My Top 5 Most Played Games

tracking time in video games

The Numbers Really Surprised Me

What would I do without Google Sheets? I’ve found it harder and harder lately to predict if I’ll like a game. One way I thought might help was to take a closer look at what games I had enjoyed the most. Perusing my spreadsheet of hours spent in various games, I was shocked. I never would have guessed #3, 4, or 5. Of course, #1 and #2 were easy to accept.

#1 World of Warcraft

wow logo

I have over 14,800 hours in World of Warcraft. I’ve never considered myself much of a fantasy buff, but I have always known that World of Warcraft was an exception. I’ve spent over 580 days in Blizzard’s fantasy world. Largely due to the people I’ve met, but if I had to pick one other thing that kept me coming back, it would be the story. Man I love that story. In fact I’m subscribed right now.

#2 Star Wars: The Old Republic

star wars the old republic logo

I’ve been a Star Wars fan for almost 20 years now. I’ve played SO many Star Wars video games, spending untold hours in them. If you counted all the Star Wars card games, roleplaying games, and miniature games, I’m willing to bet it would dwarf WoW handily. SWTOR has never felt like Star Wars to me though. That combined with it’s lack of PvP content updates has really put me off from this game. Still, SWTOR clocks in with over 3600 hours played. With the new expansion coming, there are probably a few more hours yet to come.

#3 League of Legends

league_of_legends_logo_transparent

I didn’t see this one coming. This game has done some growing up. When I first started playing, it was with a small but dedicated group of friends. I stopped for a month or 16 and came back. When I returned, I found the community much more friendly and accepting. In my on-and-off again experience with League of Legends, I’ve logged over 750 hours. It’s also one of the games I’ve spent the least amount of money on. It’s been great for the wallet.

#4 Total War: Arena

total war arena

Never played a Total War title in my life before this one. I dare say it has had a significant impact on my life. It reintroduced me to my love of strategy games, it got me started in streaming, and it put me on my first airplane. All that in just 6 short months, and over 720 hours of play time. In just 6 months time, this game became my #4 game of all time. I’d imagine it’d be well on it’s way to #2 if it was still available today.

#5 World of Tanks

world-of-tanks-logo

So the math on this one is a little iffy because I can’t track exactly how much time I’ve spent. What I can track is how many matches I’ve played in, and that’s over 5100 games. I could have been knocked out in under 3 minutes, or I could have spent the whole 15 minutes allowed. It’s impossible to say. Even at 7 minutes per match, which if memory serves should be about right, that’s over 590 hours of game time. Kinda miss playing, but never really had anyone to play with.

Interpreting The Data

Looking at the disparity between time spent in these seems like it should mean something, but I don’t know what. From 14800 to 3100 to 750 is such a huge drop, but then again WoW has been out more than twice as long as SWTOR. I also haven’t exactly stayed consistent with League for more than 3-6 months at a time. I haven’t played in years now in fact, although I’ve wanted to go back and try those ARAMs again. Doesn’t help much in the way of figuring out what I like, although it does bring up some questions that may help. Questions about MMORPG vs. MOBA and subscription vs. free. Suppose that’s a post for another time though.

What’s your longest time spent in a game?

My Experiences From Streaming

My Last Six Months Streaming in Three Acts

My connection wasn’t initially good enough to stream. Finally when it was upgraded (FREE!) last year, I didn’t jump on it right away. I put it off for a few months because: I had other things going on, I hated the sound of my voice, and/or whatever other excuse I could come up with. When I finally did jump into streaming, I started with Total War: Arena in September of 2015.

total_war_arena.logo1
We love you so very much, Arena! We miss you! Please come home soon!

Chapter One: Total War Arena

What an amazing ride it was. I was lucky enough to win one of two spots to participate in the Arena North America server launch event! I met Lionheart there, as well as Overkill. Meeting them was undoubtedly a big help to my stream, as I was lucky enough to be able to collaborate with them on my stream. Still, being an Arena focused streamer brought some perks of its own. I was able to participate in several closed developer events (Vercingetorix preview), I got to jump in on the developer livestream events, and was able to get the Arena community manager on my stream multiple times! I also got to meet people from around the world. Latvia, Chile, Finland – playing with viewers was a new adventure everyday. This remains one of the biggest benefits of being a streamer. It was an amazing run until Arena finished closed beta, and went down for development at the beginning of March 2016. I finished with 297 viewers and over 30,000 views! That’s like each viewer coming back more than 100 times during a 6 month span! I don’t really know how good that is, but I’m happy with it.

