Monday, December 25, 2023

Nothing Says "I Survived The Apocalypse " Like A Limp Santa Hat

Here's a thing I'd really like to know: just how long is this Once Human beta going to last? As of last night there's a Christmas event, an in-game scavenger hunt with real-world prizes you can win in a contest on Discord, which is where you can also find a code to claim a santa hat for your character. Plus another ten thousand invites are going out to new testers, none of which seems like something that would happen if the beta was about to end in a few days.

I only ask because I'm falling into that troublesome pattern of playing beta like it was live. It's a perennial problem. I guess a lot of people experience something like it When a beta's every bit as good, if not quite a bit better, than most Live games, why not play it as if it was here to stay?

It's an existential conundrum, anyway. All games go away, don't they? Does it matter if it happens next week, next year, next decade? Or, as seems ever more worryingly possible, next century. If even then.

Are beta characters less valid just because they're ephemeral? How long is long enough to matter? What makes a character in a video game valid, anyway? Is it all down to how long they keep on not existing? And doesn't intensity or originality count for something? Is fun in the moment an insufficient return for effort expended? Does value only multiply by time spent? 

You can drive yourself crazy thinking about stuff like that. Unless you have a metaphysics paper to write I'd recommend not going there. Still, I'd like to know, all the same.

Until I find out, I guess I'll just go on enjoying myself. I've certainly been doing that.

Other than forty-five minutes in that Reign of Guilds beta, which I only racked up "for science", I haven't played any other games since I got invited to test Once Human. The knowledge that I'm going to have to do it all over again, when the game launches, is the only thing that's keeping me from playing two or three times as much as I have been. Even when I resist, I can't motivate myself to play another game instead. I just don't play anything.

It's not that Once Human is that good. I mean , it is good, sure. It's very good but it's no coincidence that most of the games I've devoted huge chunks of time to over the last few yeas have been some flavor of Survival. I'm clearly as vulnerable today to the hooks employed by that genre as I once was to the Diku-MUD inspired tricks of the Classic MMORPG era. 

Is that a good thing? Probably not. At least I have a blog now, so I can write about my obsession and in that way convince myself it serves some greater purpose. Without that, I really would have some questions I couldn't answer.

I did spot something today that might conceivably pry me away from OH for a while. Naturally, it's another survival title, albeit one that's out of beta, although I wouldn't like to put money on how long it'll be hanging around.

I'm talking about Dawnlands, of course, and it just got a new update. I was in Steam, spending some of my Christmas Present money on games in the Winter Sale, when I noticed it was pending. I checked the notes and it seems they've added a whole new biome, which is a big deal for a game of this kind. The image in the patch notes looks gorgeous, too. I ought to find time to go check that out, at least.

As for the sale games I bought, I restricted myself to a couple of Point & Click adventures. I can all but guarantee I'll play them fairly soon. I've been itching for a good point & click fior a while, now. 

There were several on my wishlist; all discounted, naturally. Is anything not in the sale? I picked Crown and Pawns and Tales Noir Preludes as the best combination of Bargain and Will Definitely Play, two tags Steam really ought to add. 

I had Cats and the Other Lives in my basket but I took it out at the last minute on the grounds I'd never find time for three P&Cs. It's at a steep discount, though, so it's odds on I'll crack and grab it before the sale ends.

Anyway, those are my excuses for being on Steam on Christmas Day and for blogging about it afterwards. What excuse I'm going to give for playing Once Human after I post this I'm not so sure.

 I'm sure I'll come up with something...

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