Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Let's Take Some Time To Review Our Options, Shall We?

mentioned, in a post at Time To Loot yesterday, how he'd dropped his Humble Bundle review series because he no longer enjoyed writing them. He also explained the reason he wasn't into it so much any more was the quality of the bundles themselves, which "seemed to be falling off a cliff."

I have never bought a Humble Bundle in my life. Never even considered it. I only know they exist because various bloggers I follow have written about them over the years. Nevertheless, I always enjoyed Naithin's posts on them because I like to read short, pithy reviews of just about anything, regardless of whether there's the remotest chance I'll ever buy, use, play, read, listen to or watch it myself.

Reviews like that certainly don't need to be comprehensive, detailed or authoritative. The reviewer doesn't need to have finished whatever the thing they're reviewing happens to be for me to find their opinions interesting. They don't even need to have started it, frankly, although that probably does give their conclusions a little more weight.

Krikket at Nerd Girl Thoughts, for example, has an excellent series called Quick Look (currently incorporating #JustOnePercent.) in which she fires off pocket reviews of games she's played at least long enough to come to some kind of judgment on whether they're for her or not, even if that's only a few minutes. I always look forward to reading them, whenever they pop up in my feed, although there's hardly ever a chance I'll be interested in the games themselves.

As Naithin found, posts clearly signaled "Review" pick up more than the average number of page views. In keeping with his advice, with which I wholeheartedly agree, I no longer pay more than fleeting attention to my stats here on Inventory Full, but I can say that posts with things like "Review", "Preview" or "First Impressions" in the title do reliably outscore most others.

From the website.

If I was more interested in boosting my numbers than I have been in many years I'd probably have been well-advised to give my own series on the monthly free offer from Amazon Prime some kind of snappy, SEO-friendly title, like "This Month's Free Games On Prime". Of course, as any regular readers will know, that's not the way we swing around here.

It's true I have finally retrenched from my years-long flirtation with using only the names of songs or snatches of lyrics as post titles but, while that decision did briefly result in some relatively plain, declarative headlines, I think it's fair to say obscurantism and whimsy have firmly re-established precedence. 

I frequently can't even remember by the next morning why I called a post what I did. I don't recommend it. It's not just misleading and unhelpful to anyone visiting the blog - it annoys me, when I have to go back and look for a specific post and can't even begin to guess which it might be. I'm all for amusing, witty or imaginative titles but a modicum of informational value might be helpful.

In the case of my series on Prime free games and giveaways, the other factor to consider is that it's not really a series at all. I never planned on posting about it every month, like some kind of unpaid shill for one of the biggest companies in the world, like some kind of blank-eyed, post-capitalist drone. These things just happen.

The implausable, unfashionable, unpalatable truth is I just like writing those posts. It amuses me. 

From the App.

Also, they're really easy. Heck, they amost write themselves. All I have to do is open the Amazon Games app, browse the offer, pick the ones that interest me, take a few screenshots, cut and paste a few descriptions and bingo's your uncle.

Since, as I said, I don't pay much attention to my stats, I can't even say for sure whether anyone reads them but I honestly don't care. I know they tend not to attract much in the way of comments but the same could be said of any number of much better constructed, researched and considered pieces. Trying to second-guess which posts are going to attract comments is a right old mug's game.

In hobby-blogging, one of the few elements entirely under the blogger's control is whether or not the posts feel enjoyable to produce. If you can sit back and feel you had fun putting a piece together that's as much justification as you need for the time you spent on it. 

Similarly, as Naithin says, if it isn't fun, don't feel you have to keep doing it just because other people seem to expect it. This isn't a job and your reader's aren't your customers, let alone your bosses. If you're doing it right, though, they may become your friends and your friends wouldn't want you to keep doing something you don't enjoy any more.

All of which is a protracted, Blaugustian introduction to the post I sat down to write, namely  

This Month's Free Games On Prime

Ah, if only that were the title, eh? Also, there's a reason the introduction's so long. There are only four of them this month and I only claimed two of them. Doesn't give me much to work with. Have to pad these things out somehow.

