Gaming Breaks

In the course of being a gamer, we sometimes get completely engrossed in one game and ignore all others.  This is why, in a video I will be posting later, I mention that I haven’t had much time, if any, to play games on my various consoles.  I got completely engrossed in Elite: Dangerous on top of actively tackling garrison missions daily in WoW.  However, my recent vacation to the great cities of Boston and New York City allowed me to get away from gaming.  I could have gamed while there, but I didn’t bring a laptop that could handle those games and I was far too tired after waking around all day to even think of playing a game.  I have been back now for a two weeks and I still haven’t thought about online gaming.

Image Credit: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/should-i-have-any-free-time--540228.html
Image Credit: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/should-i-have-any-free-time–540228.html

This brings me to the topic I wanted to talk about, taking a break.  Taking a break from our regular routine of gaming can be quite refreshing.  It opened up more free time than I thought and I found myself looking for things to do.  I caught up on some TV shows (I can now say I have watched all of Breaking Bad), but I really was kind of bored and didn’t know what to do.  Kind of a good problem to have, no?

The added benefit of my new found free time is that I was finally able to look towards playing some console games again.  I truly have a huge backlog of games I still have to play.  While I will most likely continue playing Dragon Age: Inquisition until I beat it, I still have the original Assassin’s Creed to beat (just need to do the last couple kills).  I even bought a PS4 and Bloodborne because I kept reading so many good things about it.  If I was still spending all my time online gaming, Dragon Age and Bloodborne, along with a couple other Xbox One games I have, would still be unopened.

This doesn’t just apply to video gaming.  Sometimes we need to take a break from our board game groups and our tabletop roleplaying groups.  The break helps us realize how much we enjoy and how much we get out of our gaming groups.  Fortunately for me, the breaks I get from my board gaming and roleplaying groups are because people are out of town.  I really enjoy these groups, and believe I could go without the breaks (not regularly gaming during the week completely throws my schedule off), however it is most likely that these shorts breaks I get keep everything fresh and fun when we get to game again.

What do you think?  Do you take breaks from your gaming routine and find yourself with a lot of free time to enjoy something else?  Do those breaks allow you to go back to other games that you still need to play?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

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The beauty of games

We play games when we hang out with friends, we play them online with people from all over the world, and we play them while sitting on our couches.  There is literally a game for any occasion on covering a wide range of themes.  The reasons for playing are as wide as the assortment.  I have mentioned before that I use games as a stress relief, which has been true since high school.  I also play games, specifically video games, because I love the universes and stories they introduce.  However, there is another side to these games that I haven’t put much thought into and I think it is about time that I do.

A picture I took of the Tiefling race from my D&D 5E book
A picture I took of the Tiefling race from my D&D 5E book

Games nowadays are extremely beautiful and have become an art form.  Tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition has incredibly gorgeous artwork throughout the books.  Not only does this artwork give you a better understanding of what a character or setting is supposed to look like, they also serve as an advertisement for themselves.

The very first thing my good friend brought up when he picked up the Player’s Handbook was how beautiful all the art is.  If you have a chance to flip through D&D 5E, and you should, you will be amazed at how beautiful it all is.  And this is not just limited to D&D 5E, Pathfinder also has incredible artwork, artwork that I think far exceeds that of D&D 3.5 which it is very closely related to in spirit.  You can find amazing artwork in pretty much any tabletop RPG out there.  This beauty is not just limited to roleplaying books, the current crop of video games also are quite beautiful.

I shot I took of the galaxy
I shot I took of the galaxy

This brings me to a reason people play games that I was completely ignorant of until a couple months ago.  A WoW guild mate of mine got me into Elite:Dangerous, which I have blogged about before.  Since I wrote that blog, I have been able to get a decent combat ship and greatly enjoy flying around, collecting bounties off of wanted ships.  We were also able to get several other WoW guild mates to try out Elite, and it was something a couple of them said that really caught my attention.

