Like All Gasses, My Steam Library Expands to Fill All Available Space

As a young, single adult with a modest amount of disposable income and a keen desire to get the most bang for my buck, I frequently took advantage of Steam sales to add a huge variety of games to my Steam library. Over the course of each year, I’d add any interesting games to my wishlist and, whenever I receive an email notifying me that an item on my wishlist is on sale, I buy the game if it is at least 50% off listed price. During big sale events, I will buy games with a smaller discount, but only if I’m out of big titles to play.  For instance, I still haven’t bought Dark Souls 3 because I haven’t even beaten the first one yet and I still occasionally dip into Fallout 4 since I’ve never actually beaten that, either. I’ve made it to level 100, but I’ve never beaten it because there’s just so much else to do. Which feels a lot like looking through my Steam library for something to do.

While I don’t have as many games in my library as some of my peers (one woman I know has over a thousand games in her Steam library), I’ve played maybe a dozen of them. I’ve installed well over 20% of them, but most of the time I wound up uninstalling them to make room for some other game on my hard drive. Every time I look through my library of unplayed games, I think to myself how fun they all look. Yet every time I’m looking for something to do, I invariably return to games I’ve already played or decide to put another dozen hours into Fallout of Borderlands 2. I started playing Broken Age a few months ago because I thought it’d be super fun to review, but I stopped playing to go hang out with my friends at one point and I’ve never gotten back to it. Half my library are low-commitment games, from 2-10 hours of projected playtime, so I shouldn’t have any qualms about committing to a new game since it’ll be over in a day or two of playing anyway.

But I do. I have tons of qualms. I’d like to chalk it all up to my depression and my habit of berating myself if I “waste” time when I could be doing something productive, but I feel like that’s just being unnecessarily harsh on myself. Sure, those things are contributing factors, but the real reason is that I’m a sucker for sales. A good demo makes me want to throw money at the people who made it and Steam is an excellent platform for introducing people to good demos and then providing them with an easy way to justify throwing money at it. “It’s on sale. If I buy this game, I’m only spending five dollars instead of twenty, so I should take advantage of this sale.” Never mind the fact that I don’t even really want a new game, much less need one. The whole idea of having sales works out perfectly, since it’s getting me to spend money I otherwise wouldn’t. Steam makes millions off of people like me who buy games they’ll never play and I’m sure the developers enjoy the income as well, even if it often doesn’t give them what their game is worth.

Honestly, I still plan to go through my library at some point and play all the games in it. The only problem is I choose not to do that now because I’ve got other things I’d like to do and I’m pretty certain I’ll have other things I’d like to do. I keep envisioning a future when I’m a successful writer and can write as my day job so I don’t have to cram it all into my evenings, leaving me time for stuff like regular gaming and exercise. I’d get so much more fun stuff done if I wasn’t spending all of my free time trying to work on my dreams. Which, you know, is fun, but it’s not the same kind of thing. Writing is still work and it always will be. It takes something out of me. Gaming only takes my time and, if it’s a good game, gives me so much more back. Which is why I always buy the games that look like they’ll do that for me when they go on sale. If I ever reach this hypothetical future I keeping envisioning, I want to make sure I didn’t miss out on the chance to buy a wonderful game for a bargain.

One thing I’ve learned after over a year of owning a Switch is that I’d much rather play games on a high quality mobile system than something chained down like a desktop computer. Even a laptop is more constraining that I’d like since I need a surface to put the laptop on and carrying a gaming laptop around can be a real pain in the back. If there was a way to play all of my little, low-requirement games on a mobile system, I’d probably play more of them. As more of them get re-released on the Switch, I’m starting to wish I hadn’t spent the money on them already. There isn’t much I’m willing to buy twice and anything I like enjoy to buy more than once is likely something I’m willing to sit down at my computer to play. Like Borderlands 2. I own the four-player console version and the computer version because sometimes people want to hang out together while hunting treasure and shooting bandits.