Of course, when I say there are four free games on Prime this August, what I really mean is six. I'm not going to go over it again but, as the above screen grabs show, the offer you get on the Amazon Games app is different, by which I mean less generous, than the one on the Amazon Prime web page.
The four free games on the Prime app this August are:
Three out of the four score Highly Positive on Steam, with Recompile the outlier at a worrying Mixed. Zack McKraken is the seemingly-inevitable contribution from Lucas Arts. Seriously, is there some billionaire boys' club backscratching going on behind the scenes here or what?

Despite never having found a Lucas Arts game I liked and barely having liked the look of any enough to play them at all, I still grabbed Zack because who knows when I might run out of point&clicks? 
I also took Beasts of Maravilla Island. I've been dithering over several similar photo-journalist hunt-and-collects on Steam, without ever coming down in favor of any of them, so a free version is something of a gimme in more ways than one. I might even play it someday.

The larger offer on the website includes two extra games, both of which I claimed:

Family Mysteries: Poisonous Promises - "hidden object puzzle-adventure."
Starcraft: Remastered - Doesn't get a description beyond "a classic".

I took Starcraft because you can't not, can you? I'll never play it. It will sit on my Battlenet account unused even if I do eventually decide to give ActiBlizz a conditional pass and go back, which I most likely will when Microsoft finally get their hands on the keys.
Why I bothered to claim Family Mysteries I'm not really sure. Prime threw a bunch of Hidden Object games into the pot last month. I 'd been curious for a while to find out more about the genre so I claimed them and tried one right away. 
I wouldn't say I didn't enjoy it on any level but after a couple of hours I came away with the overriding feeling I'd just wasted an evening. It was like playing a point&click adventure but without everything that makes that experience involving, interesting or amusing. 
As an analogy, I'd suggest it was like listening to an album you like being played in the house next door; a vague hint of the melody, muffled almost beyond recognition by the thick walls, the odd snatch of lyric, occasionally drifting up through the floorboards. At best, it makes you want to find your own copy and put it on. At worst it makes you want to bang on the walls and tell the neighbors to turn it down.

Probably not going to be playing that one, then. Probably shouldn't claim any more like it, either.

As for the freebies for games I play, there's nothing to report. Some dyes for Lost Ark, a game it looks increasingly likely I will never play again. That was about it.

And there we must leave the mysterious world of Amazon Prime until next month, when I do hope you'll all be back to see what surprises are in store for us then. It's a pretty safe bet I'll be here, anyway. Not much chance I'll be able to resist the combined attractions of free stuff and an easy post. 

Why would I even try?


  1. "The implausable, unfashionable, unpalatable truth is I just like writing those posts. It amuses me."

    Well, if that isn't a whole entire mood, I don't know what is.

  2. It'd be nice if Blizz actually put some effort into their "Classics", but hey, Blizz is gonna Blizz.

    1. News just in: Blizzard/Netease mobile WoW spin-off cancelled due to "financial problems". Three years in development, apparently. Not looking great over there, is it?

    2. My guess is that the WoW playerbase is a bit more focused than the Diablo one, as I could easily see any WoW mobile game tanking due to a lack of suckers (whales).

  3. Zak McKracken was one of my favorite childhood games, even though much of the alien conspiracy theory humor was lost on me until replaying as an adult. I just somehow made the most progress through it, with random combinations of items and verbs. Far easier than the lethal King's Quest and Space Quest lines where kid me would usually come to an abrupt end a few screens in.

    And it taught me a valuable life lesson forever etched into my brain. Never ever microwave a raw egg in its shell.

    1. Hmm. I bet there are videos on YouTube of people doing that... oh, yes!

      I'm certainly more likely to play Zack McKracken than the Monkey Island games, anyway.

    2. I too like Zak McKracken a lot, it's actually my favourite of all Lucas Arts adventures.

      It has two things that I could do without, namely needing money to fly from location to location (which means you can go broke and find yourself at a dead end unless you've already found out how to basically print money by then), and the labyrinths.

      Still, it's a great game, I'd highly recommend it to any point&click afficionado.


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