Too Much of an OK Thing?

The other day Naithin over at Time To Loot wrote about finishing, or not finishing, games. It’s something I’ve struggled with over the years and I mean that in two ways. Struggle #1 is “Do I care if I finish games?” and Struggle #2 is “If I do care, how do I get better at it?”

It’s actually a rather big topic (for me at least) but today I just wanted to share one anecdote. I mentioned in a comment at Time To Loot:

Sometimes I just get it stuck in my craw that I WILL finish some particular game. Right now that game is Dragon Quest Builders 2, which I feel like I’ve been playing for approximately 36 years.

Well as luck (or persistence) would have it, I DID finish Dragon Quest Builders 2 [DQB2] over the weekend. (Finished in that I got the “The End” screen…I didn’t go for 100% achievements or anything.) The feeling I had when I finished was pretty much pure relief. There was a whiff of ‘satisfaction’ mixed in but mostly it was “Thank gawd that is over with.” And if I were planning to review DQB2 I’d spend a lot of words on the terrible pacing in the game and how frustrating that was. My overall review would be negative.

However, if I’d just stopped playing half-way through and had someone at that point asked me if I liked the game, I would’ve said yes. For a good half the game I really was enjoying myself, but then small flaws started to feel like bigger flaws, gameplay started to feel really repetitive, and I lost interest in what little story there was. I don’t have a good way to tell how long I spent with the game. How Long To Beat says its a 75 hour game for “Main & Extras” and I am almost always slower than that site reports, so I’m going to guess I spent around 90-100 hours playing.

So why did I force myself to finish? I’m really not sure. Like I said on Naithin’s blog, sometimes these things just get stuck in my craw. I do have a bad habit of not completing projects so maybe I just need to prove something to myself now and then. I’d have to spend some solid time in introspection to tease that one apart.

At the end of the day, though, I kind of wish I hadn’t forced myself to keep going because now I have what are essentially bad feelings about the game, rather than good ones. I mean, even better would be if the developers hadn’t gone for quantity over quality, but I have no control over that.

I think in future if I decide I really need a “win” on finishing projects, I’ll make sure it is an actual project and not completing a game. Life is short. There are a lot of games I would like to play. Spending ~50 hours forcing my way through one that has stopped being enjoyable just feels dumb. (Of course I didn’t know it was going to be 50 more hours…I kept thinking “This has to end soon” but oh, how wrong I was!)

11 thoughts on “Too Much of an OK Thing?

  1. I struggled with DQ Builders 2 as well and I am not sure why. I really greatly enjoyed the first one, but there was something about this experience that didn’t grab me.

    1. One of the things that kept bugging me was that in some ways it felt like “Baby’s First Video Game.” It held your hand so tightly that you never had to think, and there were non-skippable ‘cut scenes’ where a sentence of 6-8 words would stay on screen for 30 seconds (I actually timed it) as if they were afraid the player couldn’t read.

      But then a lot of the themes were fairly adult. Like all the horny miners doing tasks just to get the dancing girl to put on a bunny outfit…

      1. That’s my biggest beef with MOBILE games, but they don’t tell you HOW to play or WHY, they just hold your finger, guide it to where they want you to press, and leave you with a “See? Didn’t that feel good? Do it again next time you see that icon.”

  2. One thing I am liking less and less in single-player games is the amount of content that devs put into them. I know! For me, I like a game the most at the beginning, when everything is new and there’s learning to be done. Once the training wheels come off, I find that the next 50-80 hours of the same old same old isn’t enough to keep me interested. Story is also a hard-sell with me (which is why I am not a fan of BioWare games like most others are) and isn’t enough to sustain me.

    I agree that FORCING oneself to finish a game because A) we paid for it, B) other people say it’s awesome, or C) because we’re having trouble sleeping otherwise isn’t really playing the game because it’s compelling; it’s a chore and I would only end up feeling good about the fact that I didn’t have to think about the game ever again, when I SHOULD be enjoying the act of completing it and sad that it’s over.

    1. “the fact that I didn’t have to think about the game ever again”

      Yes! This was it exactly. Followed by the joy of uninstalling it! That’s not the intended reaction to finishing, I don’t think! 🙂

  3. I wrote a blog post about DNF’ing books but I think it also applies to games. Ive got over 400 games on steam and started to sort them out last year. There’s a large pile I’ll never play which I’ve hidden, but others I’ve tucked in a will never play category. Games I’ve tried but didn’t care to finish go into that one. Also games that just haven’t aged well. Some have terrible graphics or just don’t work well with current systems.

    I only have a few left that I still have to sort out, but the list is way more manageable now 🙂 (also I don’t see the biiiig pile of games I’ll never play lol)

  4. Agree with your conclusion. I don’t think I explicitly called it out in my post on finishing games (or rather, being distracted by other games) but Krikket talks about the concept of just ‘Playing to Satisfaction’ whether that point be after 100%ing the game or whether it be an hour or two in.

    I think in general this is the right idea — I just wonder whether sometimes I misapply it, or really- don’t apply it at all, when rather than choosing to put one game down, I simply bull in over the top with the latest shiny and de facto put the previous one down.

    I think more than finishing, being more conscious about my decision making to start and stop games would be good… Although that has really only come together this clearly for even myself while writing it here. 🙂

    1. Well one thing I’m always worried about, too, is not giving a game a fair shake. I have had situations where I started playing a game, maybe bounced off it and came back later, or maybe just pushed through out of stubborness….and then had the game ‘click’ for me.

      Most recently that happened with Watch Dogs Legion. I bought it at launch, played a bit, lost interest. Picked it up again at some point. Same thing. Then a month or two back tried it a third time and promised myself I’d stick with it for a bit and that time it really clicked and I played all the way through it, and through the DLC.

      So… yeah. Maybe there just isn’t one answer and we just need to stay vigilant about our decisions, to some extent.

      Though of course, if I’ve put 40 hours into a game and I’m getting bored with it…in that situation is not very likely that something will change to hook me.

  5. You know me, I’ve never had a problem leaving a game when it gets boring. And weirdly, what others find boring I really enjoy. Like Dragon Quest Builders 2, I was really bummed when the story was over, it was boring just playing in the sandbox with no objectives. And I did complete most of the objectives, lol. I can kachunk my way through a Minecraft-esque environment happily for hours, just gathering materials. On the other hand, games others rave about, I play for maybe half an hour and get bored. Turn it off and delete. Most recently, I really wanted to like Dark Alliance (gave me Champions of Norrath vibes, an old favorite) and didn’t last more than 15 minutes before I was bored. Did I waste money? I suppose, but I’ve wasted more on bad dinners or going out for a dumb movie. If I do those things with no regret, I can’t really regret deleting an unfinished game either.

    1. Gwyn!!

      My beef with DQB2 was mostly the slow pace of conversations and stuff, and then those “Tablet Quests” like “Makes lots of Meadows!” now make lots of forest! Now make lots of snow!

      Oddly the parts where you had to basically “fill in” a blueprint your guy had laid out…that was curiously satisfying. But then later on the NPCs started doing all that. 🙁

      1. Yeah, I agree dialogue gets a little tedious. None worse than Animal Crossing New Horizons. OMG the repetitive dialogue in that one about kills me, and yet I keep logging in every day, LOL. Push the button for the cheese, totally how my brain works. Thanks goodness I’ve never downloaded one of those casino games, I’d probably be living in a van down by the river.

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