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Time vs money as a resource for games [roundtable]
Whilst browsing a list of eShop games for under 10 cents apiece the other day, I came to something of a revelation: time is worth more than money when it comes to leisure. It's like with streaming services: in a way, you have THOUSANDS of free movies and TV shows, but who's ever going to watch them all? Why should I buy ten games for a dollar when I'm already sitting on a backlog of titles that still haven't been played...that I know I like...and won't cost me anything extra to play them now!?

This line of thinking just brings me back to something that becomes more true each passing year: time is our most valuable resource! As a grown-up, you have to get your work done for the day, you have to get babysitters for the kids (or make sure they're asleep), you have to ensure you're being a good spouse, etc, leaving precious few hours to enjoy yourself. And it's some sort of great irony that when we had the most time available to us (when we were kids), we didn't have any money then!

I just thought that was interesting and somewhat sobering. Kid me would've gone nuts at the prospect of thousands of games at your fingertips, even just demos. But now it's all about being selective...

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Posted: 06/11/20, 01:30:59  - Edited by 
 on: 06/11/20, 01:31:39
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Time is definitely the most valuable resource of all!

As a kid, money was definitely more of a restraint. But now? You can get so many games for sooo cheap. And a lot of them are 30-50 hours long. I'm sure it's no coincidence that we all probably have tons of unplayed Steam games on our libraries.

Too many games, not enough time.
Posted: 06/11/20, 01:39:18
I check howlongtobeat.com before I even check the price on most games I'm interested in.
Posted: 06/11/20, 02:08:55
It's not even time that's the biggest issue for me. I still find plenty of time to waste in life as I only usually have one job and no kids. My real issue is energy. After an eight hour shift, I usually just want to turn to more passive activities like drinking beer and watching Netflix when I get back home.

Money? Yeah, I can afford any game I want now, but I've gotten much more picky with which ones I'll actually buy because of this above issue. I buy and finish fewer games than I did in highschool even if I do have more money.
Posted: 06/11/20, 02:52:02
This is what I was speaking to in the Game Deal thread, regarding that 1000+ games for $5 "deal." That isn't a deal to me, lol. That's almost a chore, going through 1000 games to pick the ones I think I might want to play and downloading them (only to probably get to like 2, ever). I could spend that 30 minutes (likely longer) just firing up a game I already have and love, be it Animal Crossing or an older one I never finished like Hollow Knight! (In fact, every time I look at that poor Hollow Knight icon on the Switch screen as it gets more and more virtually dusty the worse I feel...)

Time was, of course, always a commodity, even when we were young. We were just too ignorant back then to realize it, but time teaches us lessons school refuses to. At least now we know!
Posted: 06/11/20, 18:07:25

I've actually seen the argument that energy is the most precious resource before too. But my counter to that is that even with low energy, you can do enjoyable, relaxing things! Chilling out while watching TV after a long day feels great, as does soaking in the tub or what have you.

@J.K. Riki

Not to be disagreeable, but I actually had to kinda give up on Animal Crossing because I wasn't feeling the time commitment anymore--once my town & house got to a certain point of development, turning it on to do the daily chores (checking the shop, searching for recipes that I couldn't store except on my floor, checking turnip prices) actually started feeling like...well, daily chores! Between that feeling and the long load times, I knew it was time to move on. But hey, 130+ hours in one game ain't bad!
Posted: 06/12/20, 17:36:09  - Edited by 
 on: 06/12/20, 17:36:32
No doubt about it. It's like every time someone recommends a new TV show to me, "Yeah, I'll have to check that out at some point." That "some point" ends up being several years later. Between games, movies, TV shows, sports, there's just not enough time for everything I'd want to play/watch. And that's just time set aside for entertainment. Between sleep, work, and exercising, it doesn't leave a lot of time for other stuff.

I'm in a similar boat as @Hinph where playing games after work can sometimes be a battle in and of itself. It's easy if I'm in a groove with a certain game (especially when it's something as relaxing as AC), but it's hard getting into something new outside of the weekend. Not having live sports the past few months has left a big void. That would normally be my default go-to on a weeknight this time of the year, throw on a hockey or baseball game and have a beer.

