Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Gallic Shrug

This morning Tobold posted something about his Steam library and how many unplayed games there are in it. It's one of those blogging perennials that come up now and then, here and there, predictable and ineradicable as weeds.

Time was when I could indulge myself with a smug, hipsterish drive-by, something along the lines of "Not a problem I recognize. I don't even use Steam". Yeah, those days are long gone. I've had to find other ways to annoy people. 

I'm not sure when I got myself a Steam account or when I started using it regularly, although I do know the latter came a good while after the former. I use it most days now. I've succumbed, slowly, at first reluctantly then later with some small enthusiasm, to its much-vaunted convenience. 

I'd still generally prefer to have games in standalone launchers on my desktop. It seems quicker and easier to me. Since Steam lets me launch individual games from my library from their desktop shortcuts, though, that's something of a moot point.

I only asked for the bill!


What is undoubtedly easier is buying games through Steam. It saves having to make new accounts, fill out new forms and come up with new user IDs and passwords. For that reason alone, if there's a straight choice between buying a game direct and buying it via Steam I tend to go through Valve's portal.

For all that, I don't yet think of myself as a Steam person. And neither does Steam. That was made objectively clear to me this morning when I tried to use the Steam Calculator Tobold linked to find out what my Steam stats might be. 

The calculator offers more than a dozen ways you can identify yourself, none of which meant anything to me. Never mind all that: "Just sign in via Steam and we'll do it for you." Yeah, no you won't. Apparently having a valid, recognized, working account isn't enough. You have to have a Profile too. 

I don't have one and I wasn't planning on getting one. I suppose I could have filled out the necessary paperwork but since avoiding paperwork is the primary reason I use Steam in the first place that didn't really appeal. Instead, I thought I'd do it the old-fashioned way. Just look at my Library and count the games.

Damp dufflecoats, patchouli and despair?
I can see why Tobold didn't do that. He has 445 of them. I have a nice, round fifty. I can almost see them all without scrolling down. 

Of those fifty there are just two that I've never played at all: Mixed Messages and Age of Wonders III. They were both free. The first I got because at one time a lot of people were blogging about it and I thought I might too but I never got around to it. The second looked like the kind of game people often blog about so... you get the picture.

Of the remaining forty-eight, I have finished twenty. I know! Surprised me, too. Although some of them are very short. 

Fourteen more are mmorpgs, meaning they can't be finished. I'm still playing all of those, at least for some value of "playing". I'm never not playing any mmorpg I have ever played unless it's actually closed down. Just not playing it at the moment. 

We're in France. It's not like it doesn't happen.

Come to think of it I think three of those mmos (Stash, Dragon Nest Europe and Bless Online) have closed down. I should probably uninstall those.

That leaves fourteen. Five of those I am still planning on finishing some day (Yonder, Tanzia, Divinity: Original Sin 2, Kingdoms of Amalur, My Time At Portia), one is Valheim, of which no more need be said, and one is Broken Sword 5, about which this post was originally meant to be and still will be when I get there.

The residue are demos plus one game I tried and instantly disliked but never got around to uninstalling. That one's called What Never Was, appropriately.

How much the whole lot might be worth I can't say, neither what I paid for them, nor the market value, high or low. I can say that of fifty titles I paid some amount of money for eighteen of them. Two others (Rift and Project: Gorgon) I paid someone else money for then linked them to Steam. I'd be very surprised if I've paid more than a couple of hundred pounds for the lot although I did probably buy more than half of them in sales.

Trust me, I'm not a doctor.

Of all the unplayed (or underplayed) titles, Broken Sword 5 stands out. It was a birthday present that I asked for many years ago, suggesting I was, at least at the time, pretty keen on playing it. More to the point, it was the reason I signed up for a Steam account in the first place. You can't play it without one, even if you have the thing on DVD. Which I do.

Bearing that in mind, I thought maybe I should have another crack at it. The last time I tried I got stuck and since I didn't want to use a walkthrough I took a break hoping inspiration would strike. It didn't.

Not so much an achievement as an essential plot point.
Or at least that's how I remember it. I even remember roughly where and how I was stuck. Steam doesn't. When I went to log in and restore my most recent save there wasn't one. Instead I had the choice of starting a New Game at the Tutorial, at Chapter 1 or at Chapter 2. 

Hmm. Maybe I was at Chapter 2. Don't remember it that way but if I hadn't already finished Chapter 1, why would it even give me the option?

So I tried that and got a cut scene and a voiceover full of plot points that very definitely must have happened further on in the narrative than I ever reached. To avoid spoilers I quit out of that and tried Chapter 1 instead. It seemed... completely and utterly new. Not a single thing there that I recognized, other than George and Nico. 

Ah, but who cares? It was gorgeous to look at at and fun to play. The dialog was witty and amusing, the plot was intriguing, the puzzles were exactly the right difficulty so I kept going. It didn't seem to match anything about my memories of the previous times I'd played but what the hell. 

