Tobold's Blog
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Half-played games

I'm doing spring cleaning in the "installed games" section of my Steam library. Maybe you just play one game at a time, up to the end, but I'm easily distracted and switch to a new game without necessarily finishing the game I had started before. So I end up with lots of games on my hard drive that I haven't played for months. And I find that different games are different in how easy it is to come back to them.

For example I didn't uninstall XCOM 2. I have set up an "endless" game with the help of a mod that messes with the Avatar timer, and so the game stopped rushing me towards the end. I have done nearly all research and have nearly fully developed soldiers, so whenever I want I can pop into the game, play a mission or two and then stop again. XCOM 2 being turn-based, and the UI being right there on the screen there isn't much risk of me forgetting how to play it. I managed to turn XCOM 2 into a "casual" game where I can play when I feel like it.

I did uninstall Shadow of Mordor, because of the controls. I was playing with a gamepad, and there are just too many different actions my character can perform, each of which requires pressing several buttons simultaneously. When you start a game you are taught all these button combinations one by one, and end up being competent in using them all. But there is no way I can remember all of them now. And I have never seen a game where you can play a tutorial that teaches you all the controls while you are in the middle of the game. So if I wanted to play Shadow of Mordor again, I would need to start over, and play the 30+ hours I already did again. Not going to happen.

A similar problem of memory made me uninstall Pillars of Eternity, last played a year ago. I simply forgot most of the story and whatever my plans were. The controls are easy to pick up again, but the story isn't. The hero who has forgotten everything is an old cliche in RPGs, but that only works at the start of the game, not in the middle of it.

I also uninstalled a couple of games that I remember perfectly well how to play. But those were basically endless games, like Thea: The Awakening, which I played through many times. Great game, but maybe the next time I feel like playing a fantasy 4X game I want to play a new game rather than a game that I have played many times before. It isn't as if my Steam library wasn't full of possible candidates!

There are so many new games around that I rarely pick up an old game again. However I did buy Final Fantasy IX on the iPad, having played it over a decade ago on the Playstation. Despite a hefty $20 price tag for an iOS game, I felt it was worth it. Everybody has their favorite Final Fantasy game, and mine was always number 9, because it had a more lighthearted story and less science fiction elements. And as luck would have it, it is the first Final Fantasy game which was given a complete UI overhaul to make it work better with the touch screen.

How about you? Do you often go back to old games? Is your hard drive full of half-played games? Do you eventually finish them, or do they end up getting uninstalled like mine?

Just out of curiosity, why do you bother to uninstall games at all? Is it lack of space? Does it improve the performance of your PC? Does having fewer titles on the drive make it easier to find the ones you want?

Personally, there are only two reasons I ever uninstall anything:

1. I actively dislike it to the point I not only know I will never play it again but don't even want to be reminded it exists. Very rare.

2. I am running out of space. Rare, because my solution to that is usually to buy more storage.
I'm kind of in Bhagpuss's camp on this...I don't generally uninstall a game unless I am very, very done with it. And I may not finish a game properly until a year or two later (for example, I'm just now getting around to finishing The Enemy Within....and I even restarted it to reaquaint myself with the controls, which in that game are a pain).

That said, I do only have 1 GB hard drive and my 2GB of backup are full, so I do tend to uninstall games that are large and soaking up space even if I plan to actually try and finish it one day (looking at you, FFXIII).
165 games in my library. 133 ones are installed. A big hard drive from Western Digital to store them all :) And a dedicated SSD to load fast the games that I play often like WoW (until recently), Starcraft and that kind of stuff.

I don't delete games at all except for bad games and games that are unfortunately broken. You can also play games installed on a network drive.

I sometimes replay good games surely. Defense Grid 2 must be my favorite. Talos Principle is a lot of pleasure to play. Tomb raiders are fun, too.
My Steam games are installed on my SSD drive, not my terabyte storage drive.
I don't think the half played games are a problem, if I don't like them enough to play them through that's just the way it is. They weren't good enough to win the competition with all the other games. I don't uninstall them because I might get back to them later.