I have also started becoming more selective about lengthy games. I'll only play a few 50+ hour open-world games per year, both because of the time investment and so I don't get burned out. I've also found myself replaying some older, shorter games instead of starting a new game which might be several dozen hours long. Most of the games remaining in my backlog, or games I might add to it, are lengthy RPGs at this point. I'm not in any rush to play them, though, and attempt to space them out.
Posted: 06/12/20, 20:08:28

Sure, but that's Animal Crossing. I mean, that's the whole point. It is there for as long as you'd like it, whether that is a week or 10 years. It is designed so that when you're ready to leave, you leave. :)

I will probably play for about a year, myself. The Miles achievements will keep me wanting to get all the stamps, and I want to see the new fish/bugs for each season. Events like the Wedding Photos are a nifty touch that I would have poo-pooed on paper, but I enjoy myself with for a week before it gets old, and I appreciate that.

Of course, I also don't do stuff like maximize turnip returns or run to other villages to instantly get every kind of fruit and the like. I know some folks enjoy the online, for me it kills the entire game. So I deal with the turnip prices I have at Nook's Cranny, which keeps it interesting, and I wait in anticipation and excitement to finally get pears or peaches (right now we only have oranges, apples, and cherries, and we've been playing for like two months). Like, just the anticipation of those other fruit is SUCH a draw for me. I can't wait, and want to savor it by letting the game make it happen when it happens. That's one place I think the original on GCN definitely still takes the cake. No online meant you got new fruit (or whatever) when you got it, and it was an event in itself. So exciting.

I know I've seen some folks online post 600+ turnip prices and "quick everyone come to my town" but to me that would absolutely destroy the fun of this game. It's designed to be slow going, and I'm enjoying being forced to go slow. Life is fast enough as it is, I'm going to relax into this experience, ha ha.

EDIT: Spoilers aside, why are you storing recipes on your floor? Just... learn them, ha ha. Unless there's like a cap or something, and if so don't tell me because I don't want stuff about this game spoiled.

This morning I was browsing the eShop and came across some game where you roll a cat character around, for like 50 cents. I had some eShop funds anyway and the art style was my cup of tea so I nabbed it in spite of needing no new games. Mostly I'm going to just play it to analyze it for gamedev purposes, and for 50 cents with such pretty art I figured it was worth it and would support the dev a little. But I must admit, if it wasn't for my own doing-gamedev I wouldn't have bought it because of the time thing. I just don't want to spend time on games as much as I used to, there's so much other life to live.

Interestingly this kind of fits with something I experienced on the Sony PS5 reveal yesterday. While watching the Ratchet and Clank trailer, I kept thinking "Wow that looks really good and also not fun." Like, I didn't want to PLAY it, I just enjoyed seeing the visuals and juice they put in. The gameplay itself looked dull, particularly the opening bit where he's falling and grinding around. All I could think was "That is a red square trying not to collide with a bunch of green squares, except they put really pretty paint on it."
Posted: 06/12/20, 21:15:04  - Edited by 
 on: 06/12/20, 21:22:25
@J.K. Riki

I store my recipes on the floor because I've already learned them, but don't want to sell them! And it won't let me put them in storage with my furniture.

Interesting how you're takin' it slow with AC. I do think the turnip prices kind of spoil (ahem) the in-game economy, and that might be one of the reasons I'm feeling a little burned out right now. I know AC isn't one of those things you should rush (I could never picture myself time traveling, for instance) but it's hard for me to be motivated to catch 3,000 bell fish when I know a little legwork online results in me making 2,500,000 bells from a single inventory full of turnips...! Online is definitely a mixed blessing in that way.
Posted: 06/12/20, 23:29:39

But... catching fish is fun. Running about on the beach, never knowing what you might get, "ooo look a shark!" Are you doing it FOR the bells? I can't imagine AC would be a fun game at all if it was just looking at each of the activities merely as profit-opportunities... It's a game, not a business, lol. (Would be a bad thing to make a business, too, as it has no real-world benefit! You paid THEM to go enjoy their creation.)

Why don't you want to sell the recipes? They're useless to you, ha ha. Scraps of paper.