Chapter Two: Variety Streaming

With Arena down, I was actually a little excited to be able to pursue some other games. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well for me at first. Hitting the right game at the right time is everything in streaming. Nothing stuck for me quite as well as Arena. Playing new games means competing with all the big-name streamers. And I use competing in the loosest sense, because it wasn’t really a competition. The Division, for example, was a steady 2-3.

I want to stop here and mention that I did have a small handful that stuck with me after Arena. These viewers always kept 2 or 3 people in my channel during the “dark times”. CatGotYourKeyboard (my wife), GameTime, Crysis, and Throwback have probably spent the most time in my channel no matter what I played. I can’t thank you guys enough.

Finally I committed to another Total War title, Rome II. I started seeing some familiar faces again from the golden days of Arena. I started slowly gaining followers again, and got out of the single digits in viewers. I learned the basic Total War formula, and really enjoyed plaything through the campaign. My love of dinosaurs pulled me onto The Isle when I stumbled across it. I started gaining LOTS of followers who liked a whole other genre, and it even brought more viewers than Total War! It added a couple more die hard fans to my channel like Dino and Enderdragon. It does cause a little ‘friction’ to this day though. Total War fans hate The Isle, and The Isle Fans hate Total War. It makes swapping games a tough decision, but I just go with whatever seems more fun at the moment. Seems to be working. While I haven’t gotten back up to my Arena numbers yet, I am a lot farther ahead than when I re-started. My crowning achievement has been getting double digits while playing a DOOM campaign on opening launch weekend! It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re a small time streamer it’s the world.

Watch my DOOM campaign series on YouTube!
Watch my DOOM campaign series on YouTube!

Chapter Three: Collaboration

While Arena has been down, I have gotten together with Lionheart on several occasions. For those that don’t know, he has the largest Total War channel at 180,000 subscribers! We have been discussing all the development announcements from the Arena team. For someone with such a successful YouTube channel and stream, he’s been amazingly easy to get in contact with. I have also started playing SWTOR on Sundays with Shintar pretty regularly. I have read her blog for a long time, and it has been one of the biggest referral sources to my website. I’ve never been able to actually thank her properly, much less do anything with her at all. It’s been a great decision, and I have had more fun in SWTOR than I’ve had in years. Through Shintar’s blog a few years ago, I came across Ravanel Griffon and her blog. I discovered Ravanel also played ARK at the same time The Isle led me to ARK. I asked Rav to teach me the ropes on stream which eventually led to joining her private server. She’s since joined Shintar and I playing SWTOR occasionally too. I’ve even gotten to do some collaborating with HaxoTheHunter in the Arena updates, and more recently Stellaris. Collaborating with people has been the other best part of streaming. I’d love to do even more in the future.

The Memorable Moments

The part about streaming I was least prepared for has been the people. It’s been such an overwhelmingly positive and uplifting experience for me. I couldn’t ask for a better little community of viewers. Some like BigAl, Byzantine, and Invitica always stop in no matter what Im playing. One person tried to buy me a $40 game (Sorry Diocales!), but I couldn’t through no fault of said person. Two people have told me I am their favorite streamer. Three people have asked me to put up a donate button. As a relatively new streamer, it’s quite humbling.  So I hope some of my regular stream viewers find this post, because I really appreciate you guys. Hanging out through games you don’t like, or getting excited about the ones you do, I am glad you are here. Thank you everyone for being here!

Constant Warfare for 2016

tom clancy's the division
It’s like year round Christmas this year.