A shot of my Eagle with a planet in the background
A shot of my Eagle with a planet in the background

They wanted to get enough money to buy a nice exploration ship and just fly around the galaxy exploring all that is available.  All the while they were doing this, they kept saying how beautiful the game is, and it truly is.  Because they thought the game was beautiful, they decided to explore.  Exploration has been a part of Elite ever since it came out, but I never put much thought into it.  I thought it would be boring as all you do is fly from one system to another scanning everything you can find.  However, after hearing a couple of my guild mates talk about how beautiful the game was, I started paying closer attention.  The images of Elite that I have included in this post were taken after I opened my eyes a bit and really started looking at the game.

My Type 6 on an outpost platform overlooking a planet
My Type 6 on an outpost platform overlooking a planet

So, it turns out, people also play video games to appreciate beauty.  Now I know beauty is subjective, but the human race, in general, has been fascinated with space for centuries.  We have constantly wondered, and still wonder, what is out there.  Elite:Dangerous shows us an idea of what could be, and it is magnificent.

Have you ever checked out a game just because the artwork was appealing?  If so, what game was it?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

Unexpected, but enjoyable, aspect of a game

A screenshot of when you start up the game
A screenshot of when you start up the game

I recently bought and started playing Elite:Dangerous.  I saw ads for this game everywhere, and I just had to check it out.  I went to the Elite:Dangerous wikia website to get an idea of what I can do in the game, and quickly chose my role; I was going to be a bounty hunter.  I went into this game with some preconceptions and was pretty much slapped in the face by what I got.  However, what I got is far more enjoyable than what I thought I was going to get.

After buying, downloading, and installing the game, but before I actually started playing, I tried out some of the tutorials.  They cover some simple things like flying around, landing, and even some combat.  I found the combat to be the most enlightening as that’s exactly what I got the game for.  However, when you get your first ship, the Sidewinder, which is free, I quickly found that combat in the actual game was very different than in the tutorial.

My "space-trucking" ship, the Type-6
My “space-trucking” ship, the Type-6

Your free Sidewinder has been outfitted with, pretty much, the worst of everything.  There’s a reason it was free.  So, when I eventually encountered another ship that was trying to destroy me, I figured, “Hey, I easily took these things out in the tutorial.”  Several deaths later and after talking to some co-workers about it, my eyes were finally open to the reality of the game; all ships, by default, have terrible equipment and you need to work your butt off to earn some space bucks so you can buy better gear.  Basically, I had to resort to “space-trucking,” as my one co-worker put it, in order to start generating money.  I was, initially, very disappointed; I didn’t get this game to buy and sell commodities.  But, if I have to do it so I can bounty hunt later, then I’ll suck it up and do it.

What I didn’t expect, however, was that I found “space-trucking” to be incredibly fun.  Sure it is tedious, but, for some reason, I didn’t mind it and actually enjoyed it.  Even though you are hauling goods from one space station to another, you get to see amazing sights as every system is different.  This gets turned up a notch when you get into rare trading which requires you to travel to far away systems which, at a minimum, much be over 120 light years away.  Depending on how far you can jump at once, you may end up visiting 10 different systems along your route.  If you don’t have a fuel scoop, you will get to explore those systems more as you will need to find a space station to dock at so you can refuel.

A picture of my Eagle, with a custom paint job, which I use for combat
A picture of my Eagle, with a custom paint job, which I use for combat

What all this “space-trucking” leads to is the ability to either improve your own ship or to buy another ship.  Each ship can only be upgraded so much, so there definitely will be a time when you will need to buy a different ship.  This allows you try out new things.  If you want to get into bounty hunting, you can buy a fighter ship.  If you want to explore the galaxy, there are ships better equipped for that.  Of, if you really like “space-trucking,” you can buy a larger cargo ship and continue delivering goods.  Currently, there is no limit on the number of ships that you can have, so you can have a ship for everything.  I do have plans to buy several more ships, but right now I am switching between rare trading on my Type-6 and bounty hunting with my Eagle.

Have you tried Elite:Dangerous?  If not, you should definitely check it out and let me know what you think by leaving a comment and/or sharing on Twitter.