the meaning behind the Steam percentage to what happens if I do/don't succeed. That last part is what I've been dwelling on the most, specifically if I do make it through this, what happens next?

I know I shouldn't put the cart before the horse, but in a weird way talking about creating more challenges for myself before finishing this one, has been encouraging. I know this journey will be long and might not have a realistic end, but knowing how long it can be and all the different challenges I might face, keeps me focused and determined to complete it.

Or it might be too much and I'll give up. Who really knows!?! I know I don't, so I say screw it and let's talk about my next challenge: the Steam Bean Dive!

Origin story

Full disclosure: the idea for this challenge is not my own. I am not trying to take credit from an idea that the fine people over at invented (at least I think they inveneted it, it's where I saw it first).

A Bean Dive is a community event they do every year, where you take all those games you have sitting around or downloaded on your harddrive with no achievements unlocked, and you pop at least one achievement in each game.

The point of this is to drive down your percentage/completion rating, and work your way back up.

I talked about this a bit in my last post, about how sometimes gamerscore or steam achievement percentages don't tell the whole story. You can be sitting pretty with a 90% completion percentage on Steam, but that could only be registering five games you've managed to play in an account showing you own 500 games.

Basically, if you really wanted to, you can create a score/percentage that tells a different story from the truth. People lie all the time about gaming stuff, so the notion that people do this is probably more realistic than not.

Over at Trueachievements the Bean Dive is meant for you to own up to those unplayed games or to pull down the facade of having a real high percentage. It's an idea that I really love, and want to apply once I get past the Summer Sale.

Not so secret dirty little secret

Not all bean divers are dirty little liars. I'm sure that's only the minority. Most gamers probably use the bean dive to catch up on all those purchases during sales or promotions.

I would imagine the Steam users have this problem more than the Xbox 360/PS3 owner. I technically have a Steam account from 2009, but it wasn't until early 2013, when I got my new Mac, that I started to build my collection of Steam games.

In just two years, I have over 103 games in my Steam account, which is about 30 plus games more than my Xbox 360 collection. And I have had an Xbox 360 since launch.

So yeah, it's easy to build a collection pretty fast because of all the sales. Daily sales, midweek deals, week long specials, weekend deals, random publisher deals, Summer Sale, Holiday sale, etc.

We all know by now that sales are never in short supply on Steam. I was buying games even when I hadn't touch my Steam library for months.

Fortunately, the wealth of sales isn't as abundant on Xbox live, so my library hasn't grown as fast. They do have weekly deals with gold and random spotlight sales, but the selections are more limited than you would see on Steam. Also those don't get too crazy, they usually keep the mega specials for their holiday sales.

Because of that I never really felt compelled to participate in the bean dive. Raising my percentage was always a needs to do item on my list, but rarely would I have more than one or time game sitting in my collection without a single achievement.

The complete opposite is in effect with my Steam library. And as much as I've written about my percentage changing back and forth between one percent, I shudder to think how big of a dive it'll take if I start activating all the games with achievements on my account.

A new challenger the distance

The Steam achievement percentage is calculated a bit differently than your Xbox 360 gamerscore. For one, you don't have to actually unlock your first achievement for that game to count towards your score. As soon as you load the game and Steam tracks the playtime, it gets added to your completion percentage.

All those games I let sit idle in the background so that I could get Steam Cards for? They are part of my completion percentage. That's why I freaked out when I started playing LEGO Marvel Superheroes and my percentage instantly went down, even after getting five achievements. The 38% I had been obsessing over on my profile is inaccurate and actually a whole lot lower.

I'm having a lot of fun playing Marvel Superheroes, and pushing myself to play the games in my Steam library has encouraged me to play this game rather than sitting around and not. I'm enjoying it a lot, so much so that I will probably 100% it before the Summer Sale. Hopefully.

But now I have a decision to make. Will the next game I play be one that I already have contributing to my Steam percentage, or not?

I didn't know LEGO Marvel Superheroes wasn't, but now that I'm aware that my percentage is compiled only from 40 games in my library, do I keep dropping it by playing the games like LEGO Marvel, with no playtime at all? Or do I work at the games that are already contributing, so that I can keep rising my percentage, even though I know it's not telling the whole story?

The compromise I've decided to make for myself is to play the games that are currently part of the 40 that Steam is calculating my percentage from. I'll play those games, continue to bump up my percentage, and then bean dive it all the way back down after the Summer Sale.

I feel like this would be the best way to keep me focused going forward, and to really stress the fact that I need to play more games than I buy. Right now I'm playing catch up, and after the Summer Sale there will be even more for me to catch up on.

The point of this current challenge was to compensate for my percentage going down after I added whatever games I bought from the Summer sale. I knew my percentage was going to take a hit, but now that I know there's a much bigger hit for it to take I figure I'd get it out of the way and do the bean dive after the sale.

There are 14 games with achievements that I have not currently calculated into my Steam percentage. Between those games, is 379 achievements.

To put that into perspective, I currently have 497 achievements from 40 different games.