2016 My Busiest Year EVER for Video Games Already

In the beginning, I was a one game kinda guy. World of Warcraft for 7 years straight, except a 3 month break where I played Tabula Rasa, but no WoW during the break. After WoW, I started playing multiple games. League of Legends, World of Tanks, City of Heroes, Wildstar, Heroes of the Storm all mixed in with the ‘main’ games of SWTOR and Guild Wars 2. Still, I was probably playing 2-3 games a year total.  So far in 2016 I have played Total War: Arena, The Division, The Isle, Total War: Rome II, Star Wars: The Old Republic (with Shintar!), ARK Surival Evolved (With Ravenal!), and it’s just now March. That’s six games already, and there are a ton more coming.

I plan to continue playing all of these games throughout the year.

  • Total War: Arena – It’ll be back eventually!
  • The Division – I want to unlock everything, and get full legendary gear. Then we’ll see how Dark Zone PvP goes.
  • The Isle – Luckily there is no progression yet. I can log in and just have fun.
  • Total War: Rome II – I want to at least finish my first campaign.
  • SWTOR – I’d like to start the new Knights of the Fallen Empire story, and of course play more with Shintar!
  • ARK – I want to find a home server, hopefully somewhere I could play more with Ravanel. Ideally if the opportunity arose($), i’d like to host my own server!

I can foresee The Division and Total War: Rome II dropping off that list this year. Which is good, because there’s a storm of games coming for me still in 2016.

Games Still Coming in 2016

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The next game up is DOOM! Yes, my first love in computer games. Scared the ever living crap out of me when I was playing the shareware levels over and over. I look forward to seeing the new one, and hope the singleplayer campaign can live up to the nostalgia. I also look forward to using SnapMap to make my own map(s).

Total War: Warhammer comes at the end of May. I’ve contacted Creative Assembly about getting into their reviewer program, so maybe I can get an advanced copy and put out a review. I’ve listened to some of Overkill’s Lore Videos, and am most excited to play Bretonnia and the Empire, in that order. The ‘good guys’ of course. One of my stream viewers is helping to develop this game as well (Goremaster!), so getting to see his work is another exciting aspect for me to this game.

I heard about No Man’s Sky a while back. It’s an exploration game with a procedurally generated universe, meaning it never ends. Exploration is infinite. Imagine all the planets and animals you can see. My fondest memories from MMORPGs come from exploring something for the first time. Every planet is this experience over, and over. It has a survival element thrown in too, so boredom won’t be a factor. I am really curious to see what the average player lifespan is for this game.

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World of Warcraft: Legion launches on or before September 21st, 2016. Hopefully no sooner. I am excited to play this knowing some of my stream viewers also play. Mostly I just can’t wait to get back on my Worgen. I have a couple of WoW tokens waiting for me, so this won’t be too expensive. Burning Crusade 2.0 here we come!

And that’s just the games with confirmed dates. Indie games have been popping up more on my radar recently, specifically Dreadnought which may pop up this year too.

What’s Still On Deck

The Humble Bundle has been good to me, and I have a bunch of games that I want to play but haven’t had the opportunity yet. Streaming has really ramped up how much I play, and for how long. It’s hard to stop playing something when people are having fun.

  • Aliens Franchise – Aliens Colonial Marines and Alien Isolation.
  • Heroes of the Storm – Everyone seems to love playing this game.
  • DOOM Franchise – I’d still like to replay all the old DOOM games. Preferably before the new one launches.
  • Star Citizen – I’d love to get back into this for the flying part.
  • Diablo 3 – There’s a new map i’d like to check out. Just once through.

and…

  • I want to make my own video game. Cryengine, Unity, or Unreal. More to come on this later.

Looking For More, PST

I am always looking for people to play with. I will be streaming 90% of everything, so feel free to come watch! You can also join if you’re willing to use voice chat. Actually talking to people – from around the world – is my favorite part about streaming. Playing with LionheartShintar, HaxoTheHunter and Ravanel has been awesome, and I hope to group up with even more people throughout the year. So no matter where you are, if you’re interested in any of these games, drop me a line in the comments. 2016 is going to be a big year in gaming for me. I’d love to have others along for the ride.

 

How To Know When Video Games Are “Worth It”

long term cost of video games
SO MANY GAMES! SO MUCH MONEY!