At the very least I can say I am most pleased with the self-determined method I am taking in this AC game. Much like how Pokemon Sword and Shield was infinitely better than it might have been because I nicknamed my Pokemon goofy stuff (like when I was in high school) and I kept them in my party them if I LIKED them (nuts to if their stats were good or even if they were useful!) and the whole thing made me feel like a kid again. It was a joyful game as a result, and that to me is the reason to play games! :)
Posted: 06/12/20, 23:38:10  - Edited by 
 on: 06/12/20, 23:38:55
@J.K. Riki

I guess for me, the core gameplay in Animal Crossing is just...kinda okay? I mean, catching bugs and fish works well enough, but it's not the kind of thing that I can do for hours without some extra larger goal or incentive. It's not like jumping around tightly designed Mario levels, battling Lynels in a new area in Zelda, or taking out tough Punch-Out opponents. I'd compare a lot of the AC tasks to, like, watering crops in Harvest Moon, where the actual watering isn't as satisfying so much as seeing the fruits of your efforts over time. Kind of the whole RPG appeal, I guess? At least for me!

If that's your style, then more power to you. I still enjoyed the game for sure and I certainly wouldn't want to pooh-pooh it to other people who've enjoyed it more.

I probably should just sell all that paper since it's crowding my fancy piano lounge...
Posted: 06/12/20, 23:53:16  - Edited by 
 on: 06/12/20, 23:53:39
Yeah, we definitely have access to more games than we could ever play. I really have to lay off doing my "dailies" (Kirby Clash, Tetris 99, and Animal Crossing), because they occupy way more of my gaming time than they should...

Like I finally started My Friend Pedro the other day, after however many years. It's kind of visually repetitive, but the gameplay is so freakin' cool! That feeling of novelty and freshness is why I love playing games.

Anyway, I thought that this topic was about games with a timer (like Pikmin) vs. games where money is the limiting resource.

@J.K. Riki
That Ratchet & Clank game just looked irritating to me. And visually cluttered.
Posted: 06/13/20, 04:40:42

It definitely seems they went heavy-handed on the juice and polish. "Hey, this console can really do particle effects well, so let's add in some more!"

"Sir, the players can't see what's happeni-"

Posted: 06/13/20, 17:08:38
Not to get off topic but I'd agree that the stuff you actually do in Animal Crossing (fishing, chopping trees, catching bugs, etc) isn't really fun. It's mostly a game of chance in terms of what you'll get, with minimal effort to do certain things. I wouldn't say it's Cookie Clicker, but the execution of these activities isn't exactly the most engaging. From what I can tell, Animal Crossing is COMPLETELY a game about time. The fun isn't exactly "Oh I can't wait to play this simple finishing minigame" as much as it is "What exactly do I want to spend my time on today?" The fun is making decisions like that and knowing how your time spent will impact your progression in the game. I don't want to get into the customization aspects, because obviously that can be super fun for a lot of people, but again, the customizing is the real time sink here. AC is really a perfect example of the whole being greater than the some of its parts. All of the activities in the game boil down to something you'd see in a Mario Party minigame, but when you look at the whole picture, the basic nature of the activities does start to make sense to me. And again, more than anything, it's all about time. Stardew Valley does this as well, and is basically more up front about it. "Okay, I have three days until I can harvest my carrots, so what can I do today and tomorrow to make the most meaningful progress?"

Then again, AC is flexible enough that you can play at your own pace. Stardew Valley is as well, but there are at least key moments that you want to shoot for, like certain festivals and whatnot. Either way, these games can be huge time sinks if you want them to be. It simply just takes a long time to make meaningful progress in them. You won't be speed running these games in a day.
Posted: 06/13/20, 17:57:44
There is definitely a part of me that yearns for my younger years when I had fewer games, but far more time to play them. I probably played Tiny Toons: Babs' Big Break far more times than necessary, but it was one of the few games I had so I replayed it. Over and over again. And I loved it. (the end credits theme is fantastic and seared into my memory)

And that time spent? Awesome. Wouldn't change a thing.

....even if I missed out on some other phenomenal games as a consequence. But yeah, I'm spoiled for choice now, but just don't have as much free time to enjoy the games I have. It's both a blessing and a curse. But it's definitely stunted my progress in Sword/Shield.
Posted: 06/14/20, 02:00:34
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