In more recent years, Steam has started edging its way into the hardware market with mixed success. I can’t deny their products are excellent in concept, it just often feels like their execution is lacking. Sure, the Steam Controller is nice, but that’s just another controller to use with your computer. Their living-room PC seemed really cool, but it seems to be suffering from a certain lack of interest from the general public. I know they dipped their toes into the Virtual Reality market, but there’s so much competition that they got lost in the crowd. The technology is still mostly in its gimmick phase, so it makes sense that there wasn’t really much Steam could add that some competitor couldn’t do better since hardware is still a side business for Steam. If they come out with a handheld or super mobile computer… then I think they might be able to break into the market. And possibly dominate it, since you’ll be able to play so many great games you’ve already bought.

Until that day, I’m probably going to change my rule to seventy-percent or more as my cut-off for buying games since I really need to slow down my acquisition rate to something I can actually keep up with. Otherwise, with how many good games are going to be going on sale soon, my Steam expenses are going to expand to fill all available space in my budget.

Switching Skyrim Up

I mentioned last month that I was super excited that I was finally able to play Skyrim on the Switch and now I’ve finally done it. Skyrim was my first post-Christmas gift to myself and after letting it download over night, I finally started playing it a couple of days ago. While it was a little jarring to play at first, I eventually got used to playing it without the smoother control available on a computer. Tilt-controls for aiming my bow–I’m a sneaky sniper because I like to challenge myself to “unicorn” all my enemies by shooting them in the forehead–are super helpful, so I don’t really feel the “two sticks and several buttons” issue until I get stuck in melee combat. At which point I’m usually dead anyway, so it isn’t that much of a problem.

The thing I probably miss the most are my PC mods. Most of the mods I used where graphical changes or texture packs to make the world feel more real. I used to love wandering around Skyrim simply to take it all in. Killing things and going on quests were just added benefits to help pay for my tour of the world. The stars, the sunsets, the way the grass waved in the wind… All things I miss in this new game. I also miss the added carrying capacity and capes, but those aren’t as big a deal.

While I originally wanted the game so I’d have a pick-up-and-play console version of Skyrim, I have to say getting it on the Switch was definitely the right decision because portability is easily the best part of the game experience so far. If I’m going to my girlfriend’s place, I can bring my Switch along and start playing Skyrim while she’s playing Pokemon (literally did that a couple of days ago). If I want to go hang out in a coffee shop but don’t feel like writing or get bored with my book, I can play Skyrim (planning to do that sometime this weekend). If I’ve got a 15 minute break at work and want to maintain my “total nerd” status with my coworkers, I’ll bust out my Switch and Skyrim it up.

To be fair, I can play Breath of the Wild during all of those moments as well, but I feel like Skyrim has actually used the controller layout the best out of all the other games I’ve played on the Switch. The main reason I prefer my Pro Controller and TV for Breath of the Wild is that I’m often sprinting and jumping and changing camera direction all at the same time. This is an awkward button/stick combo on the Pro Controller and an impossible one on the Joy-Con (whether attached to the Switch or detached) for someone with hands my size. I tried doing it on the Joy-Con once and it was painful enough that I’ve never done it again and have zero intention of ever doing it again. Maybe if they ever make slightly larger Joy-Con for the large-handed individuals of the world, I’d consider it. Until then, I’m going to stick to Skyrim for mobile gaming.

While the download for the game was way smaller than I anticipated (17 GB only???), the entire game seems to be there. I’m sure there’s stuff missing that I could find if I went looking for it, and I know game sizes tend to get a little bloated when it comes to PC downloads, but it still seems like a huge shrink in size for such a huge game. Which makes the 13.4 GB size of Breath of the Wild even more incredible. I should do some research into what makes games as big as they often are. I mean, Doom on the PC is about 55 GB and its only 13.4 on Switch. That’s insane. I’m either missing 40 GB of game or there was 40 GB of fluff on the PC version. Even taking out the supposedly 9 GB of multiplayer (from what I’ve gathered online), that’s still 30 GB difference. Cleaning up the code can’t account for that much difference and setting restrictions for consoles seems like it wouldn’t be enough to account for whatever was left.

That’ll be next week’s post. I’ll do some research and report back. In the mean time, enjoy playing Skyrim and I’ll try to get some screenshots of me “Unicorning” my enemies once I’m a high-enough level to snipe stuff.