Video Game Costs Are Dynamic

There are just SO many video games out there, I think about everyone has a game they still want to try. That is certainly the case for me, and the biggest factor is money. New games can range from $20 Indie games, to $60 new AAA MMO titles.  It’s the up front cost that gives me the most pause, but it shouldn’t. Free To Play games like League of Legends have such HUGE followings because there is no up front cost. There is no barrier to entry. Of course you can buy stuff later, as I always say, free games are never really free.  I’ve already done one post where I broke down my gaming spending on a per year basis, but if I told you I’ve played a game for a year, that doesn’t really tell you much. It’s how long I played it for during that year that matters. I’m going to break it down so that you can determine if a game is worth it – or not.

Cost Per Hour Makes Games CHEAP

The defining factor here is going to be time. The best way to break down a game’s monetary value is by total time spent in the game. Steam does a great job of tracking your time in games. World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic have a handy /played command to see your time spent on each character. Tracking time can be pretty easy. I got the times off of several games I have played in the past, broke them down by time and price. The results were pretty awesome.

Game Cost Hours $/Hour
The Division $48 36 $1.33
HotS $45.97 219 $0.21
WoW* $1,398 10205 $0.14
SWTOR $307.89 3,669 $0.08
LoL $70 756 $0.09
TW: Arena $31 722 $0.04

The Division is less than 1 month old, so of course it’s going to be a little off. I just wanted to show a little contrast. HotS I have access to for about 16 months, and looks to be about twice the ‘average’.  WoW, SWTOR, and LoL are all in the range of what i’d consider average, or “worth it”. Of course they have been out for YEARS now. Total War: Arena is just an exceptional game at about 6 months. I am biased though. Love me some Arena.

Determining When To Buy Games

Of course the formula for yourself might vary.  Still, with the above method you have a powerful tool to evaluate whether to buy a new game or not. You can guess how long said new game might hold your attention for, and then start playing with numbers to see whether or not you might get your money’s worth. I’ve done a few examples below to show you what I mean, and to give you a quick reference. Just bookmark this page and come back to it.

Cost Hours $/Hour
Steam Sale $5 50 $0.10
Indie Title $20 200 $0.10
AAA Title $60 600 $0.10

Games Aren’t Just Races, They’re Relays

You have to look at actual time spent over the long haul. Hardcore gamers may reach 100 hours in a month, but casual gamers may take 4 months. It’s still 100 hours no matter how you look at it, the hardcore gamer just got there first. Look at my World of Warcraft spending – $1,398 – that seems insane! But then look at my time spent. Over 10,000 hours in the World of Warcraft, and that’s not even counting all my characters.*I spent more time in WoW, but had to use old screenshots to kinda estimate played time in my last few months playing WoW. So make sure you’re using the long-term view when evaluating game costs. $60 might seem like a lot, but if you can stretch it out far enough, it might actually be less than the $20 you spent on that last movie you bought. It’ll still require a little guessing on your part, but next time you want that new game, see if you’re sinking enough time into other games like it.  You’ll be able to make a more informed decision, and spend your money more wisely.

What’s the best money you ever spent on a video game?

KotFE Spoiler-Free Review!

So I had a problem with my website that locked me out of it for a bit.  I’m obviously back now, but if you’re an early bird (or in a timezone ahead of me) you’ll probably notice this wasn’t my first post today.  ANYWAY. Today I have another guest post from my eBFF Kypros for you. He’s played through KotFE and graciously written a review. It is spoiler free! I’m sure he’ll be glad to answer any questions if you have them too.  Enjoy!

me and kypros

With the release of Knights of the Fallen Empire (KotFE) last month, Bioware has put all their chips on the table, and doubled downed on story. Did they deliver, is it worth playing through, and is this game still an MMO? Read on for a spoiler free take on the latest SWTOR expansion.

You are the Outlander, well assuming you’ve subscribed for at least a month you are. Unlike previous expansion, KotFE requires a subscription to play. However, that subscription can be for just one month, meaning the expansion costs roughly $15. Measuring up against expansions from other games, it seems like a low cost of entry, however, the real value of that $15 will be determined by the content. Is there enough of it, is it fun, and will gamers enjoy it?