You can't beat a good joke about les évènements, that's what I always say.

I played for an hour and a half until I reached a convenient stopping point and then I stopped. I'd gotten a few achievements so I looked at those to see how many other people had managed them. 

It would appear a lot of people give up on the game right at the start because two of the achievements were for discoveries material to the plot and only sixty per cent of players have those. Pretty sure you can't get any further if you don't. Then again, maybe the rest just skip straight to Chapter 2 since apparently that's allowed.

Then I noticed I had another achievement. It was for completing the tutorial. I did that in October 2016. Maybe that's what I vaguely remember although since I also remember not being able to finish whatever it was I was doing that doesn't feel like it could be right.
Learned how, yes. Played the game, no.

Only just under thirty per cent of players get that achievement, suggesting most people skip the tutorial. Seems fair enough. By the time you get to the fifth game in a series you've probably figured out how to play.

We'll see how far I get this time. I do want to find out what happens although the mystery that really interest me isn't so much who stole the painting and why as what happened to my saves and the game I thought I was playing.

I imagine it'll all come clear in the end. Maybe I'll do the tutorial again and see if there are any clues there. I could probably use all the help I can get.


  1. I have enough ancestors from the Pyrenees that I can, on occasion, achieve an almost Parisian level of said shrug.

    I've played 107 of the 175 games in my library, and a good 30 of those are part of a mega pack of PopCap games I bought when I went to buy Peggle and found that I could have all of their games for just $10 more.

    And the rest of the unplayed generally stem from the early era of Steam sales when the prices seemed so good people feared they might not return. Now they return four times a year and I no long bother buying anything I am not ready to play right that minute.

    1. The golden age of Steam sales has to be a fair ways back now. I remember reading people blogging about sales before I was using Steam and by the time I started to look at the sales for myself most people were already posting about how much they weren't buying, not how much they were. I don't bother with the actual sales themselves much but I do once in a while buy something when it comes on sale in its own right, which seems to happen pretty much all the time.

  2. I know exactly when I got involved with Steam. There was a deal where I got all of the Deus Ex games plus an absurd amount of extra stuff I was sort of interested in for $40. All the Dungeon Siege games, all the Legacy of Kain games, all the Tomb Raider games, all the Just Cause games, all the Thief Games and I'm not even sure what else (I think it was 100+ games). I have since played two games from that bundle, one of which was a really old RPG.

    Somehow I now have 153 games in my library, and apart from the bundle, Destiny 2, Stein's Gate and ESO I don't remember acquiring any of them. I have installed maybe a total of ten games from my library (probably less, I have three current installs). I think I could play nothing but what's in there until I hit retirement age pretty easily. But then I would have to take time away from whatever decade old MMOs I'm currently currently obsessing on . . .

    1. They do seem to have quite a lot of "everything by this developer" sales. I usually scan through them but as yet they haven't picked anyone who has more than one or two games that even mildly interest me. If they ever did, though, I can see the appeal of paying the price of one game and getting an entire collection. Come to think of it, I already did that with the Blackwell series...

  3. I have a ton of Humble Bundle games on Steam I've never played. Heck, I have a ton of Humble Bundle games I've never even claimed on Steam: claiming 25ish titles one at a time takes a while.

    Even aside from that, my played ratio and completed ratio are terrible. I like to buy games way more than I like to start games, and I like to start games way more than I like to finish them. I'm weird that way.

    1. Humble Bundle is another one I haven't ever looked at although I've read countless posts about it. Currently I have Steam, the Epic Store and Amazon Prime all throwing games at me, plus that huge Itch.io Black Lives Matter pack that I haven't even scanned all the way through and indeed itch.io itself with all its freebies. I'm not sure I have the capacity for much more. Although there are still days when I can't seem to find anything I want to play...

  4. I suppose I'm a bit of an outlier, in that my Steam account contains ...
    Well, it's hard to say. On my profile page, it claims 1840 games and 1066 DLC. On my actual library sheet, it claims 53 VR titles (counted separately due to category reasons) and 2125 games. No matter how I add those up I can't make the numbers the same, so we'll go with "A Lot". I own A Lot of games.

    On Steam, mind. Other storefronts contain other multitudes.

    ...yet, here I am, dabbling in Genshin Impact.

    1. That is a lot of games. I think you might be our winner here today! Also you remind me once again I ought to get back to Genshin Impact. Just waiting for the housing update.

    2. Oh, that went up in 1.5, a few days ago. (April 28th.) Google around for a Teapot guide, if you're Rank 35 or over.
      (I just started, it's a ways off for me.)

    3. Ooh, thanks! Not sure how I missed it. I'll patch today and do the last few levels to 35. I seem to remember I was just past thirty when I stopped.


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