But I have a couple games I just bought because they were cheap. Sitting in the library for almost a year and not even installed once. Those bug me more than half played ones.

I too stopped playing Pillars of Eternity, the micro management of 6 party members meda me lose interest after a while. Great game though and I still bought the expansions because my sister plays it through family share.

Most played games for me on steam these days are Rocket League and Grid Racedriver, both of them can't really be played through. No story to remember, just drive around for a bit and have fun :-)
My biggest reason for uninstalling games is space. My PC is about 6 years old now and only has a 500 GB drive so space is an issue. Eventually want to buy a new PC but until I do games I'm not currently playing get uninstalled.

I always say I'm going to go back and play old games but 9 times out of 10 I never end up actually doing it. I have to really be in a gaming drought to end up playing something old.
I too had the same problem with Pillars. I put about 30 hours into Pillars before nearing the end and taking a break. Now trying to come back to it I find the lore and history a hindrance in picking it back up but I am making the attempt.

Why? I get anxious or feel guilty if I purchase a game put hours into it but never finish it. What was the point? Unlike a movie that may only take a couple of hours to finish, a game is a bigger investment. My thoughts then drift to the "cost sunk fallacy" or what utility, in the economic sense, I get out of playing a game but never finishing it.

With Steam sales purchasing a game hasn't become the limiting factor, but rather time. After one Winter Steam sale I looked at my Steam list and almost became distraught! I had spent ~$50 on games but would never have time to play them all before a new batch of games comes out. I then become paralyzed with too many choices trying to figure out which game would be most worth my time. Game X has great reviews but takes ~40 hours to complete whereas game Y is ok but will only take 12 hours to finish.

When I was younger you could drive up to the local Video rental store and rent a DVD or video game for a couple of days. I would rent a game play it for a short while, and if I liked it I would buy it for longer play. I treat Steam sales like that now. I buy a game on the cheap, play it for a few hours and if I like it I keep it on my hard drive for longer play, if not I uninstall it. That has made me a bit saner.
My thoughts then drift to the "cost sunk fallacy" or what utility, in the economic sense, I get out of playing a game but never finishing it.

I got rid of sunk cost fallacy a long time ago. With games there is only one thing that matters: are you having fun while playing it?

Your time is limited, if you have more fun with another game playing the old unfinished one is inferior in every possible way. It will not give you any money back and it will be less fun than the new game. Then if I'm through with the new game the old one will still be there and maybe it's again the most fun of all I have. Until the next steam sale mayhaps xD
I don't uninstall unless I run out of space. Even if I think I will never play a particular game again - I might! And I don't usually get the latest and greatest games anyway.

As for finishing games, it's a rare CRPG that I finish. I always enjoy the earlier parts more, when things are simple and you are discovering new stuff, getting new abilities etc. The later game is always more complicated and more of a grind. That said, I think highly of the ones I *do* finish.

By the same token, if I pick up a game after years, I will likely start again. And likely not finish again, too. Which is fine by me. I'm playing the fun part.
I uninstall those I am not planning to play for the forseeable future. Not because of a lack of space or anything, more to keep my list of installed games more or less clean. Sides, only takes 10-20 minutes to redownload and install anyhow, so why not
Man, I don't understand these folks who keep all their games installed and never uninstall... I run out of space and have to uninstall all the time. I have 1200 games in my Steam library. Ain't no chance in hell that shit's all staying installed. I'll have entire terabytes worth of games installed, but at some point, something's got to get cut.


Replaying half-finished games... yeah, that's a weak point for me. The worst is when you think, "Huh, why didn't I finish that game? I really liked that one! I'm going to reinstall it and finish it."

And then you get to your loaded savegame and realize, "Oh. It's that fucking bullshit area and all that grinding/tedium/lack of variety/difficulty spike/lost progress from corrupted save... that's why I stopped," and then uninstall it again.
And yeah, I got the 'oh my god I used to make my character practically dance, but I suck now' experience when coming back to Mordor, too.
I finish game very quickly, but some games may be not finished for 3 years.
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