Without going into the specific story elements, KotFE pits the galaxy against a new foe, the Eternal Empire. Coming from somewhere in Wild Space, the Eternal Empire has proven to be the greatest threat to peace and stability, regardless of what faction you sit on. Both the Sith Empire and Republic are at the mercy of what is seemingly an unstoppable force, pushing through the Galaxy with impunity.

And where is your character through this, the one that fought for either side, the one who seemed to change the tide of every battle they were ever in? Well, you’ll have to play to find out. Needless to say you will make an appearance, but things are not the same as they were when you last left your character.

When you eventually start KotFE, you’ll find yourself without any allies, and having to start from scratch. Your companions are missing, but you still have a job to do, so you set out to make new acquaintances, with the goal of stopping the Eternal Empire.

KotFE will take you through nine chapters of gripping story and non-stop action. Seriously, it’s non-stop. Unlike traditional MMO questing experiences which take you from quest hub to quest hub with natural breaks in between, KotFE will take you from one adventure to the next seamlessly, to the point where it becomes hard to take a break from the game and do something productive in real life, like sleep.

Unlike SWTOR 1.0, there are not unique stories for each class, however, that doesn’t take away from the experience. To date, the dialogue choices available to the player were mostly inconsequential. No matter what you picked the story would end up the same, your character may look a little sickly if you were too mean, but the end would be the same. KotFE changes that. Your decisions will change the path of the game. Characters, some of which you’ve known for a while, can die based on what you choose to say or do. At one point I found myself so torn between dialogue choices I just left my computer for an hour, a clear sign of decision paralysis.

Playing through the first Nine Chapters of KotFE was one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had, and there are still more chapters to come! This was Triple-A experience. It had compelling story, good challenging gameplay, and tremendous visuals. But there was something missing. There is no MMO experience in those first chapters. You’ll barely see another player running through the world, as most of the gameplay takes place in your own little instance. The lack of group play is something that had to happen. The story couldn’t support two Outlanders, let alone an entire server full. Does that take away from the experience?

To be honest I was so enthralled with the story of KotFE, I really didn’t mind going it solo. I just wanted to know what would happen next. By the end of Chapter 8, leading into Chapter 9, you’ll start to see the MMO part of KotFE come back. As the story comes to its (temporary) conclusion, you’ll begin to build your alliance. Alliances are a new feature in KotFE. The basic premise of Alliances is you’re recruiting help, New companions to presumably help you through the next few chapters of KotFE. To do this you’ll have to take part in more traditional MMO experiences. That could be completing Flashpoints or Heroic Missions which require two or more players. While the story is on hold, I’m finding these elements to be quite enjoyable. The heroic mission take you back to the old heroic quests on the original planets released in 1.0. Some of which I’ve done, but most I’ve never touched. To help navigate around, each quest comes with an instant travel to location option, which makes traversing to and from those planets much more enjoyable than previously. In fact since 4.0 (the KotFE patch), loads of quality changes have been made, including those travel changes.

One of those big changes, which allows the older planetary heroic missions to be challenging, is level sync. Simply put each planet has a max level, and if you’re above that level your stats will be brought down to whatever that max level is for the planet. You’ll keep your skills and abilities, you just can’t plow through low level enemies because you’re now the same level as them. In addition to making heroic missions viable, this change (which carries over to Flashpoints and Operations) has the added benefit of allowing you to play with friends who may not have a max level character. So where the KotFE story may not have MMO elements, the game changes, like level sync and quick traveling, actually give SWTOR a better MMO experience.

For returning players who’ve played through SWTOR’s PVP or high-end PVE, your experience will be mostly the same. There have been class changes (nearly all for the better), but you’ll be running the same Warzones and same Operations as before.

On the Warzone front however, there’s one big change that was implemented a few patches prior to KotFE. Currency costs to buy PVP gear were significantly reduced, in addition, currency can be shared across your legacy. Meaning you can now PVP on one character to help gear up others, no matter the level.

While it would have been nice to see a new Warzone or Operation, there’s only so much a team of developers can focus on, and for Bioware it’s currently story, and they nailed it. As I eagerly wait for the next few chapters, the general changes which Bioware implemented to the MMO aspects of SWTOR have made the game exceptionally more enjoyable. For the first time in nearly four years of playing, the future for SWTOR looks very bright.