Regardless of what my true percentage is; it's easy to see that I haven't put any effort into playing my Steam games. I need to light a fire under my ass and start playing them.

I don't want to completely crush my hopes and dreams at the moment, which is why I'm going to stay focused with my current task. But now I know that once the Summer Sale ends, the real challenge begins.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Steam achievements: Achieving the impossible?

I've written a lot this week about trying to bring my Steam game completion average percentage up before the annual Summer Sale. There's no set number I wish to reach; I'll be happy if I raise it by one or two percent, honestly.

So far in the two nights since I've started working towards this goal my Steam percentage has gone down by one percent. It's complicated.

Although I'm still early in this journey, I'm already thinking about what may come next. Let's say, a week from now I've still manage to play some Steam games every night, and my percentage has gone up. If I can keep that momentum going until the Summer Sale, surely I can continue afterwards right?

So what's the end goal? To play ALL my Steam games? To get all my Steam achievements?

I finally realized that if you hover your mouse over the achievements amount on your profile page, it tells you it pulls that number from "x" amount of games where you have obtained achievements.

Is it possible to have a high or perfect achievement rating across all games I own that have them?

Is it even worth it?

Friday, April 10, 2015

How not to freak out about your Steam achievement percentage

"So you want to play your Steam games, huh? You want to write blog post after blog post about how you're going to take control of your Steam backlog before the 2015 Steam Summer Sale, huh!?!"

"Mr big shot "blogger". Talking about Steam achievement percentages, and how all you have to do is just raise it by one percent; one tiny little insignificant percent that'll probably just happen as soon as you start playing any game you own."

"Well how about if I take your percentage, and lower it about one percent, huh!? Play a game for two and a half hours and BAM! Minus one percent for your efforts. That'll show you! That'll show all of you! BWAHAHAH."

... ... ...

End Scene.

So if it's not clear (and why would it be) but that little rant up above is what I heard when I looked at my Steam achievement percentage last night, after playing about 2 and a half hours of LEGO Marvel Superheroes.

See I'm trying to get ready for the Steam Summer Sale, about two months away, by playing the games in my Steam library I have neglected for far too long.

I don't really have an end goal, other than just keep playing until the sale, but I did mention in my first post about this that I wanted to at least raise my Steam achievement percentage up a bit, even if it was by one percent. Small progress is still progress right?

Well, I checked to see my percentage after I played and unlocked a few achievements last night, and I was a little surprised. Before I began my percentage was at 38%, and when I looked it was 37%.

It's fine. I'm cool. I kind of predicted this would happen. I'M PERFECTLY FINE AND NOT FREAKING OUT ABOUT IT AT ALL HONEST.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Steam wishlist: Games for the sake of games

It's Steam week on the howtobeabettergamer blog, apparently. I'm fine with that, considering I haven't written anything consistently on here for a very long time. My inspiration to write after a several month hiatus, is the impending Steam Summer Sale.

I'm kind of scared about it honestly. It'll be here before you know it. You'll be sitting at your computing watching Twitch or Snapchatting with your friends when "OMG FLASH SALE LOOK OUT HIDE YOUR WALLETS!"

Memes will cover every gaming site about how you only realize you have a game when you try to buy it on sale, or how you'll dive like Scrooge McDuck into a seemingly endless pile of unplayed digital downloads.

It's the latter that terrifies me more than the former, so I'm trying to take action by writing about how I'm going to prepare for the Steam sale by playing some of those unplayed games sitting in my collection, so that I have some peace of mind going into the Summer Sale.

It's been very therapeutic to write about this. What's helped the most so far was narrowing down the games I should play in these two months while I wait for the sale. I managed to reveal a nice round number of 60 games that I can play, and not worry about my entire collection consuming my frail mind.

But what about when D-Day comes? When the Steam ships arrive on my beachfront, what games will I open my heart (and Steam wallet) to and let join my collection? And what games will I beat back with a lit torch like the Ring Wraith that's out for my soul?

It's heavy stuff.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Two months and 60 games

In my last post I wrote about how I am mentally preparing for the Steam Summer Sale. It's not that far off, and already I am gripped with fear that I am going to uncontrollably purchase anything that's 75% off or less than 5 bucks, while my collection of Steam games continues to collect digital dust.

To ease my worries, I have made a (simple) promise to play some of my Steam games until then. That means no impulse purchases like I did last weekend when the Lego games were on sale.

Instead I'm going to just focus on a few games, get my game completion percentage up, so I don't feel guilty with every purchase I make during the Steam Summer Sale. Let's face, I'm gonna wanna make some purchases. It can't be stopped! (Well it can, but I don't want it to be).

I wrote how in two months I have 103 games to choose from, and should have no problem achieving the simple task of raising my percentage AT LEAST ONE FRIGGIN' PERCENT.

But 103 is such a large number, and after I published my blog post I was automatically crippled with the thought of, "BUT WHERE DO I BEGIN!?!"

So I decided to sort through my games and what I discovered was I don't have 103 games to choose from. I actually have 60. And that number helps me breathe a lot easier for some reason.